05.06.07 text: Áda pics: T.Isoaho, K.T.Ekstrom
The latest studio recording released through the mini CD CONSUME TO CONTAMINATE could win an award for the best recorded drums in the grindcore history. It’s not just a hyper-fast dirty grind drumming but the clarity of all the cymbals played during a blast-beat tempo is just shocking-and there’s a good deal of cymbals on that record. Having put his Sennheiser headphones on to enjoy the recording quality, Adolf had cranked the volume up and was instantly consumed by the job of the new drummer Sami, clarity of recorded instruments, and overall production. Excited about the new MCD, Adolf talked to the RS vocalist Keijo about the new drummer Sami, recording the MCD without the long-time friend Mieszko Talarczyk, and refining the Scandinavian grindcore to a new level.
Rotten Sound was established in 1993 but it wasn’t until seven years later when they traveled outside their home scene in Finland for first series of international shows. Having been discovered by Curby of Obscene Productions, RS performed live in the Czech Republic already at the Obscene Extreme Festival in the year 2000, just before they recorded their seminal opus Murderworks. Hooking up with Mieszko Talarczyk, the rising star of world-class grindcore, RS gained his support to get sound and production of Murderworks to the level of grinding ferocity unheard before. Engaging super fast and technical drummer Kai, the Murderworks album simply took the grindcore scene by storm to set a new benchmark for bands to compare themselves to. In 2004, RS entered the studio under the guidance of Mieszko one last time to sweep the world away with relentless grind of massive sound proportions. Embracing social and political issues dealing with conformity, unethical behavior, and aggressive international politics, RS recorded the Exit record to cement itself in the arena of A-class grindcore. After the extreme music world lost Mieszko in December 2004’s tsunami disaster, RS took the burden of his legacy to play a vaste number of shows in the following years, keeping the ferocious grind spirit alive. In 2006, Kai left the band to be replaced by Sami and RS entered the studio to record the Consume to Contaminate Mini CD. The first follow-up without Mieszko behind the sound board and without Kai behind the drum kit has been nervously expected. The outcome is an overwhelming set of the most dynamic and heavy sound up-to-date, ever-present drumming par excellence pushing the grinding ferocity straight to your face, and memorizable eight songs that you never seem to have enough of.
There is no other way to start this interview than to ask about Kai. What is he doing and are you still in touch?
I saw Kai yesterday playing rock’n’roll. He has a small rock’n’roll band just for fun. It was so cool to watch him. I love that guy, we’re so good friends. I miss him every time we’re touring. We’re all the time: “Where’s Kai?” We’re still biggest friends but Sami is a fucking great drummer.
I heard Sami is a former student of Kai. Is that right?
Three years ago, Sami couldn’t play any grind. He could play drums but no grind. He took lessons from Kai and couple of other guys. Not just Kai, but from four guys. He was really serious. What he was doing, he was playing really awesome grind every day. Our guitarist is playing at top of our rehearsal room and he was saying: “It’s like the washing machine going in the end.” So, Sami is great. He can play grind for three hours and he can go on, go on, and go on. That’s something we actually missed with Kai because Kai was never able to do that. Kai would play a couple of songs, then he had a break and we had an intro, we played then we had an intro again. With Sami, we play, play, and play all the time. But don’t get me wrong. Kai was a big thing for us.
Now I understand! You started to play today at least six songs end-to-end without any single break!
Yeah, we just learned to play with Sami a bunch of songs and it’s like six songs in a set, total 18 songs.
Was it intentional to join your songs this way into several sets?
Yes, it was. I hate speaking to the audience frequently. It’s never good. If you say: “Are you fucking good in there?” – that’s not grind! You can’t say “Thank you” all the time. You can say “I love to be in the Czech Republic” but you cannot say it eighteen times because we have so many songs. So, basically we want to make it like a normal show. Normal bands have like ten songs or less and with grind it’s twenty songs. So, we combine them and we want to make them very fluent from one song to another. It feels good for us to just say “let’s go, let’s go, and let’s play.” When we play we don’t want to do anything else, just to play.
In an earlier show in Prague, I saw someone stage diving and hurting himself in the middle of one of your songs. Although there is a huge mosh pit before the stage, you clearly paid attention to that and almost stopped the show to make sure he’s OK. I have to admit it was a very strong moment for me to see that you pay close attention what’s going on before the stage, given you are performing quite fast and fierce music.
I always look what’s going on in there. I’m seeing if nobody gets hurt because I don’t want to be a person who is said at the funeral: “Rotten Sound didn’t care.” Because we care, we don’t want people get hurt at our show. We want people to have fun. It’s so stupid to think about that someone really gets hurt and nobody cares. You have to really take care of accidents. There are accidents always, that’s the thing and drunk people get accidents. Then it’s like everything goes on again but stop the show if something bad happens. That’s important. I never want to have any bad moments at our show.
