Doomed Nation

Sounds For The Lost Generation

Interview: Scarlet (Ville, Wellu, Juha, Härri)

Photos by Juhamatti Vahdersalo

Scarlet is a grunge band from Eastern Finland founded in 1999. The band returned from over 10 year hiatus in 2015. First few years band just keep on playing since long brake had rusted their skills. Soon the groove was found and the band noticed that they were making an album. Songs just keep coming. Long hiatus had made their sound even stronger.

Today, November 11th, 2022 Scarlet is releasing their debut album »Circle Of Bones« via Finnish record label Inverse Records. The album was produced by Anssi Kippo (Children Of Bodom, Ensiferum, Impaled Nazarene, Entwine).

You can order »Circle Of Bones« on LP/MC/CD at this location!

Scarlet is:
Ville Tuomi – Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Vesa Tuomi – Lead Guitar
Juha Miettinen – Rhythm Guitar
Härri Liimatainen – Bass
Wellu Jaatinen – Drums

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Could you first tell me something more about the Scarlet’s background?
Ville: We lived in a very small city in the middle of nowhere (Suonenjoki is the city’s name) and playing in a band was one of the few options to spend freetime. Eventually we got together with this group since there were not that many dudes that played there. Good for us. This is a great group with good spirit.

Wellu: I started playing drums when I was 13 years old. My dad was the mayor of Suonenjoki and the musicians in our town didn’t have any proper place to practice. So I went to my dad and said, “C’mon dad, there’s plenty of guys here who wanna play, you need to get us a place”. And he did! After a month we got ourselves a proper practice house and that’s how pretty much it all started. I met Ville when we went to high school, we ended up being in the same class. But it took a few more years for us to start playing together. Our first band started around 1997. Scarlet was founded a few years later in 1999.

The band returned from over 10 year hiatus in 2015. What was the actual reason for hiatus?
Ville: There was no drama involved with the break. Life drew us in different cities as we were quite young fellows back then when band was formed. Some moved cause of education, some after a juicy lady. We had kids and time went by fast. Now kids are big enough to let daddies rock again.

Wellu: Life itself. We went our separate ways to different schools and stuff. We always kept contact through those years so it wasn’t that hard to start again. I was really heavily involved with music work here in Fin. Used to tour with various bands, but I didn’t play, I was in the production side of things. But those jobs are pretty much gone now, so after I noticed there wasn’t job gigs coming I decided, “Fugde that, I wanna start playing again…” Really happy I did.

How did Covid-19 lockdowns affect you as a band?
Wellu: Well, it changed many things here in Fin too. We had to reschedule our studio session and even with this second date it was really close. We had to go to Astia Studio on Sunday, since the second lockdown of Finland was starting on Monday. So the album was recorded in lockdown. All the bars were closed, so we just hanged in the studio, nothing was there to distract our minds. Full focus on the album. Luckily shops were open and we had beer and a warm sauna to keep us occupied when the mics were closed.

Are you excited that your debut album »Circle Of Bones« will be finally released?
Ville: Totally. This has been a long project. All of us have grown greyhair waiting for this to happen. Making our own concrete piece of music was a dream come to true -thing for all of us. We now can overline one thing from todo-list.

Wellu: Fuck yes! It took so long. Vinyl took over 6 months. Everything got slower due to covid and shit. It’s been a dream since I was a little kid to release our very own album with our very own songs. Now it’s there. We really hope people will find it and dig.

What can you tell me about your upcoming album?
Ville: It is real. The energy, feelings, most of the stories are from life lived.

Wellu: Like Ville put it, it’s real. Might be hard to some, since many seem to be living in some sort of fantasy world with their social media followers meaning more than going out and smelling the flowers. Digital world is so phony and fake. Start living people! Say hi to your neighbor, ask how he’s doing. That’s what it’s all about. All the lyrics are real stories around us. There’s no click tracks used on the drums, they also sound like a human has played them, not a robot or computer. And there’s strong emotions in the songs, if U have gone through some shitty times in your life, I’ll bet U can relate to these tracks. But there’s also light at the end of the tunnel. We always want to keep it that way. There’s hope.

