Helsinki 2013

(c) Dead Samaritan

"This is what we do, this is what we enjoy"

Suiciderock: Please be that nice and give us some information about you guys to start with the interview.
Marko: Well, we’re a Finnish death/thrash metal band located in Tampere. We’ve been around for quite a while, but started taking this more seriously only recently, when we got our latest line-up together in 2009. The band consists of our great growler, vocalist Valendis Suomalainen (some of you may know her from the death/doom band Herem too), bassist Eero Virtanen, guitarists Matti Viholainen and me, Marko Saarinen, and our drummer is Janne “Homicide” Honkanen. Janne and I are the founding members of the band and the only ones left from the original line-up.
It’s been a long and sometimes quite a bumpy road for us, but last year we finally released our debut full-length, “The Only Good Samaritan..” worldwide via a UK label. I’m hoping most of you guys would get to hear it, ‘cos I think it’s a great debut!

Suiciderock: You will go abroad for the firs time in your career next April as you are going to play at the 2nd Trash Metal Fest in Estonia. Are you looking forward to that and are their more international gigs to follow?
Valendis: Yes, we are looking forward to playing in Estonia! We are still a fairly unknown band and, in my opinion, playing live is the best way there is to make one’s music known to possible new listeners. We haven’t confirmed any other international gigs yet, but we sure hope there will be some in the near future.
Marko: Like she said, we are absolutely excited! Estonian people are actually related to Finns, and since they are geographically close to us too, it’s very easy to go there. I know there are some serious metalheads and some cool bands, Thrashless being a great example.

Suiciderock: How will you prepare for your first gig abroad? Could you say that you are more nervous about playing that gig because it is your first one outside your home country?
Valendis: I don’t really think we need to make any special preparations just because a gig is abroad. I think that no matter where the band plays, they should always prepare well and do their very best while on stage.
Also I don’t really know if any of us is more nervous about this gig than any other. I tend to be a bit nervous before every gig, no matter where we play, but that’s just a good thing. I think we are all just very excited about this chance to meet Estonian metalheads and hope that the audience will like what they see.

Suiciderock: You started the band in 2001 but the name “Dead Samaritan” came a little later in 2003. Why did you feel the need to change your band name and what’s the story behind “Dead Samaritan”?
Marko: At the time our music was changing from the very melodic death metal of the early days into a more aggressive and trashier direction. As the music now had less of the “Gothenburg Sound”, the old name started to feel quite dumb and less suitable as well. I don’t remember exactly why I came up with Dead Samaritan, but I think I just wanted it to provoke some thoughts in people’s minds. But since this band’s always been a democracy, of course I asked all the then-members first what they thought about it, and since they thought it was good, we took it. And I think it was a successful move as one American metal media said in our review that “if there wasn’t a band called Dead Samaritan already, it should be invented”, hehe. There was also a song named Dead Samaritan in the rehearsals back in the days, but it hasn’t been recorded – well not yet, at least.

Suiciderock: You had a long hiatus between 2005 and 2009. Due to line up changes and other reasons. Was it always clear that you will return as a band or did you ever consider a break up?
Marko: That was a really hard time for the band. We had just garnered some good attention and nice gigs with our Bone Hill Revelation demo when things started going the wrong way. First our second guitarist Jussi had to leave the band, and a while after we had recruited a new shredder, our bassist Marcus had to quit as well. As I was working and studying at that time, I became very exhausted trying to cope with the band and all those other responsibilities, so we just kind faded away somewhere around late 2005 or early 2006.

Suiciderock: What made you decide in 2009 that this is the right time for a comeback?
Marko: I honestly didn’t give much thought to this whole band thing while I was struggling to graduate, but I always knew in my heart that I’d get this band going again one day. I finally did graduate in late 2007 and started having more spare time again, so somewhere around 2008 I started playing guitar again and found myself enjoying it so much. I also came up with some new great songs, so I started spamming our drummer Janne with emails that “perhaps we should re-ignite the band again”. He agreed and slowly we started rehearsing again, just the two of us at first.
I guess it was late 2008 or early 2009 when Janne said he might have a new second guitarist for us. Soon Matti came to rehearsals, and since he convinced us immediately by being a good lad, a talent and a quick learner, we hired him. A bit later Matti introduced his then-bandmate Eero to us, and since that was a fabulous match as well, we now had a bassist too.
So when we started feeling ready to conquer the world, it just happened to be in late 2009 and thankfully we also then found the missing part, the vocalist Valendis. Or she found us, rather.

