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Dead By You: Hard competition

The sound combines elements of Rock / Hardrock / Emo and sometimes even Metal or Rockabilly, and spiced with a lot of melancholy – no doubt that such a band has its roots high in the North. Dead By You, founded 2006 in Finland, just released their debut album and rock the Finnish club scene this year. Singer and mastermind Jan-Peter Saarimäki introduces the band and reveals to STALKER what they are up to in 2011.

Your debut CD "Strangers In Paradise" just came out - are you satisfied with the reactions and the feedback so far?
Yeah, the feedback has been mainly positive and it´s always nice to hear that. Of course there are people who don´t like it but that´s the way it goes on everything. Critisizing is always good as long as it focuses on the music.

Could you please introduce all band members - who is doing what, musical influences/preferences, what you do besides music etc
With Mikko Hänninen playing drums and Jokke Pulkkinen bass and b-vocals it´s easy for the rest of us to come along. Arttu Ruotsalainen plays guitar and I handle the vocals. The two of us are responsible for all the new songs coming up. At least for now. Mikko Myllykoski is a new member but has already showed why he join the band. His keyboard sound glues everything together and I believe that we have a great future ahead of us. Everyone of us have at least some kind of a dayjob going on, part-time or full but I think we all want this to be a full dayjob someday. We´re not childhood friends so we don´t have any common idols if you can say so. Sure we love same artists like Guns N´ Roses, Billy Idol, Sixx A.M. etc. I think it´s good that we have so many artists that has influenced us and I know that it will blossom in our next album.

How did you all come together and found this band, and why? What or who was the driving force behind it?
Well, actually I formed the band with my friend Jari Forsman who is no longer a part of the band. We had an urge to create music since both of us were available and had nothing better to do and lots of music in our heads. The rest of the group came along separately one by one. We started as a acoustic band but after Jari left we decide that we´ve seen that path already. Slowly the band came up the way you see us today. Well, as an artist you have a little thing called ambition that can drive you ahead. Some has lots of it and some just enough to hang along. Usually those ´just enough´ guys falls of the wagon first. Since I´m no longer a teenager my ambition is a little different. To create music that gives me chills and to have a job out of it.

You just recently changed your line-up - why that, and how did you find the new band members?
What we had an our mind was that on the next album there´s going to be a keyboardist along. It gives us so much more possibilities to give birth music that we have in our minds. And it already have shown it since we started to work with new songs. Cello is a fine instrument but sometimes it gets so heavy. You know I´m talking about the sound. So we just decided that cello is no longer a part of us. Maybe we´ll use it on the next album in some songs just as a spice and maybe we´ll use it on some gigs but you´ll never know. Our music has so much more air without it. Mikko, our new keyboardist, has an excellent taste what comes to arrange songs so we couldn´t be happier. Mikko, our drummer, knew him and fortunately he was available.

Why the Cello in first place - it is an unusual choice for a band-line-up, even with the example of Apocalyptica or Hevein...
Like I said before, it´s no longer a part of us but what was the point of it originally was that we just loved the sound and it seemed to fit our music perfectly so why not. Later it became a little drag ´cause although the sound is great it´s also so heavy and we didn´t want to keep cello in the band just because it´s a cello.

How would you define your musical style, how much was it influenced by the particular instrumentation (Cello)?
I think it´s melodramatic, little dark with a glimpse of hope and light. Rock music played through heart. Cello has never influenced our composing. I never think about instruments while I´m writing. Just me, my world and a guitar and when writing with Arttu it just doubles it :) You know, sometimes the best stuff comes up when I´m having a hangover.

Although Dead By You is a pretty young band, you all have gathered some experience in previous bands and projects - please tell us more about it.
I´ve been in a bands called Georgie Picket In Colours and Next Apostols. Picket did one album without any actual record company and played a couple of times in this TV competition called Jyrki Hit Challenge. I think we were in the finals couple of times. Apostols made a few demos and got a chance to play at Rock SM final. Other guys have been in so many different bands that I don´t remember them all. Carmen, Cerubi, Dead Cult Diaries, Furious Anger, Valve, HC Mato just to mention few..

How did you meet your producer Johnny Lee Michaels (e.g. The 69 Eyes)? How was working with him, is there a weird/funny studio session story you can tell?
Johnny got our EP from our mutual friend and we arrange a meeting in his studio HUGS (RIP). Soon we were on our way recording the album. He´s a very professional bat if you can work during night time :) Sometimes we tried to start in the afternoon but soon realise that the magic can be done only in the night.
One time during studio session our drummer was missing. Nobody couldn´t find him and we were a little worried by then. Then we headed back to the studio to have a after party and suddenly we heard his voice. He was sleeping in the paper trash near studio. I think he had lost his phone or something and couldn´t find anyone so that was his solution. Funny, but somehow all the stories seem to relate to him one way or another :)

Why did you sign with Bad Habits Records (the label owned by Private Line singer Sammy) - is there a particular story behind it, how did you meet Sammy etc?
Sammy and I have been friends something like 20 years now and it was easy for me to get in touch with him and ask if he´s interested to publish our album. We had some  unpleasant situations trying to find a publisher and soon we realised that we had so much new stuff coming up that we really wanted to get this album to stores quickly. Sammy was and is always friendly and being friends with him it´s so easy to talk and handle things. Me and Sammy played also in the same band Georgie Picket In Colours years ago. Also he liked the album of course. Nobody´s stupid enough to publish shit even if you are a friend with him.

