|Interview:||BEFORE THE DAWN|
Finnish Melodic Dark Metal masters Before The Dawn were founded by guitarist and singer Tuomas Saukkonen in 1999. Soon later two demos were recorded and gained a lot of positive feedback.
The debut EP „Gehenna“ was recorded in 2000. In the late summer of 2002 Before The Dawn have recorded their magnificent debut album „My Darkness“.
„My Darkness“ has taken my heart by storm through the high quality of the song material and all the included fine melodies. My questions are answered by Tuomas.
Please describe yourself as a person and character with a few words!
„Emotional, impulsive, I have my own way of seeing things and thinking things and because of that I feel like I am outsider.“
What does mean for you the name of the band?
„Actually before the dawn the sun is still below the horizon and nature is filled with darkness. At dawn the sun rises and darkness steps away. To me it means darkness.“
Why did you decide to form the band as a solo project in the summer of 1999?
„At that time I was a drummer in local Rock band, but I had lots of own songs written. My songs were a lot heavier comparing to those wich we played with that band. At that time I was fed up with playing drums and decided to leave the rock band and do something on my own. I had the songs ready and I knew some guys at local studio and decided to record some of those songs by playing all the instruments by my self and see how it works and then start to look for band mates. It was never my purpose to start a solo project. I just didn´t have the energy to start looking for the guys, months of training and then go to studio because I had the songs already ready.“
Which were the first main inspirations (also bands) for your music?
„I have never had any main influences to my music. I have been writing songs since I got my first guitar at age of 10 and I have always been writing music for my self. I have been listening all kinds of Metal since I was a little kid, but I can´t name any particular band that has inspired me more than the others. When I got a bit older and started to see surrounding world with different eyes I started to reflect my emotions and feelings in my songs and those emotions and feelings have been my biggest inspiration. I can remember two songs from my early childhood that made very big impression to me and those were `Kickstart My Heart` by Mötley Crüe and `Over The Hills And Far Away` by Gary Moore.“
Which bands out of past and present could be named as influence for your sound? Mainly Katatonia, I think!
„I heard Katatonia first time when they had released `Tonights Decision` and I didn´t like it very much because to my ears it was very soft. Their new album is great and I like it because I like their new drummer (very energetic) and also the vocals are stronger and sounds are bigger. Also the songs are great and I love music with beautiful melodies but Katatonia has never been any major influence to my music. When I recorded my first demo 1999 I was going through a period of life when I only listened Death Metal, Cradle Of Filth, Dark Funeral etc. But still the demo sounds pretty much the same like `My Darkness`. I don´t think that the music I listen influences to the music I write. It is just something that comes somewhere deep inside of me. I like very big sound, agressive drumming and strong vocals and one of the best sounding albums I have heard is Dimmu Borgir´s `Enthroned Darkness Triumphant`. Also In Flames has always had very big sound and strong vocals with some clean vocals. I am very inspired by single musicians and their way of playing. I really like the style of Scandinavian drummers. (In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates etc.). I also like very strong vocalists (In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, At The Gates etc.). My influences are gathered from many pieces and it is impossible to name to name any particular bands.“
When I listen to the songs of Before The Dawn, I think, that it sounds totally Finnish! (Dreamy, lost, melancholic, sad, depressive, dark, emotional, painful, longing, etc.) Do you sharing these opinion?
„I agree but I would say that we sound like Scandinavian. I don´t really know is it the long winter, nature or what but Scandinavian bands are very dark and melancholic. I guess we are pretty dark and gloomy people here in north.“
Which bands of nowadays can be compared with your music?
„As we agreed our music is very Finnish (Scandinavian) and if I have to give some names that are comparable with us I would say Sentenced, Charon, In Flames and Katatonia. We don´t sound directly like any of those but we have partly similar elements in our music. Clean and dark vocals and melancholic melodies.“
For me it seems, that the music of Before The Dawn is like a mirror of your soul. What inner emotions are reflected in the songs on „My Darkness“?
„Sadness. I believe it can be heard in every song. Sadness is a beautiful and painful thing and it has so many forms. It is a emotion that everyone can relate to. And it is also an endless source. There will always be sadness and sorrow. The pain of lost love, loneliness, all the sorrow around you. There is one particular dark angel who has been a big inspiration to me. All the things that makes me sad inspire me. Before The Dawn is a reflection to the sorrow I hide in side. To me is is very emotional to listen the new album or play the songs on stage. Because of that we have agreed that Panu (guitar and clean vocals) will do all the talking on stage. People may think that I am arrogant because I don´t take much contact to the audience but by playing those songs I share all the pain inside with the audience and when I am on stage I am in a world of my own with all the demons and memories and if I would be shouting `Good evening Berlin!! Are you having fuuun?` between every song that dark world that surrounds me on stage would be shattered. I love to perform to live audience and there is nothing better than seeing people waving their hands, singing along etc.“
How you have found the other band members with the time?