The album was recorded analog with a renowned producer Anssi Kippo. What would be the main difference in the sound?
Ville: The presence of warmth and energy that analog recording captures is something else. Not all things evolve towards good direction says Russian man.

Wellu: It’s real. No computer tricks, only 23 tracks used. Half of them went to my drums. So there’s air in the music. The bass is so strong on analog compared to digital. U might blow your speakers with our vinyl/cassette!

How was working with Anssi Kippo?
Ville: Anssi is a beautiful soul. He shines positivity and humanity. Taking directions from a guy like that made the recording process spiritual experience. And of course he really knows what he is doing and how to do it effectively.

Wellu: He’s the best there is. Anssi is a one of a kind dude. Big soul and one the most kind hearted people I know. He gets you to do your best when recording. I had big pressures as a drummer. I had to do my part first. But thanks to Anssi, I didn’t panic, just concentrated on doing my best. He was there to tune my drums after heavy hitting songs and the feedback I got after the session was so nice I started to practice even more! We still talk daily about tapes/vinyls and all things analog and I’ve helped a bit how we make this analog stuff heard. Always there if he calls me!

The album is coming out via Inverse Records. How would you describe the collaboration with the label?
Wellu: I’ve known Inverse guys for a looong time and we’ve done things together in the past. The label situation here is pretty much dead. There’s only a few left who are releasing new music and even few who are actually doing something for their artists. When the album was ready I talked with a couple of labels I know and Inverse was there. They were really interested. And they dig that analog sound. For me it’s really important that I can trust the people who are releasing your music.

What your songwriting process looks like?
Ville: Acoustic guitar. Hopefully a glass of redwine. Some peace and there you go. It has been awesome to notice that you can get better as a songwriter even though we had so long pause with zero music.

Wellu: After wine and acoustics it’s blood, sweat & beers-time in our grunge bunker. Some songs we arranged with the whole band present, some just as a duo or trio and then with the whole band. Many times it’s better to start with only a couple of instruments and then add more. U can hear each other better, sometimes we play really quiet just to get the changes right etc. We don’t use computers and send files, we actually play together. Hope U can hear that.

It took 5 years to make you this album. Were the songs changed a lot during this time?
Ville: Songs changed even in the studio. But the real reason it took 5 years to make was the fact that we had to learn how to fight with our choice of weapon. It was hilarious how badly we played when we got back together as a group. And of course the songwriting pen was rusty too.

Wellu: Some of the earlier songs were 10 minute long prog jams. At some point we decided to start chopping and we ended up about 4 minutes per track. That was a good decision, we learned to get to the point quicker.

How much do you think has the band’s sound evolved from your early days?
Ville: There are echoes from the past in our tunes for sure. But we sure have taken a long leap forward. Helps a lot when everyone has jobs that fills our pockets with dough so we can buy nearly decent instruments.

Wellu: It was funny during the first few practices in 2015 the sound was really the same as in 1999. Sure, we got better gear now, but the feel is pretty much the same.

What are your main influences?
Ville: All of us have been listening our share of divine tones of Seattle when younger. I guess it stuck better than other music styles. At least that is what comes easiest out of my acoustic guitar.

Wellu: I’m a bit of a music nerd, with a house full of vinyls and tapes. Mostly 70’s and 90’s music.

What can you tell me about the lyrics behind the songs? Is there any common theme or concept?
Ville: Lyrics are mainly from real life. With a some kind of twist. I do not like to open the text much. Everyone can make their own decisions. For me it takes out a lot of fascination from a song if the picture is drawn too unequivocaly.

Do you have a favorite song(s) on the album?
Ville: »Circle Of Bones« and »RGRT«.

Wellu: Have to say »RGRT« since drums were done in the first take. It was a good feeling to achieve. Another one is »Frame«. I felt like a drum machine playing that one. Really hypnotic drums.

What was the best live experience so far that you’ll never forget?
Ville: Small privat festival in our hometown. Found the love of my life there. And a bunch of bit too angry insects too when sleeping at lawn.

