If there was a Guiness Record about “how many years it took a band to play the first show ever”, SHAPE OF DESPAIR are in a good position to make this entry... Founded in 1995, the Finns released three studio albums, then disappeared from the scene – until returning 2010, presenting a new vocalist Henri Koivula 2011, and 2012 they made their stage debut at Tuska jatkoklubi (see STALKER festival report ). Band mastermind Jarno Salomaa tells us more about it...
The Tuska show was the first for Shape Of Despair, EVER, as far as I know - so how was it, from your point of view? Was there something that indeed went wrong (as from the audience viewpoint it was a flawless gig)?
It was our first show yes. I think it went pretty ok for a first one... a few mistakes but i think it doesn´t really matter that much, I hope people got what they came to listen for and the atmosphere was right. The purpose is to bring our music as close to its atmosphere as just possible. And another thing worth mentioning is that our light-man got his first ever show as well, he did a good job for a 5 minutes learning.
What were the reasons that SOD never played live before?
One reason must be the divergence of each other. We aren´t exactly in close contact with each other, which makes rehearsing bit problematic.. But one thing which pushed us further must be definitely the new situation inside the band. New singer, new material on its way after some period...
We almost made our first show back in 2004 but it got cancelled because of my illness, called pneumothorax and I was 5 weeks in hospital. I think I had 3 surgeries since the lung didn´t want to stay alive hah
Shape Of Despair: Jarno Salomaa – guitars, Sami Uusitalo – bass, Samu Ruotsalainen – drums, Natalie Koskinen – vocals, Tomi Ullgren – guitars
Henri Koivula – vocals
Illusion´s Play 2004 was the last official studio release, followed by a best of in 2005, 2010 and 2011 you came back to the scene releasing singles - what is the reason the band is back now?
There´s no comebacks or anything, we were always here... But I´ve focused more onto my own personal life and not pushing us year after year with the ordinary album releasing cycle.
I´m glad we have taken some space here now, let´s say that the situation is far more better within the band to work on.
There´s a lot of new material on the works and I believe with Henri we will have absolutely great songs coming in.
Who is in the band - can you introduce the people a bit? How did you come together "back then", and was it difficult to get the crew back together (scenes of movies like Blues Brothers and Still Crazy come to mind... :-D )?
I hope we got a stable line up now.. After all it wasn´t that hard to put us all under the same roof. There were quite much of touring from behalf of Impaled Nazarene and Finntroll, which laid rehearsing back a bit.
Me & Tomi (also in Rapture & IN) have been here from the start... talking both band- and knowing-wise. Natalie has been with us since our promo tape. Samu came to replace Toni Mäensivu on drumming and Sami (both also Finntroll, the ed.) we took for the missing bassist as Tomi used to take care of those too. And Henri (also Throes Of Dawn, the ed.) I´ve known for years as a good friend, so his name popped out at first when thinking about new singer for us... He has very powerful use of voice and I´m sure our future songs will cover this proof.
How about those festival gigs this summer, do you have a new record company?
No, not yet. We´ve agreed to record one demo song which will be sent to few labels. I hope there´s at least one label where both agree on the same things. We´ll see, it will be interesting to see what happens. I just hope we can haste a bit more here than what our usual way is.
In the meantime something quite unlikely happened, Doom Metal became more popular, and songs exceeding 3min, thanks to e.g. Swallow the Sun. What do you think about it? You ever met those guys+girl?
Well, once met Mikko, but unfortunately we were both too drunk to say anything wise enough... Anyway, I´m not sure we are exactly inside the doom metal tag whatever, neither Swallow the Sun with all the respect.
I´m sure doom metal in it´s purest form isn´t very popular, thank whoever...
The other quite popular Finnish Doom band was Reverend Bizarre - you ever met those guys?
Yeah, once with Rapture at the Spinefeast.. was it 2003.
Which band(s) would you recommend to Doom Metal fans, to check out?
Unholy, Before the Rain, Funeral, Fallen, Evoken plus few others as well. I´m very lazy to keep track on new material, but once in a while there´s something good on your way.
You still write all the music and lyrics, or do other band members have some imput?
I´m hoping we all make our own effort to this new album in the works. But mostly it´s been me again so far. But i´m sure this will change when closing in with the songs.
Once you said that lyrics are not as important for you as the music - is this still true?
Partly yes. It´s a matter of genres quite a lot.. but mostly when I listen to something, I won´t read lyrics if it´s uncertain in the song itself. But when you hear a song like Your rotting face, it makes you to check those ones out...
The lyrics - what are the topics, are you still "working off depression" this way?
I´ll delve onto these with Henri pretty soon... we´ll see if Henri will work these on his own. But yes, no songs of joy.
What are the plans with SOD now - concerts, festivals, a tour, a new CD - world domination?
Mostly a few shows, for now only 3 were booked and 1 to be played at Brutal Assault. Then there´s label hunt with one demo song and hopefully an album through a proper label... But we´ll release our new album in a way or another, if no one gets interested. No touring yet in sight.
I know you as a very laid-back person, somebody who prefers to be in the background - so is your personal nightmare perhaps being as famous as Britney Spears, being followed by Paparazzi all the time etc?
No worries about that.
.... if not, what is your personal nightmare?
Being not able to play or hear music...
... or what is your dream, what do you want to achieve, as a person and / or with the band?
Maybe musically develop my own thing into more ethereal-like. There´s been ideas and sounds within my head, but I should actually grab ´em down for tones...
Finally, "famous last words" for the STALKER readers?
Hopefully see you at Brutal Assault, no idea when the next show is going to take a place... good chance to come along for a cheap beer and downward atmosphere.
Nice to have you back, all the best to you guys+girl, and thanks for the interview!
BRUTAL ASSAULT FESTIVAL: Josefov, Czech Republic, August 9-11, 2012, Shape of Despair play on August 11, 2012
Author: Klaudia Weber, promotional photos: SOD, live photo: Tina Solda Date: 2012-07-29