Interview with STONE SHIP
The Band: Stone Ship
Answers by: R. Pesonen (bass)
STONE SHIP is currently on dock, not navigating, but we felt it was good to talk to a band that has released a good and personal album, The Eye, to know about their past, their future and what might come. Here you will find a hint about it, all is written in the stars we could say…
Hello Pesonen and welcome to our site
Hi & thanks to you!
Let’s review a little the origins of this Stone Ship that started back in 2005, right?
Yeah, Antti & Janne had played together some years earlier in different bands. In 2005 they decided to found a band based on traditional doom metal. They rehearsed randomly together, and had some riffs and songs made. I joined the band in spring 2008. After that the band became more active, and we started rehearsing more seriously. Markus Heinonen joined the band in late 2009. During the active years of the band, we rehearsed in an uninhabited ascetic little cottage far away in countryside.
Antti Lehto passed away in 2014, so after that tragic event is Stone Ship still active as a band?
Antti died in July 2014. It was a rather confusing time for the band – and it had been even before Antti’s death. Six month earlier we had finished The Eye, and we didn’t know yet what would be the next step. Making “The Eye” was quite a hard experience for us, and there were feelings of exhaustion. And when Antti died, it was a good moment to put the Ship on dock.
When you chose Stone Ship as the name for the band you wanted to represent what concept?
I recall Antti Lehto suggested the name Stone Ship in 2009. It just sounded suitable in every aspect: heaviness, history, death, devotion… Many suitable and inspirational associations are linked with the name. As when we started making The Eye, the concept of stone ship was deepened into a more mystical level in the lyrics. It is said that stone ships are ancient constructions, vehicles which sail between dimensions and which are used as a ritual places. As a lyricist, I was pretty inspired by books of Thomas Karlsson at the time. I think the meaning of the name is slightly different for all the members of the band.
Your first steps were in the very tradition of doom metal like Sabbath or Candlemass
That’s right. We wanted to reach that type of spirit back then.
But with time you have developed your own personal style, haven’t you?
Yes, but it was more like self-piloting way to delve into new musical approaches rather than a conscious move.
The Eye was finished in 2015 and released as a cassette in a very limited edition of only 200 copies. Fortunately, in 2016 Feuer Publications have re-released it in a cd edition so everybody can enjoy it now. How was this process? Is kind of a tribute to Antti Lehto?
Actually The Eye was finished at winter solstice 2013. We tried to find someone to release the album back then, but we got no deal with companies we were in contact. The self-published tape release was natural choice for us, as we thought that analog format would prop this kind of music.
Finally in early 2016 Feuer Publications asked us if they could release The Eye as a CD, and that’s was it. I have known the man behind Feuer, A. Ojala, for some years. He has worked with other record companies before Feuer, and I knew he could manage things smoothly.
We have dedicated the album to memory of Antti Lehto. The album itself and all the memories we have are links though which we still can be in contact with him somehow. He was and will be an integral part of the band. The band and the album meant a lot to him.
So, you have released you first full-length, The Eye. Only two songs, but more than 20 minutes each one, not usual…
When we started to write the album, we had no plans to make massive songs like these. All came up rather naturally, step by step. Probably some bands have done it before us?
Surely, almost everything is invented, but as you say you sound natural. How long did you work in The Eye?
We worked with The Eye for four or five years – depends how to gauge the time. Actually, we recorded the album for the first time in 2011, but the material didn’t work as it was intended. We threw some material away, and kept working on the album for another year, composing and writing the lyrics. And it was worth it!
How is the composition of a song of almost 25 minutes. You get up every morning and say “today I will add another 5 minutes”, or it’s more like if I don’t do it all in one time I will never finish it?
Hah, it was more like that every year we added 5 more minutes. The Crooked Tree is one of the oldest songs we had. The main idea was that the first part (10 minutes or so) is composed, and the second part is free jam. But every time we played the song in jams, we ended up playing the same good themes, and gradually some jam-based themes became parts of the structure of the song. But the whole process was so long and had so many phases that it is too complicated to explain the details. We didn’t rehearse very often, maybe just 6-10 times per year. And every time we met, we tried to figure out how we had played and revised the song last time…
A 20 minutes song, or two 20 minutes songs, does not match a lot with a live performance, or not?
Stone Ship has played only three gigs with a full line-up between 2012 and 2013, and “The Eye” was our only set. I think it was not easy for the audience, as The Eye is pretty demanding piece to swallow – especially when the album was not even released back then and the audience heard the songs for the first time.
If you are not very much in the doom thing, even if you are, you can think: oh my God, 20 minutes is too much long for me. But the point is that the two songs never get you boring and flow as water inside your brain, never taking notice of the time
Yeah. When it comes to long (15 minutes or longer) doom metal songs, their composition is usually quite simple and they have a lot of repetition. The length doesn’t matter, but how you use it, hah.
The Ship of Stone and The Crooked Tree, the two tracks in your album, are like two sons, with their own personality, which one you love more and which one was more difficult to “bring up”?
Both are dear children of ours. Of course they had both a different way to descent in the flesh and bone, so to say. But I must say that in the case of “The Crooked Tree”, the baby was born in the wrong way. It was a long and laborious task. I personally see the song as a cross-section of the band and its history. It has all the elements and motions which were fundamentally important for us. That’s why I personally like a bit more “The Crooked Tree”. These song personalities (or spirits) are described with two runes, Pertho & Eihwaz. They can be seen as keys to inner meaning of the tracks.
Cool. The lyrics talk about mythological events, right?
Yeah. There are strong mythological layers in the lyrics. They do not tell any specific storybook tales, but instead aim at the living and potential forces within and all around us.
Are you playing some gigs around? What is the status of the band right now?
We are on hold now. Perhaps we will play some gigs when the time feels right. But it is not going to happen in the near future.
Will we get some new material by Stone Ship in the future?
A big maybe.Currently we are all busy with other things in our lives. But never say never!
Yeah, how do you see the doom scene right now?
To be honest, I don’t know much of the doom scene. Today’s doom bands that I’m listening to are mostly from Finland: Garden of Worm, Lord Vicar, John the Baptist. Nowadays I’m too lazy to find out about new bands out there.
Thank you very much for the conversation and for sharing some of your memories with us, Pesonen
Thanks for your time & interest. Keep the Flame purifying & high!
On behalf of Stone Ship,