Interview with guitarist Petri Hallikainen, vocalist Tomi Viiltola and drummer Kari Hyvärinen
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 21, 2018
The name Perpetual Rage doesn't ring many bells to the readers of The Metal Crypt, does it? Well, worry not as now you have your chance to learn more about this very promising Heavy Metal band from Kuopio, Finland, the same town where Finnish Heavy Metal icons Tarot are originally from.
This 4-piece band has been around since 2009 and recorded several demos and even a couple of albums. Their latest called Empress of the Cold Stars, has received quite a good number of positive reviews in the media, at least on their home turf of Finland.
The Metal Crypt decided to dig a bit deeper to find out what Perpetual Rage is made of. Three quarters of the band kindly answered all of our curious inquiries...
Luxi: So, 2017 turned to 2018... How were the New Year's festivities in Kuopio, Finland, by the way?
Tomi: I don't know yet, but I have already bought the liquor :)
Petri: Just fine! Ottopoika Rock Bar keeps me happy : )
Luxi: Let's get to the main thing here which is your band Perpetual Rage. When you started the band back in 2009, was it easy to find like-minded musicians?
Tomi: It's never easy to find good guys for a band but I think we got this current lineup together pretty easily.
Petri: You must be a good musician and a good guy. In that way it's never easy to find the right fellows to play with. In Perpetual Rage everything went well.
Luxi: How much do you remember about the band's first demo recording sessions? Did you know which direction you wanted to go in musically
Petri: Those were very quick and easy sessions and we had fun, also! There was a very intense mood back then. Our music is rooted in Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, progressive Metal and even Thrash Metal so it was clear what and how we wanted our stuff to sound like. It's our rendition of Heavy Metal.
Tomi: It was exciting to record the first demo's songs with Lauri (our ex-bassist) and "Solar Gods" is still probably our best song ever! I think it's always been very clear for us in Perpetual Rage that we want to play Heavy Metal.
Luxi: Which demo or EP release do you believe is where you found your sound?
Petri: For me it's "Solar Gods" and "Leviathan". Those songs are examples of what we were then, what we are today, and what we will be tomorrow. As for our past efforts, they all leads to our latest album Empress of the Cold Stars. We have become better players and composers all the way.
Tomi: Difficult question. For me, the guideline has always been the song "Solar Gods". Some other favourite songs of mine are "Lady of Steel", "Metal Angels", "Leviathan" and "Aeternus Memoria". Two leftover songs from The New Kingdom album sessions are sort of hidden gems (you can find them on YouTube). The Empress... album is the best as a whole.
Luxi: Talking about influences (and not King Alcohol or anything like that) were you influenced by safe and familiar topics back in the early days of the band, i.e. dark side, mythologies, universe, etc. and would you say some of these lyrical topics have become more personal for you over the years?
Tomi: There haven't been any major changes in the quality of our lyrics, for good or bad.
Petri: Haha! Alcohol has never affected any topics or been an influence at all. I write a lot of lyrics about topics like sci-fi and fantasy/horror, which are just goddamn great!
More personal songs for me are songs like "Mesmeric Silence" or "Desert of Dreams", with a touch of real life. What I've lived through or experienced, how I felt, etc.
Luxi: How meaningful and important are the lyrics in Perpetual Rage? Do you see them as important as the music?
Petri: It's an important thing to write lyrics which you can stand behind. It's as important as the music itself. They must be a whole. I envy iconic masters like Ronnie James Dio and Warrel Dane, whoa!! They wrote really good lyrics!! I try to learn from their examples.
Tomi: Some lyrics are more important than others, but not as important as the melody and the whole package. To me it is not WHAT you sing, it is HOW you sing it, preferably with emotion, please!
Luxi: I assume there won't ever be any direct sex, drugs and Rock 'n' Roll themes in the lyrics of Perpetual Rage, correct me if I am completely mistaken...
