It's been years that I last interviewed bands for my zine. Doing a zine somehow seems irrelevant with information super highway that is available freely today. Nevertheless, I do feel that some worthy bands (in a zillions of bands today) need to be dug, dragged and exposed so that people will know, there are still hopes in underground scene today. Therefore, I personally tried to get some bands interviewed for my zine, which doesn't turns out to be what it supposed to be. Seems I have the answers readied by Samu of Finnish SWALLOWED, let's just read what he has to say..
Samu(guit.) and Topi(-ex bass) started the band in 2007 with inspiration from stuff like Autopsy, Nihilist, Repulsion, Terrorizer... This led to the recording of a 2 track demo called “Putrefaction” with drummer Tommi. Although he is a good drummer, his style was not right for the music. In 2008 drummer Ville joined, and work was started on some new songs. One song was ready when the lineup changed again, Topi left due to proximity error. EON had alright reception, but we grew to dislike it quite soon. In early 2010 we recorded our 7” at HIP-STUDIOS with great sound, perhaps less than adequate composition, also with new bassist Mika. Jaakko joined first as session because twin guitar was needed for the heavy mass of live performance, later full integration. Less than 10 gigs so far.
Personally, I have a strong, biased feeling toward Finnish bands. All of them are actually godz! And this feeling startled me when I got Amorphis, Convulse, Purtenance, Xysma, Disgrace, Barathrum in the early 90s, ThySerpent, Lord of Pagathorn, Darkwoods My Betrothed, Children of Bodom in the mid 90s and underdog bands like Midnight Sun, At Dawn They Sleep, to name a few. These bands prove that Finland has a strong underground/metal scene. Do you agree with this?
I have to say that early 90’s mindset was indeed STRONG. However it was strong and swift with not much lasting presence, as you know, many of those greats turned out a bit different than one would imagine.
What would you say with current Finnish death metal scene, is it still the same as what Finland had 20 years ago?No. Less worthwhile bands but, Krypts and Stench of Decay are doing great. Others too.
SWALLOWED has been around since 2007. How about you personally Samu? What are your milestones in the Finnish metal scene? Tell us about your activities with Infernal Suicide and Emptiness Productions.
Infernal Suicide is long gone. Emptiness is a doing good. I like that small label activity quite a lot.
The music SWALLOWED is offering is somewhat varied accordingly with time. Your first demo, “Putrefaction” (2007) was really an old-school. The second demo “Epitaph of Nauseation” (2008) also within that range of genre, but more Autopsy-like. Your latest offering “Swallowed” (2010) is a fine mixture of death/doom, which reminds me a lot to Disembowelment, Winter and Thergothon. Do you agree with this? Can you tell us about these differentiations, are they purposely created, or you think SWALLOWED just evolved over time?
Yeah, that’s a fine analysis. The differentiations can be looked at as steps to the current one. And as the main songwriters now are Samu and Ville, the songwriting begins to evolve as the work of two individuals.
Back to the band, SWALLOWED seems to ignore all trends, and chose to stick to the basic of old school death metal. Definitely, this IS A TREND today, don’t you think so? A lot of bands coming up and declared as an old schoolers, worshipping those 90s old school death metal bands. What are the steps taken for SWALLOWED to bypass all these trends?
It’s all fence-hopping even if you try to bypass it. A trend is born in the minds of the weak of humanity. The Art is profaned. Why should you allow this thinking to happen? Where’s the necessity to even involve other people into an experience that can be even religious. It’s a dark world : D. But that’s rather the line of our mindset in our music. Something different from this reality/greatest in our reality. Now, I think some people might now say THIS, NOW, our statement may be interpreted as trend. But I digress, it comes from the humility of my heart that music be pure, else it is entertainment.
Do you think it is wrong to follow trends? I mean, 6-7 years before brutal death metal became a trend. Recently, I think old school bounced back. Is it wrong actually?
Yes. But It’s useless to discuss who is trendy and who’s not. Of course it can be quite easily read, as some people are easy to read. But if the music is good, then that gold digger or attention seeker has still made something that surpasses his lack of insight. Do what thou wilt.
