Interview with vocalist Jukka Kolehmainen
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 10, 2012
Abhorrence were one of the very first Finnish Death Metal bands out there back in the late 80s that started making some noize in the first move of Finnish Death Metal, along with bands like Funebre, Xysma, Disgrace, Sacred Crucifix, Convulse, Phlegethon, Sentenced and so on. Abhorrence's story was pretty short-lived; they mostly became known for their "Vulgar Necrolatry" demo and self-titled EP that were both released in 1990. However, it's kind of amazing how big an impact they both had on young musicians back then, when kids were really into forming their own bands and playing extreme-sounding Metal. Tape trading was naturally an integral part for spreading the word about new bands back in those days, also helping to spread Abhorrence's name in every corner of the world.
Nowadays both Abhorrence's "Vulgar Necrolatry" demo as well as self-titled EP are something every Death Metal collector would like to own. In places like eBay, people pay ridiculously high prices for them - and nobody knows exactly how many times they both have been bootlegged over the years.
Finally, there's going to be something more official coming up from this semi-legendary Finnish underground Death Metal act during this spring/summer. Namely Abhorrence's early works - both official and unofficial, will be released both as CD and vinyl formats by Svart Records. The working title for it, as we speak, will be "Completely Vulgar".
Here's the first ever interview with the band's original vocalist Jukka Kolehmainen regarding that release. Jukka sheds more light on this topic, plus also reminisces a bit about the past times of Abhorrence - lifting up Greg Macintosh's name (of Paradise Lost, Vallenfyre) in this interview what he had to say about Abhorrence too. Read on...
Luxi: First off, after waiting for years and even more years, it's finally about to happen: All of Abhorrence's past material will be released both as vinyl and CD formats via an independent Finnish underground label, Svart Records. I guess you must feel pretty darn good and even relieved about this fact, correct?
Jukka: Very correct. It was something I've been either thinking or trying to make happen for a long time. Until Svart came along, I didn't have anyone kicking my ass in gear, as well as the knowledge that they will do justice to the re-release. It is going to look spectacular.
Luxi: When did you actually start discussing with the label owners about the possibility of getting all of this Abhorrence material released on a proper format (or formats)?
Jukka: I think the idea was born early 2004 for real. A friend of mine took all of the shit I had lying around, posters, flyers, photos and shit like that, with the idea of trying to string it all together for ideas on front and back covers. At the same time I started to talk with few small indie labels regarding a CD release, but none of the labels I was in contact with made me go "This is it!", so it just kept dragging.
Luxi: This forthcoming Abhorrence release will be titled "Completely Vulgar", obviously partly, yet so finely borrowing its name from the Abhorrence's legendary "Vulgar Necrolatry" demo, which came out way back in 1990; 22 frigging years ago. Anyways, would you enlighten the readers of The Metal Crypt on the actual details of this product, what it's gonna include all in all?
Jukka: It is coming out in two formats; gatefold double vinyl (looks like that so far anyway) with a booklet inside, with forewords and some notes from all of the band members. The vinyl will have remastered demo and EP on one LP and the other will have live and rehearsal material on it, with a few tracks we've never really released before. Due to length restraints, the CD will have less live and rehearsal material on it, but will include all unreleased stuff. Main reason for this is the fact that the out-of-studio material is really lousy sound-wise, and listening to that for extended periods would probably result in ear explosions. With the LPs you have the option of not listening to the second LP back to back.
Luxi: At what stage is this project at the moment?
Jukka: It was on "let's put it all together" stage in December 2011, but we accidentally stumbled onto decent quality rehearsal and live stuff, which we needed to comb through, so it's a bit late. I really can't say when it will actually be out there, but I think the "remastering" for the last bits and pieces is now in progress. It's not really remastering, hence the quotes, because there are no masters anymore. Looks like it might be out late spring, early summer of 2012.
Luxi: Did you get everything possible for this release that you wanted to get included into it in the first place, or was something left missing from it for some reason?
Jukka: Well, I really can't say until I've seen the final material which was deemed "workable", but I can say what I would like to see on it. In the best case scenario, it should have the demo, the EP, two unreleased tracks and few covers songs that we played live. Plus some extras from rehearsals, with tracks midway through the creation process would be nice. Or versions of the recorded tracks. We have video material as well, so I would love to see a DVD-release of some kind.
