Insomnium has been one of the front runners of Melodic death Metal in the Scandinavian scene. I am honoured to have done this interview with one of the most hard working bands out there. Speaking to the front man Niilo Sevanen, he talks about his work, his child hood days, the challenges he has faced, his day job etc,. Excerpts from the interview-
MJM. Insomnium was formed back in 1997, and it’s your brainchild. How did things shape up initially?
Niilo : I had a band which was playing kind of grunge but my own taste was more into metal. I knew these couple long-haired dudes from our school so I asked them to form a real heavy metal band with me. That’s how we started. We were 16-17 years old back then.
MJM. The songs are dark themed and speak of sorrow, pain, loss etc., and sound melancholic yet aggressive. What inspired you to play Melodic Death Metal?
Niilo : The bands we listened to at that point, Amorphis, Sentenced, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Opeth, At the Gates…
MJM. The Finnish/Scandinavian Metal scene in general have exported thousands of Black/Death Metal bands over the last few decades. Tell us about how Insomnium was affected with the new wave of Scandinavian Metal, in the late 90’s.
Niilo : Well, we mainly listened to these Scandinavian metal bands. We had started with Metallica, Sepultura, Slayer., etc but moved towards death/black style around 1997.
MJM. Insomnium has come a long way since then. How easy/hard was it to sink together as a band, considering your varying personal tastes too?
Niilo : It’s been a long way and we’ve grown up together. We’ve had better and worse times and some line-up changes. Of course there are differences and varying opinions and sometimes we need to fight but so far all these have only made us stronger.
MJM. You guys are all from the same school. How was the first jamming session when Insomnium was born? Any specific covers you carried?
Niilo : I don’t really remember that much. First songs we learned to play were two acoustic songs I had done and we rehearsed them in school’s music class. In the first real “metal” rehearsals we played songs from Sepultura, Amorphis, Paradise Lost…
MJM. Musically stating, what bands have had a striking influence on Insomnium’s music?
Niilo : Yes, the ones I have mentioned so far.
MJM. Can you tell us some of the memorable shows you have played in your career?
Niilo : This is always a tough question. Ville Vänni‘s last show in Insomnium was one of the most emotional concerts for sure, for many reasons. Our first show in Japan was amazing…
MJM. In what ways do you think has the band evolved over the last 18 years? What are the things you have learnt to accept through this?
Niilo : Everything has changed, we have grown up and are now responsible adults. We’ve learned a lot since we really didn’t know anything about song writing, touring or recording. It’s been a long ride! Now we have to accept the fact that we are not 20 any more and we have to do certain things differently…
MJM. Let’s talk about your personal life. Tell us about how your routine is, when you are not in the Studio/Touring.
Niilo : I’ve been working besides the band since this has never been a full time job. I’ve been organizing this one big summer festival for the last couple of years. In my spare time I do sports, read, watch movies, spend time with family and friends – the normal stuff.
MJM. You are an avid lover of Literature, History and Fantasy Novel works. Tell us about how they have changed your life?
Niilo : My passion is in music and literature and these are what I really want to do. In university I studied history and literature and I’ve been working in libraries and in the cultural sector.
MJM. You also once claimed that, you would pen down a fantasy Novel. What would it be like?
Niilo : I have some stuff waiting on the computer, but can’t reveal more. Let’s see when I have time to finish something… Been so busy recent years.
MJM. What are the other styles of music you listen to?
Niilo : All kind of rock, some classic pop stuff, even some strange Finnish rap music.
MJM. What movies do you watch? Any favourites?
Niilo : Fantasy and scifi are close to heart but with movies my taste is really wide. Godfather trilogy, Clockwork Orange, Ghostbusters, The Good the bad and the ugly… All kind of stuff that is done well!
MJM. You work as an event/program manager, back in Finland. What is your work like?
Niilo : I’ve been organizing one of the biggest summer festivals in Finland, and that’s a complicated but interesting job. Managing a big event is really interesting.
MJM. Getting back to the music. Most of Insomnium’s songs are generally long and also infuse progressive elements. How does the writing take place?
Niilo : Ville, Markus V and me are making the music – and me and Ville are doing the lyrics. We all work home and gather riffs and melodies and make demos and then send them to other guys. They comment, song evolves, then at some point we get together and arrange it ready at rehearsals. Final changes are done in studio.
MJM. Six albums down the line. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
Niilo : There are all kind of challenges all the time. Arranging both band and day job is sometimes really tough.
MJM. You are signed to Century Media Records. How does it feel to be in the roster of other bands like Deicide, Dark Funeral, Marduk?
Niilo : CM is awesome label and they’ve been really good to us. They are really professional and honest people and it’s absolutely great to work with them!
INSOMNIUM – ”While We Sleep” Music Video :
MJM. I am sure it’s going to be great. Any last words for our readers?
Niilo : Looking forward to coming to India one day! That would be really cool and I hope it happens sooner or later.
MJM. Thanks for your time! It’s been a pleasure talking to you. All the best.
Niilo : Thanks!
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Harsha Vardhan (Metaljesus Magazine– Owner/ Chief Editor)