would you describe your music to someone unfamiliar with your sound? Are there some bands you could and would compare with Spirit Disease? What kind of an impact do you want to cause on your listener?
K > Chorus-oriented death metal with a HC- twist. An ideal response to our stuff would be: "Whoa! Didn´t see that comin´ at all..."
S > Yeah, that’s pretty much how I would describe our music too. Basically we always try to write good songs, not just put together a few riffs and add some growling on top. Strong songs with sometimes surprisingly catchy choruses and delivered with brutal force, of course. I think we are quite good doing stuff like that. About the impact then… well, if it makes the listener get the urge for some private at-home moshpits and stagediving then it’s kinda fine. Or something like that. It’s energetic music so it probably makes people want to move their asses.
You originally picked your band name from "At the Gates," but I would suspect some other meaning has built up around the name since. Is it a plain blunt take on religion, or what does "Spirit Disease" stand for?
S > I’ve never really thought about it much, it’s just another silly band name. Apart from the very obvious anti-religion thing it’s just a name that we’re stuck with. “Spirit Disease” therefore means something like “yet another Finnish metal band who got stuck with a name they thought would be only a temporary thing that would be used only for a while before finding a better name”.
You've stated that Spirit Disease was founded simply because you wanted to play music different from your other projects of the time. Years have gone by, and Spirit Disease has become the main band for most of you. Can you name the reasons that led to this change; is it, for example, the simplicity and vigorous energy of your musical style?
K > It just seems, to me at least, that this type of material just keeps on coming naturally. We don´t really have to push ourselves to write the stuff. We do play all kinds of different stuff outside the band of course so that kinda vents out the other stuff so when it´s time for SD, we´re ready.
S > Basically SD was born out of boredom. I got bored with this band/project I was in and I wanted something completely different so I got in touch with some friends of mine and the first SD lineup was born. It was a very quick change from some kind of “serious” arty-farty heavy metal studio project to a mad grindcore/death metal group drinking beer and making simple and very energetic noise in the cellar. Needless to say, it felt really great, and I guess it still feels great since SD is still here almost nine years later.
Spirit Disease's sound and style has stayed pretty much the same as it was already in 2004, so one could guess that you managed to crystallize all your main musical ideas and ambitions under the name right from the beginning. What is it that keeps you enthusiastic about your expression, despite all the challenges you've met in finding a stable line-up and a label? By the way, what's the current situation with your line-up and finding a suitable label?
K > Playing in a band and playing gigs is just the greatest thing one can do, so even with all the mishaps and delays, we never really thought about quitting the band, or moving on. Besides, all the feedback we get is mainly positive so we know there´s an audience for us somewhere.
T > Heavy Metal. That keeps me going. And the fact that we have a good thing going on. We have grown to know each other and as a unit we are able to make some interesting shit!
S > We found our style very early on and it has stayed pretty much the same ever since – of course we experiment with different things all the time, but the core of the music is the same it was back in 2002. There’s songs that we wrote during the first few weeks of the existence of this band and one can still easily recognize that they are made by the same band that recorded ‘Retaliation’. Original or not, at least we have some kind of a style of our own and it will probably never change as long as the remaining original members are in the band. There were some lineup changes between 2002 and 2005 but since then “the true SD lineup” of Tuberculosis/Koskinen/Riikonen/Sallanen has remained unchanged. Unchanged and stable for fucking six years already - but then there’s been the problem with all these drummers coming and going – I seriously like all the guys that have been bashing the skins with us, they’ve been a great bunch of guys, but I can’t say I’m very happy about some of the decisions some of them have made. The current situation is that we don’t have a drummer, which sucks ass. There’s a new SD album out on Inverse Records and we’re getting great reviews and there seems to be some genuine interest in us once again... and we can’t play live at all. Hopefully this will change soon.
Your music mixes elements from thrash-, death- and other genres of extreme metal, as well as grindcore. When all these different takes on extreme clash together in your compositional process, what is it that defines the end result as a song by Spirit Disease?
K > We don´t really think by genres, there really is only good and bad music, but one thing we´re always looking for in a song is groove. It has to feel right, whether it be a fast or slow one...
T > Our individual styles define how we sound as a band. We do not sit down and define our style just to make us stand out. We do not come up with a new sub-genre in order to be "unique". The original style, if you would find it original, comes from our natural style of writing and performing. All of us have dozens and dozens of influences that we grew up listening to, and some of those influences can be heard in some of our songs of course. We try to come up with good ideas and good songs, without having a too strict filter based on a certain style/genre.
S > The groove is the king. Fuck all the genres and subgenres. The music pours out of us all very naturally and it is what it is.
Relating to the previous question: you've said that your band currently has four songwriters. What's the compositional process like, and how do you avoid the major arguments on whether or whether not a song is good and fitting?
