Behind The Veil
Kiuas is an oasis in the contemporary Finnish metal scene. Their mini cd "Winter In June" is an excellent piece of work that amazed me and I think many of you out there will be astonsihed too. I must also mention that this was a really interesting and informative interview. I enjoyed it a lot! lThe answers come from the band's guitarist, Mikko Salovaara, so let him speak...
1.HELLO! MY CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOUR VERY GOOD MINI CD WINTER IN JUNE. ID LIKE YOU TO TELL ME, WHEN WAS THE BAND FORMED AND WHAT KIND OF PERSONALITIES ARE KIUAS? WHAT DO YOU LIKE DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?
* Thanks! Kiuas was formed about three years ago. Our personalities...well, I can mostly speak for myself only, but basically we are hard working, ambitous, and proud pagan warriors, of course!!! My time is almost entirely dedicated to the fine arts of writing music and playing guitar. I also lift weights and try to learn a little bit of piano. Every now and then, especially on gig-nights - or if the stars are correctly aligned - the members of Kiuas perform a finnish drinking ritual which includes some eccentric behaviour!
2.WHY DID YOU SELECT AS A DEBUT RELEASE A MINI CD AND NOT A FULL LENGTH ALBUM AS IT IS USUAL? WAS IT PERHAPS A TEST TO SEE THE REACTIONS OF THE FANS AND PRESS AND THEN PROCEED TO A FULL LENGTH CD?
* Our record company Rage of Achilles wanted to release our last demo, but we wanted to record the songs again and added a new one - the title track. It also draws attention and serves as a good introduction to what we are about. When the debut album hits the stores, people will have some expectations and we will have established ourselves as a new...well, let them decide. And yes, it is nice to see some reactions, and since they've been really good so far, we feel quite confident at the moment because we know that the full-length album will be at least twice as good as the Ep - I can guarantee that!
3.SO, MY NEXT QUESTION IS OBVIOUS. HOW DID THE FANS AND PRESS ACCEPT THIS FIRST ATTEMPT OF YOURS? HOW DO YOU REACT WHEN YOU DONT GET A GOOD REVIEW?
* The fans were already familiar with three of the songs and after an mp3 clip of "Winter in June" was put on the web, we've seen some people singing the lyrics in the front row on our last gigs - including one we did in Estonia. So I think the fans are pretty satisfied. As far as the press is concerned, the reviews so far have been really good. I don't mean to say this in a bad way, but mostly reviews tell more about the guy who reviewed it than about the actual record! And this is especially true about some metal journalists, who are quite narrow-minded. So when I'm reading a review, I consider it to be good if it gives a general idea of the style and performance of the band, not a general idea of the journalist's musical taste! Whatever weaknesses our band has, we definately know them, have analyzed them, and are doing something to get rid of them. So when a journalist mentions a weakness that we know to be true, we accept it calmly. If a journalist writes something negative that is totally based on his or her own taste, or is just total bullshit ( for ex. "Motley Crue didn't have any attitude" or "Dream Theater can't play their instruments" ) that makes you feel offended. Considering the Ep, I admit that the production could have better, but we sort of ran out time and weren't able to make the final touches. Musically, I can totally stand behind all the songs I've written and I'm willing to sit down and discuss any matters considering the music.
4.IN YOUR FUTURE PLANS THERE IS A SCHEDULE TO RELEASE A FULL LENGTH ALBUM IN LATE 2004. CAN YOU GIVE US SOME MORE INFO ABOUT IT (HOW IT SOUNDS, ITS TITLE, ETC.)? WILL YOU INCLUDE ANY SONGS FROM THIS MINI CD AND YOUR 2 DEMOS?
* Aaah...our baby! It will be called "The spirit of Ukko" and will contain 8-9 songs including two from the Ep, which will probable be re-recorded partially. As all finns know, Ukko was the supreme god of our ancestors. Pagan mythology is an important part of Kiuas, and the title sums up a lot our style and attitude. We are already working on the sound, which will be much heavier and more massive than on the Ep.
5.I THINK ITS EASY TO NOTICE A DARK EPIC ATMOSPHERE IN YOUR MUSIC. WELL, HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND? DO YOU AGREE WITH THE TERM EPIC DARK POWER METAL? WHICH BANDS AND ARTISTS INFLUENCED YOU?
