Antarktis Utopia STALKERs Fresh Act – February 2009
Opera City Savonlinna in Finland has a lot more to offer than beautiful landscapes, there is the castle Olavinlinna and the Ballet-and Operafestival that takes place in the castle every year. Howerver, not everyone is longing for this music and the pompous voices of the opera stars. Like the band we introduce you to here. Antarktis Utopia is not a new band but not many people know them, after bad luck with their contract with a US-label they have to start from the beginning and try again to rule Europe with their special Death Metal creation. We spoke to the singers and guitarists Henkka and Anssi to get to know more about their plans, dreams and passion for Death Metal.
Who are you? Please introduce all band members. Henkka I´m Henkka and I play rhythm guitar and I do most of the vocals. Mainly growls but some higher screaming, too. Anssi I play guitar and do some vocals. In addition to the two of us, Antarktis Utopia has two more members: drummer Miikka and bassist Jyrki. Unfortunately they were MIA at the time of this interview.
What kind of music do you play? Henkka Death metal with a twist in it. Hear for yourself, heh. Anssi I´d say it´s modern death metal with influences from all over.
What do you want to achieve with your music? Henkka We want to play the music we like as long as we feel that it´s the thing for us. When you make some kick ass DM and somebody else likes it too, it´s just great. When we reach the point where we can make albums without financial issues and have plenty of gigs (maybe few tours too) to support the live action I think that´s pretty much where this group wants to be.
How did it all begin? Is there a story behind the band name? Anssi AU first got together in 1997 when we just decided to start a band with a few friends. Henkka joined a few years after that. Before Miikka joined in 2003 our squad members changed very often. I regard the joining of Miikka as the “rebirth of AU”, because it was around that time we began shifting from black metal to death metal. The name Antarktis Utopia was the brainchild of our first drummer. Henkka My story began almost nine years ago when I was just ordinary friends with Anssi and he said that they are one guitarist short in their band. I said that “well, I could give it a shot” and that was it. I was only a guitarist at that time but little by little I started to do some vocals and here we are now. Our musical style has evolved from black metal to death metal and my singing voice has changed but that´s just how it should be.
Who are your musical idols, what are your most important musical influences? Henkka I personally do not have any so-called idols but my most important influences may be found from various artists, like Roy Khan from Kamelot and Peter from Vader. Gorefest is also a band that has been influencing me lately. Ok, Vader is my idol I admit it, haha! Anssi There are certain people and bands I look up to in terms of musicianship. Of guitarists Chuck Schuldiner was one, John Petrucci is another. I draw influences from all the music I listen to ranging from metal to electronic.
Who writes the music/lyrics, or are all in the band responsible? Henkka We write most of our music together. If someone writes a song, others will oftentimes add their own touch to it. That´s our preferred way, but there are also songs that I or Anssi have written all on our own. Anssi And Henkka is usually the one who writes lyrics.
You are searching for a label to release your debut album Traitors, can you tell us more about your record, about the producing work and so on? Henkka Actually, 030550 was our debut album, just self-released. Anyway… Yes, our newest album is awaiting release. We´ve been in contact with certain Finnish labels but that´s all we can say right now. Let´s just say that Traitors is more compact an album than 030550 was. I love 030550, but this time we wanted to do clearer sounds, and do as little triggering as possible. It was recorded in our very own Utopian studios like our last album and Anssi did, yet again, a great job with the mixing. One thing I wanted to do differently from our last album was my vocals. I felt that singing a little higher and adding hellish screaming parts to mix it up would kick ass on this album. I´m very satisfied with the result and to me those vocal parts were the biggest change on this album. Anssi With Traitors our music has become more straightforward and there are more hooks. It´s generally more accessible but at the same time we´ve kept true to our own style.
You are all from different places around Savonlinna, how do you manage your rehearsals then? Anssi Transportation within one city is not a problem, really. Jyrki moved to another city recently so he´s a bit of a rare sight at our rehearsals these days, but he´s there when he can. Miikka is in the army at the moment which means that we do our rehearsing on weekends.
