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Distained: New frontiers off the rainbow

The Finnish band Distained has been around for thirteen years, and this year they released the EP “Hereditas”, which is probably the best representation of the band and its sound, offering heavy and melodic songs. We talked with drummer Joni and vocalist Niklas about the band´s current situation, the way they work and their taste for videos - among other things.

Could you describe your music for people who are not familiar with your sound ?
Joni: We are a melodic metal band and we make catchy songs that are easy to approach, that are accessible. Our music is easy to listen for people who haven´t listened to our music before. We are big crowd pleasers! ( laughs) I guess there is something for everybody to like in our music. We play different kind of genres. There is some really heavy stuff, but there are also some melodic parts.

How does the new EP “Hereditas” differ from your previous releases?
Joni: I think it´s more or less in the same line, but everything is done better. This is the first record that Tony (= new guitarist, the ed.) did with us and he brought a lot of stuff on the table. As a band we´ve grown a lot and I think it´s shown on the record. There´s a lot of details in there. You know we play pretty accessible music, but still there´s plenty of nice details included in there and I think it´s a another step towards finding our own thing.

There have been quite many changes in your line up since the beginning of the band. Do you have the feeling the line-up is now settled ?
Joni: Yeah totally. I think the main problem was the second guitarist. There have been different reasons why we have changed the line-up. Some lack of motivation, some like of skills... Now every member in the band is happy.

So then I suppose the recording went smoother this time and it was easier for you guys to record.
Joni: I think the recording was pure hell ! ( laughs) But it has nothing to do with the band members ! We had way too much time to record and that was the problem. I think we spent like five months almost half of a year to record it. The songs are good, but the recording process was painful ! I think for the next record we´re going to have a tighter schedule to record, we learn from our mistakes.

Joni Ali-Kippari – Drums
So did the line-up make the recoding different ?
Joni: Tony had some very clear ideas, he knew what should be on the record, how to change things. It was nice to have an extra member who cared about what we put on the tracks. I think everybody in the band really tried to bring his own part in the record, it really showed that they cared. They were really 5 people making effort into it. It is a nice record in the end, we learned from our mistakes and hopefully the next one will go more smoothly.
And everyone has a word to say. Well, at least we all have tried to bring something on the table. Of course it might also cause some problems if everybody comes up with many ideas… but that´s how we work.

What are the main themes we can find in “Hereditas” in terms of lyrics ?
Joni: The main line is some negative stuff, some unhappy songs. They are basically hangover songs (laughs). I think everybody knows the feeling when you wake up after a long night of drinking and you wake up all alone in your house just crying… As for the lyrics you can relate directly to something, there´s a lot about life in general. They´re not always about me, there is always something I like to add to the lyrics, they are not that straightforward. There could be some part from a dream… Anyway, they are not happy songs.
Niklas : I think Joni is also quite an actor, he appreciates arts – and he can place himself in a certain situation. The majority of the lyrics is written by him and think he did a good job placing himself into different roles.
Joni: Yeah that´s one thing that people might get wrong about the lyrics. The character “I” in the lyrics doesn´t mean me personally. It could be anyone. The tendency with this kind of music is that of course you go a little bit more to the darker, more melancholic side, because it carries better on this kind of music. It wouldn´t fit to the music if we wrote happy songs about rainbows !

You released several music videos that don´t look amateur at all. All of your music videos have a storyline and the quality is very professional, it´s especially true for the “You Bow To No One” video. How important is the visual aspect for the band ?
Joni: It is important. Over the years, it has grown more and more, because now we have the connections, we know the right people who can make these videos for us. In the band, we also have a sort of a cinematographic background. Joni is active in making short films.

