To/Die/For

After 5 years of absence, one of the pioneering gothic rock/metal bands is back with a brand new album. To/Die/For is here… darker, more melancholic and stronger than ever. Grande Rock contacted the mastermind of the band, Jape (vocals, songwriting), and asked him about the years the band was inactive, the present, the future… and some very strange things about music in general… Read below a very “special” interview from an artist that’s not afraid to speak the truth…
To/Die/For band

Hi Jape… It’s great to see To/Die/For back and active again!

J: Oh yes. Feels great again! Time of Great Music with Great friends and waiting for tours!

 

Back in 2006 you released “Wounds wide Open” which is, in my opinion, the best album of the band to date and everything seemed to be working perfectly for To/Die/For… but suddenly you disappeared from the scene. What has happened throughout those years? Several rumors had it that the band had split-up for some time… is that true?

J: I would say that we lost our motivation. Main reason for that was some asshole promoters, who seemed to destroy everything we were fighting for. It almost killed us totally. Also, that line-up didn’t work that well together what comes to writing songs. We had no that “spirit” anymore. This break did only good for us! Band did not split up first but personally I decided to stop writing music and I thought I am never gonna be in a band… never again.

 

When did the new line-up of the band begin to take form? I see that the original guitarist Juppe is back again and so is the keyboardist Juska, who has played on “IV”. Tell us some things about the newcomers too, the bassist Eza Viren and the drummer Santtu Lonka.

J: There’s a lot of wrong information. J Santtu is not our drummer anymore. Santtu played drums to “Samsara” album but after that he left the band. He did not like to continue touring anymore. Our new drummer is the new Bonham from Finland. His name is Matti Huoopainen. Young guy and hell of a kind a drummer! Eza Viren joined us after Josey Strandman decided to change his life totally. He moved away and had a dayjob and new woman into his life etc. So... he choose a more boring life. smiley

 

When did you start touring with this line-up? Which countries did you visit?

J: We’ve done only a few shows here in Finland but there’s coming shows around the world. In April we’re gonna tour in South-America, some shows coming to Russia and in May we’re touring here in Finland again. We’re trying to get shows also to European countries and of course to Japan again. From the beginning of To/Die/For’s career we´ve played about in 30 different countries.

 

Did you start working on new material in the meantime? If I’m right the song “Kissing the Flames” had been presented on Youtube (by a user) almost 3 years ago.

J: That version is a demo, but yes. We recorded that demo years ago. After “WWO” album I think. Now was right time to release it and make a real version.

 

So, did you start looking for a label while you were recording the album or after the recordings were over?

J: We did not try to find any label for us in the beginning. When we had some demos, we sent them to some labels, but offers were not that good. So, we decided to forget labels, or at least to get as a mother label for us.

 

Lastly, you decided to release the album “independently”. Why? Weren’t you happy with the labels’ offers? (Amazon states that the label is: End Of The Light… is this how you call your label?)

J: Our own label mark is TO/DIE/FOR CLAN. We licensed “Samsara” album to End of the Light. In Japan we licensed it to Hydrant music, in Russia we licensed “Samsara” to Fono ltd. So, we’re actually selling license and distribution deals for labels here and there. We were not that happy with labels, so we decided to try to handle things by ourselves. This is not easy and takes a lot of our time, but at least we know where we are going and what is happening really.

Of course, we would sign with some Big Label, but it means that contract should be good and fair for us too. Seems almost like some companies would be thinking that Musicians and bands are Slaves for them!. Sometimes I have been thinking that… it feels like there would be working people who hates musicians or rock and roll and bands.

People, who respect rockers and music etc., would not steal anything from Musicians. But money talks and it makes things worst. (i.n.: That’s so true… some labels are treating musicians like salves indeed!)

 

How hard is it for a band to take care of all those things that a label offers… is it better after all? Would you recommend such a thing to other bands as well?

