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Entwine – Rock, Politics and lots of Vodka

Abstractly thinking, the word “entwine” associates with something complex, alluring and maybe even mystically deceiving. Even singer Mika Tauriainen himself does not know what exactly the name stands for, unless you will manage to figure this out from between the lines of his answers.

After this interview, I was even more assured that what we usually believe in – simply comes true. Mika believes in zebra-patterned-life, expecting one black and one white stripe at a time. And so this is basically the path of Entwine, one successful album came after less well-received one along with a difficult emotional period, and then unexpected lineup change... Now is clearly the time for a new white stripe again.

How are you?
Fine, thank you! (laugh)

What´s the situation in Entwine at the moment?
Ahmm… it´s... well, a little bit quiet, we´re doing a couple of shows and things are pretty ok, even though Riita has left and we had to do a lot of things because of that, so we have everything on a computer now, so we´ve to see what there´ll be in the future.

What was the first show without Riita like?
It was kind of different… I really don´t know, we were in Spain, it was our first time. I wasn´t thinking if Riita is there or not, I had to concentrate on what I´m doing, the audience was great. I kind of flipped in my mind, in a good way. Of course it´s a little different, all the keyboards are now in the mixer, so technically it is different.

So she left half-way through the tour? Very unexpected…
Yes it was. All the dates were already booked, so it was about eight days before the first show when she told us she´s not coming. So this was a lot of work to Aksu to make all the programming and stuff like that, you know…

And you really had no idea that she might be leaving?
No, not at all. But you know, she has a daughter starting school this autumn, and she is studying also, I can understand that. She told us she has to do this, it´s… she has to take care of the kid and it´s impossible, you know, when she´s at school and she´s going on tour for weeks, so ok, it´s impossible. Her husband was our mixer.

Was? So not anymore?
No, he has too much work with Apulanta. So next year for him will be very busy. So for Riita it will be impossible to go on tour. The kid IS the priority number 1 in that situation.

Do you think she´ll still continue her musical career?
Don´t know. I don´t know what she´s gonna do, really don´t know! (laughs)

Do you think you´ll find a replacement? Or do you think you even need one?
We haven´t talked about it yet. We´ll see what we´re gonna do. We really don´t know, the situation is to fresh still to talk about it, we have to do the shows what are booked and it´s gonna take a long time, to take somebody, to learn all the songs, so we´ll see.

Having a female member of the band gave your band a certain advantage, as there aren´t many girls in the dark scene…
Only singers! (laughs)

Right! So aren´t you afraid you will lose some fans because of Riita´s departure?
Of course! There´re a lot of fans of Riita and I feel sorry for them, you know… but the thing is that the show must go on, one way or another. We have to continue what we have right now and we never know what is gonna be tomorrow.

During Entwine career there weren´t any major line-up changes and you´ve spent a long time together. What´s your secret of such strong teamwork?
Oh, we´ve had our fights in the band, it´s like a marriage. The thing is, either way you solve the problems, or you´re gonna break. We´ve had our big fights after the “DiEversity” album and “What the fuck are we gonna do?” and we were about to break, but we talked about a lot of things and ok, it´s too much to lose. I think after that everything was much better, but the frustration and all the anger in “Fatal Design” album are totally different than in the previous albums. Now it´s going well I have to say.

What kind of fights did you have, musical or personal?
Personal of course! There´re a lot of bone-headed persons in our band, it´s just… I think it´s a natural thing in a band, when you do 3-4 albums together, than it starts: egos are fighting, the personalities clash… I think it´s a natural evolution for a band, happens to any band.

