(In this post, Latvian music journalist Evita Hofmane presents her interview with guitarist Teemu Mäntynen of the Finnish post-metal band CRIB45 — who are about to embark on a Baltic tour this week.)
What’s behind this Finnish band’s name – CRIB45? Let’s take a short glimpse into their worldview and music. Our guide is vocalist and guitarist Teemu Mäntynen.
First of all, we have to make a short introduction for all those who haven’t heard about your band. What is CRIB45?
Crib45 is a Finnish post-metal band, that puts its focus on the doomier side of the genre. The music combines dark, but soothing atmospheres with crushing groove made by a wall of guitars and drums, along with multiple vocalists. I guess that the main part, which differs Crib45 from other post-metal bands, is that where many rely on the hardcore background of the genre, we come from the alternative rock’s direction. You can hear the influences from bands like Deftones, A Perfect Circle, and such, while at the same time there are the obvious influences from bands like Neurosis and Cult of Luna as well. I guess that those are the key elements that make Crib45 what it is.
If you could distance yourself from the fact that CRIB45 is your band, what do you think – what could have been your feelings and emotions while you were listening to the music of CRIB45?
For me it’s easy to answer to this. Even though it is completely unintentional, we share a passion and taste for similar melody structures and atmospheres with Cult of Luna, so I can pretty much just imagine how I feel everytime I listen to Cult of Luna. The similar blend of emotions; hopelessness, trance-like somber beauty, with yet still a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
For us it is crucial. We might have started doing this for ourselves, but the warmth of the audiences is what has kept us going through all these years. Everytime we go on stage and try something new, we take notes on how our audiences will react to it. If they like it, we will keep that element and if they don’t like it, we let it go. That way we can say that we at least try to keep the process closer to the audience and give what they want.
What’s your view on the value of music today? In what way does the abundance of music change our perception of it?
Especially when times are hard, people feel the need to find a channel to their frustration and worries, so every time there is a financial depression, the amount of culture will rise. That means that people will need more entertainment to forget their worries, which like you said, ends up with a cornucopia of different kinds of music.
Unfortunately during those times, even when the demand is higher, the cost of everything will be the obstacle if people can’t afford it. That is why, at least in Finland, the biggest competition to venues and bands aren’t the other venues and bands who are seeking the attention of the same people, but things like a home’s sofa and Netflix. Even if the ticket would be free, you would need money for the door service, drinks, and if you have had enough drinks, then you can add taxi as well, which ends up as a very expensive night.
Also, we live in the times of digital music streams and downloads, where there is already a complete generation who has never bought a physical album, instead using services like Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, YouTube, Soundcloud, etc. When you combine that with that same cornucopia of different bands and music, which now are way more accessible and more high-quality since we all have the technology at home to make and seek music, that (at times) sounds better than what the high-cost productions sounded like some years back, it is easy to see music as common free property. It will actually be pretty interesting to see where the situation goes from here, since we are living in the times of revolution in the music business.
Are you working on any new music right now? What’s next for your band?
We actually sort of have started doing something on our own, which is the first phase. Me and Ville have been sending each other ideas back and forth for a while, and even though we haven’t yet officially started to work on the new material, we already have 5-6 songs in various states of progression. When we come back home from Latvia, we are putting our main focus on the new album, writing stuff together, arranging what we already have, and starting to think about the big picture, what will eventually be the new album. I am personally very excited about the material that is coming. For example, I strongly think that one of Ville’s songs might even be the strongest track we have ever done so far.
What do you know about Latvia? What do Finns think of us?
Before last year, like many Finns, I personally didn’t know that much about Latvia, unfortunately. We did our first tour outside our country, which took us to Latvia as well, and I fell in love with it instantly. I know everyone says that the country the other guy is from is one of their favorite places, but honestly the warmth of the Latvian people is amazing. We made so many good friends during those two days we spent in Riga, with whom I still keep contact with on a regular basis. For me Latvia has become one of the key places with Estonia, because of the easy access and warm, welcoming audiences. You just can’t beat that. I had never been in Latvia before last year and ever since I visited Latvia for the first time, I ended up returning there five more times last year, to say hi to friends, on vacation, and just for fun. I think that says a lot, about how great and dear Latvia is to us. On this tour, we deliberately wanted to end our part in Latvia, so in the end we can have a huge party with all the great Latvian people.
How would you describe your band’s show to someone who hasn’t seen you?
Every time we climb on stage, we try to give our best we can for the audiences. I think that Crib45 has always been more of a live band, than an “album” band. You can really feel the wall of sound and the energy the guys put into it. I, myself, am still healing from my operation and still have to walk with a crutch, but I promise that I will still try my best, so I wouldn’t fall that much behind the others, he-he. What you usually can expect is an experience, a trance-like journey, huge sound, huge energy, huge passion, but this time, along with the trance, we are bringing hammers as well.
What is the main conclusion you have learned during these years about life and music being two inseparable things?
I had an “overdose” of music after our first album and couldn’t stand to hear any music any more. When listening to radio, I chose channels with all talk and had mostly audio books in my car’s cd player. After a while, music found new forms to infiltrate back into my life and reminded me that what’s so great about music, is the large variety that is full of mind-blowing music, if you don’t just foxhole yourself to one certain genre. Leave your foxhole and explore music, go every direction and I will guarantee, that you will find experiences that will change your mind. You can’t keep music away from your life. Music and life are inseparable because just like art interprets life by visual form, music interprets life with sounds. Music is the feeling that you can hear.