Tuomas Tuovinen & Eveelina Kojo – myGrain

Interview by Ary R. and Miriam C.

MyGRAIN is a melodic-death band from Finland. In these recent years, this 6-piece esemble gained more celebrity thanks to a few tours in Japan, Asia and especially Europe. After a long delay, the guys were able to release their 4th album via Spinefarm Records and in this exclusive interview, the singer Tuomas and the keyboard player Eve give us a few more details about the new record!
 
Hi Tuomas, hi Eve. Welcome to Femme Metal! First of all, I’d like to tell you that it’s a great pleasure to have you here today! How are you doing there in Finland? 

Eve: Nice to have a chat with you as well! The leaves are falling to the ground here in Finland and the autumn seems to evoke a serious creativity boost… So we’re working with the new songs already!

Tuomas: Hi there and thanks for having us! We’re living exciting times as we’re at the moment starting the Finnish shows with the new album “Planetary Breathing”. And at the same time we’ve already made arrangements for yet newer stuff!

A few days ago, Spinefarm Records has released your 4th studio album, “Planetary Breathing”. Would you mind to tell us something about this new record?

Eve: Well it’s a natural continuum for the album “MyGrain”. On our previous album we finally found and defined the sound that suits the band best. We want to keep the basis heavy and the choruses catchy. Anything could happen around them! The progressive and technical parts are there to stay. We are very happy with the result – this is just the kind of music we want to play. We’ll just try to write better and better songs.

Tuomas: That’s all true. And we are excited to play the fresh new album live on stage! Also we’re pretty damn content about the response we’ve had so far from both media and the fans. All the hard work seems all worth it.

If I’m not wrong, it seems that this album has a common thread/a central idea that develops entirely (or almost). Could we define the record as a “semi-concept”?

Tuomas: Yes you’re right that there is somewhat a ”semi-concept” on the album, even though the stories evolve to something different as well, at times. Some of the stories are quite fictional and pretty much about a stream of consciousness veiled in the space-atmospheric stuff, but there are two main points hidden in them: first is to live in the moment and accept the life and yourself who you are – we don’t have to determine ourselves through achievements and wanting always more and more (thus never being satisfied), not to be a ”slave” to your ego like ”the enemy within you” that feeds on the greed, fear and anger; second point of view would be rather ”fictional” thoughts of unity/oneness – like that everything would be connected, smallest organisms and a human body system to the whole universe and so on…solar systems forming galaxies, galaxies forming universe, universes together forming a bigger entireties etc. Like some sort of ongoing mycelium of life.

For some reasons related to the record company, this album has been postponed. Without revealing too much, could you please tell us what happened a few months ago?

Eve: Hehe, well, it surely was related to everyone else but the band, but let’s not put all the blame for the record company. To be honest, we tried a collaboration with some new people around the band and it failed completely. The postpone was supposed to be in the best interest of the band but the things that were supposed to be done while waiting for the release weren’t done. I have no better way to say it but everything turned to shit pretty quickly 😀 A month and a half before the album was released we heard that nothing had been done, including the gigs etc. To be honest, the past year has been totally shitty for the band since everything around us seemed to fail. It was like a serious test of faith for something we have been working with for nearly ten years and at some point it seemed there just isn’t enough faith to trust that everything’s gonna be ok. Usually you aim higher and higher when you work with something for a long time but now it seemed like things were regressing. It was really frustrating. Amazingly enough, it seems that we got past all the shit and our eyes are firmly on the future. We have written some new stuff while waiting for the release of “Planetary Breathing” and the autumn seems to hasten this process, as I mentioned in the beginning. When you reach the bottom, the only way is up, right?!

Tuomas: Nothing to add here, this is just sad but true, and not up to the band itself, but everything around the band. Nevertheless, as Eve said, we gaze upon the future and move fast forward as we’re already writing new stuff! Also, let’s see what the near future brings as we’ve completed this record deal now with “Planetary Breathing”. End of one era. So, you could say that we’re pretty open for different directions now…wink wink, world 😉

A lot of fans didn’t react that good, as soon as they’ve discovered about this postponement, but I know that fans have been really supportive during these latest years. They are all important for you. What kind of relationship do you have with them so far?

Eve: The fans are obviously very dear to us and we try to keep in contact with them in a regular basis, especially in the social media. It is a great way to communicate with people. We also asked people to come to our video shoot for ”Waking up the Damned” – it was awesome to meet guys who had been our fans since the first album. It’s clear that we couldn’t do this without these people so we appreciate the fans greatly. That’s why we always give 100% on stage as well.

Tuomas: I could say that without our fans we wouldn’t exist, basically. You keep us going, despite the fact that we do this because we love to do this. I really like the way we interact with the fans on a regular basis and that video shoot was a nice way to involve the fans on something we do, so they’ll also have the feeling that they’re part of something we create.

MyGrain’s sound is mainly based on the synth and the guitars. How does a song of yours come to life? Who is the person that takes care of the melody? Who is the one who writes the lyrics? Is there a team-work behind?

Eve: It is certainly teamwork. The guitarists bring the most of the riffs and I bring the rest. Some songs have their basis in the guitars and some in the keyboards – I’m pretty sure you can hear which is which if you compare ”Waking Up the Damned” or ”Dreamscape” for example. Or ”Black Light Supernova” versus ”Rats in the Cradle”. I think this is the key that gives diversity to the songs, since it’s not all about the guitars, all the time. Mr. Downhill has a really big part in writing the songs – it was a jackpot to have him after Matthew stepped aside. He is really musical and basically sleeps with his guitar so the technicality level is also high. But it’s not all about the riffs – we put the pieces together at the rehearsal place and everyone of us has a big role in the process.

