Omnium Gatherum interview (08/2018)


With: Markus Vanhala
Conducted by: RaduP (skype)
Published: 11.08.2018

Band profile:

Omnium Gatherum


Omnium Gatherum will soon release their eight album, The Burning Cold. Founding member, main songwriter and guitarist, Markus Vanhala, agreed to answer some questions over Skype, and was also kind enough to get over all the technical issues like having to re-record a few question because the program I used only recorded 10 minutes at a time, so he just joked that it was just a rehearsal.

Clarification: OG means Omnium Gatherum not Original Gangsta.

Radu Patroiu: You will soon release a new album. In a previous interview, Jukka said that after the more epic Beyond, you were looking for something more in-your-face with Grey Heavens. Is there another similar change of overview regarding The Burning Cold? What does it bring new to the table?

Markus Vanhala: I guess we are still staying in the same path that, like Jukka said, it is more of a straightforward, in-your-face album. There is no, for example, like a 10 minutes epic song on the album. We wanted to do it more like a live album, to have all sorts of songs that we can guarantee can work live really well. And also maybe we just took notice more on this album to make catchy songs, so I would say it's the most melodic Omnium Gatherum album to date, it's a really melodic album, but it's still death metal because we still put "death" before our "metal" and Jukka is growling as aggressive as always and that's basically it, very much Omnium Gatherum.



The Burning Cold


RP: So it's still pretty much at its core, an Omnium Gatherum record.

MV: Trademarked OG brand. We cannot do anything else, this is our destiny.

RP: You also mentioned in another interview that you wrote more songs than will actually appear on the album. What happens to the ones that didn't make it?

MV: Well some songs just weren't good enough in our opinion so we cut them from the album and there's also the Japanese people who always want more so in the Japanese version there's two more songs than on the European and American version, and that's basically always the reason to record more songs. I don't know why Japanese people get more than others, it's a mystery to me.

RP: The Burning Cold is your first album with new drummer Tuomo Latvala. This is not the first time there has been a lineup change in between albums, quite the opposite, there hasn't been one new OG album that didn't come after a lineup change. Going back far enough we'd find you as the only OG member still in the band. How do you manage to maintain the band's identity despite all the lineup changes and how do they affect the songwriting?

MV: Well I was 14 years old when I formed the band so that might explain it. That was 22 years ago.


Tuomo, the new drummer, on the right

RP: Yes, it was exactly the year in which I was born.

MV: Oh yeah so maybe that tells you something. A lot of things can happen during 22 years so that's why people have changed during the path. I've always been the main songwriter for the band so it's always been part of my reason how Omnium Gatherum sounds or if you could say, the spirit of OG. But of course all the people also always bring something to the table and they have their own experiences and styles of playing and Jukka always does all the vocals by himself. But also on the new album, Tuomo joined the band right after Grey Heavens was released. He already did all the tours in support of Grey Heavens with us so it felt natural for us to ask him to join the band when normal life hit our previous drummer, Jarmo, when he just noticed that he just didn't have any more time to put into the band as much as we are touring as he had a normal family and a normal day job. That's mainly always the reason why members split up. But Tuomo has a really old-school kind of drum playing style, you can really hear it on the album that there's a different drummer and that he bring a lot new to the table, mainly with his positive energy and fresh spirit. Us, the old guys, we got a kick in the ass from Tuomo joining. It's not always bad when people change in a band. Fresh blood.

RP: As opposed to lineup, you're once again working with Dan Swanö on production and with Olli Lappalainen on the cover art. Do you feel like there is a certain comfort in working with the same people?

MV: We are Finnish people, so we trust our family business and we don't wanna meet maybe new people when we have this kind of crew that is working victoriously. And also Teemu Aalto has been recording all Omnium Gatherum albums since Years In Waste, so Teemu has been working with us 15 years and Dan has just had our 10 years anniversary of mixing and mastering our stuff. And Olli Lappalainen has made all our artworks since the first demo and he was the first singer and guitarist in the band, he's like the seventh member of the band. And we also used the same photographer, Jari Heino, for band photography. Like I said, we like to keep it in the family. I think it's cool to make these things together, it's like an artistic circle, it's definitely more than business. These guys know how the band and the cover art should look and how the music should sound, so they know their business very well.

RP: You're a member of both OG and Insomnium, not just a musician but a songwriter as well. How do you manage to find the time for both of them?

