Interview with drummer Harri Salo and guitarist Juha Rannikko
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 17, 2019
Finnish death metal was in its prime from the late eighties to the mid-nineties. The first wave of Finnish death metal that swept over the underground scene left its mark with names like Abhorrence, Funebre, Disgrace, Demilich, Convulse, Sentenced, Demigod, Depravity and many others paving the way for new death metal bands to come. One of the products of the first wave was a band originally called Purtenance Avulsion before shortening it to Purtenance.
These Finnish death mongers signed with Spain's Drowned Productions in the early nineties for their debut album Member of Immortal Damnation, which is now considered one of the most cult death metal releases from the murky depths of Finland. After that album, the band retreated in to the shadows for 20 years until the announcement in 2012 that signs of life were heard from this old shredded corpse.
The Metal Crypt contacted the two remaining original members of the band, Harri Salo and Juha Rannikko, to ask what they have been up to since they came back in 2012.
Luxi: New year, new start. What's up with Purtenance these days?
Purtenance: Our year has started well with new stuff on our minds, which we will brief you on later.
Luxi: You were doing some touring in Europe last November, playing together with Hyban Dragon, Bonehunter, etc. It was a headlining tour for you, how would you sum it? Was it successful in terms of attendance and moving some Purtenance merchandise?
Purtenance: The tour was great and everything went as planned. It was nice to tour with Hyban Dragon and there were no disagreements. In the end, even our warm-up bands started to relax a little. At the gig sites, we made new acquaintances with bands like Sepiroth, Perfidious, Evil (Jap) and Bonehunter (Fin). We did well with our merch sales, too.
Luxi: Purtenance started as Purtenance Avulsion 1989, but after two years or so you dropped the last part of the name. What was the reason for this? Did you want a catchier name that would be easier to remember or was the similarity with Sweden's Afflicted Convulsion a concern?
Purtenance: The only reason to shorten our name was to make it shorter and catchier.
Luxi: What do you remember from the early days of the band? Was it tough to get recognized with all the other Finnish death metal bands (Sentenced, Amorphis, Demigod, Convulse, etc.) around then?
Purtenance: The events leading to the formation of the band are still clear as day in my head. Back then there were a lot of new bands starting out and we all had a desire to show others what we were made of. It was easy and fun to work with others. In the end, everyone had a sound of their own.
Luxi: Were there any Finnish underground death metal bands that you looked up to?
Purtenance: Not really. The biggest influences for us came from over the pond.
Luxi: The so-called "Nokia death metal scene", with bands like Convulse, Lubricant and you, in particular, was a prolific phenomenon back in the day. What separated this infamous trio from the rest of the Finnish underground death metal/grindcore bands? Did you have a special "Nokia death metal sound" that provided an identity for the bands from the area?
Purtenance: All three bands had their own thing, but we were still friends. We had a little fun on the weekends and sometimes on other days of the week. Lubricant started out later, so we really didn't have much to do with them, but we knew of them.
Luxi: Purtenance's debut album, Member of Immortal Damnation, is considered one of the cornerstones of early Finnish death metal. Did you feel nervous or insecure when you first entered the studio to record it?
Purtenance: It's great that we have accomplished that level of success with our debut album. We were young when we did our first recording sessions, so there really wasn't any anxiety and we were happy that we got a record deal. And of course, it is great that our recording from back then has gained so much appreciation.
Luxi: I don't know if you have noticed but some die-hard extreme metal collectors are willing to pay top dollar for the original vinyl edition of the Member ... album these days. Do you still get inquiries from fans asking for the album version straight from you, after 27 years?
Purtenance: We have noticed that the market price for the album is high and, yes, occasionally we are asked if original records are available, but we don't have any left other than personal copies, of course.
Luxi: Purtenance was a very short-lived band; you only existed from 1991 to 1992 and then split up. What happened? Did you get fed up playing death metal or were the reasons for the band's breakup deeper?
