The Flatfield is a young Finnish gothic rock band with skilled musicians. To my mind, it is one of the most promising bands in modern goth scene. They already have a full-length release and, considering such an impressive beginning, it seems that soon they will show us how to “tumble over yourself”. If you are fascinated by shamanism of Fields Of The Nephilim, innovation, focus on sound and gravity of Swans, melodies and sentimentality of late 80’s Cure, and want to hear something completely new and progressive, then it is a band for you.
- Hi mates. Could you please introduce yourselves? For those whom I know in person among you The Flatfield is by far not the first band so I’d like to ask you to tell about your previous projects as well. Bear in mind that I love lengthy boring details so don’t hesitate to give them for our small audience. J And please don’t be too modest talking about your music experiences, I know some of you tend to be.
Ville: I am a singer and a song writer in the band. I used to play synth in live performances until Risto came along. I am a professional artist, a painter. I have played the guitar since I was 12 years old and all my youth I thought about playing in band. In art school we had some art/experimental music project, but it was more like stretching the boundaries of art than playing in a band. I graduated from art school 2005 and returned to my hometown Lahti. My friends had a group of two guitars and drums and they asked if I could play bass? I was excited! The band was later called Fauxmoor. Music was post-rock, post-metal, semi-doom. We made a few gigs and recorded a very dark four-track EP in 2009. I loved playing live, but after the EP was released the band members were slowly separated by life and rehearsing was impossible.
Jay: I play the guitar in the band, I’m also heavily involved in song writing and arrangement as well as general ‘management’ of the band. I’ve played the guitar for ages, at some point of time I also studies a bit of classical and jazz guitar, but I consider myself as a goth/punk guitarist. My first band was a punk band Smiles influenced by Dead Kennedys, The Exploited, The Damned etc. We played one epic gig and broke up soon after that due to musical disagreement (really!). Two band members formed legendary Finnish punk-pop band Karkkiautomaatti. Our Hungarian singer later became a priest, an anarchist one.I formed an art-goth band Flow soon after Smiles disbanded. Flow had a drum machine, violin and saxophone – I sang in the band at that time. We played etheric dark music and played quite many gigs as well, one to remember was with Finnish post-punk legend Shadowplay. We never actually disbanded, but the band gradually faded away as members, including myself moved for studies etc.I first ran to Jaska when we were looking a drummer to Lore, the band that I put up with my long time friend Mika Grön. Lore was influenced by goth and progressive music (because of Mika). Musical cooperation with Mika came to the end quite soon because we had to do too many compromises while writing songs. I got to know Juha at the time I was playing for a while in the Shadow Dance and eventually we got along so well that we decided to have a band of our own. It all started with Brien (see Juha’s answer), that band was a nucleus of Cairn. As Juha said, we never split up – we just…you know.
Juha: I´m Juha Juntunen, and I play bass in The Flatfield. I had my first bands when I was at secondary school, and we were making some kind of punk, doing covers of Ramones and some Finnish punk bands, although when we learned to play little bit better we started to write our own songs. One of my first bands already played “Rain” by the Cult as a cover version, so my roots in this kind of post punk/goth music go quite deep, even as playing music, not just listening to it goes. I played my first gig at tender age of fifteen, and I still think it´s one of the best gigs I have ever personally done. Sadly my teenage bands didn´t lead to anything, maybe I wasn´t yet determined and patient enough, and I already wanted to make some kind of post punk, goth or indie-rock, and it was quite difficult to find musicians who wanted to make same kind of music, cause almost everyone capable to play an instrument was into hard-rock or metal.My first more serious band was The Shadow Dance, and I was part of that band 1995 – 97. The Shadow Dance was old school goth with female vocals and drum machine. I made quite few gigs with that band, and made few studio sessions with it. Actually first time when I played in studio was on The Shadow Dance track “Temple”. “Temple” was released on “The Goth Box” compilation cd, which still is quite well known compilation, and of course it felt really funny when the first ever notes you played in the studio were on the same compilation side by side with legends like Bauhaus, The Damned, The Chameleons, Play Dead, Alien Sex Fiend, Christian Death and Patricia Morrison. They really were the first notes that I ever played in the studio, cause I was really nervous going for the first time, so I was so well rehearsed that I nailed the whole bass line completely at the first take. I remember recording bass tracks for an ep, but that didn´t come out from that session, because the other members didn´t get they parts done. They recorded and released an ep later, but I was already gone. I got fed up, cause the line up in that band was always quite unstable, and it took ages to get anything done. After I left I played all the bass parts for them to tape, and they used them for couple of gigs. It felt bit weird when I was once sitting on a club, having a beer, my previous band was on stage and I was hearing my own playing coming from a sampler machine. I already got to know Jay and Jaska when I was playing with the Shadow Dance.After that I started my first real musical collaboration with Jay and Jaska, which was in 1997. First we had an American singer called Brien Ferguson. It started first quite well, we did Brien´s songs and made few things together, but we parted ways due to musical differences. That was really like that literally, I remember Brien saying that he wanted us to play from major scales when we wanted to do