HI! HOW ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU? Hello, I’m pretty well, thanks. I’m at home, having a quiet little beer and typing away answers to your questions. „REGRESSION“ IS OUT AND VERY IMPRESSIVE. ARE YOU CONTENT WITH EVERYTHING? HOW ARE YOUR FEELINGS NOW AFTER WORK IS DONE? “Regression“ turned out pretty good. There are always things we could have done differently if we’d had more time, but I must say we’re all happy with the result. What we set out to do when we started the recording process was to try and capture the raw energy of us playing live. No frills songs, no frills arrangements and very natural, unpolished sound. The oldest song on the album is the second song we ever wrote, the newest song was finished just a few weeks before entering the studio. The songs on the album reflect the 18 months of time during which we started writing songs, became the band we are nowadays and reached the point when it was clear to all of us what our sound is and who we are as a band. Having completed „Regression“, it feels like we’re done with the first chapter of our biography and now the story really picks up speed! AS YOU ARE A QUITE NEW BAND IN THE METAL SCENE AT LEAST IN GERMANY COULD YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO OUR READERS?! We are pretty new everywhere! We started off in late 2003, when me (Teemu Saikkonen, drums), Juha (Javanainen, guitar) and Kuisma (Aalto, ex-guitar and later bass) got together to jam. With Tuomo (Saikkonen) on vocals, we played Soul Burn by Meshuggah and few Entombed songs at a party one night just for fun, and we needed a bass player. Santtu (Hämäläinen, guitar) happened to be at the party and we recruited him to play with us. Santtu started bringing in songs right away, so him and Kuisma decided to swap instruments, after all, guitar is Santtu’s first intrument. We released our first (and only) demo in spring 2004 and played our first gig in October 2004. After five gigs, Kuisma decided to call it quits because he had trouble dividing his time between two bands, work and a relationship. In June 2005 we found Antti Vajanto, an old friend, to take over on the bass. WHAT IS THE DEEPER MEANING OF THE BANDNAME, IF THERE IS A DEEPER MEANING? 😉 How deep a meaning can it have, it’s just a fancy word for a big knife! We just wanted a name that was catchy, simple and a bit corny – like a reminder that there’s always a little room for humour! THERE HAS BEEN AN IMPORTANT CHANGE IN YOUR LINE UP, ANTTI VAJANTO JOINED YOUR FORCES – CAN YOU TELL ME THE STORY BEHIND IT? Kuisma had to quit for lack of time, so we found I ourselves lacking a bass player once again. None of us wanted to start a full blown audition hassle, we all agreed that we needed someone who we knew had what it takes as a musician and who we knew would fit in the band as a person. Antti is a childhood friend, me and him have played together in four different bands before The Machete. Antti has been playing the saxophone for the last years, but he’s been really happy picking up the bass again. We all listen to very different styles of music and have played quite a range of music as well, so Antti fits in perfectly. AND HOW DID YOUR COLLABORATION WITH SPINEFARM START? ARE YOU CONTENT WITH THEIR PROMOTIONAL WORK? Extremely quickly! Tuomo and Kuisma are part owners of a record company called Sakara Records and we planned to release „Regression“ through them at first. Just before we entered the studio, Spinefarm contacted us to tell that they were interested in having THE MACHETE in their roster. We gave it a quick thought and decided to work with Spinefarm, because Sakara Records operates in Finland only (at the moment) and it would have meant massive amounts of work for Tuomo personally to arrange the distribution of the album abroad. Our experience with Spinefarm only covers about three months, so we haven’t really seen much about what they can do, but so far things have worked out great. THE COVER IS VERY INTERESTING IN A SIMPLE BUT STRANGE STYLE. WHICH IS THE MESSAGE? IS IT RELATED WITH THE TEXT CONCEPT AND DID YOU HAVE ANY INFLUENCE ON THE DESIGN? WHY YELLOW? We controlled every bit of the design. We wanted to break the mold that pretty much every single metal album seems to be designed by – you know, the black, grey and brown atmospheric photo theme kind or the more old school comic book kind. We just think most of the metal album covers are so predictable and boring that we didn’t want to add to that mass. The