Solothus 2019 – Photo by Jami Kallioväli
(Today we present a new interview conducted by Comrade Aleks, and this time he has talked with Kari Kankaanpää, vocalist of the Finnish band Solothus, who have a new album coming our way in 2020 via 20 Buck Spin.)
Usually I try not to bother bands with questions about the origins of their names, and use Google to find the answers. It was a hard task to dig out what Solothus means, so their vocalist Kari Kankaanpää has explained it to me: “In ancient Finnish folklore there is this creature called “solothus” which comes in the darkest winter nights to bring diseases to households. Only way to satisfy the spirit is a blood sacrifice.” Nice story for a start!
The band itself has performed macabre yet quite epic death doom metal since 2017. They weren’t that fast –their debut Summoned From The Void was released in 2013, about six years after they started — and you could skip it indeed, but no one could ignore Solothus’ 2016 sophomore work No King Reigns Eternal, a healthy example of the band’s development towards thicker and more thoughtful sound. The gents finished their third album a few weeks ago, so let’s try to find out from Kari more details about Solothus’ career.
Hi Kari! Lets go through the band’s history if you don’t mind, okay?
Greetings mate! Not at all, it is a pleasure.
So Solothus was formed in 2007, and the first demo Ritual Of The Horned Skull appeared in the fourth year of your career. How did you spend those first years as a band? Can you say those three tracks are the result of your early practices?
The first years of the band’s existence were inactive, to say the least. We did not rehearse all that often and the line-up varied a lot. It was mostly playing cover songs, some of own material, and drinking beer. In early 2011 things got way more serious which resulted in the mentioned demo. I think those songs were created in late 2010 and early 2011, so it was more of a take on those times, not necessarily the first years, since then the band was more or less looking for its path.
Did you record the demo for yourselves or to find a label? After Ritual Of The Horned Skull’s release you spent quite lot of time preparing new material…
I think our initial idea behind recording the demo was to get to play live. Of course we were wanting to find a label too! It was just the pure excitement of moving the band from just rehearsal status to actually releasing material. The reason why it took us so long to get Summoned From The Void ready was first because we were supposed to do a split with Cataleptic, but the label called it quits, so that was never released, and after that the line-up changed and that also took focus away from getting the album ready.
What was your goal when you worked on songs for the debut album?
The goal was to record songs which resonated with us strongly and which represented Solothus. I do not think there were any ulterior motives.
I was rather meaning if you had a whole idea how a proper Solothus’ album should sound. Let’s say this question is about your influences in that period and the means which could help you to reach embodiment of these ideas.
Ah yeah! We do! Usually Veli has certain elements he has in mind when creating the story of the album. Where will the faster parts be, where will it be calmer and where heavier. He sees the album as a full picture. If by strictly name-dropping bands, that inspired us during that period, I think the same bands inspire us even still to this day. These bands are such as Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, etc.
Do you all share one vision for Solothus? Or does someone offer death metal ideas, as there’s a bunch of doom heads in the lineup as well?
All the music of Solothus is created by our lead guitarist Veli. He is the heart of Solothus. Of course we arrange songs to some extent at the rehearsal place and lyrics are written by me (except one song on our upcoming album by Tami), but all you hear is conjured from his dark mind.
Do you always agree with his ideas?
There might be times when we suggest maybe a different tempo or how many times certain things would be played or ended, but I can say that 95% the song is pretty much ready when Veli presents it to us. I do not think there has ever been a time when he has written a song and we would have not liked it. I think that speaks for itself, that we share pretty common musical taste, when it comes to Death/Doom Metal!
Solothus – No King Reigns Eternal
Kari, how much do you care about lyrics? Do you have a band which inspires you lyrics-wise?
I do care a lot! I think that good lyrics can make an album even better or totally ruin the experience. There really is not a single band that would inspire me lyrically… It is by far more from literature and other culture, that inspires me to write lyrics. Often something from real life gives me a spark to write lyrics, of course wrapped in my own style.
Initially you released Summoned From The Void DIY, but next month Memento Mori publishes the CD. How did you get in touch with the label? Did this collaboration prove itself for the band’s benefit?
We did not release Summoned From The Void ourselves, it was solely released by Memento Mori. We did though put it out digitally after it was released on CD. I think Raul actually contacted us about him releasing our material, though I might be mixing things up! It was a long time ago! I think Raul did a great job with that album and it was the first contact for many people to Solothus.
Did you receive some feedback directly from listeners after the album’s release? The doom scene, the metal scene in general – they are both overcrowded, so it seems to be hard to get big feedback.
We got a nice amount of feedback and it got us some nice gigs! After the release we played a small tour in the UK etc, so definitely it was sort of a blast-off for us. After that we got signed by Doomentia Records, so that was also something to be proud of.
Can you tell if you have a kind of common ground with the other bands who took part in the Kuolema Parantaa Kaikki Haavat split? Are Undergang and Corpsessed the bands with whom you do usually share the stage?
