Friday, July 14, 2023

Neon Blood Fire with Matias and Marcus of LAMORI

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Matias Juselius and Marcus Pellas of the band Lamori about their new album ‘Neon Blood Fire’ out now via Wormholedeath Records.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as what Matias and Marcus learned trying new things to get a heavier sound on their latest record.

'Neon Blood Fire' was Produced, Mixed, Mastered by Jonathan Mazzeo at The Grid Productions Europe (

The band Words That Burn is for fans of: The 69 Eyes, Lacrimas Profundere, Entwine, Charon, For My Pain…


Guest Resource

Lamori Homesite - Connect with Lamori!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Try new things in the studio and in the songs to spice things up.

2. Work with a producer who also plays the instruments so they know how each instrument works, sounds, behaves, and what defines its purpose in the music

3. Work with a team that you know, and who loves and supports your work.  Together the team vibe produces something greater than what could've been without the support.


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: All right, well, Marcus, Matias, thank you so much for coming on. Go ahead and say Hi to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Marcus Pellas: Hello. 

Matias Juselius: Hello!

Jon Harris: Like we practiced. Is it the same time? It was so good. 

Matias Juselius: Yeah. 

Marcus Pellas: Excellent. 

Jon Harris: Beautiful. All right, so we have this new record that's gonna be coming out. Wormhole death records neon, blood fire We've got three singles that are released for it already, complete with visualizer videos. Requiem. Dark messiah. The Eye of the Storm. Let's talk about this record, Neon Blood Fire. What was the greatest moment for you producing this record and maybe share from each of you? 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, I think the new direction, the new sound one of the best things for me, a bit more heavier sound. So that's one thing I really appreciate with the production and the whole process with the songs. 

Matias Juselius: Yeah, the new sound. And it has more of an industrial sound to it. Heavier also with the vocals. And we got to try some new stuff, so that was cool. And also the recording, we did it in a new studio that our friend Johnny has, so that that was really nice experience to be there in the summer and having a good time eating pasta and drinking wine and doing music all day. So that was really fun. 

Jon Harris: Wow. And you still got work done. Drinking wine, eating pasta. Yeah, that's how it came out so industrial sounding. You didn't even go in there pretending. It just came out that way. You're just too drunk. 

Marcus Pellas: It's the pasta 

Jon Harris: and bloated from all those carbs. You're just like, okay. Very cool. So we've got a couple of things here, and I'm pretty sure that's the Johnny we both know, recording engineer, I believe, still based out of Italy. Am I wrong? Am I right? 

Matias Juselius: That's right.

Marcus Pellas: That's correct. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. It's been a hot minute since I have touched base with him. But his sister production facility is with Donald Christensen in Montreal. Very cool. Very cool. And I know that he has the production chops. So I guess my follow up question is we have a new direction, we have a new sound, a bit heavier sound, a more industrial sound, even getting heavier, not just with the guitars, but getting heavier with the vocals as well. What was the decision to do that? And how did you do that? For example, how do you make a guitar sound heavier? Is it actually just a chainsaw? It's not actually a guitar. It's a chainsaw. How do you make the vocals sound heavier? 

Matias Juselius: What do you do with Marcus? 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, we have to push our dear little singer a bit harder. So he screamed a bit more. 

Jon Harris: Yes, of course. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah. Now it was a decision within the band that we always liked the more heavier sound, the harsher vocals. And we always been like middle ground, not heavy and not light, but somewhere in the middle. And we felt like stuck in the middle there. So we wanted to go to the more heavier direction with this. 

Jon Harris: How did that start? Did it start in the demo stages? Was it more of a production choice? 

Matias Juselius: It started already in the demos. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah. 

Matias Juselius: I remember I did some vocal stuff and I sent it to the guys and asked them could we do something like this in the songs? And the reaction was pretty good. I did a couple of more with a bit more like the growling stuff, and they liked it. We continued to work on that. It's not all songs, but a couple of songs. 

Marcus Pellas: It's a good mix with the clean vocals singing and all the harmonies, but then the harsher vocals, too. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, I'm giving it a relisten right now in this very moment. And I'm remembering now what I was reminded of. What's interesting, and I hope you guys take this as a compliment, but it actually comes across almost more gothic. I'm getting, like, 69 Eyes vibes, like, that kind of vein of stuff. I don't know if you were going for that or if that's a compliment, but that's kind of what I'm hearing right now. Like if Type O Negative and maybe --.

Matias Juselius: One of my biggest inspirations was this German band, Lacrimas Profoundere.

Jon Harris: Tried getting them on. Bastards would not say Hallo. Wie geht's dir, ja. Back.  I was a very sad little boy, yeah.  

Matias Juselius: Ah, genau.

Jon Harris: Ah, genau so, ja!  Danke.  Okay. Very cool. So, new direction, new sound, bit heavier. Heavier production. Always been somewhere in the middle, but really wanted to take that plunge. And we started getting there by doing the vocals, actually, and saying, hey, could we do something with this? Now, that leads me to my next question. What was the biggest challenge on the record? Was it working through the carbohydrate overload? Was it –

Marcus Pellas: I think it went pretty smooth overall. We know Johnny, we know the label, and we know each other. 

Mattias Juselius: What we can do the third album we do together now. 

Marcus Pellas: So we felt pretty comfortable with each other. Yeah. No major hiccups or something. 

Jon Harris: Wow. 

Marcus Pellas: We had a clear idea –

Matias Juselius: The biggest obstacle maybe was to learn the song, I guess. 

Jon Harris: Okay, take us through that. 

Matias Juselius: Yeah. Because we did the demos and this is how we would like to sound. And we send them to our label and the producers, and they check them out and they have some small suggestions or they add some things to make them a bit more spicy, and they send them back, and then we have to learn it. Sound really good, but maybe sometimes it's not the way we play. Or we are used to play so we have to challenge ourselves to get to that new sound so I think that's maybe the biggest challenge. 

Jon Harris: These demos are pretty good guys but I need a single, so... 

Matias Juselius: Something like that, yeah, because we write in one type of way and after you've been writing songs for very long you usually get a bit narrow sighted, can you say that? And a producer steps in then can maybe broader that a bit and come with suggestions but it's a new way of playing, a new way of singing so yeah, you have to challenge yourself to explore new things. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, a new way of playing, a new way of singing.  How is that translated live? Has it become an interesting thing live? 

Marcus Pellas: I think it has been interesting, yeah. But it's worked very well also live. We have managed to get the sound the way we like it to be live and it's not 100% as the CD or what do you say, but almost the live versions. 

Matias Juselius: A live version, yeah, of the sound, yeah. 

Jon Harris: Now sometimes a new sound bothers the fan base, their feathers get all ruffled and they start clucking.  Usually not this direction though, usually like fans of rock and metal as it starts to get heavier, it's usually a good thing. But how has the fan reaction been to the new sound? 

Matias Juselius: Great. I haven't heard a bad thing yet, actually. 

Marcus Pellas: Only compliments regarding the heavier sound. So seems to go well with the audience. 

Jon Harris: I figured when you go the other way, you know, like, 

Marcus Pellas: That's no good. 

Jon Harris: No good. No good. No like yeah, there's clean singing in a piano on the record. What? 

Marcus Pellas: Can't do that. 

Jon Harris: No, but the piano is in a minor dissonant key. It's sad, but we're singing about death. No, speaking of singing of death, so we've got this new sound, we have this heavier sound, industrial sound, harsher vocals, but the sound without the content doesn't usually make much sense. Let's talk about the content. What went into the themes on this record? And maybe this is more of a question for Matias. What was that inspiration to get harsher on the vocals? Was it independent of the themes, or were you thinking of lyrical themes and thinking, I got to do something different here?

Matias Juselius: A bit of both, actually. But, yeah, some songs were in need of something heavier, I thought. So the theme of them needed to be like a punch in the gut. So I needed to do something with the vocals to get that through, I thought. So. Definitely that. But also just to make it a bit more spicy, to add a bit of something extra to them, a bit of growl and scream at some part, just to make it stand out and or just a part of the lyrics that I wanted to make a bit special. 

Jon Harris: Right. Some Arrabbiata. Put some Arrabbiata on it. 

Matias Juselius: Exactly. Yes. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Okay. Fan-freaking-tastic. What was the pasta of choice when you guys were over in Italy? 

Matias Juselius: I love penna. Penne. 

Marcus Pellas: Our drummer made a kick ass Bolognese. 

Matias Juselius: I didn't get the taste, like, because he left before I got there. 

Marcus Pellas: It was a good chef.

Jon Harris: Beautiful. I'm a chef as well, so we could go on for days about – very cool. Carry on. You were saying? 

Matias Juselius: No, I just said that the Italians are very picky with their recipes, so have to be careful. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. 

Marcus Pellas: I don't know how long that was approved by Johnny, so... 

