Friday, March 31, 2023

Finding Your Sound to Tell Your Story with FLOOR JANSEN

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Floor Jansen about her new solo album ‘Paragon’ out now.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as finding your sound to tell your story through music.

'Paragon' was produced by Gordon Groothedde of After Forever fame, and Floor Jansen, herself.

For fans of pop and metal alike - Nightwish, After Forever, ReVamp, Northward


Guest Resource - Connect with Floor!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Demo songs don’t need to be good, they need to get the conversation started to communicate a great song idea

2. Count to 10, have patience, know that you’re good enough

3. Find your own unique sound that says who you are as an artist and take the time necessary to discover yourself


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: Floor, welcome. Go ahead and say hello to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Floor Jansen: Hello, beautiful listeners.

Jon Harris: And a great to have you on – 'Paragon', first solo album. Floor, what was the greatest moment for you producing this record? 

Floor Jansen: I guess one of the best moments was while we were writing the first track on the album, which is called 'My Paragon', because we kind of had the puzzle made apart from that song. We really needed something in that line of sounds. We were searching for it. We just didn't really get it. And it was the first song we really had to kind of write out of thin air. Most other songs were , you know, prepared, oh, I have a chorus or I have an idea, but we kind of ran out of ideas, and we wanted to do one last track that would kind of fit the last part, the last piece of a puzzle. And it was quite frustrating to see that it just didn't come. And it didn't come and it didn't come. We took a break, and we didn't get there, and we took another break, and without actually thinking we might just have to drop this, that song wrote itself all of a sudden, as soon as the first ideas came, and there it was, and it finished the puzzle. It was that last piece that we really needed. And even though it fitted so well that it became the opening track, so...

Jon Harris: Wow. 

Floor Jansen: There. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, absolutely. How did it write itself? Was there something that happened? Like, was it one of those moments where you're out walking and I don't know. There's a stream, so there's running water, there's some psychological trick? 

Floor Jansen: No, we were in the studio, so we'd already worked on two other tracks that we did for beforehand, and we went through everything that we written before. Okay, we have this and this, and it would be great if we'd have a track that was a bit more up tempo. And imagine it could be this or that.  No special candles with smells. And you know, meditational sessions or just, you know, studio work and trying to get the focus. And funny enough, sometimes when you really focus, you don't get it. We had to let it go enough to sort of get back into it. And there it sort of surfaced out of its out of thin air. 

Jon Harris: Wow, yeah, there is the line right there. Let it go enough to get back into it. 

Floor Jansen: Yeah. 

Jon Harris: Okay. Building the last piece of the puzzle, which is 'My Paragon' first track on the album, having to take those breaks, not actually thinking about the song. And then 'My Paragon' goes and it writes itself. Finishing the puzzle. Floor, what was the biggest challenge for you on the record? 

Floor Jansen: That would be finding my sound. I mean, you all probably know me as the singer of Nightwish and maybe ReVamp or Northward, After Forever. All the stuff that I've been doing over the last 20, 25 years, it's all rock and metal. So to do that, once again, was not the challenge. To find a sound of my own that is away from that is how do I sound when I don't have a band behind me blasting and doing something really different or less could be more it's more towards pop-y thing, perhaps it could be more classical or should it be this or should it be that? So it took me a good year and a half, maybe two years to actually really find my sound something that I can say, yes, this fits, and from there we can explore more. 

Jon Harris: Wow. Finding your sound that is your own. How do I sound when I don't have a band blasting behind me and taking a good one and a half to two years to find your own individual sound. And I mean, I remember when you hit with 'Energize Me' back in After Forever. I remember watching that music video when it first came out and you've always struck me as somebody who would have large vocal range and capabilities. Is it as a result of being in Nightwish for so long? You've got a habit of singing like you would in Nightwish? 

Floor Jansen: Yeah, definitely. I mean, the the approach of music. Yeah. And the diversity that's there for, like, okay, I would like to use it, but sometimes less is more. So even for top guitar players who can do the most complicated solos, if the song doesn't ask for it, you don't do it, even if you can. So in that sense, I can do all kinds of stuff, but where do I implement it? It's the song that does the talking. It has to be good songs. Of course I want to show what I can do because that is sort of also my trademark without it becoming, look at me, look what I can do. Like a showoff album. 

Jon Harris: You do do that very well, I'll say that. 

Floor Jansen: Haha, thank you. So in that sense, it was a search. How much pop music do I actually listen to? I came to realize that I really don't listen to it much. I knew relatively little of it. So even there, I'm still in a new sort of search for things that I really can enjoy. If you're used to the complexity of Nightwish, then pop songs can be relatively boring, very fast. It's so much more back to basics. So how do I give that a twist that's still me without me thinking of my own songs. Yeah, it's great song, but it's very short. Find my way. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, yeah. Something you mentioned earlier on was searching for the sound and finding the sound, and I got it immediately. As soon as I heard the album, the music, the lyrics, even the vocal melodies, everything seemed very connected to this theme of empowerment. Even before I read anything about the record, I said, this sounds like empowerment. I should be fearless. I should go for my dreams. And then I started reading everything. I said, okay, how did they do this? And so it's kind of a big, huge question, but how did you do that? 

Floor Jansen: I guess that coincidence is not the way, but it sort of builds. Like it's something that I tell myself and it's something that I want to share to other people. Maybe it's the phase of life I'm in. And some songs became even more empowering to myself afterwards because they were written before I became sick with cancer, for instance, that I felt like, Jesus, this is just what I wanted to hear myself. Yeah, I guess I wanted to leave something into this world that is positive, that is not blind for negative. But yeah, like you say, empowering. There's enough negative news in this world as it is. Open the regular news channel and all they blabber about is the bad. It's very easy to believe that we are the most vicious, evil species on the planet that is doomed to go extinct just because we're so fucking stupid. If you just listen to the news. And it's so far from the truth. It's so far from the actual truth, but it's just a matter of how you put things and how you put them in balance with the good that is actually happening everywhere, every day. But the fact that the world is a much safer and better place than it's ever been throughout history – says a lot about how it was before. But, hey, it's just a matter of looking at it, and there is enough shit, so let's focus on the good instead.

Jon Harris: Enough shit. Let's focus on the good. So the desire to give something positive to the world and in turn becoming your own source of inspiration, which is super cool, as you said, songs became even more empowering after the fact. And going back to developing your own sound, I think this is so crucial, especially for other artists, other musicians who are currently listening in right now, who might be fumbling with the idea of where do I live in the musical world. Was there anything unique that maybe you did in the studio or anyone that you worked with that really helped along the way? 

Floor Jansen: For me, it really had to do with who I worked with. So I started working with Gordon Groothedde.  I called him because I got the recommendation to do so in the process of where I was in, and I knew him already from the last After Forever album. So he was also the co-producer of that song you mentioned from After Forever, 'Energize Me'. So we worked together for that album, but after that, we sort of went our own ways. We hadn't spoken, like, 13 years. When we called again, I said, I have this idea and I'm working on it, and I seem to just run into walls and, do you think you could help me? And we talked a whole bunch. We had 13 years to catch up. And I told him mostly about what I didn't want, because that's as far as I got. A long list of, yes, something like this, but not that. And not, not, not  About a week later, he called me. He said, I have this song that has been in the back of my head ever since we talked. It's a song I already wrote with, and, for somebody else, Ruth Lorenzo, but I think it might just be right up your alley. Just out of inspiration. Could I send it to you? And that was 'Storm'. 

Jon Harris: Very cool. 

Floor Jansen: And that, for me, was the first after the long list of no's – Yeah! And from there, we could build, yeah.

Jon Harris: Long list of no's to the thing you had mentioned was talking about the album is like a puzzle and putting this puzzle together and that there were some previous ideas, but one of the songs was out of thin air. So was the idea to do an album then kind of ethereal at that moment and then on the phone call this is kind of the first piece to the puzzle to start materializing. 

Floor Jansen: Yeah. Actually, yes, yeah.  I've been writing before. I've been working on things myself and been working with somebody else who also put a lot of love and energy in it, but also comes from the same angle as I, like, from the metal end. And it just wasn't it yet. And I felt like we can spend another month or two or half year trying things, but I think, well, let's try with somebody else. You never know if it will work or not. Like with Gordon, I had no idea if that would click also on the songwriting. And so he helped me create that first puzzle piece. But from there, I didn't know if we could write songs together. And like, 'Fire' was the first song that we wrote together. Also with Wouter Hardy, who was there. And I was like, okay, yes, I guess we can. So it was very cool to do that, but it's definitely shared effort there where I really needed him as a producer to help me create that sound and where I feel confident as a singer, I have less confidence as a songwriter. Especially in the beginning, I was so uncomfortable with my own  shortcomings realizing them that I barely dare to even send ideas. 

