On October 5th, 2012 we sat down with Kalle, Teemu and Pekka from Finnish screamo / post hardcore band EIGHT (∞). This Jyväskylä-based band blends their screamo-styled post hardcore with post rock, post metal, hardcore punk, sludge metal and black metal :)
Naaah, fuck the labels, just press the play button below, check out their amazing, powerful tunes and see what the guys have to say about themselves, Jyväskylä’s music scene, their favorite screamo bands, Finnish nature and a lot more.
Hello, guys. Good to have you here. Is it already bloody cold in Finland? [smiles]
Hi, we’re pleased to do this interview. I don’t actually know about Finland, because right now I’m in a hostel in Warsawa, Poland. I’m doing this bike trip across Europe (well, at least to Krakow. I don’t know if I will go on after that), I left from Tallin and went through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania already. It’s quite nice weather here in Warsaw, but i guess the weather isn’t that nice in Finland. Or actualy the niceness of weather is only mental thing, I personaly enjoy the cold autumn rains. Tomorrow I’ll head towards Krakow, but I’m going to do a bit of detour through Slovakian mountains first, we’ll see what I think about the cold rains after that…
Bloody cold indeed, but autumn is the most beautiful season of the year, colors and melancholy are something really unique here in Finland now.
Yeah, the weather is cold but just like Teemu said the nature is right now very beautiful and I think these cold and dark nights make a pretty good atmosphere for writing new songs.
Amazing. I’m in Warsaw, too. [laughs]. I’ll call you later, dude. Let’s continue.
How did EIGHT start out? For those who aren’t familiar, tell us about your origins.
We started this band back in the fall of 2006, me and Teemu (vocals) had a band before and our guitarist moved to another city, so we decided to go on with new guitar and bass players. Iikka (bass) was in the same school as Teemu, and Pekka (guitar) was a friend’s friend looking for a band to play in. We started out as kind of metallic hardcore band, similar to old CONVERGE and such, but obviously we have evolved in our own direction since then. Our couple first demos (actually the LP we released last year also) sound quite different than the latest record, but we’ve always done what feels right at the moment. So we’re definitely not ashamed about those old records or anything, we just wouldn’t make that kind of music in this moment of our lifes.
What made you pick the name ‘eight’ / ∞?
We were called BLACK CLOUD for the first years of our existence, but that really wasn’t a good name and we also wanted to get rid of the obvious comparisons to CONVERGE. We were thinking for the new name quite a long time, and Teemu came up with the idea of having a name that’s not a word, but an image or symbol or something (in a way the same thing BLACK FLAG had with their logo, when you see those four bars you immediately know what’s the band in question). I have always liked the infinity symbol, and the concept of infinity is really fascinating for me, in physics, mathematics and spiritual stuff. The others were ok with that being the name. We had more problem deciding how it should be expressed vocally. We didn’t want it to be “infinity” or “ääretön” (infinity in finish), that didn’t feel right for some reason. Then we were thinking about “Crooked Eight”, but it sounded like some MOTORHEAD cover band. Finaly we decided it’s going to be just EIGHT. If you want, you can also see this as an addition to the continuum of some of our favourite bands: first there was EARTH, then SUNN O))), and now EIGHT (as the number of planets in our solar system, now that Pluto isn’t officially a planet anymore) or ∞ (as the infinite space surrounding both of those astronomical objects).
So you recently released your second official outing called “Näyt Kauas”. Tell us about the recording. Where was it recorded and what was the process?
We did the whole thing ourselves, only things done by people outside of this band were the covers, which were done by Teemu’s father Tapani (who also reads the poem in the start of the album, that was actually used in an installation Teemu and I did earlier this year) and copying the cassettes, which was done by Joonas from Crummy Kids Records (well, obviously also the printing of the covers was done by professionals). I recorded the drums first at our rehearsal space, playing on top of Pekka’s demo guitar tracks. We decided to record each instrument individually, since there are many tempo changes, guitar effects and stuff. I would have had to buy some new gear also, since at the moment my recording gear can record only 8 tracks at time. After couple of nights I spent at the rehearsal space, we packed our car and went to Pekka’s grandparent’s old house in the countryside of Finland. There we recorded the guitars and vocals and the other stuff you hear on the record. We came up with some new ideas for the record, like the end of “Sinä Näyt Kauas”. It was really nice time, just hanging out in the peaceful countryside, going to sauna every night and watching the Olympic games from television after recording. Since Iikka couldn’t come there with us because of his work, we recorded the basses once again at our reharsal space. After that, I started working on the mixes at my flat. After everyone was happy with the mixes (well, actually I’m never happy with my own mixes, that’s probably the only thing that I’m really perfectionist in) I did some mastering and ordered the cassettes. I had to do some adjustments to the songs in the process, adding some ambient parts and stuff to get the sides to same length. We actually had to edit the B-side when recording the master cassette with Teemu, since the tape cut some 6 seconds before the end of the last song.
Kalle pretty much said everything that there is to say about the recording process. But before recording those songs were written in about a year of time. And during the summer time we like put all that we had together and got ourselves eight songs. And I think that those songs came out pretty easily and naturally without putting there too much effort in writing in comparison to the record before.
