Interview with vocalist Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto of Charon
Hello there! First of all thanks for taking some time for this interview. How are you?
Busy... hmmm don't know why. Feels like I get nothing finished even [if] I'm running all the time.
Before we start talking about the present and the future, we would like to go back in time a bit. What are your memories about the past year? Is there anything special (good or bad) that comes to your mind if you think about 2005?
Usually I try not remembering the past too much but let's see, the special thing was the birth of my son at 1.4.... yep, THAT day and he was supposed to be a girl regarding to the doctors. Scary. Our album recordings were finished at that moment, too, so there was a lot
happening in my life. Then we started touring and don't know how long this is going to last...
Then something rather topical. Your new album was recorded and released last year. Let's go a bit further into detail concerning this record. How was the songwriting process? How easy or difficult was it to write the songs and how long did it take? I can remember that you played at least "Colder" live in 2004 and that you wrote on your website that some songs are already a bit older.
Yes, "Colder" is older :-) I remember that was the first song that I ever wrote to that album... no, it was "Divine" I wrote first, then "Colder". Writing was easy because we didn't hesitate to try something new. Lauri was a nice spice to the soup, too.
We played a lot together so all the songs were done together from the start to the end.
'Songs For The Sinners' is the first album you recorded together with Lauri. Do you think he has brought any new influences that affected the overall sound? And did you see any differences of making the album compared to the previous ones?
The whole process was faster than the previous which was absolutely good for us. We don't like spending too much time in the studio when songs are ready when leaving the rehearsing room. That only makes you lose the original idea of the songs. Lauri's effect to the album was the capability to start non-stop rehearsing again.
What does the album title mean and are there any connections to the album artwork? Did you come up with this title immediately or did you have any other ideas first?
At first we wanted to use that butterfly-skull-naked womans-mixture from "The Silence Of The Lambs" because that gave the original idea for the cover, finally and frustrated we ended up to the one you can see. The lyrics are written by a sinner so why not putting one to the cover also.
The album is out for a couple of months now, so I think everyone, the band and the fans, has build up a certain distance to it already. If you think back now about the expectations you had of the album before the actual recordings started and compare them with the result now after having the album out and already having played a couple of live shows - did anything change from your personal point of view?
I didn't have any expectations so nothing's lost and nothing's won.
Some songs feel better live than others and some don't, so we don't play them, hehe. The album itself feels the way we wanted [it] so there are no surprises for ourselves, maybe. At least I still think it's the best we've made.
How were the reactions towards the new album?
Our fans were crying and tearing their hair and burning all our albums on a bonfire because of the blasphemy we've made by selling our souls to be more sexy in the media and to sound like every other shit in the radio, and the critics are praising us because we got friends from the Mafia. Or was it the opposite? Actually I don't follow what's
written, that doesn't interest me. I prefer The Holy Bible because I like fairy tales...
Do you have any favorite song to play live? And how is it within the band - is there a song of which everyone thinks it's the best or do opinions differ among the members?
I think everybody likes playing "Come Tonight" because of its energy. I like playing "House of the Silent" because that has been the final song of the setlist and I can leave the stage before guys do and drink their beers before they know what hit them...
Does this have something to do with the two singles (Ride On Tears & Colder) you released or why did you pick 'those' songs as singles? I also like the 3 b-side tracks on the singles - what was the reason why they didn't end up on the album? I somehow think that especially "Divine" sounds more like a song that could've fitted to one of your previous albums...
"Colder" wasn't supposed to be a single. They just called one day from the label that they want (us) to shoot the video from "Colder" and so we did. It was a nice opportunity to travel in a train because we all love trains. If we could decide the video would be all 'bout trains!
Okay, back to the real life, "Ride On Tears" became a single because we were tormented by our label. Sorry this is getting out of my hands, hehe. Oh, the B-sides...
We just couldn't find the spot where to stick them on the new album and finally they didn't sound like they should be there. After all, they do exist. We were thinking of thrash can with them at first but somebody did something and... well, now I like the idea and I like the songs also.
You also made two video clips for 'Songs For The Sinners". The "Ride On Tears" video shows more or less just the band playing with some sequences in between, but the "Colder" video seems to be build up a bit more complicated. Can you tell us something about the two videos? What's the meaning behind them and who came up with all this? How was it making them?
The meaning behind the "Ride On Tears"-video is that it is horrible, even tough the shooting itself was nice! Most of the scenes in "Colder" were shot when I passed out so can't say what actually happened there.
The girl is nice but I think that was the last video with hearts bleeding. I don't like music videos unless they really got something to say and we never had. It's only because of low budgets here in Finland. All the videos coming from Finland look more or less ridiculous.
Let's change the topic a bit now. You mainly played live shows in Finland last autumn. What are your memories about this tour?
The venues were more crowded than on our last tour. Now we have a great crew touring with us so the whole "job" has become easier, the only thing we gotta do now is to sit in the hotel and watch TV. So everything is pretty much the same as at home. Otherwise the tour has been really great!
The few shows you played abroad were in some, if I might call it like this, 'unusual' metal countries like Russia, Greece or at the Azores. Not too many bands play there and I think you're especially successful in Russia at the moment. Do you have any explanation for this?
No... We just like playing in different places, maybe the crowd senses that.
Now, in 2006, you have also played some shows in Europe. What were your expectations regarding this short tour and how do you think about it now? Any special moments you remember in particular?
The whole tour was special. Especially I remember Osijek and Belgrad, they got my heart. Again, we didn't expect much so we got more from every venue we played.
I also heard that a couple of more shows are planned for the autumn. Does this mean you will tour abroad more extensively than before? Is there a place you would like to visit?
Yes, we'll do another tour in autumn because the last tour got great feedback, so there are no problems selling another one to bigger venues, some venues we played last time we want to do again of course! Now we want to do Italy because last time we had to cancel that.
In general, what are Charon's plans for 2006?
Touring all over continues to early 2007 but May is sort of a "vacation" for us. Except in May we have to check out some new stuff and the new setlists for the rest of the year so goodbye "vacation".
Maybe something will be released also this year...
As we are a webzine dealing with the Finnish metal scene in particular, what do you think about this scene at the moment? Do you have an overview of what's going on concerning new bands or don't you follow this at all?
You got that right. What's actually funny in Finland is that the bands that used to be pop-bands, are turning into more darker (goth) to sell more albums abroad. Ain't that strange? The only thing I've noticed...
How are your contacts with other Finnish bands? We know for example that you had some guest musicians of other bands involved on 'Songs For The Sinners'.
We're keeping in touch all the time with some involved with other bands but they're friends like everybody else, too.
Is there anything left unmentioned you would like to tell our readers?
Nothing special, just hoping to see you on our forthcoming gigs of course!
Alright, then thanks again for the interview and good luck for the future!
Thank you very much!