cover design doesn’t reflect the lyrics as much as it reflects our approach to making music in general, keeping things raw and consentrating on bare essentials. Yellow is the colour for danger and it really catches your attention, so actually having to answer this question shows the design serves its purpose pretty well! WHICH LYRICAL CONCEPT STANDS BEHIND “REGRESSION”? (WHAT DOES THE TERM “REGRESSION” MEAN ANYWAY? ANY POLITICAL BACKGROUND?) The word „Regression“ in this case has to do with stripping things down to their fundamentals, or allowing your basic instincts take over. There’s no overall lyrical theme to the album, really. Some songs deal with social issues, some have no „serious“ content whatsoever. We write about things that we happen to be thinking about at any given time, it can be serious issues, personal hardship or good ol’ rock’n’roll girls girls girls –theme. The only criteria is that any one of us could sing the lyrics in public without being totally embarrassed! COULD YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE PRODUCTION PROCESS? AS YOU SEEM TO BE A YOUNG AND MAYBE A LITTLE UNEXPERIENCED BAND, HOW DID EVERYTHING WORK OUT IN STUDIO? DOES THE SOUND FIT YOUR EXPECTATIONS? We’re all pushing forty (even though some of us are not ready to admit it yet) so you can imagine how happy we are about your kind words! The Machete doesn’t have a long history as a band, but all of us have had our share of studio work during the years. Tuomo and Juha released three albums with MIND RIOT, Tuomo and Santtu are currently members of a band called MOKOMA, a top metal band in Finland who have released five albums (singing in Finnish). I’ve done quite a bit of studio work in different contexts during the years and the same applies to Antti as well. Things worked out really well in the studio. Miitri Aaltonen, who recorded, mixed and co-produced the album is a long time friend and knows exactly what we are about, so we were able to work really quicky. We only had two and a half weeks to records AND mix the album, so we really didn’t have any time to waste. Miitri and us totally agreed on what kind of sound we were after, so we worked together very well. We used the traditional methods to get the natural sound we were after, there’s not one single sample used on the album. COULD YOU TELL ME YOUR WAY OF SONGWRITING? IS THERE A KIND OF „LEADER“ OR IS IT A DEMOCRATIC PROCESS? Santtu writes about 70% of the songs, the rest are by me or a combination of Santtu, Juha and me. Writing is a democratic process, everyone gets a say on the riffs, arrangements and so forth. Anyone can bring in an entire, finished song or we can bring in bits and pieces and work them into a song together, it varies a lot. WE DESCRIBED YOU AS MIX OF HYPOCRISY, THE HAUNTED, GROPE AND FACE DOWN. COULD YOU LIVE WITH THIS COMPARISONS? WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR PERSONAL INFLUENCES? I can only speak for myself, but personally I only know THE HAUNTED’s music, I’ve heard maybe three HYPOCRISY songs ever and I’ve never heard of GROPE of FACE DOWN. THE HAUNTED is great and I understand HYPOCRISY is not a bad band either, so I can’t really complain. For years I totally lost interest in metal, I never stopped listening to bands like VOIVOD, DARK ANGEL or NAPALM DEATH, but there was so much other music to check out, so there are loads „must-know“ bands that I have no clue about. Our influences are all music that we’ve listened to along the years, different types of metal, rock, jazz, soul etc. but obviously it doesn’t mean that we’ve put all that music into The Machete songs. The various influences may be heard in the arrangements and the way we play our instruments, but you’re not likely to come across a calypso or a reggae part in any of our song! “TURNED TO DUST” IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE TRACKS AS IT CONTAINS A GREAT MELODY PART. ANY COMMENTS ON THAT TRACK? DO YOU REGARD AGGRESSION AND MELODIES AS EQUAL IMPORTANT FOR YOUR MUSICAL DIRECTION? „Turned To Dust“ is the third or fourth song we ever wrote, so it has come a long way ending up on the album. It’s one of those songs that was put together from riffs from Santtu and Juha, arranged together and even the lyrics are a team effort from Santtu and Me. The chorus of the song is kind of rock’n’roll, so the melodic vocal parts came very naturally. Aggression and melody are definitely equally important to us. Actually we never even had to discuss the matter, I think we