Interview with guitarist and vocalist Aleksi Vähämäki
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 11, 2015
Death Metal is really blooming in Finland again, like it was 20+ years ago. One can make new discoveries nearly every week and that has been noticed by the rest of the world. People around the world are ready to pay high prices to witness events like the Finnish Death Metal Maniacs festival that took place in Pori, Finland, on September 10-12, 2015. That alone should say something about the popularity of Finnish Death Metal these days.
Galvanizer, a young 3-piece Death Metal/Grindcore outfit from the land of a thousands lakes, saunas and drunken dorks (known better as Finland), was invited to play at the FDMM festival, sharing the stage with such names as Pestigore, Depravity, Demilich, Lubricant, Convulse, Necropsy and many others. Galvanizer took full advantage of the opportunity as they had just released their new 4-song cassette-EP titled Horrid Tales of Death a few days prior to the festival, so the timing was perfect.
So what is Galvanizer all about? The band has been in existence just two years (formed in 2013) so it's better to find out more about them through the following interview, in which the band's guitarist and vocalist Aleksi Vähämäki tells us more about the short history behind Galvanizer and provides some updates as to what they have been up to lately and what made them choose Death Metal in the first place.
Luxi: How's life? Been busy due to school/work and Galvanizer?
Aleksi: Hi Luxi! Life's busy, yes. Lot of school things and of course Galvanizer things too. At least the pressure and stress have both dropped down a little bit after the FDMM-fest...
Luxi: As Galvanizer is a somewhat new entity on the map of Finnish underground Death Metal, would you kindly enlighten the readers of The Metal Crypt as to how you guys originally got started and what were the driving forces/inspirations for this grinding Death Metal act?
Aleksi: Galvanizer got started in 2013 when Vili decided to form a Death Metal band. It was maybe more like a free-time project then and not as serious as it is now. Then came the summer of 2014 and I met Vili for the first time and almost immediately we thought about forming a Death Metal band because we had the same interests in music, especially Finnish old school Death Metal. After few months we self-released our first demo Ground Above. There was some material before I joined the band but it wasn't officially released.
Luxi: Galvanizer was put to the test at this Finnish Death Metal Maniacs Fest in Pori, Finland, this past September when you got a chance to play in front of hundreds of Death Metal maniacs. How did this concert go for you? Did you feel nervous or insecure when you went on stage?
Aleksi: Well, first of all, it was a huge honor to be there playing with and seeing all those old bands that really have meaning for me. I think Lubricant's guys must have been pretty nervous to play after more than 20 years but they weren't the only ones, haha! I was quite nervous an hour before the gig but once again my girlfriend calmed me down and as soon as we started playing all those nervous and insecure feelings just flew away. Vili and Nico have much more experience playing gigs so maybe they weren't as nervous. But yeah, everything really went great on our gig and the crowd was the best! All the people there gave me a bunch of confidence, so it felt like I was in some kind of trance, haha! We were just headbanging and trying to be as active as we could and the audience really liked that.
Luxi: Before your show at the Finnish Death Metal Maniacs Fest, you had played some shows to get some gigging experience for Galvanizer. How would you say your appearance was different compared to the other shows you had done prior to the FDMM-fest? Did you have any extra pressure on your shoulders knowing this gig would be the most important one of your whole existence?
Aleksi: The FDMM-fest was our second gig. Galvanizer's first gig was a month and a half before FDMM-fest at TVO, Turku. We were playing there with a Doom Metal band called Ritual Mist and Thrash Metal band Fast Hammer. I have to say that I was much more nervous on that gig than on the FDMM-fest, which is kind of weird because there were ten times less people. I know that I wasn't as active on stage at TVO but nobody is at their first gig. And I agree with you Luxi. This festival gig maybe was our most important gig ever! We really enjoyed it and I hope that the fest will get its next episode in the future.
Luxi: What I heard at the festival was that people from the States, Serbia, Croatia and Spain and even all the way from India (or Pakistan) had come to witness this very special event in Pori, Finland. It says loud and clear that Finnish underground Death Metal has some extra boost behind it again after 20-25 years or so, which is a great thing. Have you made the same observation yourself?
Aleksi: Yes. It really felt awesome to see and hear people from all around the world and I heard that there was someone from Australia too! SICK!!! A very special event indeed. Finnish Death Metal really is feeling good nowadays and I hope that it will last. Galvanizer is willing to help the underground movement as well as we can!
Luxi: Due to your successful and well-received gig at the FDMM-fest, did you get any inquiries from any gig organizers about playing at other events?
Aleksi: Well actually not so much. You're right in that our gig really was successful. We saw that people were really buying our tapes, something like 25 copies in few hours! Eventually, all the tapes were sold out. But about gig inquiries, we didn't get many of those. Of course we would love to play this kind of event but I really think that we'll have to make more songs because Galvanizer is still so young and our set list is pretty weak right now really. Our presentation lasts something like 20-25 minutes so it is kind of short. But we promise that there will be more gigs for sure, haha!
Luxi: How about making new friends and contacts while the event was going on? Did you approach band members that have always meant a lot to Galvanizer?
Aleksi: Absolutely! We talked with people there and had a great time. I personally talked with Lubricant's members and with a few other guys. I enjoyed the time talking with Lubricant. They are super cool guys I can say and they really played one of the best shows in the festival among Demilich, Pestigore, Convulse etc. All the bands were awesome though. And we saw our EP-publishers; Eduardo from Equinox Discos (SPA) and David from Extremely Rotten Productions (DK), Undergang for the first time. They're just awesome guys and we talked a lot there. There wouldn't be a Galvanizer EP without them!
