Interview with INSOMNIUM

2003.01.15 00:00, Birutė

Originated from Joensuu INSOMNIUM has very good potential to rise next to such grands of Finnish metal scene as AMORPHIS and SENTENCED. Their debut full-length release “In the Halls of Awaiting” got good reviews and was hailed among fans of melodic death metal all over the world. Despite guys are occupied with studies and the song-writing for the second album they found the time to discuss upon our questions. The interview questions are authorized by Birute Surinenaite from the site Here the interview with Niilo Sevänen and Ville Friman follows…

Hi, guys. What’s about current affairs of the band?

NS: – Everything´s fine. We are looking forward to do some gigs here in Finland. And all the time we are preparing the songs for the next album.

Well, you joined your efforts at the end of 1997 and started with the music style a little bit similar to that of such famous bands as Sentenced, Amorphis, In Flames. Those have been formed much earlier. In fact, on the CD you are presented as successful followers of latter two. If you were not afraid to compete with those “grands”?

NS: – It was not our idea to put that stamp on the cd. Candlelight obviously wanted to categorize us so that people would know what kind of music we are playing. We don´t see ourselves as followers of any band though we have been influenced by the bands you mentioned. Nowadays all those bands are doing quite different music than us, so I don´t see any real competion here.

Consequently, what bands you took your inspiration from? What styles of music members of current line-up prefer to listen to?

NS: – Other bands that influenced us in the beginning were for example At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Opeth. Nowadays I listen many kinds of music, mostly melodic metal.
VF: – I listen too Metal mostly and besides the bands Niilo mentioned I have listened lately a lot of Satyricon’s new album for example. Good bands are good bands whether they play rock or black metal. (I completely agree with you, Ville – B.)

Insomnium rose from Joensuu, a town in the province. Could you shortly introduce to that place? Were you expected at the very beginning that the band from the small town would be noticed soon?

NS: – Joensuu is a small university town with a lively rock scene. Many bands from Joensuu have gained some popularity in Finland, so I don´t see it as a problem if band comes from the province. Of course publicity comes a lot easier to the bands from the Helsinki area.

Actually Insomnium means nightmare and insomnia. What influenced that such name of the band was chosen namely? Maybe all of you really suffer from insomnia and nightmares? (joking)

NS: – It just sounded like a proper name. Short, easy to remember, and quite cool in any sense – I still think. Actually I often have problems to sleep but that didn´t affect the decision.
VF: – I remember we had this list of different name propositions which Niilo had made and as I looked the list through the very first time I picked the name Insomnium instantly from the bunch. It sounded good and, you know, it’s really hard nowadays to come up with reasonable name, especially one that consist of only one word. So I’m glad we have kept the name and were the first ones to come up with the name. (You are right because bands with the same name appear even when it consists more than of one word – B.)

Let’s return to 1999 when your first demo was recorded. It received good reviews in press. Moreover, you supported the great group Anathema in the gig that year. Much promising start for a young band age of two years only, isn’t it?

NS: – It was great of course. There is a big summer festival in Joensuu and so we got the chance to play before Anathema.

Yea, you were really “fast” in your growing…The second demo and a deal with Candlelight followed just two years later. Even for 4 albums! Indeed, you are provided at least for 4 years. Were you satisfied of things were going so well? Are you quite content with the deal nowadays (quality of the release, distribution, management etc.)?

NS: – It´s a long deal, but basically we are happy with it. Everything else is working out fine but we don´t yet have a touring agency, so we can´t plan any tours outside Finland. We are hoping that Candlelight would do something to the matter.
VF: – At first you might think that a 4 record deal is quite long and heavy, but actually I don’t have any doubt anymore that we couldn’t make those 4 records. And yeah, we’re provided for some time to make thing we all like most: music. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to play some gigs abroad in the future too!

OK, today Insomnium is “equipped” with full-length album “In the Halls of Awaiting”. To my knowledge, it got good reviews in majority of magazines and zines. It’s not surprising as the stuff is really of high technical level and out of canons of traditional melodic death metal. How did you reached such excellent sounding and found new ideas?