Cool. What are the main subject you sing about?
Well, this is a question that Teemu should be answering, and I know he’ll be mad when I do this on his behalf. But all of our songs deal with our emotions. It’s actually quite fun, all of us are in really different situations with our emotions and love life, but still the lyrics fit to any of our mouth. There’s much stuff about frustration towards our own feelings and actions, and about missing that certain person or moment. Most of Teemu’s lyrics can be understood in many ways. For example, the title of the album, Näyt Kauas, can be roughly translated to either “i see you in the distance”, or “visions of the future”. For me, the words that really sum up the record are the title of the album and the line in the song Keuhkot: “sinun unohtaminen on kuin hengittäisin vettä/ei mahdotonta/silloin vain tukehdun”, which roughly translates to “forgetting you is like breathing water/it’s not impossible/but it’ll only suffocate me”
The main idea for me was to write songs for the loves of my life and for “the future Me”. I wanted that the songs are looking towards something that is still coming, but carrying the memory of loss and change. I kept the perspective very naive, because I have always enjoyed Far-East/Japan styled art and literature, that is very personal and vulnerable open. Finnish poetry, especially authors like Mirkka Rekola and Leena Krohn, have been big influence for me when you talk about “showing emotions”.
How do you distribute the record?
Mostly just hand to hand or via mail (you can contact us at [email protected] if you want the cassette, there are still some left), I gave like five of them for a Finnish record store to handle. It’s a small pressing, only 100, because we’re looking for someone to release it as a vinyl. We’re not doing it ourselves this time, since it would have to be a 2xlp, and financially I’m still quite a lot in minus from releasing the last lp. And by the way, I have a few with me, so it’s possible to get some from the Unsound festival in Krakow! Send us email if you are interested.
[smiles] Nice. How are you supporting the outing? Any European shows you’ll be playing sometime soon?
We actually did only one gig after releasing the record, before I left for my trip. It was the way I wanted it to be. The last year has been really hard for me, I needed to have kind of a closure for some things before I left. The person who I’m making this music for and who is (or at least was) the other part in my life was at the gig, and it really felt good. I’m not over those things yet, and don’t think I’ll ever be, but I had wanted to play those songs for her for such a long time, it really released some pressure. But back to the actual question, there are no planned gigs at the moment, since I’m on the road. I don’t know for how long, but after just two weeks I’m really starting to miss this band. So there will definitely be gigs in the future, hopefully we could do an European tour in the spring or summer. If anyone anywhere is interested in having us play at your place, please contact us ([email protected], again)!
I’ll spread the word, guys. Would love to see you live in action.
Are you writing anything else at the moment? Readying a new release, a split perhaps? [smiles]
We’re always moving forward, so yes, we’re also making new music. Well, not together at the time, but I’m sure Pekka has some killer songs and ideas once I get back. We were actually already rehearsing some new songs before I left. Nothing planned, but there will be releases in the future for sure. This is something that at least I need to do to stay sane and alive, so I hope we’ll be doing this thing for a long time.
I think there’s a new album waiting for Kalle when he comes back [smiles]
Yeah definitely. I have actually no idea what our next record is going to sound like but there are a lots of ideas coming.. Basically I write something out pretty much every week and sometimes there comes just these random moments where all the vital pieces of the song come out naturally and you just know that this song is going to come to the record.
OK, so let’s go outside music for a while.
I find Jyväskylä an amazing city located in a beautiful area of Finland. Tell us about your local music scene. How vital is it these days? Any projects and artists you’d like to recommend?
Jyväskylä has always had very good underground music scene. At the moment the scene is very vital and there are many really good and passionate music projects in Jyväskylä, too many to list here, so I’ll just have to narrow it down to a few. For me personally, the most important band in whole Finland is ARRESTUM. They play this epic crust, which is also really emotional and melodic. I have loved their stuff since the beginning of the band, and they are also really good friends of us. We’ve done some gigs together in the past, and I have recorded two of their latest releases. Another important hardcore band from Jyväskylä for me is TOTAL RECALL. They are also really good friends of us (actually Teemu is their guitarist’s roommate, they both live in Helsinki now), and make this really passionate, emotional and kind of strange music. It’s hard to describe their current style, something like BLACK FLAG combined with BLACK SABBATH. Well, not really, they have totally unique sound. And their live performances are one of the most intense ones I have ever witnessed. I recorded their latest 10″, you should really check it out. Third artist that I’m really excited about, who is originaly from Jyäskylä, but lives in Helsinki now, is Mozy, or absnt, I’m not really sure what name he uses at the moment. He makes this really cool, lonely ambient instrumental hip-hop. Or something like that, it’s hard to define music. There are a ton of other bands I didn’t mention here, sorry for that. But yeah, it’s a vital scene, and there are new young bands coming also! One of my friends band just had their first gig, too bad I wasn’t able to be there because of my trip, but they are young guys with real enthusiasm for music, so I guess the future for Jyväskylä’s music scene looks bright.
