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Gotham O.D (III & IV)
Interview mit Jone & Juuso [Gotham O.D], März 2010, mailer

Die Dark-Heavy-Rocker von Gotham O.D sind zurück und präsentieren dieser Tage ihren zweiten Longplayer namens “Disbeliever”, der nahtlos an das Debüt “Monochromatic” (2008) anschließt. So handelt es sich auch bei der neuen Platte wieder um ein düsteres, metallisches Werk mit organischem Sound. Wie die Aufnahmen zum neuen Album verlaufen sind, warum die CD in Side A und B unterteilt ist und wann Gotham O.D endlich die deutschen Bühnen rocken, darüber sprach ich mit Drummer Jone und Gitarrist Juuso für Fin-Joy und Visions Underground.

Hi at all, did you have a good start into the new year and enjoying the spring now?

Juuso: Hi! Well we’ve mostly been on the road for the past months which is exhausting, but I like it, so it has been very good indeed. Spring is my favourite time of the year, because for me it represents rebirth after a depressively long, dark and cold winter…and I was also born then. Though it feels a bit tiring to have all this light surrounding us again.

Jone: Hello! Indeed the first months of the year have been busy with the new album release and the tour, but also it´s been very rewarding! Personally I´m not that keen about spring, because I find autumn to be the most beautiful and inspiring time of the year. Still, the winter was very long, cold and snowy, so I´m glad that it´s finally over!
Recently you´ve published your second album called “Disbeliever”. Are you completely satisfied with the final result or did you already find something you would have done different nowadays?

Jone: The album and the new songs have had a great response from the audience both live and on record, so I have to say that I´m very pleased about the end result. Still, I would love it even if the response would not have been good, because in my opinion we managed to get some of our true live feeling on the record. I think I wouldn´t change anything from the final result.

Juuso:  I don’t know about all the others on this production, but personally I’m very satisfied and wouldn’t change a bit.

Where do you see your personal step forward with the new CD referring to the debut “Monochromatic”? 

Jone: “Monochromatic” was somewhat a typical debut, a collection of older songs with some new written material. It summed the band´s first years and did a reasonable good job in it. Though it was a bit one-dimensional, but it´s still okay and I have no regrets. “Disbeliever” is a step forward in many ways, with its organic production, live feeling, rawness and more bold attitude towards songwriting. It´s a true group effort.

Juuso: For me the comparison is quite obvious on a personal level. On “Monochromatic” I was the producer and on “Disbeliever” I am a band member, guitarist, songwriter, one of the producers and so on.

As the new album sounds quite organic and unpolished, I guess, you don´t think much of overproduction?

Juuso: Yes, “Disbeliever” really sounds like that and we intended it that way. I've previously worked in a quite strict production on Sethian`s album “Into the silence”. I liked making that album, too, but for me that way of working has been experienced, and I felt that now it was time for other methods. Luckily we felt the same way collectively, and we achieved a rocking and down to earth album that I like a lot. It rocks and feels – that's what counts!

Jone: Yes, as I stated earlier, we see the organic production as a must in all of our work, because we want the audience to hear the true sound of our band both live and on record. A too polished and overproduced sound is not our cup of tea. Still, we wanted “Disbeliever” to sound strong and dynamic, and in my opinion we succeeded well in this with engineer and co-producer Teemu Nykänen.

Is there some kind of redline connecting the new songs with each other?

Jone: Yes, there is a redline to be found in the album`s themes and lyrics, but “Disbeliever” is still not a concept album. Although we had a total of thirty or so different drafts of songs and song ideas for the album, in the end the pre-production and songwriting period was more tighter and focused than on the debut. That brought the themes and overall feeling more close to each other song- and lyrics-wise.

Juuso: Yes, all songs on “Disbeliever” were written for the album and relatively close to the recordings. In that way the album feels more as a whole than the previous one. The songs of the album are mostly about self exploration, own experiences or how the writer has experienced some other`s life as a bystander, if you know what I mean...

What did concretely inspire you in the writing process for “Disbeliever”?

Jone: From the inspiration point of view I might add that as always the inspiration sources for making music come from the surrounding people, life and the ways of the world. Many times I get an impulse to write lyrics from a book or a movie, maybe even from a poem or a painting. Generally from a mood or a feeling. This time, I have to say, I think we got the best inspiration from our band itself, this crazy group of friends. I also think that this can truly be heard from the album. Concerning the title, “Disbeliever” is also a short and effective one, and you can find more than one meaning in it.

