Spiritus Mortis, the oldest finnish doom band is going to tour Europe, so I decided to interview them with a few questions. They answered them very kindly, we also covered some other subjects regarding the finnish doom matters you might find interesting...
- Whats the reason, that you released only demos in the first ~15 years of your existence?
Teemu: Us being so lazy... Nobody around us understood what we were...
Jussi: Just guess how many times people have asked this question :) Well, slow in music, slow in music business, heh. When we started, there was no big Metal scene in Finland (which might surprise Metalheads all over the world). Everybody just wonder "what those boys doing, music is so slow and brutal, it did not sound like Iron Maiden". Now time is right for SM (O tempora! O mores!). Modern stuff like internet and e-mail are helped us a lot.
- How did you choose the band's name, Spiritus Mortis? It sounds cool and thats all, or does it mean anything special to you?
Teemu: At first we were called Rigor Mortis but there was at least dozen bands called that. So, when someone got us mixed with USA version of Rigor Mortis, we decided to change our name. At first I was against it, as always any good idea J but after all it is a great name, you know mix between Spiritus Fortis aka booze and Rigor Mortis, it means roughly translated the spirit of death.
Jussi: At first I thought it was just a cool name but now I am thinking it has all kind of levels; sounds cool, it fits for doom band, it did not sound ridiculous and you can also connected spiritual ideas with it (life, death, god, good and evil). Damn, it would be painful to fine another so fine name.
- Do you remember the gig in Vaasa's Club25 in 2003? You shared the stage with a hungarian band called Stereochrist there. I was told there were 5 paying guests there :)
Teemu: Yes, great gigs by us and Stereochrist and I remember there were six tickets sold :)
Club25 was great place to play but Vaasa is such a dead place. Such a "big" town and so few gigs and places for rockbands to play.
Jussi: poor suckers in Vaasa did not understand what they miss. Helsinki, Turku, maybe Tampere and sweet hometown Alavus are the best places for the SM-shows!
- Have you been playing outside Finland earlier? I can see a german gig only.
Teemu: Just once at Doom Shall Rise II, great trip. But just one gig...
Jussi: Spiritus MortisThe God Behind The God 2009- tour (www.spiritusmortis.com/tour/) is our first true tour outside Finland. Maybe better this way; people will see SM at his finest.
- Originally Wall of Sleep would have supported you in the hungarian show, but they have a new singer now. how did you meet them?
Teemu: We were going to tour with The Fall of the Idols, and Vesa Karppinen was in contact with them.
- They are finally skipping the tour: whats the reason of this?
Teemu: Study and work related timetable problems...
Jussi: and also they scare problems which tour has with booking those days like 5 gigs missing. Now all the days 12-25.10 are booked except friday 23.10. No rest for the wicked so we are looking for gig for that day in Germany and Poland too.
- What do your families say that you disappear for two weeks because of the tour?
Teemu: Heh, nothing. They just glad that we are out of sight :)
Sami: I do not have family of my own and I live so isolated life that my close ones would not probably even notice that I was away.
Jussi: more problems was at work to fix things.
- You have played with Reverend Bizarre several times, so I think it was an obvious call to invite Sami Hynninen as new singer. Was it so simple, really?
Teemu: After the fall of Black Lotus Records our former singer Vesa Lampi lost his interest music business in general so we let him go. Tomi Murtomäki came to fill in short notice for the "20-years of SM" tour and did a great job! We asked him if he wanted to continue with us but he didn't. So we tried some other local guys mainly because the long distance between us and Sami was thought to be a problem. But Vesas and Tomis shoes were so big to fill so we contacted Sami again, since you know, we have had some drunken blabber before with Sami during the gigs with with RevBiz that "youre gonna sing on next album". And the rest is history!
Sami: For ME it was rather simple. When I heard the demo material for the third album I felt that someone else could possibly ruin the greatness of it with too straight forward vocals and then again that I might be able to add there something that could in the best case make it even bit better! Even though the challenge to join such a band as Spiritus Mortis was enormous task for me and my nerves, I knew that already for the sake of this album I had to take it! I wanted to be part of that album! And part of the oldest Doom band in Finland!
