Impaled Nazarene – May the Goat Be With You

Sunday, 13th April 2014

A beer in Finland has been named after Impaled Nazarene; “Goat Brew” they call it. Only available in Finland due to issues of the bureaucratic variety (read: no other country is willing to import beer from a band with such a controversial name), the collective members of the band enjoy certain perks that go along with it, specifically the opportunity to drink their namesake beverage in excess for free at various vendor events. This would explain why founding member/vocalist Mika Luttinen is in full recovery mode for our Sunday morning interview, having drank his liver into oblivion a few days prior. DR would suggest to the bald-plated singer that he’s no “spring chicken anymore,” to which Luttinen responded, “That’s one of the shittiest things when you’re growing older – hangovers just get worse.”  

The coupling of booze, goats, Satan, and spirited punk-oriented black metal has enabled the band to hang around for 24 years. Even when the band was considered a side-novelty in relation to the ultra-serious, ultra-criminal Norwegian scene, Impaled Nazarene raged on, producing some rather deadly and significant albums, namely 1992’s Ugra-Karma, 2000’s Nihil, and perhaps their best moment, 2001’s Absence of War Does Not Mean Peace. They’ve survived false claims of nationalism, a short stint from Children of Bodom mainman Alexi Laiho, the death of guitarist Teemu “Somnium” Rainmoranta in 2003, and a supposed ban of their Manifest album in Germany.

None of this, however, has quelled the frustration and venom from Luttinen, who on their new Vigorous and Liberating Death album, spews his traditional gamut of spite-filled lyrics to the tune of the band’s reliable sound. It’s yet another notch for one of Finland’s most enduring – and extreme – bands, something we were sure to relay to Luttinen when he phoned, hung-over and all…

Dead Rhetoric: Road to Octagon came in out 2010. With the space in between albums, does this indicate the band will be working at a more leisurely pace?

Mika Luttinen: Actually what happened was when after we released Road to Octagon, we filmed a live DVD, which was our 20th anniversary. We had some big problems because the sound on the first disc got really fucked, like the first three or four songs. It was in a condition where we couldn’t use it. For example, one of the songs was “Motorpenis,” which is you can’t put out an Impaled Nazarene DVD without having that song. It took us forever to try to figure out how we could fix the situation, and suddenly time went by, and at the same time, we were touring for Road to the Octagon. And then finally, it came to the point where we said, “Fuck it, we need to put this DVD out.”

And there was another show, the Steelfest Open Air, they had a professional camera we could use, so instead of doing the original idea, which was one show, we made an extra DVD with old clips from the past. So we put out a double-live DVD with two different shows and two different setlists. This took us two years to do the whole thing, then we did some shows in support of the DVD, and before we knew it, it was like “Fuck, maybe we should make a new record.”

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been doing this since the early 90s, but, has the approach changed to writing since you started?

Luttinen: Not really. Since day one, we never write as a band – it’s always been individual writers. Everybody writes at home, then we meet at the rehearsal place and by now, it’s very easy since we’ve been doing this for so long. You don’t have anybody coming to the rehearsal room with a song that doesn’t sound like Impaled Nazarene. They know it would be immediately laughed at. [laughs] Ninety-nine percent ready songs we bring to rehearsal. Everybody writes the music, so you have four different guys writing with four different backgrounds and influences. I think that makes the Impaled Nazarene sound the way it is. Everybody is not into the same things. I write the most punk-ish; it’s easy to spot the songs I write, and the other guys have totally different influences than I, so when you put it together, it works.

Dead Rhetoric: Didn’t you go through a power phase during the early part of the 00’s?

Luttinen: Actually, yes. [laughs]

Dead Rhetoric: And that’s where it crept in on Absence of War

Luttinen: There was maybe one song, “The Eye of the Storm.” It was written by the drummer, not by me. I’m such a fucking lousy guitar player that there is no way I could write a power metal song. I must say that I haven’t been listening to power metal for years. That whole genre overgrew; it got to the point where every band sounded the same. You got sick and tired of unicorns and rainbows and eagles that they’re singing about. I was like, “Okay, I’m done with this shit.”

Dead Rhetoric: In your country and in Germany, power metal is still very happening.

Luttinen: Oh, it’s amazing it’s still popular, especially in Germany.

Dead Rhetoric: I remember reading that the Rapture album isn’t your favorite. Has your perspective changed on it of late?

Luttinen: There’s some good songs on it. The problem with Rapture is that maybe it’s too long – we could have cut one or two tracks out, maybe it would have been more compact. And the production wasn’t too good either. It is what it is. I’m not ashamed of it.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s a pretty rare thing, but you’ve been on the same label, Osmose, your entire career. What’s the relationship like?

Luttinen: It’s basically a friendship, based on mutual trust. We haven’t a signed a deal for Road to the Octagon or the new one; we have a “spoken agreement” that we will deliver the album, and he [Herve Herbaut] will put it out. I love it this way. We don’t have to stress about anything. Osmose is a very easy label to work with because they don’t have a schedule. They’re not phoning us “You have to go into the studio next month and deliver us a record as fast as possible.” They’ve never asked for any demo tapes for the new songs on how they will sound. We can choose the studios, where we work, and choose all the people we work with. At the same time, we’re a pretty easy band for Osmose to work with – we do a full package for them. We design the album covers ourselves and send the master tapes, and say “Put it out.” And they just put it out.

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