Interview with vocalist Kami Launonen
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 1, 2013
The Finnish Thrash Metal band Brainthrash fuels its engine with a classic Bay Area sound when ear-burning releases like Eternal Nightmare, Bonded by Blood, The Ultra-Violence, The Legacy and many others were unleashed from this "hot bed" of Thrash Metal.
Brainthrash started out as a 2-piece act around 2004-05, completing their lineup to five piece and recording their debut demo, Major Mayhem, in 2006, and disappeared off the map in late 2007/early 2008 before reforming again in the spring of 2012. The band's second 3-track demo, Mental Kombat, which was recorded with some hired guns in the recording lineup, was unleashed in November that same year. That's the demo that caught my attention. It made me curious to find out a bit more about Brainthrash and whether their second try might last longer than the lifespan of a shooting star.
Vocalist Kami Launonen of Brainthrash took some time to reveal more about the band's "thrash-gem" for The Metal Crypt...
Luxi: Are you disappointed the end of the world didn't come today (December 21st 2012)?
Kami: It didn't?! Fuck...!!
Luxi: How would you like the world to end?
Kami: I have only one answer to this one:
"When the missiles are falling and the reaper comes calling
You had better kiss your ass goodbye
Atomic detonation, mass immolation
Without a warning, all your memories will die"
So, mine would definitely be nuclear war OF COURSE!!
Luxi: Okay, let's get a bit more serious (but not too much). Brainthrash started out as a duo almost 10 years ago, and recorded a 3-song demo titled Major Mayhem in 2006. A year later, the band called it quits. What happened?
Kami: Yeah, we started out as 2-piece back in '04 - or early '05 (don't remember exactly). We met with Nevastator at rehearsals of local "kvlt" band Death Thrashers Kuopio,which we both played in for a short time. Soon it was clear that Neva and I wanted to do 100% Thrash and DTK wanted the original line-up back, so Brainthrash was born pretty quick. It really wasn't even a side project other than technically.
Brainthrash's line-up wasn't very steady at any point. A friend of mine (Topi) joined on vocals in the summer '05, but for 2-3 years we found no permanent second guitarist or bassist. We had some skilled guys on board, but things just didn't quite click. Everyone either had slightly different ideas of how the music should sound or no idea at all. So it was always the same: "should we split or kick somebody out?" Eventually, we split.
As a young guy I really didn't know how band chemistry worked, so we (or at least I) made some elementary mistakes and decisions. But the "past is the past, because it's the past!" (Paul Stanley). Now we're all much wiser.
After Brainthrash finished (late '07 or early '08), Neva got a spot in a local NWOBHM band called Mausoleum Gate. I, on the other hand, was pretty much fed up with Metal music in general, so I focused on other genres, which turned out to be great for me. We stayed friends the whole time so everything was for the best, I think.
Luxi: On Major Mayhem you only played drums. When did you realize that you might want to contribute to Brainthrash vocal-wise?
Kami: When I started singing ('07 or so), Thrash Metal vocals weren't really a part of the plan, but while rehearsing some Rock and heavy stuff like Bon Jovi, AC/DC and Judas Priest, I noticed that Forbidden, Testament etc. are not that different. Also I'd been the vocalist of Street Lethal (Hard Rock) for a couple of years, so I was aware of what I could and couldn't do vocal-wise.
During the latter days of Brainthrash I had a vision of a more melodic vocal approach (all the Mental Kombat songs were composed in '06/'07), but the current singer had more of a Kreator/Sepultura style, so it really didn't match. When we did a reunion, we just picked up where we left off. It was quite natural to me to take over the vocals because drummers are a lot easier to find.
Luxi: Why did you decide to name the band Brainthrash? Did the Exodus song "Brain Dead," from Pleasures of the Flesh, play a role?
Kami: Haha, it's Exodus-influenced for sure. I always loved the great mix of stupid and awesome they had, especially with Baloff. I guess I just tried to imagine something really extreme - and what's more extreme than thrashing a brain?
Luxi: Brainthrash was resurrected in the spring of 2012 but this time the band didn't have a permanent line-up for the follow-up demo, Mental Kombat. Would you be kind enough and tell us more about bringing Brainthrash back to life again?
Kami: It isn't a long story, actually. The timing was perfect for both of us right now. A jazz band I was playing drums for called it quits and Nevastator left the Death Metal band he was in, almost at the same time. It wasn't too serious at first. Just "let's record those three old songs and see what happens." And here we are!
Of course we had remained in contact all these years. If you want to do Thrash Metal in Kuopio you don't wanna burn bridges with musicians you enjoy playing with.
Luxi: So far, the Mental Kombat demo has been received pretty well, both in Finland as well as outside the country. Has all this positive feedback taken you by surprise? If everything keeps lining up like it has so far, Brainthrash will be around a lot longer this time, right?
Kami: Yeah, a big and pleasant surprise! It's kind of easy for us though. No one else is doing the Bay Area type of Thrash in Finland right now, so we have no competitors, haha!
Seriously speaking; I had no idea what was going on in Thrash Metal in 2012, so didn't know what to expect. I remember the retro thing back in the 00's that produced some bands (most of them average, at best), but it seems to be dead already.
Metal Kombat turned out to be OK, but I know we can do lot better. Actually, it wasn't even made to be released. It was just something we could use to fill the line-up and get gigs. But I am sure as hell not complaining about the good feedback!
To answer your question, we're here to stay and this time it's all about the music. We know what we want to do and will not fuck it up this time!
Luxi: Brainthrash still doesn't have a permanent line-up yet, so how do things stand these days?
Kami: We're searching for a drummer, which is the most important thing right now. A few applicants have showed up, but not the right one yet. Kuopio turned out to be a tougher place for Thrash drummers than I thought, but eventually it will happen and Brainthrash is going to kick ass live. I promise.