J: We’re living times now, when bands should do things by themselves as much as possible. Of course, big label would push bands on to the top, and they can make you big! BUT it does not happen that often.

It is better to do by ourselves, than wait that some small label would help you. Papers which says only things what rights you are giving for a label are not Contracts. Those kinds of papers are made only for stealing legally everything from a band!

Only stupid people will sign those papers and only heartless people will create that kind of papers, and do not really LOVE music. They love only their own stomach and Money. For us our music is a matter of a heart and soul and we do not give rights to anyone to destroy our Band.

 

Is distribution a big problem for independent release in the very end? I mean there will eventually be some problems due to the local distributors. Thankfully, many people are using the Internet nowadays to buy CDs, so that’s actually good for you in the end.

J: It is not easy to share album by our own, but at least we’re trying. Some internet shops are doing great work, like RecordShop X, which is Finnish internet shop, and they can send albums all around the world. We made a deal with them, and it works fine.

 

What are those things that a label offers but an independent release could not have? Lots of ads? Press supporting? Tours? Good press scores and many interviews?

J: Our label used to paid our first European tours yes. But they also took that money back from our royalties. So, it was not Free for us. Nowadays, all labels do not give any tour support. Spinefarm did it years ago. I do not know how they are working nowadays.

Big labels can prove you that you’ll get radio play and interviews to biggest magazines, but small labels cannot do all that. There must be Power behind you, and that power is called Authority and Money. If you do not get it from the label, then do it by yourself, and feel better even things would not be that big. (i.n.: It’s sometimes better to go on your own… that also means that small labels may vanish… even if some of them are doing good work.)

 

Are all those things obligatory now that the Internet can bypass some if not all of those problems? Does the Internet help independent bands to succeed or not in the end? Is it a curse or a blessing?!

J: Internet is both… Curse and Blessing. Many internet sites are full of commercials, and it is like a commercial jungle. It is like a mess but anyway it is free. Loyal fans are great, when they are sharing flyers etc. It helps a lot. (i.n.: I totally agree with the term “commercial jungle”… it’s the only way to make a few bucks… but then again, the whole thing is so annoying…)

 

Back on the album again. I found out that “Samsara” means something like “continuous flow” or “continuous movement”… Why did you choose this word to be your album’s title?

J: Yes, “Samsara” means like circle of life. For us title of our newest album means circle of our life in 2010. May things happened good and bad, and all lyrics are based on things which happened for us or to our friends and families. My little brother died in March 2010, and that’s why there’s songs like “Death Comes In March” and “Someday, Somewhere, Somehow”. Also some cancer shit happened, we had fun. etc. So, everything goes together on “Samsara” album, Music, Lyrics, Cover art and all. It is like Circle of life like I said. (i.n.: I’m really sorry…)

 

How is the cover relating to the title and the lyrics of the album? Can you tell us a few things about the 7 signs appearing in the “talisman” on the cover?

J: There’s our symbol in the cover. They all have their own meaning. And in the middle is TDF heart which some people knows already. Raziel Kainen a.k.a Dark Prince from Mexico created these cover and booklet art. Personally I gave him tips and those logos etc. And Raziel fixed them to look nice. He is amazing artist. One of my favorites.

I think that cover art shows you with a one look, what “Samsara” album keeps inside.

At least we’ll get that feeling. We love symbolism, and those symbols are secret. I am not gonna tell anyone yet, what these symbols are meaning. But I can tell you, that symbols are from our real life and means a lot to us and every band member also has own symbol…

 

Tell us a few things about each one of the songs.

J: “Kissing The Flames”: Good rocking song about having fun and about enjoying about our lives.

“Damned Rapture”: Song about love with obsession. I love that India kind of stuff in the middle of the song.

“Cry For Love (why did you choose to do a cover for this song?)”: We choose our cover songs very spontaneously. Iggy is a legend and this is one of our favorite Iggy songs.

“Death Comes In March”: Spontaneously live recorded acoustic song. Based on my little brother’s death.