Jon Harris: Oh, no.

Floor Jansen: Yeah, I have this four chord progression kind of thingy with a melody. I don't dare to send it out.

Jon Harris: Right. 

Floor Jansen: But I'm glad I did because from there many other songs started and you need to start somewhere. So that really gave me boost there as well in my confidence.

Jon Harris: Not knowing if you can write songs together. Needing Gordon as a producer to help create your sound, which I'm sure we'll touch a bit more on that as we continue on. Did that help in building your confidence? Knowing you could bring more basic ideas to the table? 

Floor Jansen: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Because also he also started ideas and would come with recordings on his phone that he said, yeah, it's just an idea to sketch in my head. I have more in my head than you can hear. And then he would play that to me and it's like, I have actually no idea what this is. And he's like, oh, yeah. And then he would get the piano or guitar and then he would play it. Okay, now it starts to make sense. Like, okay, your basic ideas do not really have to be good. 

Jon Harris: Hahaha.

Floor Jansen: It just has to make sense to you as a songwriter. And if you then can communicate to somebody else who's like, yes, cool. And get the process starting, that's enough. Unless you have more ideas. Like for instance, 'Daydream', all the main ingredients were there. They were recorded really shitty with me at an untuned guitar somewhere. I wasn't at home. I just had a whole layout for the song, just like that. That's the beauty of songwriting for me, anyway. I know it's for many people, different how it works. I know for Tuomas, for instance, in Nightwish works completely different. He works completely different. But yeah, whatever works. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. I mean, ideas on the phone, bringing out the guitar or the piano, basic ideas don't have to be good, other musicians listening in, so long as you can communicate it to someone else and get the whole of things started. And I mean, you even said you had an untuned guitar just trying to get it going. 

Jon Harris: What is success to you at this stage of your career? 

Floor Jansen: It is a luxury to do what I want to do, not doing something that I must do.  And I think that's the ultimate freedom. Yeah. So I guess that would be my answer, because I can you can say, oh, I want to play that big venue, or I want to do that special slot on a festival, but I don't really think in life like that. I feel very  grateful for what I can do. And I guess the pandemic, it's not long time ago enough to forget what it was like and it really took away every feeling of taking things for granted.  Yes, we were benched for two years and now we're back out and you can't just take these things for granted. And to have the freedom to say, I want to write an album, I want to go on tour, I want to take a break. To have the freedom to do what you feel is good, like, Adele, I know that she does it in a beautiful way.  She's really – I want to make good music. I want to really do everything as good as I can. And I will take my time for this. And if I need a three year break to recover, I will do that. 

Jon Harris: Right.

Floor Jansen: I like that kind of sense of freedom. It's a massive luxury. And I'm not saying I need a three year break, but I just mean to say to have the freedom to do what I feel is right and what I enjoy doing. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, totally. The luxury to do what it is that you want to do. And you even brought up Adele, taking the time you need, having the freedom to do what you need to do after being benched for two years, which is super serious for a lot of musicians. And takes me to an incredible question. What would the Floor today, the Floor that I'm chatting with right now, what would the Floor today have to say to the Floor standing in front of the microphone in the studio recording 'Energize Me'? 

Floor Jansen: Yeah, that's a very good one, especially around this album, actually, because paragon means this ultimate goal that I really didn't reach in those years that I was really aiming for. And I was constantly working my ass off to never reach the goals I set myself. So if anything, I would tell her to count to ten and have more patience. It'll come. You're good enough, you don't have to work harder, you don't have to go overboard. Just have patience. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, have patience. Setting goals so high that they can't be reached. How familiar does that sound? Anybody? Does that resonate with anybody right now? So count to ten, have more patience. You're good enough. You don't need to work so hard. I mean, obviously work hard. Ain't nothing happens with no work. But don't go crazy. Don't set goals so high that they can't be reached. Now, that kind of takes me to another question Floor. How has working with different producers over the years helped you become a better artist, better performer, better singer?

Floor Jansen: Yeah, for sure. I mean, for me, Gordon really worked as a producer producer. So he helped me find my sound, and together we build things. He helps me to get the right emotion out of my voice. Where with Nightwish, we don't have a producer like that. We have Tuomas writing the songs, and he has a very clear idea of what he wants. He also knows now that he can let certain parts go and let me fill in those gaps from my creativity. And together we build something that really fits the song.  So that's a different kind of co-operation where he you could call him the producer, like the the overlord, the mastermind of of everything we do. But, yeah, it's it's a different kind of co-operation really there. So I usually really myself know what I want. And that made it so interesting for the solo stuff to really, once again, so far into my career and having done so many things, try to find something completely new. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, you mentioned trying to find something completely new, and you're talking about Gordon helping you find your sound. Coming from a metal background, engaging in pop music, it brings me to just thinking lots of incredibly talented pop singers, obviously they get brushed. Oh, you're just a pop singer. You can't really sing. But the truth is, like, Rihanna can sing, P!nk can sing. 

Floor Jansen: Yeah.

Jon Harris: Miley Cyrus can sing. These girls can sing. They do pop music. Don't burn them at the stake for it. Right? That's what they choose to do. That's what we all choose. We all choose to do something. And at the drop of a hat, any of these girls could become a rock singer. And it seems like whatever the next step is for you, because now you're bridging the gap into pop, you've got the metal background. It could really become an incredible endeavour. And I'm super excited to see what it is that you do next Floor. 

Floor Jansen: Thank you for that. Well, I hope so. And that was the huge challenge of this. Besides finding my own sound, I don't want to give metal heads the feeling that I'm betraying our kind or doing something, you know metal – It's super proud. It's very authentic. And if it's not metal, it's not cool. For some people, it is like that, but for a lot of people, they are a bit more open minded, but they still need to recognize me in that. So if I would all of a sudden change into some Barbie girl dancing in some red latex outfit onto a beat, that would be like, okay, midlife crisis, much or who's she so I wanted to do something that's still me, and that fits to me. That gives me the opportunity to tell my story through a different kind of song, but still me. Me with a different kind of sound. And that path, apart from just finding the sound, the right image behind it and the right way of communication from my head to the outside world, has been a very powerful path. And something really rarely done, because I want to involve as many people as I can in the right way. I don't want you to be convinced about it. I just want you to feel that it feels like, oh, yeah, that's Floor. Yeah, cool. Whether she sings Nightwish or her solo stuff, it's still floor and that's important for me. 

Jon Harris: Okay, well, there it is. Hopefully the Paragon is finally achieved. 

Floor Jansen: It is! And that's the thing. That's the most empowering thing about this album. There will always be the next thing. There is always something you can improve about yourself, but if you never take that step back and say, look at where I am, and give that pat on the shoulder and maybe you need cheesy as it might be, look in the mirror and tell yourself, damn, girl, or, damn, dude, you've done well. You may be proud of yourself. That's good. And I've done way too little of that. So that is that little bit of wisdom for this 41 year old that I want to just spread out and hope I can keep doing in many more years to come. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, absolutely. And cheers to that. And, yeah, pat yourself on the back, look at yourself in the mirror and say, you know what? You are good enough. You're doing a great job. Maybe work a little bit less, maybe rest and relax just as much as you work. And you can create your own 'Paragon' in your own life. What's the number one thing that you would like people listening to do? 

Floor Jansen: I hope that they can kind of lose themselves in this music for a moment. Life goes so fast and there's always so much of everything. So I hope that people can take a moment to just listen to it or to just be in it, maybe even take the booklet in their hand and sing along with the songs. Maybe feel inspired to do the same thing as I said to myself, like, well done. For a minute after listening, feeling so empowered, it's like, God, I'm going to look into my mirror and say to myself, you're awesome. Something like that, 

Jon Harris: Yeah, I could not agree more. So we chatted about everything today, Floor. Your solo album 'Paragon'. We chatted about working with Gordon, we chatted about finding your own sound, which is so important and so crucial. Other musicians listening in right now. Have you ever stopped and thought, am I playing the right music? And I know it sounds so silly, but what is your own voice? And I've heard countless stories of people changing genres because they have an epiphany. And I'm not saying Floor is changing genres. We already discussed she's not changing genres by any stretch of the imagination. But seriously, it's such a crucial part that I've taken home away from this conversation, is finding your sound to tell your story. Go ahead and head over to There you'll get all the show notes for today, transcripts, music videos, links to connect with Floor. And speaking of which, Floor, thank you so much for coming on to the Rock Metal Podcast today. 

Floor Jansen: Thank you for having me. Wonderful chat. 