„I have been lucky because every time when we have had changes in line-up I have find new guys among my friends. It is getting a bit hard because we have eight ex-members so far. We had to change our keyboard player couple of weeks ago but luckily we found a new guy right away. I hope that we don´t have any changes in line-up in the near future.“
Please tell a bit about the inspirations for the lyrics on „My Darkness“!
„The lyrics come from the same place than the music. They walk hand in hand. There is some lyrics by Panu (guitar, clean vocals), too and we have pretty much similar demons in our past and it is easy to write lyrics with Panu because of that. I always write the song first and the do the lyrics. When the song is ready it is very easy to write the lyrics because all the words are already in the song. I just have to write them in paper.“
You create most of the songs and lyrics in Before The Dawn – in which mood do you feel best to compose?
„When I´m sad I just like to be alone and play guitar/piano. When I´m in the right mood the songs come out very easily. I love to stay up the nights and most of my songs are written at night time. It is a great feeling when you feel that you are all alone and you sit on the bed and grab your guitar and you just sit and listen how the guitar sings you sorrow. Not all my music come out from sorrow. When I am happy I compose music to my other projects Skythe .357 and Teargod and within those bands there is different kind for energy in the songs. They are the reflection of the happiness and life force in me although I don´t think that that can be heard in the music of Scythe .357 or Teargod because their music is even darker than Before The Dawn. I need them to maintain the balance in me. If I would only do sorrowful music I would kill my self within a year. There is only certain amount of sorrow that I can deal.“
What stands behind the title of the album – your own inner dark echoes?
„The lyrics and songs are very personal and within the songs I deal lots of my own feelings and emotions and so My Darkness is pretty much about the darkness that I carry deep within. By reading the lyrics and listening the songs you can get to know me pretty well.“
Who had the idea for it - you ?
„It was mine idea.“
Please tell a bit about the song-titles and their dark contents!
„Very personal. There is no symbolism in the song titles or in the lyrics like for example `Undone` is about a mistake a did long ago and I thought that I could make it all better but I couldn´t. The themes are indeed dark and melancholic.“
Which ones are the best Metal bands out of Finland for you at the moment?
„In my opinion Finland is full of talented bands and most of the best bands come from underground. Best signed bands are Diablo and Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus and best unsigned bands are Gloria Morti, Total Devastation and Profane Omen. Totally awesome bands on stage and on CD!“
Your own mentioned label Hellbound Records – is it still existing? Who had the idea for this new label and what release plans exist to date?
„Hellbound Records is dead and gone. I have never released anything trough Hellbound Records. I had one of my friends with me when I startet the label but our cooperation didn´t work out very well and so we buried the label. I have so much side projects that if I someday put a new label together I will release only my own music.“
How you have made it to get a contract with Locomotive Records?
„They offered us a great deal after a weeks of negotiation I was convinced that Locomotive Music would be the best choice for us and so far everything has been going very well.“
On this Spanish label were published to date only Hard Rock and Melodic Rock acts. What was the reason for them to sign Before The Dawn?
„I don´t know. I hope that they liked our music so much that they wanted to sign us.“
Is Before The Dawn the first Dark Metal band on their roster now?
„Well… I must say that I know only few of the Locomotives bands and therefore I am not sure what kind of bands there are on the same label with us. I have only heard Medication, Metalium and Prong.“
Your music sounds sometimes like the debut album from Blazing Eternity, released on Prophecy Records – do you know this band?
„I have never heard from it and that is a damn shame because there most be a hundreds of bands whose CD´s you can´t find in Finland and if you can´t find a CD, you can´t hear the music. Of course there is internet, but so far I haven´t got the time to learn how to download mp3 files and if I am honest I don´t even want to learn because people should buy their CD´s from stores.“
Main plans with the band for the next time?
„Our new video is almost ready and we are just waiting for the releasing of `My Darkness` and the start of the tour with Medication. We are going to play as much gigs as we are able to. I have already lots of new songs ready and we are going to play some of them on gigs. I don´t know about my bandmates but I am planning to get some more piercing, tattoos and scarifications in the near future. I am also going to do some gigs with my side-projects Scythe .357 and Teargod. I have enough songs for both projects that we could record a full-length right away and both bands have recorded lots of demo material and I am looking for a suitable record company and hopefully get a deal to those bands too.“
Some last words in this interview?
„I hope to see you all at gigs and I hope you like our album. Visit our new website www.beforethedawn.com - there is lots of pics, info, mp3 samples, two videos, lots of links to the websites of awesome Finnish bands etc. Stay heavy!“
© Markus Eck, 02.02.2003
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