Hy, Mikko!!! Thank you for taking your time for this interview. How are you? I'm great, lots of stuff going on. The record has been received very well here in Finland.
"The New Dark Age" is on the way - got lots of work now that the release is coming? Yeah, well in Finland it's been out for two weeks now and there's been a lot of promotional stuff going on. We also have about 30 gigs in Finland in the spring and summer, so we're busy.
Are you completely satisfied with the final product? Yeah, totally! We're honestly quite sure it's our best record to date. We've definately evolved since our first two records, and we also spent a lot more time working on this one then we did on the previous ones.
From your point of view - in which regard have Kiuas evolved the most since "Reformation"? It's hard to say...of course we've evolved individually as musicians, but the most important thing is the songwriting and arranging, because any fancy instrumental pyrotechnics won't save boring songs. Also the production on the record is much better than before, thanks to co-producers Nino Laurenne (who also recorded) and Janne Joutsenniemi, and of course Mikko Karmila who mixed the album.
The cool cover artwork shows five instead of four horsemen of the apocalypse (supposed to be the band members, I guess). The classical ones are Death, War, Famine, Disease - who's the new kid on the block? Hmmm...I think it's the rubber squirrel. He's always thirsty.
Who of the band members embodies which horseman? Actually we all embody all of them emotionally as a collective: when we're leaving to go out on the road, we are very warlike. During the touring we're very hungry all the time, and broke. After the tour we carry all possible diseases and feel as though we were dead. Aaaa, that's a good little assignment for everyone do find out, the horsemen resemble us enough so you should be able to connect the drawings with our photos!
Who's the young lady who sings "After the Storm" together with Ilja? How did the cooperation happen? That's our singer Ilja's sister, Anna-Maija. She's also a very talented singer and musician. We had been playing with the idea earlier but now the right song for it came up.
"Kiuas War Anthem" is obviously supposed to become your new band hymn. Does the song represent your style perfectly? Yeah, musically it's very Kiuas, although there are definately some over-the-top elements that we're part of the song's cocky attitude. So as a whole, I wouldn't say it represents our style perfectly...for a person who hasn't heard our music it just shows one side of us, it's written more to function as a battle song for Kiuas armies everywhere!
At the end of that song there's this instrumental chaos with which bands often end their songs when playing live. What's the purpose of that? I mean - on stage it's a great opportunity for posing or showing off, but on CD? Why not? It's not a new idea, by the way, although I can't think of an example by someone else right now...well, anything from older metal stuff or hard rock.
You as a quite skilled guitarist - do you think that a band (especially a power metal band) needs technically outstanding musicians to prevail in the worldwide competition? Thanks! It's necessary for any band to have musicians that are comfortable with the stuff or genre they are doing. They don't have to be masters of that genre. Once again, it all boils down to great songs. Great musicianship always helps, though, and the level and competition is extremely high, so you can't just go get a few guitar lessons and then go out there and expect people worship you =). But still, take any good band that does have outstanding musicians - if they're succesful, they also have outstanding songs.
In "To excel and ascend" you use oriental elements; that isn't new, but nonetheless cool. But somehow no band wants to make an album that's really based on such elements. Could you imagine to use those elements as the core of an album and not only as "decoration"? Yes, definately! I hope you are right about the other bands, I'd be glad to do that!
Is there a finnish "national instrument"? And have you ever considered using it in one of your songs? Yes, the Kantele. And I played a little on our first record on a track called "Across the Snows". It's a beautiful instrument bright-sounding string instrument and has a very strong identity and association with finnish mythology and tradition. For some reason there hasn't been a proper place for it since that first album, but maybe on the next one...
What's your opinion about Humppa? Well, that's long story! It's not something I can take too seriously, but for serious fun I urge everyone to check out the finnish MODERN Humppa enselmble Eläkeläiset.
Finland is the country of saunas, "Kiuas" is the Finnish word for "stove" - do you enjoy going to the sauna yourself? Hell yeah! It's addictive, couldn't live without it.
How do you deal with the long Finnish winter nights, how do they affect you? We go to the sauna a lot! Well, of course it affects your mood and especially the darkness can be depressing sometimes, although at the same time it's very beautiful. The problem with the south of Finland is that the winter hasn't been proper for some time, the climate is changing. But the perfect finnish winter with masses of snow is very inspiring.
Is it only a prejudice that the Finns are a bunch of introverted, "ice-cold" people? When you look at popular Finns such as "Iceman" Kimi Räikkönen, one could surely think that it's not only a prejudice ;) Haha, it's not! That's true for some part, but I think applies only to a certain mass of people. The ones that are not introverted are the ones that are in touch more with the outside world. (Kimi is an exception)
Ilja, your band's vocalist, states on your webpage that he's really "an arrogant prick". Is that truly so? Yes! ...but he CAN be a nice guy if he wants to! =) You should meet him, he actually get's along pretty well with everyone.
Now you have the great opportunity to participate in the fantabulous, truly epic metal1.wordgame! Just tell me what comes to your mind when you hear these things:
Janne Ahonen: sports hero Bowser: Yowza! Booze: Ahhh... Fellatio: AHHH...! Indiana Jones: cool guy The Double Worschter: hot metal1.info:Can't really say, my german sucks!
Mikko, thanks alot for this interview! I wish you and Kiuas the best for the future, perhaps we'll meet when you come to tour Germany. The last words are yours! See you all when we finally come and tour there! In the meantime, enjoy our music, keep checking out our website and myspace for news and updates! And stay true to yourself!
Interview von: Robin Rohwoldt