Which topic would never find its way into your lyrics?

Juuso: Hmm, maybe straight political references are out of the question, but you never know... On the other hand it's all about how you write the lyrics – they don't have to be obvious.

Jone: A good question, Lea! (grins) I think that I personally wouldn´t be able to write lyrics with sunshine, cars, sunny beaches, bikini girls etc. That wouldn´t come naturally. Still, there´s nothing wrong in bikini girls. On the contrary! (grins)

Jone, you once told me in another interview that Gotham O.D would never work with Finnish lyrics. How do the others think about it?

Jone: I´ve not changed my opinions on this matter; in Gotham O.D the right language for expressing ourselves is English. But you´ll never know, I wouldn´t mind on performing in a band with Finnish vocals and lyrics. Still, I´m pretty sure that I would not be the guy who writes them.

Juuso: I've never been into Finnish lyrics, though I'd like to do one before my time is up. Gotham O.D with Finnish lyrics...? I can't imagine a situation where Gotham O.D would perform original Finnish lyrics, but maybe a cover song someday.

In how far did Mikko, the new keyboarder of Gotham O.D, contribute to the sound of the new album? And how did he settled in the band?

Juuso: Mikko fitted in very well, and quickly it became crystal clear that he's the right guy – not only for the job, but for our hilarious group, too. We're a group of friends, and we all got a new friend. I'm pretty sure that can be heard in the music, too. From musical perspective Mikko's weird retro sounds are one of the key elements in forming the sound of “Disbeliever” compared to the sound of “Monochromatic”.

Jone: Yes, I totally agree. Mikko also brought in a couple of very strong songs, and thus proved that he is a very worthy composer as well. I am also very happy that he fitted in our ranks so perfectly with his positive insanity and twisted sense of humour! A crazy Finn, in many ways!

Which studio did you chose for the production of “Disbeliever” and why? 

Juuso: We chose the Korpse studio in Pieksämäki, Finland. The reasons can be found in our long production time and Teemu Nykänen. He's very talented, so we wanted to work with him, and his studio is relatively near to us all, so... that's the logic behind the decision. It's an understatement, but it was probably the best decision we've ever made so far. (laughs)

Jone: I have nothing to add here. I think that we will do our next album with Teemu as well.

How would you describe his style of working?

Jone: Teemu is very calm, very funny and relaxed in his easy and laid back way. With these qualities the atmosphere in Korpse is very free and creative. Though the production was also a tiring and consuming process at times, the actual sessions were quite funny and relaxed. Teemu also has a very natural, even retro attitude towards recording. We respected that a lot.

Juuso: I don't want to raise the pressure on Teemu, but he's extremely nice, mostly calm, very creative and committed. He wants to record the instruments as ready as they can be instead of having a massive post production hell afterwards. I like that!

Are there any anecdotes to tell us about the recording sessions?

Jone: Well, there were quite a lot of things happening, mainly with alcohol, particularly when we all were together in the studio in the beginning and the end of the recordings. The first  thing coming to my mind is that our bass player Jesse broke his leg during the production and had to play quite a good bunch of shows sitting in a chair. That wasn´t exactly very funny at the time, but if you think that Jesse´s friend told Jesse to “Break a leg” on the making on the album, he took it maybe too literally! (laughs) So, there´s an anecdote from Gotham City for you!

12 songs can be found on the new CD and they`re subdivided into Side A and Side B. What´s the intention behind it?

Juuso: First of all we wanted to honour the times of the vinyls when everything was better – at least what comes to album covers and the rhythm of the albums. Then we realised that we can rhythm “Disbeliever” in that way, too. We could build the album to the end of the first half, then clear the table and start all over again. The start, the middle and the end – quite theatrical, isn`t it?

Jone: Indeed. In this we wanted to honour the times when albums were truly whole entireties. We saw “Disbeliever” as a whole and wanted to symbolise this also. Still, “Disbeliever” is not a concept album, though there´s a redline to be found in its themes – as already mentioned.

Juuso: It's more about the first albums in general which tend to be collections of songs from the bands careers so far. That way the songs can be from a very long time period, and for example the moods can vary a lot. All songs on “Disbeliever” were written for the album and relatively close to the recordings. That way the album feels more a whole than the previous one.

Where is the connection between the album title, cover and content?