Friday, March 24, 2023

Living a Life of Passion with Niilo Sevänen of INSOMNIUM

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Niilo Sevänen of the band Insomnium about their new album ‘Anno 1696’ out now via Century Media Records.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as living a life of passion through your artistic endeavours; be it music, story writing, or artwork.

'Anno 1696' was mixed by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Orgone Studios) and mastered by Tony Lindgren (Fascination Street Studios)

For fans of Omnium Gatherum, Dark Tranquility, Amorphis, Paradise Lost, Moonspell.


Guest Resource - Connect with Insomnium!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Think about how the themes and stories of the music meet the sound of the music

2. Write stories, lyrics, and themes based on your own interests and passions

3. Even with a billion dollars in your pocket, do what fills your life with passion for a career


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: Niilo, thank you so much for coming on today. Go ahead and say hello to all of our beautiful 

Niilo Sevänen: Hello. This is my pleasure. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely an incredible pleasure to have you on. Now, Niilo this album, Anno 1696, what was the greatest moment for you producing this record? 

Niilo Sevänen: Probably when it was finished, and finally, because the process was long, we recorded eleven songs, 75 minutes of music. The mixing process, well, it took a while mastering on top of that, so it took something like, I don't know, three to four months that we very intensely, intensively worked for the album. So when it was finally ready, of course, the feeling was good. We were satisfied with everything, how it sounds, how it came together. Now the feedback is starting to come in. People have heard the songs. Some of you guys have heard the whole album and read the story, and people seem to be enthusiastic. So, looking good at the moment. 

Jon Harris: Abso-freaking-lutely. And we're going to get back to that story in a little bit. The greatest moment for you producing the record was finally finishing it. It was a long process, 75 minutes of music. You mentioned that the mixing process took a while. What was the intention, if that makes sense, what was the intention with the mix? 

Niilo Sevänen: It makes sense because we had a vision there. The story required music that is very cold, dark, kind of harsh, even blackened, at least on our standards, some black metal-ish influences. And compared to the production of what we had with Heart Like A Grave, we wanted it to be a bit more raw, organic, maybe a bit more 90s. So we found this guy, Jaime Gomez Arellano. He's from Colombia, but he's been living in UK for a long time and. He has done albums for Paradise Lost, Moonspell and many more. And we really like those albums. And the sound he has been doing, it's not a modern metal sound that would be kind of too compressed and too Pro Tools and polished. It's more organic and it sounds more real and that's what we wanted to achieve. And that's what we thought will fit this album now, that's why we chose that guy. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. And by that guy, Jaime Gomez Arellano has worked with Paradise Lost and Moonspell. You like those albums and you felt, we don't need any more Pro Tools, we don't need any more compression. We want a more organic, more real sound, which I appreciate totally 100%. And the story itself, Anno 1696, required music – and it does, I read the short story – it requires music that is cold, dark, harsh and blackened, as you said, by Insomnium standards. Now, you mentioned that it was a long process to work on the album. What was the biggest challenge for you on this record, Niilo? 

Niilo Sevänen: Well, since it's a concept album and I was in charge of the lyrics and of course, the story is mine. So it's a bit more trickier than your standard album where you just have a collection of songs and stories, but if you have a bigger story that spans the whole album, you really have to think carefully how all the arc goes and the song order and how do you so you have to build it differently. It's a more delicate process and you have to, pretty early kind of lock that, this song is going to be number one now and this is going to be the last one, because the story has to start and end in the right way.  It is more complex to build a concept album, but if you do it well, I believe it's very rewarding for the listener because I like concept albums and I think all in this band, we like concept albums and that. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, well, I mean, you mentioned the story a couple of times and in that response, you mentioned Nillo having to or getting to rather write the story and then write the lyrics and build the concept album with the story arc. And part of me wants to say, well, that sounds so easy. You know the story, you know how it's supposed to go, but it obviously isn't that easy. And reading the story and reading the lyrics, I just want to say you're a genius. How did you do that? And it's not every day that I get handed a short story to talk about an album. So let's maybe take a couple of minutes and talk about this story. What was the inspiration to go this direction? 

Niilo Sevänen: We've done this before, that we have a short story with the album, we did this with Winter's Gate and I think with that we kind of bought our artistic freedom so we can do what we want and we don't have to be afraid, we can try things. And now I had this idea already in 2019 about this story set in 17th century Europe. I thought it with the guys back then, but then COVID started messed up all the plans. We ended up doing this EP first, but already at that point we had the idea that this concept album is next and it's going to be quite the EP was kind of soft, mellow collection of ballads, so to say. But we knew the next album is going to be more brutal and dark again. And I finished the story quite early then, and the guys read it, they liked it and we agreed, okay, let's make the album from this story now. And then we really started composing music that would fit this story. So it really became a soundtrack for this specific story. It's not just a collection of songs or a collection of random ideas, but like, most of the music is composed after the story was finished. And I think you can hear it and we have four composers in the band. But the story helped us kind of get into the same mood and mindset when making music. So it all came together then after that, quite easily. That all the songs that all the guys were bringing to the table, they already sounded like, okay, this will fit the story. There were only like a couple of demos that we kind of left out, okay, let's see with the next album. Maybe this fits better there. But originally, this idea where it came from. I've been a fan of 17th century history for some time. It's a really interesting period. Kind of between eras, kind of there are a lot of conflicts there. There are wars, religion and science are fighting, the witch hunts are there. And then there happens to be this very cold period as well. Like, it's one of the coldest centuries of what we know and what actually caused this great famine in the north, this great hunger in 1696, 97 was there were some volcanoes erupting, at least in Iceland that we know which caused that climate was in the north, was well fucked up for a couple of years. It was really cold, all the harvest was gone, people had nothing to eat. It was a total disaster. So very dark times. Proper material for dramatic story. So I think that's how. How it started in my mind. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, good material for a nice, proper Insomnium record, you could say. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yes.

Jon Harris: Hahaha, man, volcanoes in Iceland going off. I remember reading something about that in the story, and then I read that a lot of the stuff that we're reading in the story, so we know or is told, actually happened, which is crazy to think about. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yeah. Although these incidents and facts that are mentioned and these persons, they are real, real stuff from history. And I did quite a lot of research to get the facts right. And it was funny thing. Yesterday we had an interview here in Finland. There was a journalist and then there was a historian from the university who had read the story and she said, actually the lyrics are so good that she will use them and show them to her students because they represent the 17th century world so well. And I was like, wow, well, this is the best compliment ever and thank you. I have a stamp of approval now on my short story. It's good stuff. 

Jon Harris: Hahaha, okay, well, there you go. That's the best compliment I think anybody could receive. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yes, it is. I'm really happy about that.

Jon Harris: Going back to the more organic sound, the more 90s-esque sound. We talked a little bit about the mixing, but I was actually curious, thinking as we were chatting, did any kind of equipment in the studio change? Like when you guys were recording or writing the record at the source get more of a 90s sound?

Niilo Sevänen: Well with the drums, for example, Jaime Gomez Arellano, he doesn't use samples at all. So they are real drum sounds and that's kind of rare nowadays. And the same thing with guitars. It's the signal we recorded ourselves in the studio, so they are not reamped guitars. And that is also starts to be rare nowadays. Like usually all these star producers, they have their own kind of standard drum and guitar sound and then all the albums they make, they sound a bit the same because of that. But now, already in the studio, we spend a lot of time to have the best possible drum sound and the best possible guitar sound. And it wasn't changed afterwards to something else, which has happened many times, but now we knew what it's going to be. 

Jon Harris: And it's amazing how much this has become not the norm in metal. You don't have any drum samples on your record. They're real drums and even the guitar takes are as they were, out of the microphone and into the preamp. It's super cool to have a vision like that, to say, hey, let's kind of go back to the 90s a bit. Something more raw, something more organic.

Jon Harris: How would you define success at this stage of your career? 

Niilo Sevänen: That I'm I can do what I really love for living. It's how I spend my days. That is how I define success. Because if I would be a multi-billionaire, I would still do the same thing. I would write stories and I would make music, because this is my passion. I'm very fortunate. I know it. And for a band to get this far, you need luck. There are many good bands that for many different reasons, they just don't get anywhere or they end up quitting or whatever. But we've been here 26 years and still I feel we have a lot to give where we're going. I feel we're going forward. And there are still places where we can go, like South America. We haven't been there. And it's something of course, I still want to experience.  And there are still people out there who haven't heard of Insomnium. So there is something we can still conquer. But yeah, success is how you spend your days. It doesn't matter how rich you are, but if you have to do the kind of work that you don't like, you have to spend all your waking hours doing something you don't actually like. What do you do with all that money, this kind of freedom, and you can do what you really love. I think that's the most important thing. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. And I think that's why they end up spending all that money on silly frivolous things that get them into trouble. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yes. And like kind of trying to fill some void inside that's of course not going to solve real problems.

