Interview by Miriam C. & Alessandra Cognetta
Finally I made it, I feel accomplished to have finally managed to interview JATAO‘s mainman Thomas Corpse: it was some years that I was attempting to it but this JATAO‘s interview feels like a real Christmas present. Anyway, today we’re here to talk about the second full-lenght “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes” of this fantastic Finnish occlut rock and their past US tour as a opener for the King of the occult himself, King Diamond.
Hi Thomas, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine! How are you?
I feel like a million bucks, hahah. No, I hate the weather outside. It should be winter, but it’s just keeps raining that plain old wet water. Bring on the minus Celsius I tell ya!
Could you like to give us some biographic hints of when and how JATAO came true?
Was it 5 years ago, when the need to explore different musical paths spawned the seed that later on became to be known as JATAO. Everything worked out really fast and easy at the start, and we had a full line up in no time. We started out with a high dose of NWOBHM in our sound, but soon the transformation towards our own true identity began.
If we put aside two 7″ and one EP, “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes” represents your second full-length, but let’s take a step back to delve into your previous release “Castaneda”. I’m quite intrigued by the topic that you have chosen to explore because Carlos Castaneda isn’t the easiest author from which draw inspiration. How did you get the idea to dedicate an entire EP to Castaneda and why?
Was really inspired after reading through Castaneda‘s books, especially “The Teachings of Don Juan” made a mental impact of sort. The born insights followed me in my mind for a long while, and there was a need to write out the things it spawned. They became the lyrics for the song. Wanted to bring Castaneda in attention in the cover also, and hoped that maybe some listeners might take a hint and head to the nearest library. Reading is always good for one. And even tough Castaneda is a controversial author, there lie many wise words within his text. Enjoy!
I’ve read in an interview that the song “Casteneda” from your 2014’s S/T 7″ was supposed to be included in the track-list of “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes”, but in the end it didn’t make it – why? Also can we consider this 7″ a sort of introduction to your new album or is it totally separate conceptually and contextually?
It was gonna be a part of the new album. But after some time had passed from the release and our original recording plans backfired in a good manner (The Trip with King Diamond), then there was decision to leave it out. It was a good decision, as it would have been frustrating to record the same song again, and we all lacked to see the point in that. Better make some new stuff than use them old rags, hahah! Just kidding…I love surfing with “Castaneda”.
The new single is more traditional, as it is a cut from the coming full lenght, and the song is featured on the album. The B-sider however is only released on the single. So if you want to hear our tribute to Dead Moon, you must get the single. Or listen it from the internet, what ever suits one’s needs.
What you can say about “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes”‘s genesis? When have you started to collect the first ideas for the album?
Can’t remember for sure, as my head is not following my steps. I guess it was during the summer of 2014? So the writing, arranging, practicing, and recording all happened within a year I’d say. The songs usually come out pretty fast when talking just about the music, but the arrangements are the most time consuming part in it. Trying to make all them layers work in the best possible way. That can make a hard days work sometimes, and we are learning as we go.
From the title, I can perceive that “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes” can be considered a kind of (please take carefully this word, it’s not my intention to misunderstand your artistic work) “concept”. Am I wrong or there is there a fil rouge in the lyrics? In which way can the album title, as you said, “be seen as a bridge between the past and now”?
It’s referring back to counter culture era. A time when people really believed in change, and believed that individuals can truly affect the world surrounding them. People felt more free for a while, and explored more of their wild sides (“Der Steppenwolf” anyone?). Love was the answer, perhaps it still is? I’d for one like to believe that there is more in life, than your basic “work for the man and then die” way of living. Everyone should reach out to be all that one can be, and enjoy this short visit. Explore the depths of your mind, and see where it takes you, for this be the second coming. The revolution of the minds.
I quote your words from the press release: “We have been following our natural need to explore different forms of musical impression, and so again our sound has evolved one step further”. So, stating this, if you could draw a parallel between “JATAO” and “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes”, how did the band evolve from the debut?
Well, the strong influence of NWOBHM has long gone from our sound by now. Nothing bad at that, but one’s mind is always looking forward. What is done, is done. No point in repeating that formula for any artistic reasons. The music has evolved hand-in-hand with the progress of becoming better musicians. And now we also have one guitar less than before, so that makes a huge impact on the overall sound as well. I’d say that we are moving forth all the time and picking up ideas as we go. Whole world and beyond be the influences.
I tried to get a hold myself of more info about the Aquarian age, but it was practically impossible to get a quite definitive and clear definition of its meaning. Do you have any advice to give from where to start?
If you want to read a good book to get an overall of the subject, then check out Gary Lachman‘s “Turn Off Your Mind”. It’s well written, and serves as a nice taster of the darker side of the sixties. The counterculture era.
For the video of “In Levitating Secret Dreams”, you have decided to collaborate with the Romanian visual artist Costin Chioreanu. Do you have any nice insight to share about the conception of this project and its lyrical theme since the single is an ode to Albert Hofmann?
Oh yes, the dreaded LSD and the “evil doctor” Hofmann. The man himself was frustrated for his invention to be criticized only as your basic head trip for the hippies. Fuck their minds. There are values in the area of psychotherapy, so why should it be still be demonized? Because we still live in the dark history when it comes to psychedelics. Do some research, find out. Don’t stick with the stone aged believes, that government once spat out. We knew Costin from an earlier connection, and he had proven himself as the master of visuals. When there was talk about the video, we knew we wanted to have Costin on board. A great artist indeed, and did immaculate work with the video. Respect.
By far in my order of ideas “Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes”‘s cover recalls me a lot Pink Floyd‘s “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Probably it is for the rainbow but what really fascinates me are those faces in the hexagram. What it stands for and what is the vision behind it?
The art goes really well together with the album title, so many thanks for the artist Johanna Levomäki. The faces in the cover are people that have had an influence upon the authors when creating. Don’t want to give out the names, as I hope that one will do some research if one wishes to know. That’s rewarding I think. To get intrigued over something, and then head on to conquer it. There are lot’s of elements within the art that are connected to things that had inspired us, so enjoy some minor detective activity.
You’ve recently toured the States as a supporter of King Diamond. Which is the memory that you cherish more dearly and what’s the final conclusions you drew from this experience?
It sure as hell was a dream come true! Gotta love the King, as he’s music has been present in my life since my younger days. Mercyful Fate‘s “Melissa” is one of the best heavy metal albums of all time for sure, and “Abigail” is not far behind. To meet him in person was so cool, and he was the nicest of guys. Was really strange feeling to get an personal invite to be the support act. I mean….that’s like some crazy outer limits stuff. Never in a billion years could have hope for that, hahah. We gained a lot of confidence over our small stay at the States. It proofed that you gotta listen to your instincts and keep moving forth. What comes to mind now, as looking back, I really enjoyed the views on the road. The desert at sunset, the Niagara falls at nigh time…oh man. Nature rules.
So, Thomas, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again!
Thank you for your support, makes my old ticker feel warm. Feed your minds brothers and sisters!
Photos by Jarkko Pietarinen