We can’t believe it’s true and couldn’t be more excited – Entwine has come out of hiding at long last! Their newest album, Chaotic Nation, was a breath of fresh air and before their album release gig at Finlandia-klubi in Lahti on October 10th, 2015, we grabbed Mika Tauriainen to have a few words about coming back together, making music, and the state of the business!
“I had nothing to say to anybody.”
As we met Tauriainen, he is very friendly and upfront with us. After some brief pleasantries, we sit down at a table in the backstage and get right down to business. Right off the bat, he is eager to talk and tell us all about what has been going on.
It’s been 6 years since Painstained came out. Had you guys ever declared an official hiatus?
No, it just happened.
What brought you back together after 6 years then?
We’ve been doing this since 2000 and that’s probably the main reason. We had to have the break. We never talked about it but everybody just started to do their own stuff and there was one year that I didn’t see Aksu at all. We didn’t call and I didn’t see any of the band members. I was just like, “Okay, this feels good.” After Painstained, I think that everybody heard from the album that everything was not right. That’s probably the most hated album we’ve ever done, I think.
In your opinion, or the opinions of everyone else?
For fans and everybody. For us too, but we wanted to do something more rough and dusty. It’s an ugly album. I’m not saying that it’s bad, but it’s totally different from what it used to be. That’s probably why people didn’t take it very well.
Too big of a jump away from what they were used to.
What have you all been doing in the last 6 years again?
I don’t know about the other guys; they’ve been working and doing their own stuff. Aksu’s been producing. I’ve been fishing. I was working and fishing. [laughs]
How does it feel now then? If you stopped because there was no inspiration left, what was it like coming back together and making music again?
It wasn’t very easy in the beginning. The drums were recorded already at the beginning of this year. Everything else was ready, but I wasn’t. We had 2-3 songs already well-written and I was like, “Okay, this is good stuff and I want to do this album,” but when I started to write the other songs, I got nothing out of my pen. I was at home, I was at the summer cottage, I went to the rehearsal room… nothing. Then I called Aksu that, okay, this isn’t going to happen. I had nothing to say to anybody. Aksu said that it takes time and it takes as long as it takes.
When it started, I don’t know how I got everything done. It was here and there, like a big puzzle. I went to Sweden to my cousin’s place and he’s writing music too. We sat down and I was like, “You have to help me. Fucking help me or I fucking kill you!” [laughs] I was going insane. We did some stuff here and there and then I started to get the whole picture about everything. The album wasn’t ready when I came back from Sweden, but it was something.
So we went to Aksu’s place and it took 2 months doing the vocals and a lot of writing, but it was very easy when we got the machine going again – the routine and stuff like that. It wasn’t an easy thing [overall] though.
Are you happy with the final product now?
Oh yeah, I am.
It was worth it?
Definitely! It doesn’t sound like a last album. It sounds like we’re here again.
I’d agree with that!
“It wasn’t a Spinal Tap moment.”
I often ask touring bands if they’ve had any crazy moments on the road, but it’s rarely a question worth asking when a tour is just beginning. What a nice surprise then, when a question about getting back on stage snowballed into a tale full of laughter and face-palming as we approached the subject of the live revival over the summer. Tauriainen tells his tale, understanding the humor, but also that there was a lesson to be learned from it – that performing is not all fun and games…
Do you remember how long ago the last show you played before this summer was? Was it a full 6 years ago or less?
No, it was 3½, almost. It was 2012, around Easter.
What have the new shows been like since then?
Kotka [Dark River Festival] was very weird. A lot of hassle. The sound check for my in-ear was something like a little over a minute. I was totally fucked. When I got off the stage, Aksu said we had to hurry back to the backstage and get the clothes and stuff like that. I was running there and the intro started to go. I was like, “What the fuck!?” taking my shirt off, and put in my in-ear, and I had to have some booze, and I was like, “Okay, everybody else is in there already.” Then Aksu starts to play and I knew that there’s going to be something like 10 seconds until it starts, and the backstage was maybe 30-40m from the stage. I had one pint of vodka, running like [mimics insane running], and I got on stage, put the vodka on Aksu’s drum raiser, and I got the microphone and it was right [as my part started]. I did it! I motherfucking did it!
It was a rough start then – the plunge into the cold lake, as opposed to the slow dip.
Yeah, but it felt good! I just realized how hard this is. It was something like 3-4 songs that I was leaning on the microphone stand like [panting heavily]. I was like, “How the fuck am I going to survive the whole fucking hour?” But it wasn’t a Spinal Tap moment. It didn’t go that far.
Hopefully it goes a bit more smoothly tonight!
“This globe is full of sheep.”
We had already learned that the new album was no fairytale in the making. A lot has changed in their approach, but they managed to create a solid bit of art in spite of this. Fortunately, Taurianen seems pretty laid back about the whole thing, with a sort of “no worries” attitude.
The new album still feels like Entwine, and you’ve already discussed how coming back to it felt, but was there much change in the process?
I can say that we did something differently. Everyone had their own approach to how they did things. Tomppa was doing the demos with the 8-track. We never had that. He bought it and bought Fruit-Loops and started to make some Avicii stuff. It was going in totally different ways.
When we started to make the songs, I said we weren’t going to put any songs out until they’re ready. We aren’t going to say that this isn’t our style. I said, “We do everything!” We put everything in there because afterwards it’ll sound like us. When we put my vocals and the keyboards there, it’s always the same. Somebody comes and will be like, “Oh, there’s no change at all.” It’s possible. So far it’s been going good; there’s a different energy and a different spirit.
That’s interesting. The vibe I get off the older albums like DiEversity is fun, but maybe more teenager-y, and the new one is a bit more accessible to a bigger age range.