minors. Say maybe that says something about Americans and Europeans, Americans are happy people and we are miserable bastards. Then we asked Anna Pienimäki from Jay´s and Jaskas previous band Lore to join, and then Cairn was born. It was really good band, still sort of my favorite band of all the bands I´ve ever played in. Our music was sort of poppy stadium goth. Actually one British guy told me at the time that it was like equal mix of The Cure, early U2, Cocteau Twins and The Cranberries with good tunes. Not a bad definition at all. We made few really good gigs, couple of decent studio sessions but never got anything released officially. I think it was few years to early for Finland. We never officially split up. We more like faded away. I think we played our last gig and last rehearsal in early 2000.Then friend of mine Heidi Pulkkinen (I think she still is member of Two Witches), asked me to play bass in her new band, which was called Covay. Musical style was once again goth. Most of the members in that band were female, so it was quite different to play with that group compared to bands that in most of the members are male. I heard, learned and saw many things which I don´t dare to mention and even didn´t wanted to know or see. Still, quite important thing it that band was that I quite soon became the main song writer in that band, and even though I had written songs and tunes and riffs before, this was the first time that I was totally in charge of bands musical direction. That band started to crumble when our first drummer had to move to Germany, then we had really hard time getting another one. Last nail in the coffin was when Heidi also immigrated to Germany. I had few try-outs with bands after that, but nothing really interesting and permanent became of that. We had few odd rehearsal sessions with Jay and Jaska, and when we met with Jay in social events we always talked that someday we are going to have again band together. In the spring 2011 Jay rang to me in the middle of really boring party, and asked me to join the Flatfield, and the rest is history.Along with the Flatfield I was playing in Neu Zaum 2011-2014, made three videos, studio material worth of mini album and one gig supporting 69 Eyes with them. I left the band due to personal differences.
Jaska: I play drums in The Flatfield. The most important musical influence for me is Cocteau Twins. Other bands worth mentioning are The Cure, The House of Love, The Smiths, The Mission, Talk Talk, Killing Joke, Japan, Simple Minds, U2 and Siouxsie and The Banshees.
Risto Juntunen: I play synth in the Flatfield. I have been really interested about music and playing in bands from very early age. I share quite a lot same musical influences with the other members of the band. I started to learn play guitar properly at the age of 13 and had my first bands when I was in secondary school. We played cover songs of various punk bands and started to write songs and played various school parties. I played with various guys during upper secondary school and couple gigs. After that I started my studies and I didn´t play for many years. I started to play again with my friends while living in my hometown Oulu. We did one gig and musical style was some kind mixture between post-metal, post-rock and doom metal. We rehearsed and played quite a lot together back then.In autumn 2011 I moved from Oulu to Helsinki after graduating and was asked to join band called Neu Zaum to play keyboards. Before that I had been playing mainly bass, guitar and little bit of keyboards. As Juha mentioned we made three videos, studio material worth of mini album and one gig supporting 69 Eyes with Neu Zaum. I left the band same time with Juha due to personal differences.I joined The Flatfield in spring 2014 just before Passionless was released. There were some discussion about the joining the band before, but when they asked me to join it wasn´t a difficult decision to make. I´m also involved in one project as well at the moment and hopefully something will come out in the near future.
Ville: At the time Fauxmoor was sinking (2010), I was on my way to Helsinki by train. I am a hardcore reader, and once again I was reading in restaurant cart. A fine looking gentleman in a Spaghetti-suit came up to me and asked what I was reading? Book was Gavin Braddleys "Goth Chick". I did not need any company. I just wanted to read by myself, but for sake of good manners we started a formal talk about music. I was stunned. Came out that this guy was a former guitarist of several gothic and post-punk bands and we liked the very same bands: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, The Fields of Nephilim etc. This doctor was Jay Ravine. Later on he asked if we could try to make some music? I tough that I really don´t have time for this, but I had some bass lines and drum sequences in my Groove box just waiting for guitarist, so I said: let’s try. We ended up in the Fauxmoor´s rehearsal room in a meat fridge of the old slaughterhouse with Bass, guitar, groove box and synth. I loved the sound of Jay’s over-effected guitar-noise. Collaboration was natural and progress was easy. The music sounded too good to be left in a drawer. In few months we made a few songs. I wanted to play bass, but Jay encouraged me to sing and told me that he knew drummer and bass player. My only concern was that could a drummer play fast hi-hat accurately enough? How little I knew! Juha and Jaska were invited for a shakedown. Once again I was amazed. These three guys played so well together. They were highly skilled and they knew instantly what I wanted from the music. I didn’t have to explain why the music had to be dark, sad, bizarre and gloomy. I remember when we asked if Juha wanted to join the band he said; yes, this is Goth enough for me ;-)Songs that I had dreamed about came alive. Soon we noticed some problems in live performances when I played synth and sang at the same time. Since the Risto (synth) joined the line-up the band has bloomed at stage as well. Nowadays Risto has an important role in the band´s in terms of management and music. I am a true atheist, but I seriously think that some old mystic god put that guy in that train to answer my silent prayers.