Luxi: What types of personalities are you looking for to complete the Brainthrash line-up? I guess the right chemistry between members of the band is pretty much everything. Is long hair a must, ha-ha!?
Kami: Chemistry is very important. Also work ethic. Although Metal is (at least for me) about having fun and doing something you love (but don't get paid), you have to work your ass off for the team and put your heart into it. Basically it's pretty simple; If you love Thrash Metal, you're motivated. And everything good comes from that.
Luxi: If you don't find anyone (skilled enough) for the drums in Brainthrash, do you think you might return behind the kit again and take care of both vocal and drum duties?
Luxi: In the very beginning when Brainthrash started to take its first baby steps, you stated your influences to be bands like Sepultura, Demolition Hammer, Exodus, Vio-lence, Forbidden and the whole Bay Area Thrash thing in general. Have these influences stayed the same for you, or has something new come your way that has been feeding the band's desire to thrash even harder?
Kami: Influences are pretty much the same, but the direction of the band's sound is more focused. I've been listening to all kinds of shit over the years and that probably affects my style of drumming and singing, but when it comes to Brainthrash, it's pretty much back to the basics. Albums like Bonded by Blood and Eternal Nightmare are timeless classics because the musicians who wrote the songs were talented, a bit childish and loved what they do 110%. That's the influence I got and want to pass forward.
Luxi: Are there any bands out there these days that you adore for everything they represent, both musically and otherwise?
Kami: If you're talking about Metal in 2012 then not really. I'm not too active with any new music. I'm already 30 and have gone "full circle," if you know what I mean. I get inspired from really weird things these days. Things you don't even want to know...
Not sure what you mean by "otherwise." I'm not too much of an "ideology" guy. Good Metal to me is not too political/artsy. I'm more of a "PIRANHA KILL IN A PACK – YOU'LL RUN!" kind of a guy, so intelligence is no virtue, kicking ass is. I think I adore every band that kicks ass.
Luxi: How about bands that aren't around any longer? How much do you respect and/or adore some of their past works and how did they influence you as a musician when you first became interested in learning to play an instrument?
Kami: Hmm, I'm trying to think of some disbanded bands, but can't think of any. They're all "re-unionized," one way or the other, haha! When I first started playing drums I really didn't have any "idols." Learning songs that were already written was boring to me, so I blasted away random shit and tried to develop some (unimaginative) beats. When I got into Thrash I realized what guys like Dave Lombardo and Igor Cavalera were doing and learned to appreciate them.
There was this trend going on in Metal music at some point where the drummer was the "star" of the band. I always liked drummers who supported the riffs, not the other way around. My philosophy has always been; listen to the riffs and play beats that carry them best.
Luxi: Did you play any gigs with the old line-up back in 2006-2007 and, if you did, how were these gigs experiences?
Kami: No real gigs. We played to our friends once, but that was it. I think we could easily have done real shows because we had enough original material and a line-up that could execute well. But due to the problems I mentioned before, we never got to the "touring" point.
Luxi: If there's ever a functional line-up for Brainthrash, playing gigs will obviously be on the to-do list, correct?
Kami: Absolutely!! If it were just up to me, we'd be already doing 3 shows a week, ha!
Luxi: How about new material for Brainthrash? Do you have any new songs in the works for your next release, whether it's a demo or even the band's first ever full-length studio recording?
Kami: We've done a couple of new songs. "Cannibal Clock" and "Vomit Protector," for example (they both rule). Not sure about the next release, other than there will be one for sure!
Luxi: How would you define a good Thrash Metal song? What elements should it contain so that you'd reach an ear orgasm, so to speak?
Kami: I like it when there are lots of riffs. Catchiness is important too. Still (as in all music), it's somewhat of a mystery what makes a brilliant song. Sometimes good riffs, catchy chorus and cool beats just aren't enough; some X factor is missing. But the thing is to be aware of these things when you compose. I don't fall in love with my own material too much!
Luxi: Kuopio, this little city located in Northern Savonia, Finland, has always had cool Metal bands, some heavier, some less so, popping up constantly, like mushrooms after the rain. How do you see the Kuopio Metal scene these days? Are you happy with the amount of quality metal bands that you have there currently, or do you think "the Kuopio underground Metal scene needs more new blood"? I mean, the kind of blood that will make young kids thrash their hearts out in their own little Thrash outfits?
Kami: Well, we need more Thrash, that's for sure. I know there are Thrash Metal maniacs in this town, but pure Thrash BANDS; not so sure. Lots of kids are doing Grindcore and Metalcore (?), which I don't enjoy so much. There are some really talented bands here but most of them are not Metal.
Thrashers of Kuopio: stop picking your nose and squirting over your favorite LPs. Instead, pick up a guitar and squirt blood (while you play live)!
Luxi: What goals do you have for 2013? Getting your debut album recorded, possibly do some gigs around, getting shitfaced, etc.?
Kami: Finding a permanent line-up for Brainthrash and doing shows are both #1. We've prepared ourselves for a long and difficult search process because suitable musicians are extremely hard to find. Although I'm so eager to thrash live I'm about to shit in my pants, I know the only way to do it right is with patience.
We actually have enough material for a debut album, but let's see what happens. Self-releasing something is never free. I'd have to rob a local food store or something, haha!
Luxi: Well, I guess that's all, so thank you very much for taking time to enlightening all of us about Brainthrash. Last but not least, I wish you all the best with the future endeavors of the band. Thrash on! (Any last closing comments or swear words, perhaps?)
Kami: Thank YOU. And thanks for anybody who is reading this. I hope our music will reach Thrash fans, trash cans and why not the fans/cans of any music or Dark Matter for that matter. Keep on fertilizing the madness!
Copyright © 1999-2016, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.