“Folie Á Deux”: This song has Pink Floyd influences and tells about escaping from the rat race and it is our middle finger to middle class assholes.

“Hail Of Bullets”: Political song. Reminds me a bit about old TDF music at least what comes to a chorus.

“Love’s A Sickness”: I wrote these lyrics in India when I heard that one person, very close to me told me that she is having a tumor in her brain. A beautiful song about love. Again here is some influences from India music… not that much but anyway.

“Raving Hearts”: Dunno what to say. Quite normal TDF song. About love which is strong even those two persons are very different.

“Oblivion:Vision”: This is improvised like 80%.We recorded this when we were very drunk and had a bit cannabis. This has a real feeling and I guess not that many band would put this kind of material onto their album nowadays.

“Someday Somewhere Somehow”: Dedicated to my little brother and to my best friend. Both died and this is our respect for their lives.

 

Is “Hail Of Bullets” the first official video of the album? Are you planning to release any other video clip? And if yes which song will it be?

J: “Hail of Bullets” is not as official video but… What is Official actually J? We just added video clips from Our China tour and that’s it. We do not know are we gonna do as “official” video, but we surely gonna do some kind of videos for “Samsara” songs for sure. I do not know if it’s worth to put thousands of euros for videos which will be seen only at youtube channel or something. But we never know. Let’s see… we do not have any stress with this Video thing but we also know that fans would like to see them anyway and we need to serve our loyal fans of course.

 

Can you give us some more details about the recordings, the production and the mastering of the album? Where was it recorded? Who did the production and the mastering? Was it mixed by Hiili Hiilismaa as it says on Amazon.com?

J: Our very good friend Mikko Kauppi recorded drums, bass, guitars and keyboards and some vocals too. We used different places. We recorded somethings at our rehearsal place which is usually called as Sinsemilla cave studio. Somethings we recorded at my parent’s place, which was my childhood’s home of course. It’s in the middle of nowhere, only fields around the house etc. Two songs we recorded as live! those songs are “Death Comes in March” and “Obilivion:Vision”Oblivion:Vision” is 80% improvised! It was fun! Also lyrics on that one are improvised. Most of the vocals we recorded in Helsinki at SoundFactory studio with Jonne Jauhiainen who is also our friend.

We recorded this album during winter 2010. Not everyday but when we had a good spirit, and when the stars were on right positions we went to record something and we enjoyed about these sessions a lot!

We got more good vibes and more real feeling now. We had professional recording guys within so we did not see any good reason to go and rent some fucking expensive studios this time. Actually Hiili Hiilesmaa did not mix this album. “Samsara” is mixed by Mikko Karmila and he did a hell of a great job! Now we think it was a right thing to choose Karmila. He is having a great attitude, and he knew immediately what we want from this album. He is the Finnish sound God I would say! And he was patience with us. Watching guys having fun and drinking whiskey during mixings and having sauna… It needs a lot of patience you know.

 

Are you totally satisfied with the mixing, the production and the mastering? I think that the production is very good, heavy and clear… not so “digital overloaded” like many productions of our time.

J: We are more than satisfied. We love Mikko Karmila… I would say J he is our man to mix our music. Best in Finland! Yes “Samsara” is a bit more down to earth than some other albums nowadays. That is the way we love to do with our music for now. I guess in the future we will go deeper with this idea. We like to keep our new music “real” and nature, not to use that fucking strongly compressed, dull, and neutral music. (i.n.: I believe the same thing too… that’s why todays productions are mostly “digital” alike…)

 

What are the expectations from this album? What’s the next step of the band? Are you planning to play at any Summer Festival this summer?

J: Of course we would love to play on summer festivals. Let’s see if any Festival will take us. We have no expectations at all. We’ve made an album which we love and if someone else love it too, it is like very nice bonus.

