Today we have the pleasure to talk with Tomi Ihanamäki, guitarist of Amoth, a band from Helsinki which has just released their second effort, “Revenge”, a very good album that consolidates the band’s path into quality Metal. One of those bands you could say that has no limits.
Hello Tomi, you are a band with ten years of experience, can you summarize a little your career till now?
We started Amoth in 2006 at the conservatory of Kokkola. Although it was in existence before by the name of ”Withered”. Some of the riffs and songs of Amoth are from that earlier era. Anyway, in Kokkola we were only a trio and didn’t have a singer ’cause we couldn’t find one. So we had one guitar, bass and drums and already had early versions of songs like ”Fault”, ”Revenge”, ”Shadow of The Beast” and then some.
At some point in 2006 we moved to Helsinki so we could find a singer, another guitarist and a new drummer. We went through a lot of players and singers but couldn’t find good enough/suitable members. In 2008 we decided to make a demo/EP ”Wounded Faith” with session musicians on drums and vocals.
I met Tuomas ”Tumppi” Nieminen (Adamantra) at a course in Sibelius Academy and surely enough he agreed to do the vocals on ”Wounded Faith”. At that time my friend was making some demos too and he had this guy called Toni Paananen (Malpractice) on drums. I heard him playing and thought ”this is it, this guy can surely do the drums on our EP”. He agreed and we did the ”Wounded Faith” EP at D-Studio, Klaukkala. Physical copy of it is extra rare nowadays but you can find it on YouTube. It had 3 songs; ”Fault”, ”It Ain’t Over Yet” and ”Wounded Faith”.
Unfortunately Nieminen and Paananen were only session guys ’cause they had their own bands and didn’t have time for Amoth. After the EP was done we again went through a million players and singers. We couldn’t find a good singer, so I contacted my old friend Pekka Montin. We were in the same music school in Kauhajoki in 2001 or something like that. Now we had a singer but no drummer.
In 2009 or 2010 we had many new songs and decided to do another EP. We contacted Jarno Hänninen at D-Studio again and began recording…On drums we had Tuomo Latvala (Hateform, Torture Killer) as a session player. We recorded 5 songs or something. They were ready and mixed…but then we decided; to heck with the demos and EP’s, let’s do a full length album! So I called Latvala again that could he come and play a few more songs. He did and so was birth given to our first album ”Crossing Over” which came out in 2011.
The first Amoth gigs ever were done after the release of ”Crossing Over”. Rolf Pilve (Stratovarius) joined the band at that time and we did a few gigs with him. Then he decided to leave ’cause he was chosen as a new Stratovarius drummer. We had gigs already booked but he didn’t inform us that he had ”taken the job” in Stratovarius. Luckily our current drummer Oskari Viljanen joined the band then. First to fill Pilve on the gigs that we had booked and after that he joined as a permanent member.
On 2013 singer Pekka decided to leave Amoth ’cause he wanted more money from the gigs. Then began our long journey to find a new singer. We scrolled through the ads in different musicians forums and had many interested candidates. Then we found Tomi Kurtti. He wasn’t even looking for a band and he was living in Oulu! It’s 600km from Helsinki. We didn’t let that hinder us and contacted him and surely enough he was interested and joined us as our new singer!
Your debut album, “Crossing Over”, is from 2011, now you have released your second and great album “Revenge”. It has been five long years to get it, longer than you expected?
Yes and no. ’Cause we’ve had our struggles along the way. Finding a new singer etc. And also it takes a while to make an album ’cause we pay everything by ourselves. What that means is we can’t book a studio for a month for example because that would be very expensive. What we did with both of our full length albums is booked the studio in small pieces, like one day there, another one there. It only took about 30 days in total to record, mix and master but the days were scattered along a long period of time.
What difference are we going to find between those two albums?
First of all both albums have a different singer and a drummer. And of course we learned a lot from the first album. They were recorded in the same studio by Jarno Hänninen but when we did ”Revenge” the studio had a new mixing console, preamps & whatnot. So the sound quality is improved on ”Revenge”. Also I had new amp and different guitars and pickups on our latest album. So all those things combined makes ”Revenge” sonically more advanced. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with ”Crossing Over” and the songs are equally good on both albums.
