Before the Dawn – First (North American) DoomSaturday, 30th March 2013
Blistering.com: That’s awesome.
Saukkonen: [laughs] For me, it’s impossible to write the lyrics before I hear the final stage. But I never write anything down. When I’m in the studio, I need just a half-hour or one hour to write something. It’s not like there’s nonsense for the lyrics either. With me, it’s really easy to write one or two lines, then build the song around it. It’s like a constant exchange of ideas. From my side, I have everything ready, especially the melodies. Lars’s melody sense is totally different than mine, so he has to approach them his own way. Plus, he comes from a totally different background than me. He has a lot of 70’s rock or 90’s grunge in him and that can be heard in his sound and melodies. He’s enormously talented, not just with his voice. We rarely need to do any corrections with the tuning…everything he tries out is album-quality. Every idea I throw at him, in less than a minute, it’s ready. Like for example, Amorphis used almost two weeks on the vocals for the new album. I’m not saying our way is better or Lars is a better vocalist than Tomi [Joutsen], but I can’t imagine doing vocals in that amount of time [laughs]. A few weeks of vocals would destroy the songs for me. It would squeeze the air out of them.
Blistering.com: Point taken. “Sanctuary” is definitely a song that stands out in the lot, so for you, what do you think will click best when you start to play these live?
Saukkonen: My favorite song is “Winter Within,” but I would include the intro for it as well [laughs]. Because I produce the albums myself, I have a clear vision of how things will go. But it was suggested to me that we split the intro and the first track into two songs instead of combining them. It would have been six minutes, which is pretty long. The idea is for “Winter Within” to be the first song of our set, then have the intro coming from the PA when we come out. The intro sets the mood. I really like “Sanctuary” as well. It’s quite a typical Before the Dawn song, but it’s quite fresh. Then again, I’m the wrong guy to be asking [laughs]. I have a big personal connection with these songs. The more personal lyrics get, the more real the songs get.
Blistering.com: Pretty remarkable for lyrics you write in the spot. I’m guessing there’s no theme, though. Correct?
Saukkonen: There’s no theme. It’s all connected to the way I write lyrics. It’s just pouring out everything I have in my head. I don’t bottle things up in my head. If I was sad, I keep it inside until I can put it down. For me, each album is a picture of its own time. The previous album, Soundscape of Silence, the whole title of the album is the way I feel music, the way I write music and lyrics. For me, each song and lyric is like one still picture of a movie. It’s a part of my life that I want to happen or didn’t want to happen, but nothing is that simple, ever. It’s like looking at a photograph of my life. That’s the way I see the music and lyrics as a whole, and that’s why it’s easy for me to write the lyrics because it’s so personal.
Blistering.com: The album placed #8 on the Finnish charts, but tell me about the competition. Is it exciting to see Finnish metal scene doing so well?
Saukkonen: Each band that is doing well right now is only opening doors for other bands. Finland is a really small country, even Moscow, has twice the population of Finland. As a metal band in Finland, even though a lot of people see Finland as a “metal heaven,” the competition between the bands is insanely in high. For a newcomer band, it’s difficult to get noticed. We only have one metal magazine that only puts out ten issues a year. Nowadays, it’s easier to get recognized in Europe than in Finland. About 15 years ago, it was totally underground. It would have been a huge deal for a band to place in the Top Ten. It has changed the attitude of the labels and radio stations and mainstream magazines. Nowadays, it’s a lot easier to get recognized and Finnish metal has a seriously high quality to it. The competition is really high…you need to be a really good metal in general that are getting signed from Finland.
Blistering.com: I know you’re a busy guy in the studio, so what’s on your plate for the rest of the year?
Saukkonen: [laughs] I have two things coming: In two weeks we’ll start the recording of the third Black Sun Aeon album, which will be done in the end of June. I have a new Finnish band which translates to “Soul of Frost,” it’s a very Finnish word [laughs]. We’ll start that around September and October. Then there’s pre-production work – I’ve been doing more work as a producer. A lot of stuff, which makes me happy, which is a good thing.
Blistering.com: One other thing: How much did it hurt to get the tattoos on your forehead?
Saukkonen: Very little [laughs]. There’s a lot of nerves near your eyes, so you have a natural reflex of turning your head if you have a needle near your face. The tattoo artist has to be really careful when doing tattoos near your face because if you have a needle in your hand, it can be dangerous because the face is a totally different thing. The tattoo was not easy to do. The story behind the dots on my face is that they were originally burned – I wanted to have facial scarification. They were burned with a hot iron, but the problem was that there wasn’t enough soft tissue. It was done three times, so the scars peeled off, so I decided to get the tattoos. It hurt like hell [laughs]. It sucked so bad [laughs], but I like the result.
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