- Hey Jukka! Tell us about your first acquaintance with Death Metal? What were the first bands that changed your musical views? At those days, what was your general understanding of Death Metal?
- It was a gradual change from heavy metal, through speed and thrash metal to death and grind.
I think the first major death metal crushes for me personally, were Morbid Angel and Bolt Thrower. But bands like Nihilist, Autopsy and Obituary definitely had an impact too.
Regarding my understanding… I don’t think I cared about the labels. The Finnish metal scene was rather small and it was very open to all kinds of heavy music. We played several gigs with speed metal bands and few with traditional heavy metal ones as well. Before the band, we went to a lot of local shows that would have a rock ‘n roll bands as well as some metal ones.
- How actively was developing the local underground scene? How often did you have metal gigs? What were the first bands and live shows that inspired you to create your own band?
- The scene grew at an enormous pace. Before we started, record labels had just found speed metal, every and each one of them was scrambling to get on the bandwagon. Few rather mediocre bands got signed and several very talented ones got ignored.
Gigs were a plenty, you could organize your own at community centers and there were more professional events at least once a month. The problem was, there were no death metal bands and we sort of decided to step up.
I think the first band for me was Kiss, at the tender age of 9 or 10. But as far as metal goes, it might have been Venom, because even back then I thought these guys don’t play too well but they still sound awesome… maybe I could do it too! Final push was probably Tomi’s previous band Violent Solution and another friend's band Antidote, whose rehearsals we often went to see.
- So, the band was formed in early 1989. Do you remember the exact moment when it happened? How did you meet each other? Where was your first rehearsal place?
- We had a band before Abhorrence, few of them I think, last of which was called Disaster. We rehearsed in the school music classroom and sort of just hung around, played some covers and generally tried to spend time. Most of us were already friends from school or through other friends and we realized we were the only handful of people who actually liked this new extremely aggressive style of music. Tomi had grown tired of Violent Solution’s speed/thrash style and said he was looking to form a new band, it sort of clicked rather easily and we started playing covers at first.
The first proper rehearsal room was in the schools bomb shelter, it was used as a recording studio for school projects and we managed to get the permission to play there. I think it helped to speed us moving that we played so loud and that we had some of our own gear that needed to be locked behind secure doors.
- "Vulgar Necrolatry" demo was released in 1990. Tell us about the recordings, how did it go? How long did it take you to write down all tracks?
- Regarding the writing, I have no recollection. Now it seems we had something new to play at almost every rehearsal, but it was probably just trying to finish the next track and fine tuning the older ones.
The recording happened in a small unofficial studio, which was just a small soundproofed room in the furthest corner of a commercial parking garage. The “studio” was a rehearsal room and place to demo new tracks for a jazz band, and the “sound engineer” was a member of the band. He was very frustrated with the whole experience. I don’t think he had any idea what the fuck we were doing and every time he tried to clear up or crispen the sound, we told him to do the exact opposite. He did not enjoy it.
- How did you distribute the record? Did you take part in the tape-trading? Do you remember the first bands you exchanged the tapes with? Did you get in contact with any American bands?
- I assume you mean the tape demo. In the beginning our drummer Kimmo was a big tape trading fan and he had hundreds of correspondents around the world. So our stuff got around rather quickly. Later Tomi started trading and Juice took care of all IRC orders and such.I think few of the first bands from other countries were Nihilist/Entombed and Cadaver (NOR).
I never traded, so I don’t remember too many specifics, but I think there were few from US. Probably at least Incantation, possibly Autopsy too.
- There also was another demo, "Macabre Masquerade". What happened with it? What was on it? Why wasn't it released and how did it get leaked to the public?
- It was a rehearsal tape that was never supposed to go out officially. It had one or two half done new tracks and slightly alternative versions of few older tracks. I think Tomi recorded it to cassette B-sides for some of his tape trading friends as a bonus.
It wasn’t supposed to be released at all, it was more for our own use and something we could give to friends.
- Your first official record was the self-titled EP, released by infamous "Seraphic Decay Records". How did you get the deal? Did you receive any other offers? And how did you get ripped off?
- Basically Steve O’Bannon asked if he could release something and we said, OK!
