Hanna Tsepesh: Moro Harju! Thanks a lot for give this interview! First of all tell me a little bit about Shade Empire history and who are the members and what they play.
Harju:Hello! Shade Empire got started in Kuopio 1999. After three demos our first full length album, Sinthetic, came out in 2004. It was released trough Avantgarde records. In 2006 we changed our label to Dynamic arts records. This was also the year we released our second album Intoxicate O.S. After this release our former drummer Mr. Makkonen was replaced by insane guy called Rasane, or as we call him The Face. In spring we started 2007 to write the material for Zero Nexus. It was released in 2008. The band consists of six sick individuals. I bring the voice and twisted tales to this mixture. Savolainen is our cantor. He creates the synth stuff that gives the music that eerie atmosphere, and on the other hand the futuristic sound. Sirkkiä is the other half of our guitar section. He made some damn good riffs on Z.N. Niiranen is our lead guitarist. Crazy looking bald guy, who can throw in a tasty jam anytime. Mantere is the pulse of the band. Talented bass player indeed. And finally the blast master Rasane is in charge of the infernal drum beats.
Hanna Tsepesh: It was a difficult journey for the band? You have some kind of support in Finland? The band signed with Dynamic Arts Records, how are the things working with your new label?
Harju:There are so many talented bands in Finland, so the ones that can really “get in on” have to be damn good. We have done a lot of work and we’ve been able to create our own kind of sound. During the past months we’ve done some live shows and the best ones are coming as the festival season starts. Especially Tuska is something that we are really looking forward to. So far people have liked our live shows. We want to put on aggressive and brutal shows. Always nice to see a pit in the audience. Things have gone pretty nice with DAR. It’s not a big label, but they do their best. It’s good to keep in mind that this kind of music is quite marginal stuff so you can’t expect huge sales... at least not yet...
Hanna Tsepesh:Yeah, i understand it! So what is your favorite bands at the moment?
Harju:I personally listen lot of black and death metal. For the past few years there hasn’t really been any new band that would have blown my mind, so I listen to those bands that have effected me in the past. Bathory, Emperor, satyricon, Necrophagia, Carcass, Slayer, Morbid angel, Bloodbath, just to mention few. Havoc unit, Behexen, Deathchain, Torture Killer, Ajattara are some Finnish bands that are definitely worth mentioning.
Hanna Tsepesh: Great bands by the away...! What is your inspirations to create the lyrics for Shade Empire?
Harju:The best inspiration is to explore human mind. You can get ideas by just reading the news. Every day somebody just simply loses ones mind and does something totally insane. It’s something that fascinates me. But I also read alot.
Books are great source of inspiration. And of course you a bit twisted imagination too... Zero Nexus is consept album and the main idea is that these persons abandon their humanity to achieve something that they think is more valuable than human life. By their actions they are trying to open the gateway to apocalypse. But one can find many other meanings there as well.
That’s the whole point. They have been written in a stream of thoughts so when reading them you should not try decode them, but instead just let you own thoughts fly and create your own images while listening the music.
Hanna Tsepesh: You have some singing lessons? I ask it, because you have a fantastic voice and with the time is even getting better…
Harju:I’ve had two singing lessons. Newer needed any lessons for growling, that’s something I’ve just learned by my self over the years, but with clean vocals I needed some help. I was lucky that Mr. Mantere (our bass
player) has a fiance that is really pro in these things. She helped me to get my clean vocals together. Although I don’t think that my clean vocals are that good... That’s something that I really need to work to get better. After Zero Nexus came out I’ve been training my growls a lot. I’m not all satisfied on the vocals on zero nexus. A friend of mine owns a studio, so I’ve had a great opportunity to train there. On the next album you will hear some new things...
Hanna Tsepesh:Hum, next album i can’t wait ! I know that you also play bass in Ajattara and Deathchain right?! Can you tell me when you started? And why the bass?
Harju:I’ve been with Deathchain since the very beginning and with Ajattara I’ve played allmost two years now. I like to play live and all of these bands play different kind of music so it’s refreshing to jam with different bands. Why the bass, well I’ve started to play the guitar when I was 14 or something. The problem at the time was that every kid played the guitar at the time and there were no bass players around. We had some bands going on, but it was pretty lame when there were like three guys with guitars and no bass player. So I bought the damn thing and liked it. It brings the balls to music!
Hanna Tsepesh: Talking about your last album “ Zero Nexus”, i simply love it!! I can’t tell nothing bad about it, is one fantastic work, you guys create your own style! Congratulations for you and all the guys, you must be very proud of this album! Can you talk a little bit about this album? What has changed between this album and the previous? For people who have not listen the album…
Harju:Thanks! Glad you liked the album. Yeah, were proud of it, but I’m allready thinking about the next album. There were some things that I could have done better. Well the biggest change is the man behind the drums. Rasane is such a great drummer that the album would not be the same without him.
