Interview with Aki Sääksniemi (guitars)
Interview conducted by Barbara Williams (Crowley)
Date online: February 5, 2003
Hailz!!! How are you guys doing?
Well, thanks for asking! I'll guess we're fine right now.
Your former name was UTGARD. What's the meaning of the word?
UTGARD means “the land of giants”; it's taken from Germanic mythology. Our lyrics were moving a lot more into that direction in those days.
Why Burialmound? Who came up with the name?
I remember it was a decision all of us had made. It just came to us; there're no nice “birth stories” in it, ha!
Why the name-change? To reflect the music or to attract a broader audience?
The name change came hand in hand with a bit of a different musical approach and also with more straightforward lyrics. It was a natural decision for us to end the era, which we had with UTGARD. Although it didn't last too long, it was an enjoyable and delightful time for us, and is leaving some very good memories behind. We still stand behind everything we did with UTGARD!
How would you describe Burialmound to someone who's never heard your music before?
Uh, I don't know, maybe Death/Black metal with a straight message of misanthropy and hate towards common systems and moral values. I can't get it any better. Actually, it is better to leave it to the listener to describe us as it is one of the best things in music to hear different understandings of one's art.
How do you write your music? Is there a set guideline or do you write what you feel as you go along?
I leave much room for improvisation and for feelings. Some days there isn't a whole lot that comes together; on other days, there is. Who would ever know what the deal with it is? The music always seems to connect with everyday life and wonders about the small little things in it.
How do you get the inspiration for your writing your lyrics?
I think our vocalist, Raven, gets his inspirations from everyday life and from his experiences. It's an honest way to deal with your feelings, to write down all that craves your soul.
Do you consciously think about staying in the Burialmound style or music? As a musician, do you play other sorts of music on the side or is this your 100% musical taste?
BURIALMOUND will always be a metal band as I love metal music, but my musical taste stretches much further than metal. Still, we have started this band as a metal band and we'll leave it like that. If I'm feeling “poppy” or “jazzy” sometimes, I'll play that kind of music with a different moniker. There're some sad examples of bands who have become totally untrue to their own styles and therefore, in my opinion, raped their bands' names. But, of course, one can hear just a bit of my other influences in BURIALMOUND, too. It's just natural. And we try to be as natural as possible, to do what our hearts say.
How would you describe (or categorize) your style of vocals? Who have been your role models?
Our vocal style is very variable: from deeper growls to more shrieking ones. It just depends with the different songs. I'll think a more variable singing style makes the music also more variable. Huh, our role models? I don't think we have any specific role models. It depends how the vocals fit into the music and feelings. Artists such as Nick Cave, David Vincent, Vincent Cavanagh, and others differ a lot from each other, but they fit even better into the music they've made and are still making because of their vocals.
The music scene really changed between the 70's, 80's and 90's. What would you say has been your strongest influence?
Yes, it has changed a bit over the decades and I would say that it gets worse every year. I don't really know what the reason for this is, but maybe it has something to do with when you're born and the first idols that you have listening to music. The first real contact with music is usually the strongest one. The younger listeners who recently been born will usually get into the newer stuff, and they don't usually check out older bands. I, myself, am trying to get hold of all possible deeper feelings from all the good music that I've been creating over the years and that I'm still doing.
How do you compare the Death and Black metal scene here in the States to that in Europe?
I haven't heard enough bands from the States that I could compare the scenes with each other. I've only heard the bigger ones like ABSU, MORBID ANGEL, INCANTATION, IMMOLATION, and a few others-mostly death metal bands, not many from the black metal genre. I'll guess there are a lot of black metal bands from there, but their names unfortunately haven't reached Finland or, at least, my ears. I'm just too lazy to check all the underground bands nowadays. Of course, I know most of the UG bands here in Finland, but they're not worth mentioning to anyone, hah! But if I have to compare the scenes with each other, I'd say that every place has its own positive and negative side. The U.S.A. has a strong death metal background, but fewer good black metal bands. And Europe is mostly known for its black metal acts even though there are many up and about coming death metal bands, too; and known ones too.
