For this small 'zine, the interview to a very important band isn't an everyday event. So, it's a true honor for me interviewing the cult Finnish death metal band Abhorrence through the very interesting words of their singer Jukka Kolehmainen!
No other bullshits, read the interview and enjoy it!
Hail Jukka! How are you? Congratulations for your “Totally Vulgar” live album!!! But it has released even 4 years after your reunion show at Tuska Open Air 2013. Why?
That’s how long it took to put out. I think the mixing/mastering took more time than anticipated and then it was sort of forgotten for a bit. We also had problems getting the art the way we liked it, it went down to the wire to get it done.
I guess we weren’t really in a hurry to get it out, because for a while it felt like that was the end for the band.
How was playing almost your entire tracklist in 2013 considering that your songs weren’t played on stage even since 1990?
It was great, but you know, we did play all of those songs live back in 1990. Not all of them at every gig but we did play all of our songs back at one point or another. It was surreal tho, especially for the first 2013 gig we played. And a lot of people seemed to know the songs’ lyrics!
What are the differences between playing pure death metal in 1990 when you were young and now in 2017 that you are older and wiser?
I don’t know about wiser but the single most definite difference is people knowing where to be and where not to go. Back in the day we played gigs where it seemed there was more audience on the stage than not. And they’d stand around making it impossible to play, which is what they paid to see.
Also the whole metal scene is all grown up and rather business-like. It’s almost too money-oriented nowadays. I like it when things get sorted and artists are actually paid but it’s very frustrating to talk about money at every turn.
What were the main reasons about your reunion? And why have you decided to resume (fortunately!) your live activities despite your previous public statements to not play other reunion shows?
Well, the reunion was because of the compilation. And we got a chance to play in the Tuska Open Air, so this was another reason. After that they’ve not been reunion shows really, we’ve just kept playing shows now and then.
When Svart decided to record the Tuska show and few months later it was decided that it was actually to be released as a live album, we said it wasn’t out of the question that we might do some shows, but at that point no one talked about reunions, just few shows. I guess that’s semantics, but we see the band reunited once and not breaking up afterwards.
You were lasted only for the 1989-1990 period realizing officially a demo and an EP but both still very acclaimed by the fans of death metal. Are you able to explain this remarkable fame despite your very short existence? Compared with the other death metal bands of the time, do you think to have something special? In my opinion, your sound was very distinguishable due to various reasons: its dark atmosphere, the continue alternation between blast-beats and slower tempos, the intensive and atmospheric use of the lead guitar and the nefarious growls of Jukka.
I think it was a combination of things. Mainly, our local scene was very strict about being original, sounding your own thing. Everyone thought copying other bands was dishonourable and lame, so many bands, us included, would discard ideas, riffs and full songs because they sounded like someone else.
Another thing was the limitations of our gear and “lack of professionalism” in a sense. We had the gear we had, so we worked around it and because we didn’t know of the limits professionals would have, we just did as we thought was best. When recording the EP, our recording/producer guy Timo Tolkki [yes, this very known guitarist recorded the EP of Abhorrence!], actually said “so, you want to do everything wrong, against all I’ve been taught”. Recording guitars with distortion, through a bass combo amp and way too loud, so that the volume was just barely controlled. Shit like that.
As far as composing the tunes goes, the string guys work really well together and they can bring out the worst (in a good sense) in songs. We always did our music with one thing in mind: it needs to be BRUTAL.
What were the reasons about the foundation of Abhorrence in 1989? What was the reception shown by audience towards you?
You mean, reasons regarding the forming of the band [yes, man!)]? We wanted to play brutal music and death metal was as brutal as it gets. We’d played speed metal, thrash metal, but it was lacking the pitch black undercurrent this stuff has. We played with a lot of hardcore punk and some grindcore bands, who understood what we were trying to do, so for the most part the reception was rather good.
Why was “Macabre Masquerade” never officially released?
If you’re talking about the rehearsal tape [yes, this last one], it was just a bonus thing recorded to the b-side of ordered or traded tapes Tomi sent out to some of his trading buddies.If you’re talking about the track, we never got around to recording it properly.
We had 2 full songs that were never released before and one track which was only played once outside our rehearsal room. They were the basis for our next release, which then never came.
What was the most memorable gig of the old Abhorrence during the early times?
Lepakko was a very dear place to us, we hung out there all the time and saw shitloads of live gigs at. So when we got a chance to play there, we jumped on it. It was actually recorded on VHS, but the quality of the tape is horrible, plus the sound guy fucked the sound up royally.
Our only show outside Finland was in Oslo, Norway opening for Darkthrone and Cadaver and after going to Mayhem’s place for party and sleep. Both are memorable occasions, for sure.
Speaking about your split-up in 1990, what were its reasons? And, excluded the well-known musical career of Tomi Koivusaari into the Amorphis, what did you do after the end of Abhorrence?
Long story short, too much happened too fast. Guys felt like nothing was happening, their musical taste was evolving and, you know, we were young.
I personally was already working fulltime at that point, so my musical interests turned into journalism. I reviewed music for magazines and few websites, mostly stoner and doom metal, some psychedelic stuff and metal in general for years. I did DJ gigs, worked in record stores, organized gigs and booked bands, we had a small festival going for few years and so on.
Before death metal, Finland had a small heavy metal scene represented principally by Oz. Is it correct to say that it was the death metal genre that led to the formation of the very first strong metal scene in Finland?
Let me correct you there, Oz was indeed a heavy metal band but not the first. There were other hard rock and heavy metal bands in the late 70’s and early 80’s in Finland, but most of them didn’t get abroad (for examples, check out Sarcofagus, Peer Günt and Zero Nine). [Speaking about Sarcofagus, their album “Envoy of Death”, strong of very dark metal songs like the titletrack and the frightful “Black Contract”, is highly recommended]
Finland had a scene, greater Helsinki area even more so, in mid 80’s already. Speed and thrash metal was getting very popular in the underground, where usually only punk and hardcore reigned. I guess some of that scene got involved with metal and new bands were coming out but the dozen. In the late 80’s tape trading was already quite active and that’s where the extreme metal was pouring in. Loads to people were into Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror, so for these people death metal wasn’t that much of a leap.
Do you think that the Finnish death metal has its own features compared with the US and Swedish styles of this genre?
Definitely yes, especially when compared to US. Finns have a bit awkward relationship with Sweden, but there are things we share in relation to this genre. I think most of the early Finnish bands sound a lot like their own thing, take bands like Xysma, Funebre or Lubricant for example.
Future projects for Abhorrence? New songs in progress?
Future projects include going to the rehearsal place, when all of the guys are in Finland and available, rehearsing some more. Maybe try and work with some new material but that remains to be seen. The guys have always had new songs in progress, the problem is getting that process going ‘till the end to a finished song.
So no promises. Possibly maybe. Definitely perhaps.
Ok Jukka! Thank you very much to replying to my many questions and curiosities. Now feel free to close this interview as you want!
Thanks for the intie and all the best to you and yours! Keep your eyes peeled for new shit on our Bandcamp page https://abhorrencefin.bandcamp.com/
Also: Support local music. Go to gigs. Buy the band’s merchandise!