Tomi: Actually, it would be nice to write lyrics about women and booze, etc., plus make a video related to these particular topics! ;)
Petri: Well, well... Hmm. I love Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses, etc. And what does it contain? Sex, drugs and Rock n' Roll! Haha!! For drugs I don't give a shit, I don't mind about that thing at all.
All I can say is that there won't be any lyrics containing those themes from me. I don't want to write how I'm drinking or/and blasting all around, hahah!! If Tomi wants to write lyrics about women and booze, that's all right with me. I can stand for it. Women (and booze somehow) are a beautiful thing to me, too.
Luxi: As everyone who has heard Perpetual Rage knows, your music is strongly rooted in both late 70's and 80's Heavy Rock/Metal with some Blues and more progy stuff. I can also see your individual tastes differ from each other according the list on the band's official Facebook page. Which one of you in the band is Mr. Blues and which is Mr. Sound of all All Extremes, etc.? I mean, all of you seem to like all kinds of stuff according to the list on your Facebook page...
Tomi: I cannot quite remember what is on our Facebook page, but I don't think our tastes are THAT different from each other. To me, it is Neoclassical Metal and Progressive Metal that are probably the most important genres and also Speed and Thrash Metal. But because I am a pervert, I also love some video game music (8-bit and 16-bit), old-school Elvis and Sinatra; all that swing and jazz, baby yeah! Also, don't forget classical music; without it, there wouldn't be any Heavy Metal.
Kari: Well, I dig old Heavy Metal and Black Metal. Even nowadays I still like some Norwegian Black Metal bands like Satyricon, Burzum, and, of course, Finnish legends Barathrum and that kind of stuff. I have been inspired by Darkthrone's music and Fenriz is a drummer god to me.
Petri: I don't like Hip Hop or Techno music. Pretty much everything else goes for me, like 60's, 70's, 80's Rock & Blues, Classical music with the masters like J.S.Bach, Vivaldi, etc., Jazz heroes like Al Di Meola and Frank Gambale etc., all kinds of Metal like old-school Metal, Neoclassical Metal, Progressive Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, you name it. I have some skeletons in the closet; I like old Madonna, old Michael Jackson, old Modern Talking, old Bad Boys Blue etc. etc., hahahah!!! Fuck, am I streetwise anymore? Well, I don't care anyway! Haha!
Luxi: Is Perpetual Rage the type of band that gathers together at one rehearsal place to jam songs or do you mostly use modern and advanced technology with all this file sharing back and forth from one guy to another and make your songs piece by piece?
Petri: Both, more or less. Usually I do demos with a drum machine. I compose all the songs but there may also be guitar riffs from Kari or Ari (our bass player). I learn those parts and play them for a demo. After that we share sound files by email, everyone practicing and arranging their own parts on their own time. Then we just gather together at our rehearsal room and play the songs and arrange pieces together.
With all of this modern and advanced technology it's pretty easy to make music, way better than twenty years ago.
Tomi: Our songwriting process is a combination of both. We like to keep it simple.
Luxi: Do you see Perpetual Rage as a relatively democratic unit in which everyone is entitled to bring his ideas in for songs or do you have Mr. Main Filter, who approves or rejects stuff?
Tomi: Petri is a Nazi! Well, seriously speaking, we are strong supporters of democracy, pretty much so.
Petri: Hahaa!! A self-centered dictator from hell I certainly am... Fuck no!! But seriously, we are a quartet; four men with their own instruments, so democracy rules within this band. Regardless a fact I am the main composer, we do and decide all things together in the band.
Luxi: That's cool. Can you still remember what it was like making your debut album, titled The New Kingdom, which was released in 2015? How pleased are you with your debut?
Petri: There's some great songs on that album like "Desert of Dreams", "The New Kingdom", "Black Light Ghosts", "Icon", "Out of Dimensions" etc. that are still in our set list.
We had time limitations back then and it was difficult to do our best. But yeah, we felt some pressure when making our follow-up album, Empress... Today I think it's somehow okay but I know it could have been even better by being a more cohesive wholeness, having a better production, etc. I don't regret putting it out though. What's done is done.