Presently you are exclusively a studio band. Will you be looking for more members to be able to play live?
Yes, we have already some new session members with whom we could play live, but mainly we're a studio band. It just suits us better. Of course, we'll do some gigs, but that will need some help from our record label for them to arrange it. Let's see what the future brings.
When did you start playing and how old were you when you became interested in metal?
I remember that I started playing sometime in the early 90's. We started as UTGARD in 1994. Heh, my first touch with metal was when I was just a little child at the age of five. My favorites were the heavy metal classics such as JUDAS PRIEST, W.A.S.P., IRON MAIDEN etc. And they're still among the best!
Besides metal, what other types of music do you listen to?
All kinds of music, depending on the mood I'm in. Some rock groups such as ALICE COOPER, DAVID BOWIE etc. Proge bands are also good. PINK FLOYD, YES, and others are great groups. Some jazz for relaxing sometimes; JOHN COLTRANE, MILES DAVIS does it great. Some newer music is also great such as BILLY IDOL, SISTERS OF MERCY, NICK CAVE, DEPECHE MODE, ERASURE, DEAD CAN DANCE, KENT etc.
Outside of playing Metal, what kinds of things do you enjoy doing?
I guess it's everyday things. I'll go walking in the nearby forest to see the power of nature. I'll read some books now and then. Enjoy parties with friends. Eat great food. Play some great computer games. Watch NHL-hockey and hope the best for Colorado Avalanche. Just being in my own thoughts and trying to keep myself on track and doing whatever pleases me. It's the best thing to be able to enjoy everything I'm doing and not to follow anything other than my own instincts. Most people cannot see and are blinded by the great gears that rule them. They need something that can free them; they need to find themselves.
What do you think about the Internet and the way bands can promote themselves these days?
It's an easier way to do some bigger promotions. I like the older nostalgic way with paper zines and tape trading more, but the Internet is now so big that it leaves unlimited possibilities of promoting. Of course, I know that old great UG style is still in good shape in poorer countries because it might be the only option for these bands. It's easier to value their achievements because of their limited options.
Do you think you're attracting new fans or are you pretty much catering for the ones who have been with you from the beginning?
First of all, I don't think we have so-called “fans” at all. I hardly ever receive any praising letters or end up being surrounded by cheering people. We intentionally have kept a low profile and have not been praising ourselves in front of common folks. It's better when someone really finds our band instead of listening to it because others do it. Also, we're pretty much underground and our message is not the same as that of other rock bands, so it's obvious that even if we have fans, they won't be swarming around us. Of course, we do get some new and dedicated people, as our musical and verbal abilities naturally increase.
You are now working on your second CD. What do you hope to accomplish with it?
Yes, we're working on it right now and we're amazed by the result. It's aggressive, raw and very much metal-like. There're also some new elements in it. Well, I think we'll get some more attention within the metal scene, as this one has a better sound and is way more easy to listen to. I think we sound better when we keep it simple. Also, I hope we will receive some gigs, particularly from overseas. We have had this problem with line-up changes, but hopefully we will be able to deal with this problem.
Who designs your CD artwork and who has the final word on what actually goes on the album cover? Does it have any special meaning?
Our debut album was designed by Matt Bauer and our Record label boss is Louis Rodriguez. We're planning to use a guy from Poland, Jacek Wisniewski, for this new album, and he has done covers for such bands as VADER, DECAPITATED, etc. I think we'll get good results by using him. His use of dark colours fits in with us perfectly. I love the planning of the artwork because it gets you more into the atmosphere when it's done with real feelings. Music is a great way to express all kinds of art forms and works when they are done with intensity and passion. We usually leave enough room for the artist himself to do the job. It's usually enough to just send the music and lyrics to an artist and let him get into the mood of the music. This really works when the artist knows how to do his job.
