This week I am doing a Inverse Records interview special. If you haven’t checked out the quality metal this Finnish label brings us now is the time. I present to you FRACTURED SPINE: Anders Ekdahl ©2017
How hard was it to come up with a band name and how does the name fit the music?
Antti: It’s always quite hard but I think “Fractured Spine” has fit the style of our music and lyrical themes well. Timo came up with it originally so he can tell more about it.
Timo: It came to me naturally as it symbolizes the “mental spine” that all of us have. It is built from our character, personality, memories, self-image, morality, ethical values and of course mental health. That “spine” of a person can crack when faced with too much damage. Whether it is loss, trauma, crippling guilt, depression, despair or mental insanity. And these are the themes our music revels in, so I think that name fits it perfectly. Of course, too many have thought it has something to do with actual back injuries, to be honest.
As I am new to your band perhaps a short introduction might be in order?
Antti: We’re two Finnish guys (cousins, in fact) playing atmospheric and melodic death/doom metal with loads of influences from outside the metal genre. We have a very wide music taste so different styles and genres tend to get mixed together. My name is Antti Kirjavainen, also known as Apathis from the beginning of our band project. I record & produce our music and play drums, guitars, bass, keyboards and cello. I also sing in some of our songs, but Timo is the main vocalist.
Timo: My name is Timo Kirjavainen aka Thanatos. I am the vocalist and lyricist of the band. I joined this project in 2012 and also do some of the graphical art. Nowadays Fractured Spine plays atmospheric and melodic death/doom with influences from progressive, gothic and black metal. So we don’t easily fit in any one genre.
As I am no musician I have no idea how it works, but how do you make your own music based on what influences you do? What parts do you pick?
Antti: I listen to loads of different genres and a lot of indie artists & songwriters, so new songs generally start with different ideas, riffs and melodies that later get reduced during composition and arrangement. I tend to pick ideas especially from classical music, smooth jazz, progressive rock and blues. But in the end, it all revolves around melodic death and doom metal. I’m not a fan of actual symphonic or jazz metal, so the real trick is picking just the influences that actually fit our style of music.
Timo: It kinda comes on it’s own from subconscious. Sometimes inspiration comes like a never-ending flow of energy to your mind, to the extent that it feels like the project builds itself up in your head. Sometimes nothing at all, no matter how hard you try. Themes are usually the things that move you the most at the moment. The good, the bad or the sad way.
When you are in a band does it feel like you are a part of a worldwide movement?
Antti: There’s this certain unity within the metal genre, so in part: yes. However, I’m not necessarily happy with everything and the general direction the genre has been headed to for the last 10 years. It’s more about expressing yourself and writing music than being part of a movement.
Timo: Well yes and no. It is great that metal still stands as strong as ever and feels like one global family. Musically it is a worldwide movement, been for a while. But it is also a genre that has grown wide with all of its various subgenres with very differing viewpoints. There is no one agenda or goal. I just feel the need to express myself through music. Take my own problems and struggles, and the struggles of other people around me, transcending them into art. I think that is the only thing that matters. If not metal music, I would do it through poetry, drawing or writing. And have done too. Metal just feels like the most suitable pathway.
How important is it that you look the part in promo shots and stuff? How important is the graphic side of the band?
Antti: Artwork (album cover art especially), videos and band logo obviously have to suit the music, but we don’t really have a particular look for promo shots in general. You can’t cover up these ugly mugs.
Timo: Graphical side is important in keeping your music interesting in the eyes of old fans and attracting new ones. Of course, it’s not as important as the music itself. But music hardly helps if there is nothing to draw you to listen. So it is sort of like the spice of music. Everything from album booklets and band logos to promo pictures and music videos. They all count for something.
What would you say influences your lyrics? How important are they?
Antti: Quite many things, actually: real-life tragedies, personal life and even myths. Lyrics are obviously an important part of music, especially metal music.
Timo: Life. And its hardships. I have had a bad habit of not knowing how to draw inspiration from happy and good things, even though I experience them everyday. Somehow it just isn’t good art. Maybe it’ll change someday. Who knows. I have always been interested in philosophy, psychology, history, mythology, religions, esotericism and occultism and use something from there in my lyrics from time to time to get my point across.
Is the album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
Antti: Unfortunately it is not and digital streaming/downloading has pretty much already killed the album format. As much as I love reading through booklets and admiring cover art, the reality is that releasing an album these days doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. People stream or download single tracks and very few care for the physical format anymore. Also, making a full-length album takes a long time, setting releases quite far apart.
Timo: As much as I hate to admit it: yes, it is killing the album. Music these days has become much like fast-food. It is so easy to get. Millions of songs and albums are now on everyone’s reach. There are also so many bands today that it gets harder and harder to stand out from the crowd. When people bought physical albums they listened the entire thing for real. Now people can go and listen to whatever they like on their computer. And with so many artists and bands out there, most people tend to listen only one or two songs from an artist. It is pretty frustrating considering the beauty of the album concept. Though I’m glad that there are still a lot of people who love to listen to albums as a whole. At least among the metal community.
Where will the future of format end – digital verses physical verses whatever?
Antti: I think physical releases have become more like “collectors’ items” while the majority only cares for digital. Physical formats won’t disappear, but a smaller amount of CDs is printed.
Timo: Can’t really tell. Few years ago I would have said everything is going digital and then vinyl became popular again, starting to beat digital album downloads with its sales in some markets. But streaming services are getting more popular every day. We’ll see.
How much of a touring entity are you guys? What is a live experience with you like?
Antti: At the moment, we don’t have a line-up to play live or tour.
Timo: Nonexistent since there are only two of us. And neither are all that interested in playing live, at least not at the moment.
What lies in the future?
Antti: More EP releases in 2017-2018 (4 of them, all in all) and a compilation album next year. It may very well end up being the last physical (CD) album release we ever do. Then we’ll keep on writing more music and hope that our listeners will like it!
Timo: Well, first things first: these EPs that are following “The Price of Retribution” and the remixed & remastered versions of our first two albums. We also plan to release a “best of” compilation next year. And of course start writing something new, as always.