All we wanna do is, do a lot of shows around the world, trying share this music with fans and hopefully get new fans also. Of course we already are speaking about next, Sevent TDF album and I can tell you it is gonna be stuff no one can wait. But now… let’s concentrate to “Samsara” tours first! (i.n.: That sounds truly interesting… I’m curious to see and hear it…)

To/Die/For band

Time for the Weird Questions now!!! Why did you name the band To/Die/For in the early days?

J: It fits well with lyrics. Before TDF we were called as MARY-ANN. And it is a good question… For What or who you could to die for?

 

How do you see the future of rock music? Can it gain its 70s-80s glory or times now are nowhere close to that era?

J: As long as the companies are acting like they are acting now, no glorious days are coming. Also Internet ruined old system but I guess that Music business will find its new way and glorious “sunset strip” days will come back but I also guess it may take some time. Things are not gonna be exactly as in 70’s or 80’s but something bigger would be nice to have but having new The BEATLES is not possible anymore. At least I believe there’s not gonna be as big bands any more.

Would be nice to have a new Jim Morrison too smiley well… I guess I am new Morrison so… it is done laugh joking… But anyway in our band we have some virtuosities like Antza Talala and his style… it is something our music really needs. Also new drummer Matti Huopainen is hell of a kind of drummer. He plays VERY hard and sounds a bit like John Bonham. Other guys are great too and I am brave enough to say,that To/Die/For is gonna be a legend one day! This is the line-up which can prove it. No matter does any BIG label take us or not, we’re gonna make it! Rocking World needs bands and attitude as we have right now.

 

I believe that quality is what our music is missing this time period. Everything is so similar and so easy-going that most of the fans are truly confused. Which is this “force” that will bring things back to what they used to be… to a time period that music was art…?

J: Bands are not brave enough to change! Gothic Rock scene became so fucking boring! Every band sounds almost the same. That is one of the reason we broke the walls around us and started to re-create our music and the whole gothic rock/metal genre. We’re the pioneers in this and we will fucking do it!

Bands are taking their influences now from bands which they see on magazines and hear on radios etc. Then they create their own band and takes influences from “not that great” bands. Youngsters thinks “these are great because they are on radio and on TV” etc. They do not use their own ears and minds. Business monkeys will decide what they are listening.

We’re listening a lot of 70’s music… also 60’s and have to say… World is gone BAD what comes to art in music. Force to have good music and good ideas back to Rock and Roll would be that Labels would start to think what really is a good music. (i.n.: You’re so right dude…)

 

Do you believe that the internet has given a helping hand to the bands… or it has caused them problems? Some bands have decided to call it quits due to downloading problems. What do you think of that situation?

J: Right now I see problems what comes to internet. Of course it helped somethings to happen faster but… in the end there are more problems than good things.

 

Do you believe that it is easy for a band to differ in today’s music industry than in the past? And if yes what shall it do in order to achieve it?

J: I am not sure. I guess it is always been difficult. To make these day’s music better and business better, bands should stop making “easy listening radio shit”. If more bands would do totally as they want and without taking influences from these MTV bands, music would go better too! Why to take influences from a “middle glass” bands, when there is heroes and masters where to take some influences… like Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin etc. You know what I mean right? and I have to say, Rock and Roll is not made for Business men like too many bands are now. They are like some fucking Sport dudes trying to be a Rockstars. I hate it! Juts choose some Legend Rock songs, from the bands like Zeppelin etc. What do you think, did they drink something else besides water? And did they smoke something else besides Marlboro? Yes, they fucking did. Rock and Roll needs high times not these fucking ministers around! (i.n.: I absolutely feel you Jape…)

 

Which are the things that piss you off in today’s music industry?

J: There’s no real spirit in most of today’s music. Bands have no anything important or strong things to say! Then they are not brave enough to spit it out. Labels are making only “fast” money without rock and roll soul and without respect to bands.

People are saying that we need something new and something radical, but when it comes they do not take it as their own. Same happens with radio play and in big companies. It pisses me off… Maybe bands are also afraid to speak radical things! Many bands are trying to please everyone! Fuck that shit!