Jussi: And contrary question; who else it could be? The best for the best.
- I read on the inet somewhere, this might be the last chance to see Sir Albert Witchfinder on tour. What does it mean?
Teemu: Sami doesn't like to do gigs, I suppose the gigs are fine but other things like traveling, sitting in the bus, no shower, no place to sleep are the problem. But I hope this tour goes so fine that we can change his opinion :)
Sami: I have never liked doing gigs that much, and because of health issues it has just become harder. I am happy to do this tour now and see these places one more time and in some cases for the first time, but I am also dreaming about days when I won´t have to be in places where there is lots of people and fuss and same time all kinds of temptations.
I could easily live without playing live or at least doing tours. Maybe that comment about touring from me was more like a daydream, but I know that sooner or later I have to change my ways. I have lived bit too rough life. And life on the road can be rough for me.
Jussi: we have organized this tour as professional as possible, so I hope everything will go smoothly. And after all those sell out and perfect gigs in Győr and Budapest Sami will changed his mind and you will see SM-show again, heh.
- You never wanted an official music video? Are you going to record one for The God Behind the God maybe?
Teemu: There has been some semi-official talk about music video. But since there is no TV channel in Finland that shows music videos, then there is no point making one because no-one can see it. OK, there's always Youtube but making big budjet music video just for Youtube...
Jussi: music video is the good idea now when SM is in perfect shape musically and otherwise. But as my brother says who will finance it and could it be useful to us. Maybe more useful is make better SM-live shows with lights etc.
- As far as I know, homelessness rates are quite low in Finland, your song Heavy Drinker deals with this subject anyway. Are such people living in your surroundings? Arent you afraid, that you become heavy drinkers on this tour? ;)
Sami: It is not about homelessness, but about experiences I have had. I have a home, but there have been times when I have not seen it for a while and I have ended in all kinds of places. And I am very much afraid about falling back to that pit yes. I have now been sober for more than a month and every clear morning feels like a gift. I know that I won´t be sober on tour, at least not all the time, but I will make sure I won´t be 24/7 drunk as I have been during all the tours before this one!
Teemu: I take my drinking easy. I have no respect to people who drinks themselves to so bad shape that they can't take care of themselves and they have to be carried around.
And that above has nothing to do with homelessness, of course they are alcoholics among them but some of them are in that shape because at first they have lost their job, then their home etc...
They are no homeless here at Alavus, it is mainly problem at distant south coast, like Helsinki.
Jussi: People always think Heavy Drinker hails drinking but it is more like anti-drinking song, all kind of shit happens when you are drunken. To me it is not a manly thing to drink himself to baby-like conditions, other people have to take care of you, it is childish.
But in other hand I have heard that there is some fine wines in Hungary, I might taste one or two or more.
- What do you think the benefits and the disadvantages of the finnish doom scene are? Would you change anything if you got the opportunity?
Sami: The scene if we can talk about any scene was born when Reverend Bizarre, Spiritus Mortis and Minotauri got to know each other and some people became aware of this kind of music. This happened in 2000 I think. Reverend Bizarre and Minotauri are dead, but SM obviously is still here. Peter Vicar of RB has his own great band and there are some new young bands.
There are also more fans of this kind of music nowadays and you can even buy the records in the stores. It was not like this when I begun my "career" as a doom metal musician. Of course it would be great to have even more quality bands but I would not change anything. I have very warm memories from the last days of RB and our gigs being sold out and I am now gathering new memories with SM. I would appreciate young people to really check out about the history of heavy rock music though... I am always happy to see someone finding about bands like Cream, Blue Cheer, Witchfinder General or Trouble for the first time and getting excited about it.
Teemu: I don't know... I suppose the benefit is that from Finland comes/came so many great bands, Reverend Bizarre on the top of course.
Change, looking back I would have done more gigs with RevBiz and Minotauri.
Jussi: I do not usually think how other people should do they things. Some guidelines for the good doom;
- make good melodies and riffs, do not just drop your tunes and buy all kind of funny equipments.
- respect your roots is good thing, but try to make more original good music. It is always welcomed.
- mix all kind of fine music like SM has done :)