Good day to one and all!
After months and months of recording, mixing and mastering, we're so happy to tell you that our 7th album ”In Sequence” is 100% done! The release will take place early 2016, with a first taste of new music happening before the end of this year. As always, we'll keep you posted on updates regarding the new album here in the newsletter.
In other news, we have a one-off show coming up in Helsinki, at our home-away-from-home, On The Rocks. More info about that below.
In this issue, we start a new series of interviews with Amoral band members, made by the Amoral Street Team. They're gonna be something different than what you'd find in a music website or magazine, so we hope you'll enjoy them. First up is our sticksman Juhana Karlsson.
ONE-OFF SHOW IN HELSINKI ANNOUNCED
After spending the first half of 2015 recording their 7th album, Amoral will play a one-off show at On The Rocks, Helsinki on the 14th of November. The idea is to see how some of the new songs work in a live enviroment, as well as dust off some oldies from the back catalogue to celebrate the fact that original singer Niko Kalliojärvi is in the band once again.
"The On The Rocks show will be our only one for now, as the actual touring cycle won't begin until the new album is out, sometime in early 2016" says Amoral guitarist Ben Varon. "But since the album is just about done and we miss the stages, we decided to do one gig to ease the long wait. This is a great chance for us to try out some of the new material, and also to bring back some old favorites we haven't played in years. The old songs will have some new twists and arrangements to them now, performed as a six-piece, so we have a lot of practicing to do before November, and the audience can expect plenty of surprises!"
Support for this show will come from a very special guest, our friends Dead Shape Figure, who are releasing a new album in November. Be sure to get to On The Rocks in time to see them!
JUHANA KARLSSON – THE STREET TEAM INTERVIEW
Pirjo and Mira from Team Finland, Rocio from Team Argentina and Jessica from Team Brazil had a special interesting interview with Juhana (Juffi) Karlsson, the drummer of Amoral.
Juhana founded Amoral with Ben Varon 1997 when he was 14 years old, so he has the longest possible journey behind with the band.
Q (Pirjo): Where have you spend your childhood? Do you have sisters, or are you the only child?
Juffi: I was born in Helsinki and I’ve been living here all my life. I’m so used to it that I can’t see myself living in any other town really. Time will tell if that’ll change at some point. I have one sister, she is living in Paris nowadays.
Q (Pirjo): What do you do in your spare time?
Juffi: Reading and computer games mostly. I’m more or less an introvert so I don’t like socializing all the time – I need quiet time at home to recharge my batteries so to say. Every now and then I’m going out with friends though, going to see some gigs, playing board games and stuff like that. Seems like nowadays it’s more fun to gather at someone’s place than go to a bar on the weekend. We must be getting old, haha. Other than that I spend time with my fiancée, we go for walks with our dog and so on. We adopted a dog this summer and she is the cutest creature ever!
Q (Pirjo): Do you also watch TV? If you do, which programs you are looking at? Do you have any favorite shows?
Juffi: In general I really don’t watch TV much, just some movies and series from Netflix or HBO occasionally. Lately I’ve been watching The Wire a lot though, just started the fifth season. Even if I’m usually not very interested in police / crime series, I just love The Wire! So good acting and the series ingeniously show the problems in different areas of a modern western society. Also, Game of Thrones has been very entertaining. I read the first three books that were published of The Song of Ice and Fire back in the day over ten years ago, and no-one except sci-fi/fantasy nerds knew about the whole thing. The situation is a bit different nowadays, since the TV series became like the biggest thing in the world. Other than that, it’s mainly movies every now and then, but not a lot of those either. Maybe one movie per two weeks on the average.
Q (Rocío): Do you have a favorite place in the world?
Juffi: Definitely at home, with my fiancée and our dog.
Q (Mira): What do you do beside playing drums as your job?
Juffi: I’m working in a company called Mendor, and the focus of the company is to create new diabetes management solutions. I’m working in a software development team, and my title is “Software Quality Assurance / Technical Writer”. Because the software we are developing is considered to be a medical device, it requires quite a bit of documentation required by both EU and FDA regulations. So basically I’m writing most of the documentation and conducting a lot of testing to ensure that the software functions as it should. I’m also writing user guides and doing customer support and whatnot. I really like the job and the people in our team are just awesome!
Q (Pirjo): Can you imagine to live without playing drums and how would you replace it if you were not able to play anymore?
