Omnium Gatherum interview (02/2016)

With: Jukka Pelkonen
Conducted by: Dream Taster (e-mail)
Published: 17.02.2016

Band profile:

Omnium Gatherum

Today we catch up with Jukka Pelkonen, vocalist of Omnium Gatherum, one of Finland's finest acts and leaders of the renewal of the melodic death metal scene. A few days prior to the release of their album "Grey Heavens" courtesy of Lifeforce Records, this is what transpired.

DT: First of all, thanks for doing this. Your new album is entitled Grey Heavens. How does it feel to have it wrapped up?

Jukka: Thank you. The feeling can be described as awesome I would say. This process of creating 'Grey Heavens' was both arduous and fun. So as I said the feeling pretty great.

DT: Who came up with the album title and what does it mean to you?

Jukka: When we were choosing and thinking of the album title 'Grey Heavens' was one of the strong contestants to begin with. There were other possibilities too but in the end we decided to go with 'Grey Heavens'. We came to the conclusion it was the best choice when considering how to implement the mood to the people that is in the music and lyrics. Actually the title appears in the lyrics of one of the songs and I think it was when we were going over the lyrics Markus proposed it as a possible title for the album. The meaning of the title for me has grown to be quite significant because of the fact that it kind of nails the point of the album. It was not an easy decision to name this album 'Grey Heavens and we discussed it many times still I'm glad the album is titled 'Grey Heavens'. This fact also deepens the meaning to me because it was behind a lot of work.

DT: Can you give us an overview of the album, what is the atmosphere like, that sort of things.

Jukka: 'Grey Heavens' is an album full of feeling sweeping through the whole scale human emotion and mystery like a pendulum. It is a dark album yet shining bright with positive aura as well. The thing about this album is that while being majestic it is still fast and aggressive. This combination really is what we were looking for after the release of 'Beyond' our previous album. 'Beyond' was so epic we decided to create make the new album be more in the "in your face" style. Still 'Grey Heavens' is epic too in it's different parts throughout the album.

Grey Heavens

DT: In terms of inspiration, how important is your environment in your songwriting? What inspires you most?

Jukka: I think that for all of us the inspiration truly is all around. And I am not talking now just about the surroundings but rather a combination of feelings in general and the things one meets in life and of course the surroundings too. So this combination is quite affective for every-one in my opinion because one can not be not affected by these things. In it's way music and sound in general are a part of the environment not just visual things so it is important to be aware of this. It opens up a whole new perspective to be inspired by.

DT: What was the most challenging part of bringing this album to life?

Jukka: It is always a kind of challenge when recording a new album. There are so many things to consider and certain parts for example have to be recorded before others. There is also the practical part of keeping things in schedule which is always the most challenging thing. Yes the time seems to be the thing that keeps running fast when recording an album. Still we have managed again and again to keep the schedules, budgets etc. in order to keep these OG albums coming. There is also a strong sense of reward after completing all the aspects considering a new album. When the music is ready, the artwork is done, when it is time to release. That really is one of the best feelings there are.

DT: If I put you on the spot. Which are your two favorite songs from the album and why?

Jukka: The great liberation' and 'Majesty and silence'. I really can not decide between these two which is my favorite. On the other hand 'The great liberation' is fast and catchy and I just love the verse on that song so this track is definitely one of my favorites. And when thinking about 'Majesty and silence' it also appeals to me greatly especially the middle part of the song when it goes a little bit "black metal". I also really like the chorus on 'Majesty and silence'. It is super catchy with great clean vocals for my opinion. These two are definitely my favorite tracks at the moment.

DT: How is the newfound fame you enjoy since releasing New World Shadows changing your approach to writing new material, recording, or promoting the band?

Jukka: It is a funny thing with things like fame. The modest amount that we have received has changed things but not in the wrong way. Not in the friendship we have or the fun of playing but just the fact that there are more people enjoying the show tends to build up the feeling. It really doesn't matter to us that much though because when we do a show we do it one hundred percent every time. Still if there are more people head banging the atmosphere can rise really high and of course this boosts one performance and takes it to a new level. About writing new music. I don't think we have changed our way of making music that much. I think the music has matured by itself album by album which for us is a natural thing. We want take our music forward yet keeping the OG style intact.

DT: You once again collaborated with Dan Swano for the mix and mastering. How is it working with Dan? What do you like most about him?