Jay: I got to know Ville in train. While sharing a table in a restaurant car for a few times we noticed that we share very similar taste when it comes to music, literature and stuff. It, however, took us a while before we decided to form a band. From the very beginning it was obvious that we wanted to find a new angle to gothic and post-punk and at the same time respect the tradition of the genre. This has, in a way, been a guiding light of the band ever since the first rehearsals. We started the band as a two-man project, but soon we come to the conclusion that in order to create real, vibrating and organic band, we would need more guys or girls. I have to admit that it was not a hard job to persuade Juha and Jaska to hop on board. The line-up of the band was completed only when Risto ‘The Cantor’ joined the band. His input has been very valuable and in my opinion this line-up ideal for the band.
Juha: Jay and Ville started the band earlier, on my behalf I can say that I joined in spring of 2011. I think that at the start we were progressing quite fast, we made our first (and only) demo session as early as May 2011. But then we started to have few hiccups, Jaska broke his wrists. We had our first rehearsal place in Lahti, which is 100 kilometres away from Helsinki. That was quite difficult at least for me. When we had our rehearsal place in Lahti we had rehearsals on Sunday mornings, and I can say that Sunday morning is no creative time for me, so I can now say that I really couldn´t give my best creative input in those circumstances. Then we moved our rehearsal place to Helsinki, and things started to turn for better quite rapidly. We had our first proper studio session for Black Lips and Long Raincoats compilation album, our first proper gigs and studio sessions which lead to Passionless – album. And I think that our band got to new level when my brother Risto joined the line-up in spring 2014, because then Ville could concentrate in singing and performing during our live shows, and of course Risto took in his own artistic input. And I also think it looked bit naff on stage when singer was playing keyboards, bit too much like California in 1970´s. At least I think that the spirits are high now, we are looking forward to the upcoming gigs and making the second album.
Jaska: I heard that Jay had founded a new band with Ville. They had already made a few songs with a drum-machine, and he sent those demos to me. We decided to try how my drum-playing would fit to these new songs and it worked really well - I joined the band in 2011.Risto: I think spirit is really strong nowadays. The chemistry between band members is really good. We take this band seriously, but not too seriously. In my opinion every member of the band havesame goals and what they want to achieve and do with the band. All the band members are on the same page of the book regarding the band.
- The Flatfield is a good name for a band, which sounds right for your music and seems obvious for a goth project (which is not bad at all). Like any other listener I could give it an interpretation but I’m interested in your own explanation, which motives made you choose this name.
Ville: There was a repeated nightmare in my childhood where I was alone in the middle of a flat field. Emptiness surrounded by abstract fear. No one to help me. No way to go home.I like to think that The Flatfield is name of that horrid place.Hills, ridges and lakes characterize my hometown Lahti. In the year 2000 I studied art in small town of Liminka about 30 km from the city of Oulu. The landscape in Northern Finland is totally flat – a field after a field. I though that this kind of a landscape is the most depressing that can exist. There is nothing to get inspired of. At that time I did not think it as a name of a band, but when we started to figure out the name for the band, I thought that this is what our music is all about: depression, loneliness and decay. The Flatfield is of course a reference to most inspiring song of Bauhaus: In the flat-field.
Jay: I’m sure you’ve done the right interpretation. Everyone affiliated with the gothic or post-punk scene knows the Bauhaus classic In the Flat-field, so we wanted the name of the band to give a clear signal what the band is about.
Juha: It is always difficult to get name for a band, and it has always been like that for all of the bands I´ve been in. I remember with Cairn that we had our first gig booked, we didn´t have a name and we had to have name given to the organiser in two days, so I looked into the dictionary and came up with Cairn. On my behalf I think name The Flatfield is an homage and a nod towards a band that has inspired us a lot. I think Bauhaus has always been much more important and influential band that they have been credited for. And even the coolest of band names can have stupid stories behind them. You could imagine that people behind the name Velvet Underground were as geniuses as they were as musicians as they invented their bands name. But no, they took it from some kind of cheap sadomasochistic porn book.Risto: I do get bored, I get bored in the flat field...
