Interview with drummer Jarkko Lunnas
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: July 17, 2019
Damnation Plan, formed in 2004, is a melodic and progressive Finnish death metal band that has a couple of full-length albums out (The Wakening, released in 2013 and Reality Illusion, released in 2017). The band underwent some struggles over the past few years due to some slight lineup changes, basic life routines, etc., plus their vocalist Asim Searah is busy with his other band, Wintersun.
This has not stopped the guys from writing new stuff; in fact, the band is currently writing new songs that will hopefully end up on their third studio album. Following the band's social media sites will certainly keep us all in the loop regarding their plans.
In the meantime, the band's drummer Jarkko Lunnas kindly gave The Metal Crypt a prompt update as to what's been going on in the band lately. Read on!
Luxi: So, what's cooking in the cauldron of Damnation Plan these days?
Jarkko: Summer activities. This past spring, we played a couple of gigs in Helsinki and we are at the moment working on new material to be released soon.
Luxi: As I understand things, it's been a rollercoaster ride for you guys regarding comings and goings lately. You have only played one-off gigs every now and then over the past two years or so because your vocalist Asim's commitments with Wintersun. I assume every one of you has your daily jobs and other stuff that has prevented the band from rolling along as smoothly as you may have hoped for. Is this situation about to change in the near future, allowing all of you to concentrate on Damnation Plan more than during the past few months or so...?
Jarkko: We certainly wouldn't mind that happening. We are in the process of trying to figure out how to get the band and our release cycle to be more frequent and consistent. It is mostly a battle of balance between our daily jobs and the band, for sure. The past year has been particularly difficult on that front for me personally. But this is something we have recognised and are working to change. Sure, Asim's Wintersun commitments take time when they are occurring, the same way as the rest of us have our daily jobs. But there are breaks in between those duties which we aim to use more effectively from now on.
Luxi: When Asim is on the road with Wintersun, it obviously does not slow things down for the band; only preventing you from doing gigs. How hard has it been for the band to balance between his commitments to both bands?
Jarkko: That hasn't been that much of an issue. The struggle comes mostly from having day job duties vs. band duties.
Luxi: It's been two years since the band's second album, Reality Illusion, came out. The timing wasn't as perfect as it could have been as almost at the same time, Asim joined Wintersun. Did you feel like you missed the crunch time to get the album promoted with a round of gigs?
Jarkko: At that point we had more of a situation with our previous second vocalist Tommy leaving the band after the release shows and finding a replacement for him. We were also trying to find the right connections to book shows for us.
Luxi: Reality Illusion was well received worldwide amongst the fans of melodic/progressive metal. How happy are you with the end result on Reality Illusion? What were the biggest improvements that you made from your debut album, The Wakening?
Jarkko: I think it was a natural progression in all fields that comes from learning to make music. When you put all your passion into it and if you have a vision of what you are striving for artistically, you tend to get better the more you do it. But as was also mentioned in the making of Reality Illusion documentary, some of the particular goals, in addition to making great songs, that I had was to have more lead guitars in the songs and more shared duties of vocals in terms of bringing more clean vocals to the songs. Performance-wise, I think you can hear a band that has progressed.
Luxi: What was your experience from the PledgeMusic crowdfunding campaign that you used for this album? Was it mostly a positive experience even if it must have been lots of work to your album released that way?
Jarkko: I thought it was a great way to build anticipation for an album. It was a pre-order type of a campaign that was an add-on on top of releasing the album conventionally. This way I think we were able to make the release for our fans and supporters a more special "experience", give more insight on the album and the making of it. Back then at least the PledgeMusic platform worked quite well for this case. Of course, this was before they faced their recent financial problems.
Luxi: Obviously, you have been working with some new music for the band. Is there anything to be revealed about that stuff yet? How does it compare to the songs on Reality Illusion, for example?