Matias Juselius: It was okay, then. It's cool.

Jon Harris: Good, yeah. It shouldn't have any spices in it, which is a key thing about bolognese. Without getting too particular. But yeah. No oregano, no basil, no rosemary, no thyme. It's just maybe some salt and pepper. But you got to taste the milk, the wine, and the ground meat, whatever it is. Usually beef and veal or veal and pork, something like that.

Matias Juselius: I just told them we're from Finland. We just throw everything in there in the pot and eat it. They were like, oh, my God. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. For example, here in North America, it's like, you go out for pasta, and it's like, okay, I'll take that kind of pasta, like spaghetti and that kind of sauce, like, I don't know, a cream sauce. In Italy, it's like, no, it's spaghetti Bolognese. That's what it is. Spaghetti. It's spaghetti carbonara. It's not penne carbonara. Like, why would you do that? That would never happen. 

Marcus Pellas: No. 

Jon Harris: In the village where that came from, that never would have happened.

Marcus Pellas: No, no.

Jon Harris: Okay, but I want to do that now. Okay, but then it wouldn't be – I got it.

Marcus Pellas: No.

Jon Harris: Cool. What kind of themes did go into the record? Like take us through Neon Blood Fire, is this a sentence? Is this three things? What is this record about?

Matias Juselius: Yeah, it's three words and it's really what the songs are about. Actually. That's where their title came from. There's. Neon Blood Fire. It's a bit of a dystopian science fiction, horror themes, something like that in there somewhere. But also there's some personal stuff as well. So it's a mixed bag of things from, from my head. 

Jon Harris: Okay. Now, because there was a new sound involved, maybe Johnny had more to do with this. But was there any gear that was used on the record that maybe surprised you? 

Matias Juselius: What do you say, Marcus? 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, we had some different cool effects for the guitars. To spice things up, get some new sounds and make it more brutal.  So that was really nice. As I'm a nerd for guitar pedals and stuff myself. 

Matias Juselius: You use more analog stuff this time, right? 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, more analog stuff. And try mixing different amps together to get a correct Lamori sound.  But real nice. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. See, we're careful about our pasta recipes. We're also very careful about our amp and pedal recipes. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah. Had to keep it a secret for that because I was going to select few. 

Jon Harris: That's right. My next question is, like, how much Soldano 100? How much Rectifier? Like, where were we at on the guitar tone? But you can't tell me other than more analog stuff. So that's cool, because in today's day and age, you could have done this whole record, we say on a laptop. Are you kidding? You could have done the whole record on the iPhone that you're currently doing this Zoom call on because of the plugins, the drum machines, everything's available now in a compact form. But the decision was made to do analog gear. Why take us through that? 

Marcus Pellas: I guess it's a different sound. I mean, the plugins are great. We used some of them, of course, and they are sounding better and better every day. But there's something about a real tube amp that's pushed by a tube screamer and you know, you feel the air moving that's you can't beat that. 

Jon Harris: No, no. 

Matias Juselius: I guess it's also a bit something for ourselves to use the analog stuff. When we listen to the music, we know it's analog. So for us it makes a bit of a difference too. So it's something for us too to use analog stuff. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, it makes sense. I remember back in the day, the tube versus solid state debate. Now everybody's all about the plugins and it's like, well, the plugins aren't tube, so I guess solid state just won. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah.

Jon Harris: I know the computer screen looks like tubes. There's no tubes in there, friend. 

Marcus Pellas: Not at all. 

Jon Harris: How would you guys define success at this stage of your career? I've got some notes that it's at least with Wormholedeath, looks like quite a few album releases. Potentially ten years. Maybe even longer, I would imagine. Longer trying new things. How would you guys define success at this stage of your career? And it could even be on a personal level. 

Marcus Pellas: One thing would be we were recently on a tour in Europe for nine days, and the reception we got from the people we met, that's like a big proof of success for me, at least, because everybody was so happy and so welcoming and loved the music and the show and bought merch. So I think it was fantastic experience for us as a band to go to a different country and meet people who can't hardly speak English, and they were just so happy to see us. 

Matias Juselius: Yeah. Yeah. Anything. 

Jon Harris: People bought merch. That's the only important thing right? Now you can go home. Thanks for buying a T shirt. I can go home now. 

Matias Juselius: We have enough money for gas now. 

Jon Harris: Glad you love the music, but could you buy a T shirt, please? 

Matias Juselius: Yeah.

Jon Harris: What are the only two things you need? People to buy merch and get white girls to dance? And then they'll buy some more merch. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, correct. 

Jon Harris: Perfect. Recently, on a tour in Europe, reception from people that we met don't even speak the same language. But I think that's the cool thing about music, and I think maybe, Matias, that's where you were trying to think about something. But that's the cool thing about music. And Marcus, in your side. These six strings just took me someplace where we can bond together on a level that doesn't require spoken language. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah.

Jon Harris: And Matias is just like one day you were singing into, I don't know, something that wasn't a microphone. Pretending, and now you're singing. 

Matias Juselius: Yeah.

Jon Harris: Probably still pretending, but now into a microphone. 

Matias Juselius: Yeah, still pretending, but getting there. Yeah, but getting there. 

Jon Harris: Cool. Okay, let's head back to working with Johnny because I want to get some follow up questions on working with Johnny. What do you like most about working with Johnny? 

Matias Juselius: Do you want to start, Marcus?

Marcus Pellas: I guess one thing would be his level of expertise, so to say, with he plays instruments himself, and he's done it for many, many years. He knows how to get the sound and how to maybe push us a bit. So he's a very good producer to have by your side in the studio and easy to work with. Easy going. It's not I'm the boss. I know. Everything is more like shill dude and easy going, so to say. 

Matias Juselius: Yeah, easy going with something I would say to you very relaxed, and you feel relaxed around him. It's no rush or hurry with anything. You just take your time and do your thing. 

Jon Harris: He's getting paid by the day, so I wouldn't blame him. 

Matias Juselius:  Yeah, of course. 

Marcus Pellas: That's why.

Matias Juselius: He's always late.

Jon Harris: No, he's Italian. He was on time. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah. He's on Italian time. 

Jon Harris: I hear they're worse in Spain. They might not even show up at all. I thought it was tomorrow. Cool. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah. 

Jon Harris: Easy-going, knows how to play the instruments. That's an important thing, right? So he's not just coming at it from I don't know, from a perspective where he went to school. Yeah he knows audio engineering, but he doesn't really know what a guitar is or what a drum is or whatever. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah. No, he knows his way around everything. So I think that's important. You can understand a bit more our side of it, too. 

Jon Harris: You mentioned that initially the label and Johnny had made some changes to the songs. What kind of changes were those? Did they adjust tempos? Did they adjust keys? Did they shorten, lengthen? What kind of things went into the additional process, I guess, other than just putting a mic up to the Lamori secret sauce amp collection? 

Matias Juselius: I think, actually this time there were smaller changes. There was like some maybe tempo change, maybe add, add something. Mostly they took away stuff. They wanted to have it more clean, they said, So cut that part, take that away. 

Jon Harris: How do I make my song better? Where's the mute button?

Matias Juselius: Yeah, like that. Usually when you write, you just want to have everything in there. But sometimes you have to keep it more simple. And that's the thing with this album. Just keep it simple, straight to the point. No bullshit. Just make it interesting. Yeah. I think that's the key of the album. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah.

Jon Harris: Yeah. Makes sense. Yeah. My son and I are part of a mixing group where we get tracks, we mix them, we meet the producer and maybe you've heard of it. Nail the Mix. The URM Academy

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, I heard it. 

Jon Harris: Occasionally, we get quite the zinger that comes down. And the latest zinger to come down was the new Nickelback album. We've got all the Nickelback tracks now, and I think what surprised me the most was how sparse it actually is. What's there is there and what isn't there is definitely not there. They've definitely cleaned out. They've done that process to clean out what needs to be there and what doesn't need to be there. It's mostly just double track guitars all the way through. There's a point where they have, like, six tracks of guitar, but. But at certain points and there's reasons for it and they all have different tones and so it's like there's reasons for things, but yeah, to just slam all for some reason, I was thinking it would just be like the whole thing. The kitchen sink. There'd be like 1000 tracks in there. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah. No, you have to have the dynamics, which you can't have, like you said, all the guitars all the time. It doesn't sound good. You have to calm down sometimes and go harder another time. It's all about dynamics and make it feel alive. 

Jon Harris: I just imagined you on a date saying that. It's all about dynamics, baby. You got to add a little spice, keep it spicy. But you got to come down and you got to bring it up. You got to know when to do it. 

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, it's there also. 

Jon Harris: What's the number one thing you boys would like people listening to the podcast to do? This can be the place where you do the drop that you're supposed to drop. It can be something spiritual. It could be something that you're just feeling in the moment. It could be all of the above. 

