First of all, hailz to Mikko and to the other members of the band. How is it going in nowadays, life, music, etc.?
Hello! Thanks for asking, life’s quite mixed at the moment. Personally I’m jumping between all these various things, day job, different Antipope-related things and personal life of course. At times it’s hard to find time and energy to do it all at 100 %. I’ve tried to take a break from some of these things, like I did from song writing after I finished writing House of Harlot almost two years ago, but it just felt like somethings missing when I’m not working on some new music. Around the time our latest album, House of Harlot, was published in November last year, I was already starting to write songs for the new album. So right now we’re rehearsing and working on the new material. I’m not sure when it’s going to be released, yet. Part of me would like to take things more slowly with this one, but on the other hand, the music I write is always somehow connected with the time I’m living and to some recent events in my life, so I kind of have to get it out of my system so that I can move on.
It’s very strange to think that our last album has been out there for only six months, since it was in my head already some two years ago. So in a way it’s quite distant past. And, if you look at how people are listening to it, I think it’s already quite forgotten by the public too, except by a few hardcore Antipope listeners. But that’s the way things go these days. Even if you do something with substance it gets buried by the massive heap of mediocre shit that’s piling up. Hopefully some music and art loving archaeologist will dig it up one day.
If we go back to Antipope band’s founding days, you’ve been said this project is your own idea, can you tell us a little about that days?
I guess all I can tell is just a little, it’s been quite some time, you know. The original idea – and I’m not talking about musical ideas or genres or whatever now – which is still valid, was to form a band and write music in a disestablishmentarian way, so to say. And by that I don’t mean that we have ever aimed at originality for originality’s sake, or tried to be “different” just to be different. What I mean is, that we wanted to write music without any preconceived boundaries or without trying to fit into some specific genre. At various points of our existence we have pointed at some genre tags, like “black metal” or “progressive metal”, just to give some kind of an idea to people about what we were doing, but we have pretty much given up with that. So if you go to an Antipope webpage online, I think what you find as a description is that “Antipope is a metal band”.
Why did we choose this kind of an approach? Well, the reason was that no one of us, of the original line-up or of the current line-up, was a huge fan, or even a moderate fan of any one particular genre, like “metal” for example. We, as individual persons, were not kind of people you would recognize as a “metal” people, you know. We listen to many kinds of music, I personally have moved more and more into electronic and ambient and ethnic kinds of stuff even though I did buy the latest Meshuggah album.
Initially, we chose “black metal” as a kind of a starting point for Antipope. When I was in my teens in 90s, black metal was, at least to me, very individualistic and revolutionary kind of music, at least if you compare it to other sub-genres of metal of that time. So I thought that black metal would give us freedom to do our thing. Of course, by the time Antipope was formed in 2004, I hadn’t been listening to black metal for many years, so I had no idea about the direction the genre had taken. I was quite naïve to think that we, with no intention to bow before black metal gods or any metal gods, would fit in. So we ended up doing something that was not “black metal” enough for those who like black metal and it was too black metal for those who didn’t.
As I said, black metal was kind of a starting point because it felt like something I could relate to at that time. But since other reference points have come and gone. Basically, I’m writing the songs for myself, who is a kind of person who enjoys various kinds of music and moods etc. So looking back at the days when Antipope was started gives us nothing relevant when we are listening to Antipope today. Of course you can find something interesting (if the bad sound quality doesn’t bother you too much) in that very old stuff of ours, something to relate to perhaps. Even if I can’t relate to the songs anymore – I hardly recognize myself singing in the style I used to some five years ago – I can still relate to the queer humor there. And I think humor is one the important concepts in Antipope too, something that I have tried to keep on board since the beginning. And honestly, I think that’s something that sets us a part from many of the metal bands out there – not all, but many. Humor and ability to laugh at yourself, that’s something necessary for our existence. If we lose it, then we, as human race, are lost.
It seems to be your band have a very wide musical background, let’s say want to create a new genre as a Antipope’s genre, what would you name it?
Well, to create a genre would be exactly against what we are up to. Genres, per se, are not evil spawns of Satan, so to say. But the way they are employed, that’s evil. First of all, you have this marketing aspect, which is well known. It’s easier to sell stuff, if the consumer has some kind of a preconception of the stuff you’re selling. But that’s just one downside of the genre thinking.