Jone: Yes, there are themes and connections to be found in the album`s art, lyrics and title. The broken angel in the cover tells us about the breaking virtues coming along with the age and that in the path of life we pick up things and sometimes get hurt. Also, you can be a good and right soul, even though you don´t have to display your faith or religious attitudes outside. The ravine or chasm in the back cover and the band pics also symbolises the paths which we travel in our life. The road is sometimes dark, but there´s also warmth and light to be found along the way.

Which songs on the new album are single candidates and why?

Juuso: Can't really tell. I like the whole album.

Jone: Me neither, every song has those highlights in their own. I have many favourite songs on this album, and basically all of them work in live situation very well. That´s generally a good measure, how does the song work live. Everyone of us and many fans or listeners that we´ve talked with have their own favourites, and gladly the “votes” spread among many different songs. I personally think that “Glowing Goodbyes”, “Brave?”, “My Reflection”, “Disbeliever” and “Mea Gloria Fides” are perhaps the songs that you get into the fastest. This doesn´t necessarily mean that they are the best or strongest songs. All of the songs stand tall in their own way and reveal their layers as you listen them more. That way the album can stand a lot of listening. “Disbeliever” was the first song that was published prior the release. That was mainly a label decision, but I agree with them that it is a hell of a good, upbeat heavy rock song!

In the title song you can hear a Drunken Choir singing (as it`s written in the album credits). Just joking there or have you really been drunken?

Jone: We will not joke on these matters concerning drinking as we´re a serious bunch of guys! (laughs) I can honestly say that this time the Drunken Choir definitely was drunk! Poor Teemu, I think that he had a bit of hard time with us on that particular session.

Are you “Disbelievers”?

Juuso: The way I see it, the people that find their own path through self exploration and own experiences are disbelievers. For me there's no real religious link apart from the fact that disbelievers want to find out for themselves. They don't want someone telling them how things are and how you should live – of course advices are a different story.

Jone: Yes, I think that I personally am, and I think the rest of the guys are too. As Juuso stated, this doesn´t necessarily mean that you don´t believe in anything, more it´s a matter of finding your own path.

You describe your music deliberately as dark heavy rock. What does separate it from metal?

Juuso: It's not that our music is not heavy. To some extent it's heavier than some metal bands – especially live. But I think it's mostly about the overall feeling, and for us it means more about rock than metal. Rock is a wider definition... (grins) I personally think that compartmentalizing of music doesn't serve music itself – it's for shopping and too busy people. Though it helps to narrow down the chances in these times on endless possibilities. At the end you have to listen for yourself and then make the decision – or at least that's what I hope people would do.

Jone: Yep, Juuso nailed it! I think that dark heavy rock describes our music and sound quite well, since it´s not metal. But we generally throw away genres and labelling as good music and good, strong songs matter and not the genre they represent.

Do you also concern yourself with music theory intensely while creating new songs?

Juuso: Sometimes and somehow yes, but mostly we work on what just sounds good for us. Studying is always good, but you can't go to a school and just learn the attitude of rock from the books. We have the attitude, and I'm quite sure none of us has studied the theory of music. Maybe we should? (laughs)

Jone: I think we have the sufficient amount of theory knowledge to know what works and what doesn´t, and we use that knowledge when its needed. But we won´t let the theory become too important or step in the way of creativity. Feeling and living the music is our way of expressing ourselves through it.
Where do you see your personal developments referring to your own playing?

Jone: I think that I personally freed myself from thinking analytically what I SHOULD be playing. I just let go and went along with the feeling. This way I enjoyed the songwriting, recording and now playing the songs live. I think that this was the way with the others as well.

Juuso: I agree with Jone, but I think it's good to keep the options open with analysing as well – but only after you have created something as a free bird as Jone described.

Is being a musician your only job at the moment or what are you doing “besides”?

Jone: No, it´s not. Although we all did put a lot of time and effort on the production and the tour afterwards, we all have day jobs and studies to carry on. I personally study Audiovisual Communication at the moment and plan on starting my own business in the near future. I think that this will be the way we split our time and efforts in the future as well. I wouldn´t mind at all being some time just a musician though, on the contrary! Let´s hope that our road will lead us to that in some part of the journey. But it`s for sure that we´ll keep on rocking a long time, in one way or the other. It´s definitely not a money issue, I think there are so many easier ways of making a living than playing. The motivation for making music lies totally elsewhere than in money, wealth or such things.