Tomi: It was a difficult album to make because of time limitations and yes, it could have been better.
Luxi: Empress of the Cold Stars was obviously a step forward on every level as far as the band's musical as well as lyrical development are concerned. How would you compare this new album to your debut? Where did the biggest improvements happen as far as the material on your Empress... album is concerned? Were there some specific areas there that you wanted to pay more attention to while making your follow-up record?
Tomi: The songs were overall better on this new album, so it was easier to sing them better. Also, we took our sweet time making it, so it wasn't a rushed effort.
Petri: We had more time to shape up the songs this time. The songs were - and still are - goddamn good! Haha! We were determined to do heavier, more rocking and more blasting stuff for the Empress... album.
On this album we have done our best so far. Many things went better than before. I composed and played like there's no tomorrow and Tomi sang and screamed his soul out for this record. Kari banged his drum set to pieces, and Ari on bass, colored the heaven black with some truly low notes.
Luxi: You have played most of your gigs in your home town of Kuopio or nearby. Is this about to chance in the near future and are you also aiming to play outside of Finland some day? Do you book your own gigs by yourselves or do you have someone else in the background team of the band who's doing this all for you?
Petri: We have played gigs all around Finland and will be doing so in the future again. We want to play everywhere outside of Finland whenever it's possible. But then again it all comes down to some financial issues. We don't have any booking agency with us either so I am booking gigs for this band.
Tomi: In reality it's Petri that gets most of the gigs booked for us (thanks mate!) and I do hope to get on stage abroad (like Canada), but usually it is all about the money or lack of it why things gigging wise aren't so easy for us.
Luxi: Kuopio has many times been the most productive Rock and Metal city in Finland. Can you see any reason for this? Has "kalakukko" done some of its magic there perhaps?
Petri: Well, I don't know. Maybe there's some magic there involved with this "kalakukko" thing!? Hahah!!! Tarot started it all some 35+ years ago and since then Kuopio has been known as both a Rock and Metal town. As far as I remember there's always been good musicians in Kuopio. When the old generation of musicians quit, a new generation of musicians steps in and keeps the cycle going on.
Tomi: It's because of "kalakukko" and due to all those great people who move to Kuopio from great towns like Raahe ;D
Luxi: How much do you believe the Kuopio Rock Cock festival has regenerated and revitalized the music scene in your home town?
Kari: Rock Cock... I believe that festival can bring new possibilities and give something to new fans. It may be the first step for bigger arenas as you get an opportunity to share the same stage with bigger and more well-known "stars", playing in front of thousands of people, etc. Who knows what it could bring if the opportunity is there to play at this festival.
Petri: Well, yeah, it has revitalized the music scene over here. It's good that we have that kind of festival up here, to bring local bands out of the shadows so to speak.
Luxi: As far as I understand, Perpetual Rage hasn't received an invitation to play at that particular festival. Is playing at Kuopio Rock Cock one of your future goals?
Petri: Yes, it's definitely one of our future goals, of course. Let's see what will happen.
Luxi: I have run out of questions so be my quest if there is something else about your band that you'd like people to know...
Tomi: We are currently preparing our newest masterpiece, so stay tuned for that one. Also go listen to our music from different music channels (Youtube, etc.) and please recommend it to your friends, come to our gigs (if you can) and buy our latest album Empress of the Cold Stars.
Luxi: Thanks for your time Tomi, Petri and Kari and may the gods of success and fame be with you on your way to stardom. You are entitled to those famous last words...
Petri: We will always stay heavy. Don't ever lose your trust in Metal!! Rock hard 'til the end of days! You deserve some hellish Metal fun! Enjoy it!!
Tomi: "You don't know the power of the dark side".
|Other information about Perpetual Rage on this site|
|Review: Empress of the Cold Stars|
Copyright © 1999-2019, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.