- In 2014 you recorded your first 7-song album and released it on your own. I cannot but admit that our Russian gang likes it really much. How difficult was recording it? How do you evaluate the result of your efforts yourselves? Were you inspired by the listeners feedback?
How difficult was recording it?
Playing instruments was easy. These guys can play. Putting the sound and atmosphere to right place took more time. I had a clear vision how the record should feel, but we had to test what this feeling would sound like? Like in painting you add things on canvas and ponder how will it affect to other elements of this painting. Sometimes you take things away, some time you add more until you reach the climax and you now the painting is ready. Antti Lindell is an excellent recorder and mixer. He comprehended our ideas and had no problem with our progressive, experimental, back and forth working style.
How do you evaluate the result of your efforts yourselves?
Many songs on Passionless album based on my planted seed. The band made the plant grow and Antti Lindell made them bloom. So it is the result of flourishing collaboration and I am very proud of it.
Were you inspired by the listeners feedback?
Music for me is seeking and making art, not entertainment. Art comes from independence. So, no feedback was heard during the recordings. Artist idea and the needs of audience does not always come across. You need to search answers from inside. This is the chance that you have to take to be an independent artist. Now that the record is out, I am very happy and inspired that the feedback has been very supportive. This is the reward for an artist.
Jay: The recording process itself was quite easy. We found a right guy to work with, Antti Lindell, and we also had a quite clear image on the soundscape of the album. We decided to use electric drum pads in order to have more variety in drums. We wasted a lot of time and energy working on drum sounds, and it was far more harder job than we thought in the first place. In the next album, which is due to be released in late-2015 or early-2016 we will use an acoustic drum set. Otherwise, I would say that I’m, and I suppose that the others are as well, pretty happy with the result, the album is an image of our first phase. Now, I would say that we have a bit more elaborated idea about the different dimensions of our material.
Juha: To me it was fairly easy and painless. We did backing tracks quite rapidly, maybe just in two days. We first planned to do an ep, but when the sessions went on so smoothly I think it was me who suggested why don´t we do an album with the same effort. We had one really good song “Praise” in the can, which we could use for the album, Ville, Jay and Antti Lindell just remixed it. Ville and Jay did the biggest work with the album with loads of overdubs, mixing it and adding nice effects. I think I was present in the mixing just for one day. It is actually quite funny that Risto was also present in the mixing phase for one day even he didn´t back then belong to the band. Maybe we should have credited him in the album cover for bad vibes. Antti Lindell, who recorded and engineered the album, was really good, supportive, experimental and professional. We also thought really hard of the running order of the songs.I like the album a lot, and I think that the name “Passionless” is sort of a clever title for that album. I was stunned when I first time heard the album as a cd from my home stereo, because it sounded so good. I´m really proud of that album, and I hope that it would stand the test of time. My personal favorites are “Silence”, “The Witch”, “Passionless” and “Praise”. I think the song “Passionless” is an perfect example how sometimes songs create life of their own, and they turn into something almost opposite to that they were originally intended to. “Passionless” started as a light, catchy song, reminding little bit of Japan (the band not the country”), but in later rehearsals and especially in studio it mutated into this murky, grungy monster of a song. It actually reminds me of Alice in Chains, and they have definitely never been any musical influence at least to me.It has been of course nice that so many people have liked it. Album has got reasonable amount of airplay in various radio stations. Our friend Oscar Terramortis has been distributing the album through his label, and he told us that with The Flatfield he had his first customer from New Caledonia, so it is amazing how you can reach people from the other side of the world.
Jaska: In my opinion it was hard to choose songs for the album, as we had to leave out a few good songs. For me the recording started off well with a song that was quite painless for me, Eternal. The recording of the next six songs for the album was a little bit more challenging because we had limited time.
Risto: I was not in the band when they recorded it. I was positively surprised when I heard the recorded material for the first time when The Flatfield was recording the album. Of course I knew that it would be really good material, because I have heard the previous bands like Shadow Dance and Cairn from the guys and liked those band really much.
- Let’s talk about lyrics. I have to ask this question because CD has no leaflet with lyrics and my English isn’t so good to understand everything. Tell me what are these songs about and what were they inspired by?
Ville: In general the lyrics follow the usual path: tragic love, depression, funeral, death, vampire, mystic forces, witch, existential agony, suicide, etc. After all, we are a gothic band.
Silence: is about feelings in a relationship that has come to the state where is no longer communication. Last words of the song are: Your silence is violence.