all agree that you can’t really separate one from the other, there’s always both in music no matter what. Some songs have more melody, some are more aggressive and even „percussive“ in nature, but both elements are always there. YOU MADE A VIDEO FOR “NEW ME”. WILL YOU TELL US WHAT WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE? AND WILL THIS VIDEO BE PLAYED ON TELEVISION? Very unsporty, half-nude, oily male bodies doing very masculine things! OK, a little bit of playing as well, and I’m not kidding! The idea and script for the video came entirely from the guys at Vasara Films, but it was good fun shooting it! The story of video is one interpretation of the lyrics, so in that sense all the ungodly action on the video is justified. Go and check out some pics from the shoot session at our web site! We didn’t want one of those videos where the band is playing the song in a dark industrial looking place – we have that as well, do get me wrong – but we wanted there’s an element in the video that will get a reaction from everyone who sees, it be it good or bad. Playing metal music is a lot of fun, so it doens’t really make sense to be totally dead-serious all the time. Considering the explicit action on the video ;), I’m not sure if it’ll ever end up on the TV, we’ll see. It’ll most likely be released on one or two compilation DVDs at some point, and maybe as an extra in our future releases. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CURRENT DEATH METAL SCENE IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY? TOO MANY BANDS? TOO MANY COPYCATS? ANY INTERESTING NEW INFLUENCES OR UNDERGROUND BANDS WHICH HAVE TO BE DISCOVERED? There’s always room for another band, so there can never be too many bands. It’s a good hobby, it’ll keep the kids out of trouble (well, maybe). There are always bands that are pretty much doing what’s expected to be „true“ to any specific category of music, that’s part of the learning process. Some of those bands may some day grow up to be a really good, original band, so there’s no point being judgemental towards them. I’m not really up to date with the latest scene happenings, but there are definitely some great bands worth checking out even you haven’t already, bands like DIABLO, SWALLOW THE SUN, TOTAL DEVASTATION, CALLISTO and ROTTEN SOUND for example. TOTAL DEVASTATION is probably the only one that could be labeled as death metal, but really, I’m totally clueless when it comes to labeling music and specific scene things. WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER INTERESTS BESIDES MUSIC, ANY MOVIE/ BOOK/ ALCOHOL PREFERENCES? Personally, food and wine. I’m a total food-freak and I always find out about the local culinary culture and try to find the greatest restaurants whenever I’m on a trip somewhere. The same goes for wine. I really enjoy cooking because it has so many things in common with music, relying on your feel and senses, improvisation, thinking outside the box and the gratification of enjoying good food of course. WHEN WILL WE SEE YOU LIVE IN GERMANY AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT? Soon, I hope! Things have moved so fast for us that we haven’t got around to arranging tours anywhere else than Finland yet. You can expect a loud and very energetic show. We feel that there should a be point to coming to SEE a band play live, the world doesn’t need one single rock or metal band standing put and staring at their sneekers when on stage. Putting up a good, energetic show is two-way street, you can’t really expect any response from the audience if your show is like watching „The Geriatrics“ play Kenny G –covers! YOU HAVE PLAYED SOME LIVE GIGS YET. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST AND ON THE OTHER HAND WORST EXPERIENCE? We’ve played six gigs so far since October last year. There haven’t really been any bad experiences, all shows have been successful considering the circumstances and we’ve been really lucky to have been able to play at some of the best clubs and had good crowds. The best experience is the show we played in Tampere last January before taking the break for recording „Regression“, full house, the crowd was on fire and we played a good show. ANY LAST WORDS TO OUR READERS? We really hope we can arrange a tour to Germany soon, we’re really looking forward to meet all you metal heads! THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR TIME AND GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR STRONG EFFORT. Thank you!