First of all I'd like that you introduce us a bit into Subaudition, as I didn't know anything about your band before your first album, entitled “The Scope”. Where you in other musical projects before this one? What made you take the decision to start Subaudition?
Antti: Subaudition was formed in early 2003 by myself and Roope. We had made friends a couple of years earlier, and were already playing in the same prog rock/crossover band called Manifold Object in 2001. After the band started moving into an unwanted direction (in my opinion, that is), I left the band to start something of my very own. Roope followed soon after and a couple of months later we had our debut demo “Waves at Ease” ready to be released. The reason we started Subaudition was to experiment with acoustic instruments and minimalistic arrangements, putting great emphasis on the emotion side of music. For me Subaudition is about taking a good look into myself, and consequently putting everything that is me into the music.
Roope: There were plenty of bands that I played in before Manifold Object and Subaudition. The line-ups were mostly the same but we changed the name of the group and had lots of fun. At least for me they were humorous therapy bands with a laid back attitude and a lot of comedy. Manifold Object (M.O. for short) was the first serious band beside my own ambient project “Cosmic Hysterica”. M.O. was an ambitious progressive rock band with a lot of different condiments. We did three records before the band split up and some of the material was really cool and challenging from the musician’s point of view. That band was very educational, at least technically.
The music of Subaudition is quite complicated to describe, and it has, without any doubt, a large quantity of influences. The promotional sheet I received spoke about Sigur Ros and Tenhi as the clearer ones, but which ones would you mention?
Antti: I would say Pink Floyd, Anathema and Katatonia have been even more important and more influential as regards my work in Subaudition. In addition to that I have mainly been into metal music for the biggest part of my life. I’d say 90 percent of what I listen to is metal, and even if it doesn’t influence my music directly, there are some elements and dimensions that Subaudition has in common with many of my favourite metal bands. We are totally honest in our music and with our music. Anyway, of course I cannot undermine the influence Tenhi has had on my musical consciousness. They are one of the reasons I discovered the acoustic guitar as an instrument myself.
Roope: I have heard one song of Sigur Ros and one and a half album of Tenhi so these groups are not my major influences. My so called favourites change so rapidly that I’m afraid that a big part of the influential material doesn’t find time to percolate into whatever I do. (When writing this I’m enjoying the sounds of Captain Beefheart). There are few bands that have stayed in my head for a long time like Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa. I also listen to a lot of classical music such as Erik Satie and Claude Debussy.
The variety of instruments used on “The scope” is part of it's special sound. Can you make a little explanation of which ones were used and why did you choose them? Do you think you could have recorded your ideas only with “usual instruments”?
Antti: On “The Scope” we used saxophone, flute, clarinet, hammond and rhodes. These were brought in for the sake of diversity mostly, at least I couldn’t imagine those parts being played with guitars. I would’ve liked to write some of the guitar melodies onto string instruments, such as the violin and the cello, but unfortunately we didn’t know anyone who could play those instruments. Anyway, the hammond and rhodes play an even more central part in some of the songs, I think. Using “normal” keyboards in those parts would’ve felt a bit like cheating, I’d say, so we’re very happy to have known Mikko who put some great stuff onto the tape on the hammond and the rhodes. So, to answer your question briefly: no, using usual instruments in those parts was not an option for us.
Roope: Interesting question! I’m a big enthusiast of wind instruments and I wanted to use them more than brass instruments because winds sound softer and produce a very delightful result when they are placed one beneath the other as in score. Although there is a great store of saxophone on The Scope, I tried to achieve as mellow and soft a sound from the sax as possible by using echoes and equalizers. I wanted it to sound more like a “wooden saxophone”. I suppose all this wind instrument exhilaration comes to me from the soundscapes that Debussy created.
Another important part, although it is used in little quantities, are the vocals, by Mikko Saari, which are quite simple and minimalistic, especially on “Blinking in the piers”, but give to the music a lot of feeling. Which are his biggest vocal influences? What feelings did you want to transmit with the vocals? Do they have a different function from the music or you want them to be a whole body?
Antti: Actually Mikko just plays the hammond and rhodes, I do the vocals. For me vocals is the number one instrument, I cannot express myself as well over the guitar, for example. It’s obviously the most human, most natural instrument of all. Having said that, though, I still think that vocals is just one instrument among many other equally important instruments, which is why we don’t put the vocals too much in the front in the soundscape. There are many singers I respect immensely, and I always concentrate on the tone of the voice rather than simply the technique. I couldn’t care less about the technique, as long as the tone of voice suits the music. I love Vincent Cavanagh from Anathema, Beth Gibbons from Portishead, David Gilmour from Pink Floyd and Chris Martin from Coldplay, to mention but a few. Theses singers put so much emotion into their singing that even a few false notes here and there cannot spoil the mood their voices create.
Going to the lyrical side of “The scope”, I don't know too much about it, and I'd like that you explain us which subjects do you like to speak about on them. Does your everyday's life has any weight on this part? Which are the main influences for Subaudition's lyrics?