The Witch: is about medieval love that gets no response. Revenge of a broken heart and framing a girl to a witch.
Passionless: is about a wake and a funeral.
New time: is about laconic toughs of modern age. It is distantly inspired by Fritz Lang´s movie: Metropolis
Shore: is about agony from one sided love and toughs of suicide.
Eternal: is about vampires. Problem of the eternal life.
You feel the hunger, but you're dead inside. Your soul is burning but your body is alive. Your hope is bleeding and you are ready to die, but your body is doomed to eternal life
Praise: is inspired by quote of Timothy Leary
Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities -- the political, the religious, the educational authorities --- who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing -- forming in our minds -- their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.
TIMOTHY LEARY, How to Operate Your Brain
Jay: Ville is our mad poet!
Juha: Lyrics are Ville´s cup of tea, he can answer for them. I only want to say that maybe because I´m so much of an anglophile English has always been the language of music for me, I couldn´t imagine playing in the band that would sing in Finnish.
- In my opinion, The Flatfield mixes influences of such genres like post rock or even sludge with goth rock, which makes it possible to draw parallels between you and Swans, for example. I also often think of Fields Of The Nephilim because of your heavy sound, mid tempo and melody patterns. But all these assumptions could be not well-grounded, because the case of your band is unique. Which bands would you like to be compared with? Please open up, I know you are music fans and collectors, and every music lovers has such oddities.
Ville: In my opinion the greatest artistic innovations and experiments in music were made in 1979-1984 in UK. But, I don´t live in the 80´s and contemporary art is always bound in it´s own time. This is why I am open to add some flavors of our time. I think that art happens between the viewer or listener and the artwork. Experience is based on what you know. I don’t mind that my influences have been experienced. I love dark progressive music like Swans, Isis, Cult of Luna and Mogwai. I often paint listening Portishead, Kraftwerk, Lady Tron or In the Nursery. But from gothic scene the most inspiring bands and their records are Dead Can Dance: Dead Can Dance, Dance Society: Heaven is waiting and Seduction, Southern Dead Cult: singles, Cure: Pornography and Bauhaus: In the Flat Field. I want us to be a part of post-punk tradition and gothic scene. I think it is good that we have a couple of purists in our band to keep me in line.
Jay: Our idea was not to repeat everything that has been done dozens of time within the gothic sphere – there are enough Sisters Of Mercry, The Cure, Fields Of The Nephilim copy cats our there. We are surely influenced by those bands as well, and were proud of that, but still, having in mind that all of us has followed ‘popular’ music, and gothic/post punk scene in particular, for a quite a few years our influences come from the great variety of bands. In my case, you can take a look at Juha’s list and add a few 90’s goth bands, like The Wake, Love Like Blood or Merry Thoughts as well as bands like Type O Negative, Slowdive or Cranes, just to mention a few. I also would say that we’ve been influenced musically, but not ideologically, by some (black) metal bands like Celtic Frost or Nachtmystium. In conclusion, yes, there are influence and elements sourcing from punk, hc, indie or shoegaze, and that’s exactly the idea.
Juha: This is the easiest and most difficult question to answer. I have been actively listening to music since I was nine years old, and I had my first turntable and first vinyl when I was fourteen. My first love in music was punk, and I found Finnish post punk legends Musta Paraati on early age as well. I have around 3000 records if I count all my vinyl and cds together, so I listen to lot of different kinds of music. But I got to say that my main love in music is post punk, goth and British indie. For me best band in the world is Joy Division, and the best rock band in the world is the Clash.For me personally music has kind of two different categories, there are bands that I listen to a lot and they also inspire me as a musician, they give me feeling that this kind of music that I want to do, these are the feeling that I want to express. And then there is music that I might listen to, but it doesn´t give me this creative impulse. Bands that have definitely inspired me as a musician are Joy Division, The Cure, The Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, Virgin Prunes, Cocteau Twins, The Smiths, early U2, The Clash, The Ruts, Japan, The Specials, Peyr, The Stone Roses, Dead Kennedys, Musta Paraati, Dead Can Dance, Amebix, Ride, Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, Hanoi Rocks, Christian Death, David Bowie, the list is endless. As a bass player my main influences are Peter Hook, Simon Gallup, Paul Simonon and of course the great Mick Karn. I think that Finnish Sami Yaffa, who was in Hanoi Rocks and has played with New York Dolls is a world class bass player.If I think about The Flatfield I would like us to be at least some kind of minor footnote in this big tradition of some kind of alternative, experimental and dark music tradition that started in late sixties with Velvet Underground, the Stooges and maybe even the Doors, continued in early seventies with Nico´s solo albums and Lou Reed’s solo work, started to flourish in late seventies with post punk, turned into goth and indie in early and mid-eighties, evolved to shoe gaze in turn of the eighties to nineties and have lived in different forms ever since.We sort of set some kind of ground rule when we started, that we are a post punk/goth band with some outside influences. I think that you can definitely find hints of shoe gaze and indie in our music. For me genres like post rock and sludge are totally meaningless, but I think they have influenced some other members of the band.
