I worked hard preparing the questions for this interview back in August 2013, but unfortunately never heard back from the band. A week or two back, half a year later, the answers finally reached me. Completely out of the blue, I would say.
I had forgotten about the whole thing, and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I was going to publish the feature. It’s already a bit outdated, and I have some principles, one of them is that the band’s interviewed by email need to respect the deadline. However, as singer Jori did a good job of answering my questions, and some people told me they really would like to read the interview, I decided to publish it to shorten the time until my next brand new feature is published.
First Jori, what brought the four of you together and made you form a band? Was it the love for the same type of music and bands?
– We knew each other from a few years back. I was recording some songs for Pyrotoxic (the band Ville and Markus used to play in) and it came up that all of us would like to play something closer to early eighties speed metal. Our drummer Miika lived next door to the studio, I called him to join in and so we had a band. Not long after that all of our former metal bands were pretty much dead from lack of inspiration, which left a lot of room for Speedtrap.
As you said, Markus and Ville previously played in Pyrotoxic who featured on one of the releases in Stormspell’s “Thrash Clash”-series. Why did this promising band split up?
– I understand that it was a combination of lost motivation and artistic differences. Some of the members didn’t want to play the type of stuff that later became Speedtrap’s style. When Pyrotoxic split up, Speedtrap and Forced Kill were born, so I think it all worked out pretty well.
You have been in lots of bands, but most of them, at least those that I know, are quite far away from Speedtrap musically. Did you experiment using your voice in different ways until you found the style you use in Speedtrap?
– I’m originally a drummer, and my other bands have usually been death metal and grindcore. As a singer though I don’t know how to growl, I was always fond of singers in traditional metal. When I started with Speedtrap I had pretty much no clue on how to sing heavy metal, all I had done was sing some Anthrax tunes at home and some Misfits covers in another band years ago. There wasn’t really anything to experiment with, I could only sing in one way and we went with that on “Raw Deal”. After that I went towards a very clean style on the Death with a Dagger split until on “Powerdose” I found a more snarly style. After the recording I’ve already learnt some new things, so I’m expecting my singing to evolve come the next release.
Apparently you released a demo in 2008, including four of the six songs that featured on “Raw Deal”. Is this in fact the same recording later released as “Raw Deal”? Were the songs “Living Sacrifice” and “Warhorse” also recorded in the same session? If so, why did they feature on “Raw Deal”, but not on “Heavy Metal Raid”?
– Yes they were recorded in the same session. We wanted the demo to be as tight and coherent as possible, and at the time we felt that we chose the strongest songs for “Heavy Metal Raid”. When High Roller suggested the release of a 12” he asked if we had any more songs recorded. We just slapped those two songs on the vinyl without much thinking really. A six song demo would have been too long, but a 12” was fine.
“Raw Deal” was released on Thunderknights Records which also put out the Cast Iron-EP. Who were behind this label, and how did you hook up with them? Is the label still active?
– It was a sub-label of No Sign Of Life and we knew them through the Finnish underground. I’m not really sure what they’re up to right now, I guess someone bought the rights to their catalog or something? I don’t know for sure.
I love the fact that you thank an underground act like Blood Money on “Raw Deal”. Would you rate the band as big source of inspiration for Speedtrap? Which of their albums do you prefer? What are people who don’t know this great band missing out on, in your opinion?
– It’s one of the biggest influences for Speedtrap next to Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” and Diamond Head’s “Lightning to the Nations”. I can easily say on behalf of the whole band that the first album is better. It’s a very unique style of speed metal, very hectic and over the top. Everyone in the band seem to be racing against each other, but it turns out awesome. It’s like Jaguar played on 45, how could you go wrong?
The cover of the “Raw Deal”-EP can be viewed as a tribute to “Heavy Metal Maniac” and “Red, Raw And Bleeding”. I guess most people spotted the reference to Exciter, but did you get many reactions from fans seeing the chainsaw and thinking of the Blood Money-record? Also, was the title “Raw Deal” a reference to another band which I guess is a source of inspiration, Jaguar?
– Everybody asked if it was an Exciter-tribute. Well what does it look like, haha! Exciter and Blood Money were both a huge influence, as was Jaguar to whom we paid tribute with the name of the album. The album cover holds another meaning though. It represented our ambition to drive things further than our influences by replacing the knife with a chainsaw. Our idea is to acknowledge our influences, but use them only as a starting point to what we really want achieve. We don’t ultimately want to just pay tribute, we want to conquer!
More than four years have passed since the release of “Raw Deal”. Which part of the process that lead to the new album has been most time consuming?
– We lived in different cities and were broke as hell. We had no time to practice, no money to record the album and a ton of other stupid shit in the way. We could’ve done the album earlier, but it would’ve been a half-assed DIY production with bad equipment. That would have only damaged our reputation. It was a better choice to wait until we had the chance to get a proper sound and release.
I am aware of the fact that you participated on a split-release with Death With A Dagger in between, why did you choose this type of release? I have to admit that I didn’t buy it, even though I liked “Raw Deal” a lot, probably because it didn’t get the same attention as an EP with only Speedtrap-material would have gotten. In retrospect, are you satisfied with this release and the way you presented it?
– We have a strong connection to the punk scene and the album was supposed to represent this. Death with a Dagger are our friends and later Ville even played with them at one point. It was the right kind of release at the time it was done, since we were aiming it mainly for the Finnish scene and it succeeded in bringing attention to us from both the punks and the metalheads. The only thing I didn’t really like about it was the front cover, it didn’t work out as well as it could’ve.
