Status Minor is a band from Tampere and with Dialog they delivered their debut album via Lion Music. Time to learn more about the Finish band who answered my questions as a band. Thanks to singer Markku, guitarist Sami and keyboarder Jukka!
Many won't know you, so please tell us about how Status Minor came to life!
Sami It started with me and a drummer called Timo Hanhijoki jamming together. A while later, a bass player (Marko Kolehmainen of Masterstroke) joined us too. The three of us were working on the first few Status songs when Jukka joined us. When we got Markku with us and later Rolf and Eero replaced the initial members, things started going forwards.
Why did you choose the name Status Minor? And what does it mean to you?
Markku Status Minor... minor status? Erm, I don't know...
Sami We were thinking about the name for a while and as far as I remember it came out of some brainstorming between me and the old bass player. In my opinion it just sounds good and doesn't stick your material into a certain category straightaway. Minor could stand for a minor scale for example, hehe.
Jukka I just got this idea right now, so don't take that as an absolute truth. Our name could somehow indicate that we're writing songs about small things problems in relationships and so on. And yeah, under this kind of name, we could write one song that sounds like Slayer and another one that sounds like the Pussycat Dolls. I think that in either case it will be hard for anybody to say "Hey, you can't do that! You are called Status Minor and that kind of song just goes against the definition of your name!"
Your debut Dialog is in stores now. And it was released by Lion Music, how did you get hooked up with them?
Markku I think I sent a few songs to Lasse (Lars Erik Mattson) of Lion Music. He expressed some level of curiosity and little by little when we made new songs, I also sent him those. Lasse made us an offer and we thought about it for a long time before finally making the decision to start working together. We think that Lion Music is a credible label in this genre, and from what we have seen and also heard from other bands, they value the bands that they have signed despite being a 'small label'.
How long did you work on the songs for Dialog?
Markku The songs were ready as demos in April 2008. The two last songs on the album, Masquerade and Dialog, had already been performed live, but they were rearranged a bit before the recordings which started with the drum sessions in June 2008 and continued in September with guitar and bass sessions. Keyboards and vocals were recorded during December and January.
Sami Yeah, some of the songs are enhanced versions of old songs and the rest are completely new. The idea of the album is maintained well even though the songs were composed over a long time span.
And why did you choose this title?
Markku I talked about the album title with Sami in late 2008. For a long time we were pondering two names and in the end Dialog just felt better. It's a good description of the lyrics which are in a way dialogs between people.
In the title track Dialog you have enough time for everybody to show his skills, but in the other songs it seems you are more focused on the song. Did you find the right balance between catchiness and technique?
Markku I think yes, because our goal was to give people a good picture of the variety of material that Status Minor had made up to that time. There are easy and simple melodies, and on the other hand this homogenous title track that goes very deep in painting mental images. The amount of technicality is just as we wanted it. I don't know if I really put any difficult stuff on the album myself, I'm more just going with the feeling, and that's at least in my opinion our thing in music.
Sami It has a good amount of everything not too much and not too little of anything.
Jukka I agree. We struck the balance between catchiness and technique where we wanted it to be. And from the composer's point of view, what else could be the right balance? The technique is there even without it being shown off all the time, and I don't think that there needs to be this breathtaking, blazing fast solo in each and every song, or a part showcasing our ability to play some more weird time signatures. For the next album the right balance between things might very well be something completely different whatever serves the songs best.
What bands are you listening to? Who influenced you?
Markku I have a long history of listening to music from the late 70's to the present day. I respect melodies and the great ways of performing them. In the metal scene I have great respect for Ray Gillen (RIP), as well as Ronnie James Dio, Geoff Tate, Tony Harnell, Jørn Lande and countless other singers. On the instruments side, the fast shredders have always impressed me.
Sami I like listening to Finnish schlager songs, jazz, classical, heavy and pretty much what ever there is. The older I get the broader my musical taste grows.
Jukka The last few months, Dream Theater's Black Clouds And Silver Linings has been in my CD player pretty much without interruption.
And what inspires you when you write songs?
Markku My sources of inspiration may be apparent in what I'm doing even though my voice doesn't sound that much like any of my heroes. Melody and painting with moods are important in music; music represents feeling and is at its best a cure for a bad mood. Expressing feelings, that's what it is about.
Sami I don't feel that I need any special inspiration for making music. I play either guitar or piano and usually that's enough to get the ball rolling. Sometimes I have a melody in my head and I just record it on a dictaphone for later use.
Jukka My inspiration for the lyrics usually comes from something that's pissing me off at the moment, at least that's how it was for this album. Writing is a good way to let off some steam, I suppose. Playing-wise then it's mostly just about setting to work. You have a part that needs keyboards and when you toy around with the part in question, you start getting ideas about what could work there.
And what keeps you busy besides the music?
Markku I have many bands that I'm doing at the same time, so that naturally takes a big chunk of my time. My day work is quite demanding and music gives a nice contrast to it. My teenage children also do their best to keep me busy, hehe.
Jukka Besides the two bands that I'm in, I also have a full-time day job. That's pretty much what is needed to keep me busy, but when I have some extra time, I do some sports.
What's next on your schedule?
Markku The production of Status Minor's second album is scheduled to start in December 2009. The drum session is booked for the beginning of March 2010. The songs are already composed and we're working on the lyrics and arrangement at the moment. It's going to be a dark album, almost desperate even...
Sami Haha, true. It may become so dark that I should probably already be scared. Anyway, grim and melancholic stuff is somehow really enticing and cool.
Well, the Status Minor guys had a real dialog about Dialog - and other topics. It really seems that there is a lot to come from the Finish in future - and it will be interesting to hear more of them. And if they hit the road it would be nice to have another dialog, this time in real life.