NS: – We did a lot of work and concentrated on composing and arranging, that´s about it. Our recorder Jone Väänänen and mixer Anssi Kippo are to be thanked for the sounds.
VF: – Of course we had also for example good guitar gears of Ville Vänni which helped a lot to the guitar sound! We worked a lot for the songs and eventhough our influences can be heard we still have this our sound of own already on our first album. We’re all very satisfied to our debut I think, but we also know that we can do better and that’s we’re aiming for in the future!

And now a couple of questions related to death metal scene generally. Rather many people think the scene to be in some kind of agony nowadays. Do you also think so? Are bands of melodic death metal the only hope of death metal at all?

NS: – Very few bands are making significant music nowadays. I don´t listen much old-school brutal death metal, so I don´t know what´s happening in that section. Melodic death metal is the hope of all music, I would say…
VF: – I think the things goes somewhat like this: One band gets famous and gets lots of followers. Many of these followers can get a deal because labels thinks that this kind of music will sell. The truth however is in many occasions another, because many of these bands aren’t actually that good. They might lack originality or skills to make good songs. After the “boom” people can’t say which music is good and which not, because they are more into the “feel” of the style than to the music itself. Many bands are on the margin being good or bad and actually in many cases they are of average. All above in one sentence: there are lots of crap, little less average and only few really great bands out there regardless of the genre or scene….

Metal groups from USA and Germany dominated in the last two decades. But today the North region (Sweden, Finland, Norway) is the leader undoubtedly. What’s the reason to your mind? Do you feel the competition among Finnish bands?

NS: – Of course there is some competition in here, but in a good way. Everyone has to make better and better albums all the time, or the others will take their place. Relations between bands are normally very good so there is not real rivalry.
VF: – Yeah I feel it too more like encouraging than tough competition. I think there are room for every great band. I think the music scene across the “lake” have become actually quite dull. There’s this big nu-metal boom and everybody are just following each other making the scene boring. Where have gone the inventiveness and originality…

What’s your opinion about drugs and alcohol? Is it normal when musicians go to the stage drunk or got dizzy from drugs?

NS: – Well, we like to drink some beer or booze, but we never do it before the show. It´s really pathetic if a band can´t play because they are so drunk.
VF: – Yeah it’s also neglecting the fans who have paid money to see the band. We might take beer or two but that’s it. Of course it’s reversed situation after the gig is over. It’s also a question of overcoming your stress of performing. You just feel the music and let it takes you where ever it ever takes you. (Hey, Ville, you are true musician, really… – B.)

Now it should be interesting to hear what are members of Insomnium occupied with beside the playing in the band?

NS: – I´m studying cultural history, literature and media sciences in university.
VF: – I’m also a student as are the other members of the band too. I study biology, ecology as major, chemistry and some statistics. Maybe become a teacher

It is usual thing to have tour after the album. Did you have that? What are your plans concerning forthcoming gigs?

NS: – Usually bands tour after the album, but as I said, we don´t have a booking agency yet.
VF: – We did 7 gigs in Finland this summer and they were all great. Hopefully we get a chance for a proper tour after our second album…

Maybe you will be able to visit Lithuania in the future, who knows…It would be great anyway!

NS: – It would be great to make a Baltic tour!
VF: – Yeah, that sound good! Now all the concert organizer, you know where to contact us! ,

Well, our audience expects to see you in our country. And the last point. What’s about your future plans? What could you say for visitors of our site?

NS: – Future brings more Insomnium albums at least, so check them out if sorrowful, melodic metal is close to your heart.
VF: – A video of a song The Elder is now downloadable at our homepages, check it out. I think we’ll add news about the songwriting progress and maybe some kind of tour report of our gigs in last summer to pages sometime too!

Thank you for your answers, Niilo and Ville. All the best for Insomnium and for each member of the band personally. See you!

NS: – Thank you very much for the interview!
VF: – Yeah thanks!

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