Interview with guitarist and vocalist Toni Pekkala
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: November 15, 2020
Worthless is a Finnish Death Metal band formed in 2009 that has released two albums thus far, with a third album lurking right around the corner. It is titled Melancholic Rites and features eight new cuts. It's been scheduled for release on November 6, 2020 (and will probably be out by the time you read this interview – Luxi), so the wait of five long years will finally be over for fans of the band. Expect some murky and darkened Death Metal that sets your soul on fire and pushes you ruthlessly towards the grim and bleak world created by the band.
The Metal Crypt was curious, as always, to know why it took five years to get this new album out so we decided to contact the band's mastermind and soul Toni Pekkala to get some answers and also to find out how the band has been coping in these times when gigging is nearly impossible due to the virus outbreak and the many restrictions our societies have faced because of it.
Hey man, how's it going? Feeling the end of humanity is drawing near?
Toni: Hello! I'm doing fine even though the world around us seems to be a little messed up with this Covid-19 situation. Maybe this is a good reminder for humanity that we can't control everything.
ALBUM NO. 3. - MELANCHOLIC RITES
As for some better news, Worthless will have a new album out on November 6, 2020. What can you tell us about the writing process, and do you believe you accomplished everything you hoped, on paper at least?
Toni: In the summer of 2018 we were in a situation where there were only two members left in the band, me and drummer Petri. We sat down and discussed the situation and decided to make a new album as a duo. I told Petri that I could play all guitars and bass and do all vocals. It was a challenge, but we made it. We had almost all the material ready for a full album, but things went as they went, so we decided to start all over again. This wasn't the original plan, but everything went smoothly, and it was very interesting and rewarding in the end. We are very satisfied with the result.
How would you say the songwriting/recording processes were different this time compared to your second album, Grim Catharsis, some five years ago?
Toni: We had one less songwriter/musician this time. This was almost like going back to the band's roots. When we started, we did all the songs as a twosome. I had to practice with the bass because I'm not a bassist. We also had two vocalists on the Grim Catharsis album, so this meant a lot of screaming for me for the upcoming album. The big thing was, of course, that we had no record company behind us this time.
Do the songs on this album follow the same recipe that you used on your debut album? What's old, what's new, and what may come as a little surprise for someone?
Toni: It has pretty much the same elements as the first two albums, but some things are new. For example, we asked our friend Saara to sing some additional vocals for few songs and she did it very well. We also used tambourine on two songs and there are a few faster songs, but I think most of our listeners recognize the band still as the same band. :o)
What's your favorite song off this new record and why? What makes it a tad more special for you personally?
Toni: Maybe the opening track, "Carnival of Sin" is my favorite. It's the most versatile and the fastest song on the album and I like playing it.
How many songs did you record for this new album and were there any leftover that you may use in the future?
Toni: We recorded eight songs all in all. There is no leftover stuff this time.
Your new album is called Melancholic Rites. What's the story behind the album title? Does it perhaps have something to do with our Finnish habit of getting drowned in misery and sorrow when the whole world turns against us?
Toni: The whole subject of melancholy is huge, diverse and very interesting and it drew me little by little deeper and deeper into the theme. The word melancholy itself is an old one and has many more meanings and relations than just the most obvious ones we think of today. Among other things it used to be one of the deadly sins. Maybe there is also some Finnish misery and sadness involved...
The ending song on your new album is called "The Last Exit". Is it about committing suicide or is there some deeper and more ambiguous meaning behind the lyrics?
Toni: This is a story about a frustrated, sad and disappointed person who fights over choosing between life and death. Nothing deeper. This is not "The Last Exit" for the band even though somebody may hope or think so. :) In this song you can really feel the dark and oppressive mood. We chose this song for our lyric video. I recommend checking it out when it is released.
WHAT'S THE FASCINATION ABOUT BLACK AND WHITE COLORS?
All of your EP and album cover arts have been black and white, pretty darn bleak and ominous looking. What is the reason for this decision?
Toni: The black and white theme has been from the beginning. If you look at the cover art of our albums, it's hard to imagine them in color. I think these black and white covers give just the right image of our music. Maybe we will use color in the future. Maybe not.
