Anssi Vieruaho – Vocals
Toni Tervonen – Guitar
Teemu Hautaniemi – Drums
Petri Saarela – Guitar
A nice dose of stoner is here with us, today we have the pleasure to talk with the finnish band TarpitOrchestra, welcome on our website.
How was the band born? Let’s begin with some infos on you.
Well, I quess I started it. The history dates back to teenage years when I was fooling around with some friends of mine where ever we could set up our shitty gear and play cover songs of our favorite metal bands. Years passed and people slowly disappered after loosing their inspiration of playing, but not me. I was always searching for replacements or totally new groups to play with and share this cliché of rock ‘n roll dream. But I never quite found the right line-up until 2007 when I wrote a bunch of songs which were leaning heavily towards the bluesy Stoner rock. That got me inspired again and I started hunting down the like-minded folk to rock with. And I did. And after some fine tuning in the line-up and some hard training – here we are.
Why did you choose the monicker TarpitOrchestra?
A friend of mine who used to play drums in the band came up with that name. Firstly, the word Tarpit is loosely translated from finnish word ‘Tervahauta’, meaning a tar kiln. Kinda primitive distillation oven where people back in a day used to produce tar from wood. Secondly we come from a northern city called Oulu which has a strong history of it’s tar production. Of course if you wanna travel further on a road of trivia info – my last name is Tervonen where the word “terva” appears again. And funny thing is that our drummer Teemus last name is Hautaniemi. But these things are just happy accidents. The name sounds oldish to my ear, reminding of some fictional gang of jolly bastards traveling across the land singing, playing and terrifying the locals. It’s pretty unusual and different name to a rock band, but I like it. And finns seem to have hard time pronouncing it so it always leads into a interesting conversation when you say it.
I read that your line-up changed many times, is it stable now?
Hah! No such luck.. Right after the “Train” promo was released and we had just started playing shows to get some buzz going with the brand new recording our singer/guitar player and bass player quit the band. Teemu and I had our suspicions during the recording session which took a huge toll of the bands moral and sense of unity. So we got bitten again by what I call a Bad Juju. It’s a bands life long friend which tends to bring bad luck each time we get few steps foward. It can be anything from getting kicked out from the rehearsal place or equipment getting broken at the worst possible time or people getting sick before a show. But usually it’s about line-up changes caused by people’s schedules or distances or just plain lack of motivation getting the best of them. But I’m used to it so it’s not a big deal. In general I think it can be really hard to find enough time and efford for the band. Everyone has their day jobs and families and pets and such. But in essence, if you don’t give enough for it you don’t get anything out of it. I’ve said to everyone ever played on this band that we go on as long as it’s fun. We have a new guy, Anssi Vieruaho behind the mic now, Petri Saarela on a second guitar and friend of ours is lending a hand and filling in on bass. So we’re far from stopping.
I had my first contact with your music through the social network media players, the audio quality sucks but I liked the tracks immediately. I didn’t listen “Low ‘n Heavy Blues & Tar Stained Tunes”, so I’d like to read something about this work, which are the differences with the last “No Train No Gain”?
Well, thanks for the compliment. The answer is the production. “Low ‘n Heavy Blues” was our second time ever in the studio with this group and the plan was to record two of our reliable mid tempo songs. No experimenting, no fancy stuff. Just straight foward groovy rock. And that’s what we did. I still think that those songs are good and they deliver what they’re suppose to. When the promo was released it had careful three star reviews and generally it was well accepted. Looking back at it, the mixing could have been more brave, more kick on the nuts. On “No Train No Gain” I got more involved with the guitar sounds and we were more picky about everything. The studio was the same and so was the producer, so the biggest difference was our own input. I’m not embarassed about “Low ‘n Heavy Blues” at all, it sounds like we sounded during that time and I’m proud of it. On “Train” we sound more like we sound on stage. And of course we had over 10 shows between those two recordings so I think you hear more experienced and seasoned band.
I defined “No Train No Gain” as a mix between Pantera and Spiritual Beggars, it sounds hard and involving at the same time, what made you think “this is what we want to play”? Do you have any band or album that influenced this choice?
