I cannot fathom how many cool bands that come from Finland. NATIONAL NAPALM SYNDICATE are one of them. The questions were answered by Jukka Kyrö (guitar & main songwriter) and Ilkka Järvenpää (vocals & lyricist) Anders Ekdahl ©2018
We all come into music with our own baggage. We want different things from the music. How does the vision you had for the band when you started compare to the vision you have for the band today? What is this band really all about? What do you want with your music?
Jukka: When we first started back in 1986 I was really into the speed element of thrash metal and of course our playing abilities weren’t really at the same level as they are today. I think we were trying to be just like Slayer or Exodus, we didnt really think that much about songwriting or anything like that, it was young men aggression all the way. That was the vision then, fast, violent thrashing. Nowadays I see us as more of a classic heavy metal band with lots of influensies from many different musical genres, thrash, prog, traditional metal and even Pink Floyd and stuff like that. I love thrash metal and it will always be a huge part of our sound but at the same time I dont want to limit the band in any ways.
What is this band really all about? What do you want with your music?
We are about pure joy of creating together the best metal we can deliver. Maybe we can give to the listeners something they havent heard for a while or even something completely new. I think we are trying to make albums cool again, not just songs without a bigger concept. Maybe we can get new kids interested in metal music, not that rap stuff that is so big at least over here in Finland at the moment.
Is there a difference in people’s attitude towards you if you don’t come from a cool place like LA or NY or London?
Ilkka: Hard to tell, because it’s been few years since we released something, so I don’t really know what people might think about us. When it comes to playing the type of music we play, I don’t think it doesn’t matter do we come from London, Oulu, Buenos Aires or Budapest.
When you release an album that get pretty good feedback, how do you follow up on that? How important is that I as a fan can identify album to album?
Jukka: Well I dont know yet how this album will be reviewed or how people will respond to it, but I dont think anything can affect that much to our way of writing music or how we will continue from here on.
How important is that I as a fan can identify album to album… I think that is very important, nobody wants to hear the same album over and over again. Of course there is bands like AC/DC who really cant change and they dont have to. I hope fans will find our album as something they can relate to and identify it as us and when we one day get the next one out it wont sound the same as the previous one
What is the biggest challenge in the creation of an album? How do you write the really cool songs?
Jukka: Time and scheduling the sessions. Otherwise we dont really have any challenges with songwriting etc. we work very well as a creative unit. This lineup we have now is a killer, everybody in the band puts 100% procent into the band whenever we do something.
I wish I knew, my modus operandi is a bit weird. I plan the songs first in my head and then start to get the ideas out of my guitar. Then I demo the first version and throw the skeleton of the track to other guys, they check it out and add their bits and pieces, usually we do this times and times again before we have a ready song to records. That’s how we work, hopefully we make cool songs.
I saw Dave Grohl’s documentary about Sound City and it made me wonder what it is about analogue recording that you don’t get with digital? Have you ever recorded analogue?
Ilkka: Yes we have. I didn’t sing on the first album, but it was made in analogue studio. Since then, I think all of us have recorded in analogue quite a few times. Personally I like the sound of old records. I don’t know if it’s the “nostalgic” in me who is speaking, but basically all of my favorite albums were made 70´s or 80´s and they were made in analogue. Maybe it’s the sound of the band that you hear, that you don’t hear so much today, because pro tools has basically no limits. Then again, recording in digital world is much faster and easier.
What is it like to sit there with a finished album? Do you think much what people will think of it?
Ilkka: I am filled with mixed emotions: I feel happy, but a part of me sometimes thinks should I have done something differently? Usually you are quite bored with the mixes etc. so you don’t want to listen to it in a while. However, this time I distanced myself from the mixing. I wasn’t there, so I only listened to rough mixes and gave my feedback to those. So this time I wasn’t burned out and bored with the songs. I like the album a lot and I seem to listen to it quite a lot, which is something I don’t normally do with our own stuff. This time I am really happy with the end result.
Of course you want people to like it, but I think you make the album for yourself. If you like it, there is a chance that someone else likes it too. So do what you wanna do and hope that people like it.
How important are the lyrics and what message do you want to purvey?
Ilkka: as a lyricist for this band, the lyrics are at least for me, very important. Don’t know what the other guys think, but basically they let me do my thing. I write to lyrics to the finished music, and usually every song changes in the studio. Sometimes it’s because of arrangements or something like that. The lyrical ideas come from music. There is serious lyrics and then there is stuff that is written definitely a tongue in a cheek-sort of way. The message: Use your own brain to think. Don’t let the others make up your mind. And have fun.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
Jukka: Very much so, we grew up at the time when vinyl was the only format and the covers were many times the reason you bought a new album. We have used our original bass player Juha Vuorma’s art for several projects and used his artwork once again. A real painting with many small details which tie the album to our first album cover and to the album itself. I hope that we will get Time Is The Fire released as a vinyl as well, Juha’s painting will absolutely jump at you from the records shop shelves.
When you play live do you notice a degree of greater recognition from the fans with each new time you pass through town?
Ilkka: Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. It depends. You at least hope there is a greater recognition. We are actually looking forward to seeing what’s the reception towards us is, because we have been making this album for quite a long time and haven’t played live in a while. So hopefully there is some interest towards us.
What do you see in the future?
Jukka: Some touring, writing new songs, getting back to the studio maybe this autumn to demo new stuff. Our main goal at the moment is to play outside of Finland, so we will work on that.