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The Chant: ”Tragedies have never gone out of style”

For more than a decade, The Chant have not quite tried to compete for the central spot in the limelight with the Lady Gagas of this world. Instead, like a secret natural fountain in some enchanted wood, those 7 Finns have behaved with discretion, remaining a standing and steady source of excellent (naturally melancholic) music. It seems with their third album A Healing Place ( STALKER review ) they finally receive some more recognition outside their home country. Vocalist Ilpo Paasela tells us more...

The Chant: Mari Jämbäck (keyboards, piano), Ilpo Paasela (vocals), Markus Forsström (bass), Kimmo Tukiainen (guitar), Roope Sivén (drums), Pekka Loponen (guitar, vocals), Jussi Hämäläinen (guitar, vocals)
The Healing Place is your third record – how was the response so far, by fans and media?
The response has been mostly very enthusiastic, but of course considering the deeply atmosphere-oriented nature of our music, it´s not everyone´s piece of cake.

How would you define the difference to the previous 2 albums? How did your style develop? What are your musical roots and influences?
I think the new A Healing Place-album is a natural extension to its predecessor This Is The World We Know (2010). They both have a very dreamy and atmospheric feeling at their core, but on A Healing Place the sound widened to almost cinematic levels. The atmosphere as a whole became the key thing and now the separate songs sort of blend to each other.
The aim is to produce a very dreamlike experience. On the contrary our debut Ghostlines (2008) holds more of a classic melodic metal vibe, but has also a few moments that started this new period.

Our roots lie in atmospheric and melodic metal in all its forms but slowly the metal side has faded away and now it´s more like atmospheric rock, or how one wants to call it. Not important. The influences come from so many directions and not only from music, so it´s hard to name them briefly. But yes, there are some elements common with bands like Porcupine Tree and Anathema, which are mentioned in writings about us.

Melancholy seems to be a typical feature of Finnish music – what´s your theory about it, is this just a misconception, or is melancholy indeed a Finnish trademark?
There are different kind of music here like everywhere, but maybe the melancholic side of it has felt most exotic and different elsewhere. It´s hard to describe where it comes from. It can be cliches like culture or long winters, but I think it goes beyound that. It´s the same sort of "mental state" that has been around for centuries here, in folk music, other arts etc.
Tragedies have never gone out of style. I can´t say I want to cherish that kind of thinking every second, but with music it just comes out naturally.

How do you write your music + lyrics, is it teamwork, and where do you get your inspiration from?
On a Healing Place our guitarist Jussi composed all of the songs and Mari(keyboards) and I wrote the lyrics on them.
Still, the final arrangements are always done by the whole band and they usually shape up in rehearsals or in the studio at the latest. The inspiration can come from anywhere, arts or events in everyday life. There´s no restrictions. You can´t always remember where it came from and that´s the beauty of it.

Which other side projects do the band members have? (As this is usually the case with Finnish bands :D Collaboration with Hanging Garden and Rapture are already mentioned on your website)
I think they are the only existing ones at the moment, and I´m not sure if Rapture is even active right now.

What is the story behind the Healing place (the CD) – and what is a healing place for you personally, how does it look like?
For reaching a kind of a healing place one has sacrifice something very personal and hit the bottom before really seeing things clear. That´s a guideline for myself, but the term a healing place on the new album can have different meanings in it, and it always depends how the listener experiences and interpretes it. We want to leave room for an individual interpretation and not to explain the lyrics closer. That´s the best way to get the most of the album.

It seems that Prog Metal became more popular in recent years – would you agree, is my impression correct?
Yes, I think you´re right. There has been a growing need to sort of study albums and not to necessarily understand every element in a first hearing. One has to grow into them and that´s the key thing in progressive music from my point of view. Still, I have to say I´m more into that kind progressive stuff that is emotional at its center, not technical.

Although Metal became mainstream in Finland, it seems there´s a decline – festivals being cancelled, bands paid less for gigs, less audience attendance - and there´s also the stumbling music industry in general... So how was your band affected by that? Do you think it´s getting more difficult? What´s ”your strategy” to cope with that?
I don´t think that has affected on us because The Chant hasn´t achieved any real commercial success. We haven´t ever expected that so there´s no financial pressure from anywhere. We just keep on developing as a band, and hopefully more people will find our music, but that´s not a requirement for our existence. But yes, generally it´s the match and mix - problem of the records selling less and bands trying to survive by spending time on the road as much as possible. And at the same time the supply is becoming so wide that there isn´t enough live audience for everyone.

What are your hopes for the future, now with the new record company, what do you want to achieve with your music/the band?
Because of the new deal with Lifeforce Records, the new album is the first one that is out worldwide. We are really excited about that, now our music is available on a wider scale. But like I mentioned before, the only job for us to do is to develop. Usually then more people will follow.

Seven band members is quite a lot – doesn´t it cause more difficulties (rehearsals, gigs etc)? And naturally small clubs+small stages must cause problems... you have maybe a weird story about gig/tour mishaps?
Yes obviously! There´s nearly always someone missing from the rehearsals, but we´re getting used to it. I´m afraid we don´t have any cool stories to tell from the road ;)

As most musicians cannot live on making music alone, what are you doing besides that?
We all have civil jobs, so nearly all income comes from them.

What´s coming up in the near future, gigs, a tour?
At the moment we´re performing here in Finland and keeping track how it goes with A Healing Place elsewhere.
After that we´re wiser.

”Famous last words” for the STALKER readers?
Thank you for this. Buy albums and go to concerts!


Author: Klaudia Weber, photos: Kalle Pyyhtinen
Date: 2012-09-26

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