GHOST BRIGADE 2 / 3 – Innovation Through More 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.
At this point does the quality of your fan following matter more than the quantity?
Well, for starters we write these songs for ourselves, not for others so if we have ten or a thousand fans does not really make any difference on our doings. Ghost Brigade was formed as a musical sandbox for the six of us and that’s what it still is. We are of course very, very grateful that people have found our band, come to the shows and appreciate what we are doing but collecting a huge fan base or becoming something big is not something we aim for. If we some day become a bigger band, fine, but we’d be still doing this if we had no fans.
How would you describe the average Ghost Brigade fan – do you find that you have a wide collection of males and females in different age groups at the shows?
About the ‘quality of fan base’ I have to say that there is no such thing. We welcome everyone and I really mean EVERYONE to listen to our band. If your grandma thinks Ghost Brigade are awesome it’s just as important to us as if the coolest post-this and that-genre-elitists give their blessing to us. I don’t know if we have even a typical GB fan? I mean, at shows I see lots of different kinds of people… metal heads, goths, average joes, Neurosis-kids, hardcore people… you know, just all kinds of people. It’s really cool to see all that variety and I’m flattered by the fact that people from different genres can find good things about our music.
When you were growing up, how were you taught to deal with fear?
Well, I come from a place where people were kind of old fashioned in some matters but at the same time pretty open-minded and outgoing in many things. So in a way, fear was something that was completely ok to talk about and to experience but also, in a way something that, in some cases, was hidden or at least depreciated. So I personally learned how to do both. But however the case was, that was a long time ago and it’s not a big deal for me at all to talk about that stuff today.
If you’re stuck on a desert island and you can only stream 3 artists or albums in a continuous loop, your choices would be the following…. And explain why?
Metallica, Sigur Ros and let’s say God Is An Astronaut. Metallica is an obvious choice as it is the most important band for me. I bought my first guitar after hearing “…And Justice For All” so they, if anyone, deserve to be on this list. Sigur Ros and God Is An Astronaut I choose simply because I’m a huge fan of both and the music they both do is very beautiful and something I won’t easily get tired of. We’re playing a few shows with GIAA in November, I’m really looking forward to that. You don’t get a chance to play with one of your favorite bands every day. I don’t know man, hard question, ask me next week again and I might give you three different bands.
What’s the one thing in life that can make you smile when you are feeling down?
Friends. There is nothing greater than true friends.
How does the band decide what songs will feature more of the gruff vocal approach versus the clean, melodic singing? Do you find it’s based on the lyrics, the arrangement or a combination of different things?
You just know. When we write a song, you instantly know if the song demands growling, clean vocals or a mix of both. For example, when I wrote the song “Suffocated” I knew right from the start that this would be growling all the way through because of the ‘pressuring’ character the song has. Then, if you think of “Into The Black Light” for example, we decided to use only clean vocals because we felt that if we had put any growling to it, it would’ve made the song sound ‘cheaper’ and in the worst case, had ruined the whole beauty of it, you know. Then we have “22:22 – Nihil”. I remember when I wrote that song, we went to rehearsals I said guys, this song needs to be an instrumental and everyone looked at each other for a second and said ‘yeah, that’s true, let’s play it.’ So every song writes itself basically, we don’t really even have to talk about this kind of stuff that much.
Onto your lyrics. What do they deal with? I guess it’s not only about isolation… Instead of asking you to go a bit into each lyric, I would rather that you pinpointed one lyric that means something extra special to you and why it does that?
Well, I wrote lyrics for three songs on this new album and of course those are the ones that mean the most to me. It’s pretty personal stuff…, I’m more or less observing myself in there…, who I am, where do I want to go from here, what makes me happy and what doesn’t, how to find strength to chase after my dreams. You know, pretty basic stuff people tend to think about. It’s a search for happiness in a way I guess. They’re not about isolation but I guess having a feeling of being isolated has been an influencing factor to some extent. But I’m glad I wrote those stories as reading them afterwards literally changed a lot of things and totally opened my eyes. What happened in the end was that I gave up all my routines basically and moved to another city and well, started over. One of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m in a happier state of mind these days, and a small part of that is a result of writing these lyrics.
What excites you most about the music scene in 2009 – and what changes would you make if you were in charge to improve the metal movement?
Special mention goes definitely to Napalm Death’s “Time Waits For No Slave”. Great album. These guys are so furious these days it’s almost frightening but very inspiring at the same time as well. Good stuff. Another good one was “Crack The Skye” by Mastodon. It’s not the easiest kind of music they make so I’m happy for the success they’ve gained . Great musicians too. Then I’ve to mention Amesoeurs from France. I guess their album is some kind of a weird mix of black metal aesthetics and this moodier, more melancholic stuff. I’m always excited to hear records like this. It feels good to know that someone still tries to do things a little bit differently and write music that is sincere. Too bad they broke up. I don’t know, I haven’t actually bought that many records this year so that’s all that comes to mind right now.
What are your thoughts on the potent, thriving Finnish music scene? Do you find the media, bands, clubs and promoters are all very intertwined and supportive to keep the quality of releases and show on a higher level?
Well I don’t really know about the media and club side of things but as far as bands go yeah, the bands we’re friends with are all more or less intertwined. I haven’t really come across any competition, everyone’s just usually very supportive and friendly towards each other.
So, this is your second album. When it’s released and you’re going to tour for it and all that’s set and done, where do you see Ghost Brigade heading after that?
Well, right now it seems like this band has a strong future so my wild guess is album number three, some more touring and lots and lots of good times! 😉