EXCALION is yet another great Melodic Metalband from Finland and their latest release ‘Waterlines’ is a very sensational release indeed, so time to catch up with this band…
Please introduce the band and yourself to our readers (history, musical background, influences)
Tero: Hello, Tero Vaaja, the bassist of Excalion here, thanks for the chance to chat! Excalion was born in December 2000 in Konnevesi, a little town in middle Finland. The band was started by our keyboardist and songwriter Jappe, myself, the original Excalion bassist Timo Sahlberg, and our drummer Henri. Vocalist Jarmo and guitarist Kimmo Hnninen joined soon after that. There were changes in the line-up in 2005, soon after our debut album, and the current five-member line-up of Excalion has been in place since the spring 2005. Generally our music has been inspired by lots of modern melodic metal bands, and 80s rock on the other hand. Around the time we started the band, Stratovarius was a very big thing in Finland, and maybe that influence has been heard in Excalion also.
Can you tell me something about the creating process of the songs. Where did you get the inspiration from, are all the members involved in the writing process?
Tero: Jappe is the bands songwriter, and he writes new music almost continuously. He brings new songs to the rehearsals, and we start to work on them together. Jappe always has the body of the song and the vocal melodies ready-made by then, and also much of the guidelines for how he wants the drums to go. Sometimes he also has bass lines and guitar riffs to start with. Everyone contributes to the arranging of the song then, and sometimes the song evolves much from the initial ideas, sometimes less. Lyrics often come last. I think Jappe draws inspiration from many different sources, from books and movies, for example.
Some people mentioned Excalion as the next big thing from Finland. How do you feel about that?
Tero: Of course it feels great that people believe in our potential. But I think you should not think of success or breakthroughs that much, we will just continue to do our thing as well as we can, and hopefully the success comes as a reward of the hard work. Definitely we now have a feeling that we have made an album full of great songs which we are really happy and excited with. If we can get the album out for the big masses to listen, I would be surprised if it didnt get some big attention. We know we have done a good work with Waterlines.
Are there any stories behind the lyrics?
Tero: Well, maybe you could say that some of them even have a story, but I prefer not to explain too much of them. I have a feeling that explanations would ruin it for the listener. Lyrics are anyway written so that everyone can have their own interpretations of them. Jappes lyrics are maybe more story-like than mine, but he has not made them too simple either. If the lyrics cooperate with the music to create feelings and images for the listener, they are successful. I think our lyrics are made of stuff that everyone can encounter in their own life... On Waterlines, many lyrics seem to deal with different kinds of emotions, even relationships maybe.
Who made the beautiful artwork of the album? And was the band involved in the design process?
Tero: Limb Music made the decisions about the design and they got Jason Juta to do the artwork, we of course also had the change to give our opinions. Juta had pretty much free hands with the art, the only guidelines by us was that the design should have the water theme, and we also wanted blue to be its main colour. Juta is a great artist, and he delivered some absolute quality, we are very satisfied with it.
Any plans to do a tour?
Tero: So far we have not toured outside Finland, and none of the plans have become real yet, but it is only a matter of time when we will do a some kind of an European tour. Such things must of course be well planned and organized. Right now all the Excalion guys have their own responsibilities to attend to, work, studies, families and so on, and that obviously makes things a bit more complicated when it comes to touring. But as I said, sooner or later we will try to make a longer tour.
Do you have an explanation why there is such a big boom of Metal bands coming out of Finland lately?
Tero: I guess the quality and success of some bands always gives inspiration to other younger bands. That is actually what happened with us and with many others, there were some brilliant Finnish metal bands making their breakthrough in the 90s, and their influence makes other new quality bands appear. Also, it somehow seems that heavy and rock music fits the typical Finnish mentality well. Lots of heavy bands make it to the top of the charts here, and that has made the boom even stronger in this decade. Sometimes people have said that the nature and winters here inspire heavy-sounding and melancholic music, but that sounds a bit like a clich. Maybe there is no simple explanation after all.
If we could travel into the future say 30 or 40 years from now and I would ask you what have you done with your life, what are you hoping you can answer?
Tero: Heh, a good question! Well, first of all, I hope the planet is still here, and I hope I am myself still alive and healthy. You should never take things like that for granted. I hope Excalion has continued to make good music for a long time, and hopefully as many people as possible from all over the world have heard our songs. It is not so important whether I make a living with music or with some other occupation, although I of course hope that we have achieved something big with Excalion. The important thing anyway is being able to live a full life.
At last I have some short personal questions
First bought LP: I belong to the young generation who has never bought an LP. I remember the first CD I bought, of course, that was The Spiders Lullabye by King Diamond.
First gig: The first Excalion gig, at Tyventalo in Konnevesi, in spring 2001.
Favorite singer: That is maybe Bruce Dickinson, I just love especially his solo material. I also like David Coverdales voice a lot.
Favorite guitar player: I have always been amazed by Steve Vais playing, but right now I listen to a Satriani album. Those two and Ritchie Blackmore are great.
Best Excalion song: A tough one... Ill say The Wingman, I have loved that one since we first tried it.
Favorite food: Dark rye bread, it always works.
Favorite drink: Lemon ice tea.
Favorite country: Home sweet home... There are lots of things I like about Finland, so I guess this is my favorite place in the world.
Favorite sport: Ice hockey. JYP Jyvskyl forever!
Best place to play a gig: Any club with a good sound and an excited audience.
Most important person in your life: My girlfriend has a special place in my life. Of course my parents are also dear to me.
Anything to add for our readers: Hello all the metalheads out there! Greetings from Excalion, we have just made an excellent album called Waterlines, find it and check it out, you will be pleasantly surprised! Rock on!
Thanks for the interview
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