Jukka: Yes. Once again we teamed up with Dan. It is easy to say that Dan is a very good guy to work with. He has the ability to make that kind of sound we want and most of all because he can listen. Both the band's opinion and his own so he listens and also suggests stuff. It is a very good thing we have going on with Dan. He also has learned on the way like we I would say. You never know what happens in the future but for these albums we have collaborated everything has worked really good. I don't know what is the best part about him but I can say that one of the best is the fact that he is persistent to make the sound work like we want it to work. He is not one to give up and that is a marvelous thing.

DT: Any interesting anecdotes from the recording session you want to share?

Jukka: Well besides the hurry there was this one thing that bit made things more complicated. Our long time producer Teemu Aalto and his wife had a baby during the recordings so he was forced to leave the studio for a couple of days. So now it was up to the boys to play, record and clean the tracks also. This made the schedule even more tighter and meant more hours to the clock for the guys but in the end we managed to pull it off. Teemu returned to the studio eventually and continued working with the dead tired and exhausted fellows!

DT: Do you already have an outline of what touring will look like in 2016 for Omnium Gatherum? I see a European tour with Draconian is already lined up in Feb/Mar.

Jukka: After the release of the album we kick off the tour madness in Finland first for four shows. After that we head to Europe with Draconian like you mentioned. After that there are summer festivals in the summer mainly in Europe. The fact is that we try to tour as much as possible.

DT: You played in North America last fall, can we expect another tour here in 2016?

Jukka: Yes we did play North America last autumn and it was great. There is a possibility for another tour in North America in 2016, we shall see.

DT: You performed all across the world. What countries or venues will you always remember as a musician?

Jukka: We have played in so many places that it is sometimes hard to remember which venue was in which country. I think the important thing here to notice is that the atmosphere in the venue and the people running it and of course the people who come to see the show play a big part in making the show and the personal experience unique. I can say that it happens in a lot of places and them bee-ing different from each other makes the each one special in a way. One of the most exciting and a little bit weird place was in Japan. It was a town somewhere deep in Japan and we were the only westeners there. This is something that doesn't happen so often so it was a fresh experience that really can be remembered. The show was in this strange sports hall or something which was a peculiar detail as well. The audience was not of the biggest we have had but they were intense enough for us to have a great show still.

DT: Is there one place you haven't played yet where you would love to perform. If so, where and why?

Jukka: South America would be great. Heard so many good things about the scene there.

DT: Who are your favorite bands at the moment?

Jukka: Can't really say. Been listening to some Afghan Whigs recently and a couple of Finnish artists too.

DT: Besides music, what do you like to do in your free time?

Jukka: Watch movies, read, do some sports, drink a bit, stare at the wall. That kind of basic stuff.

DT: What was your most Metal moment of 2015?

Jukka: Recording 'Grey Heavens' and the tours in Europe and in North America. Also we played both our previous albums 'Beyond' and 'New world shadows' live in Finland. That was the first time we have played all the songs in one gig from those two albums. It was an awesome experience too. So a lot of good metal moments in 2015.

DT: As a Canadian and a Rush fan, I gotta ask whose idea was it to cover Subdivisions as a bonus track on Beyond? Tell us about that great cover.

Jukka: Well we all like Rush especially our guitarists and our drummer. 'Subdivisions' was an easy choice for a cover because it was easy to mould in to an OG-style of cover. We wanted to maintain the original feeling and change the look of the song just a bit. And of course we did the cover as a death metal song. This was done to please both ourselves and our fans. Other thing about picking Rush's song for a cover was the fact that no death metal band as far as we know has covered them before. So it was also a kind of a venture into unknown.

DT: Thanks for your time and we will surely see you on the road this year. Keep rocking. Anything else you would like to add?

Jukka: Stay metal friends!

That's it for today. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to Arne at Lifeforce Records for making this interview possible.


Posted on 17.02.2016 by Bringing you reviews of quality music and interesting questions such as:

"A picture is worth a thousand words. How many words is a song worth?"

I have only got so much patience and skills, you do the math.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 173 users
17.02.2016 - 22:54
Au Pays Natal
Nice job DT and thanks!
20.02.2016 - 20:32
Nice interview, can't wait for the full album! The single "Skyline" blew me away.
Glad that i will see them as support act for Amorphis in about a month.
25.02.2016 - 11:58
I'm a newcomer to this band, so it was excellent to read this interview before checking out "Grey Heavens." Thank you, DT.
29.02.2016 - 10:40
Thanks for the interview tho I'm still waiting for a clear answer about the meaning of the album title Cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Grey Heavens now !

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