MV: Good question. Well I'm having my summer vacation at the moment and I've been using it doing promos of the new album and composing new songs for the next Insomnium release, planned for next year. So I'm really workaholic when it comes to metal and I'm always on duty and it's my lifestyle to live both bands. You can do as much as you want in life, you just have to schedule and schedule it right.

RP: Maybe you could teach a class on time management.

MV: Haha, yeah, maybe I should. Like Frank Zappa said back in the days, I guess in the 70s, that he changed his normal weekly routine to have 6 days of 28 hours, so maybe I too should sleep six times a week instead.

RP: So I suppose it would be unlikely to hear from Malpractice any time soon?

MV: Yeah it's mine and Joonas' project that hasn't been too active since the previous album, that was released four years ago. It's more like Joonas' brainchild and he's the main composer from Malpractice, but we've been sleeping for many years now but the band is not dead yet. But no one knows when the band will wake up. Maybe someday, maybe not. It would be cool to do some more not death metal, like Malpractice, with clean vocals, at some point.


Just another normal human being, on the right

RP: So besides music, what do you enjoy doing in the little free time you have?

MV: Try to act normal. For example we just went to the summer cabin with my wife and my cat and my dog and just went fishing and tried to live this normal life in the middle of all this band hassle. Sometimes it's easy sometimes it's not. But at least now I've had my summer vacation, which still is full of promotion of Omnium Gatherum and songwriting for the new Insomnium, but I've been acting like a normal person at least few hours in a day.

RP: Besides music, what other arts are you into?

MV: I'm more into photos of landscapes and paintings of landscapes because I'm always trying to paint some landscapes with my music and just get people to go to some other place when they are listening to the music, so that's maybe the art I'm more interested in.

RP: Do you get to see a lot of landscapes or art museums when touring?

MV: I'm always a tourist boy in tours, because my mind would explode if I had to be in the clubs or tour bus so many hours. So I always try to go explore the city and the world. And see all the second-hand vinyl shops and parks and pubs and museums.

RP: If you could have any living director direct a video for a song, who would it be?

MV: I think that might be Tim Burton. He's a crazy guy and has made some crazy movies. So maybe we could do like a Beetlejuice music video with Tim Burton, why not?

RP: What's your favorite Tim Burton movie?

MV: It would have to be the first Batman he did, even though it's not as good as the newer Batmans, the trilogy, but it was cool when it was released. And also Beetlejuice is one of my all-time favorites.

RP: Suppose you had enough free time, if you were to start another music project in a completely different genre, which would it be?

MV: It would be classic rock, because I'm so in love with all the classic rock bands like Journey and Whitesnake and Toto. It would be something completely different from all the growling vocals, it would be retro rock in the vein of The Night Flight Orchestra. I have an inner urge to do something like that someday.

RP: OG has played live with a lot of metal bands, but if you could play live with any artist that isn't metal, who would it be?

MV: I should say Massive Attack. It's one of my all-time favorite bands which isn't a metal band. And Massive Attack, Ozric Tentacles, Infected Mushroom. This kind of progressive electronic played with normal instruments. What a great lineup, let's do it.

RP: Do you feel you owe your fans or your label to keep making melodic death metal? Not that I doubt your passion for it, but if you all decided you wanted to make a jazz record, would you do it?

MV: I guess we owe it, at least a bit to our fans and label, that if we would do jazz record it would be to change the name. It would be like Gatherum Omnium and not to do it like Opeth and change the musical style of the band after one album. It's not that Omnium Gatherum always have to be melodic death metal but at least that it would be metal. A jazz band, that would be different, unfortunately that will never happen because jazz music is bad music in my opinion.

RP: How dare you...

MV: Haha, I'm evil.


Markus on the left

RP: It's been 25 years since Heartwork and Skydancer and The Spectral Sorrows and melodic death metal still remains a relevant genre today, why do you think that is?

MV: It's a musical genre like any other, they're not dying. There's always new bands emerging and maybe it's not the trendiest genre, but bands are still doing it and people love to hear it. We try to add some new aspects to our music and get some new spices to that old genre.

RP: As much as the genre itself, so do a lot of bands like Dark Tranquillity and Soilwork and Insomnium and OG as well have managed to stay relevant and have fans take interest in their newest records. Do you think that would make it harder for a newer melodeath band to garner fans?