Risto: Yes, Fields Of The Nephilim, because of quite heavy sound, tempo and melodies. Joy Division because we have catchy bass-lines. As Jay mentioned before our idea is not to repeat everything that has been done dozens of time .There are influences from different genres because I and other members listen many other different genres than goth or post punk. I share interest for example 80´s ska and HC punk with Juha. We both like Madness, The Specials, Selecter, Discharge, Kaaos and Terveet Kädet. With Ville I share interest to post rock and post metal like Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor! and ISIS. Jay and I share interest to some black metal bands. There are also some shoegaze and indie influences in The Flatfield like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Cocteau Twins and The Cure.
- Next question is a bit weird. Finnish goth, punk and post punk scenes are pretty active, seems that independent music has never had tough time in your country. And talking in general, a nation which has a population of 5 million people contributed to the international indie scene ten times more than, say, your south-eastern neighbor (which is Russia I mean). High quality and original ideas are natural for your scene, and even an English-speaking Finnish band sounds just as good as an old British or contemporary Canadian or American band. At the same time, it still sounds as a Finnish band. Here is a question about your self-identification in the contemporary cultural space, not an ethnic complacency (which seems to me a sign of degeneration) – do you feel that The Flatfield is a Finnish band in spirit? How is current Finnish reality represented in your music?
Ville: In Europe, the classic art ideals have been left to past and contemporary art forms has been evolving freely for more than a hundred years. Today in Finland in art you can disgrace any subject or political and religious authority with no sanctions. This gives freedom to creativity. But to answer your question: Life is suffering and suffering is global. Therefore I think we are global band and that's why we for instance sing in English. We are Finnish so we are not qualified to say whether there is a Finnish flavour or not. I leave that to the judges.
Jay: Wow, what a question. Majority of the music produced in Finland, just like in most countries, is crap. It’s aimed for mass consumption of entertainment without particular artistic ambitions or goals. I however tend to think that there always have been innovative and bold bands and musicians with their own ideas also in Finland. One of my favourite Finnish band of that kind is Noitalinna Huraa! In my opinion, today there are still bands and artists that have some kind of in-built and deliberate, sometimes even exaggerated Finnishness in their music. At the same time Finnish music has become internationalized in many ways. For us, at least from my perspective, being a Finnish band is a side issue. I think that the music of the Flatfield is an expression of creativity of five individuals sharing similar musical taste and goals. The Finnishness of our music, if there is such an element in it, is therefore, latent and accidental only. Gothic culture is at the very margins of the main-stream of Finnish popular culture, which means that its natural for our band to identify with gothic scene and tradition in general, not only with its Finnish expression.
Juha: Because I´m trained historian maybe I have to say few things about Finnish musical history. Finland has had quite original own pop/rock-culture since at least late 1960´s. Domestic music has always been popular, many bands have been singing in our native language and domestic music has always sold well. In the late seventies punk was huge thing in Finland, and some pop music historians have said that when you compare it to population/sales ratio first wave of punk was most popular outside of UK in Finland. But almost all of those bands sang in Finnish, and weren’t known except for die hard collectors outside of Finland. Even the second wave punk did well, and band like Dead Kennedys had it´s first album in Finnish national top ten when it came out. That is some come of achievement for album as radical as “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables”, because albums sold really well in early eighties. Finnish post punk band Musta Paraati was for brief period most popular band in the country. And Finland has always had quite good alternative music scene.
On the other hand, our population is very small, and it very difficult to make a living as musician. For that reason there are very few mainstream bands that are kind of professional musicians, and many alternative bands whose members are students are people who have jobs, and are part-time musicians. So quite often careers are short, sales are poor and very few of the 1980 legends made it to their second album.
When I think about my personal tastes and influences in music, most of them come from the British Isles, from England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales. But I´m a Finn, so of course my surroundings come out in music which I have some kind of creative role in. I think the clichés like cold climate, dark winter and constant rain affect our mood. I´m not always that unhappy person, but I could imagine myself or our band making happy r&b party music. One thing that I don’t like in Finnish music scene, is this total dominance of metal and stupid hardrock, I just can’t stand it.
Risto: Finnish reality is represented in way that our music quite dark, heavy and gloomy and the lyrics aren´t uplifting. Finnish people are quite often seen as silent, depressed not extrovert people etc. and during the winter the sun won´t shine almost at all and it´s cold and dark.
