Overhead is a real rarity in the Finnish music scene. We are speaking of a 10 year old band with more acclaim and fame in foreign countries than on domestic soil.
How would you describe yourselves to someone unfamiliar to your music?
Jaakko > That's always the difficult part, to explain your music in words. We're a crossover melodic rock band. We're often labeled as progressive rock and that suits us well but that alone isn't really enough to label us. We're a rock band that doesn't have any genre boundaries. In our music you can find bits of indie/alternative rock, prog rock, metal, pop, space rock, psychedelia...you name it. And at the same time it's not an aimless mess of things, there's a clear musical red line which can only be described as Overhead. Particularity this goes for the new album Of Sun and Moon, where you could say we really found our own original style.
What actually ignited you to start the band?
Jaakko > Prior to Overhead we had this heavy/metal band that came to it's natural end. After that we wanted to do something musically completely different and began this experimental project entitled 'Project Happo'. We continued on that road wanting to make a band out of it. Only after finding Alex to complete the line-up was Overhead really born and that began the musical adventure of the band, which is still going on. It was the inner need of young guys to do something fresh and to find ourselves as musicians and song writers.
Personally I think the use of flute is a great blast from the past and way underrated in this day and age. Where did the idea aspire from to utilize it in your music?
Jaakko > Since we're labeled as progressive rock, people almost always assume that the use of flute comes from Jethro Tull, but in fact Alex has ever listened to only a very little of the band. I however like it a lot. Instead Alex's inspiration for the flute comes from early King Crimson and Tabula Rasa. I've always been very happy to have a flute player in the band as it brings colour and personality to the music. And particularity on a live situation Alex often uses it as a rhythmic instrument rather than playing solos or such and that nicely works sort of like an additional keyboard or rhythm guitar - since we only have two hands each.
Where do you see your place is in the Finnish music scene and what is your viewpoint on Finnish music in this day and age?
Jaakko > There are some good Finnish bands I really like, mainly older ones though. Of course the main stream is what it is, a lot of more or less commercial acts I'm not too keen about and some decent acts. But there are also a lot of good bands and musicians in the underground that don't get recognised by the bigger medias. And I guess that's where we currently are, in the underground working our way to the top... Unfortunately we're not so well known in our own country and indeed it seems there's a bigger following abroad.
Are there any bands you see as contemporaries or that you draw likeness to?
Jaakko > Not too many, I find it difficult to compare us to other bands, I don't think we sound like any other band. But maybe Porcupine Tree or even Muse or Von Herzen Brothers could be in the same ballpark in some ways...or at least we could appeal to similar audience. In the past in many album reviews we've been somewhat compared or assumed to be inspired by many classic/progressive rock bands. But with the new album it's been nice to notice that first of all the reviewers find it difficult to draw comparisons to other bands or if they do, the scale has widened quite a bit. We're finding all kinds of references from say Queen to Pain of Salvation.
In regard to the state of the music business in this modern internet age, how do you cope with 'the future'?
Jaakko > We're not fighting against or frightened about the evolution of the business. If anything, we see it as a possibility. Without the internet we wouldn't be known or couldn't have done even a small portion of the things we have. Sure our albums are offered as unauthorized downloads but if it gets the name known then hey, it's doing more good than harm. But if you like it, please support us in any way you can. Generally speaking, maybe something good will come out of the changing business, maybe quality will overcome quantity...or maybe not.
Looking at your discography you have established a 3 year release span, how much work and time do you actually use to make an album?
Jaakko > It's always a butt-load of work and takes ages, but that's the way we work. We keep adjusting and improving it until it's as perfect as possible. We're perfectionists. In all stages of making an album, writing the music, recording it, mixing it and so on. It takes time but it's worth it. Plus it's not easy to match the schedules of five guys when you can't do Overhead 24/7.
Is composing a group effort with everyone’s ideas on the table?
Jaakko > Totally. I might be the one who most often brings some ideas to the rehearsals, but that's only the starting point when everyone starts putting in their input and the song starts to develop into something, and often it gets changed quite far from the original idea. A lot of the writing happens by jamming with the whole band, either on an existing idea or often a song idea is just born from out of nowhere, and on a good day it's like the song is writing itself. The way anyone plays affects the playing of everyone else and all that reflects on how the song is taking shape. The fact that it's a group effort keeps it versatile and open minded and helps to avoid a certain kind of tunnel-vision. And makes it sound like Overhead, not like anyone's solo album.
Does anyone in the band have any formal musical training?
Jaakko > I believe that Janne and Tarmo had some classical piano training in their childhood days and Ville has had some training. But as rock musicians we're all pretty much self-taught. For myself, my friend taught me the basics in guitar and then I went on my own from there. Having that background and knowing your theory doesn't hurt. Alex on the other hand doesn't necessarily know all the musical terms, he's a nature's child and that in part helps keeping it real and thinking outside of the box.
What has been the highpoint of your career to date?
Jaakko > Looking back, our 10th anniversary tour in 2010 was a great and intense experience and we probably played our best gigs on that tour. But I'll still say the making of the new album Of Sun and Moon. I'm very proud of the music and the fresh direction.
In retrospect, how do you look at the evolution of Overhead?
Jaakko > Quite an enormous evolution. It started out as an experimental musical project without any higher purpose in mind really. And it grew into a very tight band that has it's own sound and it's followers and has achieved recognition in fans and critics alike. I'm really happy with what we have achieved musically. While we're not (yet:) selling albums by the millions it's rewarding to see and hear how deeply some people dig our stuff.
Do you have a grand plan or red line behind everything that you follow, or do you just go with the flow?
Jaakko > Well we do plan things and aim to grow and improve musically from album to album and to offer better live experiences from tour to tour, and so far our career has been going upwards all the time. But on the other hand we do go with the flow and take every chance that comes along, you never know what the future brings no matter how you plan...
So concerning the future, what do you have in store for the future? Are there any plans where you will take Overhead?
Jaakko > We're currently planning tour dates for 2013. We're really looking forward to going out and playing live again and especially playing the new Of Sun and Moon album material live for the first time properly. And as the album is a musical rebirth for the band, a step into an interesting new direction, it's also interesting to see where the next album will take us. We'll start working on new material soon I'm sure and the road is wide open, let's see where the music takes us this time. Seems we're only getting started musically...
Do you have any wishes or last words to our readers / your fans?
Jaakko > Check us out at overheadband.bandcamp.com and if you like it, please share the word!
Thanks for reading!
Many thanks for your time and all the best to you
Jaakko > Danke schön!