De Lirium’s Order is releasing their upcoming album, Singularity, on April 26th, 2019. Musicalypse were fortunate enough to attend the pre-listening session for the album in the Jaloviina-kellari in Bar Base on March 30th. After checking out the new album, we sat down with guitarist/songwriter Juha Kupiainen, vocalist Kari Olli, and guest vocalist Mikael Salo to talk about the upcoming album and Iron Maiden.
You can hear our thoughts on pre-listening to their album over HERE!
Hey! How are you all feeling right now?
Juha: We are feeling pretty good. We just had the pre-listening session for the album.
Kari: We went through two music videos and the whole album. I think it had a great response, but it’s hard to say.
Juha: We had very positive vibes.
You guys tend to be classified as technical death metal, but I feel like your music is a bit more diverse with the styles and pacing, etc. Do you consciously plan to have a variety of elements in each song, or does it come to you in the moment when writing?
Juha: I formed this band back in ’98 or ’99 – somewhere back in the 90s anyway. What we aim for is to create interesting sounds. Making metal music for me is very easy because I’ve been doing it for a very long time.; it comes out naturally. When I compose riffs… it always comes down to me finding most of the music I hear on the radio to be very boring, so I want to explore different options of how to combine notes, to do interesting cord progressions, and so on. So I don’t think that it’s an aim, but it comes out automatically.
When you write music, do you start with the riffs and melodies, or do you start with lyrics? Which builds on which?
Juha: This is interesting, because if you think about rock composing, like a classic rock song, you start with the lyrics. You find out that, “This is the mood so I think I will go with a minor C and then do this cord progression,” and the rhythm comes from the words. But we start from the guitar riffs, so it’s very technical. If you start with the lyrics, I don’t know how you can transform the lyrics to be complex music. It needs to start from the music and the vision that you hear while playing the guitar.
Kari: I really agree. I think the lyrics are part of the rhythmic element of the music. The lyrics back-lie the guitar riffs. When I joined this band almost 10 years ago, it was a different perspective or approach to the music. It was rhythmic singing, which I hadn’t done before. That was the new thing for me. Mikael and I have been talking tonight about…
Mikael: The meaning of life.
Kari: Well, yes, but also the interesting sides of De Lirium’s Order’s music. It’s always been – like Juha said – exploring new things, but it’s also educational for yourself, to do things differently.
Mikael: Pushing musical boundaries into new frontiers.
If you start with the music first, how do you decide what to write the lyrics about?
Juha: I write most of the lyrics, so what I do is… most of the albums have been fact-based, so I get inspired by what I see happening around me. Also, this album is inspired by science fiction; I like to read lots of articles on science.
I think the first albums were mostly about serial killers, so we’ve come a long way from that. But it has always been fact-based. There was one song for Andre Chikatilo, there was one for Jeffrey Dahmer, etc. Now, we’re doing this more sci-fi theme.
Are there any specific stories that you’re telling on this album?
Juha: Yeah, there is a story. It’s about the artificial intelligence being born and it starts as a sort of blunt piece of technology, 1.0, but the evolution of this piece of technology is very rapid. What happens is that it develops feelings like humans have. In the end, there is also a love story on the album. There is also one track on the album where this monolith finds it is yearning for love and family and so forth.
Very cool! Now… you [Mikael Salo]. You keep turning up every time I blink. How did you end up here, with your thousand other bands? [laughter]
Mikael: Juha contacted me, and I think it was through a recommendation because he was looking for a clean singer for the album. So I didn’t force myself in [laughter] like, “Hey, you better put some clean lines there for me to sing!” Don’t worry, he had this in mind when writing the lyrics and songs. So he was looking for a clean singer, then Ilja Jalkanen – whom I’ve worked with in Thy Row – recommended me. Apparently. At least so I’ve been told. [laughter]
Then Juha contacted me and sent the material. That, for me, is the deciding moment: the music. Ever since I started YouTube in 2008 or something, I get a lot of messages from musicians and they want to have this high male voice, which is not that common. There aren’t that many male singers – generally I think – so if you are one of those singers who sing clean, you get these offers. So Juha contacted me, I checked out the material, and it was really musically interesting. Like you said, technical death metal can be very similarly-made. Unless you break the rhythmic formula a bit and bring in some different instruments, it can be kind of… boring for a singer. But this was a completely different story altogether. As you heard on the album, there are so many genres mixed and I really love that if it’s done well.