MV: There's all this YouTube and Facebook and Instagram things, so all in all it's a lot harder to break through as a metal band than it was back in the day. There is such a huge amount of bands trying to put their stuff out there through YouTube so you have to be really good to get your name popping out, so that way I would say harder, but there's also some newer melodic death metal bands coming out like Wolfheart from Finland coming together nicely even though they're like a five years old band or something, so it's still possible.

RP: Other than melodeath, what are some artists and genres you listened to lately and would like to recommend?

MV: I listen to a lot of classic rock like I said Journey, Whitesnake, Toto, Foreigner. This US radio rock has been growing on me this past year, so I would recommend the US people that you take the rock from the 80s, it's great. My playlist is mostly including classic rock and black metal so it's kinda to the boundaries.

RP: Speaking of black metal, what are you favorite black metal bands?

MV: Biggest favorite is of course Emperor. Emperor is the one and only and the biggest and I saw them live in Finland playing Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk and it was really fucking great.

RP: Lucky bastard.

MV: Haha, thank you. Also mainly Norwegian classics like Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone, old Arcturus, Gehenna, all these bands were great. Or are great. For the newer bands, Watain is really cool. It sounds a lot like old Dissection from Sweden, which is one of my favorite bands in the 90s.

RP: This year marks the tenth anniversary of The Redshift, quite an important album in your career, have you planned anything to celebrate it or do we have to wait ten more years?

MV: Ah, correct, so it's the ten year anniversary of The Redshift and it was kinda like a breakthrough album for the band. We started to act like a real band, we started touring actively abroad and touring with a tour bus and we got also a real crew and run merchandise and this was the start of the band, making progress. And we've always played some songs from it, we should play more songs from it but we usually play one or two.

RP: It was actually released in September so you still have a little time left.

MV: Yeah, you know better. I think it was in September. It was September 2008, we were touring with Nile and Grave in Europe back then. It was in the middle of the tour and at the same time, the same day that it was released, we were playing a set in Göteborg and our tour bus was robbed. So we truly remember that day. Our Swedish neighbors, those bastards.

RP: So the rivalry with Sweden is still alive.

MV: Always. And especially in ice hockey.

RP: Is ice hockey more popular in Finland than football?

MV: Yeah, ice hockey is our national sport and Finland have always sucked at football and we never got ourselves in any championships, but in ice hockey we are damn good. Always playing hard games with USA and Canada, always watch those games and we beat both of them in the last championship, but then we dropped. I think we lost to Switzerland.

RP: Do you watch any football?

MV: Not that much. I don't have any favorite team or anything. I was watching some of the world championship. I was supporting Germany, of course, but then Germany failed. I have my German roots so as Finland is not playing that was something to cheer up.

RP: Dio era or Ozzy era Black Sabbath?

MV: I've always thought that Heaven & Hell is the best Black Sabbath album so I have to pick Dio era.

RP: What is the purpose of art?

MV: Purpose of art? It is to offer people some adventure in your own home and in your own mind. It should get people outside their own lives to some different place. To have some wonder in your head and some free time from your normal affairs and just paint your own landscapes. Enjoyment.

RP: What is a question you wish interviewers would ask you?

MV: Uhhhh. That's a hard question. At least not that one. That's too hard, you got me.

RP: Alright well hopefully no further interviews will ask you that. Thank you for answering our questions.

MV: Thank you, it was a pleasure.





RP: Any last message to your fans.

MV: Hopefully see you all during the next North American tour. We are coming in September and October with Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity and Moonspell, which will be a great lineup and I will be a fanboy of all three bands and drink beer in the audience after our show so see all of you there.


 



Posted on 11.08.2018 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 23   Visited by: 178 users
11.08.2018 - 15:22
Darkside Momo
Retired
Nice interview. Seems he's quite a cool guy!
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11.08.2018 - 17:03
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Darkside Momo on 11.08.2018 at 15:22

Nice interview. Seems he's quite a cool guy!

Yes, I didn't expect him to be so understanding of all my fuck-ups.
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11.08.2018 - 17:23
Darkside Momo
Retired
Written by RaduP on 11.08.2018 at 17:03

Written by Darkside Momo on 11.08.2018 at 15:22

Nice interview. Seems he's quite a cool guy!

Yes, I didn't expect him to be so understanding of all my fuck-ups.