Bigger problem I see concerns young musicians. Nowadays we see a LOT of new, never-heard bands (you could say Antipope is one of them), that try desperately to fit into a preconceived idea or inside the boundaries of some genre or sub-genre. And those who try to be original, tell you that they try to fit inside several at once. But if you look at the promo photos, band websites, logos, album covers etc., well, it’s quite hard to tell them apart from each other. Since metal became to something commercially feasible, at least in Finland, in early 21st century, that had a creatively destructive effect on the underground. Of course there are those who wouldn’t care less about becoming next Nightwish or Children of Bodom – just to name Finnish bands. But if you look at the underground itself, I mean metal underground – you see, we’re talking in terms of “genre” here –, it has very strict rules of how to behave, how to dress, how to be original in a collectively acceptable manner. In short, you have to have “credibility” to fit in to the community. But for me, that’s not very different from wearing a cross around your neck just because someone told you that God told you to do it.
So no new genres by Antipope, if possible. We have too many to get rid off already.
I have discovered Antipope by your last album is "House of Harlot". This album has very different vocal experiments. Also there are compositions that would be called "industrial". Are these used for the sake of variety or are these used to build something different/original?
That’s a very difficult yet an easy question to answer. Things you find on our records are there because, at the time we were writing them, were inspired by some other things that turned into the things you here on the album. My vocal style is always on the move. Because the issues I was singing about in the past were different than those I’m singing about now, my vocal style too is different. It’s natural evolution and progression. For us, the things we do, are not particularly “original”, we are more or less aware of the influences and things that have inspired us. So it’s more like trying to copy something that we like without actually making a copy of it. It is our listeners who might find what we do original, but for us it’s pretty much just mixing up things we have heard in the past that we have liked.
Is that right that your first album "Apostate Angel" is not released widely? Because I couldn’t find a single file at any mailorder site nor digital publishing sites?
“Apostate Angel” is not that much of an album really. It’s more like a collection of early demos. I collected the songs on a CD-R to give to a person who was visiting my home town in 2006, and afterwards I put some of the songs online. We recorded those songs with minimum equipment. There are songs like “Stormbringer”, one of the first songs I wrote for Antipope, that was records as a studio live, except for vocals. I had an 8-track recorder that could record 2 track simultaneously, so the whole things was mixed before it went on the tape. For this reason the sound quality is not the best possible, and the songs wouldn’t be that awesome either.
The second album, "Desert" was launched through your own label TCM Records, How was the response? Do you think that the promotion is better when you do it on your own?
Desert got very little attention in the media, even though the response from the listeners was quite positive. Desert is a complicated album and the first project of that size I have worked on. There was a lot of things to learn, production-wise and about album sequence etc., and a lot of what I learned got put into action on House of Harlot. Even though it’s very liberating to do-it-yourself, there’s a lot you need to know when you’re trying to make a proper album. Too bad the errors that I do while learning get published. But on the other hand, that’s a great motivator, since I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes publicly that many times.
When it comes to promotion, when you’re working alone, there is only so much you can do. We didn’t have many contacts so the promotion was very limited.
"House of Harlot", your lastest album released by Violent Journey Records which is one of the most active underground metal label in Finland, How was dealt with them? And are you satisfied with their work at promotion, etc.?
We have been very happy with VJR. They helped us to promote album, and I think it was due to that that we gained more listeners with this album.
You’re not very active in the social media (facebook, twitter, and so on), is this your own choice? Do you have any plans to do more advertising soon?
For awhile we tried to be more active in social media and stuff, but first of all, it made me feel like we were trying to sell ourselves, the band. The social media revolves around people mostly. We are just a group of quite uninteresting persons who write music as “Antipope”. We do try to promote our music, we got some plans for future music videos, for example, but we have no plans to be more active socially, if you know what I mean. I really don’t know why should anyone care what we do on daily basis. And if some do, I don’t necessarily want to share my life with them. Our facebook page is there to inform the fans if something musically interesting is happening, not because we want to share our lives with them. So I guess it is our choice to keep to ourselves when it comes to something else than music. And there’s just a limited amount of music and music related news we can produce at any given time.
I was browsing through the old information about your tours outside of Finland, currently I’m seeing that you aren’t rendering. Do you have any tours on your mind?