So the motivation was not to have another project. I was busy as hell at the time already making music, but because I felt like, “Okay, I can’t pass up this chance, I have to do this now,” because I really wanted to sing on this album.
Juha: I can add one thing. Mikael really transformed what we are doing. It was actually my vision, that I wanted to add some clean singing, and Mikael was the obvious choice when I heard him.
Kari: I think in Finland, generally, Mikael has a unique voice. He has the power and the strength of the power metal vocals, but he has the character too. I can’t point to the exact thing that we were looking for, but Mikael had something unique to add to our music. I was really excited about the end result of this whole project and it turned out so well.
Mikael: Aww, thank you, man!
Kari: This is the first time we’re talking about this stuff on a personal level. I really appreciate Mikael’s part on this record. It added something special. We tried with the Veniversum (2012) album, and the singer did a really good job, but I think Mikael has more… power to his voice.
Now listening to the album, I started to wonder if there are any fans of Iron Maiden in this band…
Juha: Yes. [all hands go up]
Well, there was something that definitely reminded me of Iron Maiden’s guitars on this album.
Juha: Really, the guitars? I would’ve expected you to refer to Mikael’s vocals.
Surprisingly no. I already expect a hint of Bruce Dickinson from Mikael, but it was definitely in the guitars where I noticed it. I thought, for technical death metal, that’s a rare find.
Juha: I don’t think it’s very recognizable. You need to be an expert to spot that! But if I would list my influences, Iron Maiden is on top of that list. Mostly that list has classic bands, not technical death metal. But I’m definitely a big fan. I started playing guitar along with Metallica and Iron Maiden.
Well, I used to run around the house playing Iron Maiden on the violin as a kid, so I know that compulsion!
Kari: Awesome! They have had a big influence on my whole life. Some 20 years ago, when Bruce Dickinson returned to the band, I went to see them in the old Ice Hall, maybe in 1999. It was kind of a turning point.
It’s rare to find such universal love for a band, but Iron Maiden definitely inspires that, and so many fans have a big foundational moment in their lives with them. We just heard from Kari, so how did Iron Maiden influence the rest of you as people and musicians?
Mikael: 2005! It was funny. Before that, I didn’t really care about music. I listened to music, it was a commodity, I listened to whatever was popular. But then in 2005, I remember sailing with my family and my brother put on Rock in Rio from Iron Maiden and it was the shit. I listened to that album on that 1-week trip maybe a hundred and fifty times. It’s still my favorite album, probably. Then I learned bass the same year and joined my first band that year, and started singing 3 years after.
Juha: For me, it was my big sister. She had a cassette player. I didn’t have any mechanism to play music, but I went to my big sister’s room and she had some cassettes there and there was this Iron Maiden cassette. I didn’t know it was Iron Maiden, so I was listening and it was very melodic and I had been listening to Queen before that, actually. I immediately started to dig into this sort of melodic music and Iron Maiden had all the stuff and it was really heavy, touching your guts. That was it! I think that first album was Somewhere Back in Time or Powerslave. Either way, they both touched me. Then I went to the Kuopio library…
Kari: Oh yeah, back in the 90s you had to go to the library.
Juha: You’d get the notes from the library, get home… and finally I’d have this fucking bible in front of me. This is the key to the riddle, you open it, and *gasp* this is how the riff goes! And finally you start to play it.
Well, thank you for sharing! I always love a good Iron Maiden story, and I also really enjoyed listening to your album. I’m out of time now, so best of luck with the release, and I’ll hopefully see you guys again on April 26th for the acoustic show!
Juha: Thanks for coming!
Photos: Laureline Tilkin