Ordog interview (07/2016)
|With:||Valtteri Isometsä, Aleksi Martikainen|
|Conducted by:||Bad English (e-mail)|
Bad English: Hi, Ordog. Thank you for doing this interview.
Let's start with the usual: please introduce yourself as a person and as a musician. How did you start to listen to metal, play an instrument, and come up with the idea for Ordog?
Valtteri Isometsä: I'm the guitarist and occasional drummer of the band. I also used to play bass before we got a permanent bass player. I started listening to metal because of my father. He's also into metal and rock music. When I was a kid I listened to his records because there wasn't anything else to listen. Slayer, Iron Maiden, Venom, Motörhead, Ted Nugent and stuff like that. First record I bought myself was Motörhead's No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith. And my father also plays guitar so we had a few in the house so it was easy to start playing myself.
Aleksi Martikainen: I'm the singer of the band. I mostly listened metal with Valtteri and with his father. Also I listened some cassettes from my fathers "archives" like: Van Halen, Deep Purple, Def Leppard. Later on I introduced myself to doom-metal through Skepticism's Stormcrowfleet album. The idea about Ordog was born by me and Valtteri and later our friend Jussi came into mix. It was for me all about when I heard the album Stormcrowfleet from Skepticism and some My Dying Bride albums, it was the moment I realised what kind of music I want to make; and which brought most strongest emotions.
BE: How was the band born?
Valtteri: We'd been playing in same bands for years with Aleksi before we started Ordog in 2005. We just felt that maybe we should try to do some slow metal songs together and see how far we get with those. That happened to come our most successful musical project.
BE: Here's a question which Northmen will understand the true meaning of. Living so close to the polar circle, with long, cold, winter nights and midnight sun, how did the environment inspire you as an artist? Would you play the same music if you were from Mallorca?
Valtteri: I don't know if the environment affects to writing music. It's normal for us. I don't know what is it to live in a place where there's hot and bright around the year. Maybe we just spend our time playing instruments and writing music rather than lying on the beach so that's the way it inspires as an artist.
BE: In a recent interview with us, Vesa Karppinen of Fall Of The Idols said, "There was not much else to do for young men, either to drink or pick up an instrument I guess." How do you describe the pre-internet days in Tornio on the metal front?
Valtteri: I think he's right. Do sports, play an instrument or use intoxicants.
Aleksi: I agree with Vesa and Valtteri also. Tornio is a silent city, some people call it the "Silent Hill" of Finland, haha. It was all about hanging with friends and playing music. We made demos and sent those across the world for promotion-for free of course.
BE: According to the internet, you were a member of Wings That Bliss. Could you tell us about that band and what kind of music you played?
Aleksi: Yes, it was kind a aggrotech/electro project with my friend Kimmo Huhtala. Still a great genre, I listen to music from different genres. Maybe someday I will make more electronic music.
BE: What was your involvement in Nordic Necropolis?
Valtter: We started the band together in 2001. Aleksi quit the band in 2005 and I continued as the guitarist and vocalist to 2013 when the band just stopped. It never broke up. It just stopped. Drummer of the band also played few shows with Ordog in 2009.
Aleksi: We found it with Valtteri, I just sang along and quit in 2005.
BE: You went by the name Ashur Set in Incrost, correct? What inspired that?
Aleksi: Yea, that is true. I am very interested in philosophy of "Temple of Set". It was all about developing self-consciousness and building "roads" towards to creating myself better through introspection - and still is.
BE: Could you tell us about your project Cryptic Death?
Aleksi: Actually, it wasn't my project. I played with them, great Swedish dudes! And we are still friends and always will be. Many good memories. I was the singer, it was kind a melodic black-metal project. They are known at the moment as Chaossworn.
BE: One last question about past bands: could you tell us more about the one-demo doom band Failed Theory?
Valtteri: I was the original drummer of that band. I quit before the guys recorded a demo with another drummer.
Aleksi: Yea, only one demo and Valtteri was also part of it. It was fun as long at it lasted. Great guys also!
BE: Are there other bands you have been a part of?
Valtteri: I played guitar in hardcore/thrash metal band Projekti_15 few years ago. We did some shows and festivals. I also was in Incrost. Played all the instruments. There's been quite a lot of bands I've been involved with. There wasn't much else to do in Tornio. I'm not living there anymore. I moved away 8 years ago so the number of my bands is also decreased, ha ha.
Aleksi: We have and have had some projects with Valtteri, but nothing special comes to mind which you haven't mentioned.
BE: According to the internet, Ordog (Ördög) is a demon from Hungarian mythology, a representation of dark aspects of the world/reality. Is that why you picked up that name for the band, or is that just a coincidence?
Valtteri: The name was picked from Bram Stoker's Dracula. We just took the name without any thinking. So there's no much thought behind that name.
BE: Why did you stop playing keyboards for the band after a year and continue just with vocals?
Aleksi: I never was a good keyboard player. Never felt it was my thing. I thought singing was always the thing I wanted to do. When Jussi joined the band, he showed how the keys should be played. He also was the one part of bringing unique sound to Ordog. Without him, I think Ordog would not have lasted this long.
BE: There are two main doom bands from Tornio: Ordog and Fall Of The Idols. Have you had the chance to share a stage?
Aleksi: Unfortunately no, even though i'm good friend with Vesa. Also they are older band which we followed.