K > Communication. If someone feels a certain song or a riff is crap, they speak it out, and we´ll deal with it. I mean , we are all adults, it´s not really worth the fight... :D
S > Yeah, exactly like that. I mean we’re not a bunch of 15 year olds so we all are completely OK with other members sometimes being very critical of our new stuff. We arrange and rearrange our music a lot during the process. Several songs and parts of songs have been thrown away and many things have been rewritten several times. That has happened to all of us, but that’s what it takes to make the stuff the way it should be. The end result is the finished songs you hear on our albums, but before that things really go through lots of changes.
You once said in an interview that "the music of Spirit Disease is not art, nor its lyrics poetry." I agree with the statement, as although your slightly modernized take on old school metal sounds original and the lyrics about gore, violence and hate are pleasing, they aren't anything new to people who know their metal. What is it that keeps you on this path of "stubborn boneheads," instead of trying to create something newer or deeper?
T > Who said that? I think our music is art, and our lyrics are pure fucking Poetry!
S > I think I said that in some old interview around the time Annihilation was released and I still think so. That doesn’t mean that I don’t take my music seriously – I do. Let me explain this: when I get an idea and feel like writing something I sit down, grab my guitar and start writing some music and then some lyrics. Stuff comes out and that’s it. Sometimes it sucks, sometimes it’s good. If it sucks I may return to it later, but if it’s good I make a demo and send it to the guys in the band. Now where’s the “art” or “poetry” in that? When it comes to creating something “newer or deeper” like you said, I can only say that just as I don’t think about genres I don’t think about stuff like that either. I write for myself and I write stuff that pleases me. I try to write songs that I would like to hear live and scream along with the choruses and have fun in the moshpit and all that usual crap that us metal fans tend to do when we hear music we like! It’s as simple as that. Of course I can’t speak for the other guys but we have talked about these things and I don’t think they feel like this is art or poetry either, they just want to write good songs...
Does Spirit Disease have a deeper message than "enjoy the show and hate those who deserve it"? Or in other words, are your lyrics there just to have something to shout out and to relieve the stress, or do they have some other meaning as well? At least the choral shouts on "Retaliation" should get the audience to spread their lungs out as well.
S > There’s no pseudo-philosophical ponderings nor “deep” or “meaningful” mind-blowing thoughts nor any deeper messages there. Let the punk bands and Dave Mustaine spread messages if they want to. We are a metal band and we make metal music and our message is that we don’t have any fucking message whatsoever.
T > Of course there's a deeper message. There's some seriously deep shit on there for sure. Why not?
When executing such old school-influenced music, there's bound to be people who immediately label you as a mere tribute-act - and the dark humour in your lyrics might even label you as a joke-act. Do you still receive any hatemail, or do you think that your audience has understood what Spirit Disease is about?
T > We're not trying to be old school. We just happen to like some old stuff, so that's where most of the influences come from. Most of us have grown up in the 80's listening to 80's metal. We don't try to make too modern stuff because that would most likely end up sounding like shit, but we don't try to copy the legendary records from back in the day. If we would, we would record our albums accordingly, with an old school sound and approach. And about the joke-act thing, all I will say about it is this: there is a big space between a joke-act and a dead serious grumpy act. If you can't figure it out, maybe you should pull the broom stick out of your poo hole.
Regarding the above, how do you create the visual side to accompany each album? The amply green cover image of "Spawn of Satan" and the surprisingly purple tank in the cover of "Retaliation" are sure to grab one's attention, despite their simplisticity.
T > Usually our guitarist Riikonen paints our covers. On "Spawn of Satan" there was just a band photo on the cover, since it was only a pre-production promo/Internet-single. The forest happened to be green. So what? The one before that, "What's god got to do with it?" Internet-single had a pink cover with a bullet on it. Why not? Next time we will do a brown cover if we see fit.
S > A brown cover?! Well, yes, if we decide to call our next album “Defecation”. Then it would make sense.
You released your debut full-lenght "Annihilation" in 2006, and the following full-lenght was released in 2011. The core attitude of your expression has stayed the same, but do you, as the composer(s), see any notable compositional differences between these two albums? Are you still satisfied with "Annihilation" now when it's been available for a few years, and have you yet found things that you would now change on the newest album "Retaliation"?
T > I'm still extremely satisfied with "Annihilation". We really managed to capture the best of "Spirit Disease 2006" on the album. The sound is not as massive as with "Retaliation", but it's a perfect presentation of what kind of band we were back then. I wouldn't change anything on "Retaliation" either. That's exactly how we sound like today, and I think we have pushed the boundaries a bit. It's the strongest release to date, and I'm quite sure I will like it as much in 5 years time as I like the previous album now. We go forward, and these albums remind us how we sounded like at a certain point in our lives.