Luxi: How important or less important is it for you to see original artworks to be used for some certain (re-)releases so that both parties - the fans and (ex-)band members, could all be pleased with the way these (re-)releases are brought under people's curious eyes?
Jukka: Well, it depends on the case. In our case it was very important. The idea was either create something new with the old designs in mind or re-use the old stuff somehow. We decided to go with a look and design that would incorporate the DIY-attitude of the Death Metal scene of the time with old designs and memorabilia we have.
Luxi: Would it have been a cool idea to get some audiovisual live footage added to this forthcoming Abhorrence package as well? I suppose there still exist a couple of decent quality live shows from Abhorrence that would have made a really nice addition to this upcoming final testament of the band, don't you think?
Jukka: It is and was a cool idea, which we scrapped due to it being a massive undertaking. Let's put this out and see if there is interest later on. With interest I mean the band wanting to do something like that without feeling like a total money grabbing scumbag and if people would want to actually buy something like that.
Luxi: In fact, this whole Abhorrence project - to get everything out in one package, has been on the table for years. I remember having quite a few discussions with you about this, but perhaps some sort of laziness, lack of time and/or motivation, etc., have always kind of pushed all those noble plans under the table before everything got crystallized finally for you, it's gonna be Svart Records that got this sort of ultimate yet privileged chance to put all their efforts and focus on this project. The burden from your shoulders has disappeared now; can you feel it?
Jukka: Yes. I can. I'm also a bit embarrassed about the lack of effort and the excess laziness related to this project. It took some persuasion and genuine interest to get me into gear, which is mostly due to Tomi of Svart Records. I can't praise him and the label enough, even if they wouldn't be part of this Abhorrence project. I've got a huge stack of vinyl they're released and it's all top-notch quality.
Luxi: If you look back in time, basically wandering back to those days when Abhorrence was really making some name for itself by at least the semi-legendary "Vulgar Necrolatry" and a 4-track self-titled EP (on Seraphic Decay Records) in 1990, could you tell us if you actually saw yourself how popular Abhorrence was back in those days? I mean, it seems like the band's name was really stuck indelibly on every underground digger's lips - people constantly spreading the word about the band and telling to each other how awesome band this one Abhorrence from Finland is...
Jukka: No, we didn't think we were popular at all. I actually think the feeling of stagnation was one of the reasons the band split up. It took me until 1995 or so to realize that when people talked to me about the band, they were genuinely enthusiastic and not just fucking with me. I mean, Gregor Macintosh from Paradise Lost named us as one of the top 5 Finnish Death Metal bands with regards to Vallenfyre for fucks sake. That kind of thing just blows me away and makes me feel proud of what I was able to be a part of.
Luxi: I remember it was basically your original drummer Kimmo Heikkinen who was responsible for corresponding with people around the globe; doing all the fan mail by answering interviews, sending demos and EPs out and so forth. Can you tell why on earth it actually was your drummer Kimmo who took care of all this, without getting much input or support from his other band mates back in those days?
Jukka: Tomi did some of that stuff as well, as did Juice eventually. It was sort of natural in the beginning, since Kimmo was so deep in the tape trading scene and had all the contacts there. He used to bring a lot of cool demos to rehearsals and we'd listen to the things he was getting into. Later on when Kimmo started losing interest with tape trading and heavy music in genereal, Juice took care of the mail and by then Tomi had been doing it for quite a while. But for the first half of the bands existence it was mostly Kimmo, yes. I don't think he really asked nor wanted much help at first.
Luxi: Do you happen to know what he's been doing since Abhorrence called it quits. I assume Kimmo hasn't been involved with any other bands since he left Abhorrence behind. Just feel free to correct me if I'm completely mistaken...
Jukka: I think he left music alone for quite a while, started studies in university and concentrated on that. Took me close to 15 years to talk to him again, but I still don't really know what he is up to in personal life.
Luxi: Where do you think Abhorrence would be if you continued doing your extremely brutal and eerie-sounding shit from the days of your self-titled EP - all the way up to the very day? I mean, such Death Metal bands as Cannibal Corpse, Deicide and Obituary that all were formed during the eighties; they are still active and highly popular amongst metalheads all around the world. The chances might well have been that Abhorrence may have made it big someday if you guys just would have kept on pushing forward determinedly - and strongly believing in this band back in the day. Just see how many thousands and thousands of records the aforementioned three bands have sold worldwide thus far...