Your new album will be released digitally, but has there been any talk about a physical release? As you know, some diehards say, "only a physical format is REAL...!!!"
Toni: Yes. There will be a CD release, too. We chose to make a limited edition of 100 copies.
Of course, it would be nice to have a vinyl release but for that we would need a publisher. We are open to all offers, so get in touch if you are interested... :o)
How important is a physical release to you? Is it a kind of mandatory thing in your eyes these days, or can you well live without it?
Toni: I see it as important. I have always liked physical releases. It is more concrete than a digital release. For example, you work hard for your album and when you finally get the first copy in your hands, it makes it more real. It's a nice feeling.
Your second album was released on a small Finnish label called Ranka Kustannus. What happened to your deal with the label? Wasn't the label guy happy with the sales of your debut or were there other reasons why your paths separated?
Toni: You should ask the record company. I think the biggest reason was the sales. If your band's music doesn't sell enough, there's probably no longer any interest in continuing to collaborate. I'm pretty sure this is often a problem with small bands.
I am sure it's not only me who has said this, but your voice has a very strong Tom Warrior flavor to it. Does it come naturally, or have you worked to accomplish this vocal tone?
Toni: Yes. I have heard about this many times but I'm not sure how I should react to that. I did Death Metal vocals for the first time almost 30 years ago. I've never consciously tried to sound like someone else, so I think that the voice comes naturally for me.
MORE THAN DEATH METAL?
Are you comfortable with the Death Metal tag that many people put on Worthless? There are other elements in your stuff so do you feel it's a bit misleading to call the band just a 100% Death Metal band? Labeling bands may be a good thing for a casual listener but for an artist, it may build up unnecessary and unwanted walls...
Toni: It has been difficult from the beginning to describe our music with a few words. We know that we don't sound like the usual Death Metal bands do and there are many elements that other Death Metal bands don't use, but we have not come up with a better way to describe our music and we are ok with the Death Metal tag.
Being true to who you are is important when you create art of any form. Do you believe some bands/artists fail in this because they are victims of mainstream expectations that are created by labels, promotion agencies, and shit like that?
Toni: I really don't know anything about that world. And I don't want to know. I'm pretty sure it happens, but probably not in this genre where we are.
What might be the short and long-term plans of the band? Or are you the type of a guy who doesn't like to make too many plans for the future in order to avoid getting disappointed if the moon isn't reachable for some reason or the other?
Toni: Just now the plan is to rehearse with the new line up and do gigs when it's possible. We have a new guitarist and bassist. We are also making new songs but with no hurry. In the future we will go to the studio, hopefully with four guys to record our next album.
THERE'S STILL THE FUTURE
This damn Covid-19 ruined many things for bands, artists, etc. and for all of their crews as well. How did you personally take it? Was it easy for you to adjust to a new situation that meant no gigs at pubs, no slots at festivals, no nothing, only a bunch of harsh and strict (but necessary) restrictions and less fun events to be experienced?
Toni: This Covid-19 situation has not directly affected our band. We started rehearsing with the new lineup this spring and I think the band will be ready for shows next year. Personally, I have no panic with this situation. Of course, it would be great to go to festivals and gigs, but this is the situation now and unfortunately it has to be accepted.
What are your plans for gigging and all that jazz?
Toni: Well, as is the case with many other bands, we are waiting for better times. Until then we will rehearse and maybe do some new songs.
One last question and then I let you go for a beer. If Worthless was some sort of a character in The Unknown Soldier by Väinö Linna, who would it be?
Toni: Hah hah! This is a little bit weird question, but I say Antero Rokka.
Thanks a lot for your time, Toni, and answering our questions. I wish you all the best in the crossfire of all things good that may be ahead of your team in the future. Let the last curses, words, whatever be yours now - I mean, in case you have any, of course?
Toni: Hope all old and new listeners enjoy the new album. Cheers!
|Other information about Worthless on this site|
|Review: Beaten by Life|
|Review: Grim Catharsis|
|Review: Melancholic Rites|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Toni on October 1, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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