DATE OF INTERVIEW:
SWALLOW THE SUN
4th December 2008
ALEKSI MUNTER + PASI PASANEN
METAL DISCOVERY: The new EP entered the Finnish charts at number one - is it common for metal to chart so highly in Finland because in the UK, only the very mainstream metal bands get anywhere in the charts?
ALEKSI MUNTER: And in our case, it’s about that our fans tend to buy our albums just the day they come out , so they start off on the charts but they won’t stay there for too long!
(Pasi Pasanen on putting the left-over underwear from pre-orders of 'Hope' to good use)
"I’m using them myself because on tour your underwear is something you use a lot on tour, sweating every night so it’s good. Doom underwear!"
Pasi and Aleksi in their dressing room, backstage at Rock City, Nottingham, 4th December 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
PASI PASANEN: In Finland, it’s like every week on release there’s some metal band in the charts but it’s a small country and, well, I guess you don’t have to sell too many records to get on the charts.
MD: So you go in at number one and the second week you’re down to eighty or something?
Official Swallow The Sun Website:
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SWALLOW THE SUN DISCOGRAPHY
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Adam Sagir at The Noise Cartel for arranging the interview
The Morning Never Came (2003)
Ghosts of Loss (2005)
Plague of Butterflies (2008)
Thanks to Hannah Sylvester for recording the interview
AM: Yeah, yeah, at nine and then at thirty and then it’s…
MD: It’s always been the same with Iron Maiden in this country. They go in the top ten then, you know, the second week they’re down to forty or something.
AM: Okay, so we are kind of like Iron Maiden! [laughs]
MD: Have you been surprised by your own success within the scene during the past five years since releasing your first album?
PP: Not really! [laughs]
AM: Yeah, well, because we didn’t really have any expectations when we recorded our first demo and we were like oh, we’ll do a few songs. And then things started rolling really like unexpectedly.
MD: Do you think your success has been helped by the seemingly current resurgence of doom metal since Candlemass reformed a few years ago?…because doom metal seems to be quite big again - well, at least in this country since Candlemass got back together.
PP: I don’t count our music the same doom metal as Candlemass, er…
AM: Well, in Finland, I think there was lots of death/thrash bands coming up and they kinda sounded all the same, and nobody did this slower music. We kinda started it in Finland, and I don’t know about the rest of the world what’s the ‘in’ thing in the metal scene, but in Finland…
MD: So was that kind of music, before you did the first album, always a big kind of music in Finland?
AM: No, not really. [laughs]
MD: So are My Dying Bride really big in Finland?
PP: Not really. They haven’t even played in Finland many times.
AM: They played in 2001 or something - it was seven years ago….maybe eight years ago.
MD: Are there any particular countries that have been good for you as I noticed on your website there’s a link to a Japanese fan site? Are you big in Japan?
AM: [laughs] I don’t think so!
MD: Is this just a random person who has made a fan site?
AM: Yeah, I think they contacted us and wanted build this so we linked to his site.
MD: So are you bigger in any other countries outside of Finland or is it just mainly Finland where your sort of main audience is?
AM: Basically, it’s been hard but we’ve been working on other countries….a lot! We toured last year like seventy gigs abroad.
MD: Yeah, you toured the States with Katatonia and Scar Symmetry?
MD: How did that go?
AM: It was really fun. The audience reactions were something we wouldn’t have expected, like we sold out all our merchandise after a week or so…[laughs]
MD: Damn, should’ve brought more kinda thing…
AM: Yeah [laughs]…and we hardly could get any more during the tour so it was sad that way, but crowd reactions were awesome.
MD: You seem to spend a lot of time on the road touring - do you prefer performing live to recording, or do you enjoy both just as much?
PP: Well, it depends. The studio can be really boring and….I think I like more playing live.
AM: And it depends because after last year when we played our last gig, and if we would have had to set off for another tour, I would have been like oh fuck no! And it’s also really nice to record our album on that point, but now that we haven’t played any gigs this year it’s really starting to…this has been really good being here now for after a while.
MD: Are there any underground bands out there, perhaps from your local scene back home, you’d like to recommend to people who will be reading this?
PP: Underground bands?
MD: Yeah, or any bands; undiscovered bands that are not that big perhaps people could get into.
AM: Do you mean like in our genre or…
MD: Any kind of music really. Any bands you think deserve to get a bit more attention.
AM: Yeah, shitloads! [laughs] But I can’t think of any one band.
PP: I’ve been listening a lot to a Finnish band called Dark Filth Fraternity. It has the Before The Dawn vocalist and guitarist. It’s rock ‘n’ roll, but a great kind.
MD: More of a random question - whose decision was it to include free Swallow The Sun underwear with pre-orders for your last album ‘Hope’, and did you actually wear this underwear yourselves?
AM & PP: [laughs]
[Swallow The Sun vocalist, Mikko Kotamäki, who has been standing just behind me listening to the interview with guitarist Markus Jämsen and bassist Matti Honkonen spontaneously undoes his belt, then his jeans which he pulls down a short way to reveal…….Swallow The Sun underwear!!]
MD: Well, that’s a good advert for your own underwear!
AM: I don’t remember who got the idea, but er…
MD: Was it a label or band idea?
AM: It might be the Record Shop X who had our presales in Finland. They said that they wanted to sell something with this and somebody just came up with…well, let’s do some underwear…and we did!
MD: Pants of doom!
AM: Yeah! [laughs]
MD: Do you have leftovers you sell on the merch stall?
PP: I’m using them myself because on tour your underwear is something you use a lot on tour, sweating every night so it’s good. Doom underwear! [laughs]
MD: Yeah, doom pants!
AM: Pants of metal!
MD: Is this the weirdest bit of merch you sell or do you have anything weirder than doom pants?
AM: No, no, that’s probably the weirdest!
PP: Well…in Finland, our merch table had a paper that says “Bad Sex - 5 Euros”!
MD: Any takers?
PP: None so far! [laughs]
AM: Most of our money comes from that! [laughs]
MD: Doom prostitutes!
AM & PP: [laughs]
MD: Sounds horrible that, doesn’t it?! Final question - you’ve obviously got a lot more touring ahead of you next year in Finland and the States, but what else can people expect from Swallow The Sun in the future?
AM: Well, after we’ve done touring, I think we’ll concentrate on doing our next album, so that should be coming out early 2010 or later 2010.
MD: Have you started composing for the new album?
AM: Yeah, but we haven’t been working as a group with it.
PP: We haven’t rehearsed any material yet.
AM: Not yet, but it’s underway.
MD: Cool. Thank you very much for your time.
AM: Yeah, thank you.
PP: Thank you.
Pasi Pasanen's band recommendation: