Another band from the land of thousand bands. Finnish ZARTHAS are back with a third album. The whole band partook in the interview. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Could you please introduce yourself to those of us in the dark?
Sanni: Go on guys!
Jarmo: My name is Jarmo and i love playing guitar and Rock’n Roll (and i love Also women). I have played in Zarthas since 2012 and Reflections is my second album.
Pekka: We’re Zarthas and we play rhythm metal 🙂
Jani: Well i am a 21-year old drummer from Finland, born and raised in city called Oulu.
Lauri: Rhythm Metal sounds a good thing for us to play! 😀 Yeah, we are Zarthas from Oulu, Finland, and we are releasing our 3rd album this year. Our music is some kind of groovy metal with lots of influences from lots of music. We’ve been around like forever, but in quite current form since 2008.
I often wonder how people discover that they can do what they do. How did you discover that you can sing and play instruments?
Jani: I really dont remember nothing but looking up to my Father’s band members, mostly my Dad and my Uncle. When me and my brother were just kids we used to go to their band practise and jam along to their songs. I always though that it’s what I wanna be like when i grow up. Then I started to play drums myself and I think I didn’t discover anything else but that I love music and making it.
Sanni: I think I haven’t discovered it yet, I’m just having fun with the guys. When it stops being fun, it’s time to quit, no matter how well you play.
Jarmo: I built my first guitar and played it with a drum stick. After that i discover maybe i can play something. Playing and learning is hard work and needs lot of patience.
Pekka: I still haven’t discovered that I can play but what I have discovered is that I wanna play my music with that skill level that I have.
Lauri: I discovered my madness on very early age by listening to my parents LP’s. If I remember correct, I saw Hanoi Rocks on TV, and built a drum kit from pillows and other stuff I could find. I really loved the roaring sound of a distorted guitar and loud vocals too. My first instrument were drums, and at age 10 or so I started to take lessons from a polish jazz drummer. I noticed that I have some sort of sense in rhythm.
Few years later I started playing guitar on my own, and discovered that I also have some kind of sense in learning songs “by the ear”. Then came the keyboard, and last but not least, the bass. I started singing because nobody else wanted to do it, I guess. I don’t consider myself as a virtuoso or talented in any single instrument. I play that much that I can make music on my own, and these days I’m more than ever really into making and producing the songs. You know, recording, mixing, adjusting all the little things.
When did it become a revelation that you can do this and maybe get paid for having fun, instead of just putting out all the money?
Lauri: Haha. Did it ever? I bet none of us are making anything but debt with music.
Sanni: The truth is that all the money that comes in, goes also.
Jarmo: Money comes and money goes.
Pekka: Maybe get paid, indeed.
When you spend an amount of your life on a band does it ever feel like you have wasted time, that you have fought one too many windmills?
Lauri: If you start making music with dollars in your mind, you need to stop immediately. That would be a waste of time. I simply cannot stop. Rock ‘n Roll has taken all of me, and I love it, I’m addicted to
it, and I’m proud to admit it. It’s madness in a good way, andwindmills or not, we will keep going on.
Sanni: It takes a certain personality to do this – this is a way of life. It’s not about being famous or getting rich. Hard work and sleepless nights, it gives and takes. The best feeling is of course after a good show. In that moment I can’t imagine doing anything else, with anyone else than these guys. Band is all about teamwork and being a part of a team like this, it has never been a waste of time.
Jarmo: This is forever lasting battle and i love it.
Jani: I think that I’m only thankful that I can play in a band, and in my opinion making music cannot be waste of time.
Pekka: Definitely not a waste of time, never. There has been many windmills along the way but what does not kill you makes you stronger. Forward is the only way. More windmills!
No matter how small or big you were as a band you will leave a legacy behind you. How do you want people to treat this legacy?
Sanni: Hmm… Tough one. It could be nice if one of our songs would some day be played by some cover band.
Jarmo: They will listen our music, and love it!
Lauri: There is a certain feeling that comes when someone tells you, that a song you made has somehow touched emotionally, or made a difference in person’s life. That kind of legacy is fine to handle.
Pekka: I hope people remember Zarthas as a band which makes good music and catchy songs.
Jani: It would be really cool to leave behind something, that other musicians could take influences from. And of course, since I do this with 100 percent, it would be good to be respected for it.
Is digital taking away the mystery of waiting for a new album now that you can upload as soon as you have written a song?
Sanni: Yes. I personally like whole albums. Yet still, this current single-oriented era has its own fun. At least you get feedback from fans faster.
Jarmo: I think people don’t want whole album anymore. They want a good song and amazing video.
Lauri: I agree. As a producer I’d say, that we always try to make a “whole album”. You know, with some kind of sense in it throughout the whole bunch of independed songs, that would also work as pile of
singles. And what comes to mystery, I think it is long gone, and it’s sad.