As of today, you are to me the most notable band to bear that innovative grindcore flag for Nasum.
Well, we are not the only one because Napalm Death is there, always. But I’m really honored to hear that we took the Nasum’s Scandinavian grindcore flag but there’s Gadget, Birdflesh, Jigsore, Sayyadina, and Splitter. There are really good bands coming. I wish that some would come from Finland but no – Finnish bands are playing fucking metal. The only positive thing was To Separate the Flesh from the Bones – the guys from Him, Amorphis, and Ajattara. In the end they never played many live shows. We have asked them ten times to join our tour – never have they come. They were always like Him and Amorphis first.
Who plays there from which band?
The bassplayer is Niclas Etelävuori from Amorphis and he is also the producer. The drummer Mika "Gas" Karppinen is from Him and the quitar player is Passi Kosskinnen, the former signer from Amorphis, who has now his own band Ajattara.
That explains why these guys managed to bring Jeff Walker (ex-Carcass) from the UK over to Finland to perform one of the shows a year or two back.
I saw that show. It was killer and that was so sad to notice there’s the most potential when you compare to Him or Amorphis. It was much better band. They are really being mad on stage. I could compare it to our blood times. It’s so mad with the stockings. Actually we were mad at them because we were thinking of taking the stockings just before they took them. We were like: “Oh my god, we are so out of this fucking blood thing.” Blood is bad because people misunderstand it. We use always paint, no blood ever. We were thinking, “let’s take something else – stockings! Let’s make just holes for a mouth and eyes and it looks really evil.” And then these guys go on and play live like that. They were first.
On your last full length album called Exit, you are dealing with suicide issues among other things. Why is the suicide ratio in Finlad so high?
Try to spend one winter in Finland. Come and see how people look like in the bars. It’s depressing. People are like zombies. They drink to feel better but next morning they feel even worse. There’s no control over suicide rates. Nobody cares. It’s a hard thing to say but I think that Finland is the sickest country in the world. Well, actually I don’t know. Iceland looks like sickest country in the world, we are second sickest. It’s just that people who are feeling bad and don’t know how to deal with it. I have very good ways to deal with it. I can shout it out to the public and it’s so easy to get rid of the bad feeling. I never feel bad after the show, I am always feeling good.
In the lyrics, you are frequently describing the dark side of capitalism…
Yes, definitelly – it’s like wearing people out. Nobody cares about people in capitalism – it’s just money
… or about the wrong country’s foreign policies such as the song V.S.A. (Violent States of America).
Yeah, U.S.A. tries to get rid of violence by killing people – good job there! It was so scary to fly today. Did you see the news on terrorist threats today (Keijo is refering to today’s terrorist threat to bomb London-departing planes). I was really scared and all of the guys were scared because of U.S.A.’s way to manage that thing. There’s no better way to do terrorist attack. Terrorists are against power. They fight fire with fire. Don’t put fire to that fire. Try to make peace but that’s impossible to George W Bush – he’s mad. His father is mad. He knows what he’s doing but in the name of Hisbollah he’s mad.
Do you thing that this politics can be managed or controled in any way?
No, I don’t think that we have any hope. It feels bad and it’s chaotic and it’s grindcore that any of us can die when we fly somewhere. When Rotten Sound comes to a show to the Czech Republic, we can die because of George W Bush being mad at some fucking terrorist idiot who’s also mad at some other fucking guy. It’s so stupid that all of the people in the world have to be scared. That you can’t just live and be. If you want to travel fast, you shouldn’t fly because you can die.
Given the fact that your album Exit was produced by Mieszko Talaczyk and recorded in the SoundLab studio, was it difficult for you to do the EP Consume to Contaminate as a respectable follow-up record?
Yeah, it was really hard for us. I have to tell it was the hardest time in the studio because all of us all the time were remembering Mieszko there, and he was there. I think Mieszko helped us a little bit on this one. He was telling the sound guys, “do this, do that.” He was as controlling as usual. He knew everything about grind and we miss the guy. It’s so obvious to miss that fucking man and it’s so unfair – I have said many times to my friends that you should have taken me because I’m just the singer. That guy was like the whole grindcore of today. I’m just the singer – take me. You can find another singer like me. There’s a lot of young guys who can sing like me – well, no fucking way like me but close (laughing). But really, Mieszko was doing so good things for the whole band because he was teaching us to be with the grind like to live with the grind. Even when we take the sludge and the doom in that influence in the future, we will be remembering Mieszko’s learnings. Listen to Nasum’s albums, listen to Human 2.0 from beginning to the end. Rotten Sound will have fucking hard time to compete with that! I don’t know if we did with Murderworks. We were close but I don’t know if we did. You cannot really put apples and grapes in the same basket.