While the vinyl-version of “Raw Deal” as well as the split with Death With A Dagger came out on High Roller, “Powerdose” is released by Svart, a label not known for working with pure heavy metal. How did you end up there, and did you have other offers as well? In days of modern technology and communication, is it important for you to be on a Finnish label?
– Svart was the only serious offer, since they were the only ones who offered to help with the studio bill. That way we got the chance to get the powerful sound the songs deserved. They got their hands on our rehearsal demo of the new songs and got into contact. The fact that they don’t work with only heavy metal is not a problem, they have a wide understanding of underground music, including metal. It’s very nice to have a Finnish label since you can meet up face to face. Managing things through email alone is not impossible, but it gets old really fast if you have any problems.
“Powerdose” is recorded on analogue equipment, something that seems quite popular these days, with bands trying to capture the eighties sound. Is this what you wanted? Did you have a reference album that you wanted “Powerdose” to sound like?
– We didn’t want a 1:1 duplication of the old sound, but we did know the possibilities of analog recording. Tube amps and vocals sound awesome when recorded analog, meaning you can go a bit over the top with the volume and it only sounds better. With digital technology you can’t do that. I can’t remember if we really had a reference album. I’m very used to not achieving the sound on any reference album you bring to the studio, so I usually go with the flow while on the spot, trying to make the best out of the equipment on hand.
Listening to your new album, I get the impression that you live by the saying “less is more” when it comes to both the music as well as the production. Is this correct?
– That’s not really what we’re after. We have a tendency of stuffing the songs pretty full to the brim with a lot of stuff happening at the same time. I feel like it’s a “more is more” approach and it fits us better than being modest with our songs. I always like to use a lot of riffs and hooks. The same goes with the production which pretty much aims to be very loud and powerful.
I was a bit surprised to find “Redemption Of Might” on the new album, as it featured on “Raw Deal”. Why have you decided to do yet another recording of this one and even place it as the opening track, as it was the fourth song on “Raw Deal”?
– It’s been a live favourite since the beginning and we thought it deserved to open up for the album because of that. We also thought that the version on “Raw Deal” was lacking, since we play the song much faster live. I think it’s best possible way to start the album, as it goes straight to the point. You know immediately what the record is about when you hear the main riff.
When the split-album was released, you described it as more punk and more rock’n roll than “Raw Deal”. Which of your past releases do you feel “Powerdose” has most in common with?
– I think it continues with what we started on the split, being a combination of all our influences in a very effortless way. The metal, punk and rock are there and at best have become unseparable. This is exactly what we want to do, to combine the best elements of those styles into one coherent package.
The title of the album, “Powerdose” is very fitting to the musical content of the album. Is there a deeper meaning to the title, or is it simply a description of what the listener gets when he puts this record on his turntable? The cover art is very simple and powerful. Are there any “hidden” references this time around too?
– No references this time, just heavy metal thunder! The title is a wordplay of “overdose of power”, it sounds good and sticks in your head easily. No tricks were really needed at that point.
How important is diversity in Speedtrap? Even an early metal album with speed and punk-influences like Jaguars “Power Games” has songs that sound completely different, like “Master’s Game” or “Ain’t No Fantasy”. On “Powerdose” there are a few rockier tracks, are these here to give the album some diversity?
– Diversity is key with extreme music, it’s almost impossible to make a good LP with just one central idea. Speeding all the time gets dull, so you need to vary the tempo and tone to stay interesting. Writing different tracks shows our personality as band, with our love to punk and rock music. “Out Of Time, Out Of Line” sticks out, but it’s a very natural part of the whole album.
Looking at the song titles only, it’s hard to get an impression of your lyrics. How important are the lyrics in the expression of Speedtrap, are they secondary to the music? Do they have a general message that you want to put across, or are they just words to go with the music?
– There are some older lyrics that are pretty much just heavy metal aesthetic, but some lyrics have more to them. I aim to combine the metal aesthetic with something more serious. “Out Of Time, Out Of Line” is about people being cornered and breaking out violently against everyone around them. I feel it’s quite pessimistic, which contrasts with the feel of the song. “Powerdose” was written at the time when North Korea was threatening South Korea and USA with nuclear warheads, and it represents the delusional pursuit of godlike power. “Battle Cry” was inspired by the political situation in Finland where complete fools seem to win all the elections by masking their idiotism as genius.
You use “Not for wimps” as your slogan. What is it about your music that doesn’t appeal to wimps?
– We’re dead serious with what we do and have no shame whatsoever. Everything is either loud, fast or both at the same time and no mercy is to be given.
As far as I can remember, you haven’t performed many concerts outside of Finland. Do you feel that it’s a drawback coming from Finland performing this kind of heavy metal? Personally I always give every band a chance, regardless of nationality, but I have to admit I am a bit critical to Finnish bands because of all the terrible acts like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, not to mention those really crappy folk metal-bands. Would things have been easier for Speedtrap if you were from Sweden, for instance?
– We’ve done one show in the UK and three in Germany (yeah, but not when I made the questions). It’s harder to get shows abroad playing metal rather than punk, because shows are usually costlier to arrange. Our nationality has never been a problem, more like the opposite. People mostly seem to associate Finnish music with high quality. Being Swedish would be a lot more problematic, since the competition there is fierce! We’ve had it easy for us to get attention in Finland since there aren’t a lot of competitors in our style.
Leif, I had similar experience like you, you are not alone 😉