Interview with guitarist Mika "Kaasu" Karppinen
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 2, 2023
Solitude, a 4-piece doom metal act from Finland, features musicians from a bunch of well-known bands (Gas Lipstick from H.I.M., Ville Tuomi from Kyyria/Suburban Tribe, etc.). They started out some 30 years ago but didn't leave a deep impression and vanished without much noise as if they'd never existed.
2023 seemed to be the right time to bring the band back from its untimely death, only this time Ville was replaced by Aleksi Parviainen, who earned his spurs in such bands as Souldcage and Malpractice. The band recorded a 3-song demo in 2022 which was pretty much pure Candlemass worship, with some mandatory Sabbath flavor.
2023 marked the band's second studio session, only this time the guys were eager to get their debut full-length recorded using famous Finnish studio Finnvox Studios and recording everything in just 10 hours, even the vocals.
We'll learn about this very matter and much more in this brief interview with guitarist Mika Karppinen, who seemed to be more than excited about bringing this old Finnish doom metal band back to the spotlight, this time using the name, The Solitude.
Hey Kaasu, how's life? Busy as always or taking things a bit slower than during the heyday of H.I.M.?
Mika: Actually, not slow at all. I have four bands that I'm working with. The Solitude, Ääritila, pop/rock artist Leo Tillman's band that I joined, and we decided to do some shows with my old band, Kyyria.
DOOM...OR BE DOOMED!
The Solitude is a new Finnish metal outfit, consisting of Ville Pelkonen (ex-Jimsonweed) on bass, Janne Parviainen (Ensiferum) on drums, Aleksi Parviainen (Soulcage, Malpractice) on vocals and you on guitar, that plays doom metal not too far away from the sounds of Candlemass and Black Sabbath. How did this band originally come about?
Mika: We started the band 30 years ago. We played Candlemass covers with Ville Tuomi of Suburban Tribe fame singing. Our drummer Janne told me that his singer brother Aleksi had written some Candlemass type of songs. I fell in love with them so, we decided to start the band again, only this time performing original songs.
Was it easy to find like-minded guys to get The Solitude going?
Mika: Actually no. The band is 30 years old. Back then we were all huge Candlemass fans, and we wanted to play their songs as covers. Eventually it evolved into writing original songs in the same vein as what Candlemass played their earlier stuff.
While listening to your 3-song demo, it's safe to say that doom metal is close to your heart, especially Candlemass. What's your history with the doom metal genre, in terms of being a fan of this music?
Mika: Well, when I quit H.I.M. my initial plan was to start a thrash metal band. Instead, I ended up joining three doom metal bands, Hallatar, We Sell the Dead from Gothenburg and a third band with Juha Raivio of Swallow the Sun. We have recorded a demo with the latter band. I will talk more about this in the future, when the time is right.
I have been a huge Candlemass fan ever since they released the Epicus... album, so doom metal has been present in my life since 1986.
IN ANALOG WE TRUST
You recorded the demo entirely live, which isn't something many bands do these days. Was the main reason to make the songs sound as authentic and "live" as possible and preventing a too polished or even "plastic" sound, which may take some power out of your music?
Mika: This is all correct. I don't like modern metal records because they all sound too plastic! Just compare any new S*IT to Slayer's Reign in Blood or an old Zeppelin record. You will hear the difference right away. When we started this band again, we decided to do things like we used to in the '80s.
Which studio did you use for the recording of your debut album and how many songs will it contain?
Mike: We recorded our debut album live at the wonderful Finnvox Studios in 10 hours. The whole band recorded their parts, including our vocalist's singing sessions, too. We didn't use ProTools but recorded with an analog tape machine instead. This way you get the warmth from the analog tape. We recorded 10 songs, and the album will be around one hour.
I have to say that very few bands in the world can do this. We are totally happy with the record. It's going to be mixed by none other than Mr. Hiili Hiilesmaa, the master of the studio world. And it's going to be mastered by Mika Jussila, who is like God in my eyes.
Have you shopped this demo to some record labels, and how has this been going so far?
Mika: I shipped the first demo to maybe 15 labels, but I have to admit I don't like our first demo. It sounds like shit. If you think about it bands in general are putting a lot of money into recordings. They mix the music through a great mixing guy. We didn't. If a record label gets nine great-sounding recordings and our crappy sounding one, our demo is not so appealing. I will definitely send the awesome sounding new record to these labels as well. I'm confident that we will get much a better response this time around. But let's wait and see...
OF SHARING RESPONSIBILITIES
Are you the primary songwriter of the band or would you say everyone is involved pretty much equally?
Mika: Aleksi, the singer, and I are writing the songs. He wrote the songs using a piano. I then changed the piano parts and made guitar riffs from them. On top of that, I wrote four songs, meaning the guitar riffs and vocal melodies. Aleksi writes all of the lyrics.
Finland has been known for its doom metal bands since the late eighties - bands like Thergothon, Unholy, Yearning, Skepticism, Shape of Despair, Rapture - and, of course, many others paving the way for new generations of Finnish doom metal bands to come. How involved were you with the early '90s doom metal scene when it first happened here in Finland back in the day? Did some Finnish doomsters manage to impress you better than some others?
Mika: I was more of a thrash guy. I was more involved in the thrash metal scene back in the day. I used to have a thrash metal band called Dementia in the early to mid-eighties. So, unfortunately, I haven't been following the doom metal scene in Finland much at all. But a lot of records from those days have now caught my attention. I'm going to start exploring for sure. From what I have understood, only The Solitude is doing the Candlemass style. Or am I wrong? That is my bread and butter, however.
Doing gigs is always important for gaining visibility in the metal scene. I take it The Solitude would like to enter stages at some point in the future. What have you planned as far as playing shows is concerned?
Mika: Yes. It's very important to do live shows. I know that we are such good musicians, it's going to sound great. Ville and I are even doing some background vocals and from what I know, there are usually no background vocals in doom metal. That is something that is going to differentiate us from the other bands, I think. We have our debut show coming up soon. We will do the Helsinki Metal Fest club, named "See You in Hell" on the 25th of May at Bar Loose in Helsinki, Finland.
What are some of the short- and long-term plans for the band?
Mika: To land a record deal and do as many shows as we can. And we would like to continue this for a long time, releasing many, many records...
You have had a lot of history in many bands (Dementia, Kyyria, Bendover, To Separate Flesh from the Bones, etc.) over the years. Can you say which is your dearest one out of them all?
Mika: It has to be H.I.M. because it opened so many doors for me. I got to see everything music related all over the world with that band, and I got to fulfill the dream I had in 8th grade, to support Metallica one day. We did a short stadium tour with them.
Alaska Evil is still a somewhat mysterious 4-piece Finnish metal band (even for many of our natives), in which you sang, Roope Latvala (Stone, Children of Bodom) played guitar, Janne Parviainen (Ensiferum) was on drums and Pale was on bass. It was only a short-lived act, releasing just one demo many years ago. Was it meant to be just a "project act" or did you have some bigger plans?
Mika: It was meant to be just a "have fun with your dear friends" band. We never intended anything more with that band. Just to do a demo and a few shows for fun.
OK, I have one last question for you and then we are done. "Demon's Gate" by Candlemass or "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" by Black Sabbath?
Mika: This is so simple. I used to live for Candlemass when I was younger. No matter how great Sabbath is, I have to say "Demon's Gate" no matter what.
Thank you for your time in getting this interview done, and I wish you all the best with your future endeavors with The Solitude. Let your doom roll...! Any more suitable closing words perhaps?
Mika: Thank you.
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