S > There are some differences there. The musical extremes are more further apart on “Retaliation” and I think the songwriting is stronger on it too. I still like “Annihilation” a lot. It’s a really good album and it’s definitely the best possible album we could do then, but “the true SD lineup” I talked about earlier had only been together for under a year but now we’ve been together for six years. Nowadays we know each other better and we’ve gone through lots of shit together. All that has made us work together better as a unit and much more determined to make this band work no matter what - I think as a result of all that we make better music together nowadays than when we recorded “Annihilation”. About “Retaliation” then – I would not change much. There are some minor things I would probably like to change but since the album’s out there already I couldn’t change anything anyway.
The latest album has better and heavier sounds and is executed with tighter playing, just as one would likely assume. What kind of feedback has it received this far? With new bands and music seemingly popping up from each cellar there is, what kind of means have you used to get your band some attention and visibility?
T > I think we should have a manager to get some more attention! We recorded the album and got it released with the help of Inverse records. Some promos have been sent out, and some medias have shown interest by putting the album up as a pre-listening for a week, writing some praising reviews, playing us on air, offered to do some interviews in magazines and one on a national radio. So we have been lucky with the attention we have got with the amount of advertising and effort we have put to visibility, promotion and such... I think it's now a good time to send out our gratitude to all the medias who have shown some interest: Cheers!!!
S > The feedback has been really good so far… better than I expected, actually. We’re trying to make us much interviews as possible and trying to make some noise about us when we can. Just trying to make people notice us and buy the album(s). The best thing we could do to promote our music would of course be playing live a lot, but that’s not possible at the moment. It sucks, since I would just love to play some of the new songs live.
What plans do you have for the band's future?
S > First we need to find a new drummer or at least some temporary drummer to enable us to play live. Then we just need to play live as much as possible. If we manage to find a drummer that does not quit the band immediately we will start rehearsing new stuff for our third album. If not… well, I don’t want to think about that.
I found out that you have an unreleased recording of the Terveet Kädet-song "Pissaa ja Paskaa." Do you have other unreleased stuff worth mentioning, and, perhaps, any plans on releasing them? You had your cruddy debut demo and some pre-production tracks available for download on your homepages when they were up, so at least it's clear you're not trying to hide your past.
T > I think we have everything up on www.spiritdisease.net, so there's nothing more. Pissaa & Paskaa, Jokainen ihminen on luodin arvoinen, "Spawn of Satan" pre-production promo/single that was re-recorded for "Retaliation", the one and only first demo, that's about it. There is a 10 song pre-production demo recorded before "Annihilation" but that one has a crappy production and all the songs were recorded on "Annihilation" with much better sound, vocals, everything! That one we will not put anywhere for obvious reasons.
S > We used to have everything up on our website but that stuff is not there at the moment and most of the old website is gone – I might make most of the music available again later… and unlike Tuberculosis said, some songs from that pre-production demo actually were available at least for a while if I remember correctly. They sounded like shit, but that’s the way rough demos tend to sound like. There’s better versions available of those songs on “Annihilation” anyway so that shit don’t mean a thing.
Regarding cover songs, the only one you've officially released is "Evil Dead" from the legendary Death. Are there any other bands you've been planning on covering? An "At the Gates"-song would seem fitting since you picked your name from them.
T > We have played "Blinded by fear" by At the Gates and "Tools of the Trade" by Carcass live many times, as well as the aforementioned "Evil Dead" and "Pissaa & Paskaa".
K > Well, "Blinded by Fear" is a big favourite of all the band, and we´ve actually been playing it too pretty much from the beginning... Not live though, as far as I remember...? "Tools of the Trade" by Carcass was also in our live-set a few years back...
S > It seems that the cover versions might become a thing of the past for us since we have enough stuff we have written ourselves. I checked our old setlists and we have played “Blinded by Fear” live a few times but haven’t played it since 2008. “Tools of the Trade” hasn’t been played since 2007. We also played that old Motörhead hit “Ace of Spades” once in 2007. And then there was this private party where we played 3 or 4 Motörhead songs (at least “Ace of Spades”, “Killed by Death” and “Orgasmatron” + something else) within our regular set and but that one doesn’t actually count as a live gig...
You've at least had numerous other bands operating parallel to Spirit Disease. Do you currently have any other active bands or projects, and if yes, would you like to tell us something about them?
T > Witheria released it's 3rd album "Vanishing Order" in March and we are currently doing some gigs around Finland. Two of the guys are also recording the 2nd album of Nowen this summer, so they are somewhat busy doing that as well.
S > I have my own stupid one-man projects but they’re nothing serious, just killing time basically. There may be a new project starting later this year featuring me on guitar, Tuberculosis on bass and this guy from Nowen on drums… and all of us will yell to a microphone, of course. I suppose that will be some kind of a “punk” band or something and that band will certainly have a message… the message will be FUCK YOU ALL. It would be a cool thing if it actually happened, we certainly have talked about it a lot.
I guess this one's the main question: why should our readers listen to Spirit Disease?
T > Because their mothers would not approve.
S > Why not?
This paragraph is reserved for whatever you feel like saying or advertising.
T > Hot rockin'
S > Satan.
Thank you for the interview.
T > Thank you sir!
S > Thanks.