(In this new interview Comrade Aleks spoke with Sami Rautio and Jürgen Fröhling, former collaborators in My Shameful and current collaborators again in Oakmord, whose debut record will be released on February 15th.)
Sami Rautio (Finland) and Jürgen Fröhling (Germany) collaborated successfully for years running the bleak and painful doom/death project My Shameful. My Shameful was no more since 2015, so Jürgen was able to focus on his doom/sludge band Absent/Minded, and Sami… it seems Sami was occupied with his solo project Kadotettu. However, both of them reunited in order to channel a mix of creativity and negativity through a new collaboration – Oakmord.
As Sami confesses, it is on a different range of emotions, and as musicians they have naturally changed over the years, “grown if that term fits here…” I agree with that, and you can make sure yourself while reading this interview — quite a good interview.
Hello gents! How are you? How comfortably do you bear another lockdown? Does it differ from the one all of us had last spring?
Sami: Well, no lockdown as such in Finland, but my whole industry (events) has been in a standstill pretty much from March… All we have left is streaming shows, and to be honest, even for a technician, it’s not as much fun as real live shows. As my main job is, or at least was before this pandemic, being a video technician for a very successful heavy metal band… I don’t know… being stuck in a studio streaming a boring corporate webinar isn’t exactly the same thing as standing in the Front of House in the middle of a sold out O2 Arena in Prague, or Wembley Arena in London… But, at least I have a bit more time for some creative work then.
What about you Jürgen? Is it the same at your part of the map?
Jürgen: Well, we have some strict rules here in Germany. During the last weeks it wasn’t even possible to drive alone to the practice room to make some noise. My whole work life is at home now and I guess that we have to deal a few more weeks with this. But on the other hand, I spend more time at home, time for creativity and songwriting with my other band Sources as well.
It’s good to know that covid and NWO policy don’t afflict the metal underground that much, and the CD-release of Oakmord’s debut full-length We Were Always Alone is at hand. Did you get any other offers besides one from Wroth Emitter Records?
Sami: No, but then again, we weren’t actively looking.
Why not? My Shameful was a well-known name amongst underground doom fans, so it could work. Aren’t you possessed with the desire to spread a Word of Doom and Despair?
Sami: I don’t know, I’ve never been a person to whom that kinda thing (sosializing, self-promotion) comes naturally. Guess that’s the main reason. But, getting the music out there, in physical format is of course important to me.
Why is it important for you to continue playing music in times like these?
Sami: At least to me, music is always important, and I don’t want to get lost away from it for too long, like I did in 2008-2010. And what better times to create this kind of music when the world is crumbling around us. Not only the pandemic, and there will be another one after this, and another and another… But the way we keep fucking up the climate, the earth, as a species we are already at a point where we have dug our own grave too deep to climb out of anymore… And on top of that, we have so much political turmoil all around, we have people to whom facts don’t mean anything, basically people who in the “good old days” would’ve been committed to a looney bin a long fucking time ago. I don’t really think we have much hope left for a better tomorrow. So yeah… I think this is the music for this era.
Does music play a role as an instrument to channel frustration or is it a form of escapism?
Sami: Personally for me it is an outlet of feelings and thoughts that are … how to put this… not generally acceptable to be expressed in “real life”. Have to get them out of the system somehow.
Jürgen: It’s like releasing another part of myself. A part that wouldn’t fit in the normal all day life. Sometimes this part is raging, depressive, sad or angry.. sometimes peaceful. For me it’s not an escape, it’s just an expression of hidden energies if you want.
Yes, I’ve got your point, I guess it works this way really. Sami and Jürgen, together you worked over the last My Shameful album Hollow. Does your current collaboration differ from the way you worked previously?
Sami: I don’t really think it differed so much, did it?
Jürgen: Actually we worked together since 2007 – my first record with My Shameful was the Descend record. We did the album in Germany together. One record later we recorded everything in Finland. Since then I’ve done my drum parts in a German studio and Sami has recorded the rest of the stuff in Finland. It’s easier this way, but it is not as much fun as entering the studio together and having a cool time with creativity and a couple of beers. Maybe again after the whole Covid19 madness. In the current situation I listen to new material when Sami sends some and then we talk about some ideas, before I go to my drumset with the songs. I think the most important thing is, that we are on one line with the tunes. So the current collaboration does not really differ from earlier.
Oakmord – My Eyes Reflect Only Death
Did you use some different equipment and settings for We Were Always Alone in comparison with Hollow? How did you work out this sound and its features?