Jukka: I think our musical path might've been something like that of Amorphis', really. Then again, it all depends on how individual members would've been comfortable with incorporating new musical elements. I mean, with a band name like Abhorrence, it doesn't really work too well if you want to play psychedelic Rock or something like that. As it has been mentioned previously on many occasions, our individual taste in music was already taking drastic turns when the band was still active. Older music as well as newer genres started to appeal to us, bands like The Doors and Faith No More, the whole grunge thing, I was getting more and more into Doom Metal and what was later to be known as Stoner Rock. So it might've gone anywhere.
Luxi: As far as I know, you are still receiving quite a bit of fan email from people that have either followed the band since you penned down your first songs with Abhorrence - or have almost recently discovered that such sort of a 'groundbreaking' Finnish Death Metal act once even existed. I guess it makes you feel kind of flattered, keeping in mind that Abhorrence basically released a couple of official releases only - and you still managed to create quite a big fuss in the underground Metal scene by them.
Jukka: I do receive some emails and been contacted through social media over the years. Especially since I put up the website in 2003, since then I've done few interviews each year to zines and so forth. Some labels have been interested in releasing our stuff, I was even contacted by Century Media regarding a compilation. Mostly the mail has been from collectors and fans of the early sound, desperately trying to get some forgotten copies of the recordings. I find it strange and wonderful that our music is still relevant to a fraction of Metal listeners.
Luxi: As it seems to be some sort of phenomenon nowadays, there are a handful of people out there with their own labels and stuff, who are truly devoted for digging the old coffins up from the ancient graves - and into either re-releasing or putting out the past works of defunct (Death) Metal bands. Out from the Finnish soil, we have gotten (re-)releases of Funebre, Demigod, Purtenance, Disgrace, Xysma, Demilich, Depravity and some others, within these past couple of years or so - and it seems there's no end to this at all, as these underground gems are being released all the time. What are your primary thoughts about this?
Jukka: At first I had mixed feelings, but it seems the majority of these releases are done out of love for the genre and not with euro signs twinkling in one's eye. I have seen quite a lot of bootlegged releases with music from the said bands, ours included, which are poorly executed and that look awful. When the end product looks good, the music has been restored to its former glory or better and fans feel they're getting their money's worth, I'm all for it. It's not like anyone is making any kind of money from these, which is why the releases are even more praiseworthy.
Luxi: Has this somewhat absurd idea ever crossed your mind that it would have been killer to bring Abhorrence back for just one-time-only show - and perform the band's ancient songs in front of thousands of people at the Tuska festival, for example?
Jukka: It has. The band members are mildly positive regarding the idea of playing a one-off show. Nothing has been decided, talked nor agreed to between us, any organizers nor events or venues. Just sayin', so unfounded rumours don't start making rounds.
Luxi: What are your personal 'Top 3' extreme Finnish Metal releases from the nineties anyway - and would you even comment briefly why so?
Jukka: Well I will not put them in any order, but some of the things I enjoyed back then include Funebre's both demos, first one is from '89 however. I love Xysma's "Yeah" and "First & Magical", for the grindey groove they had in their music. I can really relate to Rytmihäiriö and their brand of Hardcore Punk/Metal, especially on "Surmatyö" and "Ihmisiä Kuolee" EPs. I'd also like to name Reverend Bizarre, whose 1999 "Slice of Doom" demo made a huge impact on me. The band singlehandedly revitalized the Finnish Doom Metal scene and also played a big part in lifting the international scene back to its feet. By no means were they the only ones, but I'd say they were important. The demo in itself is a bit wobbly and playing is sloppy, but you can hear the ambition and hear what they are trying to achieve. There was a big stack of demos and releases I listened to back then, but I rarely play most of them anymore.
Luxi: I want to sincerely thank you Jukka for your time for doing this and wish you all the best with your future endeavors - whatever they may be. If there's still something you'd like to add to conclude this interview, feel free to do so. The last words are yours...
Jukka: Everyone, please support Svart Records and buy their releases! That is the only way they can keep on pushing out more quality music on high quality medium the music deserves. Thanks for the interview and continued support all through the years. We love you mate and truly appreciate your efforts, not just the ones relating to our band, but the scene in general. Big thumbs up to Luxi from our old school Helsinki Death Metal crew!
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