BE: How many concerts has Ordog played?
Valtteri: Six so far. We've not been so active with the live thing. Six shows in 11 years. Quite a pace.
BE: Do you have any future gigs planned to promote new album? (In Luleå maybe where we could share some beers?)
Valtteri: We're gonna play at Jalometalli festival in Oulu, Finland this summer. That's the only one that's booked. But if we have a chance we definitely wanna do more shows. It's not so easy to get us all together and just play gigs because some of us have little children and we have day jobs and stuff like that.
Aleksi: It would be great to play in Luleå!
BE: Ordog now has four (soon to be five) full-length albums, three demos, and one compilation; time flies. Did you think that you would reach so far when this all started?
Valtteri: No at all. We did the first demo just for fun. But we've done hard work after that and now we take this more seriously than we did in the past.
Aleksi: That's true.
BE: Crow And The Storm has interesting artwork; personally, I think it's the best artwork in Ordog's catalogue. Could you tell us about it?
Valtteri: Thank you for that. I painted the front cover for that album. But that's the only one I've done. I'm happy to leave the artworks for the professionals and just focus on the music.
Aleksi: Yea, it was made from Valtteri's painting. The rest was made by Tuomas Tahvanainen from Nucleart.
BE: I have always said that doom metal is the most poetical genre when it comes to lyrics. Who is the main lyricist in the band?
Aleksi: I make the lyrics, but there are also some lyrics by Valtteri and Jussi. The lyrics for Ordog are very metaphoric and it's all about creating visual landscapes, emotions and of course about awakening introspection.
BE: Your latest album, Trail For The Broken, was released in 2014, and already The Grand Wall is on its way. Usually, lesser-known bands need more turnaround time to pull off another album. How have you managed it?
Valtteri: Some of the riffs for the new album was ready before Trail For The Broken was released. I write all the time so that's not a problem. If we could, we'll release a new album every year, but there's so much other things, deals, schedules, money. So we just go with the flow and let things happen.
BE: The Grand Wall comes out on June 30.* What can you tell us about the making of the album - what was the recording process like, how long did it take, how many physical copies are you planning to press, etc.?
Valtteri: Actually this was the fastest recording process so far for us. It took few weekends to lay everything on tape. And for the first time we recorded an album with an exterior engineer. All the previous albums we've done by ourselves. Now we went to the studio and just recorded. All turned out very impressive and I'm very happy with the sound. It's a real killer. About the contractual things of the album are business things between us and our record company so we really can't speak about them.
BE: Time flies and news comes out every day, but perhaps we can jump ahead in time and you can tell us more about the track list, artwork, etc.?
Aleksi: The new album contains six brand new tracks. We will reveal a little bit more information later about that. The artwork is made by Jarno Lahti from kaamos.com - he is also a good friend of mine. In my opinion, he makes hard work to make all the artwork truly complete. He reads lyrics, listens to songs and so on- he really lives with the music.
BE: Do you have plans to record any songs in Finnish?
Valtteri: We actually had that in mind when we started the band but we sacked the idea. We still have plenty of fans abroad so there's no point with that.
BE: You switched labels from Violent Journey Records to Godeater Records, correct? What was the reason for that?
Valtteri: Mainly because Violent Journey quit the business. It was a good company for us and we're friends with the CEO. But now we've got a good new deal.
BE: You recently parted ways with bassist Ilkka Kalliainen. Why was that? Do you have any replacements on hand, either full-time or for live gigs?
Valtteri: Ilkka actually switched to guitar when we had our last gigs in 2015. That was because our drummer wasn't available for those shows so I jumped behind the drums and Ilkka took the guitar. Then we had to call for our former bass player Opie to fill in. We played the gigs and then we got our drummer back and we thought about having two guitarists and keep Opie as a bass player. But then Ilkka had some personal twists in his life and didn't want to continue the band. He still is my really good friend as he was before joining Ordog.
BE: I dug up Ordog thanks to doom-metal.net; back then, the band had a home page with some samples or songs, and I got a few legal mp3s (if I remember correctly; it was a while ago). Ordog is not My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost; how the internet affect your band? What are the upsides and downsides of the internet, Spotify, illegal downloading, and similar things?
Valtteri: I personally think the internet is just good for us. We don't do this for living so all the publicity is good. Only downside is that nowadays people don't listen to albums anymore except for marginal and underground stuff like we do. And you have so much stuff out there so you're gonna blend in the mass.
Aleksi: For me, the most important thing is that our music is available everywhere.
BE: As a musician, how does it feel to listen to your own music? Do you do it often?
Valtteri: I really don't listen to our own music. But when we have to think about a new set list for a live gig I'll have to listen some of the old tunes to get some recollections how the song goes. And when the new album is out I don't even want to listen to that because I'm so sick with the songs. All the recording and mixing and listening to it all over again. But with the old albums like Life Is Too Short For Learning To Live which came out in 2008 I can give a listen after few beers and think it's just an album of some band. But there's so much better music out there so I rather listen to that, haha.
BE: Do you have any last words for our readers?
Valtteri: Check out our new album The Grand Wall when it comes out 30th of June.* Keep the flame and take care.
Aleksi: Thanks to friends and fans who are supporting us!
* Note: At the time when this interview was conducted, The Grand Wall was scheduled for a June 30, 2016 release. Since that time, the album's release has been pushed back to November.
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