Welcome one of most perspective occult outfits from Land of Thousands Lake. Psychedelic doom rock band Seremonia have released their third conceptual album through respectful Svart Records. The band still holds to features they performed in two previous works: retro sounding catchy songs, female vocals and occult lyrics written in their native language. Seremonia's priest Ville Pirinen (guitars, keyboards) is here to reveal some secrets of band's inner alchemy and new album "Kristalliarkki".
Terve Ville! How are you? What's Seremonia status now?
Terve Aleks! I’m fine, thanks for asking, and Seremonia is doing great, playing shows and writing new songs.
Svart Records have released "Kristalliarkki" in May, it's third Seremonia's album. And I see that you record pretty regular as if you have some certain plan since the band was born. What's your vision of Seremonia?
I think our musical vision is pretty clear and something that comes quite naturally without too much planning or second guessing things. We’ve had a some kind of vision where we are going from the beginning, but a big part of that vision is doing things very spontaneously and doing what we want when we want it. So we do have a plan when we enter the studio, but improvisation and inspiration may change the plan at any given moment. Freedom and surprise are key elements in our vision.
What's Seremonia current line-up? It looks stable since moment when band was born.
Noora Federley –vocals, Teemu Markkula –guitar, Ville Pirinen –guitar, Erno Taipale –drums, Ilkka Vekka –bass. When we recorded the first album Teemu was “only” the engineer & producer, but he’s been playing guitar since the first live show, so it’s a stable line-up. Mikko Siltanen is a sort of special extra member of the band, he’s also been playing guitar on many of our shows, and also does some crazy wah wah soloing on the new album.
The band changes a little from album to album, yet main idea remain the same. Do you feel that it was embodied in it's best in your new songs?
Well you always tend to like the new songs more than the old ones… I’d say Kristalliarkki is our best album so far, and the first one that we really planned to be a sort of concept album. So that every song would be a part of a bigger whole and not just good songs in a row. But there’s a bunch of older songs too that we think embody the “Seremonia sound” pretty well and still enjoy playing them live.
Noora Federley, Seremonia vocalist, sings in Finnish, it is cool, much appreciated! But you know - in same time it's not typical when most non-English bands sing in English; why did you decide to use Finnish lyrics in your songs?
It was very clear from the beginning that we wanted to hear this sort of heavy psychedelic rock in our language. Our main lyricist and bass player Ilkka Vekka had these lyrics and the first album was built around those ideas. We have nothing against bands that sing in English, but there’s simply enough of them out there already. Finnish is a harsh and beautiful language, I think it also just sounds more original than the more common English. We have English translations on all our album covers so non-finnish speakers can get an idea what Noora is singing about.
What's about songs' texts? Did you argue about lyrical direction with other members or all satisfied with final result and overall conception?
We’ve all been very happy with Ilkka’s lyrics and ideas so far! I’ve also written some lyrics, and of course Noora arranges everything in a way that’s natural for her to sing. Sometimes it means editing the lyrics quite a bit, but never changing the original idea.
There are two parts of "Kristalliarkki" track on the album; does this record have conception which is focused in this composition? First part of composition is a long one, as “Kristalliarkki II” is damned short and aggressive – what’s idea of this song?
Kristalliarkki (Crystal Ark) is concept borrowed from a 1930’s finnish religious cult, the Korpela sect. They believed that a Crystal Ark would come down from the sky and take 666 true believers to the Holy Land. Our album is not about the Korpela sect, but about cultist mentality in general and about a fictional suicide cult and their spiritual journey that goes horribly wrong. The name piece is split in two parts because they are two different perspectives on the same thing. The first long psychedelic improvisation song is a kind of genesis theory and a cosmic love story from the perspective of someone in the cult sect entering the crystal ark. It’s scary but still blissful and full of wonder. The second part, the short, simple & angry punk song is an outsider’s perspective. The shock ending represents sudden DEATH!
Occult retro doom rock with psychedelic/prog influences isn't something common to Finnish scene. Do you also accept ideas of wicca or paganism? What's Seremonia for you - music or ideology?
Seremonia is certainly a bit more than “just music” for us, but we are nor wicca or pagan. Or any other easily named ism. But it is important that sometimes you reach a “different state” rocking out as hard as you can. So there is a spiritual level to what we do and elements of “violent meditation”. But we ain’t religious, no no no.
Seremonia also has certain punk rock influences in music, from where does it come?
From punk rock! We are very much influenced by garage punkers of the past and especially old finnish hardcore like Terveet Kädet. It may not be so audible but in a philosophical sense I’d call us a psychedelic punk band. Also, we are certainly not a technical band. We are punk rock players.
Do you have an idea how Seremonia sound could involve if you keep all it's current elements? You've said that the band already writes new song, so I bet that you have so excited ideas in your mind.
I’m sure it will continue as natural progression/regression. You always want to do something little different than what you did the last time. Our sound is basically the way we play together. Erno’s out-of-control drumming is pretty different from an “average heavy rock drummer” and Noora has got a very distinctive vocal style. And we others have personalities too, so whatever we are playing it will end up being the “Seremonia sound”. At this very moment, the next album looks like a super psychedelic sci-fi dystopia explosion.
Svart Records also releases "Hasiskultti/Hulluus" single in same time with full-length "Kristalliarkki". The single consists of two songs. Can you tell about this record?
Hasiskultti is one of our favorite songs but the lyrics didn’t fit the Kristalliarkki album concept. We wanted to release it anyway since it’s a rocking song. Fortunately the Svart guys were cool with the idea of releasing a single with two non-album tracks. So basically the album and the single don’t have anything else in common but the release date. Neverthless, you should definitely get BOTH.
Seremonia has been often compared with Jess And The Ancient Ones. What do you think about this similitude? Did you ever share stage with them?
I think it mainly happened with both our first albums coming out about the same time. We are both from Finland, both have female singers and release stuff on Svart Records so it was a natural comparison. Since then people may have realized that the two bands really don’t have that much in common music wise. The riffs, the melodies, the lyrics, the production, the album visuals… It’s all pretty different. It’s clear that we share many influences but the end result is not that similar. We haven’t played any shows together yet. I’m sure it will happen in the future!
For years it seemed that the vast majority of bands were inspired by Black Sabbath. Nowadays it seems that some bands start to remind about Coven. The Devil's Blood, Jex Thoth, Jess And The Ancient Ones, Occultation. How did you get in this circle?
If I had to choose I’d say Sabbath is a bigger influence… But since I don’t have to choose I say Coven of course rules too… We are all big music nerds and record collectors, so there’s a vast ocean of stuff that has been inspirational for us, not just the “big obvious names”. And we of course get a lot of inspiration from old Finnish prog, punk and rock music, especially lyrics wise. Stuff like Haikara, Kummitus, Radiopuhelimet, Pertsa ja Väärä Osoite, Tylympi Kohtalo, Juice Leskinen, S. Albert Kivinen or Hector.
Ville, how often does Seremonia play gigs? Do you consider touring as a necessary part of band's life?
As often as possible. I’m not sure if it’s necessary to tour, but for us it’s in some ways the best part of the whole thing. Playing live can be one the best things you can do with your life.
How has been band accepted in Finland? Do you feel demand of gigs in your own country and abroad?
I think we’ve been accepted surprisingly well, in Finland and abroad. Of course we are an underground band playing underground music with no aspirations towards mainstream success. So we’re in a good place for a D.I.Y. band.
That's all for this time, Ville, so I'd like to thank you for your time and interesting questions. Good luck!
Thank you! Readers, listen to XYSMA (after listening to all Seremonia albums)!
Author - Aleksey Evdokimov