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Insomnium Interview

A Conversation With Guitarist Ville Friman




Candlelight Records
Updated September 29, 2009
The latest CD from the Finnish band Insomnium is Across The Dark. For this CD, they added some melodic vocals from Profane Omen’s Jules Navari and keyboards from Swallow The Sun’s Aleksi Munter. Guitarist Ville Friman gives us the skinny on the new CD, their touring plans and the not so usual day jobs of some of the band.

Chad Bowar: How did Insomnium’s sound evolve from Above The Weeping World to Across The Dark?
Ville Friman: The new album is more atmospheric and wistful and maybe not so straightforward than Above The Weeping World. Songs are quite long and the music is quite challenging in general. There are more keyboard parts than ever before and Aleksi Munter did a great job in arranging the orchestral parts. There are also very good clean vocal parts sang by Jules Näveri. So the core of the music is the same, but there are some new spices as well. So I would say we just picked up where we left off and developed our sound a bit further.

Was your songwriting/recording process any different than usual?
It did not differ form previous albums. I recorded some demos at home again and then we tried out songs at the rehearsal room. Some of the songs were mostly arranged from parts and riffs at the rehearsal room, and some of the songs were a bit more ready and needed only minor adjustments. For us, playing songs live is important because in that way you can secure the quality of your music. What works live with four of us will definitely work as recorded versions with additional guitars, harmony lines and keyboards.

What brought about the addition of some melodic vocals, and how did you decide on Jules to do them?
I knew Jules as we had played at the same festivals here in Finland a few times. I had always admired his clean singing, which is actually a very minor part of his vocal expression in his main band, Profane Omen. Before going into the studio, they came to play my home city and I went to see them and asked Jules to come and sing on our album and he replied instantly yes. It’s good choice in a sense, that even though he uses clean vocals in his main band, it’s not the main thing in their music and so his vocal style does not remind of any other band that strongly.

What has the response been so far to Across The Dark?
The response has been good and very enthusiastic. It seems also that many people have been really waiting for us to release new material, which is really great. We have also got very good reviews, but most important is the reaction of fans, which has been really beyond our expectations. It is really thankful to see that we have delivered an album that pleases both the critics and the buyers.

What inspired the album title? Are there any specific lyrical themes?
The title reflects the overall lyrical concept on this album; getting through the dark times in life. I did take a somewhat different approach to lyrics with this album, and there are references to big themes such as wars, destruction of nature, suicide and finding a way or purpose for your life. I wanted to widen the lyrical spectrum a bit, and maybe that’s also related to the fact that when you grow older you start to see things more widely instead of black and white.

What are your upcoming tour plans?
We’ll be doing a European tour with our good friends in Swallow the Sun and Omnium Gatherum in November/December this year. Before that we will be touring all the biggest cities here in Finland. We are currently going through touring options and one possibility is that we will try to tour the USA again in the spring of 2010. But it’s really hard to say anything sure at this point. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to tour as much as possible.

Does Aleksi Munter play keyboards on tour, or do you use someone else live?
Aleksi will play the keyboards on the European tour as he’s playing keyboards in Swallow the Sun, whom with we’ll be doing the tour. He did play with us also when we were in the USA. Of course Aleksi won’t be able to make all the upcoming tours, so we’ll probably have to use background tapes at some point.

What are the largest and smallest crowds you've played in front of?
It depends really if you’re playing at club or festival. With the two last albums I think the crowds have varied from 40 in the USA to 3000 in Europe at some festival. Normally on average we play for a few hundred people.

Any tour horror stories?
Mainly getting sick, your gear and bus breaking apart and stuff like that. Nothing serious really, we haven’t been arrested at any point or anything. In 2006 our bus broke down in Italy, but we used just another bus to go to shows that were luckily held nearby.

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the road?
Getting a stomachache and forced to (crap) in plastic bags and dispense them in the German motorway from the roof window of the bus.

What the best prank you’ve played on bandmates or other bands?
Basic stuff, like writing on drunken people and serving our own piss within lemonade to our accompanying bandmates. With the Amorphis and Katatonia tours we also got lots of party stuff which we threw on the stage during the last show on tours.

How did you get started in music?
By listening to my good friend play classic Metallica songs. Eventually I wanted to try them out myself.

What was your first band?
Insomnium is my first real band. I had played guitar for one year when we started.

Who are some fellow guitarists you admire?
Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth, Anders Nyström from Katatonia, Jesper Strömbald of In Flames. I’m more into good songwriter-guitarists instead of most technical solo guitarists.

Are you able to make a living playing music, or do band members also have day jobs?
We all have day jobs. We’re actually a quite academic band. I work currently at the University of Jyväskylä as a post doc researcher in evolutionary ecology. Our other guitarist, Ville Vänni, is specializing to be a surgeon at the moment. You would need to sell loads of records to make a living from metal music.

What are the top 3 Finnish metal bands of all time?
Amorphsi, Sentenced and us of course!

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