Juffi: Hmm… ten years ago I would probably have answered something like ”no way in hell I could live without playing drums”, but nowadays I could imagine life without drums yeah. Although it’s so much fun that I’d very much like to continue drumming! If I couldn’t play drums anymore I’d probably play more guitar I think. Playing music is something that I never see myself quitting totally, so yeah it would probably just be some other instrument then. I was also thinking of replacing drumming by picking up tai chi or yoga or some martial arts hobby again, but I guess “not being able to play drums anymore” implies some kind of physical obstruction that would inhibit those kind of activities as well. Anyways… even if I was in a wheelchair I could still read and meditate and play games and do a numerous other things that would make me happy.
Q (Rocío): Do you teach playing drums? If not, would you like to start teaching some day?
Juffi: I used to teach drumming several years ago, mainly because I was just studying and I didn’t have any other source of income. I didn’t have a lot of students though, maybe five or so at a time. There were several good aspects to the whole thing, like I needed to rationalize my own playing style and the practice methods that got me where I am as a drummer to be able to pass the knowledge on to other people. And I got good feedback from the students so I guess I was doing something right. I didn’t enjoy it that much myself though, so as soon as I got some other work I stopped giving drum lessons. Maybe I’ll try it again at some point, but definitely not now since I’m just so busy with Mendor.
Q (Mira): Are you still going on your studies? If you are, what are you studying now?
Juffi: I’m still registered in the University of Helsinki, but I haven’t really studied there for about three years. It would be quite hard to find the time and mental resources for studying when having a full time job plus the band activities on top. Earlier I was thinking of becoming a scholar of religion so that I would just do research, but pretty much faded that idea when I was working on my Master’s Thesis and realized that I don’t really enjoy the academic writing process that much. I think I’ll finish my Master’s Thesis at some point, but right now studying spirituality / religion is just a hobby for me. I’m so interested in these topics that I always end up reading something related to spirituality no matter if I’m officially studying it or not.
Q (Jessica): What is your favorite literary genre?
Juffi: Like said above, I usually read books on spirituality, religion, meditation, psychology and all kinds of occult topics (f.ex. out of body experiences) nowadays. That pretty much sums up my main interests in life I guess. If need to pick a literature genre, it would probably be science fiction since it’s pretty much the only genre I’ve been interested in non-stop over the years, and still very much enjoy reading. There’s just something deeply satisfying in imagining civilizations that are technologically thousands of years ahead of us and living on different planets. I’m actually looking forward to starting the Dune saga, since it’s widely considered to be a cornerstone of sci-fi literature and I’ve managed not to read it yet.
Q (Rocío): Do you have any special place to do your meditations?
Juffi: I’m aiming to integrate meditation to my everyday life, so I actually try to evade doing it only in only one place and at a certain time. I might meditate at home, our rehearsal room or while going somewhere by bus or train for example. All it takes is to close the eyes, concentrate on the breath and see what happens. The content of the sounds that I hear and what kinds of thoughts/feelings they create doesn’t really matter that much, just achieving the “witness” position and not getting identified with the content. When meditating at home, I’m nowadays often doing it in our sauna. We don’t use the sauna that much, so it’s more of a meditation room now.
Q (Rocío): How do you keep in shape? Do you have any routine? In your Instagram we can see a few pictures about bicycles.
Juffi: I don’t really have any routine, just cycling and some pull ups as I see fit. And drumming of course. I’ve really been into cycling lately, and if I cycle to work from Monday to Friday that’s already 100 kilometers in one week. I usually don’t do it every day though, but then I might do a bit longer cycling trip on the weekend and go really fast. I enjoy the feeling of adrenaline and speed when biking fast. I would go jogging but my knees can get really hurt from that so nowadays I just stick with cycling. It makes me feel good and is my number one choice for commuting.
Q (Jessica): Which are your musical references and what encouraged you to become a drummer?
Juffi: I started playing drums by accident really, it wasn’t really planned or anything. I had played guitar and piano at the time and actually singing in a choir as well, so drums were never the only instrument for me. I just happened to try out drumming, and the feeling I got was just so satisfying that I got a strong urge to keep it going. The fun in it for me has also been tightly bound to the fact that I never took formal drum lessons – I’ve enjoyed the process of trying out different things and finding out what works best for me. Of course this approach might not work for everyone, but for me it has been essential that the drumming is my personal journey of discovery.
By musical references I assume you mean influences? Lars Ulrich was the biggest influence when I started, then later on some extreme metal guys (Hellhammer, Trym, Derek Roddy, Nicholas Barker), and nowadays Jojo Mayer has been my biggest influence for several years. I enjoy a lot of electronic and rap music, and try to incorporate some influences from those genres into my drumming as well.