Purtenance: Actually, we were still playing in the mid-'90s but then stuff with work and family started to take more time and so things slowly faded away but we never really quit.
PRESENT AND FUTURE CRIMES
Luxi: In 2012, twenty years after the band had called it quits, Purtenance returned to the limelight, something no one really expected. What made you decide to reform the band? Did you feel the time was right to start playing death metal again and how much did The Crypt's release of all the band's early stuff (in a limited double-LP box set, titled MCMXCI—MCMXCII), affect your decision?
Purtenance: Every once in a while we talked about getting back to playing together again. At that time, there were no distractions from the music anymore. No, the mentioned box set had nothing to do with it at all.
Luxi: You and guitarist Juha Rannikko were the only original guys left when you reformed Purtenance. Did you ask the other original band members if they had interest or time to join the ranks?
Purtenance: Yes, we did ask around, but Timo no longer had interest in joining us although we did do one gig with him at the Finnish Death Metal Maniacs Festival in Pori, Finland, in 2015.
Luxi: The first outing since the reunion of the band was the six-track EP, Sacrifice the King. Unfortunately, the EP was criticized for not living up all the expectations of the fans. Do you think it was perhaps a bit too rushed and you could have spent a bit more time with the song arrangements to make it sound right and truthful to Purtenance's past musical legacy?
Purtenance: That's a hard one. I guess at the time we could have worked on those songs for a bit longer. But it is what it is.
Luxi: However, the band's comeback album, Awaken the Slumber, released at the beginning of October 2013, rekindled the hopes of the fans. How happy are you with that album?
Purtenance: We still feel that the songs sound great to this day, but there is always room for improvement.
Luxi: Your third album, ... To Spread the Flames of Ancient Ones, released on Xtreem Music in 2016, was again a huge leap from the band, taking a turn into an even darker and murkier musical atmosphere and was appreciated by the fans and several media publications. Do you feel like the pieces just clicked on this record, resulting in something you can be very proud of for many years to come?
Purtenance: You are asking really hard questions. But I think that on this album managed to get into a good vibe and altogether came out OK.
Luxi: The band's latest release is a four-track EP titled Paradox of Existence, which you recorded during the summer of 2017. It basically continues from where you left off on your third album. Was the main purpose to tell everyone that you are still there, making blood-curdling and evil noises in your secret chambers of death and decay?
Purtenance: The EP was made because of a year-long contract and on this release, we also introduced a new bass player and a guitarist at the same time.
Luxi: Ville Koskela, who was your vocalist and bassist since the days of the band's reunion, left the band last year. What kind of a blow was it for you guys and was there any drama involved when he decided to step away from your ranks?
Purtenance: We could sense a little something there, but yeah it did feel bad when he announced that he was quitting. We had no beef over it. Ville took care of all the gigs we had agreed upon at the time.
Luxi: Happily, you found a fitting replacement for Ville relatively quickly. a guy named Aabeg Gautam, who had experience playing in a Nepalese death metal band named Dying Out Flame. What's the story behind finding him to front Purtenance?
Purtenance: We already knew "Aatu" from years prior and knew his background, so we asked him if he was interested and we're still going on that road.
Luxi: Fast forward to today, I assume you have been working on some new material for the band's fourth studio album. Is there something more you can reveal about that?
Purtenance: Yeah, we are working on new songs and also trying to get a new release out this year.
Luxi: How does 2019 look for the band? Are you aiming at getting the band booked for some festivals this year?
Purtenance: For this summer we have knowingly left out gigs because we need to do recordings for the new album, but we have a few festival gigs at the end of the summer.
Luxi: Thank you for your time talking up some of these topics about the band's comings and goings. Last words...?
Purtenance: Thanks for the interview. Hopefully, this has revealed some detail for fans. We hope to see you all at our gigs and come chat with us if you see us around.
|Other information about Purtenance on this site|
|Review: ...To Spread the Flame of Ancients|
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