Personally, what are your attitudes/opinions toward old school death metal with a touch of doom metal. Is this the kind of music you are into?
Who is responsible for the musical arrangements? Can you tell us something about the SWALLOWED’s song writing process? Normally, how long does it take to produce a song?
Samu and Ville currently. The process is usually started by jams, perhaps recalling a certain mood to invoke riffs, then usually as the first riff is handed to us, we give it our best to work around it in an interesting vein. Vocal patterns are studied, but the final laying down of lyrics takes sometimes very long. Samu invokes rather by silence and Ville more thru plowing fields. Lately we’ve succumbed to the idea that sometimes we need a bit more of that Saint-Vitussy natural groove instead of the contrapunkts and jazz/ripping inspired feel. It takes forever for a song to be finished, and sometimes even after it’s been recorded we later find obvious flaws. Something about 2-6 months.
Did you refer to any particular bands/albums before or while composing songs for SWALLOWED? If you do, what are those bands, and how significant are they in your composing skills?
Hmm… disembowelment, beherit, nuclear death, demilich, some classical, etc etc. A sequence of tones is constructed from feeling alone and that is a process naturally obscured. And here now is also a process artificially obscured (revealed).
Is death metal supposed to get the tune lowered? Do you think brutality cannot be achieved with standard guitar tuning?
We downtune and perceive the air to vibrate slower. This creates a certain sound. There are many sounds. Sounds are great. But anyways, I guess that early Beherit is in E standard and the flyer said it was SATANIC BRUTAL-DEATH-METAL and I can’t deny that.
Referring to your second demo, “Epitaph of Nausetion” (2008), I can hear it is more a death metal demo rather than what Swallowed is your self-titled EP in 2010. Tell us about this differentiation between your demos and EP, was it an evolution of a new SWALLOWED or it was just temporary change? What kind of sound can we expect in Swallowed’s next release?
Our LP will be a continuation of the 7”, but maybe more doomy. Quite long songs.
Has Swallowed been touring so far? Tell us about the gigs Swallowed played.
We’ve opened for: Asphyx, Grave, Electric Wizard, Saint Vitus. Also played in Denmark and Germany . + in ÅLAND with VÅRUM!!! These occasions we’re great.
Do you think it is important to have a touring band (just touring band), instead of just studio band (just releasing albums), or it has to be a combination of those two, in order to promote your band. I mean, with all these fucking today’s technology, you can only form a band from your bedroom.
The music comes first, but if you still have something interesting to give as a visual element, then shows gain something extra. Of course you might widen someone’s mind into not enjoying your music anymore because of the lackluster live appearance.
How far do you think the internet have impacted the metal world today? What are the pros and cons with all the ease-of-accessing facilities provided by the internet (like myspace, facebook, etc)?
Well, cassette decks don’t sell that well anymore so, probably without the internet even most of my generation would not have heard all the cult tape demos. I think it’s pretty important that the underground of today makes a connection to the early underground attitude, but that’s quite obscured too. And of course here has spawned some kind of analog fetishism which is great because it’s “backwards”. Just like metal.
You also owned a label, Emptiness Productions if I am right. Why did you start a label? Is it because of your passion to music or just an easy way to express your supportiveness towards metal scene? Will you release Swallowed’s album under your own label?
I needed to release the Swallowed 7”. Then I put out few more releases. LP will be released with DETEST/MESACOUNOJO/DARK DESCENT.
Do you have other steady jobs beside playing in a band and doing a label? How life in Finland so far? I guess there is not much economic crisis in Finland as what happened in USA or most of Asean countries.
Yes all of us more or less study or work or take care of national interests.
What can we expect from Swallowed in this near future?
LUNARTERIAL LP in 2012.
ALL SHALL BE REVEALED IN HAUNTING EXTACY.
As you can see, the band's debut "Lunarterial" will be released by Dark Descent Records in October 2014. I guess there was a problem of delay with the production of the album. And I optimistically say that this album will worth all the efforts of waiting. Samu can be contacted through blackphlegm website. All photos were taken from the band's facebook account