MATTI of SHAMRAIN interview with Tuskasi.com
... is certainly one of the most unique Rock bands that can be found in Finland nowadays. Having released their debut album "Empty World Excursion" in 2003, the guys sharpened their music`s individual profile with every further release. Drawing their influences from bands like The Cure, Blackfield and Anathema, the name ShamRain stands especially for one thing: the unity of sadness and beauty. The band`s music embodies the perfect mixture of atmospherical depth and poppy elements.
The melancholy found on ShamRain`s albums goes along with a certain timelessness that many bands fail to achieve. Tuskasi had the opportunity to do an e-mail interview with main songwriter Matti Reinola who told us interesting things about ShamRain`s current release "Deeper into the Night" (2006), future plans and his personal view on creating music.
-Hi Matti! Since we have ShamRain`s biography on our site, we can keep the typical first question issue of introducing the artist rather short. Just imagine someone who never listened to your music but got interested in SR somehow. Please point out one SR song for this person to listen to (and tell us why that choice)!-
Matti: Hello Hendrik. That`s a hard question, since I think we have two sides, those slow ethereal
songs and a bit faster, more rocking ones. And I think the faster ones are taking over the slower ones in the future, but if I only can choose one, I`d say "Drifter". It`s my personal favourite, a quite slow and very emotional song with a great chorus.
-You mentioned several times that you try to turn your sadness into something beautiful when writing songs for SR. Does that mean that there`s a limit of how SR are supposed to sound? Is your musical vision for this band both that clear and strict that i.e. rougher elements, heavier guitar sounds won`t be ever taken into consideration? How open are you towards stylistic experiments?-
M: Well, I used to have a very clear vision of our sound, but the scale is getting wider all the time and I`m more and more open to experiments. The new songs that we`ve been making demos of include also some rougher, more distorted guitars, not in the Metal way though and bass played with an e-bow and stuff like that. Besides our next album will include more songs by other members, so that gives a little change too. But surely I think it will be easily recognizable as ShamRain, since the overall mood is something that will probably always be there. So don`t expect any happy tunes in the future either.
-Previous question mainly refers to the fact that you just founded the "evil twin" of SR, the Doom Metal act Hanging Garden, which is most likely meant to reflect other sides of your personality and gives you the chance to keep SR`s music as pure and dreamlike as it is?-
M: Actually parts of the Hanging Garden album ended up surprisingly close to the darkest and saddest side of SR stuff. If we removed the Metal guitars, double bass drums and growling vocals, some of the stuff would easily fit the ShamRain category. It also has this beautiful melancholic feeling in it, same as in ShamRain, but then also these Metal guitar riff parts. I tried to create something ugly but didn`t quite manage yet, heh. Even as almost half of the material in HG is written by guitarist Saku, it`s the keyboards and some guitar parts that have this ShamRain feeling in them. Well the intention is that those bands would develop further away from each other.
-Anyway, the stylistic scale on your current release "Deeper into the Night" is wider than ever before, also including uptempo-songs, whereas the debut offered only fragile ballads. Does "DITN" give a hint at what is to come with the next regular album? What can you tell us about the songwriting process for ShamRain III?-
M: I kinda told something about the new stuff earlier here, but "DITN" surely gives no direction of what we will sound like on SR III. I mean 3 songs of it were quite old and do not represent of what I want to do now. Maybe "Black November" is the closest match to future stuff, even though most of it doesn`t have that simple song structure. I personally can hear some influences from Radiohead, Placebo and Porcupine Tree in the new material, but we`ll see...
-To be honest, I have ambivalent feelings towards "DITN". I was already sceptical when I heard that mainly leftovers will shape this release. In moments like this, the listener might ask himself what`s the motivation of such a release since basically leftovers are rather seen as pieces not good enough for regular albums. Especially after releasing such a masterpiece like "Someplace Else", wasn`t it artistically "risky" to release a MCD with a couple of older songs? How do you feel about that MCD now, 10 months after its release? At least "Aphelion", which is a new song, lacks pretty much inspiration in my opinion.-
M: In a way I disagree with you. Leftover is not the best word here. We didn`t leave those songs out of "Someplace Else" because they weren`t good enough, but because they didn`t fit the album entity and mood. I mean imagine "The Lost Love Song" on "Someplace Else", no way. Still we all like that song and live it works like hell. We wouldn`t have released those songs if we thought they were bad. And I really like "Aphelion", one of the most desperate songs we have ever made along with "Nothing". I agree that it dosn`t exactly offer anything new, but I like it`s mood and it`s very personal to me. I like "DITN" a lot and think it offers a lot, since those songs will not be available in other releases. It`s not a typical "now let`s release something so that people won`t forget us" - kind of thing, as many MCD`s are.
-Nevertheless, could you please tell us the stories behind the "DITN" songs, also lyricwise?-
M: Lyricwise, hmm. "Black November" was written just before the MCD recordings. I wrote the song very quickly which is rare for me and the lyrics I made together with Kalle. Kalle had some verses and I had some and we were killing time on a hangover day at my place and decided to finish the lyrics. So we tried to match our lines and came up with some new ones like 'Black November swallows all the light'. And that was born just by looking out of the window, since it really was black outside and kinda depressing. Some of us were against that title, but I`m glad we left it that way, since it always reminds me of that rather oppressive day now. We even tried to have another moment like that just now, a year after, but with all the snow it wasn`t a black November this year. So we ended up composing some art-shit with reversed things and recording some ghostly wind noises from my window. The song is simply about isolation, longing and black November, the usual SR - whining.
"The Lost Love Song" is a kinda relationship troubles mixed with nightmares. The title is a tribute to a certain The Cure song, since the main beat reminded so much of it and it fitted the lyrics perfectly. No more to say, except that I`ll try to avoid lyrics about that subject nowadays.
"Baleful Whisper" is a Twin Peaks tribute, both lyrically and musically. A hazy one about loss. It was first sang by Mika, but didn`t sound and feel right, so Minna took care of the vocals there.
"Sound of Snow" is actually about the impossibility of the situation between Kim and Edward in the movie "Edward Scissorhands". Works fine for a duet. This song was already recorded for "Empty World Excursion" and now it fnally found it`s place.
"Aphelion" is about a person isolating oneself, drifting away and being cold.
Hendrik Behnisch - 27.02.2007
Photos: Kalle Pyyhtinen, Jani Mahkonen, Kristin Urbanovics
copyright © 2006-2007 tuskasi.com
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