Now You Know: At the Hollow

Friday, 3rd April 2015

Formation: 2009
Location: Finland
Style: Dark, atmospheric rock/grunge
Personnel: Kalle Koo (Guitars & Vocals); Juho Martikainen (Contrabass); Risto Järvelin (Percussion)
Latest Release: What I Hold Most Dear, 2015 (Spinefarm Records)

With the right sound and the right atmosphere, metal fans can welcome other types of music with open arms. Take Helsinki’s At the Hollow. In some regards quite similar to bands such as Anathema and Antimatter, with an atmospheric rock vibe with darker undercurrents, At the Hollow is definitely not “heavy” in the traditional manner. But it doesn’t mean fans won’t enjoy At the Hollow’s knack for writing some rather melodic hooks. DR was able to snag an interview of the electronic variety with vocalist/guitarist Kalle Koo, who was able to shed some light on how and why the band signed with metal label Spinefarm, the band’s use of a contrabass, and more…

Dead Rhetoric: Could you give us a little background information about At the Hollow?

Kalle Koo: In a nutshell: At the Hollow was founded by me and Juho Martikainen Helsinki Finland 2007-2008 as a duo band. Risto Järvelin (percussion) joined the band in the end of 2009. Then we really became At the Hollow.

Dead Rhetoric: Who are some of your biggest influences?

Koo: To me there is Black Sabbath, Opeth, Nirvana and Megadeth. Then there is this game music composer Martin O’Donnell, he has a huge influence in me. Game music in generally has a great influence on me.

Dead Rhetoric: Could you elaborate on your sound being “between purity and death?”

Koo: It is the feeling what you get from our music. ”This mortal coil.”

Dead Rhetoric: At the Hollow isn’t exactly the heaviest band on the planet. What made you go with Spinefarm Records?

Koo: Yeah, we are not heavy in a traditional way, with high gain distortion stuff etc. We are heavy in a different way, more like emotional way I would say. Spinefarm Records had the right understanding for our music and art. They also sensed that this has to be an international release.

Dead Rhetoric: You recorded with Janne Saksa. What was the process like?

Koo: We had worked with Janne Saksa a couple of times. So we already knew with whom we wanted to record the album. Recording with Janne is very precise and efficient. What I like the most working with Janne is that he has very good ears for hearing that everything is in tune in the right way. Recording vocals with him is especially great, because he hears immediately if you pronounce [something] wrong or there is no feeling in it, or you are out of tune and stuff like that. He knows his job!

Dead Rhetoric: Contrabass isn’t an instrument that gets much publicity. How did you decide to give it such a large role in the band?

Koo: It is not a decision. We are trio band and the instruments are baritone guitar, percussion with timpanis and contrabass. Not the usual ones. Contrabass deepens our sound and feeling. With a bow played instrument you can speak more with the emotion when you play it. It’s like vocals. Contrabass also has more possibilities than the normal ones.

Dead Rhetoric: It seems that you’ve come across a sound that is more or less your own. Where do you go from here in terms of developing it?

Koo: If you do music seriously with your whole heart in it. Then some point your music starts to live it’s own life. It starts to grow and it is natural evolving.

Dead Rhetoric: The cover art is an interesting collage that is storyboarded to be viewed while listening to the album to interpret its meaning. How did you come up with this idea?

Koo: Risto, our percussionist, did the whole cover art/design. So he came up with that idea, it really represents the “What I Hold Most Dear.”

Dead Rhetoric: The video for “Was it Worth It” is pretty visually striking as well. What was the feeling that you were trying to convey with the video?

Koo: First of all, it was pretty hard to get the idea and the director who would be good enough for the ”Was It Worth It” video in a way that it won’t ruin the songs delicate meaning. Then I remembered this restless artist Antti Rastivo and called him if he wanted to direct a music video for us, he said hmm OK. Couple of days later he sended me text message that now he had” an idea.” After that we met and he said we going to do a ”cake” video. We were like “huh okay,” I was thinking how the cake would represent the song, but I was convinced and the rest is history. Antti Rastivo caught the songs meaning very well and also viewers can get their own interpretation.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s an At the Hollow live performance like? Seems like it should be a pretty intimate setting.

Koo: Yes it is. People are quiet, still and impressed. Sometimes people can cry. It’s kind of bombastic and intimate at the same time.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s coming up next for At the Hollow?

Koo: We’ll see. A couple of new videos are coming up later this year. Then composing and rehearsing new songs. Last but not least, hopefully we can play lots of gigs.

At the Hollow official website