Wyrd interview (07/2016)
|Conducted by:||Bad English|
Bad English: Hello. Thank you for doing this interview with us at Metal Storm.
Tell us a bit about yourself - your first steps into the music world, how you discovered metal, and how you became a musician yourself.
Tomi Kalliola: It all started with bands like Mötley Crüe, W.A.S.P. and Iron Maiden in the eighties, my older cousin listened to metal and played in bands, so I got introduced to metal at a very young age. You could say that I never had any other options but to start playing metal.
BE: You go by the pseudonyms Narqath and Godslayer N. Vassago. How did you come up with those, and are there more I don't know about?
TK: The Godslayer name I used for a few bands, because I didn't want to advertise those as being side projects of Wyrd / Azaghal, so that people would listen to them for their music, and not only because I am involved. The Narqath name comes from Tolkien (which was a big thing for me in the '80s). It's the masculine form of Narquelie, meaning October, the month I was born in. So it roughly translates of Son of October.
BE: You have been in so many bands over the years. How do you keep up with all of them?
TK: Only Azaghal and Wyrd are actual bands. The others have been mostly one time projects on which I have worked on when getting a sudden inspiration to create something that doesn't quite fit the concept of my main bands.
BE: Wyrd, after many years of silence, will soon release a new album, Death Of The Sun.* Could you tell us more about it?
TK: It's an album that's been waiting to be released since 2008 or so, composed pretty much 50/50 by me and keyboardist Wircki. Some of the songs were supposed to appear already on a third Hin Onde album, but that never happened. It is a very varied album with your more typical Wyrd songs, but on the other hand a lot of new elements also. This was an album that had to be recorded, because these songs have been haunting us for so long and after this is great to move forward and create something new again.
BE: According to the band's Facebook, you have a full line-up, and it isn't a one-man band anymore. Was there a reason you chose to recruit a full line-up, or are they just live musicians?
TK: Apart from the bass player and the second guitarist, the other members also participated in the recording, and like I said before half of the songs are written by Wircki (known from Hin Onde and Varjosielu). Also having a full-line up allows us to play live again after many years, so that's great.
BE: You do not perform vocals on the new album, but let Aki Klemm, aka Grimm, take over. What was the reason behind this decision?
TK: I do some vocals here and there ("Death Of The Sun" and "Pale Departure," for example). But I simply can't really do vocals these days, years of crappy vocal technique has caught up with me and my voice is completely gone these days.
BE: Every Wyrd album is different, with mixes of folk, black, and various other influences. How do you manage writing all the tracks for all those albums alone?
TK: I think mixing a bit folk/black/doom together makes it easier actually, would be more difficult if there would be a very strict mold where everything has to fit in. But I still think all the songs carry a recognizable Wyrd sound and style.
BE: Tell us about your band Azaghal. It was active in 2015, with two splits, two compilations, and one full-length, Madon Sanat. What was the feedback like for that album?
TK: The feedback was great, and I am extremely satisfied with that album. Also we have been more active with gigs and tours than ever. Now after the last tour and festival appearances it's time to cool off a bit with Azaghal and concentrate more on Wyrd, hopefully playing live a bit and then start working on new material.
BE: What is the current status of your band Vultyr?
TK: Would be cool to work with Vultyr again, but doesn't seem likely. But who knows, maybe someday?
BE: What about Svartkraft - any plans for a new album? The latest, IV - Ruin, was out in 2010.
TK: No plans for new Svartkraft stuff.
BE: According to the Metal Archives, you're also a member of Rutonkantaja. Is this true? Are there any other bands you are an active member of?
TK: The Rutonkantaja album was originally recorded as an Wyrd album, but due to contract matters I had to release it under a different name. So it wasn't really a band at any point. Fans of the early Wyrd stuff should check it out though.
BE: They also name you as a past member of bands such as Valar, Thoronath, Svartalfheim, Hin Onde, Oath Of Cirion, Finnugor, and Nargoventor. Is that correct? Bands such as Wolfheart, Weltraum, Varjosielu, Decay's Delight, Calm (Fin) are listed as well but without the specifics of your contributions. What instruments did you play with them?
TK: Most of these are the same bands with different names that never really released anything. For example: Calm became Svartalfheim and later on Hin Onde. Wolfheart became Thoronath which later became Svartkraft, Nargoventor became Azaghal etc. Valar was my solo project before Wyrd, very Summoning-influenced stuff. Finnugor was a project I had with Gabriel Wolf and Attila Csihar from Hungary, symphonic black metal. I think they are still active, but I am no longer involved since I rather concentrate on Azaghal and Wyrd. In Oath Of Cirion I played guitar and sang, it's the band of former Azaghal drummer V-Khaoz. In Varjosielu I have never played.
BE: Since black metal is not exactly a roaring business, you probably have a day job. How can you manage so much in this genre, to have so many bands and albums?
TK: Well, the releases and bands have become less and less as years go by, simply because "real life" comes in the way too often these days.
BE: Of all your projects, which is your favorite one?
TK: I would say Wyrd and Azaghal are equally important to me, but if you are asking my personal favorites from my discography, I am extremely fond of Svartkraft's IV, Wyrd's Huldrafolk and Rota and Madon Sanat by Azaghal.
BE: As a frequent orchestrator of one-man bands, how hard is it to find inspiration and compose so many albums?
TK: I have more ideas than I have time, so that's not a problem. Instead of forcing my creative energy to some particular mold, I just write what ever comes out naturally and then worry about if it fits any band or not.
BE: Since black metal is in the underground, do you think that the internet in some way helps a lot of those bands? We have lots of sites where we can legally find links to music and listen, but of course there are also ways to illegally download it. What do you think of the role the internet plays in the music scene today?
TK: When we started with Azaghal (and even earlier, Calm/Hin Onde), internet was pretty much non-existing thing, so sure a lot has changed. I don't think the illegal downloading of underground albums is a big problem. Black Metal people are very loyal and dedicated and still buy stuff. The ones that only download it probably wouldn't have bought it anyway even if there wasn't a way to listen to it for free.
BE: Do you have any plans to launch a new project, or perhaps join another band? Or are you planning to write more for one of your current bands?
TK: I've been working on a few things like a new With Hate I Burn release and more death metal oriented project, but nothing more about those yet, since nothing is certain. Regarding confirmed future releases, there are two new Wyrd splits coming out (with Kalmankantaja and Abhor), also Wyrd will be participating on an upcoming Summoning tribute album.
BE: At the moment, the big in your musical life is Wyrd's new album, Death Of The Sun. Do you have any promotions or tours planned?
TK: Sadly nothing confirmed regarding tours for now, hopefully we manage to arrange something for this summer or autumn. Until then busy with Azaghal tours.
*Note: This interview was conducted prior to the album's release.
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