I organized a tour for Undergang in Finland and I have always loved Corpsessed, and the dudes in the band are top-notch, so it was an easy decision to ask them on the tour too. David of Undergang proposed the idea of us three bands putting out a three-way split through his label Extremely Rotten Productions. I would say that friendship was the foundation of this split. All three bands are friends with each other, and after this tour we have played numerous gigs with Corpsessed around Finland.
How much time does Solothus actually take? How often do you rehearse and play live?
Solothus is an extremely important part of my life, so it takes some time from my life naturally. Our rehearsing schedule depends on what is coming up. If there is a gig coming, we rehearse as often as possible, which is maybe 1-2 times a month, since we live in Turku and Helsinki. Before we used to play live a lot, but now in all honesty we are more picky on what gigs we play. We all have our duties in “non-music” life as well.
Do you usually play only in your region or do you easily find gigs in Sweden or wherever you can reach? What are your highlights considering gigs at the moment?
It is quite expensive to travel pretty much anywhere from Finland, so it is always a hassle for organizers to book a Finnish band to play, but I think we have done well in that department. We have had a handful of nice tours in different countries. It is easier of course to play the Turku-Tampere-Helsinki triangle, where the majority of people live in Finland, but I have always wanted to play in different cities as well, and so we have done. At the moment we have 100% set our aim to play more abroad and to make a full European tour happen; we shall see how things are after the release of our third album.
Sweden we have yet to play, but I think there is something brewing behind the curtains for that too. Highlight is a lot harder to say. I love to play live, so often after every gig I feel like that was the best gig ever. Two gigs really come to my mind right away. The first one is the last gig of the Live Burial, Corpsessed and Solothus tour in Finland. We played in my then-hometown Turku at TVO. Something about that gig was quite special. The crowd went totally nuts and we enjoyed ourselves. The second one is from last autumn when we played with Anatomia, Cryptic Brood, Ghastly, and God Disease. I could not have dreamt of a better line-up to play with. Now we are looking forward to our first gig in London in February 2020! That will be a landmark for us!
Your second album No King Reigns Eternal seems to be a step forward for the band. How do you value this work? How would you compare it to the debut release?
It was definitely a step in the right direction! I think the music is much more mature and evolved in a natural manner. For our debut album, the songs were written over a much longer time. The material on No King Reigns Eternal was written in a much shorter time, which makes the album sound more whole in my opinion. I value it highly, since it is the defining album after the debut.
Solothus – Magus Of Doom
You recorded again with Harri Hyytiäinen. How did you build your collaboration with him in the studio?
Harri is the bandmate of our drummer Juha, so it was an easy and fruitful decision to work with him! He knew what we wanted and knew how to make it happen. For our third album though we wanted something different and we recorded all instruments with Lauri Laaksonen (Desolate Shrine, Convocation, etc) and I recorded vocals with Tommi Ilmanen (Sepulchral Curse, Beyond the Below, Yawning Void, etc). The end result sounds phenomenal!
How do you see the necessary components of Solothus’ sound? Where are its morbid roots?
I would say that the root of the sound of Solothus is Doom Metal, but with a hearty seasoning of mid-tempo Death Metal on top. Think of Candlemass meets Bolt Thrower. I think that gives a good idea what we sound like!
You’ve announced that the band has finished the recording of new material in October. What can you tell us about this stuff? How far are you now from No King Reigns Eternal?
Definitely quite far! What you loved in No King Reigns Eternal is there, but with an even more refined and heavy sound! There is a lot more variation, but yet we keep the same recipe as always. I am very proud of how our upcoming third album sounds — it will be a blast when you hear it!
So at least do you still offer a balanced blend of hard death and doom metal?
Aye, that we can promise! Our battleship floats nicely between mid-tempo Death Metal and Epic Doom Metal, as always! Vocally I can say, that this is our most varied record yet!
Do you already have a label which is interested in the new Solothus release?
Oh yes we have. We are signed to the amazing 20 Buck Spin from the USA. I think that is the best label out there, so it goes without saying that we are damn proud to be part of this roster!
And maybe you already know a release date for the album?
David of 20 Buck Spin hinted that this album will be out during late winter/early spring! So keep your ears and eyes open! I think we can unleash the first tunes in January!
Speaking about your background… Your drummer Juha Karjalainen also plays in another death doom band, Cataleptic. There’s no news from them for two years since the release of the sophomore album Forward. Do they plan to release something new?
Juha mentioned that they have some new material ready, but Cataleptic is one of those bands that take things slowly. Give them some time and new tunes are bound to come out!
At the same time you, Veli-Matti Karjalainen (guitars), alongside Solothus’ new guitarist Aleksi Luukka, play in Yawning Void, a blackened doom death band that released their first album Streams Within this year. How do you share your ideas between Solothus and Yawning Void?
Music-wise it is very easy. Veli writes all the music for Solothus and the ex-drummer/keyboardist of Yawning Void Tommi writes all the music for that band. This way the sounds will never really clash. I write some lyrics for Yawning Void too, but at least lyrical-wise, I know right away when I am hit with an idea to which band that is. Solothus has its own lyrical themes as does Yawning Void.
Okay, it seems we should speak about that with Tommi! Thanks Kari! I hope we’ll hear new Solothus soon!
You will hear sooner than later! I am anxious to get this album out to the world already!