Metal Army America caught up with front man Niilo Sevänen of Finland’s melodic death metal powerhouse INSOMNIUM on the release of their new album One for Sorrow. Niilo gave a candid interview where he discussed the writing process for the new record, influences, the importance of lyrics and metal culture around the world among other topics.
MAA: One for Sorrow is definitely the bands best record. Tell us how you developed this record.
NS: Last autumn when we finished our tour with DARK TRANQUILITY, we decided that we were going to do no more touring. We did most of the work between recorded between January and March. We worked pretty fast. At one point we were worried because of the short time period, but it all worked out very well. All in all for us it was really short, sometimes one or even two years to write and record, but this time we took a very short amount of time.
MAA: Across the Dark was also excellent. What did you do on the new record to separate it from the last one and move forward?
NS: The music came very naturally. We only tried to add more clean vocals than Across the Dark without changing our style. We now have a better idea of how to use them and incorporate them. That was one thing. Apart from that I don’t know that we have moved away too much from our style. We were faster writing the songs, but it the outcome was still very good. That was the only major change.
MAA: Who would you say are the bands biggest musical influences?
NS: Those bands from the mid to the end of the nineties are the ones when we started this band were making great melodic death metal albums at that time. Definitely IN FLAMES, DARK TRANQUILITY, AT THE GATES, OPETH, AMORPHIS, SENTENCED from Finland and DISSECTION. Those are the main reasons why INSOMNIUM sounds they way we do now. But of course there our hundreds of other bands that influences us and we enjoy as well like KATATONIA and SWALLOW THE SUN who we have been touring with. They have brought some sound to our music I would say. The two latest albums we have been going in that direction also.
MAA: Your lyrics always have quite a poetic nature to them. Why are lyrics so important to you?
NS: Thank you. I don’t want to complain about other bands, but many bands neglect the lyrics or they write stupid lyrics. It helps that we always put a lot effort in to the lyrics. It is my feeling that lyrics should always work as poems without the music. Personally I read a lot of poetry, especially when I am trying to find inspiration for new lyrics. Poetry and literature in general has been really influential to me or things from movies or basically anything else interesting in life. I also try to read a lot of English poetry to try to improve little things and read the great poetry in English, even though it is difficult.
MAA: Do you feel there is one song on the new album that really defines where the band is right now musically?
NS: It is really hard to pick one song that cover all of the styles which the album has to offer. There are instrumental tracks and then the really heavy ones so I don’t know about just one. Personally it was a good idea to put the “Unsung” song out first. It pretty well describes what INSOMNIUM is all about. It has a fast and hard part and also a little bit of the clean vocals. I think that was a good idea to put that song out first. It was a great first choice.
MAA: The band has had some commercial success in you homeland. Why is metal so strong and popular in Finland compared with the rest of the world?
NS: That’s a tough question. One which we have to answer in almost every interview. There is no easy answer. Our country is not the same as every European country. Germany and Sweden are maybe close, but not to the same extent as Finland. I don’t know if its because the first Finnish bands made it in Europe and those bands played metal music. And because of that we now have a lot of metal bands. Of course that means a larger audience. Those fans from the 1990s are now in their thirties and forties. Young people are also learning about metal all of the time. The community is growing all of the time. Maybe when you are from the States it is not appropriate any more to go to shows and headbang and have fun once you turn say 30. For example Bloodstock Open Air festival you will see entire families there having a good time together.
MAA: What is on tap for touring and when will we see you in the United States again?
NS: We have a European tour coming up and it is mostly in Finland and bit in Germany since we have a German label. And that makes our position even stronger in Europe. Next year I think we will tour some more, maybe another short Europe tour, maybe only nine shows. That way we can hit some of the countries we haven’t been able to hit this year. Then the USA and Canada. We have been actually making plans for almost a year now, since our last tour was canceled and we lost the opportunity to come there. We want top come there, we just need to find the right package and right tour. In the USA we are not yet big enough for a headline tour at this point in our career. So we may need to find the right tour and headliner to come over with. We definitely want to come there since touring the USA and Canada was one of the most amazing experiences ever. It is more expensive and more difficult than touring Europe, but it is something we need to do.
MAA: Thanks Niilo, we’ll see you on the road soon!
NS: Thanks for the interview!
(Special thanks to niilo, INSOMNIUM and Century Media Records)
By Keith (Keefy) Chachkes