Juuso: Unfortunately not. I'm a web designer and programmer. I've also done some acting in the theatre as a side job. Maybe someday I can do only music stuff for some period of time.

In the beginning of this year you had some pre-listening shows in Finland giving a little foretaste referring to the new album. How have been the reactions?

Jone: One part of every show was done live, during the other part we played the album tracks from record. In both cases the response was good, and in many cases people were surprised about the new material. Many fans and listeners have told us that the album keeps on revealing its secrets more in every time you listen to it, so it´s an album that can stand a lot of listening. Many have said that it´s our best yet, and some have even said that it´s one of the best Finnish heavy rock albums ever. That´s an honour to hear!

Do your families, friends and relatives regularly visit your shows as well?

Jone: We´ve done a full spring tour in Finland now and are soon taking a little break, we do a few shows in summer and continue touring in the fall. We´ve had our families in the audience a few times in suitable venues. And in almost all of the shows there are familiar faces present, since we´ve gained a lot of good friends from all over the country during the years. Family-wise, my wife has been on the road with us every now and then as she has driven our tour bus and sold merchandise as well. I think that my teen aged daughter would not want to come along in a bus with us, because she’s not that keen about our music, and she also thinks that our jokes are so goddamn bad. I totally agree with her in the humour issue! (laughs)

Juuso: Not really. Sometimes someone from the families or friends is on the road with us, but usually we're by ourselves. According to our collective state of mind it's maybe not a bad idea. (grins)

In the end of April you will play a gig on a private party in Nosturi/Helsinki. So is it possible to book you for a show in one`s own living room, so to say!?

Jone: Yes, you´re correct. And yes, it´s quite possible to book us to play in your living room. I wouldn´t think that´s a very wise thing to do though, in some stage of the night you´d probably find your liquor cabinet emptied and a bunch of naked drunken retards running around in your home dancing Indian tribal dances. (laughs) But if you´re up to that, please contact Firebox Agency´s Mikko Hirvonen and book us to your party if you dare!

Juuso: Includes home delivery...

When will you finally enter the stage here in Germany?

Jone: We have a meeting in a few days with our agent concerning some central European shows. At the moment we have discussed that there would be at least a couple of shows in Germany. So, if everything goes well, we´ll finally get to rock the stages over there by the end of this year! We´ll inform you of course when the plans are locked.

Juuso: You can be sure, we'll play over there as soon as possible! (grins)

Do you prefer playing in small clubs or on big festival stages?

Jone: We´re blessed to have experience in both, although a lot more in club venues. I think there are good sides in both, but it´s the audience that makes the shows with the band in both cases. You don´t necessarily need the huge festival settings to have an absolutely awesome rocking feeling going on. That can be achieved in a small club with a small audience as well, if you truly put your soul into it and respect the audience.

Juuso: The connection with the audience is closer, better and more personal in the clubs. But I don't have anything against bigger stages either. Even at worst playing live is always the best.

Your website will soon be online with a new face: What can we expect?

Jone: A matching graphic design with the album, posters and other material, a functional structure with all necessary information on the band and maybe a few surprises as well. I´ll let our web-maestro Juuso to fill in the rest. (laughs)

Juuso: Basically Jone mentioned everything from end user's point of view. Updating and further development should be easier... And that continues after the website release.

What are your main plans for the year 2010?

Juuso: Writing new songs, having gigs, working, making holidays, live...

Jone: We do a few shows in summer, shoot a video and maybe release something smaller later this year. Also we´ll do a domestic tour in the fall, and if everything goes as planned, we´ll do a short European tour as well. You see, there´s a lot happening…

What are your hopes and wishes for the remaining year?

Jone: Physical and mental health for us and our closest ones, some over-the-top shows, a funny time with the guys on the domestic and foreign touring and hopefully more good feedback and reviews about the new album! It´s been a huge satisfaction to notice that the audience so far and even the critics have got the idea and understood what this band is about and what we have to offer now and in the future. I would wish that even bigger audiences would find our music and join us on this wonderful journey!

Juuso: Health, global good will, lots of good shows everywhere and that good new music pops into mind when you least expect it.

Interview: Lea S.
Fotos: taken & (c) by boyVermin / taken from myspace.com/gothamod
Website Band: www.gothamod.com

(c) Visions Underground / www.visions-underground.com, Fin-Joy / www.fin-joy.de.vu
copyright: Aurora Borealis 2007-2015
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