Niklas Sluyter – Vocals
Niklas: I come from a television background, because I used to work for television . There´s a lots of ideas, a lot of skills and we´re also happy to work with somebody else. Now as we said, we know the right people who have their own ideas and who know how to do things. We don´t feel so helpless, there are a lots of things we can include like video editing etc. Videos are important to us, because it´s really a part that we make ourselves rather than somebody making it for us. We were involved in “You Bow To No One”. Right from the start we made videos, so we are not going to make a video in which someone is telling us what to do, it´s never going to happen. We always have to have something to say about the video, we have to rule out our director (laughs)

By the way, the video “You Bow To No One” got to the finals of Oulu´s music video festival competition. What happened next ?
Joni: Well, we didn´t win it. There were only three best videos and we were not among those three, but we´re making another one which will be even better.
About that video, the actors saw something in what we wanted to do, they really grasped the concept of the video, they liked the idea. They invested their time, their talent away from their homes to this for us. It was very nice and very generous from them to come to do it with us. I think especially Raivo, the main character, who was actually promoting us like hell ! It was a really good thing. He knows all the actresses and actors in Finland, he has all the contacts.

So basically the band embraces arts in general.
Joni: I think there´s a combo, three things that we do as a band – there´s music of course, then videos and also cover, the artwork.

Tony Helaakoski – Guitar

So tell us more about the cover of “ Hereditas”. How does it reflect the songs ?
Joni: The cover actually doesn´t relate at all to the rest of record or the videos. Well, the video doesn´t even reflect the song ! (laughs) It´s just another fun project that we can indulge ourselves in and try to make some fun out of it. It´s so easy to paint a canvas of what Niklas sings in our song´s video, it´s too easy, we want to make it harder ! We´ve already tried to put the obvious things on the records, but it just didn´t work. It´s the same for videos actually, we tried to go for the easy things like the band playing, but it didn´t work.

Not so long ago, you mentioned you were looking for a cello player. Does it mean you´re going to record new songs soon ? Tell us more about it.
Joni: We´re planning to record one old acoustic song that appeared on “Inhuman” record. At that time, we didn´t have the same line-up as today. It´s an acoustic song with only piano and acoustic guitars.
We were thinking that putting some strings would be a nice nice element to include in the song. Now we´re looking at all songs that we have and we have quite many that we played live, that we never recorded and then we forgot them. I think we often revisit and try to reinvent old songs, especially when there´s a new player in the band. And we´re going to make a video for that song too.

Apart from that song, do you have any new material on the way ?
Joni: We´re actually constantly working on new material and trying to come up with new stuff . It´s a nice thing about the band, we share the songs online, we listen to them to give our opinion, then we make some changes, then we rehearse. And then after a couple of weeks we get a product which is really the result of work of the whole band, not just from one member of the band.

So you´re not afraid of experimenting ?
Joni: We´re definitely not afraid of experimenting. I think it is one good thing about the band that we always try to explore new frontiers.

Anssi Kalliotyrni – Guitar

You have released several EPs. Can we expect a full-length album soon ?
Joni: Well, not yet but hopefully in the future. We actually got a deal from a label, but it was not that good, so we didn´t take it. If we´re not going to get a deal with a label, then we´re not going to make a full-length album. As for the moment, only EPs. It´s easier and faster to release EPs, at least as long as you don´t get paid for making music. We´re doing it with our own money, so we need to be realistic.

On the other hand it means that you have no pressure from a label, you´re free to do what you want.
Joni: It´s good that we don´t have to do anything. If we don´t want to do something, then we don´t have to. There´s no pressure from outside, no deadlines.

So what´s your plans in for the upcoming months with the band ?
Joni: We´ll try to make new things, maybe record something, but now it´s hard to say. We´ll just keep doing what we do and have fun, make records, makes videos, plays gigs:
15th of December 2012, Bar Escape Riihimäki with: Blackout Corporation, Doperman, Cataleptic
19th of January 2013, Lucky Monkeys, Lappeenranta with: Blackout Corporation

Jukka Lehtojoki – Bass

Thanks for your time !


Author: Marine Crepiat, transl. K. Weber, photos: band
Date: 2012-12-02

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