Marcus Pellas: What do you say, Matias? 

Matias Juselius: Well, it's typical to say, yeah, go out and listen to our music. 

Jon Harris: That's what you're supposed to say though. That is that's where you go. Neon Blood Fire out now via Wormholedeath Records available everywhere you stream music, including on CD. Come out and check us out on tour. Go to whatever your website is and order tickets so that I can finish my basement. 

Matias Juselius: We're from Finland. We don't like to brag so much. So we just say if you if you feel like it, you can go and listen to one of our songs maybe.

Jon Harris: Call me, maybe. Okay.

Marcus Pellas: Yeah, follow us on Spotify. Stop by our Facebook and write a comment. Listen to the music, and we're happy

Jon Harris: If you want... Yeah, I love that. Follow us on Spotify. So everyone listening in right now. There's some incredible ways to connect with bands on Spotify that I think are being under-utilized by the platform, by people in general. Even as a podcast, I got comments on Spotify just like it would be on a social media site on Spotify. It's cool, and I want more of that because that's where we're communicating with people. That's where people are listening. And then go and head over to You'll get the show notes for today, all the extra candy, such as the visualizer videos for the singles that have been released. Boys, thank you so much for coming on to The Rock Metal Podcast today. 

Matias Juselius: Thank you for having us. 

Marcus Pellas: Thank you for having us.


Friday, July 7, 2023

DEVIN TOWNSEND chats Lightwork and Dreamsonic Tour 2023: Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, Animals As Leaders

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Devin Townsend about his new album 'Lightwork' out now via Century Media Records, as well as the Dreamsonic Tour 2023 with Dream Theater, Animals as Leaders, and Devin Townsend.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as what Devin learned working with producer, Garth Richardson and more information about the Dreamsonic Tour 2023.

'Lightwork' was Produced by Garth Richardson, Mastered by Troy Glessner

The band Words That Burn is for fans of: Dream Theater, Animals As Leaders, Spock's Beard, Strapping Young Lad


Guest Resource - Connect with Devin Townsend!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Try working with a producer if you haven’t in the past, as it can help to filter some ideas in forcing you to listen to someone else.

2. Know the kind of person you are, and therefore the kind of people to have around you to ensure a right fit for the team.  A good team goes places further.

3. Document moments in your life as accurately as possible.  People will resonate with the art that you create as a result.


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: All right, Devin thank you so much for coming on today to the podcast. Go and say hi to all of our beautiful listeners.
Devin Townsend: Hi, all you beautiful listeners. 

Jon Harris: Looks like you're in home base right now, which is absolutely fantastic. You mentioned you're working on some stuff, especially before the tour. We're talking about the dream. Sonic 2023 Dream Theater Presents It's gonna be the inaugural show. We're gonna be chatting about that towards the end of the interview. But right now let's go ahead and get on to light work, which is your latest record for your release, November 4. I read a lot of really good stuff with regard to this record, and I listened to the record, and, I mean, obviously all of your stuff is great, but this is probably one of my most favorite thus far, I think you mentioned as well. It sort of seems pulled back a little bit, just kind of calming. But it's in the way it sounds epic in its restraint, I guess you could say. 

Devin Townsend: It was an interesting one for me because there were several projects that had. Happened during the course of the pandemic that were completely out of left field for me, unexpected as the pandemic was, I guess. So there was the Puzzle, which is the first thing that I did, and then that got followed by Lightwork. And as is typical with material, if I do something really complicated, inevitably the next project is going to be much more simple. And then if I do something simple, inevitably the next one will be more complicated. If I do one quiet, next one will be loud, blah, blah, blah, blah. So Puzzle was a reaction to the beginning of the pandemic and it's basically a very complicated and chaotic project. And so when it came time to deliver the next record, because Puzzle had been independent and I'm with Sony, the only thing that seemed appropriate for me was something that was more pullback, something that was more linear. And I had been looking for an opportunity to work with Garth Richardson, who'd been a friend of mine for many years, and because he is a producer that has a long history of making things that are more accessible, in a sense, it was an opportunity for us to try it out. And light work became an experiment in several things in trying to see what it would be like to work with somebody else in a coproduction capacity, what it would be like to write something that was a lot more linear. But also, and almost most importantly, how could I create something that for me had a sense of optimism to it in a period that was so rife with the opposite, right? And. I think the record worked out well, but I'm looking forward to the next thing, which, going back to what I said a second ago, is going to be significantly more complex as a result. 

Jon Harris: Beautiful. You mentioned working with Garth Richardson, so we'll chat about that a little bit later. We'll touch base on that. But I was curious with regard to Lightwork specifically, what was the greatest moment for you producing the record? 

Devin Townsend: Well, again, I produced it with Garth, and it was complicated in that sense because I've never done that before, so it forced me to contend with things that I was ill-prepared for. But I think on a production level, the thing about Lightwork that was maybe the most proudest, but also the most complicated was just force them myself to listen to somebody else. And I think that that was really something that was incredibly difficult for me. And I don't know if I'll repeat, to be honest, but what comes from that is a type of self-analysis on your own process that I think, unless challenged, will just continue going in the ways that it has gone for many years. And so I appreciate being challenged by that, regardless of how the record ended up. The whole idea of being forced to fight for your ideas, I guess, in a sense, was simultaneously good for my personal growth, but also very difficult at the time. Right? Yeah, absolutely. Would you say that 
working with Garth was one of the more challenging things on the record, or what was the biggest 
challenge? Well, it wasn't that it was working with Garth because Garth's incredibly talented and he's a good guy. I've tried working with producers in the past, and I hate it. I respond really poorly to it, and so I think there's a certain amount of that that was consistent. I think that still carried through. But fortunately, we'd known each other prior, so although it was difficult for both of us, I think we managed to get through it in a way that was as best as could be expected. Right. But no, he's super talented guy, man. Great guy. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. What went into the decision to work with a producer on this record? You mentioned you've known Garth before, but a challenge to work with a producer. So what went into the decision to work with one? 

Devin Townsend: Well, it's been brandied about for many years by label, by management. You should try to see simply just to see what happens, putting your ideas through the filter of somebody else. And I attempted to do it with a couple of other people, but I guess I didn't respect them in the ways that I needed to in order to listen. My only other time that I had worked with somebody in a coproduction capacity but less so than with light work was with Mike Keneally, with Empath. But that was a little different because Mike plays in the band with me now, and he's much more of a sounding board where he just sort of sit back there and then I could bounce things off him. And it became a much more creative endeavour. And it basically just gave me another brain in the room, which was ideal in a lot of ways. But Garth got a long career of doing things a certain way. And so putting my work through that filter, who knows what it was going to yield? So I think that it's almost light work acted as an opportunity for me just to find out what something like that would yield. And again, I'm proud of the record. I think it's really cool, but it also made me realize as soon as it was done that the next thing I'm going to do is going to be completely uncompromised. Because having people talented as they are, say, I don't like that. No to that. I don't like that. No to that. Yes, that. But more of that double the chorus. Whatever. There's a lot of times I didn't agree, so we would have to kind of find a compromise. But I found that a lot of my personal energy went into that part of the process rather than just creating. And that would have been the same with any producer of Garth's caliber. It's not a situation where it's him. But it was good for me to know, because when it was done, I was like, you know what? I'm happy with how that turned out. But the next thing I do, I want to spend several years writing it and recording it. I want it to be completely uncompromised, and I don't want any of these parameters at all. Right. I did learn a lot, though, so some of those will certainly go into the next thing. But I needed to know. I think that's the long answer to your question. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. You mentioned you learned a lot. Was there something in particular that you took away that blew your mind? 

Devin Townsend: No, I don't know if anything blew my mind, but I think if there's anything I took away from it is the energy that goes into the social aspect of music. Unless I'm careful and I strategically set up my world with people whom the interactions with are effortless, then a significant amount of energy that could potentially have gone into other things goes into navigating the personal side of it. And again, this is not a scenario where it's about Garth or anybody, man. I'm not an easy guy to hang with. 1s I'm like I'm idiosyncratic and highly sensitive, and in my mind, I make a lot of sense. But to the people whom I'm closest to, a lot of people don't think I make any sense. So I have to surround myself with people that are tolerant to a degree of who I am, as long as that comes with a certain amount of accountability on my part, where I'm not just utilizing that as an excuse to be an asshole to somebody, but it's like if I surround myself with people like yeah, that's dev. That's what Dev does. That's where he's at. I'm cool with it. Then I don't have to spend any energy having to rationalize that. Right? And it I think that for somebody who is as closely connected to music as I am and someone who is as sensitive to personal energy. Man. What blew my mind about the process is how much of my energy went into navigating the social aspect of it, which good to know, don't want to do it again. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, that makes sense. 