Who is the hardest among you to get along with?
Who WAS the hardest is Aksu. Aksu and me, we were the fighting partners. And there were a lot of old things as well… we´re both very stubborn, but we´ve solved it and now we get along, no problems. Those things take time to realize…

What kind of feedback have you had since “Fatal Design” came out? Any critique?
A lot of feedback! Positive mostly, but of course there were fans saying that this is “too US-like rock” and “it´s not gothic anymore”, but the thing is that it´s OUR way to do music and we cannot think what are the fans thinking. We are growing, getting older, picking up different things, what´s happening on in the world, the whole situation: we´re like a mirror, you know? If we cannot please everybody – it´s not our fault, we have to do this for ourselves and I hate to do and think only some kind of music. I have to have the possibility to do every kind of music, whatever feels good at that time, you know? And if you get stuck in one kind of music, it gets boring. We never think what we will do in the next album, there´re a lot of bands who do album after album, all the same thing.

Can you say that “Fatal Design” is a concept album?
it´s kind of a concept… there´re a lot of similarities in the songs, there´s a lot of frustration and anger, but it was because of the situation at that time: wasn´t feeling so good, had a personal life crisis, went through hell after that, then recordings…

Did other band members participate in writing the album, or is it purely Mika-production?
Yes, they did the music, but I did the vocal parts, singing melodies and the lyrics, mostly. There´re a couple of songs which Tom wrote, like “Oblivion” and “Twisted”. it´s the way it´s been going after “DiEversity”, we figured out it´s the nicest way to make it: I have my peace when I´m with my computer, guitar and a microphone.

Does the “Fatal Design” song order matter?
I don´t know. Of course it does, it is what creates the flow of the album, but story-wise, there´s no red-line there.

How would you evaluate this album against “Gone” and “DiEveristy”? What about band´s and your own progress?
They are totally different. It´s hard to put it into words. It´s the way of working maybe, we´ve learned a lot! We´ve become more confident, it´s been growing. “Gone” was first and we were thinking too much what others were thinking, but these days whatever feels good for us, we´re going for it!

Ok, and what about the album´s title?
Well, there´s this one song on the album… (smiles)

But why this song? There´re whole 10 tracks, could´ve been any of those…
I know, but it popped up in our minds… In my opinion, if you look at the cover, there´re a lot of those industrial ornaments, the falling Babylon statue and stuff like that, so it´s kind of a picture of the world nowadays: it´s fatal design and we´re living in it. It´s the whole Iraq-thing, Bush… I HATE Bush, I have to say that. I just hate that. The situation in Iraq – the American people should get the fuck out of there! This century´s Vietnam, you know? There´s no political solution for that, they just have to get out of there! And the thing why they are there is the money, the oil and the Iraqi people are just defending what is their own. What would the Americans do if the Iraqi came to take all their cars or something? They´d defend, it´s normal. And Bush is coming in the name of God… He is fucking Satan!

Do you think there is destiny?
I don´t know about destiny, maybe there is… But I think we all make our future, we all have the same cards when we are born and the world is open. Some people just fuck up, some manage in different ways. We all do our own future, you have to build it. The thing is nobody else will live YOUR life. I have always been very stubborn, always did the things I believed were right. I don´t want to hurt the people around me, when I do my things. It´s important to think of others, but at the end of the day you live your life.

Do your parents support what you are doing?
Kind of… they got divorced when I was 3, and my father lives in Sweden. I´ve been in Sweden every year since I´m 6 and we have a very good relationship. I was something like 16, at school and it was the time I took a loan and bought my own drums and my mom was like “What the hell did you do?!” and I told her that this is what I wanted, this is what I really want. After that I sold the drums and started to sing and I never regret it! My dad was at first like “Maybe you should do some kind of different music”, because a couple of our relatives got record contracts and deals, they´re selling kind of ok… When we got our albums out and it showed that something is happening, my dad was like “Ok, you´ve got a couple of good songs there…” He used to play bass when he was younger and my mom was like “You´ve to study..” and I was like “Yeah, COULD do that, but I´m not interested” and now she´s like “how´s it going “… The thing is when you get to some point, they start to trust. It´s not an easy job. This is my thing and you either understand that or not, it´s not gonna change.