Noticeably, your lyrics are very strong and straightforward in content. I have just recently read an article (on anus.com) about boycotting Christian metal. What are your feelings about that? What does “Metal” actually mean to you?
Christian morals and views don't belong into metal and I will never listen to that kind of crap. It's same like mixing milk and beer together. It doesn't have any sense bringing aggressive music to happy and joyful lyrics. Those things are fighting with each other all the time. Still, I won't be fighting with those jerks as far as the music scene goes, but as a whole, they're a bunch of lying Christian scum that spreads all over like a disease.
There has been a rise in pagan/satanic metal over the past few years. What's your opinion about that? How do you fit in?
Actually, we fit in pretty well! Our ideas are much into the ways of Paganism and Satanism among others. I believe in the great power of nature, which has been forgotten by folks today, and that's sad and unforgettable. I'll really hope that a great catastrophe would come some day and clean the earth of the polluting scum-the mass population.
Could you tell us a little about the lyrical concept of your forthcoming album, “Devil's Work”?
Our concept is pretty much taking the same direction as Black Death. The main theme is misanthropy and hatred towards mankind and it deals with the current materialistic values of inhumanity. There is also some horror stuff, like always, but those things are pretty enjoyable to sing about, hah! All in all, it's more straight stuff this time. It works this way as the music is also more straightforward.
How is the music and being Burialmound connected with the person you are? Is your band image a reflection of you or completely separate?
It's a tool for me and helps me to be who I really am. The music always comes from the heart and it reflects my inner self. I wouldn't be doing this if I should realize that I don't want to do this. It's as simple as that. It's easy to recognize bands who aren't doing their stuff from their hearts.
Now that you're with Sound Riot, are you happy?
Heh, I don't know. Of course, it's nice to get your stuff released and such, but otherwise it hasn't affected us, I think. I haven't yet considered using bigger labels. We don't mind if the cash won't flow to us. It's mere insanity to wait for something absurd like that.
Sound Riot has been supportive enough for us, and I think they could be like that in the future, too. Of course, we hope to get some better things like getting gigs, for example.
Which element do you think makes your music different from the rest of the bands?
I think we have done pretty original stuff thus far. At least the media has had difficulties naming specific bands that sound like us. I have never played another band's songs, so I think that I've developed my own style for playing the way I do. Music wise, our stuff mixes some elements from old death metal to primitive black metal with slight influences from proge stuff, and so forth, which hasn't been done by other bands a whole lot of times. It's a nice feeling when you've found your own style, to just let the beast rage!
I noticed that many black metal bands come from Nordic Europe. Do you think there is any specific reason for that?
That's a hard question. Maybe the biggest reason still must be the dark, cold, and long autumn and winter seasons and the everyday presence of great nature. And also Nordic countries are a bit wealthier than some other parts of Europe, so studios and equipment is easier available.
How do you see yourself as a role model (or idol) to many young people who listen to and who get into your music?
I don't want to be a role model to any person; it's up to everyone to seek his own path and tread it carefully. I don't suggest that anyone should copy each other; it eats you from the inside. Of course, it's right to get some good points from others and think about them for yourself; I've done that myself. All the little things can be so complicated and you can't get any answers. It just takes a lot of patience and self-confidence to find the real meaningful things that matter to you.
What are the future plans of your band?
We are just taking it easy for now to see if we get some rush of inspiration to do some new songs. We won't hurry anything now, as the Devil's Work album is not even released yet. It should be out in February/March, 2003. On other hand, we just enjoy our lives and don't do anything as far as the band is concerned in next couple of months. I am the type of person who lives his life just day-by-day, and I don't worry about tomorrow.
Any last words to fans?
Keep your mind free from the corrupting ways of mankind. Wait for something fresh and new from BURIALMOUND in the near future. Stay faithful to yourself!
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