Compared to Intoxicate I think Z.N is more raw in its own twisted way. The whole album is well thought entirety. Of course everyone in the band has developed as a musician and that can be also heard from the album. You could say that it’s better in every way that the preivous two albums.
Hanna Tsepesh: That is totally truth, Resane make a fantastic work!!!My congratulations for him!When you entered on studio to record the album, it was easy? Everything was done, all the riffs and lyrics?
Harju:All the music was pretty much done at the point when we entered the studio. Savolainen and Sirkkiä had done some demo recordings at Sirkkiäs homelair and of course we spent hours and hours in our rehersal place. All the lyrics were not complete however. I wrote some of the lyrics while I was recording the vocals in Studio Perkele. I did the vocals there because that place has a certain atmosphere that you cannot find from any other studio. There were some minor adjustments with the riffs in the studio, but nothing too radical.
Hanna Tsepesh: You have a female voice in “Adam & Eve” song in “I'm in every flame, I'm in every shade, Union of both the sun and the moon, Still I am here, but not in the form of flesh…” Tell me who is the girl and why the band want to have a girl to sing this part of the song?
Harju:The girl singing in that part is Petra. She is the same person who gave me those singing lessons. She has a great voice. The story in that song in about this person who hears these voices inside his/her head. There are many personality inside this person so the female voice works perfectly in this song. It gives the song a whole new kind of atmosphere. At the same time it’s beautiful, but on the other hand it’s scary as hell. Well, just imagine if you would start to hear someone singing inside your head...
Hanna Tsepesh: She really have an amazing voice and also the lyric is great! You have already 2 videos( “ 9 in 1” and “Serpent- Angel”), i see them and i have one question, the both of the videos have the same guy and more or less the same scenery with the guy, theres any reason for that? Like a continuation or something?
Harju:Yep, you got that right. This dude in this video loses him self in the vortex of Zero Nexus. So as the storyline developes in the album, it also developes in the videos. We had this idea cooking for some time. I think it was Sirkkiä who came up with this idea. The videos were shot in the same place during an intensive 5 day period. Ari Reinikainen is the guy who we get to thank for these videos. He shooted the videos and did everything that makes them look like they do. We’re really satisfied with the result. Our budjet was not that big so the videos are really worth it.
Hanna Tsepesh: The videos are great, you and the guys have fun in shoot?
Harju:We worked hard, but of course we had a great time. It was kind of cold at the time, so we needed to drink some hot nog to keep us warm... I think I was quite drunk by end of the Serpen-Angel shootings...
Hanna Tsepesh: (ahaha)! Talking about concerts, can you tell me some dates and places/countrys? In the future theres any possibility of a concert in Portugal?
Harju:We have some shows coming in the summer, but they are all here in Finland.
Nummirock 19.6 in nummijärvi, Tuska open air 29.6 in helsinki and Rockcock
26.7 in kuopio. Those are the ones worth mentioning at the moment. It would be great to play in portugal, but unfortunately we don’t have any shows booked outside finland at the moment. Let’s hope that we can come to portugal someday to show you how we rock in finland...
Hanna Tsepesh: We really hope that too Harju! The concerts that you and the guys played at the moment, what is already your favourite one? And why?
Harju:Well, I think that one of the best shows so far was the Zero Nexus release gig in our hometown Kuopio. Unfortunately Sirkkiä was not able to play that night, because he was suffering from violent diarhhea:) We who were able to play thrassed like hell and the crowd seemed to like it too.
And the aftershow party... oh man, that was something else...
Hanna Tsepesh: Talking about you, what do you like to do in your free time?
Harju:Most of my free time has something to do with music. Last week me and one of my good friends went to a studio just to jam around, but we ended up with two fucking brutal songs on tape. Now we are writing more songs.
Damn, I’m all pumped up about this thing. So beware, Chapel of Sick is coming...
I also try to go to the gym when I have the time. I’m also a big hockey fan. Been playing as a goalie for 14 years or something. I try to go on ice as often a possible, sorry to say that not too often lately... I also like to watch movies and read as much as possible.
Hanna Tsepesh: Like i said before you have 2 bands (Ajattara and DeathChain), how are the things working with this two great bands? Do you have some news about them?
Harju:Things are going great with both bands. Deathchain will enter the studio by the end of this month(may)to record our fourth album Death Eternal.
It’s going to be brutal shit, I’m telling you. Itse Ruoja Suruntuoja has also been busy writung new material for Ajattara. The plan is that we will enter the studio in June. And I gotta tell you, the new Ajattara is going to be something totally different... Don’t wanna tell too much just yet, but you just wait and see...
Hanna Tsepesh: Oh those are fantastics news for the fans, thanks a lot for that information!!Last question, do you have anything to say for your fans in Portugal?
Harju:Hell Yeah!! Hopefully we can come to play in Portugal someday. That would be fucking great! Keep supporting metal!!
Hanna Tsepesh: Thanks a lot Harju for this interview on THE GATES OF METAL! We wish you lots of success and your other projects too, and also for the band! Hope to see you guys in Portugal soon! Great Victory for your