What was it back then that maybe had some kind of influence on you, triggered you into music?
When I saw “The Doors” movie for the first time, then it was like “nothing will never be the same afterwards”. I want to do music and I wanna be a fucking rockstar! I was young back then… Now I also want to have a normal life, family and stuff like that.

"Back then they called us nipple brothers"

What did you do before Entwine?
There was another band called “Billy Goats” (laughs) Our guitarist Jaani was playing there, it was some kind of grunge and rock, it´s another story…

All right, then going back to the “Fatal Design”, how would you describe it?
It is kind of diverse album there´re different kinds of worlds inside the songs. You have to listen to it all, the thing what I´ve heard that it was hard to listen to this album for the first couple of times, it doesn´t “open” very fast. It´s very good, because when it opens, you can listen to it longer. I think that “DiEversity” was very easy to listen to, it was the whole package. At that time it was that kind of feeling, now it´s something else.

Is there a one song that would describe the essence of the entire album?
From my point of view… Because “Fatal Design” is not totally about the whole album, it´s only one political song that I´ve made first time in my life. The thing is never to mix rock´n´roll with politics. I am into politics. I think that maybe “Surrender” or “Curtained Life” would be that. I´ve said that those songs are like a diary of my life. “Curtained Life” is very personal, there´re a lot of feelings in it and it´s kind of a thing that I had at that time and then got it out.

You´ve mentioned that it´s your favorite song as well. How did you write it?
With a lot of vodka! (laughs) I don´t remember… the whole process took about 4 months, for the whole package and it came somewhere during that, I really don´t remember. Sometimes I had 14-hour long days and then I would get home and I only had one sentence in a paper. And the next morning I was like “what is this shit?!” So it was kind of frustrating time and I actually don´t remember much of that time, I was there inside my head. And when you´ve this kind of process and you´ve 14 songs to write… it´s very emotional, a lot of thoughts. It´s a very personal album.

Do you believe in inspiration?
Yes, definitely. Sometimes when you´re jamming and rehearsing and recording at the same time, then it just happens and afterwards you don´t remember anymore! The best things come spontaneously…

Which of your songs are you the most proud of?
It depends on my mood, they are ALL my children. That´s the way it is, I cannot name the best or worst one… it always depends on a moment.

How come all your songs are about sad emotions and have this negative edge?
There are too many love-songs in this world. The thing is that I´ve always said that they´re not sad in this kind of way, there is always light at the end and there is always hope in our songs. I´m talking about the things which I think everybody is going through in their lives. Then you´re maybe listening to our album, realizing that maybe I´m not alone, somebody else is going through the same shit.

What about the “Surrender” video, what was this all about?
You´ve to ask the director, I can´t answer that! (laughs)

What about the album´s artwork?
My cousin from Sweden did it and Spinefarm liked it. The whole feeling of it… it´s kind of doomy, in this kind of industrial environment. I think it looks like us right now, it looks heavier, depressive and angry.

Your latest promo-photoshoot also looks very industrial, like you´re just out of a coal-mine…
Yeah, we wanted to look dirty! It looks like we´ve been swimming in the oil. And this is also mirrored by the Iraqi situation and the oil thing.

What should we expect from Entwine next?
Don´t ask! I really don´t know! It depends on many things… new record-deal and whom with, everything´s open right. I haven´t had time to write anything yet. Both guitarists live in Jyväskylä and Aksu is busy with other bands, so we´ve to see. We´re just planning to go back to Europe this Spring.

So it´ll be a surprise…
Yes, for us too! (laughs)

What about ShamRain, how is it doing?
Ok, we´re making new demos. We don´t know the studio dates yet, just taking it day by day and when the songs are ready, we´ll record. No rushing. We also have to sign first, there´re a lot of things to do, so it´s also open. A couple of new songs are very good already!

