In a world were there are so many bands to keep track of I want to bring my two cents in presenting you to this interview with SERPENT WARNING. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
Finland is just a small place in the world yet there is a rich fauna of bands, or is there? How alone are you in playing the style you do and what is the state of the Finnish metal scene?
-Yes, Finland is quite a small place indeed. It´s bit difficult to say what is up with the finnish metal scene really. That´s mostly due to the fact that these days it seems it´s the “previous generation” that was more into metal and kids these days are inyo something different, whatever that is, I have to admit that I don´t have any idea… You could say that in a way, doom-metal bands are quite alone in Finland. I always kinda leaned towards Sweden in my metal tastes, to be honest! Always liked (and still do) lot of swedish metal bands; the old ones like Bathory, Candlemass, Mefisto + dosens of death/doom/balck metal bands. I think metal in Finland also got more commercialized or something. Not to say that it didn´t in Sweden, but it sort of maintained the scene maybe longer, or differently at least.
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?
-Well, to be honest, I think we wouldn´t be considered cool at all, if we came from any of those places, see,- if you still consider doom-metal as an underground attraction, type of music for minority, then I don´t think it matters where the bands come from. I kind of usually pick up quite obscure bands myself, so… I mean Black sabbath came from Birmingham, Cathedral came from Coventry, Electric Wizard from Dorseth and Pentagram from Virginia. I would consider those places quite doomy because of that alone!!!
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?
-That´s a good question! I never really thought about how to follow up the debut. For it´s time, I think we felt that the debut album was pretty good, at least musically. Production -wise it may have left a lot to hope, but we were inexperienced as a band, in a way and it showed somewhat. On the other hand, maybe the rawness of it was one of it´s attractions?
I wouldn´t think too much how to follow the album, maybe it´s just best to wait and see what we come up with. We always had more songs than we put on an album, so unless we completely run out of ideas, we will always have something new to offer!!! How important it is to identify with an album? Now that is a tricky thing, if you wanna go very deep with it. I would just say that one should always give it a change and see how it works! I´ve had a few albums like that! Some of those I´ve really grown to like. Sometimes you listen to something and you realise that there´s something new in there, which I think is great to notice. Also, for me,- I often link certain albums to certain times and moments, so those albums sort of take me back there. In a way nostalgic, you might say.
What is the biggest challenge in the creation of a new album? How do you stop yourself from writing the same songs but in different versions? How do you step it up from the last time?
-Very good question again. I would say that it´s good to listen to your own stuff sometimes at least. I know that some musicians claim not to listen to their own stuff at all, but that´s the thing; how do you then avoid repeating yourself? Certain amount of repetance can of course, be considered as one´s own style, but as for some bands, I think they´ve stuck to what they did decades ago and hasn´t really done anything. AC/DC is bit of an exclusion, since that band never really changes and that´s kind of their essence in a way.
I think the only way to progress is to play as much as you can, write as you feel and then listen to that and reflect what you´ve come up and then see if you´ve done something new or interesting, worth of making into something more concrete. One way to check the songs, is to demo them. In the early days we used to record everything. All the rehearsals and gigs. Then you could kinda pick the best stuff out and leave the rest of it.
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?
-Yes, that was a good one, I liked that documentary myself too!!! I think analogue technic gives you a more warmer, rounder sound, it´s fuller and wider, whereas in digital sounds might be more compressed and kinda squeezed. I´m not sure if we have recorded anything in analogue… Well, yeah, rehearsals and such, but not anything released. We actually considered trying to record in analogue, whilst we were in the studio for the debut. But unfortunately nothing came out of that, due to lack of time mostly.
What is it like to sit there with a finished album? Do you think much what people will think of it?
-It´s kind of a relief! I mean, you´ve worked on something for a long time and then it´s finally ready and finished! Well, yes, I think we´re curious to what people think of it. Not sure if it actually matters much, since I personally,- write my songs mostly for myself anyway. Not meaning to be narsistic or anything, but you have to write what you feel that you like. You can try to copy and all that, if you feel like it, but what´s the point in that? If I try to consciously rip-off my own favourite bands, then it´s not really worth doing. I´m mean, they have already done it, right?
How important are the lyrics and what message do you want to purvey?
-Well, I wish I was a hippy and would write all that love and peace!!! Well, seriously; some of the lyrics, I feel,- are better than the others. That might be due to idea getting lost in translation or whatever. And some lyrics also seem to get a different meaning later on. I´m not sure if there´s a meassage as such, ´cos then we´d have to more or less write around that and that would mean that we´d have to repeat ourselves consciously, at least to get that message across. I would like to say, that if there´s a message, then it would be to give some kinda hope and meaning, or at least make one think that they can achieve something, in an optimistic way. There´s already so much darkness in the world, that I´m not into glorifying or elaborating that, maybe the opposite. My favourite places in the world are usually forests, so I enjoy the solitude and calm and whenever possible, I wouldn´t mind going into woods and just listening to the wind and trees whispering.
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?
-I share that ideology; I also choose a lot of albums I buy, based on the cover-art; Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Cirith Ungol, for example,- come to mind. I think the cover-art should try to reflect the content of the album, in some ways. If not being in direct conjunction with the music, then at least touch some of the themes that band write about. Also, you can have an album cover that gives you the same feeling, for example of colour, that the music may channel. My all-time favourite album is Exit by the Tangerine Dream and that album, to me,- is deep electric-blue, in music and in colour, cover of that album is very good combination with the music.
When you play live do you notice a degree of greater recognition from the fans with each new time you pass through town?
-No, not really. I wish we could have that degree of “success”. We do way too little gigs to have such sensation. Lack of gigs was always a problem and it still is. Preferable, would be ideal to get good gigs, that would bring more audience, instead of playing only small gigs here and there. Maybe if we were more known, we could do bigger and better gigs, like play some festival-dates or such. Playing a gig is always costly, so it´s always mostly a loss, finance-wise. Which is a shame, ´cos I´d love to play a lot of gigs, if that was possible. Good gig itself is a reward, but if it always costs you a lot, then it´s not really worth doing a lot, in the longer run.
What do you see in the future?
-Well, we have done demos of the three new songs that we hope to release as an EP, hopefully have it done in the old-school way; realease it as an vinyl EP. As for recording it, if there was a possibility, then maybe we could try to do it on analogue, but that remains to be seen. We have to discuss that with our producer Tero, who is good with all these kinda stuff, so if he will have time and all that, then we´ll see about it. At the moment I´m writing some new songs, but I´m not sure if they are for Serpent Warning or not… As for the gigs, let´s say that if right kind of oppurtunities come up, then we´re up to it, considering that everything else can be worked out. At the moment, most important thing now is to get the second album out and see what happens with it!!