In my opinion your new album is outstanding, marvellous, great, great, great. Please describe the reactions to the CD so far.
Albert: Reactions have been mostly very positive, sometimes almost overwhelmingly praising, but naturally there have been some bad reviews too. It would be strange if everyone would find this work just pleasing.
Void: Actually “Harbinger of Metal” is not an album in the sense of being our second full-length release. The second album is titled “Crush the Insects!”, and we’ll start recording it in a few months. “Harbinger” is really more like an ep, extended play. Songs that never were meant to appear on our official albums. They are quite experimental at parts, at least on our standards. Not as true as doom according to the gospel of the Bizarre Reverend should be. Testing our limits, in a way. So I guess we did expect a lot stronger reactions to this material. But while people in general have taken “Harbinger of Metal” surprisingly well, I’m really curious to hear what they have to say about our most recent effort, the cd we have just finished mixing. It was supposed to be released as yet another disturbing ep, titled “Reverend Bizarre Blesses You With Fire”, but now the material is going to be enclosed as a bonus cd to a re-mastered re-issue of our debut “In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend”. That should be out some time this autumn.
Do you care for your fans, the press and people in general? Or is it just you and your music?
Albert: I can only speak for myself, but when I write or record something I care for no one. Not always even me or my own opinions. I just let the music come. I have written some material that I haven’t found so great myself, but I know it is not just my decisions that control the flow. I have to trust that there is some truth in the ideas and material that comes to my mind. For sure when finishing the lyrics or musical arrangements I work with my mind and taste that are based on my cultural and musical background. When the record is out or a gig is played I am curious to hear and read what people have to say, but whatever that may be it doesn’t effect my ways of working at all. I can only do what I find is right. And that is to let my ideas live freely. I care for fans when working on the final products. I want the sounds and visuals to be as good as possible so that the hardly earned money of our fans won’t be lost for worthless shit. But that is all. No one’s, except my bandmates’, ideas and opinions can affect my music.
What are the differences between "Harbinger of Metal" and "In the rectory...” in your opinion?
Albert: “Harbinger” is heavier and more experimental. It is wider musically, one might say. “Rectory” is perhaps a better compilation of songs, but “Harbinger” is more exciting a journey into the darkness. It is like a long trip.
Void: Indeed. A trip you haven’t completely planned in advance, unlike “In the Rectory”. While our debut album was meant to be a kind of a schoolbook example of true doom, “Harbinger” keeps the listener alert until the very end.
What are the reasons for these differences?
Albert: I can’t give any explanations. I just wanted “Harbinger” to be like this. I had the vision in my mind.
Void: Not being strictly planned in advance as a release in its own right, “Harbinger” had much more room to become what it turned out to be than “In the Rectory”. There’s definitely not going to be too many surprises on “Crush the Insects!” or our third album “Songs from the Funereal World”. At least not to us. Whatever comes in between these official releases is a completely different matter.
What is the message of "Harbinger of Metal"?
Albert: We don’t carry any messages, or if we do we won’t explain them, but as the title is “Harbinger of METAL” I guess one message is that we give the metal back to the people. There has been something lost from modern day’s music. We try to bring some of that back.
Void: Of course, that is a hard task to accomplish without confronting the forces that have taken ‘heavy’ out of ‘metal’. I’d say this struggle has had a great influence on the outcome.
My favourite is "The wandering jew". Can you tell us something about this song and it's history?
Albert: I remember when I got the main riffs. I was in my mother’s place in Lohja. I was just playing some bass, and it came. Right from the start I knew it should be titled “The Wandering Jew”. At one point I added these riffs to “Strange Horizon”, and it worked pretty well, but then I decided “Jew” should be a song of its own. I had problems writing the lyrics; I couldn’t get the work started. Then, a few days before recording the vocals, the words came. In that song there are lots of thoughts I have inside my mind. Bitterness and wish to avenge.
Void: Following the theme of the lyrics, getting the actual song recorded seemed a cursed journey as well. While the entire “Harbinger” sessions nearly tore the band – and especially Albert – apart, this individual song seemed to face the heaviest setbacks; already recorded tracks disappearing mysteriously, parts falling from the instruments while trying to play, and so forth. As if some powers did not wish this story to be told.