What is the difference between Mika in Entwine, Mika in ShamRain and Mika on a Monday morning?
There´s a big difference. And I´ve to say that when we´re touring, I was drinking like 3 weeks in a row, I had 1-2 sober days. When I´m at home, I hardly drink. I don´t go to bars or clubs, or something like that, I don´t feel like going out, most times I´m out is when we have shows. I got very bored of that, you know…. The same bars, the same faces, the same stories – I got tired of all that. I´m not 20 anymore, far away from that… On tour it´s very easy to drink, only in Europe it´s a bit different, it´s not Suomi-drunk, but you get a bit tipsy. You do a sound check and then ‘what do we do next?” ok, open a bottle, it´s easy! I don´t drink so much before the show, but maybe during, rum or red wine. But in Finland it´s different, you drink from Thursday to Sunday, there´s nothing else… I want to have a decent life, wife and kids, besides playing, so I´ve to keep my head straight.

What makes Entwine unique?
Very hard to say, the mood probably… I think we already have our sound, Entwine sound and when you hear it, you´ll recognize it, even though the new album is quite different, still…

In your opinion, does Entwine have a mission?
We´ll see! I think that point comes later in the future when we´ll realize it… It´s only rock´n´roll, but I like it! After all it´s only music and you´re just an entertainer: I love my job.

Are you still nervous before going on stage?
Of course! And if I´ll lose that, I will quit. It´s always the feeling in your stomach and that´s the main thing, and if you aren´t nervous at all, it doesn´t make sense. It´s not the same compared to the first show ever. Last time in Tavastia I was very afraid because of my throat, then I´m more nervous, but it´s normal. It happens to everybody, it´s all about entertainment. A few times I´ve burnt Jaani´s hand with a cigarette…

What happens to you when you drink alcohol?
Depends on the mood, again and again – I´m a moody person. Sometimes I get quiet and become philosophical, and sometimes I´m loud and social. I´m not angry, I don´t get angry easily, unless I play football, on a play station – boys will be boys! (laughs)
My relationship with alcohol was never that strong, ever since I was a teenager, I never drunk so much. The guys were always getting drunk and laughing at me “you´re a girl!” but I like to enjoy it, it´s not the main thing for me. I like to enjoy it, make some nice food, talk to friends… it´s very boring going to a bar, it´s not for me anymore. I have to do all that when I do the shows and it´s enough.

Do you have a dream?
It came so fast…!!! Not actually, maybe to be very happy someday, that´s everybody´s dream I think. Have a nice family one day, house near a lake… not a fantasy, not an Mtv-cribs house, lots of cars whatever, I want normal things.

What else musical would you like to accomplish?
Maybe write my own solo album, I´ve been thinking about it for a few years, but never really had the time. Maybe that´s the first thing. I want to do music for as long as I live. I have so many songs and ideas, there´re many styles I like and it´s my personal hell, because I cannot decide!

Are you happy?
I am very happy, I have to say, year 2006 was personal hell and at the end of it something nice happened and I am very-very happy! Greetings to Germany for that! (laughs)

What´s the meaning of life?
To love and be loved, I agree with the Beatles. And honesty. There´s so much evil because of love, many people maybe find too much true love. I don´t know. Maybe the meaning is to find peace and harmony. I used to be a hippy, go check out my Myspace – Bob Marley is the biggest idol for me, music-wise and the thing he did, musically, he was fighting and believing very strongly and he was doing everything, all from his heart and what I always look up is that you´re always honest to yourself.

Do you still keep your football career going?
Not so much, but maybe later I could be a manager. I coached juniors earlier, so maybe when the music ends, I´ll go back. I´ve two passions in my life, music and football, it´ll never change, it´s in my blood.

What could you tell us about the secret society called “The Leather Pants of Nastola”?
(shocked) Where did you heard that?!?!?! Ohh…what do you want to know? It was like, we were hippies with Jaani and at that time no one had those wide flared pants, they had the stretch ones and sneakers and stuff like that and we had those, lots of jingles and those clothes. I don´t know how it started… the leather pants. Somebody called us that, I think it was Kimmo, anyway… I really don´t know where you´ve heard it, it´s very unexpected, it´s kind of insider thing. It´s a small village, 15000 people… I have to say there was also another thing, called “The Nipple Brothers” because we always had our shirts open. (laughs)
That was a funny one!