Suiciderock: The comeback also brought a new singer into the band. It’s always something new and maybe also a bit difficult to get a new member in the band but isn’t it a bigger change to get a new singer as the singer is always known as the heart and soul of the band…
Marko: With the vocalist thing it was a bit more difficult as I felt the vocalist recruitment would be the key to the band’s future, because needless to say, we needed a killer vocalist. At first I wasn’t just sure if we needed a thrash or a death metal vocalist, and I actually didn’t care about that particular feature, all that mattered was that the vocalist should be fabulous and original, and should suit our delivery of music.
In the end Valendis came to audition for us. When her voice opened up during that rehearsal session, I and the others looked at each other stunned and thought, “now what the fuck was that, is she a demon or something?!”
So it was pretty quickly settled she’d be the one for us not only by being a quality singer, but by being a terrific and fun person as well.

Suiciderock: Would you say that your style has changed with the new singer or that your older songs have changed along with the new voice?
Marko: Hmm, of course the whole vocal style changed into a whole lot stronger and aggressive one, but I don’t think it changed the musical style that much. We are playing some songs from the older line-up era, and I gave Valendis the liberty to deliver those old tunes the way that suited best for her. I think she really improved even some of the vocal arrangements, not to mention that the old songs sound a lot tighter today altogether.

Suiciderock: However your comeback succeeded three years later when your debut album “The only good Samaritan” was released world wide. A world wide release is a big deal for a debut album. Isn’t it?
Janne: It does make you feel good, yeah. Especially since for me personally this is the first official recording I’m playing on, so yeah, I’m really excited.
Marko: Definitely it is great. But it’s a lot more important to get noticed worldwide so that all those potential fans would get to hear the music and buy the album. We’re being pretty realistic about this since these days they don’t sell that many records because you can download them from the Internet from anywhere in the world. So we’re not having too fancy dreams about selling loads of records and earning big bucks, we just want to play the music we love to people all around the metal-loving world and if having a worldwide distribution helps getting our name heard around, of course it’s a good thing.

Suiciderock: What can you tell us about the album and it’s songs?
Janne: It’s really great that we made it in the first place. I really dig the album, and I would buy it even if I wasn’t in the band myself.
Marko: I really wanted it to be a tight album, you know. These days too many metal albums are too long, full of fillers or the same riff is being played long over its expiry-date. On our debut we wanted to bring versatility and surprising elements to the songs. If you dig deeper underneath the obvious death and thrash metal basics, you can find some in-your-face punk rock, classic rock’n’roll attitude and perhaps some black metal tones as well.
Anyway The Only Good Samaritan... gives a pretty good glimpse of what we can do, but I know there’s a lot more in us, and some of it you’ll hear when we get to record the second album.

Suiciderock: Every band has influences. What are yours and who are your personal heroes?
Janne: My hero would be Metallica’s Lars Ulrich in the 80’s. I’ve been influenced by all that thrash metal from the same era, bands like Exodus, Testament, Overkill for example.
Eero: I’m into so many things musically and it always depends on the mood, so I really can’t pinpoint any bands, but all kind of stuff from punk to metal music. And when it comes to musicians, I do like watching Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse).
Matti: From musicians I admire the Italian Marco Sfogli, ‘cos I like to listen to that kind of atmospherically stuff every now and then. From bands I like Pantera and such.
Valendis: I admire Glenn Danzig’s attitude and Johan Lindstrand’s (The Crown) voice.
Marko: I have so many influences, but if I had to choose a few, they’d be Carcass, Dead Kennedys, Slayer, At The Gates, Overkill and Exodus. For me the musical heroes would be all those musicians who put their heart and soul in their music no matter what style they play.

Suiciderock: Your future plans?
We are currently working on some new material, and although we haven’t planned anything specific about the timing, there will be a second album by Dead Samaritan! We will also keep on playing live as much as possible. So basically we’ll keep on rockin’ as “this is what we do, this is what we enjoy”.

Find Dead Samaritan on Facebook & on their homepage