Recently Finnish post-metal newcomers Atlases released their debut EP, called Penumbra. DutchMetalManiac’s Henric van Essen already reviewed Penumbra here. Below you can read his interview with Atlases’ Ville-Veikko Laaksonen.
Hi, how are you doing?
We are quite fine at the moment. Thank you for asking.
Thanks for the opportunity to interview you and congratulations with your debut release. I like it a lot. With whom do I have the honor and can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you. Interviews are ok as the questions do not repeat themselves. Always good to have some freshness and curveballs thrown at you. We thank you for liking our EP. We like it too, and stand behind its end result. I’m Ville-Veikko Laaksonen, the founder of Atlases. I work as a main composer and lyricist for Atlases. I play guitar in this band. I’m also sort of a band agent at the moment for booking shows and tours. We are currently looking for an agency and management to take care that side of things, so we can maintain our focus on writing, rehearsing and touring.
It is said Atlases came into existence when new material for Oceanwake was written eventually resulting in a full-blown band. What is the story behind this, especially considering the two bands aren’t all that far apart music-wise? And how, if at all, is the title of the album opener An Era We’ll Bury connected to this?
Yes, I had written a good amount of songs for the 4th Oceanwake album. The songs were quite a lot shorter and more melodic than the previous material, say on Earthen or Sunless. I was excited and thrilled about the songs written. Eero, the singer of Oceanwake demoed some vocals for these songs. But then I think the rest of the guys felt that they had been left out of the process. The songs were pretty much finished demos with drums, basslines, guitarmelodies and arrangements. The songs weren’t the only thing that caused some sort of arguments. There were a lot of things causing bad blood within the band at that period. Time was an issue. Not everybody lived in the same city etc. The making of Earthen was hard as hell. We weren’t happy with the mix and we changed our opinions about things daily. That process really ate us out. Earthen is a very good album and I’m proud of it. When I decided to take the new material in new direction, not everybody was ready for it. That being said, we decided that a change would be good for both parties. I decided to form a new band around this material written, and the guys from Oceanwake found a new guitarplayer. Win win. And sure the Atlases material sound like Oceanwake because I have written the songs for both bands. Atlases is not a Oceanwake 2 though, in my opinion, not even close. Atlases and Oceanwake has very different styles of players, and you can hear the difference from the first note played. An Era We’ll Bury is an opener for our EP. The title says it all.
There is relatively little time between the founding of Atlases and the release of Penumbra. How did you manage to produce such a quality product in so little time with a completely new band? And, along the same lines, how is it possible to find a group of musicians with the right ‘click’ to form such a homogeneous band that fast?
The main thing was that the songs were finished and ready demowise. Everybody loved the songs, and it was a rather easy process to record those. First I asked Rami to join and record the drums. From work I got Jamppa to do the vocals. Jamppa knew Jerkka and Nico. Atlases was found rather quickly. Jerkka is a professional studio engineer, so this material was in good hands from the beginning. Jerkka mixed, mastered and recorded Jamppa’s vocals. Jerkka also did our first lyricvideo for Medusa and a full blown video for Shards Of Broken Light with his friend Niko Kinnunen.
Every release summons a certain atmosphere within the listener and Penumbra is no exception, striking me as gloomy yet strangely relaxing. What atmosphere did you want Penumbra to breathe and why?
Penumbra is a very dim and dark release with a hint of hope within it. The songs are crushing but still ethereal. The songs are me and us.
Song titles are often an indication of the lyrical concept of said song. What, if any, are the lyrical concepts or subjects of Penumbra‘s songs, or even Penumbra itself?
The lyrics are written in “I” form. The stories are about distorted images of self, veiled in concept of deceptive surroundings and nature. Some of the stories are about of my thoughts and feelings, some are fiction. Escapism is also very involved within the stories.
What inspires you when you’re writing music and/or lyrics?
I get inspired with everything I see, feel, hear. I get inspired with nature, colors, weather. I get inspired with people I meet. I get inspired with dreams and music. Penumbra as a title portrays this era of our existence.
You have started with a bang and at full speed. That sets the standards pretty high for the future. How do you feel about that?
We are stoked about our future. We’ve had written songs together for a while now. There are at least three composers in the band. We are currently recording new songs for a future special release. We know our standards, and we are not going to put out something unarranged or unfinished. The new songs are a bit more crushing than the Penumbra songs.
While we’re at it: How do you see both your and Atlases’ future?
Atlases needs a proper agency and management to push this forward. We are working our asses off to achieve that. We have done everything by ourselves for this far. To get further, we are going to need some help and luck. Pest Records is our label, but we are releasing something new and special by ourselves early next year. The EP has got some good reviews, so we hope that some suitable labels sees us also. We haven’t been discussing with Pest yet for the future. Distribution is one the main things we lack of at the moment.
Assuming your EP gets good critics, which I think it will, you are likely going to be expected to do some touring, who knows maybe even worldwide. What visions or plans do you have when it comes to touring?
At the moment we are our own agency. So every past and future show is somehow arranged by us. Early in 2018 we are touring the Baltic. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We have some Finnish shows to come during the spring. Festivals in Finland and in mainland Europe is one thing we hope we can get arranged.
Thanks for the interview, is there anything left you would like to share with our readers?
What can I say…support us by buying our EP, by coming to gigs, by spreading the word about us. And for all potential agencies, managements and labels, check us out, we are worth it.