It was never a conscious decision to go to a certain direction. It never is when I’m writing music. It’s more like turning the radio on to see what’s playing. And sometimes I hear these riffs which I jam and fiddle with. Of course there are some guidelines to keep the whole thing together. I have to occationally separate something I create from TarpitOrchestra stuff. Otherwise it would spin out of control, I think. I rarely play cover songs at home, it’s always jamming and improvisation so I might come up with acoustic stuff or just pure metal stuff. So you have to filter what you use with this band. Only rule, if you will, is no songs about love or ballads. So sorry for all you gals and softy guys. Your wait has been in vain.
And talking about influences, there are A LOT of them. I’m really open minded towards music so there are your Panteras and Beggars so your definition is good and flattering. But I could throw you an endless list of bands from AT THE GATES to SIR LORD BALTIMORE to IRON MAIDEN but I think you would run out of space here pretty soon. And it’s not just rock or metal that influences me so it’s a one big melting oven were I scoop my stuff from. In a nutshell – music influences more music.
Groove, Southern and Blues passages, seventies-like atmosphere, Finland is giving life some good stuff also from this point of view, is there a real scene about this style?
No, I don’t think so. Stoner rock is like an odd cousin of heavy metal that everyone for some reason feels uneasy to deal with. Someone said that stoner rock is too soft for guys and too hard for girls. And I think it’s partially true. You have to actually stop and listen to enjoy it. It’s not your easy listening but not the flashy techical masturbation parade either. There are some bands here in Finland like KAIHORO, MANNHAI and DARK FILTH FRATERNITY for example who have had their moments to shine but nothing that major. The audience at large is listening what radio stations want them to listen. And the metal scene is pretty inbred at the moment and I’m having huge difficulties of recognizing anyone from everything else. But of course there is always something bubbling beneath the surface and I think Stoner rock is one of those things that may very well be the next big thing. I have my thumbs up.
How do you create a song, both about music and lyrics? Who are the members that take care of these aspects?
It’s a chain reaction that usually starts from a random jamming with a guitar. You find a riff that sticks out from the mud. Then it grows a beat and some melodies around it giving the feel how the song goes. By that time I usually have a mental image about what the song might be about. It’s like a movie inside your head and that works as a guideline through the entire songwriting. And if I’m lucky I have some hunches how the vocal melodies might go while writing the guitar parts. If not, I’m screwed. Because lyrics are my weak point. On lyrics I co-operate with a friend of mine who’s way better in english and often has a nifty ideas how to describe things. I usually come up with a song titles fairly easy but it’s the actual text where the help comes handy. Lyrics are usually stories about anti-heroes and monday warriors who are having a hard time. There are certain themes and issues what each song deals with. But I don’t wanna go into details cause the meaning is between the lines not the actual words. Once I have the songs in some kind of shape I present them to rest of the group and we start learning them together. Feeling them out and toying around with different ways to play them. Some songs go straight through, some need more group effort and orrangements.
What is this music to you? It is a hot and desert-oriented sound, why is so appreciated in northern Europe?
I don’t see it like that at all. That image comes from Kyuss, Unida and rest of the American Stoner. I have no problem of imagining that same sound while wading knee deep in snow with a huge hangover. It’s a soundtrack for lowlifes no matter what the temperature is. The key thing is the feeling that it gives you. I hear alot of finnish melancholy in a stoner rock sound and finnish way of thinking which is very sarcastic and almost bitter. But still we can open a case of beer and have a blast. So with that same sound and with little variations you can express any emotion from anger to joy. I drifted away from writing metal music cause it didn’t felt right kind of playground. I love to listen to it but stoner rock is very natural way for me to express myself. Of course it’s not pure stoner as puritans would say because all the flirting towards metal music. But then again where the border line goes and who caress? Tommy Iommi did it all back in the 70’s anyway..
What do you think about the today musical scene?
It’s very interesting, I think. There are many good and unique bands like MASTODON and MESHUGGAH who are finally getting the recognition that they deserve, despite all the crap that the music industry is constantly feeding to the masses. In Finland we have metal bands up on the charts and top 10’s almost every week. Bands founding their own record companies where they sign their friends. Bands who have barely played any gigs are signing record deals. Some underground scenes are very active and easy to follow thanks to internet, home studios ect. But I don’t know.. I think it’s good times to those who are paying attention and are always on a hunt for that next cool band. For me these times are a bit chaotic. I can’t remember half the band names that fly past me every day. But I think it will eventually lead to a new innovations how we make and listen music.
The Stoner movement became very prolific in the last decade, and it also became better than before, why did this genre change like this?