Jani: I remember as a kid how cool it was to just put a record to a player, and listen to it wondering how it was made. It didn’t take much time before mp3-players came, and I also started to store my music in those things. Listening to music is easier and more practical nowadays, and maybe the easiness will compensate the fact that you don’t have the CD or LP cover in your hands while listening.
Pekka: Those of us who have lived the eighties remember LP’s and how eagerly we waited for example Iron Maiden’s new album to come out. The mystery is never gone when it comes to wait for a new album,
difference is that it is no longer such a big mystery than it used to be.
How important is image in separating you from all the million different styles of metal there is out there?
Jani: It is important to stand out, because there are lot of bands making music inside every category and genre, or just in the name of what is “in” right now. It is a mess, where good artists get lost very easily.
Sanni: I’d speak about honesty rather than image. Being yourself and enjoying it is all that you can do. If it’s not enough for the big media, then fewer people find it but at least it’s not pretending or trying to “re-invent the wheel”.
Jarmo: I love so many different styles that i don’t think of that. If a song is good, it’s good.
Pekka: It is important to have a sound of your own and if you have your own style at writing songs then there is a possibility that you can separate yourself from the mass. Nowadays this is difficult
because there is so much music in the world. You discover something that sounds unique at the moment, next day you hear a song from a radio and it sounds like your uniquely composed masterpiece. I think
the key to all this is make your music and do not think too much if it sounds like Metallica or something else.
Lauri: Nothing to add. To be yourself is all that you can do, and stand out by that. They’ll love it or they don’t.
Do you deal in different topics lyrically or do you keep to one, just using different variations?
Lauri: On our previous album “Spit / Ignite”, we started to deal with things like greed, money, everything-to-me-now-kind of way of life, what causes it and where will it lead. In some level I deal with it on
“Reflections” too, only this time the lyrics are more personal and as simple as possible. Other strong theme that leads you thru the album is that wicked feeling that you just don’t fit in. I have realised
that I’ve been feeling outside as long as I can remember, and that is driving me to write darker lyrics. But of course I deal with happy things too like drinking, getting
high, and getting laid. A lot!
Do you consider yourself a live artist or do you like to spend most of the time secluded in a studio?
Lauri: Both ways work for me. I love interacting with the audience, it really gives you energy if they are having fun. In studio, you get different kind of good energy, for example, while you spend time solving some tiny problem in the mix that harasses you. It becomes a triumph, even though nobody but you can hear it, or would give a shit.
Jani: I am definitely more into playing live, partly because I have played gigs from very young age. On stage I feel more confident than anywhere else. Of course I’m getting more and more interested about working in studio. It’s because when writing new material, I have noticed how creativity can hit in a very different way once you sit down in studio in all the peace.
Sanni: Live is the best.
Jarmo: I love tours more than playing in studio
Pekka: We are live band but we do not fear the studio.
How much of a touring band are you guys? What memories do you take with you?
Sanni: From China we got lots of great memories. Still can’t believe how crowds were eager to hear us play. Then again, in Kuopio, Finland, we played to maybe 3 or 4 people. And in Finland that is a big crowd.
Lauri: Yeah the best things have happened in our trip to China. It was 24/7 fun, but it also sealed us together pretty well. I don’t know should I say this, but most people don’t care about new bands in
Finland. Actually karaoke is more popular in Finland than a band playing live, unless you’re Metallica or so, and not always even then. Big part causing this problem is politics about alcohol, restaurants and clubs. It is very expensive to go out in Finland, and there is a big list of things you can or cannot do when you go out clubbing. If you buy a drink in a club, you are allowed to enjoy your drink in a specified area. You are not allowed to smoke in that area, but you are allowed to go to a smoking booth or outside to smoke. Though you are not allowed to take your drink with you. Then again, if a club has a terrace, you are allowed to spoil your health by drinking and smoking simultaneously, but only til 01.30 am, because the club is obligated to close the terrace by 02.00 am. There are reasons enough for people to rather stay home than be going. Finland is slowly killing the festival and clubbing culture under the endless jungle of forms, rules and regulations. But yeah, we get what we deserve. We need rules to follow, cause we are simple people. Without a rule to every step we take we don’t know how to live, and it will be a chaos.
Jarmo: So many good memories from china….. Pillow fight after a show and drinking beer in train with the locals. Pekka: Well, we have had one proper tour and it was only seven gigs. Hopefully some day we find out how much of a touring band we are and hopefully after that tour we can still be friends
What does the future hold?
Sanni: I hope it’s more gigs with bigger crowds. I’d like to think the best show is always ahead.
Jani: Lots of new songs and gigs and hopefully more ears that hear us.
Jarmo: I hope touring and good gigs!
Pekka: Broken string and a drumstick, few cans of beer…
Lauri: All the best is always yet to come. Right now, “Reflections” is best we have recorded so far. We’ll just have to see how things go on from now.