Who gets on your nerves the most during the tour?
We´re all people! I am kind of the asshole, I am very stubborn and I always talking too much…

Where was the biggest culture shock?
Nowhere. Well, no that kind of shocks for me. The show in Turkey was cancelled, we were very looking forward to that, but we had to cancel it. I´ve heard there´re very fanatic people there.

In the band´s bio it says that one of the greatest Entwine experiences was breaking the ice with your sound-engineer…
Yeah, I remember this, during our trip to Russia. The guys were bowling naked in the hotel´s nightclub. It was definitely the ice breaker. We drank a lot of vodka in that night! And at the hotel we had different rooms, so then I get out from my room and when I went back, I saw Aska climbing to the beds and I was watching that, like “ok, he has the shirt, but not the pants…” and there was his bare ass and I was like “what the fuck?!” we laughed a lot!

When you joined the band, what was the “ice-breaking procedure” for you, or did you get along immediately?
No ice-breaking. It took 4-5 years for me to settle there, and I mean, mentally. With Aksu it was not easy, he was thinking some things about me and he was on a wrong track. It took many years, at least for Aksu, to understand what I really am.

Do you see yourself or the band at the Eurovision contest?
No. No further comment. No. it´s fucking stupid. Why would you compete with music? It´s not a competition. Everybody´s doing music. I´ll never see myself there, never.

Another funny Entwine memory mentioned in your profile has something to do with vanilla sticks…
No further comment! If you want to know, you have to ask Tom, if he wants to talk about it… But something happened on 2002 tour in Sweden…

What´s the most annoying question you´ve been asked?
There was one interview, where 6 or 7 questions from 11 questions were about gothic. How gothic you are and what´s your place in the gothic scene and how you see the gothic people and gothic and... It is fucking lame!!! When somebody is trying to talk about this, we aren´t talking about music, it´s about this illusion and I don´t find it so nice. One question I remember, how do you see that many journalists and people see you as one of the Finnish gothic bands, and the answer was like for us, we aren´t a gothic band, we´re taking our influence from many different kinds of music. The journalists can go and fuck themselves, because you either like our music or not, that´s it. If they have only this kind of opinion… Open your eyes! Listen to the music, don´t stick to this one image. It annoys me, for me it´s unprofessional! Do your research, know the background, if you´re a journalist – have something to say, have your point of view, not reading what somebody else did and then changing it a bit…

I also saw in many interviews you´ve been asked about Entwine´s death metal background…
That´s it! Very boring question. And Entwine´s never been death metal! I´ve said that many times already. If there are so many of this kind of questions, I say “oh, it´ll take a few hours if I´ll talk about this…” So go and check our biography, there´re a lot of things, which you´re asking now, so… Search the biography and ask something that you don´t know, because all other things are already there! The fans already know them.

What´s the most ridiculous thing you had to autograph?
Somebody asked me to autograph her butt-cheek and I didn´t do it, I´m not going that far. Maybe to the chest, it´s normal, but for me it´s like, come on! I did it, but you know, if somebody takes her breast out, I just go… I´m not a clown and I don´t like you so much! I don´t want to touch everybody´s boobs or ass, it´s not my thing – I´m a decent rocker! (laughs) Well-mannered, you know… I have my personal things and I don´t like this kind of behavior, it´s very cheap and if you ask that from me, I don´t even want to know you, get closer to you, it´s too much. It´s like “would you fuck me?”, it gives me that kind of feeling and I really don´t like those kind of things. You can talk to me, it´s ok, but this…

"I believe in ghosts"