Your MCD Consume to Contaminate was recorded in Sound Supreme studios co-produced by Janne Saksa. Who is he?
Janne is actually very big in Finland and he is doing major bands in Finland. I don’t know if you ever heard of band Mokoma. They are really good grass metal band in Finland. They sing in Finnish and lead Finnish charts all the time. They play huge shows for thousands of people. Janne Saksa was taking them up and Janne’s strenght is that he makes each band sound like itself. He doesn’t do anything additional. He’s all the time like “If you want to keep the microphone in there, keep it there.” We were asking like: “Can you help us a little bit here? We are not sure if we want to keep it here.” And he goes like: “That’s a good fucking place for a microphone!” And then we go on to record. That’s how Consume to Contaminate came out. He didn’t do anything for the basic stuff. We produced it ourselves and he was just doing his normal very small things there. So, Janne is so modest person that he doesn’t want to do anything for the bands. He’s just there for help with the computer.
How would you compare the MCD to your last album Exit?
The EP is a different thing. Now we have finally quitars and everything. Before we had only drums and vocals and now it’s guitars, drums, vocals and bass – the whole band is heard.
So, did you get the clarity and clean sound that you wanted?
It’s not really clean sound. Each instrument is dirty. The vocals are dirty, quitar is dirty, bass is dirty, drums are dirty and it all came together very dirty. We just wanted overdo it on this CD and then we wanted to go and clean it up a little bit before the next album. We wanted to learn to make dirty sound without Mieszko and I think we figured out a good way to do it. There’s just a good amount of all of the instruments on the mini CD.
In a song called CTC from the mini CD, you have recorded an organ and cello in there? What is the story behind that?
It’s an intermediate song. Mika made a really good gold metal song but it was a song, which is just instrumental song such as Slay. We were thinking what to do. Should I just scream in there or we do some noise on top of it? We needed something. Toni has good friends Heikki and Ilari. They came and we decided to take them to play cello and electric organ on top of that. They just made a variation – it’s there four times. First they introduce the riff, then, when the riff starts, two times in minor, one time in major, one time in minor. It’s very classical music kind of thing when you do minor, minor, major, minor. It’s very sad sounding. It turned out to be something that we were really scared of ourselves because when we were in the studio we were all having chills from the song. It was so weird sounding when there was cellos playing the same thing like quitar. One good thing – it’s like that Entombed-kind of quitar when you combine that with cello and they are like one to one, it’s just very close.
What is the meaning behind that bird on the mini CD cover?
It’s the bird of death. The song Flesh is about that. It’s about eating too much meat and getting sick. It’s about getting people sick because the meat products were over produced and over profited. It’s actually about capitalism. It’s the basic problem because capitalism is always overdoing everything. The song Flesh is about killing people with meat like mad cows’ disease or bird flu.
What do plan to do now after such a great MCD was released? Are you getting ready for a new album?
For the rest of the year, we plan to tour with Entombed in Finland, then touring UK. In 2007 we plan to tour in Europe and in Czech hopefully also. Our next album? I don’t know. Maybe if there are new songs, but we may throw out all of them, so I don’t know. We are writing all the time. That’s the method we do. All the time we write new songs but we are very uptight. Rotten Sound usually writes an album and then it throws it out and then we write a new album and then throw that out. But both albums have two songs, which we keep. We just write and throw away. We try to filter out the best songs. We do everything we can to do that.
1995 - Sick Bastard (Genet Records)
1995 - Psychotic Veterinarian (S.O.A. Records)
1996 - Loosin' Face (Anomie Records)
2000 - Still Psycho (Necropolis Records/Merciless Records)
2006 - Consume to Contaminate (Spinefarm Records/Power-It-Up Records)
1997 - Under Pressure (Repulse Records/Revenge Productions)
1998 - Drain (Repulse Records/S.O.A. Records)
2002 - Murderworks (Autopsy Stench Records/Necropolis Records/Century Media Records/Relapse Records)
2003 - From Crust 'Til Grind (Century Media Records)
2004 - Murderlive (Spinefarm Records)
2005 - Exit (Spinefarm Records/No Tolerance Records/Willowtip Records)
1997 - Spitted Alive Split with Control Mechanism (I.D.S. Records)
2001 - 8 Hours of Lobotomy Split with Unholy Grave (M.C.R. Records)
2003 - Seeds of Hate Split with Mastic Scum (Cudgel Agency)
Keijo Niinimaa - Vocals
Mika Aalto - Guitar
Toni Pihlaja - Bass, backing vocals
Sami Latva - Drums
Kai Hahto - Drums
Juha Ylikoski - Guitar
Pekka Ranta - Bass
Mika Häkki - Bass