Interview with vocalist Mika Hankaniemi
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 23, 2021
From the small town of Ylistaro, Finland, which is located in the province of Western Finland comes a death/doom hybrid called God Forsaken (1990-91 as Putrid). They released two well-received albums during the first half of the nineties, played quite a few shows (the European tour with Anathema in 1994 was probably the biggest highlight for them) and during the second coming of the band jumped on the stoner rock bandwagon, resulting in a tour with Gorilla Monsoon in 2002. After that the band decided to call it quits and nobody knew if they would ever regroup.
It took 18 long years until God Forsaken returned to the limelight and to make it even better, the band's original lineup from the two albums is together again.
So, being the curious old fucks we are here in the glorious ivory tower of The Metal Crypt, we contacted the band for info and vocalist Mika Hankaniemi briefly told us what they have up their sleeves, maybe a new album? Maybe, just keep on reading...
Good day! How's life? It's been a tough year due to Covid-19 and sadly it appears things won't be changing for the better for a long time as our government is tightening the restrictions that make life for Finnish citizens even more miserable...
Mika: Times are hard these days, so it's great to be alive man!
As for more uplifting news, much to the surprise of many fans, God Forsaken announced in July 2020 they would make a comeback with the original lineup. What kind of things triggered you guys to give this band another chance?
Mika: During recent years we have had a few offers to play at some Finnish death metal fests, but we turned them down.
Last summer it happened again when I got a call from Kim Strömsholm (ex-...and Oceans vocalist) who asked about raising Putrid from the ashes. He offered us a chance to play at the Rotting Ways to Misery book release party in Helsinki. Then the damn virus fucked up the plans. Anyways, I talked about the reunion with the other members and we all thought that we weren't that Putrid anymore, so we started to gather as God Forsaken in Ylistaro last September.
Was it easy to ensure everyone was on board for the right reasons or did it actually take some effort to get everyone going in the right direction to make it possible for you to breathe new life into the band?
Mika: It was pretty easy because we were on the same page right away. It's such a cool thing to have this original lineup back together again. Actually, Hannu, Juha Pohto and I were involved in an old-school death metal band called Deathmarched a few years back.
How have people welcomed the band's comeback? God Forsaken were in the very first wave of Finnish underground death/doom metal bands in the late eighties, so I imagine old farts (like myself, haha!) have approved the comeback, which must be a somewhat good feeling, right?
Mika: Peoples' reactions have been encouraging. I think everybody is looking forward to our new material and we are going to do some recordings next autumn.
NEW MATERIAL COMING UP
I know it may be a bit early to talk about whether this will lead to a new album, but as you have already told me, you do have a couple of new songs almost ready and more material in the works. Is this new music closer to your debut album, Dismal Gleams of Desolation (1992), or its follow-up album, The Tide Has Turned (1995)?
Mika: The new songs are kind of closer to the Dismal... album but in the end the material stands on its own. Doom is the main key word here.
In terms of songwriting, what things are you going to focus on to ensure the band's new coming is worth the wait for the fans?
Mika: We're doing it the way we used to do in the past. No new tricks here.
Was it hard to get to the same level of songwriting for God Forsaken, knowing that you always kept high standards for your material?
Mika: The songwriting process started naturally. Soundwall Studio, where we used to work, does not exist anymore but I guess you'll hear that it's us when our new release arrives.
Have responsibilities in the band remained the same with all of you in similar roles as on the two full-lengths that you did together back in the day?
Mika: Well yeah, the roles have remained the same. It all starts from Hannu's riffs and lyrics but all of us together complete a song.
I assume all of you have day jobs, routines, etc., and this band isn't your first priority for putting money on the table. Do you want to keep this as your "hobby band" so to speak, and see what the future might bring?
Mika: Yeah, this is just our hobby for now but a very important one, nonetheless. I mean, we all got those damn bills to pay, so hobbies are just hobbies for us.
Due to this unfortunate Covid-19 situation, things don't look too good gigging-wise. Have you put all of your plans on ice temporarily as far as playing live is concerned, or are you staying optimistic regarding this subject?
Mika: If we're lucky the situation will be better this autumn and we'll be able to play some gigs. We just have to wait and see what happens.
Promotion is important, no matter if you have a new band or play in a more established group. Do you have any plans to make a video for of one of your new songs any time soon, to celebrate the band's return to the limelight?
Mika: We haven't even talked about making a video yet. I think that we're going to shoot it when the new album is released.
JUMPING ON STONER ROCK TRAIN
1999-2003 was a pretty strange time for the band. You released a couple of EPs, Tomorrow Is Never and Electric Release, and then called it quits. How would you describe those times? Why did your short-lived reunion never take off?
Mika: We hit that stoner thing pretty hard and were so deep in the scene that we didn't even play any songs from our two albums during that time. In hindsight we should have done those EPs under a completely different name, I guess.
If we continue talking about those "golden days," what are some of your best memories from the period of 1991-1995 when you guys were obviously touring quite a lot and had a deal with an international record label (Adipocere Records)?
Mika: A tour with Anathema back in '94 is the coolest memory for sure. Nice clubs and people around Europe. Touring with Gorilla Monsoon in 2002 was a lot of fun too.
You were a bit of a "different animal" among other Finnish death/doom metal bands in the first half of the nineties, having a distinctive and unique sound which was a great feature, of course! Did your sound shape up the way it did by accident or on purpose? I am quite sure you guys tried not to copy other bands...
Mika: Soundwall Studio is to blame for that. And I must say that Hannu's guitar sound has always been pretty unique.
Why is your follow-up album, The Tide Has Turned, so different compared to your debut album, Dismal Gleams of Desolation?
Mika: I guess we just wanted to change. We threw more Black Sabbath, Trouble, Danzig and Kyuss into our flame.
What of things killed the band back in 1995?
Mika: Long story short, lineup problems killed the motivation to continue. That's about it.
It's good to see you guys making your comeback after 18 long years. How would you say God Forsaken will fit in with the underground metal scene in 2021 as so many things have changed in the last two decades when bands like Slipknot, Jinjer, and Sabaton are some of the hottest shit on the markets?
Mika: I don't know, man. We're just doing our own thing and that's it.
I have one last question and then I can let you go for a beer or two. What are some short—and long-term plans of God Forsaken?
Mika: Keep on writing new stuff, play some shows here and there and release some albums.
I would like to thank you Mika and for having this conversation with me and wish you all the best with your present and future endeavors with the band. If there's anything else you'd like to add to this chat, by all means, feel free to do so up next...?
Mika: Thanks a lot for this, Luxi! Our new album is coming for sure at some point but, in the meantime, you can check us out on the net: YouTube, Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.
|Other information about God Forsaken on this site|
|Review: Dismal Gleams of Desolation|
|Review: The Tide Has Turned|
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