Jon Harris: No, no, haha. 26 years, man. Okay, you're making me feel old now, Niilo.

Niilo Sevänen: Sorry.

Jon Harris: I remember seeing The Elder on Yahoo music videos or something. So back in the day, before YouTube, really, I used to watch music videos on rotation on Yahoo. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yep.

Jon Harris: And I remember The Elder came up and I was like, frozen. I was like, this is what I've always, ever wanted to hear. What is happening here? And then I went to Amazon because you bought CDs back then. I went to Amazon, bought the CD, and it's kind of like the rest is history, right? But from The Elder to Lillian, 26 years, getting the chance to do what you want to do, what's that like?  What kind of advice maybe would you give your younger self who is recording The Elder? Is it kind of even impressive to you? Like the guy who was sitting there recording The Elder is now able to do this for a living 26 years later? 

Niilo Sevänen: Yeah, I don't know if the younger Niilo would believe that, haha, because back then I didn't even have this idea in my mind that I could do this for a living. It was so far away. We were just a young band. We were students, basically, and of course the idea was to study and get a normal, decent job and go on and have this band hobby there. But at some point when things progressed, we realized, okay, we can actually make a living with this. So it seems. So the tours got bigger and bigger and we got more fans and it all happens slowly, but message to younger Niilo, I don't know. Try not to stress too much about everything, probably. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, pace yourself. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yes.

Jon Harris: Kind of like you mentioned earlier, there's a lot of bands that just for whatever reason don't make it or they quit or whatever and then here you are 26 years later. So just do what you love and pace yourself.

Niilo Sevänen: That is very important. Do what you love and be really honest and true to yourself. Always. When doing the music, that is the key. If you try to calculate, if you try to please people or do radio friendly or if you think about that too much, people will sense it and it doesn't feel so real. So be true to yourself and really do what kind of music you want to do. Of course, that applies to everything in life. Like life is so goddamn short, do what you want. And that's it really. Because you're not going to get a second chance. 

Jon Harris: Nope, absolutely not, life is so goddamn short. Do what you want, have passion and yeah, like you mentioned 26 years ago, just a student studying to get a normal, decent job. Things progressed, tours got bigger and bigger. You made more money. You started to take advantage of that opportunity. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yep.

Jon Harris: Very cool. What's the number one thing that you would like people listening in to do is that head over to a particular website, watch the music videos, read the short story. What would you like? What's the number one thing you want people to do? It could even be a soulful message, like be happy. 

Niilo Sevänen: Well, that's my message to everyone. Like Bill Murray said that life is so goddamn short. Do what you want. But if somebody doesn't know Insomnium, I think it's easy way to start is to go check out some of our music videos from YouTube and see if you like them or not. And that's a good place to start. Of course, nowadays, of course, Spotify and other streaming platforms, it's easy to find our stuff there and check them out.  Lyrics are also listed in the internet in many places. So you can read it easily there. So it's easier nowadays than in the find new music and all that cool stuff. 

Jon Harris: Don't have to wait out for MTV to come around with the music video anymore. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yeah, then you have the record already. They're going to be some cool video and I'm going to record it now. And it was so different. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely. I'll be honest with you. I even miss it a little bit myself. 

Niilo Sevänen: Yeah, me too.

Jon Harris: But yeah, go ahead and head over to for today's show notes. There you'll be able to see music videos, links, transcript, all the extra goodies from today's episode to make sure you can go ahead and stay in touch with everything Insomnium. And if you've never heard of Insomnium before, then go listen to the freaking record. All right. Well, Niilo, thank you so much for coming on today to The Rock Metal Podcast. 

Niilo Sevänen: Thank you. It must be my pleasure.


Friday, March 17, 2023

Never Make the Same Record Twice with Jaime Preciado of PIERCE THE VEIL

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Jaime Preciado of the band Pierce The Veil about their new album ‘The Jaws Of Life’ out now via Fearless Records.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as all the ways the band strives to never make the same record twice.

'The Jaws of Life' was produced by Paul Meany (Twenty One Pilots, Mutemath, The Blue Stones), and mixed by Adam Hawkins (Machine Gun Kelly, Turnstile, Twenty One Pilots).

For fans of Bring Me The Horizon, Falling in Reverse, My Chemical Romance, Sleeping With Sirens


Guest Resource - Connect with Pierce The Veil!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Do whatever you can to make the record so unique that you'll never make the same record twice.

2. Renting an AirBnB house in a unique city to both live and work on the production of your next record

3. Hiring a producer who knows the insides of the industry from management to labels to radio, and who is passionate about your project


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: Well, Jaime, thank you so much for coming on. Go ahead and say Hello to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Jaime Preciado: Hello, Hola. How are you guys doing? 

Jon Harris: ¡Hola! ¿como estás?, back to you. Jaime. We are doing absolutely fantastic. Thank you again for coming on. Let's get into this new record. Jaws of life out February 10 Fearless Records. My first question, Jaime, is what was the greatest moment for you producing this record? 

Jaime Preciado: We had a lot of well, I wouldn't just yeah, it was definitely not just me. It was a lot a lot of cooks in the kitchen on this one. And yeah, having someone like Paul Meany on the record, producing just so many different things, I can't even begin to start. Like, this is the first time we've done a lot of these things. We had Brad from Third Eye Blind drum on the record. Paul Meany from Mutemath, produced the record. Who, -- we've never had a producer who was also an artist work on an album before with us. So that was a completely new thing. And, yeah, we recorded it in a house in New Orleans. So this record was just from beginning to end. It was just such a different process than we've ever done, and that's our go to. Like, we never want to make the same record twice. We never want to do the same process twice. We take all the good things and all the bad things that we've done in the past and try to learn from them and keep going. And this was the same. We definitely did a bunch of stuff that I really loved and a lot of stuff that we want to work on for the next album and moving on. So I think across the board, just this whole process was very special to all of us in it. I think we all just became closer because of it. Like, the three of us just in a house, living together, building the songs day by day. And also yeah, not to mention having, like I said, having Paul Meany as an artist, being able to butt heads with somebody like that because we're both so passionate about the project. So that was really fun, too, I think. We've never actually had that in the past. 

Jon Harris: Butting heads, I'm imagining Gordon Ramsay and somebody else going at it, talking about, no, that's not how you cook a steak. That's a bass line, buddy. Where I come from. Brad from Third Eye Blind drumming on the record, which is super cool, recorded in a house in New Orleans, and it sounds like even living in that house, never wanting to make the same record twice, building the songs day-by-day, so many cool things. Were there any challenges on this record? And if so, what did you learn from those challenges? 

Jaime Preciado: Yeah, not only just the time that we are in making the record, you know, we were post pandemic, still kind of at the tail end, learning how to navigate that. And then also, once we left the house, we still had to do a lot of work. You know, Vic and I recorded all the all the vocals here in San Diego, in our studio here in San Diego, sending them to Paul, he him sending us back, you know, a lot of Zoom sessions like that. We've never done any thing like that ever. So all of those things call them challenges. They were just different different ways of doing the same kind of idea. You know, back in the day, we would spend three months in a studio, but that just wasn't the case this time around. And, yeah, we had to definitely have a couple, you know, learn, like, do a couple of things on the spot and figure that stuff out. But I think the record is how it sounds and what it is because of all those things. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, you mentioned a few things there. One I wanted to unpackaged was Zoom sessions and working remotely, basically. 

Jaime Preciado: Exactly. 

Jon Harris: Take us through that. How do you make an album over Zoom? 

Jaime Preciado: Yeah, exactly. There was times when it was me, Vic and Paul were on a Zoom session and we were watching Paul's screen as he was showing us what he was doing in real time. And it was almost like we were in the room with them, but we were over 3000 miles away or however far. So that, to us, we've never done that. And it was crazy that technology has come this far to be able to do that kind of stuff. But, yeah, that was just so different, being trying to be creative through a screen. Talking to someone, you know, in another state across state lines you know, it was wild. So that we've never done that before. It's a lot of new challenges, for sure. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so using Zoom, connecting, you know, across state lines, real time recording, voodoo stuff. Speaking of New Orleans, but is there any other gear? I mean, how did you guys set up the studio? Maybe take us through that in the in the New Orleans space? 