Do you have other projects or bands besides Antarktis Utopia? Henkka I sing in Suicide Legacy. It´s faster and more straightforward death metal compared to Antarktis Utopia. Anssi I have a one-man project under the moniker of “ansgaros”. The ansgaros discography consists of all kinds of stuff from electronic to metal.
What do you do when you are not in the band (studying, working)? Henkka I work at apartment repair things and little construction jobs. Anssi Takin´ it easy.
What is your dream, where does your motivation come from? Henkka I just love to play and perform Antarktis Utopia´s style of death metal. I ain´t giving up easily and that is maybe for the most part where I get my own motivation. From within. My dream is to earn our place in the death metal scene. Through the years of our existence more and more people all around the world have shown interest in our music, but we´re mostly ignored by the media. We don´t get it, but we´re doing our best to gain more attention on all fronts. The struggle is far from over! Anssi My main motivation is creating music and getting it heard by as many people as possible. That is all I want to do.
What will you do if you don´t get to have a career in music business? Henkka I´ll always continue making music. If it doesn´t pay the rent and get me some food on the table I´ll just keep my day job as well. Anssi I can´t imagine a situation where I wouldn´t keep making music whether or not I get to do it for a living. But I could see myself working at some tech support thing.
What was the most exciting/the most disappointing moment in your band history? Henkka Hmm, when we got our first record deal from the United States was perhaps the most exciting thing for us, and when we ended the contract before any album was released was probably the most disappointing event. It took a lot of balls to do something like that, but things were just going too much astray from the original plan for the band.
What happened during your best/your worst live show? Henkka I remember our 030550 release gig well and it was perhaps the most intense gig we have done yet! And gigs in Lappeenranta at the Musta Wappu happening were kick ass trips too!
What would you pick if you had to choose between sex, drugs and Rock´n´Roll? Henkka Rock´n Roll of course! That would include sex too so I´d pick that one! I´m not so fond of the drugs, but if you change them to spirits... I would have no excuse not to raise a pint or two. Anssi I´d choose music.
Is it in general more difficult for a band outside of the Finnish metropolitan area? What is the scene like in Mikkeli/Savonlinna? Henkka I personally don´t follow any certain scene around. It may be a little harder from outside of the metropolitan area mostly because you don´t have so many connections when you´re far away but just maybe.
Which song are you most proud of, and why? Henkka There are two songs. “The shape of things to come” from 030550 and “Punishment” from Traitors. Both are a result of collaboration between all members of Antarktis Utopia. “Punishment” was created with intensity we´d never experienced before. Quite literally the whole song was written during a “cigarette break” at our rehearsals, haha! Me and Miikka came back inside and started to explain our idea to Anssi and Jyrki. “It goes like this and this and after that come this part and something like this..!” and there it was, haha! “The shape of things to come” was just an absolutely solid result of our teamwork. It was most pleasant to throw ideas around and put the whole song together by just jamming. Anssi “Blood of a thousand” is such a fun song to play and it, like “The shape of things to come”, was created in close collaboration between me, Henkka and Miikka. “Convicted” is another fun song to play, and with the exception of the lyrics, it´s all my creation. So I´m somewhat proud of that too.
What do you think is cool/totally sucks about being a musician? Henkka I take things rather seriously, especially when they are bad news for the band. I hate that in me but then again I can´t live without it. Anssi Creating music is cool, and finding out that someone else likes your creation is even cooler. Music is an outlet and I can´t find anything bad about that.
Which band would you enjoy touring with? Henkka Vader, definitely. There are lots of bands I´d enjoy touring with but I´ll keep this list short. Anssi Dissolution, Martyr, Quo Vadis (all Canadian) to name a few.
What do you plan for the near future? Henkka Get a record deal with the band and have a solid gig schedule throughout the year 2009, and record another crushing death metal album with this extraordinary group! We´re also planning to update our website when Traitors is released to match our present visual and musical style. And this will be fun!
Do you have some final words for the Stalker readers? Henkka We´re coming so keep your death channels activated!
Thank you for the interview. Henkka Thank you. Bwahah, now I got the last word! Anssi Don´t be silly, now.
Last word is mine check out http://antarktisutopia.net/ or at Myspace www.myspace.com/antarktisutopia