It probably wasn't a first for him but it's nice for sure
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"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" - Ray Bradbury

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I'
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12.08.2018 - 16:59
Bad English
Masterchief
Nice one, greta style., good style, origina style, some ms members has boring ones(not SSUS) he is good one , you made good one congerats man, nice tro hea that Insomnium will bring nw shit out.
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12.08.2018 - 17:05
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Bad English on 12.08.2018 at 16:59

Nice one, greta style., good style, origina style, some ms members has boring ones(not SSUS) he is good one , you made good one congerats man, nice tro hea that Insomnium will bring nw shit out.

Well I tried to figure out what would be some questions other interviewers would ask him, so I know not to ask to much of those. Markus himself noticed that my questions were interesting and I had done my research.
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12.08.2018 - 17:14
Bad English
Masterchief
I know keep on growing like this. I liked answer about art, nature, landscapes. True north man. Sport wuastion was great, when i make it smasrtasses are talking. , niw they are silent, weird hehe
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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12.08.2018 - 17:17
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Bad English on 12.08.2018 at 17:14

I know keep on growing like this. I liked answer about art, nature, landscapes. True north man. Sport wuastion was great, when i make it smasrtasses are talking. , niw they are silent, weird hehe

But he did mention the SWE-FIN rivalry, is he not your rival?
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12.08.2018 - 20:31
Bad English
Masterchief
Written by RaduP on 12.08.2018 at 17:17

Written by Bad English on 12.08.2018 at 17:14

I know keep on growing like this. I liked answer about art, nature, landscapes. True north man. Sport wuastion was great, when i make it smasrtasses are talking. , niw they are silent, weird hehe

But he did mention the SWE-FIN rivalry, is he not your rival?

Only in match day, my biggest rivery is same as finns, russia. One doom mussian told what he feels about them, i feel even more. Otherwise i am not ultra, extreme nationalist, i dont cry or die if Finland wins. I see europe as one.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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13.08.2018 - 14:15
musclassia
"Markus Vanhala: I guess we are still staying in the same path that, like Jukka said, it is more of a straightforward, in-your-face album. There is no, for example, like a 10 minutes epic song on the album"

What a buzzkill! I wanted another Beyond rather than a follow-up of Grey Heavens. But I'm sure it'll be somewhat decent, even if GH was a bit underwhelming.

Nice review man, pretty comprehensive and some interesting questions in there too!
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13.08.2018 - 18:44
MeatWolf
Quote:
We wanted to do it more like a live album, to have all sorts of songs that we can guarantee can work live really well

Got it, expecting some trainwreck like Two Paths now which was basically created with the very same mindset. Two singles we had so far sound exactly that way.

For God's sake, studio is a studio, record a DVD if you want but what is this CoB record attitude.
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13.08.2018 - 20:51
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by musclassia on 13.08.2018 at 14:15

"Markus Vanhala: I guess we are still staying in the same path that, like Jukka said, it is more of a straightforward, in-your-face album. There is no, for example, like a 10 minutes epic song on the album"

What a buzzkill! I wanted another Beyond rather than a follow-up of Grey Heavens. But I'm sure it'll be somewhat decent, even if GH was a bit underwhelming.

Nice review man, pretty comprehensive and some interesting questions in there too!

Yeah, I was sort of disappointed by that too, but at least now I know what to expect from it. Beyond was my first OG album.
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13.08.2018 - 20:52
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by MeatWolf on 13.08.2018 at 18:44

Quote:
We wanted to do it more like a live album, to have all sorts of songs that we can guarantee can work live really well

Got it, expecting some trainwreck like Two Paths now which was basically created with the very same mindset. Two singles we had so far sound exactly that way.

For God's sake, studio is a studio, record a DVD if you want but what is this CoB record attitude.

I suppose songs from Beyond didn't work that well live and that's what prompted them to move in that direction.
----
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14.08.2018 - 02:26
The Galactican
Written by musclassia on 13.08.2018 at 14:15

What a buzzkill! I wanted another Beyond rather than a follow-up of Grey Heavens. But I'm sure it'll be somewhat decent, even if GH was a bit underwhelming.

Nice review man, pretty comprehensive and some interesting questions in there too!


Totally this. A ho-hum OG album is still a good time, but I'd love to see a return to New World Shadows and Beyond. I don't feel that the quality of the songwriting was there with Grey Heavens.

