ThisIsNotAScene‘s Jodi Mullen took time out to speak with Jussi and Mari of The Chant. They talked about their new album “A Healing Place“, the recording process, signing with Lifeforce Records, influences and much, much more…
First of all, congratulations on the fantastic new album “A Healing Place.” It really took me be surprise on my first listen. How do you guys feel about the reactions you have received so far?
JUSSI: Thank you very much. The feedback has been very positive so far and of course we like it that way. 🙂 We are aware that the album isn’t easy to listen so we hope that people have the time and energy to really listen to the album before they have their final say.
A Healing Place feels like a big step up from “This Is The World We Know”. Did you approach anything differently on this album?
JUSSI: On “TITWWK” we arranged the songs so that we could play everything live. On “A Healing Place” we didn’t have any restrictions. We recorded everything we felt the song needed and decided to worry about the live situation later. It’s nice that the songs have different interpretations when played live.
I understand that you guys recorded most of the instruments on the new record yourselves and then brought in the professionals to record the drums and do mixing and production. How did that work for you?
JUSSI: Actually, we first recorded the drums with the help of Mikko Herranen, who also mixed the album. After that we recorded everything else ourselves in my home studio.
MARI: Some might say it’s risky to record our kind of music without a strict time limit especially since we produced this album by our selves. We didn’t have anyone telling us “that’s enough, let’s move on”. In retrospect I think that it was beneficial for us to work in a home studio for the majority of the recordings. Sure it was time consuming and thus sometimes nerve wrecking but it enabled us to try different approaches and even make quite a few good “last minute decisions”.
On this album a lot of the loose ends came together in the recording and finally in the mixing processes. To me this helped in keeping the songs more organic and fresh.
Ilpo’s vocal performance on “A Healing Place” was a real highlight for me. Are lyrics and vocal arrangements something that come together after the rest of the song is in place or are they a fundamental part of the songwriting process?
MARI: On this album, the majority of the lyrics and vocal arrangements were created simultaneously, mainly after the main themes and the atmosphere of the song were constructed.
Most of the final vocals were created in a tight collaboration of Ilpo, Jussi and myself. I think that this work we did together creates more of an instrumental sound to the vocals. At least I tend to think of Ilpo’s voice as one of the musical instruments when arranging the lyrics into vocal melodies. In my opinion this approach has enriched Ilpo’s vocals and brought to attention a variety of new things he can do with his wonderful voice.
We mustn’t forget that we have nowadays two lead singers since Pekka joined the band few years ago. Songs like ‘Outlines and Regret’ are lyrically and vocally based on two vocalists. Pekka also sings the lead on ‘My Kin.’
You’ve been doing this for quite a long time now – since 1999 according to your website. Do you feel that age and experience have had much of an impact on your music?
JUSSI: Yes, of course. I think you can hear the development in everything – in songwriting, singing, playing and in the arrangements, – if you compare “A Healing Place” to its predecessors.
MARI: Musically, I think that we’ve grown immensely together over the years. We’ve learned to listen to each other better and trust each other musically. None of us has a huge ego considering musical aspects and we always appreciate in our music the bigger picture over everyone’s individual tastes and opinions.
You’re now signed to Lifeforce Records. How does working with them differ to your previous labels?
JUSSI: Well… we had huge difficulties with our previous label when “TITWWK” was due to release. After that Lifeforce feels really good. Everything has gone very smoothly so far and they handle everything very professionally in my opinion. I remember people telling me years ago that it’s safer to sign with a Finnish label if you want things to work but this time it has been quite the opposite. Every question we have gets answered quickly and we feel that we’re really wanted.
I generally try to avoid pigeonholing bands into particular genres but The Chant seem to bridge the divide between rock and metal. Which do you feel is the biggest influence on your songwriting?
JUSSI: I honestly don’t know for sure. I’d guess it’s all the music I hear combined. And I think it’s the same with arranging the songs. We all have somewhat different taste in music and when we do the arrangements together we get a nice mixture that is the sound of The Chant.
MARI: I get influences from numerous thing around me; music, art, books, beautiful things, happiness, sadness…everything. To me the atmospheres, ideas and states of mind are influential, not so much musical styles for example.
Are there any bands that influence you in particular? I thought I felt quite a strong Katatonia vibe on the new album…
JUSSI: Katatonia is one of them for sure but I think their influence was much stronger earlier. A Perfect Circle is definitely one of them, Anathema, Nine Inch Nails, Kent, Mogwai… the list goes on and on, from pop to metal.
Finland has been renowned as the home of top quality rock and metal for quite a while now. Is there something special about the Finnish temperament or character that lends itself to this kind of music?
JUSSI: Only thing I could think of is the working culture. Many of the Finnish bands that have reached some footing in recent years have been around for years.
One last question – you’re obviously quite well established in Finland but can we expect to see The Chant touring elsewhere in Europe in the coming months?
JUSSI: We really hope so but nothing has been confirmed yet.