What is the story behind the band name? Is there a particular band philosophy?
We had to invent something before our first gig and the first thing that came into my head was Dead By You. Haven´t thought that before so no idea where it came. Our philosophy is to write awesome songs and play cool rock n´ roll gigs!

Who is responsible for the songwriting and the lyrics, what inspires your music and your lyrics?
Arttu and myself have been the songwriters for now. I´ve been a dictator of what comes to vocal melodies and lyrics of the song but everything else we do together. I got my ideas mostly from relationships, different eras of my life or sometimes all is just imagination like our song Superman. Don´t mean that Superman is imagined. Just the story that I sing.

You´re all from Jyväskylä, so how is the scene there, is it very different to e.g. Helsinki? And if yes, how?
Jyväskylä is a very virile rock city. Has always been but seems like now there´s good bands more than ever. Swallow The Sun and Ghost Brigade are bands that have worked hard and now seems like they get what they deserve. We have the best venue Tanssisali Lutakko and proud to say that I´ve worked there and now we rehearse there so nice to be a part of that history. Don´t like to compare JKL and HKI. HKI has so much more venues and places to rock but also hard to get audience to everywhere ´cause there happens so much. Love both cities but JKL is always my home!

You played 3 shows in one day when you presented your CD in Helsinki (Levykauppa X, 2 gigs at Backstage / Green Room) - what was the most demanding aspect of that?
I think it was hard to concentrate to every show and keep yourself focused for the hole day and night. Don´t wanna do that again in the near future ;)

What is the biggest difficulty that Finnish Rock/Metal musicians are facing in Finland / are facing when getting abroad?
Well, the competition is very hard! So many good bands fighting for the same bread. But, when going abroad it turns around in a weird way. Finnish music has earned it´s place abroad thanks to HIM, Rasmus, Hanoi Rocks, Nightwish, Children Of Bodom etc. I think the difficulty going abroad is to find suitable partners to go there. You know, sharing expenses and that stuff.

Would you agree when other people define Finland as THE Metal nation (as Metal music achieved mainstream status)?
I´m not that into metal so hard to say. More of a rock guy myself. Of course it´s a fact that many Finnish metal bands have a much better chance to make it, maybe a better chance than if you play rock. So maybe that is a kicker for some of the musicians out there.

What is from your viewpoint THE common feature of Finnish Rock / Metal music, and why?
Definitely the melancholy of the music. Maybe it´s ´cause we´re so faraway from the rest of the world with different seasons fucking with our heads.

Which Finnish stereotype pisses you off the most?
Drunken idiots! If you can´t say it sober don´t bother!

So what happened after your success at Radio Rock competition - do they play the new CD a lot on radio now?
Actually we were just in contact to them and seems like some new releases from other bands run us down. Shame but what can you do. Competition is hard. So much good music coming up. Let´s see what our next single can do in there.

You play a lot in Helsinki in the coming weeks (see STALKER tourdates) - why that? Are there more gigs coming soon? Your future plans?
It seems only natural to play there a lot ´cause there are so many places with so many people. We´re going to tour up north later next year. Sure we wanna play as many gigs as possible and let´s see what happens in there. We´re writing new songs right now and plan is to go to studio on January to record a demo.

The bad weather seems to follow you, first time I saw you there was this violent storm (see concert review), and also at the CD presentation event in mid-October the first snow just came down... so what did you do? Not eating your soup? :D
Oh, I was our family chef when living in home so maybe there´s the reason I didn´t eat my soup :) We have so much drama in this band that maybe it´s showing itself in a shape of storms. Have mercy on us!!

Inspired by the Anvil documentary - what is a dream you would cling to for 30 years and longer, no matter what?
To create something special and to enjoy it in our porches smoking pipes and listening Irwin Goodman..

Final question: Do you have a funny / weird story to tell, e.g. what happened during a gig, on a tour?
Seems like police is somehow very interested about us when we´re heading home from Helsinki. Don´t know why :) Last time when they stopped us they we´re amazed that we had a sober driver. Of course we do but the rest of the gang feels a little different about that. They´ve been very nice to us since they found out that we´re a band. At least the younger officers.
Jan-Peter Saarimäki


Author: Klaudia Weber, photos: Dead By You, K.Weber
Date: 2010-11-28

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