Jaime Preciado: Yeah, normally we try to bring as much stuff as possible to the studio, but Paul had an assortment of a bunch of different gear. He had, like, tape machines. He had this like giant space echo machine that we were just running everything through because it sounded crazy and weird and yeah, man, my favourite takes when we're towards the end of tracking, say one song, Paul Meany, you would say, all right, time to do the fuck all tracks. Which meant grab any instrument, grab anything that makes noise. And we're just going to do maybe two or three passes of the song and we're going to make these crazy, weird sounds and do kinds of weird. Just one guy's on the guitar, one guy's with the drill hitting the guitar, just making these crazy, weird sounds. One guy's on a guitar pedal. And then after ten minutes of that, we would take 3 seconds of one thing that we heard that was cool and that turned into this little thing in the beginning of the song or in the middle of the song that was super fun because that's literally, like, on the spot creativity. And we've never done that in the past. And not only did it help us kind of get the juices flowing creativity wise, creativity, creativity wise. It also made it super fun and made it kind of like it kind of took us a step back to like, hey, man, not only are we making an album, but we're having fun doing it. And that's really important to us. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, I imagine it would be important to you guys taking the process of making albums, but making it fun with these fuck all tracks, getting 3 seconds of something super on the spot, spontaneity spontaneously creative becomes a unique part of the recording. Get those juices flowing. Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture. Now, earlier, Jaime, you had mentioned that the album got you guys closer together. Was this the reason why? 

Jaime Preciado: Yeah, as soon as we got done touring in 2017, 2018, we normally do the decompressing after tour, start having a conversation about the album, start getting together, start working on stuff, skeleton some ideas. And we were doing that for a good amount, almost a full year. And then obviously the pandemic happened. And that for us, was such a lot of bands go into that and were able to get creative during that time. You know, being at home, being in your home studios, working on tunes and stuff, and we were just like not that we were so opposite of that, unfortunately. And it was tough for us because we're so we're such a tight, you know, knit unit that being away from each other made it very difficult to be creative. And then, obviously, you know. Once we started getting together again, we realized how much we missed each other and how much we all got, like, during that time we all got married. Vic's about to have a kid on the way. Our families grew and our PTV family grew, and that made it feel we just really missed each other. And I think once we we got together and realized the band is starting to build steam again, people are starting to talk about out us going into the studio and all that stuff. It kind of made us realize how much resilient we are and how together we actually feel, how connected we were. We missed that stuff. So being in the house in New Orleans really felt like we were on tour again. We were getting ready to play some of the biggest shows we probably would play, and we had that in the back of our minds always. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Interrupted by the pandemic, but realizing you're a tight knit unit and being a part made it difficult to be creative. I mean, any other musicians listening in right now resonate with that at all, whatsoever? You guys got married Vic's about to have a kid. I read that some of the themes on the record are really quite personal. Did all of this go into the record? 

Jaime Preciado: Yeah. That's more of a Vic question. But I know that there was a lot of themes on the record about being kind of overwhelmed, being kind of stuck and I mean, the whole record is kind of the jaws of life meaning to us was something about seeing the sun again, being able to breathe again, being able to go, okay, I can do this. Let's go, let's fucking go. So like that every song has its own deeper meaning and that's more of a Vic question because he does all our lyrics and stuff. But I know a lot of the songs had that type of aggressiveness towards that escaping kind of part, especially 'Pass the Nirvana', a perfect example of that song. That one had such aggression from the start and that one we knew was going to be the first track we were going to release. We knew that was the first track we got finished on the record and yeah, that kind of feeling of things that we used to take for granted. A lot of kids that year didn't get to graduate like normal, didn't get to go to a normal prom. Just so many different things happened that we just didn't realize and it felt like we needed a song to kind of rally around and be like, you know what? This is fucked. Now we've kind of move forward and get past that and listen to that song live and really escape from all that. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, each song having its own deeper meaning, really connecting with how you feel in the moment and it was what it was aggressive towards the feeling of being stuck, towards things we took for granted. How would you define success at this stage of your career or maybe even with just regard to this release, Jaime? 

Jaime Preciado: Success? Wow. I think for us, I mean, I have such a small I'm like a little puppy, man. I get excited about just about everything. You give me some good news, and I'm super pumped. For me, I'm just really thankful that all these fans stuck around. It's tough, especially now that in this day and age where attention is so important, social media is so important, and you could literally be forgotten in a day. No one cares in a day. So the fact that we've been gone for so long working on new music and are starting to have this resurgence of new music coming out, all these fans that stuck around, all the shows that we've played thus far have been so amazing. Probably the best shows we've ever done in our career. It feels really special. And to me, I want to just keep doing that. I want to keep growing. I want to keep showing new fans or music because as much as it like, blows my mind, I remember every night in the last couple of months we're playing shows, we would ask the crowd, how many times have you seen Pierce the Veil play? And being a band as long as we have, we expect pretty much every in the crowd at least seen us once, and it was almost more than half said it was their first time seeing us. So that to us is such a huge and it's just such an amazing feeling because it feels like we're a brand new band. It feels like we're starting over in this level of we're a little bit stronger, we're a little bit wiser, we're a little bit it's just all these things coming into play and it feels really cool, man. And I think if we can just kind of ride this wave and keep building and playing for new fans every night, I think that's a win for us. 

Jon Harris: Being like a puppy with good news, being grateful that fans have stuck around because you mentioned you can be forgotten in a day. And being on stage playing for new fans, I mean, what an honour. Absolutely incredible response to the success question. Now I was glad to go ahead and head back to a conversation about Paul Meany.

Jaime Preciado: The Meany Meister. 

Jon Harris: The Meany Meister. You mentioned him many, many times, and I didn't want to ignore that whatsoever. So I'll give you just a broad stroke question and just let you go. Paul Meany, what was that like? 

Jaime Preciado: Paul Meany, I mean, first and foremost, he's a great artist, and I think artistic people like Paul have very strong opinions about certain things. And that was something that I think me personally wasn't. I was ready for it, but it was like when someone cares just as much as your project as you do, there's something there, there's something cool going on. And sometimes he told us some truths that we had to kind of listen to and things that we fought over, whether it was like the song was going to be this way or this part was going to be that way. And I think for us a little bit in certain situations like that, we kind of had to stick to our guns in the sense of like, this is our first album either. And we had to kind of convince ourselves. Like, hey, this is our fifth album. We also have a lot of knowledge that we're maybe forgetting or not using right at the moment. And this is not necessarily with Paul. This could be with any record, with any producer. Just even on your own, you have to kind of trust your gut and trust the fact that all the moves you made thus far have gotten you where you're at now. So sometimes when you're making a new album, that doubt starts to creep in. Is this song cool? Does this work? Is this the vibe we're looking for? And you have to just kind of trust yourself. He brought that out of us a lot. There were so many times when he just was like, dude, you guys are Pierce the fucking Veil. And that, to me, was like it was super funny at the time. But, man, do we sometimes need to hear that because you forget you're in the zone. You're too. Zoomed in on the project. You have blinders on. And then he kind of goes, hey, take a step back. Look at what we've done. And you're like, oh, shit, this is actually kind of crazy. So that sometimes you need somebody to kind of take you a step back and look at the bigger picture of things. And he was really good at doing that because he's been in that situation. He knows the ins and outs of labels and management and even from radio stuff. We've never danced with that kind of stuff before. So he was talking about even things like that. He's like, Be prepared for this, be prepared for that. So he definitely was a master in his wisdom, for sure. 

Jon Harris: Very cool, knows labels, management, radio, be prepared for certain things, I guess without sharing too much. What's something that he shared with you that was, like, earth shattering, where you were like, okay!

Jaime Preciado: Oh, very cool, man, so many things. I don't know if it was earth shattering. They were just little bits. He was never like, one day he would say something super profound. It was just all day, little tiny things. He was very much into, like, the soul of things. He's like, I don't care. He kind of made me realize sometimes you don't need the perfect take or the perfect you need to find the take that's perfect for the song. You need to find the performance that works for the song. And that was something that we've never we've always been very surgical when it comes to recording and tracking, and this has to be, like, perfect. And he was kind of like, perfect is not always better. And that, to us, kind of blew our minds a little bit, and we've known that. But it was just nice to have somebody say that and be like, hey, sometimes I want to hear a little bit of humanness in your playing. And that really kind of changed a lot of our perception on certain things, and I thought that was a really cool thing. And I'll still use 1s that tip all the time. I love getting a good performance, for sure. 

Jon Harris: It's funny you mentioned that perfect is not always better. And I open up the question saying, what shattered the Earth? What spinned the Earth on its axis that you learned from Paul? And, baby, all you just said was, perfect is not always better. And I couldn't agree with you more. 

