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Interviews Festerday

Interview with vocalist Kena Strömsholm

Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Date online: February 22, 2019


Death metal patrol Festerday may still be relatively unknown to some even though the band formed 30 years ago in Pietarsaari, Finland. When the death metal boom began raging through the Finnish underground scene in the late eighties, Festerday was in the first wave. They recorded three demos in 1991-92 and decided to call it a day in 1993. The members had quite a few other bands afterward, but none made much noise except ... And Oceans which released a couple of albums for Season of Mist and Century Media between 1998 and 2002.

In 2013, Festerday regrouped and decided to give it another shot, eventually landing a recording deal with old partner Season of Mist. The debut album, Iihtallan, released on January 4, 2019, offers a heavy load of Swedish-style, downtuned, old school death metal without bullshit or gimmicks and sounding like it could have been recorded 30 years ago.

The band's frontman, Kena Strömsholm, talked to The Metal Crypt about the new version of the band, some past experiences with his other bands and what lies ahead...

Luxi: How's life in the world of Festerday these days?

Kena: Now the album is out, it's kinda relaxing actually. Of course, there's work to be done with upcoming gigs and new material. We are also going to release a split 7" with Deceitome later this year.

Luxi: Festerday has a long history in the Finnish underground metal scene. The band started out back in 1989 and you were one of the very first Finnish death metal acts to emerge. Unlike many of your Finnish partners in crime (Convulse, Sentenced, Demigod, etc.), you never signed to a label as Festerday. Why do you think the stars never lined up?

Kena: We were actually negotiating with a few labels back then, but by the time we finally got labels interested, we had called it a day. We wrote a 20-minute song in 1993 with lyrics in four languages, but we never recorded it in the studio as we had some difficulties with the drummer. The demos were not officially released, we just kept on spreading the songs via tape trading. We continued doing that with ... And Oceans, too. Things would look pretty different today if we had continued under the Festerday moniker.

Luxi: How involved were you with other Finnish (or non-Finnish) bands during the tape-trading times? Were you in close contact with some bands in particular, spreading their flyers and trying to get them to play gigs with you?

Kena: Oh yes...! I had my own zine in the '80s and I was into tape trading very early. I had very good contacts with death and black metal bands, and still do. I was basically in contact with all Finnish metal heads, but also with many foreign bands. And now that most of them have made comebacks, it's fun to bump into old friends at gigs. I received about 20–30 letters a week and I sent out tapes and flyers once a week. I still have a lot of old photos and rehearsal tapes from that era. I made one big mistake during the CD-ROM era in 2000. When I moved, I threw a bunch of old letters and tapes in the trash, about 600 tapes and tons of letters. And I still regret doing it. Fucking moron...! :)

BLACK IS MY HEART AND DARK IT SHALL BE

Luxi: Did the band run into some sort of identity crisis between 1992 and 1994? You changed the band name not only once, but three times.

Kena: It was not about changing names, they were all totally different bands and projects. We wanted to do something blacker and then we hooked up with The True Black Dawn/Enochian Crescent dudes and found our missing members via them. In the early '90s, it was impossible to find a drummer as we were so young and no one had a driver's license and finding a death metal drummer in the same town was out of the question. On the first demo, we had the drummer from Carnifex and later, on the following two demos the drummer from Masacre. Those years were great. Every day you had a new demo in the mailbox or an LP waiting to be opened. It was nice to just lay down in the bed and listen to new death metal vinyl and masturbate to Samantha Fox posters.

I remember the trips to Seinäjoki and Tampere with Timo and Teemu and the tons of death metal vinyl we bought from Juke Boss and MauMau Music. But around 1993, death metal kind of died. At least to us. The spirit was lost, and bands didn't make any killer albums anymore. We wanted to keep the banners high, but not in the death metal scene. I think grunge kicked in around that time. Nothing wrong with that, those grunge albums are still awesome, but I guess our hearts beat for darkness and death. Black is my heart and dark it shall be. That's probably the main reason why ... And Oceans was born in 1995.

Back in those days, bands could play live with bands from totally different genres. Nobody gave a fuck about ideologies. Punks could play with metal acts and pop bands without any hate mailing. Today it's a joke how things have evolved and turned out. I'm not saying, "all was better back then", a lot of things also sucked ass back then.

FESTERED OCEANS

Luxi: The years 1995–2005 when you were doing things as... And Oceans are the years when you had a fair amount of wind in the band's sails. You signed to the French label Season of Mist and later on, to Century Media and released two full-length studio albums for both. There's a pretty drastic musical change from Festerday to... And Oceans. What happened?

Kena: We had all kinds of projects after Festerday, but none of them really went down the road as planned. We signed first to Season of Mist with... And Oceans and later to Century Media. From 1995 to 2005, the band was named... And Oceans. Today we write it And Oceans, without the dots. We have always made pretty drastic changes and we never limit ourselves to anything specific. But And Oceans will not be avant-garde artsy shit. We have a solid structure for the coming album. We will focus on symphonic black metal, and Festerday will remain old school.

Luxi: What about Havoc Unit? What can you tell the readers of The Metal Crypt about this band?

Kena: Havoc Unit is not for weak minds. It's pretty harsh industrial metal and not everyone's cup of coffee. It's an unorthodox audio virus and feels like being gang raped for 60 minutes.

Luxi: Both Festerday and And Oceans are still very much active bands these days, apparently the latter without a home while Festerday is signed to Season of Mist Records. How hard is it for you to keep both bands running and kicking in terms of time management?

