Some months ago I reviewed Universum's debut album "Leto Destinatus." A little while on and still in contact with guitarist Michael Soininen, it was decided that he had some things to tell the world about Universum. So below is myself asking him and thing or two for you all to read.
So tell us a bit about yourselves, how would you describe the music of Universum? How did the band come to be?
Universum fully formed in 2007 and play a mix of European influenced metal combined with elements of American and Australian heavy music. Jaron and I met up with Stephen, in response to a musician advert.
Universum is a pretty new group, was anyone in the band together in any other projects before this line-up eventuated?
I have always jammed with my bro Jaron but we were never in any official project. Some of the other members played in smaller projects.
I know at some stage I've had a discussion with some of my peers about the style of metal you play. The genres Melodic Death Metal, Gothenburg Metal, etc have been thrown around. Do you think your style can be categorised as anything in particular? If so, what would you say it would be?
The aforementioned genre definitely forms a part of our listening catalogue. Collectively however, we are influenced by a much wider scope of music and genres including classical, jazz and rock. We play a metal, progressive, rock mix.
Continuing on from the previous question, how did you come to choose to play the music that you do?
Our taste in metal at the time leant towards this style. It was the common thread of the three founding members mentioned above. It was a natural process once we started jamming. We didn't say, yep let's play this.
What kind of influences would you say helped form the music you play today? Also what kind of music would you sit down and throw on in your spare time? Similar stuff to the style you play?
Speaking for myself, I listened to a lot of Metallica and Pantera, later moving onto melodic death. I currently listen to anything from AC/DC to Shinedown to Septicflesh.
If someone were to ask you why you'd think they should listen to your music, what would your response be?
Because I think it offers a variety of musical styles and feels that there is something for everyone. Both dirty and clean vocals, atmospheric keys, guitar solos, slamming drums and bass and stylings from rock to extreme metal.
What's it like having three brothers in the band? Does it make decision making easier or harder? You'd all have been playing music together for years I'd imagine, was that sort of thing handy in making your Leto Destinatus album, etc?
It's easy because you can be totally honest. There is a strong dynamic between us both out of the band and in so being a part of a project like this is a lot of fun. Yeah, as previously mentioned, Jaron and I have jammed for 10+ years. It's good to take the music from the bedroom to the world and cool to lay down some of those ideas in Leto Destinatus.
The process of the Leto Destinatus creation involved some big names; you had it mixed and mastered by Jens Borgen (Katatonia, Symphony X, Opeth, etc) and the artwork created by Gustavo Sazes (Nightrage, Firewind, etc) right? How did you come to get them involved with the project? Were you happy with what they did for Universum?
First up, yeah we were very happy with their efforts. They really brought their talent to the project and help make it what it is. We were actually communicating with a number of studios in Sweden and started to work closer with one. That fell through and Jens was available. He was also interested in working with us, mentioning that it sounded like a cool project. After checking out his past works, the mutual interest made it an easy decision and he delivered.
I guess it would be pretty easy to choose songs for live shows with just the one album. Do you generally just play the whole thing in order as your live performance?
No, there are 13 songs on the album so don't get time to play them all unfortunately. We generally play around 9 tracks and just change up the order. After playing a while, you tend to get a feel for what works live in terms of the song seIection and order.
Speaking of shows, you've played with Dragonforce and The Eternal in the past, how were they for you? Would you prefer to open for a big international band like Dragonforce, or have a tour on your own?
Both are cool but at this stage, we're going to get to play in front of more people at a show playing with bands like Dragonforce. Not only is it kick ass playing the big shows but an awesome opportunity to play to a lot of new fans.
Have you ever played shows outside of Australia? If not, would you like to or do you have plans on doing so sometime?
Not yet we haven't but would like to eventually. I think we we'd look at something small to start with like a number of dates in New Zealand or Japan. Japan would be great.
I know you only released your debut album mid last year, but have you got any ideas for your next album? Do you think you'd have a second release out in a year or two?
Yeah, we have a lot of ideas for album two and we are confident it will be out in that time frame. We're looking forward to creating another one.
What has been the single lowest and single highest point of the band's career so far?
Lowest would be not having a complete band to do shows. Highest would be the Dragonforce Australian national tour. That was very cool!
Universum have since announced a new album to be released some time in 2010 with a series of guest musicians and have recruited Jens Bogren once again for production.
Thanks to Michael for taking the time to respond to my questions.