* "Epic dark power metal"? Hmmm...that's...pretty accurate. Some of the themes are really "epic", and since we have clean vocals and fast tempos, we are called power metal. But even so, I hope people notice fast that we are very far from bands like Stratovarius and Helloween, which are more sporty and gay,...I mean happy. (oops!) Yes, a dark epic atmosphere is always present, and some elements from black and death metal help to create that. There are so many influences that it's hard to name just a few, because that will easily give a false impression, but I'll try. The power metal influences are a mystery, since I don't listen to a lot of power metal. Blind Guardian would be a band that has been one of my favourites, so maybe they've had some kind of influence, and maybe Symphony X. Maybe the power metal elements are also present in the more technical guitar stuff - although on the full-length album, I'll try incorporate more styles in my playing, like some bluesier stuff. The thrash elements come from your basic trash icons like Pan tera and Slayer. And I've also tried to write some eerie melodies and chord progressions which borrow something from bands like Dimmu Borgir, Emperor or maybe old Covenant. But this is just scratching the surface. It would take a day to try to explain the writing process and speculate what comes from where. Anyway, at this point, the music of Kiuas is expanding stylistically, and the album will be quite diverse, hopefully in a way that doesn't mess up the general feel.
6.KIUAS I THINK IS A FINNISH WORD OR NAME. AM I RIGHT? WHAT DOES IT MEAN AND HOW DID YOU CHOOSE IT?
* Yes, Kiuas is the thing that heats the sauna, you know? A metal container with hot rocks that are heated with wood traditionally. And when you throw water on the rocks they release steam, which temporarily raises the temperature giving a quick "heat-spike". Now the sauna is an extremely important part of Finnish culture, and since the word Kiuas means a source of heat, it felt like a good title. To a finn, the sauna and kiuas conjure images of finnish nature, and reminds of older times. This can be easily associated with the bigger picture, like our history and ethnic origin, and therefore is also linked to other traditions and the Kalevala - the finnish epic saga. The word also has a humorous overtone. Since the sauna is a place where people go naked, maybe drink a beer or two and tell jokes etc. the sauna tradition symbolizes also the most basic and primitive elements of finnish culture...now this is hard to explain if you are not a finn! You have to experience it! Come to Finland, go to the countryside and have a sauna-evening with some finnish friends, and you'll understand! Anyway, it's funny to play heroic music with a title that's associated with naked people sweating in a small room - and at the same time, that's exactly whaat the ancient finns, or the mythological finnish heroes did - they fought battles and when they came home to their village they sweated togethe r in that box and drank beer!
7.IN THE BIO YOUR LABEL SENT ME, I READ THAT YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE TRADITION OF YOUR COUNTRY. IN WINTER IN JUNE, FOR WHICH TRADITIONAL THINGS DID YOU SPEAK FOR?
* Continuing from the previous answer, themes from the Kalevala and folklore are present in some of the lyrics. Some of them also describe finnish nature, and some are more about reality and everyday feelings. As far as the finnish mentality goes, there's always a humble and quiet attitude. A finn doesn't want to make a fuss about anything. Where a typical american describes the smallest positive event with words like "great", "fantastic" or "awesome", a typical finn doesn't consider things to be much more than "ok", unless something exceptional happens. There is often a dark atmosphere in the minds of finnish people! That's why a lot of finnish music deals with dark emotions like depressi on, and that's also why Finland is one of the main centres of metal music!
8.THERE ARE SOME BIG LABELS, LIKE FOR INSTANCE SPINEFARM, IN FINLAND, BUT YOU DECIDED TO SIGN WITH RAGE OF ACHILLES, AN ENGLISH LABEL. SO, WITH WHAT CRITERIA DID YOU SELECT THIS LABEL?
* Spinefarm didn't contact us! Well, it's their loss. Even if they had, the deal Rage of Achilles proposed to us was absolutely fantastic! ( And that's a lot said from a finn! ) Some other companies including Limb music offered to make a deal a bit too late - just after we had signed with ROA. But we are totally satisfied with the deal we have. All I can say is that even though Roa isn't a major label ( yet, wait till our records are out! ), it seems like the perfect company for us.
