INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY – JJ
I’m not gonna lie. Interviews have become my favorite part of this newly discovered rock journalist lifestyle that I find myself living these days. Sure, the money and chics are fucking awesome (wait, I don’t get any money or chics….), but I get all giddy like a schoolgirl when I get the opportunity to talk to some of my favorite musicians. So this week, I was especially honored to talk to guitarist Wille Naukkarinen from Finnish metal band Ghost Brigade. Not only have I had them circled as a potential interview target since I started doing this, but Wille was especially forthcoming, and even revealed some news that he hasn’t told anyone else. That’s right bitches!!! Just call me JJ “Scoop” Jackson.
METAL FUZZ: So how did Ghost Brigade become a band? Did you all know each other, or did you find each other because of music?
Wille Naukkarinen: Yeah we knew each other. I’ve been playing with Veli-Matti (Suihkonen/drums) and Janne (Julin/bass) in the same bands since the early 90s. Manne (Ikonen/vocals) and Tommi (Kiviniemi/guitar) had another local stoner rock band together. Conveniently, both bands happened to break up around the same time so we joined forces and formed Ghost Brigade. We had wanted to do something more melancholic and heavier for some time anyway so it was the right time plus that I had wanted to play with Tommi in the same band for years. We often talked about it.
MF: How did you decide upon Ghost Brigade as the band name?
Wille: Janne insisted we should have the word ghost in the band name…..I don’t really know why. I guess he just liked the word. I came up with brigade, which is taken from a song called “Snow Brigade” by Danish indie band Mew. One of my all time favorite songs.
MF: Who did you listen to growing up? What bands are influences on your own music?
Wille: Well, when I was a kid I used to borrow my sister’s tapes. There was a lot of 80s Finnish rock in them, and Bruce Springsteen. That’s how it all started. But I was fascinated by rock music already back then. I still have a photo somewhere with me wearing a WASP shirt at the age of 8. When I came to my teenage years, after a lengthy disco period, I started listening to a lot of grunge, Sepultura and Metallica. But then I discovered extreme metal through friends. I guess at that age you are just listening to pretty much what your friends are listening to anyway, but I really liked it. All of a sudden, Sepultura wasn’t heavy enough. We listened to Edge of Sanity, Morbid Angel, Brutal Truth, Carcass and a lot of Swedish death metal and drove our mopeds around the town (laughing). It was good times. That, I guess, was my teenage years music-wise in a nutshell. Can’t believe that was some 20 years ago. After that, my music taste has expanded significantly. Nowadays I’m not really that genre-oriented. I’ll listen to anything that sounds good. Electro, rock, pop, indie, metal….anything goes.
MF: Are you working on new material? If so, in what direction does the band seem to be headed? How does it differ from prior Ghost Brigade releases?
Wille: Yes we are, and this is actually the first interview where I talk about it. We just started rehearsing new songs two weeks ago so the whole thing is kind of new. There’s a lot of new songs though, we have rehearsed only three new songs so far but there’s at least five more still waiting. I can’t say much about the new stuff yet because the process is still in early stages….There is a lot of variety in the songs, they are a bit more complex maybe and I don’t know, this time it just feels fresh. Feels like we are going somewhere with this as opposed to just sticking to the same old formula. We have more or less done things the same way for 3 albums, it’s time for new tricks to keep us excited.
MF: Do you have a typical pattern for writing songs? Do your write lyrics, then music? Music, then lyrics? Or does it depend on the song?
Wille: Usually I write the skeletons of songs at home. I send instrumental demos to the guys and if everyone likes it, we take the song to rehearsals and start playing it. That’s where we make all final arrangements and adjustments as well as add vocals. As far as lyrics go, both me and Manne write them and collectively decide which lyrics fit a certain song.
MF: I could listen to “Into the Black Light” about 20 times a day. Do you have a personal favorite Ghost Brigade song? As a side note, what non-Ghost Brigade tunes are you really in to right now?
Wille: My favorite GB songs are the new ones!! From older ones, I’m proud of every song we have ever recorded, but especially Breakwater, 22:22, and A Storm Inside are songs that I really enjoy playing live
Pentagram: First Daze Here
The Cure: Disintegration
The Gutter Twins: Saturnalia
MF: Where do you see Ghost Brigade in 5 years?
Wille: In Jyvaskyla, Finland hanging out as best friends and rehearsing new songs for album number 6
MF: I saw on your Facebook page that you did a live version of “Them Bones” with Sons of Aeon. What inspired that particular choice? Are you an Alice in Chains fan?
Wille: Tony and Pasi from SoA have this AIC-tribute band with a few local musicians called Men in the Box. They recently played a show at a local venue and Manne did guest vocals for I think 2 songs. I was in the audience that night and let me tell you, I got goosebumps. It was so good. Honestly one of the best cover bands I’ve ever seen. They just completely nailed it. I’ve always been a huge Alice In Chains fan…eagerly waiting for the new record. I think “Black Gives Way to Blue” was and is one of the best “comeback” records ever.
MF: If you could create your own concert/tour, who would you tour with? What would your dream tour be?
Wille: Let’s say Deftones, God Is An Astronaut, Breach, Ghost Brigade. That would be quite something
MF: Where is you favorite place to play? A particular place? Or country?
Wille: I don’t have a favorite place really. I’ll play pretty much anywhere
MF: Should we mark our calendars in anticipation of an American tour?
Wille: We’ve talked about it for years now but the thing is that an American tour requires time and money and usually we have neither. So we’ll see. Families, work and costs make it really difficult. I would really love to come over though, I’ve never even visited your country as a tourist.
MF: My mandatory question: Why do you think Nordic countries have such a tremendous metal scene?
Wille: Moshing keeps us warm during the cold winters? Haha, honestly, I have no idea
MF: Weed, beer, booze, or none of the above?
Wille: Red wine comes first, then beer.
MF: And lastly, who is the better death metal band? Morbid Angel or Entombed?
So now that you know that they are working on new material, it would be a good time to brush up on their existing catalog so you can speak fluent Ghost by the time their new release drops. You can check out everything you need to know about them at www.ghostbrigade.net, and of course you can find them on Facebook as well at www.facebook.com/ghostbrigade