This was indeed a good interview though, and he seems like a real cool guy. Always a pleasure to learn that artists I respect are genuinely solid humans.
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14.08.2018 - 12:35
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 13.08.2018 at 20:51

Written by musclassia on 13.08.2018 at 14:15

"Markus Vanhala: I guess we are still staying in the same path that, like Jukka said, it is more of a straightforward, in-your-face album. There is no, for example, like a 10 minutes epic song on the album"

What a buzzkill! I wanted another Beyond rather than a follow-up of Grey Heavens. But I'm sure it'll be somewhat decent, even if GH was a bit underwhelming.

Nice review man, pretty comprehensive and some interesting questions in there too!

Yeah, I was sort of disappointed by that too, but at least now I know what to expect from it. Beyond was my first OG album.


New World Shadows was my first OG album, but even though I liked that album a fair bit, it was the likes of Nightwalkers, The Unknowing, and White Palace that made me really pay some attention to the band, rather than say Ego or New Dynamic. Although funnily enough, the only song I've really come back to on Grey Heavens is The Pit
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19.08.2018 - 04:54
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Damn, and I was enjoying him so much until that comment he made dissing jazz

On the real though, great interview, even if I'm not all that familiar with the guy's work. I really like the natural conversation feel of it and you can tell that you guys were just going back and forth with you creating new responses to his answers. Definitely the benefit of using stuff like Skpe, a phone, or IM'ing for interviewing. I especially like you asking him about nonmetal, I'm always curious to see what guys like this listen to on the side outside of the context of their own, heavier work. Dude's down with Ozric Tentacles and Infected Mushroom? Hell yeah!
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04.09.2018 - 01:19
Dream Taster
The Enemy Within
Super interview. Outstanding depth in your questions, great job man!
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04.09.2018 - 19:18
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Dream Taster on 04.09.2018 at 01:19

Super interview. Outstanding depth in your questions, great job man!

Thanks, had to learn from the best!
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Seinfeld: I can't be with someone like me! I hate myself!
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05.09.2018 - 14:39
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Quote:
jazz music is bad music in my opinion.


Absolutely.

Jazz music meant for the two best scenarios - funeral and background music in restaurants.
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05.09.2018 - 17:51
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 05.09.2018 at 14:39

Quote:
jazz music is bad music in my opinion.


Absolutely.

Jazz music meant for the two best scenarios - funeral and background music in restaurants.


You uncultured swine
----
Seinfeld: I can't be with someone like me! I hate myself!
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16.09.2018 - 21:10
MeatWolf
Written by RaduP on 13.08.2018 at 20:52

Written by MeatWolf on 13.08.2018 at 18:44

Quote:
We wanted to do it more like a live album, to have all sorts of songs that we can guarantee can work live really well

Got it, expecting some trainwreck like Two Paths now which was basically created with the very same mindset. Two singles we had so far sound exactly that way.

For God's sake, studio is a studio, record a DVD if you want but what is this CoB record attitude.

I suppose songs from Beyond didn't work that well live and that's what prompted them to move in that direction.

There are plenty of songs on Beyond that can go very well live like New Dynamic, In the Rim, Living In Me. But you might have a point.
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21.09.2018 - 11:40
Harmaajoki
Really high-quality questions and those are what we would like to know. Great work and thank you!!!
Luckily I was at their tour last night and he's right, The Burning Cold is a good album to perform. No offensive but Amorphis's Queen of Time is a typical self-listening album, details are hard to catch during a show.
Last I would like to ask if I can translate your work to a Chinese music forum? There are lots of fans who are inconvenient in reading here or simply just not so good in English. Can't say I'm an expert but I'll try my best. Thank you!
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There are so many bands that I just love one of their albums, so I won't list them out.
But no, I don't take suggestions.
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22.09.2018 - 12:03
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Harmaajoki on 21.09.2018 at 11:40

Last I would like to ask if I can translate your work to a Chinese music forum?

As far as I'm concerned, as long as you add a link to this original page, I'm ok with that
----
Seinfeld: I can't be with someone like me! I hate myself!
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24.09.2018 - 09:18
Harmaajoki
Written by RaduP on 22.09.2018 at 12:03

Written by Harmaajoki on 21.09.2018 at 11:40

Last I would like to ask if I can translate your work to a Chinese music forum?

As far as I'm concerned, as long as you add a link to this original page, I'm ok with that

Thank you for kindness! Sure I'll link back here.
----
There are so many bands that I just love one of their albums, so I won't list them out.
But no, I don't take suggestions.
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