Finland has earned itself a reputation for quality in the worldwide metal scene by consistently producing many of this genre’s greatest musicians. As the metal machine doesn’t plan on stopping, more young, talented, and hungry bands continue to bloom in the land of ice and snow. Some of them get recognition from the very beginning, for others it takes time to build a following, and many simply disappear into oblivion without ever getting anywhere.
LUNAR PATH has been around for a while. They are a female-fronted outfit bursting with sonic testosterone. They have carved their own niche in the local scene and started to get their music outside Finland as well. We interviewed their guitarist Jonas and their vocalist Janica, after the release of their recent effort, “Memento Mori.” In order not to get caught up trying to define their style in all the metal subgenres, we thought it would be better to find out what the band has to say themselves!
You are an up-and-coming band. How would you present yourself to someone who has never heard your music?
Jonas: If you like melodic metal/rock with clean vocals, come see us live or listen to our album. For a combined audio-visual experience, visit our YouTube channel.
Is there any story behind the name, LUNAR PATH?
Jonas: We were applying for the local band competition and had to come up with a name for our then-few-weeks-old band. A day before the deadline, we decided on LP. We’re not morning people, so anything related to nighttime felt right. Tuukka [guitars] and I were hooked on Lunar (something), and Janica suggested path. Thus, LUNAR PATH. At that time, we didn’t actually realize it meant something, but later found out that a “lunar path” is a reflection of the light of the moon on a surface of water, which is nice.
You have recently released a new album, “Memento Mori.” Can you tell us more about it? What’s the message behind it, the concept?
Jonas: The main theme surrounds the notion of destruction and rebuilding – spiraling into depression and overcoming it – presented in three stages. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is the main motto. Coincidentally, I was going through very big life changes at the time and had to basically reinvent myself as a person during that process, so it helped to write about it. But even though it’s a concept album of some sort, it’s not a rock opera or a musical with a clear narrative and character roster. It has a core story but the plot details and events are deliberately obscure and open to interpretation in the hopes that the listener can find their own part to relate to.
Who came up with the artwork for the new album? I couldn’t help but notice a resemblance to MEGADETH’s Vic Rattlehead.
Jonas: I was sick with fever, lying in bed, and doodling in Photoshop when I came up with the basis for the front cover. The skull, tourniquet, and keys are meant to symbolize death, ignorance, and illumination respectably: a direct reference to the three parts the album is divided into.
Who is writing music and lyrics in the band? Or is everyone involved in this process?
Jonas: Usually I write both the lyrics and the music. I’ll toy around with a song either on guitar or keyboards. Then when the basic structure is ready in my head, I’ll record a demo with bass, guitar, keyboards, and programmed machine drums to present to the band for approval. If the song is deemed good enough by the band, we’ll start practicing it and everyone filters their own parts through their own style and taste as we collectively try to finalize the arrangement in some sort of democratic way. Lyrics usually come last, but I pretty much know what every song is going to be about when I write them, as music and lyrics go hand in hand for me.
Finland has more metal bands per capita than any other country in the world, and many of them are female-fronted as well. What do you think makes you stand out?
Jonas: From what I’ve heard from fans and some reviewers that know their shit, we’re more stripped down, darker, and maybe even grittier than most female-fronted melodic metal bands. My musical roots originally come from death metal/punk rock, and as the main songwriter, it probably filters out the worst pop ambitions in us. We’re not aiming for a current, polished, and commercially radio-play-formatted sound. We’re just doing our own thing that we like to do, basically flinging crap on the wall and hoping some of it will stick.
What is your perception of the metal scene in Finland in general? Is it hard to find your own place?
Jonas: Metal is quite popular in Finland, which is weird and confusing as things were quite the opposite in my teen years in my hometown when you were called names and got your ass kicked for having long hair and a heavy metal T-shirt. Scenes were just small circles of friends with similar interests. But still, or maybe because of its current popularity, I perceive the Finnish metal scene to be black and white: gritty extreme metal on one end, commercial pop-metal on the other and very little in between. Because of this scene polarity and peer pressure within the scenes, bands looking for acceptance conform to either end and strengthen this black and white status quo. I’d like to think we’re the socially retarded hillbillies in the middle who only aim to make honest and good music that we like and enjoy playing. We don’t want to make enemies but we won’t lick anybody’s ass in the process either, we just want to rock out, make records and play our music live. Luckily I’m a graphic designer and have my own pretty decent studio, so even if nobody would pay us or support our music, I could still continue farting out albums to my own liking and amusement. But even having that freedom, making music isn’t free; it’s a lot of hard work that demands investments of both time and money mixed with a shit-load of dedication.