Devin Townsend: Totally. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, that makes sense. And I read a lot about the themes on the record and we kind of touched a little bit based on that going back into being sensitive to personal energy and kind of the way things went over the last couple of years, needing to be calmed down. But obviously I could read all the all the quotes that have already happened in the past, but I've got you here right now, Devin. 

Devin Townsend: Sure. 

Jon Harris: What went into the themes on this record? 

Devin Townsend: Well, because as I just expressed, the navigation of the social energies that come with working with a team of engineers or producers or whatever took so much effort. I also moved house twice and renovated during this. And the sheer amount of stress. Throw the pandemic on top of that and all these things that went into it and the fact that I had to move, it wasn't a scenario where it was flippant. I was like, oh, I have to move now. Delightful. The combination of all those things created such pandemonium in my life and then also the social things that are happening with the record and little things like we were recording and a tree fell on the studio and knocked all the power out. And I was having to edit things by candlelight. And there's no romance to that. I was just like, I don't want to be doing this right now. I don't want to be editing by candlelight. I'd like to be at home just getting some sleep because this has been too much. And because that intensity people in my life were passing away or like, going fucking bananas or whatever it was. I get so focused on the work, no matter what I'm doing, that. If the material that I was working on compounded that existing stress, it would have been just too much. So I utilized the process of writing for Light Work to make something that was a bomb for that in some way. Like, what could I write, what could I articulate lyrically? That when I'm having to focus on the music for hours and hours at a time, doesn't compound this chaos. So I brought it back down to something more linear, which is why I asked Garth to be involved in many ways, but also kept the subject matter to be not that of optimism, but something that acted as a tether for me that during those moments of chaos, I could say, well, you just got to hang on, man. You got to hang on to this, because above and beyond all this chaos that's going on, you still have the faculties in your body. You can still walk. You're fortunate to have these people in your life that are still alive, and you're fortunate to have these friends that have got your back. You're fortunate to have a roof over your head or what have you. And so the lighthouse theme became prevalent on Lightwork, and that was the album cover. And and it was really a conscious decision to make something that was optimistic in that sense during a period of such relentless opposition to that. Right. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. 

Devin Townsend: It wasn't easy, man. It wasn't easy. But it's funny because now on the other side of it, I realize what I need to do next creatively, and yeah, it's going to be pretty uncompromising, man. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, you mentioned that a couple of times now. 

Devin Townsend: Yeah, I'm still working through it. So my process, regrettably, involves me having to talk about it constantly so I can figure it out. So I apologize for that. 

Jon Harris: No worries there my good man. How would you define success at this stage of your career? 

Devin Townsend: True success for me? Is waking up in the morning and not having to do anything. So I can spend my day doing whatever I want, and that could involve mowing the lawn or making food or making music or whatever. It's like that's true success. I can participate in that once in a while, but I'm still working towards that goal, if you know what I mean. I'm sure you do, but on a practical level, I think I've been successful to a good degree because autonomous, and I can do basically whatever I want musically within certain guidelines. Right? There's a certain amount of tolerance that I still have to have on the part of the label and the management. But it's pretty good though, man. But moving forward, the goal is what I just mentioned, to be able to wake up in the morning and do whatever I want with no obligations. Right. Who knows if that'll happen? But that's true success, I think. 

Jon Harris: There we go, baby. 

Devin Townsend: There we go. 

Jon Harris: Let's go ahead and switch over to Dreamsonic 2023, and I'll open up with the first question, which is, this is supposed to be the inaugural event. Dream Theater wants to to create this yearly thing. How did this happen? How did you get involved?

Devin Townsend: Well, it's interesting because I think that the audiences that Dream Theater and I have had there's been some degree of crossover, but I think they're quite different and I think a lot of that has to do with Dream Theater is such a technically proficient band and intellectually on a musical level. It's very astute and a lot of what I do, it tends to be a lot more primal in a sense. Ah. Not that there isn't technique to what I do, because obviously there is, but it's not learned. I'm not theoretically knowledgeable when it comes to music or what I'm doing and I'm in a different tuning and I didn't study it. I just have been doing it based on an emotional reaction for so many years that for many years it was almost like the scenes or the audiences were mutually exclusive. I really appreciate Dream Theater, but I never listened to them. They were not a band that I had in my past as being like an influence. So I didn't really think about it. And I had known Mike Portnoy, but I didn't really know the other guys and I did John Petrucci's Guitar Camp in New York a couple of years back and I was surprised to, to find out how easy of a hang he was. I was maybe under the assumption that because of the music, maybe he would be more less apt to want to spend time with people or very particular because the music is so particular. But no, John was a great guy, man, and I enjoyed hanging with him. And I think maybe in return, perhaps he had, because he'd known Steve Via, he'd known people who had known me, and maybe he thought I was less together as a person. Maybe he thought I was a banana or something. And so when we spent time, we were both like, it's all right, it's pretty easy. And so it came up as an opportunity to tour together because we're both on the same label with Inside Out, and I think Thomas at Inside Out had told us both it's like, actually, they're really cool guys and actually Dev's a pretty normal cat regardless of what his music comes along as. And so we did gosh, like, seven weeks in Europe last year, and it was just Dream Theater and me. And I think Dream Theater, because they've been doing this for so long, they don't really have patience for taking out people who are divas. And so they took a risk that me and my world would be pretty easy, and I think they were really appreciative of how easy of a band we are tour with or I am to tour with, because the band changes. But like, dude, I don't want any drama. I don't want to step on people's toes. I don't need a lot of stuff on a list that I need to be provided for for the sake of my work. I mean, I just need some water and I need enough money to make it happen, and we'll stay out of your way. And there you go. And I think they were really appreciative of that. And then by the end of it, we ended up hanging out quite a bit, and then I spent a bunch of time with them. We went to Turkey together, and I rode with them and did an acoustic show.  And I think we were both just kind of surprised that although the scenes of colour kind of always been separate, they actually mixed really well on a social level. So when they came to do this, they asked me again and I think it was really a scenario where they're like, oh, God, we're going to have to go out with bands that wasn't dramatic, so that works good for us. And so I said yes, and then had Animals as leaders come out as well. And I've toured with Animals many times and get along with them. So I think it's going to be a great run and it offers something for the Prague fans that are three very distinct vibes, right? 

Jon Harris: Yeah, totally. Speaking of three different distinct vibes and maybe some audience crossover or maybe some not some crossover. Either way, creating the set list can sometimes be a bit daunting. What should we expect from the set list for this show? 

Devin Townsend: Don't know yet. I figured that next week early. I'll start thinking about it. It's the same band as I had just done. The headline runs in Europe with So. Mike Keneally Darby on drums, James on bass. Same sound man who is great. And I think that there was a lot of things that we did on that headline run that were kind of unique. I had not done it before, so there'll be definitely some crossover because I haven't played in North America for so long that it probably makes sense to do some of those same things. But it's a shorter set than it was as a headline run, obviously. So by mid next week, I'll have a much better idea. 

Jon Harris: Okay, very cool. Kind of a silly question. Maybe not. How are you feeling about playing in North America? I know you mentioned it's been a little bit, but how are you feeling about the tour getting out 

Devin Townsend: I haven't thought about it yet. I mean, I'm from North America, so I'm well versed in what it is. I mean, I like touring Europe or Asia or what have you just because it's more I'm not used to as much, so it's got more of a novel thing where you end up in a city that has a new type of food or something, and I really enjoy that. And in North America, it's much less of that. Right? Like. Some places you get a bunch of really novel experiences. But a lot of North America I mean, I grew up here. I know exactly what it is. It's like, there's the store, there's the chain, there's the bus stops at Walmart or whatever. Right. But on the other side of it, I've got so many friends in North America that it's good to hook up with them as well. But you know what, man? It's like tour is a tour in a lot of ways. 

Jon Harris: Very cool. All right, what's the number one thing you would like people listening to the podcast to do? And that could be the drop that you have to make from management or labels. That could be, I don't know, a spiritual message. It could be anything.

Devin Townsend: Oh, worse shit has happened to better people. 

Jon Harris: All right, there you go.

Devin Townsend: Didn't mean that's. Not a drop from a label. And it's not very spiritual, but it's true. I love my job, and I love to be able to continue, and I've got so many plans for the future, but I'm not fantastic at selling it. 

Jon Harris: Right. So. Hey, maybe that's kind of an interesting follow up question. You're not fantastic at selling it, but you have the career that you have built up and obviously it's been long from Steve Vai to The Strapping Young Lad all the way up to this moment now to a couple of appearances on Nail the Mix.