Sami: For sure, I don’t do things from templates. I mean, I still use pretty much the same equipment, but every project starts from scratch anyway. I guess the overall sound I was aiming at was a lot more atmospheric than on Hollow, which as an album is a pretty brutal, in-your-face kinda sound. On We Were Always Alone I wanted to take a step back, and broaden the palette. Paint with more than one shade of black…
Agreed, I’d point to the same difference. I don’t remember if I ever asked any of you, but I believe I didn’t: Are there still bands in this world which are important for you after all these years? Do you still watch for some bands which formed your vision of extreme music years ago?
Sami: Sure, naturally! And I still get a thrill in finding something new that shakes me in a way nothing else has before. But, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride are always there, as well as all the old favourite death and black metal bands. From newer stuff that I’ve discovered in last five or so years… MGLA, Pensees Nocturnes, Akhlys, Bell Witch, Treha Sektori… just to name a few. And I always find some wonderful new ways to push the envelope.
Jürgen: Of course. There are still the old loves – My Dying Bride, Maiden, Danzig and a lot of black or doom/ death in general. And from time to time comes some other bands around to enlarge my horizon. Like Cult of Luna, Omega Massif or Downfall of Gaia and many more. But honestly, I’m not that kinda guy searching for new bands the whole time. I’m interested in new stuff, but sometimes I put my old favourite records on the player and it’s good.
How do you see concept differences between My Shameful and Oakmord?
Sami: I think Oakmord is on a different range of emotions, and as musicians we have naturally changed over the years, grown if that term fits here. With My Shameful I had for a long time a principle not to use keyboards at all, no idea where that idea originated from though. With Oakmord… I feel that the music is more harmony- and melody-based than My Shameful, which was mainly about the Riffs and the rhythm.
There are some parts in your tracks that are atypical for standard funeral doom – for example that down-tempo electric piece in ‘Dilution Of Pain’, as well as an overall tendency to ambient-alike parts. Actually I expected that Oakmord would be My Shameful’s development. Was it easy to switch to this kind of doom after your previous more extreme experience?
Sami: I don’t know, I never considered Oakmord really to be “My Shameful pt II – The Return of the Shameful”. It is its own beast. I want to leave My Shameful to rot in peace in the shallow grave I dug for it. The way Oakmord really happened is that I was just playing around with some ideas for songs, sent them over to Jürgen for some feedback from a friend, and here we are… And I guess the ambient comes there quite naturally as it is something I’ve been experimenting with for a long time, and even got to a point where some of my ambient stuff, written under the name “SRH4T3”, has appeared on some TV documentaries.
Jürgen: I think Oakmord is a real good development of My Shameful. Though the music comes with different emotions and instruments around, I still hear some vibes of the earlier times, but in another shape. And: Oakmord is not a copy of My Shameful – that wouldn’t make any sense.
Sami: I do agree with Jürgen that of course you can hear that the same person has written the songs. Like an old friend of mine said of Kadotettu, even as it is stylistically very, very far from My Shameful, he can still recognize who has written the songs…
Are you satisfied with this formula today?
Sami: Actually… yes I am.
Sami, nothing has been heard concerning your solo project Kadotettu since 2018. Do you aim to keep it alive? Do you have some new material written under this moniker?
Sami: Funny you should ask… I just released a new EP Äänet seinän sisällä (voices inside the wall). Just took some time to find that certain kind of madness into the music again. And… more material is brewing, so my evil twin is very much alive, kicking and screaming, thank you for asking.
What motivated you to return Kadotettu to its existence? Do you feel it as a necessity?
Sami: It was just a matter of time. Kadotettu was not going to just disappear. I simply needed to find that right frame of mind for that music again. I have to be in a… different place when I write music for Kadotettu.
Jürgen, 2020 doesn’t look like the right time to start any endeavors, but I see you’re into a brand new doom band named Sunday of the Dead! How serious are you concerning it? ave you been working over new material since the release of the Disrupt the Night EP?
Yes, the current times are definitely challenging. We had this point earlier here, but it’s very important to create music. It feels good to have some musical output, especially now. So Sunday of the Dead is another page. We are all living in Germany and we can rehearse from time to time. We keep in contact the whole time and there are a couple of new songs on the way. And after lockdown we want to go to practice and then to studio.
It’s the same thing with my other bands Absent/ Minded and Sources. But in Sources I play the guitars. So I record some demo stuff at home or in the practice room before we work with it. Absent/ Minded has existed since 2009, we have four records and most of the material was written during jamming around. Well, its not boring here, but I like the fact of playing in different bands with different people. And we don’t practice week for week, so I can take enough attention for each band.
How do you see Oakmord’s prospects for 2021? Will you wait for people’s reaction or do you rely only on your own perception?
Sami: In that sense I haven’t really changed over the years, I don’t let the audience or critics affect my music. Of course it is fun to see what people think, but that’s as far as it goes. For the future… we were talking about recording new material quite soon actually…