It’s hard to define your own place in the global scene too as every single genre is overpopulated and watered down with pseudo original cross experimentation and endless sub-genres with hollow definitions and worn out orgies of adjectives. Even describing the phenomenon turns into its own phenomenon. What I’m trying to say is that everything has been invented at least twice or thrice already, no matter how original it may seem, so doing your own thing that you genuinely enjoy doing is the best option to stand out, in my opinion. Success will come if you believe in yourself and genuinely like what you do and know to enjoy the ride, however far it will take you. Trying to be original and standing out for the sake of being original and standing out is asinine. Do what you know best, i.e. be yourself and do your own thing and don’t worry if it’s already invented. If there isn’t room to stand out in the scene with your broken sausage of a band, simply fuck the scene and hopefully a new scene will start around you. Or it might not. You might drown in obscurity with your mediocre shit sandwich of epic proportions and never really make it. But it doesn’t matter, as long as you made music on your own terms and hopefully enjoyed the ride of making it. Then if and when you do find success with your shit sandwich, then it’s like happiness on steroids if you know how to appreciate the good stuff. That’s worth more than some shallow short-lived cookie cutter success as a major label puppet or expendable scene commodity.
Janica, being the only girl in the company of guys all the time, do you ever feel like running away and tearing your hair out?
Janica: Of course there are times when I close my eyes and wish myself away to my happy-place, but then again I was never a really girly girl anyway. I’ve more or less grown up with these guys, so they know how to read me and I know how to tell them when I’ve had enough without making that much of a scene. In the end I think we’re quite a good team, and the girl vs. guys difference isn’t all that big.
Are you involved with any other music projects/bands?
Janica: I’ve had the opportunity to work with Tuomas Saukkonen and his band, BLACK SUN AEON, for a couple of records now and I’m actually playing a couple of festivals in Europe with them in the upcoming summer. In the back of my mind I also have a couple of ideas for own projects, but it’s way too early to talk about them yet.
What are the most complicated things about being in a band?
Jonas: The most complicated is to synchronize five personalities and their very tight and busy schedules so we could appear in the same room at the same time.
What was your most amazing show so far?
Jonas: Crowd-wise, the Copenhagen Live 2010 gig was amazing. Amazing to hear +6000 people cheer on you. Our gig with DEATHSTARS at Tavastia that same year was also pretty amazing, being a sort of personal cornerstone just to get to play at that legendary stage. Almost every gig is good in some way; sometimes the gig is great, sometimes the trip is great, and sometimes everything is so Spinal Tap that you can’t just stop laughing although everything’s going to hell in a handbasket.
Who are your musical heroes? What bands do you look up to?
Jonas: I admire people like Devin Townsend and his work. His projects become creative extensions of himself. Amazing artist. He’s a self-contained creative music machine that spits out different great records after another. Musically, I admire Slash and Kurt Cobain, who just sound and look good, natural born rock stars. They’re not the most original or technically amazing people, but they have that “something” that many lack and most aim for.
Do you have any hobbies besides making music?
Jonas: I make and design obituaries and mom & pop store ads to four major newspapers as a day-job to support my double life as a deep, incredibubbly hot, sexy, and mysterious musician who lurks in the shadows with my bleeding black tar heart.
Janica: The photography for me started out as a hobby, but lately I’ve been trying to turn it around to actually make a living out of it as well. The music business isn’t all that reliable and I personally don’t trust it enough to expect to make a living out of it. Photography was something I did for a very long time just because I really loved it and slowly it turned out more profitable. Last spring I decided to go for it for real and so I started my company, Storm Photography.
What are you striving to achieve as a band?
Jonas: To be able to continue making music we like and reaching out to our audience. Play gigs, see new places, experience things. To grow as a band, both musically and mentally. [Sexy deep voice] To become immortal through art.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
Jonas: We’ve been talking about starting production on the next album. I’ve made around ten new songs that have been accepted. If everything goes right, we’ll rehearse and demo them this summer. Everything is very much in the idea stage, but hopefully we’ll even start recording the next album later this year.
Interview by Tanja Caciur