Warmen – Accidental AggressionSunday, 13th August 2023
Photo: Marek Sabogal
Containing members with ties to Children of Bodom, Ensiferum, and Kotipelto, Warmen arrives back on the scene after a prolonged absence from the studio. Which is understandable – keyboardist Janne Warmen’s main gig for 22 plus years was Children of Bodom before the demise in 2019 due to the tragic loss of Alexi Laiho. Adding a permanent singer and new drummer to the fold, the newest album Here for None contains more melodic death metal aspects than ever before – signaling a new chapter in the group’s history. We reached out to Janne’s brother guitarist Antti Warman to learn more about this happy aggressive turn for the style and songwriting, whether it was a conscious tribute to CoB, single/video work, the relationship between the brothers and hard work putting into their instrumental abilities, as well as more live show/festival plans in the pipeline.
Dead Rhetoric: Here for None is the sixth Warmen album – and first for the group in nine years. What circumstances beyond the pandemic took place for the long gap between records – and how do you feel this set of material sits in the discography of the band?
Antti Warman: Well, we were active after the latest album. Janne was very busy with Children of Bodom. After Bodom quit, we started thinking about making Warmen much more active again, to create some new kind of music. When we started to write the songs, we realized this was going to be much different than before. It wasn’t our intention or our idea to write this more aggressive music, but it suddenly happened. It’s more aggressive and more like a death metal style album than before. We are very interested to see what people will think.
Dead Rhetoric: Right. I do think a lot of people are going to make some comparisons to Children of Bodom for this record. Was that a conscious decision to go in this direction as a tribute to Alexi and what he brought to the world?
Warman: Yes. It wasn’t the plan at first, but when we wrote the first songs, we did three songs in one weekend. We realized from that this was going to be kind of Bodom-style music, this time. We decided to go on that path. There is this Bodom sound and tribute to Alexi and Bodom, of course. Kind of like an accident (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: What do you believe your latest members Seppo Tarvainen on drums and Petri Lindroos on vocals bring to the table to strengthen the lineup of the group?
Warman: Seppo the drummer is an old friend of mine. I’ve played with him about fifteen years ago. When we wrote these songs, we realized we needed the style of drummer that would suit this music style better. Our last drummer Mirka, he’s more of like a hard rock style of player. We need a drummer who will have the sense of how to play the drums for these songs, and I immediately said Seppo is the guy. He has a great style of playing. It was an easy change – Mirka said he didn’t know how to play these songs. Same with Petri – because on the previous albums we have had so many different singers. Now this time, when it’s more of a solid band album, there’s no different kind of musical styles, only this one style of music. We knew that we only wanted to have one style of singer, and Petri is also an old friend of ours. We called him and he said yes – lucky for us! (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: How did the cover concept come about with Belarus artist Aleh Zielankievic for the new record? Where do you see the importance of strong visuals in heavy metal to make the right statement before people press play on the record?
Warman: The cover is kind of… we wrote these songs at our cabin in the middle of the woods. The record label said they had this guy who can create this spooky cabin cover art work. We were like, yes, let’s do that. He sent the cover art work, and it sits so well for this album. Before Christmas in Finland, it gets very dark in the woods, it has this 80’s horror film feel in the cover. Nowadays, when physical albums are not that popular anymore, it’s good to have that great art work that people will see and get their interest into the album with the cover.
Dead Rhetoric: Where did the idea for the Ultravox cover “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” come about? Do you think the listeners enjoy bands who take on outside the genre material and reinterpret things the way you have with this song?
Warman: Yeah. At least in previous times, people have liked the idea of us doing heavy metal versions of songs from the 80’s pop songs. We were thinking about the cover this time and which one we should do. Then Seppo, our drummer, asked if we remembered this Ultravox song. We were like, no. Then when we listened to the song, we remembered it. Then we decided it would be cool but kind of like “Somebody’s Watching Me” back in the day. It felt like this had a similar kind of vibe in the song. We like it. I don’t know what anybody else thinks, but it came out good.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve released two singles to date for “Warmen Are Here for None” and “Hell on Four Wheels”. Were these obvious choices to release to preview what fans can expect on the record – and how do you feel about the video shoot went for the latter? Do you enjoy the art of shooting a solid performance video?