- Those among you whom I know personally are people of intellectual labour (using approach of class differentiation upholders). I think your music receives an impression that you are well-educated, at the least. Here is a question, does your band have any kind of concept behind it? Have you considered making projects with the band (like albums or live shows) devoted to some particular concept?
Jay: I think we don’t have any particular concept, in a strict sense of the word, behind the band, but we consider the band to be part of the continuum of the gothic and post-punk tradition - in musical terms mainly, but in also in aesthetics. In the future we surely will enrich the communication between the music, lyrics as narratives and the visual experience by creating a coherent wholeness in the live show.
Juha: I have an academic degree, but I don’t come from academic family background, so I think there´s some kind of difference in there, even though I have education I don’t have any kind of privileged background. I don´t think that we have any kind of manifesto, agenda or concept, as a whole, other members might disagree. Definitely we would love to do more visuals and create some kind of concepts in our live shows, but it´s matter or financial resources and venue capacities. I think that most of the albums which are meant to be music, not commercial products have usually some kind of loose concept, and doesn´t have to traditional concept album like most of the Pink Floyds albums. I think that albums like “Unknown Pleasures”, “Closer”, “London Calling”, “Arise” and “Meat is Murder” for example have some kind of loose concept or theme.
Ville: As I said, making music is art for me and therefor it is intellectual challenge. I believe that art education has given me tools to work with creativity. I also come from the family of stage actors, so drama is in my veins. I agree with Juha, that there is no manifesto as a band, but to cherish the musical and visual tradition of post-punk and gothic rock. There is lot of ideas in my mind for the live show and individual songs but they are yet to come. But, once again, I have a feeling about our upcoming record, I can almost hear it.
Jaska: For me it has always been about playing drums and listening to music, nothing more really.
- During the band’s existence your songs were featured in two compilations (international LET'S PETER OUT compilation with a Scandinavian orientation, and BLACK LIPS AND LONG RAINCOATS featuring national scene). What do you think of your participation in these projects and these compilations in itself as listeners?
Ville: I would like to thank Oscar Terramortis, Sir Henrik, Jyrki Witch and Antti Lautala for helping us in many ways and opening doors for us as a new band. Art is a dialog. It does not live if no-one won’t witness it.
Jay: These both projects, like all compilations etc., are important for us, particularly, as you mentioned, they are designed for different audience. The Flatfield also appears on the compilation This is Gothic Rock Vol. I by Gothic Music Records as well as the Italian compilation Voices of Mislealia Vol. 1 by Mislealia Recods.
Juha: Song for BLACK LIPS AND LONG RAINCOATS was sort of our first proper studio effort, and it was about to be our first release. But it took longer to release that it was first expected, so our own album and LETS PETER OUT came out earlier. But people who have compiled and made the BLACK LIPS AND LONG RAINCOATS have done really good job, all praise to them. I think compilations are great calling cards, bit like releasing singles used to be. With LETS PETER OUT it was nice that it was Scandinavian based, but there were also bands from USA, so I music was probably heard little bit over there as well. Oscar Terramortis was kind enough to ask as to one of his This Is Gothic Rock compilations, so we are in there as well, there is also one Italian compilation coming out with us in it.
We are planning that when we are making our next album we are going to record couple of extra numbers, which we can give as exclusive song to compilations. It´s bit dull to give songs that already exist as an album track.
Risto: We also participated to This Gothic Rock vol. 1 compilation. From Let´s Peter Out I found really good new bands for me like Cemetery, Hemgraven and Metro Cult. It´s was really pleasure to see and hear that there are really good bands out there nowadays. For Black Lips and Long Raincoats it´s really nice to hear unreleased material for the older Finnish bands like Kuudes Tunti and Psyyke and for newer Finnish band like Silent Scream.
- You’ve had gigs in several towns in Finland. Have you had some special experiences during your live shows? What are you plans for future gigs?
Ville: I love to make some drama in live shows and audience likes it too. I think there is more to come in that side.
Jay: We’ve had great experiences in Finland. The scene in Finland is relatively small but quite active, and I’m looking forward to play again at Lumous Gothic Festival in Tampere in summer. We also have some plans to play a couple of gigs abroad, already this year, if things get along smoothly.
Juha: Appearance in Lumous Festival in Tampere has been our highlight this far. I had never before been properly in Tampere, so it was nice to spend weekend in there, record release party in Kalma Club in Helsinki was really nice too. Gig in Oulu was, how could I describe it, interesting. But the crowd in there was lovely too. We played in Deadly Beat Club in Helsinki in January, February we played Tampere again. I´d like to do as many gigs as possible, of course in reasonable places. And of course go to overseas as well.