In my opinion, one of the best things about your sound is that you make a progressive metal than anyone can like and enjoy, without being an expert
I agree. I (as a songwriter) am not so much into too technical progressive metal. We are not technical ”just because we can”, but maybe have a more heart into it. Our foundation lies more in 80’s metal and thrash and all the ”progressive” stuff comes almost solely from the fact that I have studied music in various music schools and conservatories. What I mean by that is that I don’t really have that much of a progressive background and don’t listen so much progressive metal bands. Being a studied musician and also a metalhead, that’s where the ”progressive” stuff comes from. In fact we recently changed our ”genre specification” from ”progressive metal” to ”progressive heavy metal”. It may be a more fitting term for us.
How was the composition of “Revenge”?
I usually have a riff or a chord progression first. Then it just builds and builds from that. I usually notate or record the riffs that are ”good enough for a song”, then it just goes ”by itself” from there. Sometimes I have a certain drum beat in mind and sometimes it stars with the lyrics, like ”Die Young”, I was driving to work (over the limits!) and this sentence popped into my mind; ”Woke up another day, adrenalin rush in my veins”. Then I knew already how and what kind of song it was going to be. I really put much time and effort into lyrics. I just can’t write ”some nonsense”.
I think you have some similarities with such great bands as Ark or Savatage
I have no idea! Pardon me but I’ve never heard of Ark ,not even the name. So it’s very strange to read Amoth reviews that say that Ark is clearly our main influence. Maybe I should check ’em out someday! Savatage is a great band, but I wouldn’t count them as an influence. I only have like 2 of their albums, the ones with Skolnick on guitar.
What is your favorite track in the album and those you think will work better in a live show?
Hmm that’s a tough one. Like what is your favorite child…I think the most personal song is ”Tattered Wings”, but then again, they all are! For live shows I really enjoy playing ”…And So They Fueled These Veins With Chaos” and ”Road To Ruins”, oh and ”Shadow Of The Beast” is fun too, with the thrash ending and everything.
I believe you could almost play every style you wish…
We certainly have all kinds of stuff going on and probably always will, but still keeping metal as a main thing. Although we’ve had discussions about an acoustic album…
What are your main influences as a progressive/heavy metal band?
The main bands that have had a huge impact are probably Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Pantera, Testament, W.A.S.P., Cradle Of Filth, also maybe Dream Theater to some degree. Guitarists like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai made their mark too. I also really enjoy gypsy jazz like Django Reinhardt and Andreas Öberg.
“Revenge” is released through the good label Inverse Records, how do you feel with the guys?
Without them our albums would be on our desk drawers so kudos to them!
Crystal clear. Amoth is the kind of band you expect, and hope, to have a long career and brilliant one. How do you see your future and how you manage that responsibility?
Thank you! We are certainly driving for that. Amoth album #3 is already quite long in the creative process so maybe sometime soon we start to rehearse the songs for that album! Only thing that we’re missing is a proper agent/manager to sell more Amoth gigs in Finland and across the globe! So if you’re a one and are reading this, feel free to contact us!
Message in the bottle… How do you see the Metal scene in Finland?
Metal is quite strong in Finland. Many metal festivals during the summer, like Tuska and Nummirock. There are LOTS of bands. There are good ones, bad ones and excellent ones! Unfortunately this is such a small country that some band are left in the shadows (not enough audience), many of them in fact. And I mean like really really good world class bands! But the record companies are not interested if you’re not a huge band and have toured around the world, so what can you do.
What plans do you have on touring? We will have the good luck to see you on stage in Spain?
Like I said before, what we need is a proper manager/agent who would ”take us in” and ”sponsor” us and sell our gigs. Until that happens we can only gig in Finland. The money being the issue of course. We would LOVE to come to Spain!
Well, things can go an exponential growth when you less expect it, and then you will have many managers to choose around and many countries to visit. Romi, thank you very much for your time and wish you the best!!
Thank you so much for the interview! Means a lot to us. Please support the band (and yourself) by buying the real stuff! Meaning the CD. Like many albums, our albums too are made in a high quality studio and are meant to be played through good stereo system using a good quality format. MP3 is not one of those formats, it’s not even half the quality of a CD, so you’re missing all the sweet stuff by listening only MP3:s. Through a crappy smart phone speaker in a worst case. Yes there are good things too on streaming but you’re sacrificing audio quality in the process and giving your money to streaming services, not to the bands. I have my eyes on you Spotify.