Warman: Both of the songs are simple enough, compared to other songs that are more complex and difficult. The songs that felt like they have this old Warmen sound with the melodies but also this new style with more aggressive songwriting and vocals – we decided these two (songs) were the best choice for people to see that our sound is a bit more aggressive without being so complex to listen to.
We did this video, it’s the first video that Warmen has ever done. That was very exciting for us. It’s hard work when you shoot the video, it’s a long day. I think everyone in the band has done videos before, we knew how to act, and we knew it would be a long day. I think it came out really well.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s it like being in a band with your older brother Janne? What would surprise people to learn about your relationship with him in terms of what you achieve with Warmen versus how your relationship has developed away from music activities?
Warman: We have always been really close. We are best friends; we live close to each other, and we see each other every day. Sometimes when I say we are really close people are surprised because sometimes with your siblings it’s not the case. We have always had a good relationship, we hang out, talk about music and other things in life. Every time we write new songs, we know which kind of style we both like, how we play. For me, it’s really easy to work with Janne.
Dead Rhetoric: Were you both naturally gifted musicians at your respective instruments when you were younger, or did you have to work harder at your craft?
Warman: I would say we both worked really hard at it when we were very young. I played the piano also, and then I quit the piano because I felt that wasn’t my thing to do. Janne was so good at it; it was sad to practice and see how the maestro does his things. I had a break from music, and then I found the guitar. It was quite easy to change from piano to guitar, because when you know how to play the piano, you basically know how to play anything else. Maybe we had a little bit of luck to go along with the gift. Basically, hard work throughout the life.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider some of the career highlights for Warmen – specific albums, tours, festival appearances, or other events where you knew you were making a bigger mark and developing a stronger foothold in the scene with your work?
Warman: Well, I believe this next live show is going to be one of those things that will be a highlight of our career. It’s the first time we will be playing outside of Finland. It’s the Summer Breeze festival in Germany. Other than that, we’ve played a couple of times at the biggest metal festival in Finland. It’s the biggest in the Nordics, the Tukka Festival. It has been always a really good show.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to guest appearances on other people’s albums/projects, are there certain criteria that have to be met that gains your interest? And what have been some of your favorite performances in that regard?
Warman: Well, yeah, I’ve done some stuff with a Polish band called Exlibris. They sent the songs, and the song material has to be good. If it’s crap, I’m not interested (laughs). When you have good players and good songs, it’s fun to do something if I have the time. It’s all about the songs and the personal style of doing things. If you don’t work on a professional level, it’s quite difficult.
Dead Rhetoric: Given your long history in the music business, what are your thoughts on the current state of the metal industry compared to when you first started as a musician? What changes (if any) would you like to make for the greater good of the musicians?
Warman: I would delete Spotify and all the streaming services. It killed the whole business, there are no album sales anymore. It’s difficult to sell any albums because everything is almost free, free to get. That was one of the worst things that ever happened in the music business when they invented this streaming and how they are paying for bands and artists. It’s quite sad. It is what it is.
Dead Rhetoric: What is a pivotal or critical moment that helped shape your musical career?
Warman: I think it was when I went to actual music school to learn guitar playing. I had a great teacher who knew that I was going into this metal scene. He knew how to guide me and what to practice, gave me some licks and riffs. He was a really great guy to work with, I was very young back then. He knew that I was into something when I told him I wanted to do this metal thing, and he was a great teacher.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next on the agenda for Warmen over the next twelve months – and are there other recording projects/ guest appearances we can look forward to from you in that time period?
Warman: Now, we are playing the show Summer Breeze on the date when the album is released. After that we will come back to Finland and will plan more shows. We will do a couple of shows in Finland this year. We will start to book more festivals for next year. We are not recording anything new in the next few months – just practice and play a couple of gigs and see what happens. We hope to play a lot of shows, we will see what we will get. I don’t think we will do any full European tours, but Warmen is definitely more active than it has ever been.