Of course it’s not “Gothic” anymore.
Yeah! It’s more mature as a whole. Do you think that was intentional or did the music just grow up with you guys?
I’ve always said that every album is a different album for us. We never think in the beginning that we have to do this kind of stuff, or is this “Goth” enough or rock enough or too much something. It’s more like it’s a natural evolution of the band. We never thought that, “Okay, we have to do this!”
This time we thought… nothing. We did all the songs we liked. We didn’t think if it’d sell, if somebody’s going to say that it’s not dark enough or whine about stuff like that. We didn’t think about it. We just put everything there.
The vocals sound totally different because we haven’t doubled one lead vocal on that album. Nowadays, probably 99% of the bands are doubling it, so it gives more power but it takes something away from the feeling. So there are some wrong notes somewhere, but we wanted it to sound rough and natural.
Are your general influences, musical or not, the same as they were back when you started?
For the last 3-4 years I’ve been listening to a lot of female artists. And pop music. I love Ellie Goulding’s first album, Bright Lights. I played it for 6 months or a year, all the time. I was amazed at how well-produced it was. Her sound was so unique. I used to be a popper; I’ve never been a metalhead. My metal started from Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam. That was my metal. Before that it was Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Doors. The biggest thing for me still though, is Bob Marley. I’m a hippie!
The subject matter on the new album seems to involve the condition of the modern world. Would you mind elaborating on that? What makes a “chaotic nation?”
Everybody sees it. Just check out what’s happening around you. It’s not like I’m preaching something and it’s not about revolution, but a revolution of the mind. People have to start to think. You don’t have to do what you’re told. “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”
Ignorance is like cancer. It’s the worst.
Yeah! That’s why people are getting dumber. Look at the TV. All the fucking reality shows. This globe is full of sheep, because people will be led astray if they don’t think for themselves. When you get dumber, it’s easier for them to lead you.
It’s like lemmings running off the cliff together.
Yeah! I’ve always tried to keep all the politics away from the music, but this time it was too much. I’ve always been very into these things. Of course, the song “Fatal Design” already touches on that area already, but like I said, the album is [meant] to make people think.
It seems like it’s becoming a trend. There are a lot of people with themes like that these days. We interviewed Oliver Palotai from Kamelot last week, and the young guys from Shiraz Lane earlier in September, and they were both talking about themes of detachment and waking up the masses.
People are starting to wake up! You can see that.
Do you feel like this is a message you need to share, as an artist?
Of course! It’s like I said, sheeps! Or… sheep? Why is it like that? Sheep is one and two…
I could tell you, but it’d take an entire semester! Now, are there any songs that you personally feel particularly passionate about?
It depends on my mood, but a very strong one is As We Arise. Not because of the title or something, but the feeling and everything in that. That’s probably the most touching song for me, I think.
“It’s not fixable, the way it was.”
Entwine is known to be quite vocal on the subject of the music industry, so I had to step into the pool briefly to see how deep it went. Tauriainen lets out an exasperated sigh when the subject comes up, but it doesn’t mask the fire in his eyes. He sets his posture and takes a deep breath, knowing that what he has to say won’t be quick.
As we draw towards the end here, I’d like to ask you about the music business. How do you think it’s changed in the last 6 years, and how do you think it’s changed since you started?
Oh God, it’s going to take a long time. I’m going to be late to the stage. [laughter] It has changed so much. Of course, it was changing already during the time when we released the previous album, but it’s going to hell. Many clubs in Finland have gone bankrupt. The thing is, people are not going out that much. The clubs are dying. We don’t have money to have big tours because the label doesn’t get money from the album sales. It’s a big circle and it’s all the time getting tighter and tighter.
People have to wake up, that we can’t do this. We can’t make big tours. A lot of people on Facebook say, “We want you to come to Brazil, come to Mexico.” Come on! We need money. Do you people even know how much that costs? A tour in Europe for 2-3 weeks… a night-liner and the gas for that for 10,000-12,000 km. That alone costs a lot of money, but they think that, “You get the money from the tour!” but we don’t have that money to tour. It’s the most expensive thing.
People have to wake up that it’s all connected. Pubs are going down, clubs, everything. People are not going out, they’re just watching YouTube because somebody just had their album out. Prelistening. It’s not a good thing. I just realized it. I remember a time when I was waiting for an album. You had the single and were like, “What the fuck is it gonna be?” When you got the album, you’d call ten of your best friends and be like, “I got the album! Let’s have a party!” Then you’d be drinking and [rocks out]. That’s how it should be! When you give everything in advance, everyone downloads it from somewhere or takes one or two songs from there. It’s like a mixed tape. The phone is a mixed tape. Spotify is a big, huge mixed tape.
Do you have any ideas, personally, on how to fix things? Or is the music industry irreparably broken?
It’s very hard to say. I really don’t know. It’s not fixable, the way it was. There’s no turning back. We have to find something new.
At this point then, do you have any big plans or big hopes for the band for the future?
The only thing that I can say is that we’ll see what happens. I’ve quit the kind of thinking, ‘Is this going to be the great breakthrough?’ or, ‘How much is this going to sell?’ I don’t care anymore. I’m still doing this and that’s the main thing. That’s why I started to make music. We’re back to our roots. I can’t stop this even though I don’t get any fucking money out of it. It’s a passion and I can’t quit. [laughs] No high hopes, but no pessimism either. It is what it is. It’s just music. Everybody has their lives, but it’s just music, even though everybody needs it.
Finally then, do you have any last words for the people reading?
I’ve always said, “Buy the albums,” but maybe this time: Stand up to the open place!
Great! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and have an awesome show!
Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Lene L.