To an outsider the Finnish scene appears as a very obscure and mysterious formation, in which all musicians know each other, everyone plays in everyone else's band, forms side projects, and even records covers of each other. And of course, inside this big family there are people who have been around for a while now, people who are helping the young new bands and consulting the old acts. The person we interrogated in this interview is exactly one of those types sweating for the prosperity of Finnish metal for the past 15 years - Tapio 'Kurva Bitcha' Wilska - a sound engineer, a light engineer, and as it has turned out recently, a singer in his own band - Sethian
MetalKings.com: Hi, Wilska. Some time ago I opened for myself a new band called Sethian. Guess who's band it was? ;) And now we have a possibility to talk a little bit about this new project. Well, nowadays it so rare that some band can create something new in melodic power metal but you, guys, really rock. Fresh catchy melodies, good vocal, perfect lyrics… Can you reveal us some bio details of the band? Who and when started the project?
Sethian: No idea...is it someone I should know? Nahh, thanks for your kind words. Ah well, the band was started in '98, when my previous band Nattvindens Grat disbanded. Me and our guitarist Jussi started making songs for Sethian, Tuomas and Sami from NG went on to give birth to Nightwish. The first idea for Sethian was not to make a project but a band with good songs and good people. We took our time as I feel I have done a lot of things in the past that could have been done better, so we decided to work on our music until it was EXACTLY what we wanted, so here we are, a few years later. At that time me and Jussi also played in Wizzard, made a couple of albums and played a lot of gigs, but all along worked to realize this dream of ours. There have been a few line up changes on the way, as we wanted to find the right people for this, and I believe we have succeeded in that quite well.
MetalKings.com: Why did you named your band Sethian?
Sethian: I think the name represents my life philosophy perfectly. In ancient egyptian beliefs the god Seth was the opposer, the adversary, the questioner. He is also referred as "the god of chaos" or "the lord of northern sky". In gnostic tradition the sethians were a sect appraising knowledge, individuality, wisdom and search for truth. I have very little in common with modern setians like Aquino and The Temple Of Set, but I find a lot of valid symbols for my ideas in older traditions. I am a very non-religious person, but I use a lot of imagery from religious mythology to convey the ideas I want to say in my songs. Plus it is a good, sharp name for the band, don't you think?
MetalKings.com: Can you tell us a few words about the members of Sethian. Who are they, what music do they like, do they have hobbies?
Sethian: We have all known each other for along time and spend a lot of time together, even outside the band stuff. The menagerie is:
Jussi Koponen, guitars. My brother in arms and one of my best friends. World's biggest Kiss and Queensryche fan and a complete maniac. Has the world's best thoughts and opinions (at least he thinks so...) and penchant for alcohol. Has dogs and spends most of his time on the computer or in the bar...
Juuso Jalasmaki, bass. Juuso is also a brilliant guitarist. Plays also in a band called Dreamachine. Has two little kids so no time for hobbies...Has also probably the worst sense of humour in the whole world, surpassing even Repe of IN and Trollhorn from Finntroll in the area of lousy jokes...
Marco Kautonen, Guitars. Our 6ft 5 kid. His ability in guitar never ceases to amaze me. Stays pretty much to his own, tinkers with electronics and cars all the time. Listens to stuff like Yngvie Malmsteen and the likes.
Me, Wilska, vocals. Hobbies...well high arts and alcohol actually. All my free time (which I really do not have...) is spent reading, painting, fishing... I pretty much listen to all kinds of music, but my biggest loves remain Black Sabbath, 80's heavy metal, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead...
I am sad to say but our drummer left the band just a few days ago, but we have a new drummer already spoken for, who will do the album. You'll hear about his personality later on...
MetalKings.com: To my mind your music sounds more like melodic power metal but there are many bands in Finland who's trying to play in the same style. What's the secret of your success? How you are going to make your music distinguish from the other bands?
