Interviews

SWALLOW THE SUN’S JUHA RAIVIO: THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW

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Swallow the Sun - New Moon Press Photo 1

For a prolific band (they’ve released five albums since their inception in 2000, three in as many years since 2006), Swallow The Sun have surely not been one to disappoint. Reliably bottling the gloomy atmosphere of Finland into equally gloomy metal, their latest Spinefarm release New Moon is a bona fide contender for this guy’s year end list.

MetalSucks recently caught up with Swallow The Sun guitarist/founder Juha Raivio to cover all the ground between the band’s two previous (and fantastic) releases and New Moon, a welcome addition to Swallow The Sun’s already impressive discography.

swallow the sun - new moonFirst off, great new album. It’s been a while since we got a full release, even though the EP Plague of Butterflies was sort of like a full record. What was different this time around when you were writing New Moon?

Thank you. I think that the difference to write this album came from making Plague of Butterflies and finding out that this band is able to have slightly more ‘progressive’ touches on the songs too. Plague of Butterflies was way more ‘prog’ than New Moon is, but it added some new vibes and approaches for the new songs. Of course having a new drummer [Kai Hahto, previously of Wintersun, who joined Swallow The Sun’s ranks in May 2009. -Ed.] added some new touches for the songs too. We could put more blast beats in the new songs and Kai’s playing style has been affecting how the new songs sound too.

New Moon just came out in America and it came out a week earlier in Europe. What’s been the reaction from fans so far?

All the reviews so far have been unbelievably good, and fans seem to like the new album a lot. Basically it doesn’t matter what the reviews and fans say, because you have to be true to your music and do exactly what feels right, so if press and fans like it too, then that’s just a plus. I’m sure that people can hear if the music is honest or not. That’s why many bands suck these days, because they first think about the fans and press and then write the music; that’s totally the wrong way to do music.

juha swallow the sunI know it’s an annoying question, but can we expect to see Swallow The Sun do another North American tour soon to support New Moon?

We toured the US and Canada for 50 gigs with Soilwork in 2009. I hope we can come back really soon because the tours in North America have been great and lots of fun. Maybe we can come back early 2010 — I really hope so.

“Lights on the Lake” is an awesome continuation of the “Horror” songs and “Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2)” is probably my favorite track on Hope. How do you guys figure out when to write another song to continue the story?

There isn’t a basic story that is continuing on these songs, but there are continuing themes on these songs and music. Doing these “Horror” songs is always a blast because you can just let your imagination go wild and go with the flow of music and lyrics. Maybe there will be more “Horror” songs in the future, but I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

juha swallow the sunAnd how much of that sort of mentality towards the band goes into packaging and presentation for Swallow The Sun? You guys always seem to have awesome looking art too.

Artwork is always really important for the album and we really try to get the right kind of atmosphere on the covers and album art. We also have been trying to get the feeling of the albums on the stage too, like we did on the Hope album when we dressed the stage as a hotel room from “Don’t Fall Asleep.” We wanted the New Moon album to look like an old book, and wanted to have pictures in the booklet drawn from the lyrics. I think it turned out really well this time. Artist Rami Mursula provided cover illustration.

And finally: Can you let us in on the secret? Why does Finland have so many awesome, heavy bands?

Well, here there is nothing else to do than eat snow in the dark or play metal, so I think most of the people choose to play metal, ha ha. That’s it.

-BC

[Visit Swallow the Sun on MySpace]

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