Devin Townsend: I think if I was better at selling it, it would be much bigger than it is. Right. But I also feel that I feel that the things that's important to me, the thing that is most important to me about the output that I have is that it's authentic to the frame of mind that I was in when it was being written. And so in a sense, you're just trying to document those those moments in your life. And if you do it accurately, then I think people tend to resonate with that because there's not a lot really of human emotions, right. You've got twelve and then nuanced versions of each, but it's all pretty simple. So if I do it in a way that is important to me, first and foremost, the chances of other people being able to relate to it are reasonably high. So my objective has always been to keep tabs on myself so that when I am writing. I'm able to call myself out to the extent that I'm able on my own BS as I'm writing it. And the end result of that, I think, is longitivtiy because there's maybe a certain amount of the industry that still feels like the audience is stupid in a way that all you need to do is pull on over on them and then you can sell records. And maybe there's certain genres that are like that. Maybe there is. Maybe I wouldn't dare to make assumptions on which ones are but the one that I'm involved in at least anytime I do anything that kind of veering towards that, they're like, yeah, you're full of shit. We know. So I got to be careful. And that authenticity that gets imposed on the material, I think, is what has created a long career for me. And I'm super grateful for it. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, absolutely. All right, well, everybody go ahead and head over to There you can find the show notes for today, including transcript, videos released for light work and links to connect with Devin, especially for that Dream Sonic Tour 2023. I'll be at the show in Edmonton, so feel free to come by and say Hi because I would love to meet you, you beautiful listeners. And Devin, thank you so much for coming on and to The Rock Metal Podcast today. 

Devin Townsend: You're so welcome and thank you for the support and I hope to see you on tour sometime.


Friday, June 30, 2023

Death of Darkness with Jyrki 69 of THE 69 EYES

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Jyrki 69 of the band The 69 Eyes about their new album ‘Death of Darkness’ out now via Atomic Fire Records (Valila music House in Finland).

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as what Jyrki 69 has learned working with some new producers, releasing singles instead of albums and working in a totally new way to produce great music.

'Death of Darkness' was Mixed and Mastered by Miles Walker (

The band The 69 Eyes is for fans of: Lacrimas Profundere, Charon, HIM, Poisonblack, To/Die/For.


Guest Resource - Connect with The 69 Eyes!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Try new ways to approach the creative process, such as working on singles instead of an album, getting feedback with each release

2. Bring in producers from other genres to help bring fresh ideas.

3. If you're used to recording tracks separately, try playing together as a band live off the floor to get a sound that's closer to you as a group of musicians.


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: Jyriki 69, thank you so much for coming on to The Rock Metal Podcast today. Go ahead and say Hello to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Jyriki 69: To all you vampires out there. Here's your favourite Helsinki vampire, Jyrki, the singer of The 69 Eyes. Hope you have a bloody time with us. 

Jon Harris: A very bloody time indeed. Indeed, my good man. So make sure you have your Bloody Mary's at the ready to enjoy while we have this wonderful chat. This record, Death of Darkness, what was the greatest moment for you producing this record, Jyrki? 

Jyriki 69: The idea of breaking out from the regular recording structure or the process that we as well, since we're an 80s band, we've been repeating twelve times before this. Which means, like, you write music certain amount of time, then you go through that music that you had written and then you choose the ones you want to put on a tape. Then you go to everything secret, of course. And then you go to another secret process which is recording the album and then mixing. And then when it's ready, then that is a secret too. And then in secret, you wait certain amount of time until you announce, like, by the way, we have new record coming out. Excuse me. And then comes the drum fill and then comes a new record out and then you celebrate with everybody and go on tour, talk about it a little bit and then go on tour. And then, you know, you you disappear again for a certain amount of time. So, you know. Not that anymore. I mean, during this time and space that we are living and been living for quite a long time, that's old school way to do it, but we wanted to try new way of creating a record. So that was like our A&R guy, he has a golden ear. He's like sort of Finnish version of Clive Davis. Mr. Kabi Haggan and he said, like, start writing just singles. Write singles, let's put out singles, forget the album, let's write singles and put them out. And maybe later on, if you have enough good material, we'll gather them as an album. And so that's what we did. We wrote songs, put them out as singles, and at some point we had enough material, some of them out already as singles and then some other tracks that seemed to be a good idea to gather them and put them out as an album. But we haven't been quiet until now. We've been very loud already a year by releasing these singles. And that's just for me. I'm impatient and I want to be loud, I want to be heard, seen, and I like this way of just being available, being also out there for criticism after each song. That was really interesting in the end. I mean, when you put out an album, will you get any kind of feedback from like half of the songs even? But now when you put out song after song, maybe somebody likes one song, somebody who doesn't, it's not the end of the world. So then you put out another song and that was really practical. Morin and exactly what everybody else except us who are rockers or in rock bands, we are somehow doomed to still continue the same process. I mean, maybe after a few years, I say like, hey, I want to do this old school process and blah, blah, blah, you can guess that. But at this moment, I'm excited about this and I would like us to continue releasing new music more often than just like, wait for some years. Okay? As this album is out now, the previous one came already, like something like nearly, well, four years ago, which is horrible, but. And that's something I don't like. So I think we need to start releasing new music, at least singles next year or something like that. That was the revolutionary part of it and that was very different. And I'm just trying to exaggerate a little bit, like just to I love to hear more music from my favourite bands. Maybe they start the same process. There's more music available us from all our favourite artists, and we don't have to wait for certain amount of time once they put out twelve songs. Ten songs. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. The old school, what, two to three year cycle? 

Jyriki 69: Or four year or something.  Then the rat race of doing the album touring, and we were part of that rat race all last decade. And on the other hand, it's not a rat race. I mean, many bands would love to be part of that cycle, release an album, do exclusive touring, then when quiet for a little while, and then come out with the new record and then go for touring. That's an achievement itself. But I mean, it started to feel old and like a rat race at some point during the last decade. It didn't bring anything new, it didn't take the band to anywhere. Obviously, anywhere means I think that we have something to achieve still. I think there's a bunch of people who would love to hear The 69 Eyes. And at the moment, there's also new generations coming up who seemingly have found us. I've heard that there's growing numbers, there's big data and statistics. So according to that, there's a new generation hungry for The 69 Eyes at the moment. So that's exciting. So it's time to change, to be a band living in the 20s.

Jon Harris: Yeah, that makes complete sense, now what was the biggest challenge for you on this record? 

Jyriki 69: Well, I didn't think about it as an album. I just approach every song as individual song. So I wouldn't say that there's a theme or there's some fine line going on. Every song is just not just, but every song is. I approach every song one by one. Even the ones which have not come out as singles, they were songs. And I left everything for guitarist who mainly writes the songs. Like he can figure out the track order, which he did. Actually spent a lot of time for that which I was scratching my head like I wonder why. But I found a reason when I listened to the whole album from CD. Noticed that for the first time a couple of weeks ago. So I understood that the track order was really nice. So no wonder he spent so much time on that. But the challenge was like I think the challenge is now the album comes out tomorrow morrow as we are doing this interview. So I'm actually weirdly kind of nervous. I don't know what happens when the album comes out. It's out there. People will write down their comments to all social media platforms. There's probably some reviews. What else? We have a new single coming out in the music video also, but strangely, I feel like being a little bit nervous. But it's an emotion, and it's good to have an emotion, right? At least I'm not, like, seasoned. I don't care. I don't give a f I'm nervous. The album comes out tomorrow. Whoa. You know, so that's the challenge. It's it's like, it's like and also, like, every time, every time you make music and and records. We've been doing few records earlier, so you make the music and you enjoy it a lot. You have good time, you put, like, your I'm proud of the lyrics, I'm proud of the emotions and proud of the vibes that we create. Proud of the singing, proud of the sounds, proud of how the band sounds, and we've tried and everything. It's a fantastic experience to record an album overall, in general, it might be stressful at some times, which belongs to we need to be stressful in life in general. So sometimes it's like stressful or schedule. You have to all oh, haven't finished the lyrics, and I'm I'm supposed to go to sing them tonight. What should I do? And those those kind of things, but I enjoy them fully. But the one thing which surprises every time after this is like when you see the first review. Somewhere and you forgot totally the feeling, how it feels when you see the review of you forget the whole thing that somebody's reviewing what you're doing. We were just talking about it. Does the reviews even matter these days to who they serve? Or are they just messages from sort of like specialists who have special ears? Are there messages for the band? Like this specialist in this country, these guys over there, this person who's working writing for this magazine thinks this. And is it like improvement, like feedback from specialists around the world? Does it serve for listeners? Because now it's open platform. Everybody, the fans can leave their message like a heart or fire or then something else, or devil's horns or something like that. And this really simply strong guy who's moshing with the two horns up, I don't know if that even exists anymore, but girl in the back. Yeah, something like the most challenging thing is to start to see the reviews because you're never prepared for that. But I'm honoured that somebody bothers to write the review as well, or fans bother to leave a message because this is all about communication with all of us, among all of us. And my communication with the world. Our band's communication with the world. We communicate by making music, bringing some kind of different wives than anybody else. It's all good, but that's a challenge to these reviews. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. That's what I was going to ask is about that review process. But I've heard that before that with the advent of how quickly a band is able to receive feedback in almost real time with social media. Now, what is the review process? Does it still even matter? But it sounds like it kind of does. I mean, it sounds like there's somebody out there who, as you said, has almost yeah, it a direct message for the band. 

