I wouldn't actually say that Agonizer is really an unknown band at Metal Storm, at least not to our members who listen to Metal Storm Radio. Yet I think we need a brief introduction to the band. Who are you and where do you come from?
Jussi: Hello all readers, we're Finnish melodic metal band from a small town called Pyhäjärvi which is located in the middle of nowhere. Agonizer's line-up in 2005 is: Pasi Kärkkäinen -- vocals, Jussi Tikka -- bass, Joni Laine -- guitar, J-P (Jasso) Perälä -- guitar, Mika Heinonen -- keyboards & backing vocals. Our drummer left the band a couple month ago and just now we've a new drummer who has the name Atte Palokangas.
I know it's boring to put your own music into a box and label it but for those readers that have not heard Agonizer yet could you describe your music?
Jussi: Pasi has a different voice than usual is learned to hear. I think it sounds pretty unique in this huge "melodic metal" genre. Someone has told that we sound like Sentenced but I will not agree completely with that argument. Many beautiful melodic choruses and lots of great songs with strong attitude.
Tell us a bit about the early days of the band and what all has happened since those days?
Jussi: Well, three line-up changes, unsuccessful negotiations with Century Media and no, we don't know why they stopped. I still don't have any bad words about CM. Six demos and one self-released EP. And of course lots of gigs all over the Finland.
So far you've released several demos and EPs. Can you tell us a bit about each release and where they were recorded? All of your releases are self-financed. Could you tell us how you were able to do that? It would be good advice to any new band forming that will need to finance their own releases.
Jussi: We made our first demo at Studio Jambo, Iisalmi. We had a little bit different line-up, today there's only three guys left from those days: me, Mika and Jasso who is the only one founder left in this band. Other demos are all recorded at Astia-Studios and, yes, we have spend lots of money, even though we're not rich.
Pasi: My advice for that is pure and simple. Don't use your money from the gigs for drinking. Save it all for the good of the band. That's how we have done it and that's why we have been able to make those recordings.
Jussi: And of course, if your stuff is good -- you'll get many gigs.
Your distributors sold out the latest EP "World of Fools", how many copies is that actually? Are you going to re-release it or leave it a collectors item for the time when you are big and famous?
Jussi: 1050 copies but we've promoted about 200 pieces all over the world. I believe that we'll re-release it someday. Maybe, as you said, when we are big and famous. (laugh)
Your songs are quite melancholic and sad. They tell stories about lost love and broken hearts, or general disappointments in life. How do your songs spring up and who does the main composing and lyric writing work?
Jussi: Pasi can tell all about the lyric writing but I can say few words about composing. Usually Joni or Jasso (I'm not so often) have made some kind of song foundation and rest of the band together will make some modifications so long that it's good.
Pasi: Well... I don't know if it's about lost love and broken hearts... If someone likes to think that way it's OK. It's more about things that other bands/artists have never done in any song. God, religion and especially about my personal relations to them and about values in life in general, like my idea of the meaning of life. Do everything you dream of doing, and when you lie in your bed ready to die there must be no single thing that you would regret in your life, so that you are ready. Also I just write about things that piss me off like terrorism, hypocrisy, use of religion for your own gain.
Are there any bands that you'd name as Agonizer's musical influences? What kind of music you guys listen to yourselves?
Pasi: There are so many. I personally take influences from any music that I hear. I believe there can be named such bands like Queen, Anastasia, DIO, Megadeth, Disturbed as a cut-through. Mainly I take the composing ideas from just one part of the song. Like, hey, there's an interesting order of lyrics -- I'd like to do something like that too. Songs themselves are nothing like the ones that have influenced them. I like Killswitch Engage at the moment very much. Also Finnish band Mokoma rocks.
Jussi: I don't know where the influences come but these days I've listened few Finnish acts like Mokoma, Maj Karma, Stam1na and Purity. Also many Swedish bands are good, for example Soilwork, Meshuggah, Pain, In Flames etc. But I have to say here that I don't like In Flames' snare sound at all in their last couple of albums. Same thing with Metallica. Just had to say, heh.
So far every single person that I know and has heard your music has been quite shocked about the fact that you still don't have a record deal. I'd guess that it's not because of lack of trying but something else. Are the record labels completely deaf and stupid or what in the world is the reason that no label has signed Agonizer yet?
Jussi: That first one. Not really, I really don't know why.
Pasi: I would have to guess this one but... I think that it's true that record labels are in some kind of depression in financial way and Agonizer just says to them "there is a risk here".
I saw you guys live at FME and I've got to say it was one hell of a show! How much have you toured so far and are there going to be many gigs in near future?
Jussi: Thank you Angelique very much! Of course we hope that we'll get as many gigs as possible. We have toured all over Finland, much more than we expected because we're still a demo band. In 2004 we made many gigs at great festivals, for example in Pellavarock and Nummirock.
Before we wrap up this interview and say goodbyes lets discuss a bit more the future of Agonizer. How do you guys see it and what are you going to focus on? I bet one challenge is this damn record deal issue but if it comforts you even a bit, I do know that finally some label will realize Agonizer's real value and sign you guys. But if not, will there be more releases?
Pasi: If no one will sign us, we will make a debut album anyway. I'm kind of frustrated by the situation at the moment.
Jussi: Heh, I have to say that Pasi is always the most negative person in this band. But yes, sooner or later. And just now I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
So this is it! It's time to thank you for your time to answer my questions and wish you all the best in the future. Please keep us fans at Metal Storm posted about what's going on with the band and now I leave you to the final words of this interview.
Jussi: Big thanks to the Metal Storm's Scott and others who have supported us! And I would also like to thank all our fans. If there are any… Please come all to watch our show on stage someday!
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