If you are one of those people who has given up hope ever since one of the founding fathers of Extreme Metal passed away, there is a new wave of bands out there that are picking up the gauntlet and carrying on the tradition with a true northern sound. Hailing from Finland, Norther are one of those bands…
The first incarnation of the band was under the name ‘Requiem’ back in 1996. What are your memories of playing back in those days?
Kristian: Only Toni and Pete from the current members were in Requiem at that time but I think that the memories are not that good, because they didn’t have a decent rehearsal place at that time. Now things are better J
How was the Finnish metal scene when you first started out? Why did you choose to play the style you have espoused?
Kristian: When I joined the band they had already played this kind of music for 3 years or so. The scene was good, Throne of Chaos was maybe the first band in this genre, then came CoB in 1997 and we released our first CD in 2000. We like this style, that’s about it. It’s good music J
One of the first people to believe in the band and offer his assistance to you was Alexander Kuoppala. How far did his help influence your actual sound – or was his assistance limited to purely organisational matters?
Kristian: He helped us purely in organisational matters. Of course CoB influenced us because we shared the same rehearsal room for years and they were older than us. Alexander was and still is a good guy. Greets to him.
One of your first rehearsal venues was the legendary Lepakko (you were actually one of the last bands to rehearse there). Can you tell us about your impressions from that time and why do you think it has achieved such legendary status?
Kristian: I wasn’t in the band at that time but what I’ve heard Lepakko was a shitty hole. Not that glamorous. Time often gives things a more positive or even golden feeling, reality is a different thing J Of course Lepakko was a good place because it provided premises for many bands but it sure was shitty.
There have been some significant changes in the line-up of Norther in the past. When did you feel that you had found the correct members for the band?
Kristian: In 2000, then our line-up became Pete, Kride, Toni, Tuomas and Jukkis. This line-up is good as hell!
You decided to change your name to ‘Norther’ the year that Kristian Ranta, your guitar player, joined the band. What is the meaning behind the name and did Kristian play any significant part in this choice of name?
Kristian: I actually figured the name out by browsing through a dictionary. We all liked the name and so we decided to keep it.
Since your debut in 2002, you have been releasing albums every single year until now, when you decided to deliver an EP. Why did you choose to release ‘Solution 7’, rather than waiting until next year, when you intend to complete your next full-length album? Do you feel the need to produce something every single year or is this just a taster of what is to come?
Kristian: We are a productive band… J I guess that we just had to record something. We had a few songs ready and we decided that these would fit well on an EP. I would say that Solution7 definitely has a taste of what’s coming.
Where do you believe your productivity comes from? What influences you to create an album every year?
Kristian: I don’t know but there is one thing: every time I have too much free time I come up with song after song. I know, this is weird… But I guess that there is even an old saying, which says that to be able to create one should have loads of free time.
Judging from the five tracks featured on ‘Solution 7’, the average running time of which is 3.5 minutes, is it possible to conclude that you prefer shorter, more direct compositions?
Kristian: This time yes, but the new CD will have also longer tracks on it.
‘Solution 7’ combines a number of different elements and sounds, some of which are more straightforward than others. How and where do you see these elements coming together from?
Kristian: We wanted to do something differently this time, We have already recorded 3 albums with the same formula. This time it’s going to be at least a bit different.
You have, in the past, been compared with the likes of Children of Bodom. Do you believe that ‘Solution 7’ is proof of the fact that Norther has its own individual style? If so, what makes Norther stand out from the ‘Swedish Death Metal’ club?
Kristian: I don’t know or actually even care about any genres. We make music, either people like it or they don’t. It’s that easy.
Can you give us an idea of the working habits of the band’s members? What must be present in order for a song to be brought to life and how much say do the members have individually as to what goes on an album and what is left off?
Kristian: Usually me and Pete make the songs, basically we compose stuff at home or so, and then either one of us brings the songs to the rehearsal. Then everybody can say what they think. If I remember correctly, not a single ready song has been left out so far, some songs have been restructured though. When the structure is ready, Toni and Jukkis figure out their stuff. Then Tuomas figures out his stuff and so on.
Keyboards are a very important feature in the music of Finnish bands – regardless as to whether we are talking about Stratovarius or Children of Bodom. What is it about this instrument that makes it a favourite for bands from your country?
Kristian: I don’t know…. Keyboards add feeling to the music, more depth. They are cool ;)
Apart from the members of the band, who else has helped you in the creative process surrounding the release of ‘Solution 7’?
Kristian: No one else, except the cover art dude Miikka Tikka.
The production of the EP must be commented on as it very good. Where was it recorded and what time-scales were you operating in? Did you enjoy the recording process?
Kristian: It was recorded at Astia Studios in 10 days in December 2004 and January 2005. Yes, we always enjoy studio sessions.
Judging by the fact that you have so many consecutive releases, it would seem logical that you are not able to tour extensively to support each album. Where do you concentrate your efforts when playing live – would this be mainly in Europe?
Kristian: I guess so, We’ll tour as soon as something comes up. No Metallysee tours though please.
Will you wait until next year’s full-length release before you introduce the songs from the EP to your fans or will we be seeing you on the road sooner than that?
Kristian: We will be playing at some festivals this summer, please check www.norther.net
What is your vision for the band – are you in it for the long haul or is this your way of releasing you creativity for the time being? Do you intend to make a living out of the band?
Kristian: I don’t know what people think but making a living out of this kind of music is totally impossible, at least in the long run. We like what we do and probably we’ll be doing it for some time. Music is in our hearts and we like playing it and mostly everything that is part of this band thing.
How much are you in contact with the Finnish Metal scene? Are there any lesser-known bands that you would recommend our readers to listen to?
Kristian: We hang out quite a lot with some bands and their members. Check out Amoral and Kiuas, they are good.
A message to your fans and the readers of this interview...
Kristian: Greetings to everyone!!! Remember to drink beer!!!
Interview © 2005