We decided to spice things up a bit with the newsletter, and get some outside help for it. So Mandy Jacobs, our trusty street team member, conducted an interview with Niko Kalliojärvi about his return to the band, musical history, and what he's been up to during the years he was away.
It's been pretty quiet on our social media pages etc, simply because there hasn't been all that much to post about. We're at the final stages of finishing the album, with Janne Saksa doing some (hopefully) last changes to the mixes before we begin the mastering. That's how the past month has been going, pretty much: Janne doing a mix of the song and sending it over, us listening to it a bunch of times on all kinds of different devices, requesting some changes, and getting yet another version to listen to. With every version the "wish list" gets shorter and shorter, until the mix is done and the song sounds perfect.
The few people we've played the new material to all seem to think we have something pretty special here, and I must say, personally I'm also very proud of what we've done with this album. My goal with every single album is to feel that it's our best one yet, not just to say that in interviews but to actually believe it myself, and I'm just happy to be able to do so yet again. Stay tuned for a taste of new music later this year...
INTERVIEW WITH NIKO KALLIOJÄRVI, BY STREET TEAM MEMBER MANDY JACOBS
After some photos with the text “seven means six” we got the news on the 26th of March that Niko Kalliojärvi will return to the band. Niko is the original singer of Amoral and will perform the growls next to singer Ari, and will take over some guitar parts from Masi, who will focus on other instruments. Some of you know him from the first three Amoral albums, Wound Creations, Decrowning and Reptile Ride. In 2009 Niko left the band but now he is back as singer and guitarist for the 7th Amoral album.
Mandy: Some of us already know you can sing/growl but it seems you also play guitar.
Are there any more instruments you play that we didn't know about?
Niko: Not in the sense that I'd be comfortable performing, but I can play a little piano, a little bit more drums, and of course bass guitar since it's very close to the guitar.
Mandy: You already had your first gig at the Tuska after party. How is it to be back?
Niko: It feels good and very natural. Over the years when I've met the guys here and there, it's always been the about same jokes and topics in general. So when I came back for good, there was not much of any ice to break or getting used to the thing. We just kept rolling like we always have. And the guys have done a good job finding Masi and Ari, because it almost feels like they've been around just as long as the other guys.
Mandy: So it felt like you never went away?
Niko: Well, not to sound cheesy but I guess yeah, haha.
Mandy: When you left the Amoral the band changed their style. Do you like to play the new style?
Niko: Yeah, I think where the sound has evolved now is great. Of course some changes have surprised people a little, but Amoral has always sounded different on each album. So, from my point of view the style that is present on FLDS feels logical and I actually enjoy the album a lot. And I'm not saying it only because I'm back in the band, haha!
Mandy: When you left the band some of the fans also left. Do you think they will come back now?
Niko: Hmm... maybe the ones who liked the unusual things in the band from the beginning. In the beginning some of the listeners were only into the pure death metal side of things, and they might have abandoned the band at this point. But some who have enjoyed the sound getting more diverse after each album, might have found the new sound interesting again. And I think that could actually have happened even if I hadn't re-joined the band, because to me the more brutal element has also been increasingly present lately. But wait till you hear the new album!
Mandy: The next questions are a bit more personal. When is your birthday and what is your age?
Niko: I was born on the 3rd of May. I'm now 31.
Mandy: So I already missed your birthday. I'm sorry.
Niko: Haha, no problem. Was I even in the band yet..? Can't remember. Well, I've "been in the band" for a year now, it's just been kept a secret
Mandy: Yes I did my homework and that was 26-03-2015.
Niko: Haha, ok! Good job!
Mandy: You studied guitar on the Pop & Jazz conservatory, is that where your heart lies?
Niko: I wanted to study music because I want to understand music as much and deeply as possible. I learned quite a lot by myself at first, but inside the school you get a better chance to incorporate all this into your playing and composing. It's a lifelong journey, but they give you a bunch of useful tools to make it on your own.
Mandy: But why did you choose Pop & Jazz ? Or are there also other styles on that school?
Niko: Over here the music education is divided to classical and non-classical music. The non-classical side is just named like that. Of course inside the school you can choose what you like best. Of course if there was a school called Metal & Jazz Fusion In-Yo-Face, I'd gone there, haha!
Mandy: What music do you listen by yourself?
Niko: Mostly I try to find something that I haven't heard yet. Lots of instrumental music, guitar related fusion and also some classical and electronic music (not EDM!), funk, jazz, rap... All kind of stuff actually. But sometimes good old metal is just what a guy needs too!
Mandy: Which bands do you like?
Niko: Meshuggah, Textures, Greg Howe, Paul Gilbert, Freak Guitar/Freak Kitchen, OHM (Chris Poland from the first 2 Megadeth albums), Tribal Tech, Hate Eternal, Allan Holdsworth, The Brecker Brothers, The Meters... oh man I could go on forever, haha! But those are some of the things that have been on my playlist lately.
Mandy: Do you have a day job beside your Music and study?
Niko: Yep. It's a company that manufactures and supplies all kind of things to vehicles and it was founded by my father.
Mandy: Do you have time for that beside school and 2 bands?
Well, luckily I'm supposed to graduate right now, so one thing less to worry. Then it's just about time management, coordinating the band activities so that they don't overlap.
I don't go out much and a lot of the band related stuff is what I'd do on my spare time anyway.
Mandy: And what more do you like to do in your spare time?
Niko: Play the guitar, watch movies, maybe exercise a little, snowboarding in the winter is cool. I used to be into all kind of sports as a kid but then rock music came and saved me, haha!
Mandy: What did you do as a child?
Niko: At first I played football and was in karate and judo. Then I got heavily into ice hockey and that was my main thing until I was 13. And in the winter I was always downhill skiing and later snowboarding, which still is my favorite, but haven't found time to do it in like 2 years!
Mandy: Do you have any pets?
Niko:Yeah, 4 guinea pigs! Well, I got into them through my girlfriend. I think at first she had 2 and then we got 2 more. They're really cool and so very metal, haha! But I come from a dog family. My mom has always had dogs. I'd probably have a dog if I wasn't always out of home.
Mandy: How do you like to spend the time with your girlfriend?
Niko: Well, lot of my spare time activities I do with her, otherwise she wouldn't see me at all, haha! We play music together, sometimes sing karaoke (lol), movies, go meet the family, take a walk, the usual...
Mandy: I was already wondering, how do you make time for your girlfriend beside this all? Do you sing at a karaoke bar?
Niko: Well, having similar lifestyle to begin with helps a lot. Yeah the karaoke thing is when we're going out. She always wants to go and then after a few beers I'm the one in the mic!
Mandy: This was the end of the Interview. Thanks a lot to take so much time for it. It was nice to talk with you.
Niko: Alright. Thanks to you, it was fun!
(pictures by the Amoral Street Team)