Wellu: Dunno if the best, but the first gig after a long break in our home town was interesting. We had a little hangover, it was really hot and there was no shade anywhere and all of us were nervous as heck…

Finland has been best known for melodic rock/metal bands. Is Finland still the Number 1 metal country in Europe?
Härri: Abso’metal’lutely

Juha: Hell Yeah! .\,,/

How the people response to your 90s infused grunge sound? Is there any “grunge” scene in Finland?
Juha: The latest comment I heard was: “God damn! This is awesome! Nobody does this music anymore”

Ville: People have been responding quite well. Not that it matters much. We do what comes out naturally anyway.

Wellu: I’ve heard rumors of other grunge bands in Finland, so the scene is huge! 🙂

What can you tell me about the current music scene in your country? Are there any artists that you would like to point out?
Wellu: In Finland we have those major record companies and they’re pretty much releasing this tv/reality stuff these days. Few smaller labels left. So bands are releasing DIY pretty much. We have a big underground scene, and that’s a good thing. Support the underground!

What are the favorite places to go out in your city/area?
Juha: Tampere City / Maanalainen is the place to go. Lots of gigs around in summer and you can’t practically go out without having live music. It’s everywhere!

Wellu: Tampere / Vastavirta, much love to Pispala!

Are you familiar with any artists from Slovenia besides Omega Sun?
Wellu: I met Omega Sun dudes when we’re touring in the States with almighty Kaiser. Coolest of guys and lovely crew. Would be so cool to come to your country and make some heads bang!

How did you get started in music?
Wellu: I can say on behalf of all of us, that music chose us and there was nothing we could do except start practicing our instruments. 🙂

What is currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Ville: Tom Waits – »Swordfishtrombones«, Opeth – »Watershed« and The Cult – »Under The Midnight Sun«.

Wellu: I listen to tapes only pretty much. These tapes have been in my deck a lot: Air – »10 000 Hz Legend«, Jamiroquai – »Traveling Without Moving«, Black Sabbath – »Paranoid«, Suede – »Coming Up«.

Could you name some of your favourite albums of the 90s?
Wellu: All the alternative rock/metal stuff from the 90’s is worth checking out. Go and explore, that’s what I’ve been doing lately…

Do you have a memory of a song or an album from your childhood or teenage years that you are emotionally linked to?
Ville: I had a period of time when i was about 18 when i mostly listened Depeche Mode while reading Sandman comics. That bit odd atmosphere settles over me almost every time I hear Depeche Mode.

Wellu: I still remember the first time I heard grunge. My brothers friend recorded Soundgarden’s »Batmotorfinger« on TDK chrome tape from the vinyl that has been just released. I was blown away pretty much from the first second…

Are there any new releases that got your attention? Any recommendations?
Wellu: Kaiser has a new EP out soon, check it out. Close friends of ours.

If you could go back to the earliest days of the band, what advice would you have for your younger self?
Ville: Be merciful towards yourself. There is no rush to achieve anything.

Wellu: Shut up and practice.

I assume you don’t make a living from music? What are the members doing beside playing in a band?
Ville: We got 2 towercrane drivers in the band. They are high every day. One of us is working with electricity, one with food related stuff and one is working for the City of Helsinki.

What are your plans for the future? Are you working on any new songs?
Ville: We already have more than enough tracks to make a second album.

Juha: There are a bunch of new tracks waiting for arrangements. Great songs coming up! Aiming for the next record.

Wellu: Gigging seems to be almost impossible these days, so it might be that we start making the second album pretty straight after the first one is released…

Thank you very much for this interview! Do you have any last words?
Wellu: We wish to thank everyone who has helped us during our interesting journey. And of course all U know that the best way to support a band is buying their physical album… Also big thanks to instrument makers, our partners in grunge: Raato Guitars, Saari Drums, Amedia cymbals and Pellwood drumsticks! Grunge or Die!

Bojan Bidovc // music enthusiast, promoter, misanthrop and sometimes a journalist as well

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