Jyriki 69: Yeah. And it's like our record label sends links to their reviews. All of a sudden there's a first mail which has like five links, and it's like, oh, reviews, shit, I forgot this. Because you don't think of that when you make music, because it's such a beautiful thing to do, create something, and you put yourself there fully, and then it's one of the best things ever to create something. So then all of a sudden, then there comes the reviews and like, oh, no, I forgot these reviews. And do they matter? Well, they do. Obviously, you wonder, hold on. Even if it's positive, and most likely this time, they have been extremely positive. And that's fantastic. Also. On the other hand but we've been living such a long time doing records with this band. Such a long time. So there is also, like a very long period that we got the worst reviews ever, especially here in Finland, in our native country. Now, those records are considered as classics, like, seriously, not only in our band scale, but somewhere else. I pop up like, oh, hey, the best dark metal records of something like 2000, early 2000s or something. And then I see the record, which got like five star in the local newspaper here. And it's considered as classic, but that's how it goes. As I mentioned, it obviously it mattered back then, but on the other hand, nowadays what matters is that you are mentioned. Any kind of attention is always good, any publicity is good, and it's more easier, at least for me to understand than it was like ten years ago. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Speaking of time passing, I have two questions for you. Jyrki. One is, and they might be intertwined, but how would you define success at this stage of your career? And the second question to that is what would you tell the Jyrki 69 of 30 years ago? What advice would you have for him?

Jyriki 69: Let's start with the success because I'm extremely excited to tell you this, that we we had our record label, Atomic Fire had a confirmation with us a couple of weeks ago because our streaming numbers, the streaming numbers of The 69 Eyes have grown extremely fast, like quite recently. And with the last single, the title track Death of Darkness, which came out about a month ago, we hit like half a million listeners on Spotify, but also in other platforms. We've been growing really fast and they said like 2000 percentage and also, like I said, not 202,000 percentage. And also as they've been studying the big data because they've been analyzing and they were like, hey, what's going on? It's mostly people who are it's it's mostly people who are under 25. So this is like something I would say this is success. We managed to reach let's say we're not doing anything, but the new generations discover us that way. So it's amazing. And we're super happy because I think we have something and we deliver and we have something that any other bands have anymore. So I'm excited about this. And I would say this is success. As creating new music is like your amount of listeners is growing without like there hasn't been any campaigns. We didn't even have a new album out or anything. They just have been starting to grow because we're unique and new generations have discovered that. I think TikTok has something to do with that as well. But that's successful and that's exciting and interesting. Yeah, very exciting and then what would I say to me like did you say 30 years ago? I mean this this cliche itself but I wouldn't have any advice. I would say that don't listen to any advice because that's what happened idea. Nobody was advising ever, and I just going with the instinct. Occasionally, I've been running into difficulties, which mean that I'll be indifferent than people have expected me and us to be. We've been criticized not to be professionals and something that we have wanted to do. For instance, we're always this is an adventure for our band, for us five guys. We're a gang, we're friends. This is an adventure for us. Like for instance this summer we're playing some festivals and that's the same excitement like when we ever get first time to play at the festivals we're excited to see our heroes on the same backstage field like this time around there's going to be Mötley Crüe for instance so I'm excited to see Nikki Sixx walking around and that's the excitement So like early days earlier, much earlier, not even 30 years ago, but later on when we were getting somewhere, we still are excited, like, hey, can we stay at this festival a little bit later or come earlier or something because we want to see this and this band, maybe Motörhead and so on. And then the criticism was like, that's professional. You should do it professionally. Which means like boring, you should be boring. Do it in boring way. So that's where all the criticism has come. So I think I wouldn't give any advice and I would say don't listen to anybody because that's a way act like your heart tells you. And that's what we have been doing. We've been listening to our heart and our heart is pulsating along the beat of rock and roll. 

Jon Harris: Pulsating along the beat of rock and roll, baby. Which takes me to my next question. I read in the EPK because I was looking for who produced the record and I read that it was a young fresh producer who's not old enough to be an 80s guy and who brought a special layer so maybe tell us a bit about that? What was that like working with this person? Was it a particular choice to work with this person? Take us through that.

Jyriki 69: Well, that was the thing that we got a brand new record label here in Finland and along with the label there's a bunch of guys and this fresh producer, he's not fresh in that sense but he's been producing the biggest artist here in Finland and also like a legendary Hanoi Rocks guy, Michael Monroe. And currently he's actually producing Sing new Sami Yaffa album, the bass player of Hanoi Rocks. But so he has other feet in a contemporary high end pop music. But on the other hand, he's also like putting his hand on real dirt like operating with glam and sleeves rockers like Hanoi Guys and us. So he came along with the new Finnish label. He sort of forced us to play also live once a while in the studio which we haven't done for a little while because in the modern technology you don't even have to see your band members when you are recording an album. But this guy was like hey, that's a whole key. Let's try to do something together. And that was also set us on fire because we hadn't tried that for a really long time. And also he's hungry to show that he's been doing high end pop music. So he's hungry to show that he knows rock. And of course I throw a couple of criticism there for him just to irritate him, to get his claws out. So that was interesting. And besides, he has this totally different ideology for the things and then in the end when he was arranging and producing and squeezing the best out of us then the whole package was sent to Atlanta for Miles Walker who mixed the album. So we found this very good process. I hate these words. I mean, it should be like rock and roll but we recorded in Finland and got the guy who was seriously interested in he was also making the record, showing what he can do in a way. So that was really cool. And then, you know, it was finalized by Miles Walker in Atlanta which is the guy who's been mixing like U2 and Coldplay and Beyonce and those kind of artists. So that was really cool. Fresh dream team. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, very cool indeed. Very cool. What's the number one thing that you would like people listening to the podcast to do? And that could be go out into the night and do vampire things that could be something special like follow your heart to the next victim. Even the place to drop what you're supposed to drop. Go pick up the record. But what's the number one thing that you would like people to do? 

Jyriki 69: I would like them to open up their favourite streaming service found Dark Throne there and pick up the track Graveyard Slut and play it loud. 

Jon Harris: Graveyard slut. Play it loud. 

Jyriki 69: Dark Throne, baby. 

Jon Harris: All right, well, that is absolutely fantastic. And that concludes all my questions. So head over to There you can get the transcript for today's episode. You can see some music videos, ways to connect with The 69 Eyes and so much more. So please go ahead and head over to, in the meantime, Jyrki 69, thank you so much for coming on to The Rock Metal Podcast today. 

Jyriki 69: Cool, man. 


Friday, June 23, 2023

Desolation Years with Nik Serén of HONG FAUX

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Nik Serén of the band Hong Faux about their new album ‘Desolation Years’ out now via Golden Robot Records.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as what Roni learned working with their producer, Josh Shroeder.

'Desolation Years' was Produced by Hong Faux, Mixed and Mastered by Sebastian Forslund.

The band Words That Burn is for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Mother of God, and One Inch Giant


Guest Resource

Hong Faux on FB - Connect with Hong Faux!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. It can be hard to imagine people enjoying the art that you create; working on how you meet with fans can have a greatly positive impact on the artist / fan relationship

2. Make records for yourself that will make you happy to have released for the rest of your life and beyond.

3. Always keep an open mind with regard to new equipment, as it may surprise you what comes out on the market next.


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: All right, Nick, thank you so much for coming on to The Rock Metal Podcast today. Go ahead and say Hi to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Nik Serén: Hi, all beautiful listeners. Hope you're well. I am. Sweden has sun. 

Jon Harris: If it's anything like Canada, it's definitely dark and cold and dreary for a large portion of the 

Nik Serén: Yeah.

Jon Harris: Speaking of dark and cold and dreary, let's chat about this record Desolation Years, which is out now via Golden Robot Records. What was the greatest moment for you producing this record? 

Nik Serén: It's going to sound a bit cliche, but every time we got together and actually recorded it, because it was the height of the pandemic and everything was just pretty gloomy, and just meeting up with these people and making this record was cathartic in a way, because obviously we're friends and all, but we were also doing something that actually mattered to us. So it was that and we actually didn't think it was going to come out at all because the industry for a smaller sized band as ourselves, it didn't seem very positive at the time. So I would say that I mean, I'm just amazed that it's out and people are actually listening to it. It doesn't matter how many albums we do. I can't speak for other musicians, but for us it's always the same. It's like you do this stuff, you do it the best way you can, and then people actually listen to it's always amazing when they do because it's hard to imagine that people sit down and listen to it. I don't know why, because I listen to music every day. So it's not something weird, but just our music?  Okay.

Jon Harris: Yeah. 

Nik Serén: That's great. Yeah. 