Jarkko: An obvious difference will be we have only one vocalist vs. two. This will have somewhat of an impact on it, of course. I think you'll possibly hear more clean vocals on the new album... or not! You'll have to wait a bit still hahah! Our sole intention is to kick ass, and definitely not less than before!
Luxi: Would you go as far as stating this new material is some of the best you have come up with thus far and you would not be satisfied with anything less?
Jarkko: We would definitely go "that far" yes! There is no other option or way.
Luxi: Who's the main writer for this band?
Jarkko: I've been the lead songwriter and put the songs together since the beginning of the band, in addition to Kalle Niininen (guitarist). But as I've said many times, I couldn't have done that without everybody bringing their talent to the mix, participating in the process and making the material gold, so it's teamwork in the end and I think that is the magic combo. On the last album, Antti Lauri's (lead guitars) had more input on the guitars as we demoed most of the material and I worked on the ideas together with him a lot. This time around we have material coming from more sectors in the band than ever before, so we'll see how it settles in the end.
Luxi: I assume this year you'll basically concentrate on working with the stuff for your next album so that you have something new as far as hopping on the festival train of 2020 is concerned. Does this sound correct?
Jarkko: This does sound correct, yes!
Luxi: How far into next year have you planned? Do you make far-reaching plans for the future with the band?
Jarkko: We do have big plans and the intention is, and some actions have been done already this spring, to really bring the band to another level what comes to release cycles and playing live in the coming years.
Luxi: Digital promo kits are optimal for reaching labels when trying to be signed. Do you have any plans in mind for when it's time to start knocking on labels' doors?
Jarkko: We had a digital promo kit for the last album through our release partner Inverse Records. I think we'll have to build a new one soon!
Luxi: You made a documentary of the making of Reality Illusion, which undoubtedly was a relatively time-consuming project. Do you believe you might do something similar in the future?
Jarkko: Yes, it was quite a lot of work to edit and configure all the material for the final "full documentary". Another challenge was obviously to try to remember to record some of the process alongside actually recording and working on the album, which obviously takes intense focus and effort. As the Pledge campaign idea came up near the release time, I then shot the interviews to accompany the behind-the-scenes footage. And yes, I would think something like that could be coming in the future.
Luxi: When talking about the Finnish metal scene these days, there must be some special ingredients in our drinking water or in our DNA because the country has been producing so many quality metal bands over the years that have become successful acts worldwide. Can you see any reasons for why so many Finnish metal bands seem to be "hot" in the world in 2019? Does it have something to do with our northern location perhaps?
Jarkko: Yes, I think the north is to blame!! Or maybe the government puts something in our drinking water?
Luxi: How do you see your band as a part of the strong Finnish metal scene? Is there any healthy/unhealthy competition between metal bands up here in the northern hemisphere?
Jarkko: There's no other band like us in the Finnish metal scene, style-wise, in my books. The majority of the Finnish metal scene hasn't heard about us yet, though, which is a shame, but also obviously an opportunity and there's a lot to do and achieve on that front.
I would like music to be (and it should be) a connecting and uniting force, as I've felt it's always been to me. Unity can be strong in a great metal show/festival at its best. Also, being a big hockey fan, especially in my past, I've felt that music is great in the sense that you don't get super pissed off and depressed at the end of every season (except maybe 4-5 times during 30 years when your team wins, if you are lucky like me that is). There are only winners in this sport!
Luxi: What do you believe will be ahead of you in 2020?
Jarkko: New Damnation Plan release(s) and many more live shows and new frontiers, I hope.
Luxi: Thank you for your time with my questions. Hopefully, you found them worth answering. And, of course, I want to wish you all the best with the band in the coming years. May Goddess Fortuna bring good things to you. The last comments are for you...
Jarkko: Thanks Luxi! We appreciate it and we openly welcome all the goods the Goddess Fortuna shall bring upon us! Support the bands you love, and spread the word!
|Other information about Damnation Plan on this site|
|Review: The Wakening|
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