Jaime Preciado: That's kind of what it felt like. That was is kind of an eye opening, like, oh, wow, you're right. Like, that like some of my favourite songs weren't to the grid, weren't on click, weren't chopped up and made after the fact. It was just a dude in his guitar and he played it in a cool way. And I still hear songs. I was watching some sort of mixing things. I like to watch those nerdy things about audio stuff. And it was the producer who recorded Chris Stapleton's Tennessee Whiskey and he's like, the band just came in and just played it and I just recorded it with it wasn't like multitracked. It wasn't like they just sat in a room. I pressed record because I didn't know what was going on. And there were things on the song that made the and I'm just like listening to that. And I'm like, that wasn't professionally tracked. Like one instrument at a time. There's no way. And he showed he was playing each individual track and there was bleed, there was nasty. He's like, that shit didn't matter. What mattered is we got the performance. And I was just like, he's right. There it is. Great recording. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Bob Rock said that if it doesn't sound good in the room with one microphone, it ain't going to sound good with --

Jaime Preciado: Yeah. Amen your brother. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. What's the number one thing that you would like people listening right now to do? 

Jaime Preciado: Well, I'm always going to say, if you haven't heard of us, please check us out. And if you have heard of us, hopefully we will be coming to a town near you and playing some new songs. And also our album Jaws of Life comes out February 10 worldwide. So if you're like me, go pick it up. 

Jon Harris: Go pick it up, baby. That's right. So go ahead and head over to All the show notes for today, especially all the bonus tips, and things are going to be available. The link to Jaws of Life, which is out February 10, will be there, as well as music videos that have been released to promote the record. So definitely a very cool place to head. If you are keen.

Jaime Preciado: If you're keen, come on, you're keen. I also said go pick up our album. Streaming isn't a thing, but, yeah, you could stream it everywhere as well too, because that's the new age. I'm still old fashioned. I'm like, go pick up the album in stores. But I don't. We'll see. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely. Thank you so much for coming on today. 

Jaime Preciado: Of course. Thanks for having me. 


Friday, March 10, 2023

What It's Like to Create a Solo Album for the First Time with VILLE VALO

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with VV (Ville Valo) about his new album ‘Neon Noir’ out now via Heartagram Records, distributed by UMG / Spinefarm. 

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as what it’s like to create a solo album for the first time.

'Neon Noir' was written, produced, engineered, and performed by Ville Valo (Helsinki), co-produced and Mixed by Tim Palmer at Studio 62 (Austin, Texas), mastered by Justin Shturtz at Sterling Sound (New York City), art by Ville Valo with Rami Mursula, published by Heartagram.

For fans of HIM, The 69 Eyes, The Rasmus, Charon.


Guest Resource - Connect with VV (Ville Valo)!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Develop the skills necessary to worry about the trees, as well as the forest when creating art

2. Create authentic music with unique equipment and allowing the music to have quirks and blemishes

3. Finish your songs into an album to release to the world, rather than letting them lay dormant on a hard drive


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: Vile, thank you so much for coming on today. Go ahead and say hi to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Ville Valo: Howdy one and all, thanks for having me. It's an incredible honour to be back in the land of the living and spread the gospel of melancholy tunes. To be honest, we're working on butts off to make sure that we're going to visit your lovely country as well later on in the year. Since we're not playing Canada on the first trek, the first North American leg of the Neon Noir tour. So that doesn't mean that we have forgotten you. 

Jon Harris: Well, thank you so much for not forgetting us here in dear old Canada. I can't wait to have you come and visit. Now, let's go ahead and jump right into this record, Neon Noir. I went ahead and gave it a listen. Absolutely incredible. And I'm curious, what was the greatest moment for you producing this record, Ville? 

Ville Valo: The fact that I didn't have to check on anybody's timetable when we can rehearse and when we can work on the album. So working on it by myself enabled me to be just as egocentric as one should when creating an album. So I stayed up. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was able to stay up until 06:00 in the morning recording some silly handclaps or whatever might take my fancy at that time. So it's pretty special working that way and something that's very new to me. But at the same time, that's what I was missing. I was missing the camaraderie and the friendship and the other things besides music that are so important in having a band, you know, hanging out and having a shoulder to cry on. I was just playing on my, you know, my computer monitor. But it doesn't quite feel the same. 

Jon Harris: Okay, let's unpackage that statement. It doesn't quite feel the same. So working by yourself for the first time, staying up until 06:00, a.m. Recording, hand claps or whatever, but Ville first time working by yourself, take us through that.

Ville Valo: With the band as well. You have to remember that usually when you have five band members, there's always somebody having a problem is getting a babysitter or something is going down in life in general. And I remember when we started working on our last album, it was like, if you actually take the calendar in your hands, sit down with five guys, all of a sudden you realize there's not a lot of days we can rehearse because everybody's got so many things going on because of families and because of whatever. So other activities. So working by myself, that wasn't a question at all. It enabled me to spend as much time on as minute details as I would love to. And then to the other point is the fact that this comes out, or came out rather on my own label. So Spinefarm are doing the distribution, and Universal Music here in Finland, but the label is Heartagram Records, so I didn't have any A&Rs, I didn't have any artistic meetings with anybody, and I was given free reign regarding cover artwork and the music. And of course, I do like to work with record company people because at times it's good to have somebody who sees the forest for the trees. Who can give you another perspective on the music because as an artist, you're supposed to be lost in the making of it and at times, you get a bit too far off your own whatever. 

Jon Harris: Well, and you bring up some really good points there, Ville, especially for our listeners who are musicians themselves, I mean, who resonates right now with hard to get members together to rehearse because of life events and the convenience of working by yourself, being able to spend as much time as possible on minute details, as you had put it. Don't have anybody to answer to. No A&Rs, no artistic meetings, free rein on everything, including the artwork. But as you had mentioned as well, though, labels are helpful, and it's helpful to have somebody there to keep the perspective and see the perspective. As you had said, artists can get lost in the making of their art. Which takes me to my next question. Ville, was that a challenge for you or what was the challenge for you producing this record? 

Ville Valo: Yeah, I think it's a challenge sort of losing the perspective just as much as you need to, whenever you need to. It's like a superpower sort of thing. And I've been working on it for many years. It's the same thing as knowing when to finish. When you're done with something, like you're just putting icing on the icing on the cake, it doesn't actually make it different. It's just small.  That's something that I've learned along the way. But, yeah, it's tough. And I like ear candy, so I like little tiny details, and too many of 

Jon Harris: Well, and that's an incredible statement. A superpower to know when to lose the forest for the trees when you need to and bring it back, like knowing when to it's time to put the icing on the cake. And then, of course, you mentioned ear candy, which we'll get into in a little bit. But, I mean, for me, the blank page of creating an album would seem like a challenge to me. 

Ville Valo: I think the idea of all of a sudden creating an album from scratch, that was the most insane challenge I've ever put myself up to. Because when you actually don't have anything, it just sounds unattainable. It sounds very abstract and it sounds insane as a task. But I think it was quite hard to finish the whole thing when you're, like, halfway through. And during the pandemic, when people had sort of especially musicians, we had started to lose faith because we lost the second summer of festivals. So it seemed that it's a never ending thing, so there was no end in sight, and still, at the same time, tried to keep the creative energy going. It wasn't the easiest thing to do, but I think that was the biggest challenge. So, like, actually make sure that I would get the whole thing finished, that it would actually turn into an album, not just some haphazard, semi finished songs lying somewhere on a hard drive. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, I mean, come on musicians listening in right now. How familiar does that sound? Just a bunch of songs lying on a hard drive somewhere, where rather than finishing them, turning them into an album and then getting an interview on The Rock Metal Podcast. I mean, why not, right? Why not? Now, we mentioned ear candy earlier on, I heard hand claps and appreciated that you stayed up until 06:00 a.m. recording hand claps. So, just so you know, it resonated with someone halfway around the world. 

Ville Valo: Imagine just a hand clap. 

Jon Harris: Just a hand clap.

Ville Valo: It's a lot of hand claps. I love that sort of not only the 80s, but also the hip hop fight, where you have a lot of clap or used to have a lot of claps in the early 90s. So so, and I grew up with also listen to quite a bit of hip hop, not understanding the lyrics at all back in the 80s, like Eric B and Rakim's Follow The Leader, that was one of the first vinyl I got when I got into that sort of music. So I fell in love with the sound of the Oberheim DX, the drum machine. A lot of rap artists Run DMC used it quite a bit. And then a very similar drum machine was used by A New Order and the Sisters of Mass. It's very lofi in a very crunchy and a beautiful way, so I use that stuff too. A lot of old school drum machines come together with the real hand claps. And now you can see why it took until 06:00 in the morning, haha.