And what about "Dunkelheit"?
Albert: When it comes to covers, I like to do songs that make me wish I had written them myself. This particular song is most definitely one of those. I am a big Burzum fan, and this is one of the greatest moments.
Which one is YOUR favorite song from the album and why?
Albert: You just named two of my favourites. “Jew” is maybe the best of the songs written by me in this CD, in my opinion. I like the sound and the song is not that bad either. “Dunkelheit” is one of the best things we have done ever. There is great atmosphere
Void: “From the Void”. Not because of the drum solo, haha, but because I like the atmosphere of the song very much. The totally out-of- place solo actually ruins this atmosphere. Of course, that was the whole point.
The Reverend Bizarre CD Covers are very special. How do you develop them?
Albert: Right from the very start I had a vision how this band should sound like and what kind of artwork should be to match the whole concept. Again I can’t tell you “how”. I just feel I know what to do. I might be wrong… Other’s can be the judge of that. I don’t care. I am happy if you like what we have done so far. I have in my mind the artwork for our albums up to five already. We will continue using mostly old paintings. They give a nice spice of times long since gone. I despise modern computer graphics more than anything.
Void: Recognition of the tradition of doom metal helps here as well.
Are there some lyrics that are special to you? Tell us something about them.
Albert: For sure there are. In a way all the lyrics are special, but for sure the most personal things comes closest to the heart. For me “Hour of Death”, “Funeral Summer”, “Demons Annoying me” are likes of these. All of these have been influenced by some things happening in my life. The first one is about a love I never gained, the second is about my father’s death and the last one about my divorce.
What about the recording process of your new album? Any stories or curiosities to report?
Albert: I really wouldn’t mind to think about these things anymore. It was too heavy trip for me this time. I ended up in very bad mental state. I let the others do the talking when it comes to technical problems we had to face.
Void: I’m trying to get past the whole thing as well, so let’s leave it here. I already mentioned something concerning “The Wandering Jew”, but all in all the sessions were personal torture from the very start. I guess all this brings “Harbinger” some of that diabolical aura some people have sensed surrounding the release.
The Doom Sound of your instruments is coming right out of hell. How do you create it?
Albert: The heaviest drum sound possible, and lots of bass. These are the key elements. Many bands don’t understand the very meaning of these base tracks, but those are where the whole sound should be built.
I think Alberts vocals sometimes have a touch of Jim Morrison. Do you agree?
Albert: I hope you are right! Honestly, I have noticed that it is easy for me to sing some of the Doors’ songs. I guess there are some similarities in my and Jim’s voices. Of course I am not as great and moody a performer as he was. Who could be? I take this as a great compliment. I guess there are some similarities in the way I work and live as well. Hah hah. Except I don’t have those women around me.
Please tell us something about the Reverend Bizarre process of songwriting.
Albert: The processes are private and personal. We never jam our songs. When we start to rehearse something new it is already finished, or at least mostly finished. I don’t know how I write my songs. As I told you the ideas just come. I never sit down thinking “I have to write something”. When I do the music, I mean. I have sometimes kind of forced myself to do the lyrics when I have ran out of time. But even then the words just come. I can trust that they come, and so far they have been there when needed. I would like to say for me making music is natural. Just like walking around or feeling the wind on my skin. Maybe one day the music doesn’t come anymore and I can rest in silence.
What are your musical influences in your opinion?
Albert: There are so many… It is hard to give you any list. I grew up listening to Heavy Metal and Finnish popular music. I have been listening to music all my life. In my teen years I found lots of experimental and bizarre music and have been into that kind of material ever since too. Futuristic and Gothic music of 1980’s have effected me strongly too. Bands like Human league, Classix Nouveaux, Bauhaus etc…
Void: Yes, it’s impossible to list everything. After all, we are constantly influenced by so many things. The most obvious influences to Reverend Bizarre are of course the doom bands that came before us, notably Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General, Pentagram, and the early Cathedral. And without Black Sabbath there probably wouldn’t be any doom at all.