Kena: It takes a lot of time indeed. We have gigs coming up with both acts and there will be many more. We also have the crust punk band Khaos Nihil to complete and I have, together with Markus Makkonen (Sadistik Forest), our death metal book in the loop. So there are one or two pieces to put in the puzzle.

Luxi: Festerday's debut album, titled Iihtallan, was released on Season of Mist's sub-label Underground Activists on January 4, 2019. Musically the songs on this release are closer to the Swedish death metal sound of the '90s than anything that would put the Finnish death metal tag on your backs. What's so fascinating about the heavily down-tuned sound of Swedish death metal?

Kena: I think we have more influences from Swedish death metal than from any other scene. Festerday has always been more about groove and melodies than brutal madness.

Luxi: How did your deal with Season of Mist happen? Did you send a promo kit in their direction?

Kena: We recorded six new songs and sent a SoundCloud link to different labels. We actually received a lot of nice feedback and suddenly we had 4–5 labels interested. We chose Season of Mist as we know them personally and they offered something special.

FROM VAGINA TO ENTRAILS

Luxi: There's some Carcass influence in some of your songs on this record and the name of the band also shows it. A song like "My Saliva My Vagina" is probably one of the better examples of Carcass' influence. How important is Carcass' impact on Festerday?

Kena: Well surely these old-timers have had a great influence on us. You can hear Carcass, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Paradise Lost, Entombed etc. It's not like we are reinventing the wheel here. We want to keep the old school flame alive. Technical "700 notes a minute" death metal is not our thing. I don't think Carcass has had any massive impact on Festerday. Sure, that song smells like Heartwork, but apart from that, not much. Maybe Iihtallan is the album Carcass should have done instead of Surgical Steel :D

Luxi: The last song off the album, "Let Me Entertain Your Entrails" could well belong to Impaled Nazarene's arsenal due to its intensity, sheer savagery and black metal musical approach. What meaning has Impaled Nazarene had on you personally?

Kena: Lyric-wise the song is influenced by the Robbie Williams' song, but the song itself just popped up in the studio, so we decided to record it and keep it as a bonus for the album. The first three Impaled Nazarene albums are pure gold. I'm not too familiar with their newer material, but I still listen to their old albums. In my opinion, the bonus song is more Darkthrone than Impaled Nazarene.

Luxi: How was it making Iihtallan, knowing it's the band's first ever album? Was there any pressure to live up to the band's past?

Kena: We didn't actually have any pressure. We had good songs and a good engineer in the studio, so the whole process was pretty comfortable. And actually, now that you mention it, I haven't even thought about the fact that Iihtallan is our debut album. Somehow, I see the triple LP as our debut, even if Iihtallan is technically the debut.

Luxi: Can you explain what lies behind the Iihtallan album title?

Kena: It means "a person going insane for spending too much time with the dead". Pretty much reflects the reality of today.

Luxi: Making audiovisual stuff is naturally important for bands to get more visibility and become better known. You have done a couple of videos in which nature plays a large role. What's Festerday's connection to nature, Finnish nature especially?

Kena: Festerday has always had a strong relation to nature, which can be seen and heard in the lyrics. We related to nature in the early years, but I think it's even stronger nowadays. Also, the band name has a different meaning to it today. The world is a festering place and nature is rotting in front of our eyes. I spend a lot time in the woods (not the band, lol), hiking up in the north, että terveisiä vaan Primitive Reactionsin/Kvltin Tuomakselle :D

APOCALYPSE IN APRIL

Luxi: You have the April Apocalypse Festival coming up, which will be in Vantaa, Finland, on April 6, 2019. What else is bubbling under the surface for Festerday gigging wise?

Kena: We have another death/black metal fest coming up during autumn but otherwise we haven't booked anything else so far. I don't see any point in playing the same venues several times a year so we are ready to head out from Finland. Maybe the album was released a bit too late for this year's festivities. We have a lot of gigs coming up with And Oceans though.

Luxi: Does playing live always sort of electrify you personally whenever you get a chance to play live for people?

Kena: Yes.

Luxi: Undoubtedly, there will be some new stuff coming from Festerday at some point. How much have you written since the sessions for your debut album? Or, is this the kind of a process that you don't want to rush too much, meaning that there's not much work done as of yet regarding the band's new stuff?

Kena: New material is always created on the run. We aren't rushing anything, but if songs pop up, we keep them and record them later when the time is right. I don't think we will be returning to the studio this year, but you won't have to wait another 30 years for the next album.

Luxi: How do you see the future for both Festerday and And Oceans? Will both of these bands get equal treatment as far as keeping them going is concerned or do you see one of these two outfits more like a "hobby band", more or less?

Kena: Death metal is not a hobby, it's a lifestyle. Both bands will get the attention they deserve. We can make both acts happen as we don't need to put out albums the same time. We will play live with both bands for sure.

Luxi: I think that's everything I had in my mind for this "conversation", so thanks a lot for your time, Kena, and I wish you all the best with bands and everything else in your life. Now you are entitled to the last commentary if you just want to say something...?

Kena: Thanks for the interview. It was a pleasure. Always nice to have a chat when someone has some real questions. Buy our stuff and send back my stamps!!!! Ei muuta ku kovvoo ajua!

Other information about Festerday on this site
Review: ...The Four Stages of Decomposition...
Review: Iihtallan




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