Jon Harris: Haha, well, I mean, very cool. Shout out to some old school drum machines doing some low fi claps, mixing them in with the real hand claps. So you obviously mentioned a bit of gear, which drives my curiosity. Ville, were there any other pieces of equipment that you used on the record? Did anything surprise you? 

Ville Valo: There was a ton of lessons learned, because I haven't really recorded a proper for I recorded some vocals, track vocals for a few backing vocal thing is for my friends and some lead vocals myself. But I think it was the entirety of it, because at the end of the day a good hand clap sounds better with a great snare sound. So as in music, it needs to stack. And if you have a great, let's say once again hand clap sound by itself, it doesn't necessarily make any sense. You have to have a great song around it and it has to serve a purpose and has to have a need. And if there's a handclap there's massive sound with a lot of bass and bottom ended really boomy, then the snare can't be really booming because otherwise they're going to fight each other. Stupid and simple example. I know, but it's a millions of those in one song and I think that it's just professionals don't really speak of them because they don't need to. It's second nature. But to me it wasn't so much. So there was a lot of firsts on this one. Regarding I'm an analog guy. I record onto ProTools. That's my recording medium. But I have an API desk, 16 eight, like a 32 channel analog board. And all my effects, like a lot of the effects you hear on the album are not plugins, they print it. I have a lot of late 70s digital stuff in classic Lexicon and AMS and all those reverbs that Universal Audio makes. So I have all that stuff in hardware because I think to me it does sound better and it makes the creative process more enjoyable. It's just those little tiny we're looking for the beauty spots, the beauty marks, the little tiny imperfections. That's what makes music interesting. So it's tough, tough to get that stuff if you're working completely in the box. But then again, once again I'm I'm maybe I'm just a tad too old my the evolution had hadn't sort of like developed into the state where my fingers would be evolved enough to sort of spend 24/7 on a mouse. So rather my hands want to work on like real old school big knobs and faders and such. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, nothing wrong with that. And then you get something unique in time that's printed that, you know, there it was, there it is. 

Ville Valo: Yeah. I think the important point about all of this is like, at least in my case, most of the albums that are on my top ten, they're weird sounding albums. I love the Misfits, I love the all Black Sabbath albums, all Black Sabbath stuff and the Depeche Mode. And they had very unique sounds and they weren't generic. They weren't like everybody else. That's what makes them classics. So I think it's important to try to go the take the road less traveled, as they say, you know, and that might mean we're going to end up staying up until 06:00 in the morning just to, you know, find the right little handclaps or whatever. There might be temporary good example as well, but but it's worth it because hopefully it makes the entirety of the album sound, in a positive sense, out of step. It doesn't sound like what is going on in that particular genre of music today. That's what I don't want to do. I want it to sound unique and organic and I want to sound like myself. Warts and all. 

Jon Harris: Warts and all baby looking for the beauty marks and the imperfections. Great albums weren't generic and that's what makes them classics. How would you define success at this stage of your career, Ville?

Ville Valo: Honestly, I think regarding success, there's so many it's a multilayered beast because there's a process of working on the art and that's something that's very personal, that's something that what you are hearing is to prove that I actually had to make that session. But there's a lot of wasted tracks and a lot of wasted hours, a lot of blood, sweat and tears that make the process very personal. And that process in itself is very important because that was big evolutionary moment for me and a learning lesson. I think that was a big success in that sort of sense. But then I think the next step is obviously the next step was to get the album out. And now the next step from this point on is to be able to talk. And we just played the first three gigs here in Helsinki about a week and a half ago and they went really well. And I'm feeling really positive because touring is not hard, but I've never been super confident or comfortable with it. It's great that we rehearsed a ton and people seem to enjoy the set and all that. That's a good thing in my book. So there's various degrees of success. Not only degrees, but sort of like parallel paths. So there's not a one single barometer of success that I guess. So, of course, I like myself to be the first artist on the moon, shaking my strut and being number one everywhere and do that sort of thing. But I do have to be a bit realistic as well. So otherwise it's all going it's just a domino effect, a series of disappointments. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, you mentioned a lot of really good things. I mean, just being able to do the record the 
way that you did it, getting the album out, learning as much as you did. I mean, there's so many cool things. 

Ville Valo: Yeah, you're absolutely right. But at the end of the day, if you're thinking in terms of bread on the table, there's, like, the spiritual journeys and then there's sort of like monetary journeys and everything in between. And commerce and art, they don't go very well together. It's like the hemispheres of the brain, the sort of creative and the more mathematical part. But, yeah, I'm trying to make it all work and it's looking good. A thing I'm really happy about in the larger scale is the fact that it's not a given or if it's not something I or whomever can take for granted. But after all these years, being away from the realm of rock and roll, that people would still remember my name and actually listen to the music and actually go and listen and buy the album stuff. It's pretty darn amazing. And on the tour now, this spring, a lot of the gigs have been selling out, especially in Europe, and few of them in the States. It's amazing. It's amazing to have this sort of pass that up that's not completely hated by everybody. It's a weird position to be in, but I'm not complaining. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. And honestly, I'm not surprised either. I mean, it's one of those things where one day in high school I'm watching MTV and it's you, and then the next day it's like, I'm sorry, I'm chatting with whom today? How did I get here? So the fact that you're still relevant, that says a lot.

Ville Valo: Thank you. One of those things is like, I would have never guessed myself a few years back that I would be here doing this. What I do love about being in the in the music not necessarily business, but in the world of music doing doing my little thing here is the fact that it that it is still a full of surprises. There's a lot of u-turns and there's weird, weird twists and turns and successful and less successful punchlines along the way. So I'm happy. I'm happy being here now. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, that's good. And I mean, as you said, ville music full of a lot of surprises. U-turns weird twists and turns, successful and less successful punchlines along the way. What's the one thing or the number one thing you want people to do right now, Ville? 

Ville Valo: What I'm hoping is that we can hopefully brush the past few years aside, forget all about it and go forwards. And I'm hoping that people will be healthy. That's not a spiritual message. It's just a vibey thing that I think it's important anyway, to all of us. And at the end of the day, I can't do what I do. You can't do what you do, if we're sucked into another black hole like Pandemic with the war that is pretty close to us as well here in Europe, let's say that the world doesn't go any less crazy. So music is a good way to at least for me to get away from it all at times. And I hope and I hope that music in general and in this case, obviously my music would be like a safe haven and a shelter on a bad day on a rainy day, or however you want to put it. So so if on top of that, you want to buy a ticket to a gig or or get the album, you know, please do so. It'll. Just enable me to continue doing this. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely. So go ahead and head over to, there you can get today's show notes, all of the extra goodies, music videos, everything that you need in order to be able to connect with Ville. All right, Ville. Thank you so much for coming on to The Rock Metal Podcast today. 

Ville Valo: Oh, no. Thank you very much for having me. 


Friday, March 3, 2023

Building an Active Fanbase to Promote Your Band with Mike Seidel of VANAHEIM

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Mike Seidel of the band Vanaheim about their new album ‘Een Verloren Verhaal’ out now.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as building an active fanbase to promote your band.

'Een Verloren Verhaal' was mixed by Joost van den Broek (Epica, Powerwolf, Ayreon) at Sandlane Recording Facilities, mixing of the second CD (Folkestra version of the album) was done by Mike Seidel, Mastering was done by Mikka Jussila (Nightwish, Ensiferum, Children Of Bodom) at Finnvox Studios.

For fans of Ensiferum, Moonsorrow, Finntroll, Nightwish.


Guest Resource - Connect with Vanaheim!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Use every available tool to get your music heard, such as magazines for reviews or reactors to react to your music videos

2. Think quality fans rather than quantity of Likes on social media, as those real fans will be there for you in tough times, as well as the great times

3. Program MIDI orchestrations like a real orchestra by using layers and changing the pitch of each instrument in the mix


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: Mike, go ahead and say hi to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Mike Seidel: Well, welcome to everybody. Thanks for checking this out. This podcast is beautiful to be here. I hope you have a nice day wherever and whenever it is. But greetings to you all. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely great to have you on Mike. Now, this record Een Verloren Verhaal. Hopefully I'm saying it correctly, but --

Mike Seidel: Yes, it's Een Verloren Verhaal that's completely you're right, you didn't butcher it. 

Jon Harris: Haha, very good to hear. Now, tremendous record. Epic pagan folk metal. There's even like a violin duelling guitar solo action going on. Incredibly cool stuff. Music video will be posted on today's show notes. But nevertheless, what was the greatest moment for you producing this record? 

Mike Seidel: Well, the greatest moment definitely was when we knew that the time has come the album is going to be finished. Because this album was definitely like a big progress for us all in the band and we have never done something that big and that was such an effort for everyone. So we definitely didn't know exactly how it will turn out and if we could match our goals that we set for ourselves. But, I mean, at some point we knew, okay, this baby is going to be released in February and it's actually not that far away anymore, so this is definitely a great moment.

