Sometime last summer I received the album Tearstained of the Finnish band Charon. After listening the first time the CD was spinning in my portable CD player for days.... A good reason to request an interview, I thought.... And here we go!
Why do you named the band Charon?
Well, at first it sounded better than "nympholepsy mutilation" and second thing to choose it was the music style we presented in early 90's. Nowadays it's the reminder for us from our roots... obviously. We don't feel like changing it anyway.
Please tell about the band's history. As far as I know you started in 1992 as a death metal band...
Yep! Since '92, the band has made few demos and promos, but in 1994 was the time of total changes. That's when I came in to the band and we started to make it more melodic and also we wanted to create another way for us to bring out some good songs with trusting more to the melodic side. Oh yeah, we also got our 1st record deal at 1997... But it didn't change anything, we just got frustrated of the recording business. Few kicks in the head and urea in your eyes and you're ready to die, but it just gave us more strength to carry on. Future looks very bright at first time of my life right now, but I'll tell you about it later...
The new album is called Tearstained. Where do you see the difference between your debut Sorrowburn and your latest album.
In everywhere! Producing, recording, songwriting... Everything was made differently on Tearstained, cause now we did have a good time to concentrate on it. The playing is of course important, but we wanted to make some emotions and atmospheres on this one, so we trusted a lot on the vocal part. We did have to hurry while making Sorrowburn, but I'm satisfied with it anyway, cause we learnt a lot about everything, about making metal songs.
Please tell a little bit about the lyrics. Is there any song which is lyrically important for you?
Sorrowbringer. It is how I've been underestimating by people and especially by women. It's about cheating and making other people worth of nothing while trying to achieve something unreal for myself. And when I've noticed my mistakes, it has been too late to do anything, so that'll drag you down very sure. I don't know... I try not to think too much while writing, so I could keep my lyrics as natural as possible and then it would be straight from myself.
Juha-Pekka, you write almost about feelings everyone experiences in their life or will experience sooner or later. Are you also inspired by books or movies?
Not actually that much, of course you get inspired of everything that's around you, but I try to write my own version of the everyday feelings, cause keeping those inside of my head would kill me one day, hopefully.
J-P, there is one line in Worthless which is kinda fascinating me. How you came up with "...Easy, easy as closing eyes wide-shut...."?
Because, facing your feelings should be easy as closing your eyes wide shut, but how can you deal with them? If you find something that you don't want, like you could be worthless to yourself. I don't like explaining my lyrics too much cause then I'll took the basis away from somebody who wants to live his/hers own thoughts through them.
What's the idea behind the artwork of Tearstained?
Everything ain't what it seems...shortly.
I read that in Finland the album is released by Spinefarm on license and that the album has a different artwork... Please tell a little more about that!
Yeah, it was Niklas Sundin from Dark Tran;quillity who made the covers for Spinefarm version. And yes, we did have an license deal with Spinefarm and seems like it really helps us a lot! I think we have sold here in Finland more albums than Sorrowburn sold in the whole Europe last time! We do gigs a lot, crowd has found us and we feel like the price ain't so untouchable anymore.
Are there plans for a video clip? Or some special multimedia stuff for coming releases?
We'll start to make an video in a couple of days... I don't know nothing more of it yet, cause script is from the makers. There should be some kind of lesbian orgies or something like that and lots of copulating...just kidding!
Musically you remind me a little of HIM and of Sentenced... Do you see this musical parallels, too?
Yes, they ain't that far away, right? It's called "the curse of making Finnish music", but we'll struggle to make everything of our own.
At Tearstained you used a cello and also a female voice to kinda complete the sound. How you came up with the idea to use a cello? And how do you get in touch with Jenny Heionen?
We just wanted to replace some boring synth-parts with cello. And of course cello is very natural instrument and that is what we want to represent. Jenny was obvious choice for Tearstained, cause I know how she can sing. We are going to work with her more in the future, of course. One day I just called to her and asked if she could come and sing with me in the studio. She didn't hesitate and we really made things work like we wanted. Easy.
In Finland you played a tour with Sentenced. How was touring with Sentenced? Any funny stories to tell?
The whole tour was a comic scenery! Every time with them, but I think some of the stories ain't worth to press! Actually it was totally great, we come along very well with them and if possible we'll do it again of course! I remember one gig in Turku... We already played the show and went to a bar afterwards. Everybody went to our hotel, except our bass player and guitar player, so they couldn't reach anyone in the middle of the night and they decided to sleep in a trash bin. It's easy to keep our feet on the ground when tour-mates are guys like in Sentenced. We are not here to play Elvis, we're here to play!
In another interview you said that Sentenced are friends of you and that you get along very well. Do you have the same kind of humor?
Yep! Ass-humor works all the time. But mostly I enjoyed about talking with another singer who sings (almost) purely, so it's really important to have a chance to share some tips between each others. The tour with Sentenced was our first tour, so we learned a lot about it during the tour.
Are any concerts planned or a tour outside Finland?
Let's talk about it next year...
Are you working on new material right now?
Of course! We need to do something all the time.
Do you constantly write new stuff? Are you more the type of band who need some pressure to sit down and work on new material?
Nope, we write all the time. We don't need any Sabbaths after studio sessions to a concentrate to a new songs. Too much pressure in songwriting ain't good.
The album is released for a few weeks now. How were the reactions so far?
Positive ones. I think Tearstained will help us a lot. Most positive was to found out that songs really work well live and audience likes them.
In an interview I read that you won't go on with Diehard after this record. What's the reason for that decision? Do you think it'll help the band in the end to change the label again and again?
No, it won't, but we need to take a step ahead right now! Otherwise I can't comment this thing yet.
I visited your homepage - you should have a Domain which is easier to remember - (www.tec.puv.fi/~s99086/charon/). Who is doing that homepage? Is the band involved?
An easier address www.charon.cjb.net (okay, I didn't knew that - editor) would be and it is our guitar players brother who's dealing with it, his name is Masi Hast. I visit our pages almost every day, cause I need to see the feedback all the time. Yes, we are involved.
At the members bio's you placed your email addresses. Do you get a lot of emails from fans?
Yes, mostly from Germany, Austria and Finland. It's cool, I really like to answer to them, cause if they want to write to me, they really have something important to ask/tell. Sometimes I get pictures and sometimes poems! They're also sending their measurements etc. but it's only positive! I've found a great friend from Germany through it, she'll know what I mean. Only two guys has written to me... I'm bit of confused by all this....
Which bands influenced you beside the obvious ones?
Hard to say "which" bands... I think our influences are mostly from all kinds of music we hear and feel, it's not that simple to pick one as our "main-influencer". I listen a lot bands like Monster Magnet, Orange Goblin and Yes! I could say that some very important influences has come from Dave Matthews... Not personally of course.
What do you think about the combination of hard rock / heavy metal and classical music? E.g. Apocalyptica or Rage & Lingua Mortis Orchestra. Can you imagine to do something like that in future?
Not in those measures, but of course to color our music, yes.
Antti and Jasse are playing also in a project called Wolfheart. Please tell a little bit about that project!
Not in progress anymore, there ain't just time for it anymore and Charon needs all attention we can give to it right now!
Now a few weeks later I'm still into the album and after this interview, I hope to see the band live soon! Check out their homepage to see what's going on. Definitely for me one of the Top 20 albums in 2000!