9.A BIG TREND IN YOUR COUNTRY IS THAT ALMOST EVERY MONTH WE SEE BANDS POPPING OUT THAT DO NOTHING MORE THAN COPY STRATOVARIUS, NIGHTWISH AND C.O.B. WHAT DO YOU THINK AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?
* Haahaa!!! That's exactly what I've been saying for sometime now. I don't want to mention any names, but there are too many new Finnish power metal bands that sound exactly like the bands you mentioned ( many of them a lot worse ) and have absolutely nothing original. The records even sound the same since they are engineered by the same people. These engineer-guys are brilliant and I have nothing against them, it just seems like Spinefarm or someone else wants the bands to sound the same. I hope this is a trend that will pass soon, and more original bands will be given a shot.
10.YOU ON THE OTHER HAND ARE FAR AWAY FROM THIS TREND AND SOMEHOW I HAVE THE FEELING THAT A BIG PART OF THE NEW FINNISH BANDS TRY TO ESCAPE THIS TREND. AM I RIGHT? IS THERE A HOPE WELL LISTEN TO SOME MORE BANDS FORM OVER THERE THAT WILL HAVE A PERSONAL SOUND?
* Thanks! Yes, we are conciously trying to avoid sounding like certain bands, even though we are often compared to some of them. There are definitely good new Finnish bands that are escaping this trend, and without trying just to promote us and our company, Rage of Achilles has struck a gold mine signing several new and innovative Finnish bands including us.Anyone interested should also check out bands like Elenium, Omnium Gatherum and Manitou for some fresh Finnish metal sounds.
11. EVERY ARTIST WHEN HE STARTS HIS CAREER HAS AN AMBITION, A PLAN THAT WANTS TO ACHIEVE REGARDING HIS ART. SO, CAN YOU SHARE WITH US YOUR AMBITION AND DREAMS?
* Basically this is the ideal situation to start in. I'm writing exactly the kind of music I want to hear and play at the moment, and someone else seems to be liking it too! I have a constant desire to evolve as a player, a writer and overall musician and performer, and that's all possible. Of course, for any musician it would be more than necessary to achieve a financial status which would allow him to concentrate fully on music. So, of course we'd like to earn some money while doing this stuff! But artisticly, as I said, this is in many ways an ideal situation.
12.ANOTHER POINT I WANT TO STAND TO IS THE BEAUTIFUL COVER ARTWORK. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IT AND HOW IS IT CONNECTED TO THE WHOLE CONCEPT?
* It is by a finnish artist called Jarno Lahti. We wanted the cover to have some of the themes I mentioned earlier, like finnish nature. And winter was also an important theme. Also the fire element is linked to our name and the energy of the music. We gave him some guidelines and mentioned all this stuff and we are pretty pleased with the result.
13.IF YOUR MUSIC WERE AN EMOTION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? IF IT WERE A PAINTING, WHAT WOULD IT SHOW?
* It couldn't be described with just one emotion...a spectrum of emotions can be found in the music including hate, despair, frustration and sorrow but at the same time a love of life and desire to conquer one's inner demons, to evolve and excell. Maintaining ones inner strength and integrity, and striving for progress while facing the challenges and battles in life could be one of the main themes and philosophies of Kiuas. Well, I'm not a painter, but the painting would show the same things as the music, maybe in a different way. It would have a general feeling that would take you to a primitive, mythological and timeless level. On the foreground would be strong and aggressive elements, and the colours would show an icy, cold world, with would be contrasted by bright fiery colours symbolizing the perseverance of a strong individual. Something like that, among other things.
14.WHICH IS, ACCORDING TO YOU, THE BETS AND WHICH THE WORST PART IN YOUR MUSIC? WHICH IS YOUR TRADEMARK?
* I couldn't say there are best and worst parts. All parts are meant to support the whole. If there's a bad part, it's taken away or used in another song where it fits. Our trademark? No long hair, two bald guys? Bad answers in interviews? I think that will be up to you guys to decide, I dare not say yet.
15. THANK YOU! THESE LINES ARE YOURS
* You're Welcome! Everybody, come to our gigs and buy our records!
Nikos "William_Kidd" Parastatidis