We'd like to know something about your background in making music. How did you learn to play, what are your experiences and which musicians are your main technical influence?
Albert: I don’t know what to say. I just bought my first bass years ago and tried things out and slowly I understood more. I play almost every day just for fun. I guess I learn some new things all the time. I guess Geezer Butler has effected my playing a bit and also some non-metal bassists. But I have never really tried to learn some tricks others do.
Void: I started to play drums when Albert and I formed our first “band” in lower secondary school. I guess I was supposed to be the guitarist at first, since one guy we knew said he can already play the drums. Either he didn’t or we just didn’t like him, I don’t remember anymore, but I ended up behind the drum kit. Albert had already played some acoustic guitar before he took the bass in his hands, but my background was that of an accordionist. So I learned to play in our “rehearsals”, which were more like recording sessions every time. Since we didn’t have any instruments of our own, we had so few opportunities to play that every time we did we made some kind of a cassette release. In a sense, we still work the same way. Or at least I do; we still don’t have a rehearsal room of our own, so there’s no place where I could play those cheap and crappy drums I bought years ago. In fact, I’ve been storaging them in the local studio we’ve always used. I guess my main influences as a doom metal drummer come from Bill Ward, Armando Acosta, Mike Smail, and Joe Hasselvander.
What do you think: How will Reverend Bizarre sound like in let's say five years? Is there a masterplan?
Albert: There most definitely is a master plan. According to this plan there is a chance that in five years RB has stopped recording music and is doing only a few gigs every now and then. Time will tell how many years we still need to complete our work. Every album will be a bit different. I could give the guidelines but maybe it is more exciting for the listeners not to know too much. It will be heavy until the end. Heavy and dark. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower. I will do some experiments in vocals on our third album, but the clean vocals shall be the dominating thing always.
Please name some lately released CDs that you like to listen to at home.
Albert: I don’t buy so much truly new CDs. Let me think…This new Ildjarn compilation sounds pretty good. I am waiting to get new NON and Der Blutharsch CDs. I am sure I will be listening to them a lot.
Void: I’m eagerly waiting for the Pleasure Dome by The Candles Burning Blue to arrive. Until that, I guess I’ll just have to settle for Soft Black Stars by Current 93 and Passion by Catharsis. Maybe these aren’t so lately released, but I can’t afford to buy new cds anyway, so they are quite recent purchases for me. Well ok, that Catharsis lp was not second-hand, but diy punk cds are relatively cheap to start with, so if something really important for me is available, I may have enough money to get it. But come to think of it, it may be that I got that one as a trade for our 10” split with Orodruin from a distro ran by my friends. I don’t remember anymore.
Do you still watch other bands play? Have there been some shows lately that impressed you?
Albert: I have never been too active gig goer, but for sure when something interesting comes near enough me I will go there. Enochian Crescent has been the last really impressive band. And before that Death In June, While Heaven Wept and Orodruin.
Void: I’m part of a couple of different collectives and other instances that organise gigs in Turku, so I do get to see quite a lot of bands play live. Aside from that, I also go to see interesting gigs whenever that is possible – and if I only can afford it. Just a few weeks ago I went to see Coph Nia. They were great. It was also great to hear and see Harum-Scarum (the one from Portland, Oregon) play in Finland a few months ago. But for the last couple of years the most impressive shows for me were held when the Hamburg bands Kochen Mit Glas and Zeroid toured Finland, respectively. They were simply amazing, both as persons and as bands. Too bad I don’t get to see Arcana finally perform in Finland, since we organised their concert for the same evening Reverend Bizarre are scheduled to appear at the Autumn of Doom festival in Germany…
What makes the difference between Reverend Bizarre and other Doom bands?
Albert: We are evil.
We'd like to know something about the underground in your hometown. Are you still in touch? And if so: Where do you hang out? Are there some yet unknown bands that you like?