You´ve toured so much and seen so many places; doesn´t it feel that Finland and Lahti are so small? Would you like to live in a bigger city?
Finland is very small, thinking about it, but Lahti is big enough for me. It´s close enough to everything, kind of in the middle. It´s big and small, it´s all here, whatever I need. If I want to go into the woods and scream my lungs out, or got to the lake, or something, everything is close. I go out of the door and there´re not millions of people, pushing and all so tense. I am not a city-person, it´s too hectic, too much stress. It´s nice to be in a city sometimes, but not always. I could move from Finland maybe sometimes, cos I never found myself a Finnish person, of course there´re so many good things in this country and I know my roots, I am Finnish, although I was born in Sweden. I never felt like a home-country, home-country for me is where I´ feel cozy and comfortable. It was like this when I moved to my new apartment and when I went to check it out, it took me about 10 seconds and I was like, “ok, I want this.” It was immediately like “this is my home.”

If you could kill one person in all time, who would that be?
We aren´t talking about killing, I am no judge. But there is someone I want to suffer and everyone knows who this is: g-e-o-r-g-e w. He´s been doing so much bad things, but he´s only a fucking puppet among the big companies, he´s only the face for all those companies, oil companies, weapon industry and so on. He is so fucking stupid, I hate that! American soldiers are innocent, but they´re putting more and more of them there and it ain´t gonna end like that.

If you could reincarnate one person in all time, bring someone back?
I´d like to see Bob Marley live, just for one show.

Are you superstitious? What do you believe in?
Yes, I believe in spirits and ghosts, good and bad, angels and evil spirits, things like that - I´m a very spiritual person. There are higher forces and powers, we aren´t alone here. I am a Christian. There are a lot of things we don´t know. I have some experience… it´ll take too long to explain, but when I told Jaani about it, he was like “yeah yeah, whatever” and I got very mad. It really annoys me when people don´t realize! Think about the human beings, how complicated we are, we have skin and millions of those amazing things! Never play with the things which you don´t know what could happen. Some do it out of curiosity, but they really don´t know and it´s hard to back out afterwards.

What about your “Break Me” video, it has this spiritual-occult edge to it…
Yeah, kind of… We shot it in a creepy place, an old brewery, fucking scary place and after we ended, the night after I had terrible nightmares about that place, I saw ghosts and demons coming out from the corners, that place was so damn scary! It looked like some mass-murder scene.

What were you like as a child?
Very hyper! And very sensitive, I was a mommy´s boy. My sister was always teasing me. I don´t know why, but I was always like that. I was so hyper too, once almost burnt the whole forest with my friend, playing with matches. I always had my imagination, the teacher at school also were saying that “oh, that Mika is more interested about ants and their lives, what´s in the trees and birds…” and I was like that, late from the school, hours just walking through the forest, watching the nature, true hippy… I always had my eyes open, what´s happening around, very interested about people. When I was 18-19, I went to the bar, just sitting there alone, without even hearing what they were talking, but just watching them, what they do, their reactions and so on, I always wanted to learn about human behavior and I just want to know why people are doing certain kind of things. There´re a lot of things now that I can see through and there come moments when I start to analyze the personality and stuff… I won´t have the patience to study psychology, but I like to learn humans.

What´s the best advice you´ve ever got?
It´s as simple as that:: “everything´s gonna be ok.” Whatever happens, it´ll be ok, it´ll work out. I believe in life and whatever happens, learn from it. I want to be a happy person, right now I am very happy, although earlier it was real hell. You´ve to believe that life is not always pure happiness, or only bad, it´s life. If it would be always very happy, would you even know what happiness really is? And if you´re always sad, would you know what frustration is? It´s a mix of everything, all the emotions, moods… As long as you´re open-minded, you can survive anything. And another thing is never to give up, I´ve learned that. I am a very emotional person and I take everything very sensitive, but after something is over, ok, it´s one part of my life and when something happens, I know some ways how to manage a bit easier next time. Life has to be colorful, you´ve to see them and not be afraid.

Author: Marina Sidyakina, transl. K. Weber, photos hfr.
Date: 2007-02-24

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