Making a connection with the previous question, how long did this record take to come to birth?

Eve: Well, not that long – less than a year altogether. We were touring pretty much in 2011 and 2012 but somehow also managed to write some new material. At some point in 2012 we decided to concentrate on finishing the album and so we did. In the fall we entered the studio and stayed there for a month. The mixing and mastering took another month. At that time we luckily didn’t know it was going to take a year to release the result and all the shit that was going to happen during that year, haha!

Another “influence” which gives depth to the record is surely the vocals: in fact, we notice that there is a good balance with the screams and the clean ones. Tommy, how do you manage to give a good proportion to the vocal parts?

Tuomas: Luckily for me it pretty much just goes by itself. When I hear the structure of the song with the different riffs, melodies and drumming, these certain types of vocals just pop to my mind. It’s usually pretty clear from the first hearing of a song that what types of vocals I’m gonna use in different parts, and how I’m gonna combine these different styles. Also the vocal rhythms and melodies come to my mind easily, based on the instrumental core of the song. Of course sometimes we also change the instrumental core of the song, based on the vocals. The song making process is sometimes like an ongoing moving palette, in which everyone of us has its say/role.

I know that, simultaneously to MyGrain, you’re also a member in Damage Plan and Less Than Three. You’re very in demand 😀 How do you manage your personal work with these 2 other bands?

Tuomas: Actually I have to make a little correction in the first band’s name which is Damnation Plan – not Damage Plan (who were much more famous) 😉 But yeah, actually luckily it’s been quite easy for me to share my time with all the three bands. Of course the main band for me has always been MyGrain and all the other projects/bands have come on the side. There’s own time for everything.

Ops, sorry 😀 To give a little appetizer of this new record, you’ve introduced to the audience the first single for the song “Dreamscape”. It seems that the video was filmed more than a year ago, but you’ve released it just a month ago because of the postponement of the album. Would you mind guys to say something about the concept of this videoclip? (A few people dared to say that it recalls Amaranthe, somehow)…

Eve: Yeah, there is a resemblance to the Amaranthe video with the ”SWAT team” with the guns. It’s just that our video was shot earlier than Amaranthe‘s 😀 Here’s another thing that has gone wrong while waiting for the album release! When we were shooting ”Dreamscape”, no one knew anything about the Amaranthe video, of course. But as ours got released after theirs, we got all the blame, hahah! But seriously, I think our video is really cool and it was a blast filming it – running around the house with guns and all. I’m a some sort of a pacifist and a little scared of guns, but I have to admit it was really fun after all. I still like my guns without ammo. I don’t think it would be safe either, me with a lethal weapon.

Like it happened with your previous studio album, you’ve announced that soon you’ll release a second video clip, for the song “Waking Up the Damned”. What could you say about this new one? If I’m not mistaken, you’ve asked for your fans cooperation!

Tuomas: Yes, the music video for “Waking Up the Damned” is in its final editing phase, so you’ll all see it very soon! It was a really nice thing to involve the fans and friends in it, as I mentioned earlier as well 🙂 It will be slightly different kind of video but it sure will be a cool one! Some Finnish drunken activity involved in it as well…

Compared to the self titled record, this new one is more organic. You’ve cooperated with Dan Swano for the production of it. How did you feel like working with such a great producer?

Tuomas: It was yet again very fruitful and easy to cooperate with Mr. Swanö. Of course it brings its own challenges in the mixing process as it’s done in a remote mode, all fixes and changes through email and stuff. One big challenge was that during the mixing we were also touring in Japan.. But as said, the sound is more organic than in the previous s/t album, and we’re happy with the result!

This question is for Tommy only: Two years ago, after the release of the self-titled album, you’ve embarked on a European tour with Insomnium and Before The Dawn. What do you remember about this experience?

Tuomas: Hmm…I remember pretty much everything from the tour, not that much total blank moments or blackouts even though sometimes it belongs in the touring life 😀 But yeah that sure was an awesome tour across Europe, many many great gigs with great co-musicians and bands who we knew already from Finland! My favs from that tour were the ones from Essen and London! Hopefully we’ll get another European tour soon!

You’ve only planned a few date in Finland, at the moment. Is there any future plan for a new tour? Anything planned yet?

Eve: You’re right, there are only few dates this year and this is due to the problems we have had with the organization around the band. Things did not go as planned and it’s not that easy to book gigs in a few weeks’ notice – the clubs are usually booked about six months before the gigs. We have planned to tour more in Finland in the beginning of next year and looking for a suitable European tour as well. It is not a simple task, but let’s hope for the best!

This question is something that we guys from Femme metal like to ask everyone. If you could pick an headliner band or a supporter act for a theoretical tour, what band would you choose and why?

Eve: For us it would be the best option to tour with a way bigger band than we are – in the optimal situation their music would be close enough to our sound. Children of Bodom could be a good example 🙂

Tuomas: I also would also say that at this point the best option would be touring with a bigger band and to get more known that way. Soilwork, CoB, In Flames – all the big names from this genre 😉

Now that the album has been released, is there still something you both would like to do? A unfulfilled dream? Something more?

Eve: We want to tour more in Europe and we would absolutely love to visit both USA and South America. Things are rolling in Finland but there is a whole world waiting for us!

Tuomas: Definitely going to the States and of course all the European summer metal festivals! And to tour some more Europe and Asia!

Ok we’re done for now. Thanks so much for everything guys. You have carte blanche to say something to the people that will read this interview 🙂

Tuomas: Thank you very much for having us here, and hopefully we’d see many of you readers on the road some day! When reading this, remember to take a little time to check us out 😉

 

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Photos by Terhi Ylimäinen

 

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