Sethian: Writing good songs. We do not consider ourselves a power metal band in the vein of Stratovarius or Helloween, but I leave the genre thing to someone else. We try to write good catchy songs that awake emotions in the listener. We have been compared to a lot of bands but I like to think that we still retain our own sound. Future will show about the success part...at the moment we really are an unknown band, but the response so far to the songs we have made available thru the web is overwhelming. We had like 3000-4000 downloads the first week, and we got really enthusiastic feedback, so no complaints. The finnish scene...I think Finland has a lot of original bands who have their own sound...trying to imitate someone else's sound would be totally contradictory to why I do music in the first place...
MetalKings.com: Who's writing songs in Sethian and what's his greatest inspiration while writing songs?
Sethian: We all have written songs but it seems that at this point Jussi and Juuso make the most music, while I do the lyrics. We arrange the music as a group. Inspiration... I can only speak on my part but inspiration can be found anywhere. I keep a sort of a diary for where I have written the songs, the lyrics are actually my diary...It is kinda cliche to say I don't want to explain my lyrics very much, but I really find it more rewarding for a listener to make their own interpretations. I use a lot of imagery from religion, occult traditions, alchemy and philosophy in my lyrics but basically you could say I write about my personal life. I live a pretty fuckin' weird life, heheh...
MetalKings.com: Your vocal is extremely good, unbelievably pleasant timbre. Did you take lessons or it's a gift of nature?
Sethian: Some of it probably is physical, but I do work on it a lot. Some older things that I've done sound nowadays completely crap, like the NG albums where I had real problems with tune and I really hadn't found "my own voice". After that I started to work with a singing teacher, singing in a choir and generally just rehearsing a lot. Some people have said my timbre reminds them of older finnish tango singers, dunno about that. I guess we get that melancholic vibe in our mother's milk...
MetalKings.com: Many people say that first of all the success of the band is totally depends on the personality of the frontman. So who's the frontman in your band and what kind of personality he is?
Sethian: Heh...those people are wrong I think. Of course it helps to have someone doing interviews and stuff who has something to say, but I believe firmly in that music to some extent speaks for itself. In our band the things are divided according to who does what best.
MetalKings.com: As I know you were looking for a record company to release your debut album. Did you succeed? Can you reveal the name of the label and the release date?
Sethian: Yep, we have a recording deal in the works. We sent our promo to only 4 companies, and got three offers for a deal. We are just negotiating the final details with one company, but I'm not allowed to name it before it's totally finalised. Let's just ay that things look extremely positive right now, enough studiotime and great promotion. Also there are some exciting licensing deals on the works, one even for the russian market so...
MetalKings.com: Do you have the title for your debut album?
Sethian: Nothing definitive yet. I have been toying with ideas but this again will be a group decicion (ie. a fight). Naming an album is a huge thing, and I do hate it when albums are called something unimaginative like "1" or have no name at all.
MetalKings.com: What other songs besides Dream Domain, Road To Nowhere, Crimson Tide and Heavens May Fall we can find on the album? Are there any covers?
Sethian: We have something like 25 songs written and ready, but the album will contain I guess 10-12 songs. We do demos of the songs during the summer and pick the best ones after that. We aim for a strong, unified album so...Some titles that definitely will be on the album are our oldest song "Blood Calling" and new "hits" like "Magdalene", "Love Under Will" and "Too Far Gone". The album will probably be all our own songs, but we have jammed a few covers, and now it seems that we are going to record a very "sethianized" version of Chris DeBurgh's "Don't Pay The Ferryman" in the sessions to be used as a single b-side.
MetalKings.com: Ok, let's talk a while about you. I know that you're working for several bands as a sound tech. And you have already visited Russia with Impaled Nazarene and Finntroll this March. Another band that you're working with is Nightwish. So do you plan to visit Russia one more time this summer together with Tarya & Co?
Sethian: I have worked as a sound and light tech and roadie for...I guess 15 years. I've toured with the aforementioned bands plus Babylon Whores, YUP, Barathrum, lots of bands. Plus I have played in a lot of bands since I was 15. And yes, Russia. I have been over there three times with bands and a few times just as a tourist. The first time was I guess in '86, first time touring was '98 with IN and Children Of Bodom. Touring in Russia is always a tremendous pleasure as the people over there really go crazy on gigs and I personally have met such fuckin' cool persons there that I'm fortunate to call them my friends. It would be cool to come there again with NW, but that is not going to happen this year.
