There used to be a Finnish band by the name of Riff Raff that beside a funny name wasn’t too shabby so when I came upon the Finnish band RIFFTERA I had to interview Janne Hietala . ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
You have one of these names that does not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-I wanted to have an one word unique name for my band. That’s a little hard to combine nowadays, when there’s like a 53 billion bands in the world. All the good names that actually mean something are already taken. The only way you get an unique name is to have a really long name like “The Guys Who Play Metal In The Shadow Of The Death And Hail Satan” (also known as TGWPMITSOTDAHS!)… Or to invent your very own word. I chose the latter method.
So overall the story behind our name is actually pretty boring: I was just playing with words and came up with it. Our music is really riff-oriented, so I think the name fits. Although I also know that many people think that the name is just stupid and we do get a lot of bash for it.
Could you give us a short introduction to the band?
-Rifftera was formed back in 2010 in Vaasa, Finland. We released our debut album called Pitch Black a couple of months ago. I see our music as a mixture of many different genres, but basically the main influences are melodic death metal and thrash metal. Some songs are more about the aggression (Back To Life), some are more about the melody (Ashes Fall) and some songs grow into epic proportions (Pitch Black).
We’ve been compared a lot to Soilwork and Scar Symmetry, but I do think that we have our own sound, style and strengths. Although I do take those references as a huge compliment and it’s obvious that we have a lot of influences from that direction. Soilwork and Scar Symmetry are some really great bands.
What would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
-Classic thrash metal bands like Metallica and Megadeth have a huge impact on the way how I write music, being basically the foundation under everything. But if we think about the overall sound that Rifftera delivers, melodic death metal bands like In Flames and especially Soilwork were the reason why I (and the other guys) originally started to think that this combination of screaming and clean vocals is pretty cool and those bands helped to understand how keyboards could be really used as a strength of our music.
What is the metal scene like in your area? Do you feel that you are a part of a scene?
-I don’t know if it’s really getting better or is it just because I’m paying more attention, but I do feel that there are a lot of metal bands popping up in our “neighbourhood”. All the bands have their own style and they seem to come from different age groups and so on, so there aren’t really any unifying things at least between us and the other bands.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-Music is something that brings people together very easily. Everybody likes some kind of music. Well, I guess that there’s some people that “don’t listen to music”, but I don’t wanna even imagine how boring their life can be.
Especially metal fans tend to have kind of community among themselves as they are loyal to the bands they listen. So bands do have a lot of influence on people. But we are a really small band, so we are not feeling that big and great. Yet.
When you play the sort of metal you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-Well, if those would be killer bees… Great album cover catches your eye and represents the content on the album. I do prefer simple over complicated. My favourite covers are for example Metallica’s …And Justice For All and Soilwork’s Natural Born Chaos.
I really love the cover Petri Lampela made for our Pitch Black. We didn’t really know what we even wanted, but Petri managed to create an image which represents the overall atmosphere on the album and especially the title song.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
-I’m an old school guy who likes to collect things, so I definitely swear in the name of physical format. But digital format is also awesome, because it’s so easy to use. I do rip all the CDs that I buy, so I can listen the albums from computer / phone. So both formats are great in my opinion.
The problem is that people don’t buy albums in either way. They go to listen songs in Spotify or YouTube. And as an artist you don’t basically get any money from that, unless you are a really huge name. Spotify is a great idea, can’t deny that. But when it’s the only format how people use music and the amount of money that artist get’s from it is so ridiculous, I’m not so thrilled about it.
What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
-I think that there aren’t so many live venues for bands that haven’t achieved the certain level of fame. If you play covers of rock / hard rock songs which everyone knows, you can always find a gig somewhere. But for a metal band that plays original songs it’s a bit different story.
Fortunately there are even some places that offer gigs for metal bands also. And of course the further you look the more opportunities you’ll find. Just recently a local association started metal night -concept, which gives possibilities for local bands to play for a bit bigger crowds. Hopefully people will go to watch those gigs and we will have this kind of opportunities in the future also.
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-Actually we haven’t yet played a single gig under the name of Rifftera! This has been because of the troubles of getting fully functional line up (we had a session drummer playing on our album). But I do think that definitely live playing should be considered more as a party.
What would you like to see the future bring?
-I think that there are a lot of people who would love to listen our music if they would just know that we exist… So I hope that we’ll get more and more people acquainted with our music. A new album and gigs are also highlighted on the order list!