Luxi: Interacting with people through social websites is something everyone does these days but how important do you think this is for a relatively unknown band like Galvanizer?
Aleksi: Important! We use social media and websites although our style is old school. It is today's way to promote your band but it isn't the only way; when our first demo-tape was released almost year ago we were doing tape trading. It was amazing to realize that the underground and tape trading aren't dead. Old school promotion is back in the underground. We traded about 160 copies of our demo-tape and I think it's a good number nowadays. Many people have seen us on YouTube and we still haven't seriously considered releasing music on CD. I personally pretty much hate CDs, haha!
Luxi: You had some t-shirts and cassette-EPs for sale at this festival. How were the sales? Were you kind of surprised by the number of people that eventually decided to buy those items from there or did you sort of expect it to happen because people in general had asked for them in advance?
Aleksi: I had a feeling that our items would sell quite well and that happened. Many fans have been asking about shirts before the fest. As I said before, our tapes were sold out. We had 40 copies. T-shirts didn't sell that well, only six if I remember right so there's plenty left if somebody reading this wants to buy one!
Luxi: Talking about your current release, which is a 4-track offering titled Horrid Tales of Death, it was released both as a cassette and a 7-inch vinyl. Would you say that "death is more real" on this particular release than on your previous 4-song Ground Above demo, released in 2014?
Aleksi: Horrid Tales of Death represents our music a bit angrier and heavier than Ground Above. We have progressed and the songs have gotten faster (obviously because I don't play drums anymore in the band, haha!). I still think that our style is pretty much the same on both releases. The guitar sound is raw on both releases and that's at least a similarity, haha! We have called our music Death/Grind at this point, maybe because of those blast beat parts where I just play a few power chords. You can call it either way; Grindcore or Death Metal. Basically it's both.
Luxi: I must admit you have managed to achieve the kind of sound that Finnish legends of Death Metal like Purtenance, Funebre, Demilich, Convulse, Disgrace and others represented gloriously on their releases some 25 years ago. I suppose that was your main goal, rekindling the past times of Finnish underground Death Metal and paying homage to it all, correct?
Aleksi: Haha, you're absolutely right on that! As many have seen on our Facebook page, the idea in our band pretty much is to get the old school look and sound. It just feels right for me because I don't even want to consider high quality sounds on this kind of music. Still we have tried to get our own sound and style. I'm really satisfied with the sounds of the EP.
Luxi: What are some of your favorite Finnish Death Metal bands at the moment, either existing or already disbanded and why?
Aleksi: Hard question. There are so many good bands it's hard say but if I really have to choose a few older bands I could say Necrobiosis, Pestigore, Lubricant, Abhorrence, Demigod and Funebre. If I have to say more underground bands, I would say Disinter and Obfuscation. As for the newer ones I'll say Gorephilia, Krypts and Cadaveric Incubator. They're just awesome bands with their own kind of sounds and styles! Is that good enough?
Luxi: That will certainly do. You are all in your twenties so none of you were even born when the very first wave of Finnish underground Death Metal hit in the early 90's. When did you start seriously digging the ancient graveyard of Finnish underground Death Metal and find all of these "old-new" discoveries that this unholy and murky ground has been hiding for all these years?
Aleksi: I'm seventeen right now in case somebody thought I was older, haha! My first touch on Finnish old school Death Metal happened when I was like 14 years old so it was 2012, the year when the apocalypse was supposed to happen, hahaha!! I just started to think that here in Finland there were lots of good Death Metal bands and I managed to find them on YouTube. The first song I heard from the Finnish scene was Convulse's "Incantation of Restoration" and it just gave me good goose bumps! But the real thrill came soon after I heard Abhorrence's "Vulgar Necrolatry" and Necropsy's "Dust Thou Art."
Luxi: Can you tell us in your own words what makes both the Finnish and the Swedish underground Death Metal of the nineties such a beautiful thing for you? What makes it so special for you?
Aleksi: Obscurity, atmosphere, style and the primitive sound. For me the most important thing is the sound and the mysteriousness of all those bands. I just love the sound of those demos recorded at the end of 80's and in the early 90's! The gruesome obscurity bursts out with a gloomy atmosphere and that sizzling sound of tapes. We made a pretty atmospheric intro and outro for the EP in my opinion. It reminds of those golden years of Death Metal so much!
Luxi: What's in store for Galvanizer in the future? Obviously you are aiming to record Galvanizer's debut full-length studio album at some point which is undoubtedly one of the bigger plans in an even bigger picture, right?
Aleksi: The recording of a debut album is really one of those things that we hope that will happen in the future, maybe in two years or maybe in five. Who knows? It's important in my opinion that we don't mess things up now by trying to do everything too fast. We're still young guys so we have time. Right now we will concentrate on doing new songs and a better presentation at the gigs and promoting our EP. Maybe we will do a little tour in the future. But that's still beyond the unknown...
Luxi: Do you have any other personal goals besides recording the band's full-length studio album that you'd like to achieve with Galvanizer?
Aleksi: Of course it could be cool to tour with great bands and such but we'll see. This band has taught me so much and I have met and become friends with many dudes and ladies with same kind of interests. That means a lot to me by itself.
Luxi: I guess that's all I had in mind for now. Thank you so much for your time and getting this interview done for The Metal Crypt. All the best with your future endeavors with Galvanizer. And remember; do not let the bastards grind you down, ever! A-hem, any closing comments perhaps?
Aleksi: Thank you very much Luxi and all the readers! We appreciate this very much!
Galvanizer's Horrid Tales of Death 7" vinyl EP will be available somewhere around winter through Equinox Discos. And shirts still on sale. KEEP IT OLD SCHOOL!
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