Jon Harris: Biggest progress for the band ever. Never done something this big with someone such effort. Didn't know how it would turn out despite the fact of setting goals. So for any other musicians listening in right now, maybe you're working on a podcast yourself, but nevertheless, you set a goal for yourself. Are you going to get there now? Something that you'd mentioned there was we've never done something this big and of such effort. So what was the biggest challenge then for you guys on this record? 

Mike Seidel: The biggest challenge was definitely to handle the workload that an album brings itself next to having a day job and a normal life. Basically because we have a lot of orchestrations in the music and the whole recording process. Definitely takes a while, especially when you quad-track the guitars and then you go to the studio to record drums and all this kind of stuff. So this is really like a big task to handle next to usual things that you have going on in your life. So I would say the most challenging part was the orchestrations because it's basically the instrument. I will call it an instrument where the most time goes into.

Jon Harris: All right, who listening in resonates 100% with what Mike just said, making an album, it's a lot of freakin' work, especially if you're in the case of, like, epic pagan folk metal. You've got orchestrations that need to fit into the mix, quad-tracked guitars, baby, I'm running out of breath here. 

Mike Seidel: Haha.

Jon Harris: It's a lot to talk about. Plus day jobs, girlfriends, boyfriends, the people that want to spend time with you. While you're holed up in the recording studio doing drums and everything else. Now, towards the end there, Mike, you were talking about thinking of the orchestra as one instrument, which is smart, and I just wanted to un-package that. What what went into creating the orchestra? What did you learn from the process? 

Mike Seidel: You have all kinds of tools today to to make orchestrations. I mean, you basically can use MIDI and program it on your computer, but the challenge is to make it somehow sound real, to make it believable that it doesn't just sound like a keyboard, for example. You have to use certain tricks to make it sound more believable and more real. For example, you put more layers of one instrument behind each other so it sounds more thick and you adjust the pitch. For example, when you have multiple tracks of violin that are stacked on top of each other, you adjust the tuning a little bit, the pitch so it sounds thicker and all these kind of things. So, yeah, that's it, basically. 

Jon Harris: All right, everybody listening in right now. There's the trick, there's the tactic. If you want to make keyboards sound like more realistic orchestrations, layer everything up and even change the pitch of each individual track. Because if you think about it, that's basically what an orchestra is, multiple violins playing a part, and each one is going to be tuned a little bit different, even playing a little bit different because there's individual people now. Mike, I'd like to turn the conversation over to when you reached out to me as a reactor to react to one of your music videos, I was blown away. I thought to myself, is this the strategy? Is this how bands are building up fan bases and active fan bases? So anyway, take us through it for everybody listening in right now, who's surprised, shocked, wondering should I be doing 

Mike Seidel: Yeah, I will start with especially when you're a smaller band like us and you're independent, you don't have any label support, you know, and all that stuff, you really have to stand your ground because you have a lot of competition basically from all the other bands. And if you want to get out there, you have to use every available tool that you have. Which of course means you write a lot of emails to a lot of people. For example, a lot of reaction channels like you did, you did reaction videos and we saw that and we looked into it when we thought, okay, it's a cool job. I mean, his reactions are nice, why not? Let's try to write him and see if, you know, you like them. Yeah, more on that later. It was actually really funny to see, but yeah, you have to use every available tool to bring yourself out there. Whether it be for reaction videos for every kind of promotion, writing to magazines just for reviews, for example. Like we wrote a ton of emails to magazines and webzines if they would like to review our album because basically this gives you free publicity. Without doing any of this, we wouldn't be where we are at the moment. I mean, we're still not the biggest band at all, but still, we know that it worked out definitely, and that we gained a lot of fans over the last year since the release of the album. And you have to put a lot of effort into it. That's it, basically. 

Jon Harris: All right. Raise your hand if you resonate with what Mike said. Independent band, no label support. Or even if you have some label support, a lot of times you still got to get out there and do your own thing. You got to still do your own hustle using every available tool. And Mike mentioned some really good ones, getting onto that email and emailing, webzines, magazines asking for reviews of your work, trying to get as much free publicity and free exposure as possible. And then you've been mentioning this new tool in reaching out to reactors to get reaction videos. Take us a bit more through that. What are you looking for in a reactor? 

Mike Seidel: Of course, you try to get on the bigger reaction channels because they have a lot of publicity, and if they react to your music, I mean, that's basically free advertisement for you. So that's good. Otherwise, these guys and girls also get a lot of emails and a lot of requests, so it's naturally that they don't react to your email or to your message, whatever. So we went from the big reaction channels to the smaller ones also in the meantime. And yeah, what we were looking for is basically you have these reactions channels that are very interactive with their audience. They really catch them and bring them into the video, so to speak. And there are also reaction channels that are a little bit more boring to watch. They just watched the video, pause the video or the music for, I don't know, two times and say two sentences and that's it, basically. So these were not really the ones we were looking for, but the ones that have more interaction with their audience because you have to bind your audience to yourself and to the video, of course. And that's what we were looking for. 

Jon Harris: Wow. Okay, so in a nutshell, finding reactors that are interactive with their audience, or even just in general, you mentioned emailing, magazines or webzines. Finding an outlet that is interactive with their audience. 

Mike Seidel: Absolutely. I mean, if you manage to build up your own fans without buying likes or whatever, because that never works, you basically build a base for yourself with people that support you, that like to support you because they're so into your music and so into what you do. And you really build a base for yourself. And without this base, at least in my opinion, you go nowhere. Because whatever, if you take any kind of hit in the future, I don't know, you write a bad album, I don't know, you made a bad promotion deal, whatever. The base of your fans that has always been there will still support you because they have faith in you. If one album doesn't turn out that great, well, there will be next one, right? And these people, they will always support you. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Building an active fan base to help promote your work and support your work. Mike, how would you define success at this stage of your career? 

Mike Seidel: Well, in this case, I can absolutely say that we feel successful with this band because we see that our audience is growing. We see that we play more shows and more festivals, for example, and we see that people want to hear what we can produce. And this is basically the biggest gift you can get as a band to have an audience. Of course you can write the music for yourself, which we also do because we do it because we like this kind of style. We like to do music. So if there wouldn't be any audience at all, we also would do music. But the appreciation that people give you is such a big boost for keep on going. And keep on going doesn't matter if it's hard or if it's challenging, you go through it also because of the people, because of the fans, the people that listen to you. And in this case, I think we are very lucky to have the fans that we have because these people are just awesome. And in this regard, I also feel that we are really successful in what we do at the moment. We may not have the biggest numbers, but that doesn't interest anyone, right? 

Jon Harris: Like you said, Mike, you may not have the biggest numbers right now, but the quality of the audience is there. And as you had said, the audience itself is growing. The gigs themselves are growing. 

Mike Seidel: Indeed. It doesn't really matter if you have, like, 100,000 fans or 100, because if these 100 people give you a super good time in what you do and they listen to your stuff and they make you happy, then it absolutely doesn't matter if it's ten people or 100,000, because at least for us, speaking, ten people would be enough to make us happy. Ten people that support us to keep on going, writing music, because in the end, it's just broken down to writing music. 

Jon Harris: Yeah.

Mike Seidel: You keep on going. That's basically it. And you it doesn't matter if you keep on going for ten people or for 100,000 or for yourself, but it gives you a reason to write music. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, keep on going for ten people or 100,000 people. The reason you're there is to write music. 

Mike Seidel: Yeah. 

Jon Harris: Beautiful. What's the number one thing that you want people listening right now to do? Is, is there like a website that you want them to go to? What would you what's the number one thing you want people listening to do? 

Mike Seidel: If you want to have the full package, basically, you go to our website,, and from there you can be directed to Facebook, Instagram, even TikTok and Spotify. Whatever you want, whatever you are into, our website will direct you. But we're also on every social media channel available, and YouTube, of course, Spotify. Did you know that you can follow bands on Spotify? You can do. And we would really appreciate if you would follow us on Spotify. 

Jon Harris: Thank you so much for using the tools that Spotify has given bands. 

Mike Seidel: Yes, indeed. 

Jon Harris: But yes, go to for all of the relevant links. Go ahead and head over to for today's show notes. You can see the music for today's show notes for some extra goodies from today. So, Mike, thank you so much for coming on today. 

Mike Seidel: Jon, thank you very much for having me and having my band Vanheim. It was an absolute pleasure. I really liked your questions, so keep on going. I mean, your reaction videos were good. We liked them. I think you put them down too much, but this was absolutely fun. Thank you. Bye.