Antti: The lyrics are mostly about what I’ve experienced and what those close to me have experienced. On “The Scope” there are a few songs that deal with untimely death. Many of the songs play with transcendental imagery such as angels. I will not open up the lyrics any more than saying that the reader really needs to take a look behind the actual words, before shaping his/her ideas about the lyrics or my personal ideology. My influences are even more diverse with poetry than the music itself. I love the Finnish poetry of early 20th century, I love the form of Japanese haiku poetry, but the most important texts have always come from English-written literature, for me at least. Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Henry James and Virginia Woolf are some of the writers I have a deep relationship with.
You come from Finland, a country known for it's cold weather and, sometimes, depressive people. Does Subaudition's music reflect a part of your country? What are the things you like the most and the less from your country?
Antti: There is nothing I dislike about Finland, I have only good things to say about it. I’m sure you meant “depressed” rather than “depressive”, because I certainly don’t think that Finns are at all depressing. I do love the nature, the summer and our summer cottage, for example, but I also love certain elements in the cold weather, and in winter, too, of course. I personally think that we don’t sound particularly Finnish, since even most of our influences come from foreign bands. It’s hard to think that a Jamaican band would sound similar to Subaudition, but a British band could very well sound very much like us, for example.
Roope: I believe Subaudition reflects its surroundings but the the question is if we can notice it or not. People from foreign/exotic countries might notice the “overall finnish ambience” in our music as we recognize the warmth and groove in their music which cannot be created anywhere else. If one puts it this way I guess we all are very exotic - exoticism lies inside our heads.
Is there any possibility that Subaudition plays a live show in the coming future or you prefer to remain a studio band? With who and where would you like to play?
Antti: There was a time when we were a bit undecided about playing live. However, now we’ve decided that we’ll at least try it a few times. In fact we’re supporting Danny Cavanagh (Anathema) on his acoustic gig in our hometown Tampere on the 11th of August, that’s just being confirmed. To be honest, Danny is one of the musicians/composers I really look up to, so this is an amazing opportunity for myself as well as for Subaudition. Of course there are also many other artists I’d like to play with, but we sure as hell couldn’t get a better artist to warm up for on our first gig! I’m really hoping to play in Germany one day, because many people there seem to like our music.
Roope: I would like to play with Hans Reichel or at least be in a warm-up act. Or if only we can jam with Keith Jarrett. That would be at least two hour show.
Going again to your country, we can say it is one of the places from where more bands(especially Metal ones) have emerged in these last years. Can you recommend us some new outfits which look interesting to you? What do you think about Lordi's show at Eurovision? Is it so important as some people think for “non commercial music”?
Antti: I have some difficulties in seeing Lordi’s success bringing success to Finnish bands generally. In any case, musically Lordi is pure crap, in my opinion. It’s better treated as a phenomenon, perhaps as a trend of sort, in fact. It’s a bit funny to see foreign people getting crazy over bands which are basically laughed at in their home country. I’m not saying Lordi is one of them, though. In any case, second-rate music has never been my cup of tea. I have tons more respect for bands (and pioneers, if you like) like Nightwish and HIM, for example, who have, first and foremost, won over people’s hearts with their music.
Roope: Of course there are some (new) fantastic Finnish outfits that I’d like to recommend. Dolorian is one of the most interesting bands I have discovered over the past few years. They have created their own edition of drugged/spaced-out funeral doom. In a way it has nothing to do with metal, but still has the heaviness (both physical and mental) many metal bands can only dream about. Then there’s Scorched Earth Tactics, who play “extreme action deathcore” – fast and furious metal-based crossover music, that is. They’re definitely worth checking out if you think Dillinger Escape Plan is just a bunch of ‘hardcore’ pussies who are still learning how to make a song. Farmakon is yet another band to check out, if you were let down by the latest Opeth opus. They’re currently unsigned, so if you’re a label owner looking for a bumby, but satisfying ride, then go for this one! From the more atmospheric side of the track one could pick up Magyar Posse who sure know how to mix soundtrack-ish (e.g. Ennio Morricone) stuff with post-rock and even folk melodies!
Some short ones now:
Antti: So you want me to choose between the two, ok...
- Prog' Rock or Folk music: PROG, definitely!!
- Earth or water: water
- Politics or religion: a difficult one, couldn’t care less about either one... as a phenomenon I’m more interested in religion, however, so I’ll pick that one.
- Pink Floyd or King Crimson: Pink Floyd! No other band stands a chance against the Floyd in my books!
- Tragedy or comedy: Life’s a tragic comedy, then again I’m more interested in Shakespeare’s tragedies than his comedies... I’ll say tragedy.
- Prog' Rock or Folk music: Prog’ Rock
- Earth or water: Earth
- Politics or religion: Politics
- Pink Floyd or King Crimson: Pink Floyd
- Tragedy or comedy: Comedy
Ok, the interview is finished now. I want to thank you for your answers and wish you the best for Subaudition in the coming future. If you want to add something else, go on...
Antti: Long live Syd Barrett!!!
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.