Q (Jessica): Along of those years what do you consider your biggest change as a drummer?
Juffi: I would say it has been moving away from the mind-set of ”hey look at me, I can play some flashy stuff” to more adapting to the role of the drummer, which means to play what the song needs to make it sound as good as it can be. This has been a pretty long process, and it’s about finding a balance I think. Because if you take it too far and always think like “ok I’m not going to play too much here”, it might make your drumming sound too stale and predictable. So it’s about not overplaying, but still coming up with creative drum parts that fit the song perfectly. It’s easier said than done, but I think I’m getting better at it all the time.
Q (Jessica): How would you define Amoral for someone who doesn't know the band?
Juffi: I would say Amoral plays a unique style of progressive metal that can’t really be compared to another band. The musical style can range from fierce and aggressive to soft and delicate, even within one song. The musical diversity goes hand in hand with the lyrics that deal with the whole scale of human feelings usually in the form of small stories.
Q (Jessica): Big changes are always a challenge. Do you feel comfortable trying new things in the last Amoral albums?
Juffi: Yeah sure, I’m always up for challenges and trying out new things. For example on the upcoming new album, the drum setup I used in the studio was designed just for this album – only big toms and lots of cymbals. So I had to learn a bit different style of playing than before, but it turned out really good I think. I like to play in a band like Amoral that changes and does different things, it keeps the whole thing fresh for ourselves which is important.
Q (Mira): Do you have any other musical projects except Amoral and Shear, and are you planning any?
Juffi: Actually I quit Shear beginning of this year, so Amoral is my only band at the moment. Reason was that I just wanted more spare time to do my own things; it can get exhausting with a day job plus two active bands. And playing music with other people is not something that I want to turn into a “duty”, so I decided to do it less in order for it to be more fun. And also to be able to do other things in my life as well.
I actually started working on some of my own musical ideas this year, but it’s very much in an experiential state at the moment. I really like the idea of composing music without any genre restrictions whatsoever. Who knows, maybe after some time I’ll have some of my own songs done.
Q (Jessica): If you could choose any band/musician to work together, what would be your choice and why?
Juffi: Trying out something totally different would be interesting… like there’s this guy Roope Kinnunen (aka RPK / RoopeK) in Finland, who I greatly admire as a musician. Would be cool to try out mixing some of his beats with acoustic drums and see how it would turn out. Another one who I have mad respect for is Jaime Meline (aka El-P), playing some drums on one of his projects would be insane. As far as bands go, hmm drumming in Ghost would be great I think. They’re super popular and I love the music (the new album “Meliora” is GREAT by the way), and I could stay totally anonymous as one of the “nameless ghouls” :D
Q (Jessica): Which country you would like to visit/play in, but have had no opportunity yet?
Juffi: Somewhere in Asia… Korea would be cool for example. And India, I’ve never been there (yet). And somewhere in South America and Africa and…. so many places still to visit!
Q (Rocío): Is there something you do always before a show? maybe a few minutes or a day before?
Juffi: About half an hour before a show I prefer to be alone – just me, a pair of drumsticks and a practise pad for warming up. I like to calm down from all the joking and socializing that has happened during the day and just blank my mind, so it’s a kind of meditation. I’m bringing about a peaceful feeling that I carry with me to the stage. Actually one of the best feelings happens just after walking on stage and sitting behind my drumkit while the intro is still playing. I’m just looking at the audience while feeling the excitement and adrenaline because the show is about to start, but it’s all wrapped into this peaceful and calm energy field. It’s a very cool contrast and I really enjoy those moments.
Q (All): Have you ever visited South America? If you have, how did you like and what was special interesting?
Juffi: Nope, haven’t been there. I’m definitely interested though, would be nice to get to visit there some day. Actually two of my co-workers at Mendor are from Argentina, so I’ve heard many stories about that country.
Q (Jessica): How do you feel being an inspiration for your fans?
Juffi: It’s kind of weird for me really, since I don’t have a strong sense of myself being this or that you know? I just do different things in my life without really identifying that much with any particular type of action. For example I don’t really have a “drummer” identity, it’s just one thing that I enjoy doing very much. But when I’m doing something else, I’m not a drummer anymore – I don’t carry that kind of tag with me. But it’s a very interesting idea that because I started playing drums at the age of 14 or so, some people consider me an inspiration nowadays. Of course it feels good – I’m very honoured and I hope my existence has some positive influence to people.
Q (Mira): Is there still something you would like to tell to your and Amoral´s fans?
Juffi: Don´t take your thoughts too seriously.
Thank You !
Juhana's live picture by Toni Salminen.