GHOST BRIGADE 1 / 3 – Innovation Through Isolation
Eternal Terror’s Matt Coe has been captivated by this Finnish group for their seamless blend of death, doom, gothic, and alternative pastures. 2007’s debut “Guided By Fire” quickly took over my headspace for the better part of the last half of the year, and now the follow up “Isolation Songs” continues their high quality output. Matt recently gained the chance to talk to guitarist Ville Naukkarinen, allowing them to give us insight into their songs, their views on life and what to expect from future shows.
How long does it take you to come up with material for each of your albums? Do you have to be in a particular mood to write your material or do you find that the daily events of life give you enough fuel to write your dark, ambitious and emotional songs?
These songs took around two years to write and that’s around the same time it took to write “Guided By Fire” as well. The first songs were written around the time “Guided By Fire” came out and the newest ones were finished around a month before we entered the studio. We don’t really have any rules or deadlines when it comes to composing. Our lives are not dependant on how many records we sell or when we release albums so we take our time and write whenever we feel like it. Sometimes you’re motivated and sometimes you aren’t, it’s just how it is. You can’t force it.
I can only speak for myself here but when I write songs for Ghost Brigade, I have to be completely isolated from my surroundings. I don’t know if this is the case with the other guys in this band but for me it’s the only way to make music. I have to be alone in order to concentrate fully on writing. I can’t get into a specific mood that I have while writing if there is someone else in the same room.
You originally started Ghost Brigade as a project – at what point did you decide to take this on as more of a band?
Yes, Ghost Brigade was indeed a project first but after recording the first demo tape we just kind of realized we had something special in our hands. Something that was too good to hide under a project-tag. At that time our old bands broke up as well so all of a sudden we had only Ghost Brigade and we had a deal with Season of Mist… I’m glad things turned out this way, I wouldn’t trade this for anything, I really feel privileged to be a member of this band.
Please describe your original backgrounds as musicians, as I understand you come from a mix of doom, alternative rock and straight rock acts?
Yeah, we all played in alternative rock and metal bands for many many years before Ghost Brigade but what people don’t necessarily know is that most of us are originally old-school death metal guys. Carcass, Xysma, At The Gates, Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Paradise Lost, Entombed…, you know, those are the bands most of us grew up listening to in the early nineties. We bought the ‘zines and traded the tapes. Things just happened this way and when we formed our own bands in our teenage years they ended up being straight forward rock instead of death metal and I guess that for one has a lot to do with what Entombed did on “Wolverine Blues” or Xysma with “Lotto”. Both were death metal bands flirting with rock ‘n’ roll and back then we thought that was the coolest thing ever. But yeah, that is a long time ago, we’re older now and with age comes open-mindedness and these days we all have very varied tastes in music. Genres don’t matter shit anymore, it’s all about quality and finding music that is interesting. If it’s punk rock, black metal or electro makes no difference. Good music is good music.
You’ve admitted in previous interviews that playing this style of doom/death requires precision, which can be tougher for the average listener to understand. Which songs on your albums for instance were tougher to play as a result of your slower, ever evolving dynamics?
Obviously the more technical stuff like the opening riffs in “Autoemotive” or “Liar” is the hardest to play on guitar but also the simplest riffs like in “Concealed Revulsions” for example are tough as well. Both these styles demand extreme precision and a good groove or otherwise they just sound flat and uninspired. It was hard to record some of those songs but we pulled it off. The easiest ones are definitely songs like “Lost In A Loop” or “Rails At The River” which both have more groove-oriented, sludgier riffs, reminiscent of lot of the stuff we did in our rock bands.
Do you feel Ghost Brigade and Season of Mist are a good match in terms of understanding what the band is all about, as well as their diverse roster of acts which helps all their artists appeal to a creative, progressive audience?
Definitely so. To be honest, I wouldn’t necessarily want to be on any other label at this point. It is a very good label to be on while you’re still a young, growing band. The communication works well with them and they trust us enough to let us do basically whatever we want with our music so it’s all good. Nice folks too and they seem to be pretty excited about Ghost Brigade so you know, I have no complaints whatsoever.
How do these songs translate in a live setting? Are there times that you try to add in more of a jam-atmosphere to take the material to new heights at shows or festivals? What do you see are the major differences between Ghost Brigade in the studio versus at live shows?
There’s no big difference in my opinion. To me both album and live versions sound pretty much the same as we don’t jam much with this band. We haven’t played the new stuff live yet except for “22:22 – Nihil” and “Lost In A Loop” but I do have a feeling these newer songs will work live just fine. These new songs have a bit more groove compared to the ones on “Guided By Fire” so it shouldn’t be a problem. A lot of people have said the older “GBF” songs sound better live than on album but I have no idea if that’s true as I have not seen my band live 😉
I take that as a compliment though.