Risto: I have only played couple gigs with The Flatfield so far. Response from the audience has been really positive. We are concentrating to finish and record a new material for the forth coming album and do some gigs between rehearsals and studio. There are also some plans to do gigs outside of Finland during this year.
- Last two years there’s been large interest in gloomy sound in punk audience, and a lot of good bands have appeared all around the world. Do you follow current music trends? Which modern bands do you like, if any?
Ville: Most of "good vibe" music feels artificial. Many bands have understood this. I can´t stand funk, glad pop or any feel-good music. It feels empty and I can´t identify my self in that scene. Deep inside we all are sad, as we know that all things are impermanent and life is slow fading. It is harder to face your inner demons and share these feelings with other people. Great art comes from great suffering. Often artist dies by it´s own hand because of this suffering. There is lot of professional people who do good sounding music in theory, but yet you don´t feel anything. The heart and soul is missing. The art is missing? I feel that dark feelings are more real than passing joy. I give credit to all rock-, metal-, electrical-, rap- or pop music, bands, and artists who have found the same things that I was looking for. There is a need for comforting knowledge that some body somewhere feels the same.
Jay: Yes, I think all of us, at least to some extent, follow what’s going on in gothic&post-punk today. I, however, have to admit that I might not be the most active in this respect. But I could mention two bands Horror Vacui and Vojvoda that impressed me a lot quite recently.
Juha: Not as much that I would like to. I have to make more effort to keep in with, well modern age, like Ville says it in our lyrics. From contemporary mainstream bands which are recording for big independents or major labels I like The Horrors, Iceage, The Skints, The Savages and The Warpaint, from the underground scene I really like Spanish band Belgrado. I listened a lot to Finnish band Kuudes Silmä, when their album came out. Oscar has some interesting stuff in his label, and some of the bands in LETS PETER OUT were also quite good. It´s one of the best feelings in the world when you find a new, contemporary band, and you listen to it for the first time ever on vinyl or on cd, not from the internet. I still regularly buy good music papers, and I try to find new bands. Actually when I had this period that I wasn’t in the band I had more time to listen to music. Every Friday after work I went to record store, I bought couple of records, then some beer and listened to them and drank. It is much healthier to be in a band, because you have to be sober to make the rehearsals.
Jaska: I personally enjoy bands like White Lies and Slowdive model 2014.
Risto: My daily job and The Flatfield and other music project takes most of my time. I listen music a quite lot and from various different genres. Unfortunately I don´t have enough time to find out new bands nowadays as I would like to. As Juha said it´s amazing feeling when you hear new band you have found for the first time on the vinyl, cd or tape. For modern bands I like for example Belgrado, Cemetery, Salome´s Dance. I also like Silent Scream, Kuudes Silmä and Masquerade from Finnish scene.
- A most important question. As far as I know you are working on a new full-length album. How soon can we wait its release? Any other details?
Ville: I don´t give timelines to art project´s. It could come a barrier for creativity. It is ready when it´s ready. All I can say that it will be our best album ever!
Jay: You’re right, most of the songs are already written. We’ll record the album during the summer and it will be released by the end of the year – this is at least the rough schedule for now.
Juha: We have quite a lot of good material already written, we just have to think which ones we want to put to the album. And I think that we also want to make one or two songs which are particularly written for the album. I think that we are going to start the pre-production, meaning that we are starting to choose the songs after this weekend’s gig. I hope that it will come out this year, 2015. Ideal situation would to have it released at Lumous in July, but I think that is too optimistic. My opinion is that this album is going to be more sort of song oriented, but I might be wrong, there are 4 other people in the band, and they maybe want to take it to some other direction. To us making an album is a sort of process, and many things can change and turn almost upside down in the studio.
Risto: We are concentrating and finishing our new material after our gigs and hopefully head for the studio during the spring. Some of the new material is similar to Passionless, but there are some material that takes The Flatfield towards different direction than Passionless was. I look forward to entering to studio and experimenting with the new material. There are some ideas and plans for the new album, but we´ll see what direction things will evolve.
- And could you please write some final words, whatever you find appropriate.
Ville: Feel free to contact us in Facebook. Communication is very important to us. And check my personal website www.villeraty.com. There has said to be a connection between my paintings and music.
Jay: Cheers to all our friends in Russia. We’d love to play for the Russian audience. Hope to see you soon!
Juha: Hello to all our Russian fans, and to all the other people who are reading this. I hope that we can someday come to Russia and play for you.
Risto: Cheers to all our friends in Russia (especially to Vadim, Pavel and Artem). Hopefully we can sort some gigs in Russia for our fans!
interview by Vadim Barsov