Swalow The Sun
Swallow The Sun is an innovative doom/death metal band hailing from icy Finland. Their first album appeared at Firebox Records and it’s not just my opinion that “The Morning Never Came” is probably one of the best albums in genre of the year 2003.
If you like My Dying Bride, Mourning Beloveth, The Prophecy then you must also check out Swallow The Sun. Slow and crushing doom riffs, gloomy harmonies and mainly growls but also a few clean vocals are the formula of this very promising band. The man who answered my questions was the drummer Pasi Pasanen.
Hi! At first I wish you a Happy Doomy New Year and thanks for doing this interview!
How’s life at this time in Finland? Probably you’re facing a frosty winter as always. Does vodka (or other hard drinks) help you to survive the wintry weather? How did the members of Swallow The Sun spent the New Year’s Eve?
It's cold here right now. Yes, we often do use some alcohol products too. We had a show in Helsinki on New Years Eve, so the evening included some drinking and waiting for the showtime.
I would like you to tell us a little bit of the time before Swallow The Sun. What pushed you guys to start this band? When was your first contact with metal music and who were the biggest influences on your music?
Juha & I also play in Plutonium Orange, and Juha had some song ideas that didn't fit to the line of PO, so we rehearsed them together. Then, after year or so, we started putting the band together. Every member in the band has very metallic taste in music. Maybe the most obvious influences are bands like My Dying Bride, Katatonia, Candlemass, Opeth and even Death. My first contact with metal music was in the early 80's, but I started playing drums many years later, in ‘89-90.
"The Morning Never Came" is a very strong material for a debut and you received a lot of positive reactions for this CD. It seems that this kind of music is getting more and more respect day by day. I think it’s fair to say that we are assisting to the birth of a second wave of death/doom metal scene. What do you think about that?
I didn't know the "first wave" ended already.
Maybe we just happened to do something a bit different and in the right time. The reactions at the album have been great so far. Death-doom genre has never been very big I think, but maybe it is getting more attention nowadays.
In my opinion your music is similar a little bit to Mourning Beloveth, but while Mourning Beloveth is warm and Irish, Swallow The Sun is cold and Finnish. Do you know by any chance the above mentioned Irish doomsters?
I know the band by name, but have never heard their music. Maybe I'll check them out. Isn't Primordial Irish? Well anyway, I like their music a lot.
Swallow The Sun - it is a very suggestive name for a your band and fits very good with the music you play. Who came up with the band name?
We don't actually remember who it was, cos' we were pretty drunk when the name came up. We were in a bar and had some words from where to start and suddenly someone came up with this name. It sounded good and it isn't too obvious so we decided it right away.
The members of Swallow The Sun are involved into a lot of other bands/projects. Please tell me about each band separately. What kind of music did they play and so on…?
These are the active bands our members are involved with:
Plutonium Orange: metallic, melodic heavy rock.
Funeris Nocturnum: antichristian extreme metal.
Trollheims Grott: black metal.
Rautakello: Finnish soft heavy rock.
The band was formed in spring 2000 and after a single demo (Out Of This Gloomy Light, 2003) Firebox Records offered you a record deal. Are you considering yourself lucky for that?
We may have gotten lucky, but then again, it would have been a small wonder if the demo wouldn't get us a deal. Firebox has done a great work too. We didn't actually send the demo to many labels and also we wanted to have a Finnish label, so we signed the deal few months after the demo.
How are the relations with your record label? Are you satisfied with the promotion work of Firebox? It seems that they are making a very strong promotion for their bands.
Yes, the promotion has been surprisingly good.
On the promo sheet you are labeled as "doomy death metal", but I didn’t find the death metal influences. I mean the vocal is formed mainly of growls, but there are no death metal riffs… What do you think about the label’s ticketing? How would you categorize your music?
It's hard to describe it like that. If someone asks me what kind of music Swallow The Sun plays, I say "If you like for example My Dying Bride or Opeth, maybe you should check our album out". There's always someone who doesn't like what ever category we're put in, but it's really not that big a deal. Different people have different thoughts and find different things in music.
You fit very well into the profile of Firebox Records. Have you listened to other Firebox Records’ bands?
I've heard Pantheist, Total Devastation, they are great. I'm waiting to hear Mar De Grises too. Oh yeah, I heard also Wasara's album, but didn't like it too much.
I was a little bit surprised when I read the band member info on your website. I was almost sure that cult doom bands like Unholy or Skepticism are among your influences, but it seems that no one from the band likes them particularly. Do you know their music? Are you in contact with other Finnish doom bands?
I have some Unholy album(s) myself and they are ok. I've also heard Skepticism. Reverend Bizarre are good from existing bands and I've been in some contact with one of them. There are plenty of contacts with other than doom bands though, and a lot.
I have only a promo copy of your CD so I don’t have the lyrics, but judgeing by the song titles the lyrics are pretty depressed and death is also a theme that appears in the lyrics. What are the lyrics about? What do you think about death? Do you think there is an afterlife?
The lyrics are mainly horror stories, grief and such. Death is certain, life is not. I don't think there's anything after death.
The first word that entered my mind when I saw the cover for the first time was "gloomy". The cover is very suggestive and fits perfectly to the music. Who is responsible for the artwork?
The cover art and lay out was done by Tuomo Lehtonen. We gave him an idea from where he started. The covers are amazingly great.
I’ve heard that in Finland almost everybody has a little house, or lodge in the forest or at the lakeside. Is that so? Has the surrounding nature have a word to say when you are composing?
Do you think that the music of Swallow The Sun would have been different if you were living in an other country with an other environment?
It may have been different if we lived in Spain for example. We draw ideas and influences from everything around us, so nature can give something too. Yes, Finnish people have lots of summer cabins, usually at lakeside.
What do you think about internet, web-magazines and the whole digitalized press? How do you think will influence the metal world the thing that mp3.com was shut down?
It always was a great chance for unknown bands to get a little acquaintance or even to get a contract.
Web-mags are great way to get to know new bands, read articles, reviews and so on. They are also a great way to promote your own stuff. I think shutting down mp3.com will have more effect in mainstream music world than metal world.
There are only two songs which have melodic vocals. Why didn’t you use more stuff like that instead of growling? Is there a chance to include more melodic vocals in the future?
We want to keep the brutal side the main thing and bring something different with the occasional clean parts. The growl vocals will remain the main thing in the future too.
What’s the situation with the live appearances? Have you ever performed live? Which are the bands you would like to play with?
Yes, we've played 3 shows so far and they have been great. We also have a booking agency now, so there's more shows ahead. Surely we'd like to play with My Dying Bride or Katatonia for example, but there are so many great bands that I won't list them.
What can you tell me about your hometown? Is there a local scene, or any good band to mention? Can you play often gigs in your area?
Jyväskylä has a virile music scene with bands like StS, Plutonium Orange, Funeris Nocturnum, Sunride, Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus, Enter My Silence, Alghazanth, Obscurant, Unveiled etc. There are plenty of gigs here and a few good clubs like Lutakko and Bar 68. We played in Jyväskylä in Dec. ‘03 and we are playing in Lutakko tomorrow with Plutonium Orange, so we play here a few times a year.
What are you doing when you’re not occupied with the band and how do you guys make your living? Any hobbies?
Some of us study, one of us works and three of us are unemployed. When we’re not playing, I usually hang out with my friends, drink beer & party, surf on the web, watch movies or listen to music. That goes for the whole gang I guess. Music is the most important as a hobby also.
That would be all for the moment. Thank you for answering my questions! Any final words?
Thank you for an interesting interview. Let's metal!
by Robert Sun