Jon Harris: Well, I mean, everyone listening in right now. Raise your hand if that is something that resonates with you. I know it resonates with me. Somebody listened to my podcast? I almost get embarrassed when that happens in real life. Like, oh, no, you heard it? 

Nik Serén: Yeah.

Jon Harris: Like, yeah, it's great. It is? Thanks. I'm always kind of weird about that in real life, and I'm pretty sure it's something similar are for you as well, Nik. When somebody says, I heard your record and you're like, oh, no.

Nik Serén: Yeah. Especially when they sometimes you meet fans and stuff, especially when you're on the road, et cetera. And some people want to talk about the songs and what they mean and all that stuff, and then they give you, like, an explanation about what the song means and what the words means. And it's not true, but it's a better one than the actual intention. So I just say, yeah, you're right. You're right. That's it. That's it.

Jon Harris: Yeah, it's a very unique thing. What's that like for you? Have you gotten used to that? Is it still an interesting do you find maybe that some songs just kind of almost like a Venn diagram, it starts to mean something in particular to many different people?

Nik Serén: I think actually, as I've gotten a bit older, I've changed my perspective a bit because in the early days, I would probably grab you by the neck and tell you, no, you fuck face, this is what it means. And then because I was so serious and I was an artist and all that stuff, but now it's more interesting to hear these people muse about this song and what it means to them. And I'm starting to think that maybe that's the achievement. You know, that they listen to something that you do and something starts spinning in their head and then something gets done up there. And I don't I'm not a psychologist or anything like that, but it's amazing that these people are spending time with this music and it's making them think. Because it's not just I mean, you can make music about tits and ass and having fun and all that stuff, but we don't. So, I mean, we have that dimension to the music and you're hoping that people that it will make people think. So when it does, that's great. So I just find that I mean, it's hard to believe, but it's –

Jon Harris: Yeah.

Nik Serén: It's great. And obviously when I write the words and when we write the music, we have an idea and we know what it means. But that's not the essential thing right now. 

Jon Harris: Something that you had mentioned, Nik was doing this at the height of the pandemic and for a band your size, it just seemed like it wasn't a very positive environment in the industry and you didn't think that it was going to come out. Was that the biggest challenge for you guys on this record or what was the biggest challenge on this record? 

Nik Serén: No, you know what? Again, you interview bands, so you've heard every cliche in the universe, but I think the fact that we thought that it might not come out was actually what made this record great to us, because we just didn't care which just did it for us. No one talked about the record company. No one talked about the A&R or radio or stuff like that. So that was a good thing. I think the biggest melancholy and all that was that thought or feeling about maybe we can't play anymore. Maybe we can't go on these tours that we used to go to. Maybe that's over because we've been around most of the rock clubs in Stockholm closed because the kids don't want to go to rock clubs anymore. And you can reminisce and be sad and be a boomer about it, but that's the way the world goes. But it's sad when you spend so much time on it. So I think that was a bit scary area, because we don't play golf. We play music. Right. 

Jon Harris: Right. Not like Alice Cooper. He does both yeah.

Nik Serén: Yeah, yeah. Does he do it with style, though? Maybe he does. I don't know. 

Jon Harris: I don't know. I've never actually –

Nik Serén: I just read an article about him and it seems to me that maybe if I can keep my politics and still play golf, can I do that? 

Jon Harris: I think you can. 

Nik Serén: Is that allowed? 

Jon Harris: I think it's allowed. 

Nik Serén: I don't think golf is boring, do you? 

Jon Harris: Yeah, I find it really other than mini. 

Nik Serén: I mean, playing it, not watching it. I would never do that. 

Jon Harris: Oh, yeah. No, playing it is amazing. 

Nik Serén: Yeah, that's what I think. 

Jon Harris: It's like fishing. It's like the best thing a guy could do to spend all day doing absolutely nothing. 

Nik Serén: Yeah. So if I can go around, go 18 holes with, like, Mike Patton or something, that would be fun. 

Jon Harris: Yeah.  Yeah.

Nik Serén: Alice cooper too, I guess. 

Jon Harris: Very cool. 

Nik Serén: Kid Rock. Can he come? He can bring his gun. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, he could bring his gun and his Bud Light. Yeah. I didn't realize he felt so passionate about Bud Light of all beers. 

Nik Serén: I don't know. I have this thing where I sometimes I used to live in California for a couple of years, and so I have this weird fascination with with life there and politics and everything. I don't know. It's better than TV, but I'm just amazed of all these videos where people are destroying beer and most of them are really rich and I just want to call them up and say, hey, when you're rich, you don't really have to drink Bud Light. 

Jon Harris: Right. 

Nik Serén: You don't have to. 

Jon Harris: You could do Stella. You can afford Stella now in the glass with the swish thing for the foam. Yeah. Wow. 

Nik Serén: Yeah. I don't know if I've answered your question, but I tried. 

Jon Harris: You did, you did. And I'm curious. No one talked about the record company, the A&R or the radio. And you mentioned I've interviewed a lot of bands, I've heard all the cliches. Interestingly enough, that isn't one that really comes up a lot. It has, but it isn't really one that comes up a lot. But I have noticed that whenever somebody says, you know what? We went into this record not caring about the management, not caring about the record company, not caring about the A&R, what comes after that is, and it was the best record for it. 

Nik Serén: Yep.

Jon Harris: Why is that? 

Nik Serén: Because you can only get my opinion. Now, I'm not a scientist of these questions, but if you're the best tennis player in the world and you're at the finals in Wimbledon, and you just have to win because your dad, whatever, it just doesn't work when it's stuff like this that has to be honest. And this stuff is going to be on Spotify and Apple Music long after we're gone. So if you can't stand it yourself. Because we've been in that situation before where the record company calls us back, they've listened to the Master and they say, we love this album, but you need a radio track because otherwise we can't throw money at promotion and stuff. Then you have to try to come up with some sort of compromise. And it's good that we humans can compromise, but it's not the best art that comes out that way. It's just not. 

Jon Harris: Yeah.

Nik Serén: So I think we have to think about that all the time because we have to exist in this market that works in a certain way and no one can ever change it. And you need this and you need that. So sometimes you have to do that track. And it's actually pretty tricky to do a radio track. The last album we did, we had this song that was supposed to be the radio track and we were really happy about it, and that's rare. But I have a very good friend, a very old friend that hates our music. Because he's really hardcore and he only listens to metal. So every time I try to do a radio track, I send it to him. And if he comes back telling me that that's the worst piece of music he's ever heard in his fucking life, then I know I have a radio track. 

Jon Harris: Right. 

Nik Serén: So that's how we do it. But yeah, but I think you leave something out there to be judged by others, and if you have that feeling that you can't really stand by it all the way, that's a nightmare. When people start writing reviews and stuff and you know you have those two tracks in there that you didn't want to put in there, it's a nightmare. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, the two tracks you didn't want to put in there. Now, something you had mentioned, Nik, earlier on was about lyrics and themes, and obviously fans want to create their own versions of it kind of always happened. I remember watching a video of John Lennon talking to somebody and he's like, no, I didn't write that song about you. I don't know you. How is that even possible?  Nevertheless, what went into the themes on this particular record from you? 

Nik Serén: Well, height of the pandemic that was the scenery. It's called the Desolation Years. I mean, you don't have to be a genius to kind of put that together when you know these things. But we live in a pretty strange world, and the way we organize life in this strange world gives you a lot of workable material. There's a lot of strange stuff going on. And we are the kind of musicians that come from a world where we don't do happy music. We're not happy, we're funny. We're ironic, but very few of us are happy. So that's why it comes out like this. I mean, the stuff that we deal with in these songs are pretty serious stuff, but it's also a bit distant. 

Jon Harris: Right. 

Nik Serén: I like writing that way from the perspective of someone who doesn't really know all this stuff. That classic thing where an alien lands on planet Earth and just takes off his glasses and they're like, what the fuck are you doing?

Jon Harris: It's because his glasses are off. If you put his glasses back on, he'd be able to see how much sense we make. 

Nik Serén: Of course. And a person born in the 70s would tell him that instantly. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Was there any gear on the record that you used that was either new or super cool or surprised you? 

Nik Serén: Yes. I would have to say yes. And this is a bit sensitive because I'm going to tell you a story about guitar stuff and it's an area in which I have completely changed my mind. I was proven wrong and that's a difficult thing to say for men.

Jon Harris: Especially a guitar player, I know, I am one.

Nik Serén: Exactly, exactly. But yeah, we've been kind of exclusively using Orange amplification gear throughout our career. We love that stuff. We use it all the time, and we still do and disclaimer. We're indoor st everything. I mean, it's just we used that. And during this pandemic recording, the way we recorded, it was difficult to have all that gear moved through these locations and stuff because we didn't have time or the possibility to do it in a studio for like, three weeks. So we did it all over the place. And a friend of mine told me that if you take your Orange rigs and you profile them into a Kemper or an Axe effects or whatever this was a Kemper, you won't be able to tell the difference. And I was like, Fuck you. I know that I will hear the difference because I know this stuff.

