Interview and Photos by Zenae D. Zukowski
Zenae: My name is Zenae here on behalf of MyGlobalMind and you are?
Joonas: I’m Joonas Koto, I play guitar.
Markus: Markus Vanhala, I play guitar.
Zenae: How has it been so far on the ship and have you been enjoying yourselves?
Markus: We’re having too much fun which causes headaches in the mornings.
Markus: You cannot sleep here because it’s too much fun in the hot tub with a beer, so it’s awesome.
Joonas: First time for me on this cruise, new experience, but great. Kind of makes you thirsty, especially in the mornings.
Zenae: And, uh, have you guys been able to see any bands so far or?
Markus: A few bands, not, not whole shows but the, half shows from some bands, so much happening in every day. So at least there’s some and I hear, later on, Carcass, Testament, and Stam1na, Mors Principium Est. That’s kind of all that I want to see.
Zenae: Very cool. Now that Grey Heavens has been out for a while, how do you guys feel about the album it?
Markus: It came out pretty well. Many good things have happened since the release, we got signed to a new label (Century Media) and we have been touring in three continents. It’s been really busy.
Zenae: Yeah, you guys have been touring nonstop. There have been several lineup changes over the years, has it affected your creative process?
Markus: Of course, it’s always like that. Some of the members, well and their sounds.
Joonas: New drummer.
Zenae: Yup you just got the new drummer (Tuomo Latvala)
Markus: It’s like a part two, having a band which active and touring. Some people get tired of it and older, that’s life.
Joonas: Yeah, getting families and day jobs and everyday basic shit.
Markus: I have to say it’s constantly getting better. We have a really good lineup together right now. We have a nice time together, and good goods and good players.
Zenae: You guys toured in 2015 with Insomnium…
Markus: Double trouble tour.
Zenae: Exactly, how was that for you (Markus)?
Markus: It was a total wreck.
Zenae: That must have been crazy.
Markus: I prefer playing one gig per night if I could say so. We did like two tours that year. First in Europe and then in the US with both bands. I had to go to the back doctor after that, having some massage. The US tour was really crazy because it was August and really hot and two and a half hours of death metal on stage (laughs).
Zenae: And now with Omnium Gatherum, you guys had the two tours in 2015, then you have the world tour in 2016, and you’re still going. You’re heading back to Europe around March for another tour. With that said, do you guys have a break and how has this nonstop touring been for you?
Markus: They just keep on coming, it’s like an engine.
Zenae: Have you been enjoying the experience so far?
Markus: Yeah. I’m a tourist. I like to travel but I hate airports and their safety procedures in airports. That’s the one thing I don’t like.
Zenae: I hear you on that. What songs from the new album do you like to perform the most live?
Markus: “Storm Front,” “Ophidian Sunrise.” And, of course, the beats in “Skyline” they are fun to play live, most of them.
Markus: We wanted to do with the Grey Heavens, more like a live like the album with more aggressive songs. You have to see it and people enjoy that kind of songs live. We always like to play live.
Zenae: There’s a lot of good guitar parts on that album, I heard the progressive influence in it as well.
Markus: There’s kind of two guitar nerds in the band.
Joonas: Yeah, we both love progressive music.
Zenae: I heard a few snippets that reminded me of a Joe Satriani influence.
Markus: We like old school Guitar Hero days like yeah, trying all sorts, solo artists.
Zenae: Do you guys have any plans to like write a new album after Grey Heavens?
Joonas: We should.
Markus: That’s how it goes. I think that’s why Century Media signed us (laughs).
Joonas: Hopefully, we have some time. Time to start compose new stuff, gather new ideas with arranging and writing.
Markus: We’re releasing one new single song this year, later this year. So that’s going to be like a small release in between. A new album, maybe next year, hopefully. If we are alive.
Zenae: I can only imagine how busy you are. You (Markus) also worked on Insomnium’s Winter’s Gate.
Zenae: Do you have any advice that you would like to give to starting out musicians that have like no idea what they’re getting into?
Joonas: Never do it.
Joonas: Take flight.
Markus: Play football or get a real job. Buy a muscle car. Especially nowadays, it seems like we were happy to start this thing back in the day when the music business was still kind of well. It seems it’s crazy. Otherwise, you have to be like a YouTube artist and you have to do your own videos and you have to be a sound engineer and do your own recording and it’s difficult nowadays. Everything is easier nowadays which makes the labels want you to do everything by yourself. So it’s hard, pretty much no one wants to spend nowadays. Two months in a studio recording an album, there’s no way, no budget for stuff like that for today’s metal bands except for Metallica or something like that. So our advice if you really want to buy a guitar by a Jackson grandiose guitar and place it on the wall.