We are working on trying to book more gigs for this year. We got only one confirmed date for October, but hopefully we can secure a couple of more before years end. Times are a bit tough now, for every small or unknown band I’d say. Clubs in Finland prefer people drinking beer, which is more profitable than having live music by some less known band.
What is the place of Oscar Wilde in your life? I have saw that you have composed a song and named the song after his work, is he a direct influence at your whole lyrics or only at that song? And what are your lyrics about in general?
I’ve read “Picture of Dorian Gray” and some poems by Wilde, that’s about it. Of course Wilde was a kind of an artist that sets standards for all of us. He wasn’t willing obay the rules set by the society he lived in – and he paid for it, dearly. Wilde was in a way a personification of his art, or his art was a personification of Oscar Wilde. Again we have the line between public and private here, like in social media nowadays. But even though Wilde lived his art, at least partially, I can’t see him as someone who today tries to get attention just by yelling “look at me, I’m interesting”. Even if you hadn’t ever heard about Oscar Wilde and what he probably was like, you can enjoy his writing, because the artist he was, is there, in the writing.
The title song of House of Harlot was directly based on Wilde’s poem, as you know. I read some of his poetry around the time I was working on other songs of House of Harlot too, so maybe there are some bits here and there that are influenced by him. Generally I think House of Harlot had a bit Wildean theme to it, a lot of suppressed urges, lust that is not acceptable and so on.
I guess that you have been asked a lot about this but I will ask no matter what. What was the reason for naming your band Antipope?
Back then I felt that the name Antipope would epitomize the idea of disestablismentarian attitude towards the music we were going to do. And naturally, antipopes were historical figures, popes themselves. So when you’re listening to Antipope, who you are listening to, then?
You are in the metal-scene for 20 years now. How would you describe the past 20 years with all these musical and commercial development?
Huh, I wouldn’t say I have been in the metal-scene at all, at least that’s how I see it. I have been listening to rock and metal since I was 10 years old, I let my hair grow when I parents kind of agreed to it, but mostly I see myself as just someone who happens to listen to music you call “metal”. And, incidentally, I also write some by myself. I think that pretty much gives you an idea of how I see the scene of metal.
But to answer your question, I think that the development has been two-faced. Commercially, if we for a moment forget the fact that no one is buying records anymore, metal scene has been doing very well. When I started to listen to metal back in early 90s, it was very small group of people who did that. But to day, if you go into a night club or a public house in the middle of the day, you might here something more or less metal playing there. We got a couple of radio stations dedicated to rock and metal in Finland, for example. When I was a kid I used to read old “Metal Hammer” issues since there was no metal magazines in Finland, but now we have couple of them, we have festivals dedicated to metal, like they have in other countries too. So, in general, metal has been doing very well, commercially, during to last 20 years.
Musically? I think that’s an altogether different story. Naturally it’s easy to point out from the past how great the bands used to be like in 70’s or 80’s or even 90’s, because all the horrible shit has been forgotten. But if we do not look at individual bands, but just the scene, I think metal scene in general has been suffering from serious stagnation since late 90’s. If you call playing faster or with lower tuning a “progression” or evolution or innovation, then you still have progression in metal scene. But for me it’s just a different playing style or different tuning, but it’s still basically the same metal they have been playing for last two decades.. If you incorporate fast playing skills with lyrics about ancient Egypt or outer space, you end up defining a new sub-genre these days. I mean like, what?! If things like that are revolutionary, then Iron Maiden created a new fucking sub-genre with every second song of theirs back in the 80’s.
The new bands are inspired by what they call “old school” this or that, and they end up doing exactly the same stuff they are inspired by. I’ve never understood artistically these “retro bands”, like Ghost, even though they might be funny on the first listening (but they do get boring on second or third listening). But even less I’ve understood the bands who claim to play, for example, “old school death metal”. I mean, if you like Cannibal Corpse of early 90’s, just cover them, don’t poison the world by making bad carbon copies of them. It’s like people were afraid to take steps forward because they were afraid of falling. And thanks to ever increasing tendency put bands into this or that sub-genre of metal, almost everyone is afraid of standing out as something that just doesn’t fit in.
Thank you for your time. Would you like to say something to our readers?
Thank you, it was a please. Well, I’d like to say don’t fit in, stand out, and don’t believe what other people tell you, unless it’s is your mother.