It’s a result of increasing interest towards the scene. More people are getting involved which creates a healthy competition. So it’s not about few bands getting stoned and toying around with their fuzz peddals anymore. And it sounds better cause people have access to better gear and home studios to record studio quality releases. What is neat about Stoner rock -type of music is the possibility of variations. You can take any direction, and kind of approach you want. And I think that has inspired more people into Stoner. And more people means more ideas which means better songs. It’s evolution.
This 2010 is full of releases, I think of the last ones of labels such as Relapse, Elektrohasch, Small Stones and the many self-produced and sometimes also downloadable ones, are there any albums of this year that you are listening to many times?
Hmm, lets see. CATHEDRAL’s “The Guessing Game” was awesome. Bold idea to go for a double cd release. TRYPTICON was a positive suprise and one damn heavy listening experience. Best served with bad hangover and earphones. And if you survive that you can heal your wounds with BRANT BJORKs “Gods & Goddesses”. Whole album is one smooth cadillac ride into the sunset and back. Fairly new artist for me but I fell in love with the simplicity of the songs. And what else.. HIGH ON FIRE released the excellent “Snakes For The Divine”. And there must be tons of stuff.
which I can’t remember now and will regret later that I didn’t mention here.
In the modern communication systems where you can talk to anyone immediately and you can have anything now, what do you think about file sharing?
Well it’s modern day tape trading with a number of side effects which aren’t always that good. For a small operators like us it’s a good thing when you have an active music fan wanting to share his new discovery with his friends. That hopefully spawns enough feedback and opportunities for us to spread our music to a larger audience. But besides that it has made everything too easy. I’m not gonna get into the piratism babble here. But I think we get too much stuff too fast. When I was a teenager, I could remember every song in every LP and casette I owned. I remembered the dates and even some of the studios they were recorded. Can you do that with your 80 Gb worth of mp3 files? I don’t think so. I usually separate people to a two different groups – music listeners and music consumers. And I think file sharing can turn us to music consumers. You double click the file and after 10 seconds you fastfoward to half way of the song and if the song doesn’t immediatelly catch your attention you choose the next from playlist. That is not listening. Modern day people tend to lack the patience to concentrate on anything long enough and that doesn’t give challenging music any changes. I’m standing somewhere in the middle. I check out new bands and I’m also guilty of skipping through songs. But if I find something that I stops me to listen I buy the thing and enjoy it thoroughly. I own nearly 400 cd’s, all originals. And I still take time to glance through the booklets, admire the artwork and occationally try to memorise the song titles even the actual music comes from computer in mp3 format.
Myspace and the other social network are a good method to see what people think about your work. How much did this websites become important, and what kind of relationship do you have with your followers?
I think they are important and easy and cheap way to reach people. If you like that you might like this -advertising is always effective. I think of these sites as a newsboards. I use them fairly often. I update show calendar, write blogs or news feeds and toss around silly jokes while promoting the band. But if you don’t have die hard fans or active friends who act as your fans you don’t necessarily get much feedback. In our case the relationship is pretty mellow but the fault may very well be ours, cause I don’t hang around online chatting with people. I’ve reseaved emails from people asking for our promos or inquiering possibilities of us playing somewhere. But there’s no loud fans spreading the word and commenting on every single thing we post on our sites. I think our followers or fans just aren’t that kind of people.
How are TarpitOrchestra live? What can we expect from your shows?
On a stage we are honest rock band. The key thing is to have a good time and deliver the songs the best way possible. So there’s no magic tricks or blood spewing. Best way to get in the mood for our shows is to get few beers with good friends. To get ready for a fun and ass kicking show. And we got a new line-up now so it will be interesting to see how things have changed since last time.
Are you already working at the successor of “No Train No Gain”?
Of course. The songs on “Train” are 1 to 3 years old and it’s been released 6 months ago. So for the band that promo is old news. I’m currently writing new material which we will start to jam. Direction hasn’t changed that much but hopefully we can bring even more groove as a band to the table. I’m comfident that they’re gonna be good tunes to headbang or dance along or what ever you do when you hear good music. And then we kickstart the recording sessions for the nro 3. but when, it’s too early to say. Hopefully the upcoming winter.
Thanks for the time spent with us, the last message to our readers is up to you.
Thank you for having us, mate. And cheers for you folks from the smoky tar kiln. Remember to be listeners not consumers. There are alot of good music out there to discover. All you gotta do is use your ears, baby!