Albert: When you say “hometown” I have to talk about Lohja instead of Turku where we live nowadays. If there was a true undergroung in Lohja when I was young I guess I was part of it. There wasn’t so many interesting bands even when there has always been lots of bands. Most of them were and are quite “normal”. Also, when I was younger I was mostly alone. I didn’t hang out so much in crowded places . Nowadays I know more musicians in Lohja than I used to. A few great and unknown bands are Feelings, Maria, Epäkristus and Femgerichte. I truly like all of these and I hope they will gain some success in the near future. When it comes to places where to hang out nowadays my favourites are the forests and shores. There are a few bars in Lohja that I kind of like. Wanha Mestari and X-it to name two. I am going out more today than I used to. Mostly because of my increased use of alcohol.
Void: So maybe I should say a word or two about Turku. I haven’t been much in touch with the local metal underground, since I’ve never really listened to death metal, which seems to be the biggest underground metal thing in Turku. Here’s this one organisation called West Coast Holocaust (WCH) who organise a lot of death and black metal gigs, and I guess that scene is rather alive and well. Actually, WCH once organised a gig for Skepticism and asked us to play there as well. You can find information about upcoming gigs at their homepage in the internet. I’m personally more involved in the hc/punk movement, although most of my friends in that scene have nowadays moved to different cities or countries. Turku has never been too favourable for any musical underground activities, only to some crappy and pretentious “street poetry”. There’s a shortage of both rehearsal rooms (we’ve never had one!) and gig venues, and the local officials do nothing about it. On the contrary. Even the punks have gotten lazy, although there has been some discussion about squatting abandoned buildings again. It’s been a long time since anything like that has happened in Turku. In fact, the youth centre where Reverend Bizarre was allowed to rehearse for our debut album – before we grew too old! – was founded and maintained by squatter punks in the 80s. Anyway, I usually hang out at TVO, where I also organise gigs every now and then. It’s a university student’s association that has a very long history of organising underground gigs for all kinds of bands all around the world. For instance Reverend Bizarre’s first gig was held there. If you’re around, check it out in the internet.
What about the Doom Metal Scene in general? Do you know some bands, and if so, is there friendship, rivalry or more or less nothing special?
Albert: You mean in Finland? We don’t have so big scene, but a few very good bands. Minotauri, Spiritus Mortis and Oak! They are all like our brothers. We have a strong friendship and respect with these people. I guess when it comes to abroad we are in touch with almost every True Doom band there is. And all of them are special to us.
Please tell us something about further Live activities.
Albert: One gig in Lohja, which will be great. Then two gigs in UK with Cathedral and Sloth. Back to Finland and Karjaa to play with Spiritus Mortis.
Void: Just a day before that Karjaa thing, which also features a local sludge band Loinen by the way, I’ll organise a gig for us and Spiritus Mortis in Turku, TVO. The next confirmed thing after these gigs is our September tour in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Aside from individual gigs, we are scheduled to appear on three different doom/heavy festivals as well: Autumn of Doom at Obereuerheim on the 11th, Musketeer of Death at Ghent on the 18th, and Dutch Doom Day III at Rotterdam on the 19th of September.
Last night at our local Metal pub someone told me you will be back in Germany this year. Is that correct?
Albert: Yes, and soon it shall be. I can’t wait. I love Germany! On this trip we will play with bands like Count Raven, Well of Souls, Mirror of Deception and Officium Triste.
Void: The last time we toured Germany it was with the mighty Revelation. Playing with Count Raven at Autumn of Doom is yet another dream come true for us.
Some statements about "Doom shall rise", please!
Albert: A great and warm event. One of the rare possibilities to meet friends all around the world. Our gig in the first one sucked badly, but that is the sole negative comment I can give you. I will do my best to be there next year too.
Void: A great event for the wretched of this earth indeed. Hail all the committed doomsayers who make such a gathering possible.
Is there something that you have never been asked but always have been eager to say?
Albert: Hmmm… Sometimes I feel like I have said too much. Ok. Q: What song you wish they will play in your funeral? A: Fields of the Nephilim: “Love Under Will”. At least someone will cry then…
Void: No, nothing special. There’s already enough to read at Indymedia websites and such.
We are looking forward seeing you in Germany. Best wishes to you all. Any last words?
Albert: Looking forward to see you too. Take care and control!
Void: Doom onwards.