Wow! Cool, I’m checking them out right away!
How do you feel about the current Finnish hardcore scene as a whole and do you feel part of it?
Actually, I personally don’t feel like belonging to any specified scene. Nor does our band. Sure, lot of the guys who like us are from the hardcore “scene” and we mostly play gigs with hardcore bands, but for me it feels kind of too bounding to be in some tight scene. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against hardcore scene or any other scene, but nowadays I just like to stay outside of them. We’ve gotten quite many listeners from completely different scenes, like the Finnish dub-step scene. I really can’t say anything insightful from the Finnish hardcore scene, but it seems to be in good shape, lots of gigs and new bands, and many of the bands are also touring Europe. It’s really nice to see that small bands who make music just the way they want to make it can do that kind of things.
I think that there is not much of a “tight scene” in hardcore, here in Finland. Of course there are plenty of hardcore bands and more to come and lot of people there are my friends, but i don’t feel that i’m part of something that unites me only with hardcore. I think that sometimes strictly “staying true to my scene” attitude makes you blind and it can be inhibition for the creativity.
I don’t really want to categorize our band in any certain scene. And I think that when writing songs it’s important just to let your ideas flow and not to think does it sound like something that belongs in some scene. That is why I love to play with these guys. We just do what we want and we are not scared to try out things that we are still unfamiliar of.
Very good to hear you saying such things. Let’s go back to EIGHT.
What are your future plans with the band?
There aren’t any real plans, we’ve always done things that feel right at the moment. Right now I have to be here, but when I get back to Finland, things will start to roll again. Hopefully there will be gigs, making new music and recording it in the future.
Playing gigs in Europe, meeting new people and making new music. Being fearless. Those things are my dreams with this band.
I want to play as much gigs as possible. Playing gigs in Europe would be awesome.
Do you find current things that inspire you, or are you more inspired by the past?
Well, since the themes and nature of our music, kind of both. For me, there’s only one thing that motivates me, and sadly it’s now in my past. But of course, it affects my life every day, and the feelings I’m dealing with in the music are the ones that I have at the moment. So i guess, at least for me, it’s everything I ever was, everything I currently am and everything I’ll ever be. And like I have said, and like our record’s title suggests, we’re trying to peek over the wall of past and present, and find some inspiration from the future, something to go on for.
Theatre and literature inspires me now, new and old. For me, inspiration often comes from things or situations that are new and unfamiliar.
I get inspired sometimes pretty spontaneously about some new things or situations. Old things inspire me also when I’m for example in a place that gets me inspired every time I go there. Music is definitely a big inspiration source for me.
What are your favorite screamo / post-hardcore bands?
This is kind of a hard question, since I really don’t know what bands are defined as screamo or post-hardcore. The obvious ones would be PG.99 and ORCHID. I was listening to EMBRACE‘s self titled record a couple of days ago while crossing the border from Lithuania to Poland. In my opinion it’s one of the most important records of all time, at least in punk. For me personally, the most important screamo band is ENVY from Japan. Or I don’t know if you can define their current music as screamo, but still. It must be the most beautiful band in the world, I really love their music. And of course, the almighty REFUSED from Sweden.
Oh yeah, ZEGOTA. I forgot them. Also Je L’appelai by MIHAI EDRISCH has been an important song for me.
I just love this Japanese band called ENVY. I also like bands like ORCHID and PG.99.
Damn, you just hit the spot [smiles]. Let’s leave music aside, once again.
I love Scandinavia. I’ve spent some time in Norway mostly and your country is still on my “to go” list [smiles]. Do you often travel within your country? What places would you recommend for a tourist?
Mostly between Jyväskylä and Helsinki, but at least in the summer I really like traveling across Finland. This summer I didn’t do any long trips in Finland, I mostly just cycled the roads outside Jyväskylä and wandered the many forests. I found some completely new places that were one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to, even though I’ve lived in or near the city for my whole life. For a tourist, I would recommend Lapland in the north. It’s a bit of cliche, but wandering in the fjells in autumn is one of the most amazing things one can do. But there are great places all around, you just have to find them. I’m not really a city guy, so I can’t recommend any city locations, but if you want to see the biggest spruce in Finland or this nature’s own altar on top of a hill in this island near Jyväskylä, I can come as your guide.
Nature is really interesting here i think. It is not so mountainous like in Norway, but there is something mystical and kind of scary elements in some parts of Finland. Especially in eastern parts where people are really old and places are haunted. Also presence of Russia feels there.
I have also enjoyed active culture scene in Helsinki. There is so many interesting venues and happenings going on every week.
I love Finnish nature and being in the countryside in every season of the year is very inspiring. I travel to my grandparents old house in countryside pretty much every third month to feel the nature and to calm down. It’s like 250 kilometers from Jyväskylä to North. I love Finnish lakes and Lappland is also a pretty nice place to travel.
Thanks for the chat! Would you like to add anything else? Feel free…
Thank you for this interview, it was really nice to have this opportunity! I can’t share any eternal wisdoms, just be passionate, be fearless and treat the persons you love the way they deserve to be treated.