Interview With Marko From Barren Earth   Leave a comment

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With the expertise of musicians from bands such as Finnish metallers Amorphis, to current members of Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, and Kreator, Barren Earth have firmly established themselves as one of the most original and creative bands from not only Finland but the entire world. The latest masterpiece “Curse Of The Red River” blends Progressive Rock, Folk and Death/Doom Metal elements into a sound that is both timeless and unique. I present to you this interview with drummer Marko Tarvonen.

1. Hello Marko, The band is regarded as a kind of supergroup within the scene considering the members involved. What do you think of the “supergroup” tag ?
– Hello! I guess the media and record label will take the most out of it. We ourselves couldn’t care less. Of course this whole thing is much easier to build or write musically when you have professional guys involved.

2. How did Barren Earth come together ?
– It was 1st started by Olli-Pekka Laine in 2007 when he was searching members for his new band as he had some new material that wouldn’t fit in Mannhai’s repertoire. Then we found most of the guys from the closest friends (Janne, Sami and Kasper). After we recorded the 1st demo I called Mikko to see if he was interested doing the vocals and so he did. After the 1st demo we started to search for a suitable record label and after a year we ended up signing to Peaceville in the UK. We recorded the 1st 4 song demo in 2008, then in summer of 2009 we recorded 10 songs that ended up on Our Twilight EP and Curse Of The Red River full length album. Last summer was the only possible time in everybody’s schedules so we spent over a month in different studios in Helsinki recording the songs.

3. The band is a lot darker sounding than the other bands that the members of have been involved in especially with the lyric content. Was there something that pushed you into the darker realms of songwriting ?
– Curse Of The Red River is a metaphor for the insanity of human race. Religions, addictions and overall madness. It could also be related to the stream of hate and death, the river of Styx. Mainly it represents the inherited lunacy, which we all share in one way or another. Barren Earth is a death metal band afterall so we sing about dark and depressive things (death, depression, madness) as it serves the music best way. It would be quite odd to sing about butterflies or flowers with a band like this ! I think we’ll stay within this atmosphere and go to even more bizarre topics !

4. Lets talk about the other previous bands, the guys have been in. There is some famous names but also some quite obscure ones like the Chaosbreed project. Can you tell us a bit of those bands ?
– I played in Chaosbreed with Oppu 6 years ago. That band is more or less in a shipyard at the moment. Who knows if we’re to ever write some new shit someday. It was fun to do, but now we’re fully concentrating on Barren E.
– Some members i have known and played with since way back in the beginning of the 90’s, Olli-Pekka and Kasper played in Amorphis together for a couple of years and later again in Mannhai. I’ve played with Kasper which was a prog rock group that never made it. Also I share a lot of my musical background with Janne as we were bashing our heads to hard core punk when we still were in high school.

5. Onto the album now, its a very eclectic mix of different styles. What was the songwriting process like getting these tunes together because i feel it must have been a bit of a challenge to blend all these styles into such a cohesive sounding album.
– Today almost all of us are writing songs but it doesn’t matter who brings in the song as I see our strong point is in the arranging the songs as a team. Olli-Pekka writes most of the material but also Kasper, Janne and myself bring the material to rehearsals. Sami is very good at arranging vocal lines and plays all guitar solos. More and more we work as a team and that’s why we sound like we are. Also most of us have been playing with some other BE members before in different bands and projects so we know our way to work around ideas and how to write music easily.
– Most of it is very thought out when starting to write a song (like tempo, riffs, dynamics) but when we’re arranging the song together they usually may change from how they sounded the 1st time. There’s much left for each band members imagination in the studio so not all the songs are 100 % ready written before we enter the studio. Usually it’s good to have room for some surprises. And we had many tracks recorded when we sent the material for mixing so we left something for Dan (mixing engineer) to think about.

6. One of the strong points of the album is the vocals, there is some great harmonies. Did you work on that much or did it come naturally ?
– First of all we wanted to have a vocalist who can handle both the growling and the clean vocals and have the big contrast between them to fit in the music’s dynamics. Mikko knows what to sing to each parts and is very good at it. Also the other guys (Sami, Janne, Kasper and myself) did many backing vocals for the songs so that’s why there are many colours in the singing parts. Some of those were very well thought out, some ideas were born in the studio “just like that”.

7. I must also mention the great artwork by Travis Smith, how did that all come about ?
– Travis Smith is one of the best modern record cover artists who does everything from the photos. We wanted to have a river scene through the whole booklet. And the graveyard to honor the death metal scene but to do it in slightly different colours. We didn’t want the night scene but more like a evening dusk or dawn in the morning. The red river symbolizes the river of Styx, the madness of mankind and the natural mortality where we all end up. In the dirt six feet under. I think the booklet turned out great.

8. The Twilight EP and the album came out very close together. Was the songs for the album mostly already written ?
– Yes all the songs were recorded in the same session. At first we had no plans to release an ep but our record label wanted to introduce BE that way so we added a couple of demo songs remixed for the ep.

9. How do you decide who writes what in the band, the reason i ask this question is the band is full of great songwriters ?
– Well, most of the material came down in the rehearsals through jamming and by trying out each others’ ideas. Some ideas might have been there already for a long time and never got used in the previous bands or projects and now they finally found their home in Barren Earth, sort of ideas we all have, some skeletons in the closet, some weird ideas we never had the opportunity to do before.

10. What has been the reaction to the album so far, i don’t spend a lot of time reading other reviews. I am too busy on my own but from what i have heard, its been very positive !
– I think the overall reception towards Barren Earth has been overwhelming and warm. We decided to start a little bit carefully just to release the ep first and see how it gets received. It’s been great. I hope the album will get as good reviews as the ep, or even better as I think it’s much better!

11. What is the plans for the band for the rest of the year, have you got a heavy schedule of touring ?
– At first we’ll play a few shows in Finland only but during the summer the plan is to play festivals in central Europe. So far we’ve only confirmed Tuska in Finland and Summer Breeze in Germany. Later I hope we can confirm a European tour as well. We’re trying to settle our schedules everyday!

12. How long do you think we will have to wait for another album, have you made any long-term plans as far as future recordings are concerned ?
– We have already written some new songs. About 5 or 6 raw ideas have been summoned at the rehearsals so I guess we could enter the studio quite fast actually, maybe in the end of year or early 2011. So there would be a new album out next year definitely.

13. Again, thanks for the interview. Any final words for the readers out there ?
– Thanks for the interview, check out CotRR people!


Posted May 6, 2010 by doommantia in Barren Earth

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