We did get other offers later, but around that time it was the only one. I think Relapse was in contact with Tomi around the time we broke up and he ended up sending demo material by Amorphis as a reply. And the rest is history, as they say.
The rip off was something that happened to a lot of bands Seraphic released. He promised one things, did another and then never replied to any correspondence. Basically he did a small batch print of the record, sent us our share and then made several re-presses without telling the bands. He was supposed to send us our share of the records or pay us equivalent amount of money.
But you know, the guy used “SCAM” as his catalog ID for fucks sake!
- Alright, how did the recording go in general. Where did you record it? How different was this session from your previous demos experience?
- The EP was recorded in Timo Tolkki’s studio, of Stratovarius fame, where they demoed their stuff and as Timo was studying to be a sound engineer, it was his place to learn as well.
This time around we had a guy who had very precise ideas what metal music is, but since his background was in traditional heavy metal, hard/prog rock and power metal, his view was very different from ours. I think during the recording of basic tracks and groundwork for the EP, he said something like “I see. So everything I do, you want me to do the exact opposite” and after that it was smooth sailing. He realized what we wanted and tried to make it happed to the best of his knowledge. I think it was an educational session for him too, as far as his engineering studies goes.
As you can imagine, the whole thing was very different and very positive, compared to the previous one. Now we knew what happens in the studio and knew what we could ask.
- Later on the same material was included in the 6-bands split CD. Were you aware of this release? Did you discuss the possibility of record the new material for it?
- Not at the time. I became aware of it like 10 years later, when someone emailed me about a copy being on sale in eBay. The split CD thingie came out years later, to my knowledge.
We did not discuss recording new material at this point, as the band had already been dissolved.
- And then the band split up. What was the reason for it? Also, tell us about your assistance in the first Amorphis steps. You did some vocals, didn't you?
- The main reason was probably too much too soon. Suddenly it felt like nothing was happening, after everything happened in a really fast pace. Our musical tastes was starting to widen as well, so everyone wanted to try other things out, besides plain death metal.
I did some vocals, yes. They wanted to record a version of Vulgar Necrolatry and thought it would be a good idea to have me do the vocals for that track. I went on to few gigs to do that track as well.
- In 2012, Svart Records released the compilation of your material. Who came up with that idea and when did you first start working on it? How do you like the remastered sound and the work that Sami Jamsen did for this release?
- I was actually shopping around for someone to release the material for a while, before Svart came along. Several smaller labels were interested, but none of them felt like “this is it” to me.
I think Tomi (from Svart) emailed me in 2010 and asked if we had thought about compilation of some kind. Him contacting me got me in gear and in the beginning we got off to a running start, since I had a lot of material ready.
I love what Mr. Jämsen did! It also bears repeating that it wasn’t really “remastering”, since there were no masters to begin with. What he did was essentially magic. Black sound magic of the highest order.
- And then you had a few live shows performed in 2013. What was the line-up? How was it to play all together once again? How many tracks did you play?
- We played a sort of cameo/alias gig (under the moniker Bob Horrence), where we wanted to see reactions and how we perform under live audience. We then played Tuska Open Air and Hammer Open Air.
The line-up was the original one, minus drummer. We had Mr. Tuomikanto play drums and he was the best thing that happened to the bands since… well, possibly ever. Professional and all around awesome dude!
It was great to play with those dudes and as it happens the Tuska show was a bit of a dream come true for us. I don’t remember how many tracks, but we rehearsed a full 40-45 minute show.
- What are you up to now? Have you ever discussed the possibility of another reunion shows? Maybe even a new record?
- We’re not up to no nuthin’, as it is. We’ve seen each other, we’ve talked loads of shit, but I have no idea what the future brings.
We already decided that we will definitely not do any more reunion shows. It sort of defeats the purpose to do another round of reunion shows, not to mention it’s fucking lame as hell.
Regarding a new record, well, we did record the Tuska show with professional gear direct from the mixing table, so that might actually see the light of day. Maybe. Possibly, some day.
- Thank you for this interview, Jukka. Is there anything you would like to say?
- Thanks for the interest and all the best.
Also, support the bands! Buy their merch and go see them play. If you have the money, go buy the stuff you don’t really want, because it helps them do what you want them to do. Music.
Just streaming music is not enough if you want them to keep making that good shit.