I didn’t expect to be as blown away as I was by ANTIPOPE. This is one hell of a cool band that should be noticed by more. Iinterview given by Mikko Myllykangas (vocals, guitars, songwriting). Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Do you notice that there is an anticipation for you to release an album? Have you built a large enough following for people to eagerly await a new album?
-First of all, we had a break of four years between our latest album and the one before that. Even though we are not that well-known band, I think there was anticipation among our hardcore fans. When the album release date came official and we offered reorders, those hardcore fans were quick to order the album. But I think the biggest anticipation was for ourselves to get the album out there. As we had this long break there was something to prove for ourselves. And also I wrote most of the songs on Denial/Survival in 2013-2014, so I wanted to get them out there to be able to focus on new stuff, which I’m currently writing already.
We’re looking forward to build more following with this record too. The reviews have been really positive so far, and the video of “Waters Below” has received some nice views on YouTube. I think the new album is both accessible for the new listeners and also diverse and deep enough to please old fans of Antipope who are used to us doing things in unorthodox fashion.
Is it important for you that a new album picks up where the previous left off? How important is continuity??
-Musically, continuity doesn’t matter much to me. There may be some “unfinished business” here and there, but generally I wrote new songs without thinking the previous record at all. On a conceptual level, I sometimes set myself some rules to follow for the new album to make sure that I’m not repeating myself. I trust that there are enough idiosyncrasies in our music anyway, so I don’t need to intentionally try to make a new album into an Antipope album.
Concerning lyrics, it’s a bit different story. As I mostly write about things that have happened recently, to myself or people around or in the social network, there tends to be some continuities. Each album has a lyrical concept, which is not very restrictive, but I like to think it as an overall flavor or a color that an album has. So if you read all the lyrics from our four full length albums, “Desert”, “House of Harlot”, “3 Eyes of Time”, and “Denial/Survival”, I think you might find some kind of a continuity or progression there.
Was it hard for you to come up with a sound for this album that you all could agree on?
-I wanted this album to sound a bit more organic, a little bit like our 2011 album House of Harlot. There are some acoustic instruments involved on this one, as well as electric guitars with both active and passive pickups. I didn’t necessarily go after vintage sound, but just wanted to have more nuances and layers.
How important are the lyrics to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-As I mentioned before, I mostly write about things that I have experienced, personally or by proxy. I think lyrics are important, but I don’t regard them as separate artform or anything. Not my lyrics, at least! Lyrics are like a final icing on the cake. That doesn’t mean that I regard lyrics as trivial, though. I just don’t see them important without the music.
How important is the cover art work for you? How much do you decide in choosing art work?
-I consider myself as quite a visual person, I tend to see song structures, colors of melodies or riffs or chords in my head anyway. Therefore, I think quite a lot about the artwork, and I also pay quite a lot of attention to artwork of someone else’s records. I try to work together with the artist, or more precisely, I try to give them enough room to express their own ideas! This time we had a new artist to work with, and it was really exciting to see what she managed to conjure by listening to our music and from some preliminary ideas that I presented her.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
-I think label backing us is important in a sense that they can market the album more efficiently than we could. Labels can also reach kind of an audience that we are not aware of. Right now, we’re working with Heavy Metal Rock Records from Brazil to release Denial/Survival in Brazil in the spring of 2018. Of course, fans from Brazil could order our album from our own webstore, but by physically releasing the album in Brazil and other places people can find it in an actual store by chance.
As we can record and produce our own albums, we’re not reliant on label supporting us in the production of the album. The kind of cooperation we have had in the past and we are looking for now is labels such as HMR to support our album by releasing it in some geographic area that is out of our reach.
I think it’s a matter of personal preference whether someone wants to have their music in physical format or just listen to a digital release. Many people still want physical items and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. But I think it also puts more pressure on the artists to produce albums that are worth of listening multiple times over time as they can’t count on people buying albums without having any idea about what the album is really like. I like buying albums even though most of the time I listen to them on Spotify. But it’s also true that everything being available instantly has taken away the magic of the release day. I do my best not to hear anything about my favorite band’s new album until the moment that I have the CD or vinyl in my hands, because I still want to experience that moment.
I guess that today’s music climate makes it harder for a band to sell mega platinum. How do you tackle the fact that downloading has changed how people consume music?
-I think so too, but I don’t really care that much about it. We as a band are not making music and playing together to get a triple-platinum. We’re realists enough and been around long enough to realize what kind of selling potential this kind of music has at its best with strong support from multi-national label. Also, I think that downloading has not changed the fact that good songs and good albums stand out from the mediocracy, and people who really appreciate the effort will buy an album, or a t-shirt, or come to see the show.
It’s true that album sales have gone down from what they were pre-internet, but it’s also a fact that making albums is A LOT cheaper than it used to be in those days. You can make professional sounding records from your bedroom, capture music videos with your cellphone and so on. Of course, all this has made competing for audience’s attention harder. But if attention is all you want, there are many times easier ways to get it than writing music. So, at the end of the day, if you want to make music, you do it and not waste your time worrying about record sales.
Does nationality matter today when it comes to breaking big. Does nationality play a part in if or not you will make it big internationally?
-I don’t know, to be honest. I have thought about that really. Of course, there has been times when people have been looking at certain direction to find new exciting bands, like in the early nineties with “Norwegian Black Metal”. Black metal fans made pilgrimages to Norway (and maybe they still do, I don’t know).
I have never considered Antipope as particularly “Finnish” band, and I don’t see that playing any significant part if and when we make it big – how big? Who knows. Anyways, I don’t see our music benefitting from us underlining the fact that we are from Finland, know Santa Claus personally, live in a sauna, drink beer all the time, and wrestle with polar bears naked in snow. We don’t have a reason to downplay our national background either, but it just doesn’t play any significant part in our music, which is our reason for existence as a band.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-Well, as long as you buy our albums even as a compliment, we’re happy! Seriously, I don’t see music going anywhere. The way that music is produced, sold, and consumed will keep on changing as it always has. But people still want to hear good songs and listen to good stories that the songs tell. What I have encountered, fans are becoming more and more aware of the fact that bands do need to be supported or they will be forced to quite making the music the fans love.
What does the future hold for you?
-Right now, we’re looking forward to have our first South American album release happening in a few months (can’t give you exact date yet, sorry). Also, we’re back in our rehearsal space playing regularly and preparing for possible future gigs. We need to do some recruiting to fill our line-up before playing any shows, though. And to make sure that our fifth album won’t take four or even five years to get released, we have begun to write down some ideas for the next release.