Jon Harris: The high end is a little more brittle if you listen close enough. 

Nik Serén: Yeah.

Jon Harris: But in a mix, you can, I guess, fix that, or I guess it just doesn't matter in a mix, but they're a little more high end, a little more brittle sounding. 

Nik Serén: Yeah. Anyway, I did it. Started bringing the Orange rig with me, but in a digital format, and we recorded it. I did that profile with the microphone that I use and the cabinet that I use. So it was my sound. And then I did it. And I wasn't sure, I didn't like it, so I brought the 2x12, the cabinet with me and I just turned off the cabinet in the digital thing and then I recorded the usual way, but without the amplifier. But it was the amplifier only, and it sounded absolutely great. This story doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was a big deal for me because I was always like I was treating those things like the antichrist.

Jon Harris: Yeah, I mean, IK Multimedia has the ToneX now that is a software that you could take your laptop with you now instead of having to bring a Kemper profiler around with you, there's the Quad Cortex that is like smaller pedal form. And then obviously the Kemper has been around for ages and yeah, I wouldn't doubt that if we've been using real amps forever. This thing's going to suck the soul out of my amp and I'm not going to notice? But evidently it worked. Does that change your workflow going forward?

Nik Serén: No, I wouldn't actually imagine that it would, but it just adds another dimension. Because now when someone tells me that because I wouldn't do it with a generic rig in a Kemper. But since I know in the back of my head that this is actually my amp, that's the difference for me. Because I didn't buy a random amp of the Internet, a wave file that I record and someone to record I'm not saying that those are bad, but for me, I just want to use my amp when I do these records. So I'm guessing that it's going to add another dimension to whenever we want to record again. I know that if someone tells me, hey, I've got the afternoon off in the studio. Want to come and lay some of the guitar tracks? It's not a hassle anymore, I can just do it. I think that's great. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, that's a really good point –

Nik Serén: And if someone calls and say, can you fly in and do this festival? We don't need Orange to send trucks with amps and stuff. We can just be a bit kinder to the environment because we still have to go there, and that's one thing, but we can just have that thing and do it. But if we go on tour and we're going to be away for three weeks, we're going to take our stuff off like we always did. So adding a dimension, making it a little bit easier. I'm guessing that's the point of all this stuff. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, yeah.

Nik Serén: Because it doesn't sound better.

Jon Harris: Nik, how would you define success at this stage of your career?

Nik Serén: Um wow, that was hard. We we started this band without ambition. We started every other band in our lives with ambition and that all went to shit. And this band, we started honestly, without ambition. And then things started happening. That should tell you something. We've always been happy when people listen to our music and people keep booking us on shows, on tours. We've done lots of supporting act tours and our own tours. And for us, that was success and is still success. We know we're not going to be Foo Fighters or Guns and Roses, whatever band you think is really cool. So for us, it's just, can we do music? Can we make music? Can we have people listen to it? And can we go play it live? Because playing it live is I can't speak for all rock bands, but I would guess 90% or above. It's the live shows. That's the thing. That's where you live. That's what you live for. So for us, just being getting into that van, taking that trip around Europe, it's mostly Europe that's success. People going into a room at 10:00 at night in, I don't know, Berlin. I mean, we're Swedes and we're in Berlin, and there's like 400 people there that bought a ticket to see us. That's weird, isn't it? 

Jon Harris: Yeah.

Nik Serén: Again, I go to these shows all the time. I don't think it's weird to buy a ticket and go see a great band. I just think it's weird when people think that we're that band. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. 

Nik Serén: So for me and for us, that's success. 

Jon Harris: Very cool. Very cool. Very good to hear it. The only other question I had sort of off the cuff, just because I didn't see it in the EPK or any information from the record label, was just was there a producer that you worked with? Any kind of, like, mixing or mastering engineer, some other extraneous member to the band that maybe is worth asking? What was it like to work with Bloop? But I don't have that information. 

Nik Serén: Yeah, we did that in the past producers last album, we did work with a guy called Daniel Bergstrand, who has worked a lot with In Flames and Meshuggah and these things, and he thought it would be fun to do softer music. And that turned out really well. But this time we said, no produce there. We've been doing this for so long, we know exactly what we want to do. Let's just skip that part and just do what we want to do as good as we can do it. But having that set, we work with a guy called Sebastian Forslund who is a great mixer. And when we have done the recordings, we send the stuff to him and then we tell him to mix it. We don't give him any input, we don't tell him what to do. And we tell him, if you get an idea, if you want to cut something out, if you want to add a fucking tambourine, or if you want to fry the guitar solo, whatever, do it. So he becomes like the Fifth Element because he's really talented and we don't tell him what to do. We accept what he does. So we get that extra dimension that way. Because, honestly, today you can change so much after the fact. That coming from where we're coming from, with the budgets we have and stuff, getting a great producer, it just doesn't make any sense. And asking people to work for free, it's just insane. So. This. I mean, I can't I can't say what, you know, anyone else thinks about it, but we were really happy with this record. This record sounds the way we intended it to sound, and that's a good feeling. Then if people like I mean, we got some pretty good reviews, so we're happy there are people out there in the world that actually agrees with us. But, yeah, that's a pretty good way of doing it, I think. I mean, great producers will always have work, so we're not cutting out the middleman or anything because Rick Rubin wasn't available.

Jon Harris: That's a shame. 

Nik Serén: Yeah. Absolute shame. Sebastian and I can plug he actually plays in a band called the Night Flight Orchestra, which is a great band. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. And you want to know who was on my mind last time I chatted with Björn about the Night Flight Orchestra? He said, what made the Night Flight Orchestra so fun was that they weren't worrying like they would in Soilwork.  They were just coming together, him and David, and saying, I like this music. You like this music. Let's just –

Nik Serén: You can tell when you watch the Night Flight Orchestra that they're having fun right now. They're not in a very fun place, because David actually regrettably passed away. 

Jon Harris: Right.

Nik Serén: So that was tough because a lot of us in this little community that we have, we kind of grew up together, and we've been known each other for a long time, and that's why we keep the collaboration within the extended family. But, yeah, you can tell when the Night Flight Orchestra do their thing. You can tell that they're trying to have fun. And I think we have this beef going on in this community about whether or not humour belongs in music. And I think that's something that you can probably devote a whole podcast episode to, but I think it does. I don't like slapstick. I don't like people dressing in funny clothes and making a rock video, and that kind of humour I don't like. But I think witty lyrics and irony and critique of society and all that stuff in a funny format. Absolutely. 

Jon Harris: Like, the Foo Fighters. We've mentioned them, and they do slapstick music videos. 

Nik Serén: I don't like it. 

Jon Harris: Suicide Silence. I just chatted with them. They said they were inspired by the Foo Fighters and they make slapstick videos because of the Foo Fighters. 

Nik Serén: And as I said, this is a divider. Some people, if you talk to our fine neighbours, the Norwegians, they're very serious. 

Jon Harris: Oh, so serious.

Nik Serén: When they do their black medal and stuff. No humour. 

Jon Harris: I mean, if you've been to Finland, like monotone. Man, I am so happy to be here. Are you? Yes. Thank you. 

Nik Serén: It's weird because the Finns are like I mean, the Swedes, we're depressed because of the sun and all that. We are depressed people. Our history is wreaked with genocides and fucking Viking atrocities and stuff like that. But the Finns, they are constantly on top of the happy people on Earth when they do these things. But when you go to Finland. You never notice. No. So I'm thinking something's wrong there. But I'm just saying no, don't do slapstick in my book. But keep your humour, man. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, don't do slapstick. Keep your humour. What is the number one thing you would like people to do who are listening to the podcast right now? 

Nik Serén: Because of the insane state of the vinyl business, there is no record to pick up at this point. You will have to wait with that. I mean, obviously it's great if you listen to the music and stuff, but I would probably use my 15k of fame because I have this motto in my life, which is obviously in Swedish, but if I translated it, it would be something like just get your shit together. So I'm telling you now, audience, get your shit together. It's not that hard. It really isn't. Bar is pretty low. Don't be an asshole. That's it, pretty much. You don't need a constitution. You don't need 22 fucking amendments. You just need to don't be an asshole. Pretty simple. Stick your hands down your pants and face the music. 

Jon Harris: Wow. Yeah. Stick your hands down your pants and face the music. 

Nik Serén: Yeah. As you can tell, I'm not a philosopher. 

Jon Harris: No, clearly not. All right, well, everybody listening again. Go ahead and head over to There you can get the transcript for today's audio, music videos from Hong Faux, as well as ways to connect with Hong Faux. So, Nik, thank you so much for coming on to the Rock Metal podcast today. 

Nik Serén: Very happy to be here. Take care.