Personally, I am speaking openly about Cannabis and how good thing it is! We are keeping flag of rock’n’roll very high at the moment! Also, we do not care about Christianity or any fucking religions, which are only destroying this planet and killing people. Religions are very strong weapons against humanity and Freedom!

Governments are also just stealing things from Asian countries, Africa and South-American rain forests etc. And some fucking Mc Donalds is growing more cows in Brazil than their land can handle! Fuck THEM! And any other countries are not brave enough to say “stop it right now u fucks!” People knows things are going wrong but not that many people say it in public. They are weak…

But well… about your question... Of course we hope music industry will realize early enough that we need some changes! And my message for the bands is: Do things you really love and use your illusions in your music. Do not use Illusions of another bands!

 

What do you think concerning the International financial crisis? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer… but for how long?

J: I really hate this Rat race! I hate that Money became as our god. If you steal money from a bank or from government, it is a bigger crime than killing a human being. Love, Peace and freedom are REAL things and still exist but our society keeps these things underground. They do not let it come out. Governments says we are making wars for our freedom, but hey(!) are we more free now? No, we are more like prisoners of this system. personally I try to live outside of this system, as much as it is possible.

Rich countries in Europe and USA and so on… hey are keeping Some Asian countries poor, also Africa because of us. That’s how they’ll get cheap things from India and other “poor” countries. Check your clothes where they are made!? Then think about the price if it would be done in our rich countries. Would be more expensive right? But our lovely rich countries are poorer for me! We have only money and it is nothing. I respect for free life and we´re not free at all. We’re prisoners of a big banks etc. Personally, I will show my middle finger for them!

They do not get my soul My soul belongs to me, and this is my life. And by the way… when we die, no matter whether you rich or poor, we are all same dead people in the coffin. You do not get your expensive car or house into the coffin.

If you have a lot of memories, and a lot of experiences and a lot of good friends and a pure clean heart at the moment when you die… Then you can say you had a RICH life. Numbers on bank account does not make you rich really! People should be happy to have normal things like: food, clothes, friends, freedom etc. Buying a new I “fucking” Pod does not make you happy. (i.n.: That’s a sharp tongue... speaking so great truths… also the great Philosopher Xenophanes used to say: "They all love Freedom but none free Men!")

 

What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?

J: I am not afraid about anything but a big war around the world and serious sicknesses globally. And scared about those fucking assholes who are destroying this beautiful planet… like oil companies etc. and destroying beautiful rain forests in South-America. I would like to stop it actually! It would be great reason to die for.

 

If you could go back in time… in any time-period where would you go and why?

J: In the end of 60’s. Woodstock times and times when hippies travelled to India. I call myself as a gothippie smiley… it is funny yes, but that’s what I am. And music was MUCH better in those days.

 

Can darkness seduce you for good?

J: Oh yes. If we lived in Jamaica, we would not write this kind of music. Darkness here in Finland will give us the feelings to write this music and it is real for us. Under a palms we would write some happy reggae music I guess... laugh

But I also hate these dark and cold winters. That’s why I usually escape to India in winter time. There I will learn a lot from old hippie men and they are giving me great advices for my life.

 

Imagine that your girlfriend is selling your whole album-collection just to buy for herself an expensive ring. How would you react? 

J: I would sell that fucking ring, and I would use those money for Whores cheeky… actually she can Not do it. She knows that these albums are important to me but yes… that woman should walk away from my life if she does not respect my things enough. And what is more “unnecessary” than an expensive ring? Giving a cheap ring with the huge meaning is more expensive in my opinion! (i.n.: That’s one of the best answers that I’ve read to date...)

 

That’s it! Thank you very much for this interview Jape. I wish the best for you and your band for the future… the last words belong to you…

J: Keep LOVE, FREEDOM, PEACE and ROCK AND ROLL in your hearts!

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