MetalKings.com: Can you remember some funny story that happened on the road? (I mean the one besides this remarkable nude experience with IN ;)
Sethian: These things happen all the time. If you get me started we will run out of space...But crazy fucking things happen on the road. This is why I go on the road with bands in the first place. The sad truth is that the best and craziest stories never get told publicly...that is something that could be called "The Code Of The Road", a sort of a trust thing between the bands and crews. But...usually the stories involve excessive alcohol abuse, people passing out in wrong places, making little practical jokes to bands...all that. For example once I was touring with this quite well-known metal band, and their singer started getting a touch of alcohol psychosis, so we had (with the help from other crew members) to tie him up and gag him with roadie tape until he would calm down...And once, as a nice practical joke, I switched all the water on the stage, for the band to drink, into vodka. You should have seen their expressions when their drummer took the first huge gulp and puked instantly all over his drums...
MetalKings.com: Do you have friends among musicians and who are they?
Sethian: Most of my friends are musicians. The finnish metal scene is reletively small, so you get to know people very well. Obviously the guys from IN, Finntroll, Nightwish, etc. are among my good friends and after this long time on the road I know many bands and crewmembers very well...
MetalKings.com: Well, we have a special tradition at the very end of the interview we always ask the most stupid questions that you were asked; for sure they require the most stupid answers that you can give. Imagine, one day you wake up in the morning and find two naked men in your room. So who are they, where are they in your room - in your bed, under your bed, in the cupboard, where? and what happened the evening before? ;)
Sethian: Nice one...the people are Arkki from IN and Samu from Finntroll. The apartment is actually Luttinen's place in Helsinki. We all lay in a row beside the red couch in various states of alcoholism. On the TV bad american porno is playing. We have arrived ther from Corner bar, decided to drink some more booze and have some "naked time" but have passed out...ahhh sorry, I'm lousy with this kind of things...
MetalKings.com: If you were so "lucky" to live in the Stone Age with matriarchy regime what female would rule your tribe? I mean what famous female you can stand as a leader of your tribe?
Sethian: This one is hard, dunno about any famous females...my wife is the ruler of my "tribe", so you could say I do live under a matriarchy regime all the time...but if I would have to choose a famous one...hmmm...Yep, Emily Dickinson. There are not enough poets running the world, and she was a completely suicidal girl, so I could take over the things after her imminent suicide...
MetalKings.com: You're starving in the desert for several days and a magician offers you some drinks and food but special ones. What do choose: Pedigri Pal with milk, fried caterpillars with coffee, crocodile eggs with tomato juice or bull testicles with vodka?
Sethian: Well I have actually eaten bull testicles (with and without vodka...also ram testicles in cream sauce are great...) so, because I am always open to new things, plus I am totally addicted to coffee, I'll go with the caterpillars and coffee...I gather that caterpillars are an excellent source of protein, so that would be actually great. And it has to be said that I cannot live without caffeine and nicotine so this is the obvious choice. Could I trade some of the catepillars (or some of my fingers) for a pack of Camels?
MetalKings.com: What's the most stupid girl's name you've ever heard?
Sethian: There's this girl's name in eastern asian cultures, Pillu, that is supposed to give good fortune and happines to it's bearer...in finnish it actually means pussy. Also, when ever I hear the name Esmeralda, I think of a huge mexican mamacita with a moustache, cigar and bigger balls than me.
MetalKings.com: And your final word to all of your fans in Russia.
Sethian: Yob tvoiu mat', sraka...Nahhhh....sorry. Just a huge cheer to my russian friends, Konstantin, Victor, Sasha, Alex,Maria...too many to mention, but you know who ya are. See you soon and hope to tour there in the nearest possible future. To all other russian maniacs, keep real and see ya soon!
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