You are finally back here in Finland. Youíve played one festival here last year
but itís been a while since you have played the Tavastia. How does it feel to
be back here tonight?
Michael: It is great to be back. Tavastia was the very first place we have ever played here in Finland. I know that there is a big history behind the club. Many big bands have played here. Lots of bands we like and have grown up with. We have good friends in Finland which we know for years now. We all like it here, all cool.
What took you so long to come back to Finland on a proper tour. I mean youíve
played a festival here last year but you didnít really do a tour?
Michael: I donít really know. I canít really explain why we havenít been playing here for such a long time. I think it was a schedule problem or maybe also because it is a long way to come if you play just one or two shows. You have to do a whole Scandinavian tour than. You have to add some shows in Sweden, maybe Denmark, maybe Norway as well. But this time it all fell into the right place nicely. The guy who booked us for that tour also booked us for the festival we have been playing here in Finland last summer. We were chatting when we met him at the festival and he liked the show. So thatís how it happened. You start to build some kind of relationship and here we are. Sometimes there are countries we play a lot in and there are countries were we unfortunately canīt make it that often. If it makes this any better, we havenít played in Ireland for a long time and thatís our home country.
Letís hope it wonít take another ten years until we have you back here in
Finland or Scandinavia than.
Michael: No, no. If tonight is going well and if the new album goes around well we will be back next year. Some festivals here in Finland for next year would also be lovely. We shall see whatís going to happen to that plans. We have to make a lot of friends in the upcoming days. So this should work out.
The band can look back on a long history since its foundation in 1989, which is
surely full of many highs and lows. What are your personal High Lights so far?
Michael: You know we are always looking for something interesting. I think my High Light was when we played at a very famous venue in Ireland called The Ulster Hall. We all have seen our favourite bands there already. This was a really big thing for all of us personally I think. Also going to North America for the first time was a definite highlight during our career. I mean this is a country for example I donít think that I would have gone to when I was not playing in a band. One of the things Iím most proud of is that we are still friends, we are still healthy and reasonable and sane. Which is good and I think it is very important. When it comes to the dark sites of the medal I have to say that it is really boring to discuss with record companies sometimes. Than you have a line up change and people spread rumours about that and so on. I mean if somebody would ask me why this and that happened I would tell them the truth. But luckily this is not our main focus. It is great that we are still able to travel the world and to play our music to people who like it. We always keep the focus on the music and why you started the whole thing than you will survive.
Did you expect that kind of success or that the band would last for such a long
time when you started out?
Michael: Not at all. We didnít have some sort of master plan when we started with the band back than. We never planned to be number one in America after a couple of years or whatever. All the bands we have liked a lot, or lets say many of them disappeared after releasing one single. We didnít want to be like them. I think the reason why we are still around is that we were always working, we always had some kind of project going on. You shouldnít expect too much. Some people tend to have big expectations and sometimes they are too big. I think this could effect your music very easily. We just try to make good music and see what happens when we are on tour. You do all this things and you move on, than the next thing comes up and before you even recognise ten years have gone the line.
One big low in your career was the passing away of Keith Baxter who joined the
band for the Scandinavian Tour back in 2002 on the drums. Iím sure it was a big
shock for the band as well as the fans. How did you deal with it?
Michael: Keith was good friend of ours. He was in the band and we knew each other. He was a super super nice guy and I think what happened to him was very sad and very tragic. It is one of those things you canít control. We tried to help him but he kind of was the master of his own destiny if you know what I mean. He was a very good and passionate drummer and it was lots of fun to tour with him. It was really hard when we found out that he had past away. We all went to his funeral. We even played there songs of Black Sabbath and ACDC. Thatís what he wanted it. Thatís how we made something kind a positive out of the whole situation and Keith wanted it to be like that.
Letís change to a positive subject now, you have a new album out: ďA Brief
Crack of LightĒ saw daylight this year in February. It contains 10 tracks and
is your meanwhile 13th studio album. Some people are very
superstitious about that number, for many the13 stands for some kind of unlucky
Michael: *laughs* No Iím not superstitious about that number. It would have been weird if we tell everybody it is Album number 14 just to skip that number. We did think we could make something out of the number, like some kind a theme or something but than again we thought that this is not really our style so we skipped that.
Tell us something about the record. The title for the record was inspired by a Russian writer, Nabokov.
Michael: Sure. Nabokov wrote that his imagination of existance is a brief crack of light among all the darkness that surrounds us all the time. We thought it is kind of a positive thing to say or to write. You have such a tiny positive thing within all the disasters and bad things around and you should do the most of it. It felt really heavy as well but in the end if you look into it a bit deeper you will realise that it has a positive meaning. It is a way of dealing with your life from day to day.
After all this releases you always manage to invent some kind of new sound. I
mean the key elements can still be found but it never gets boring. Many bands
refuse to have that kind of development because they donít want to take risks.
So you are not afraid of changes?
Michael: I think it would be really hard to be in a band to play all the time the same songs. There are bands who work like that. If you take ACDC, The Ramones or MotŲrhead. This are great bands and it absolutely goes for them. If people go to an ACDC gig for instance they donít wanna hear strange rhythms or whatever experimental stuff. But we have to be a bit different every know and than. We like to listen to a lot of different music and we like to be experimental from time to time as well. We have a quite range to listen to. Someone in the band listens to Kelly Clarkson. She has some great songsÖ But listening to such a bright variety of different music inspires you for your own music and helps you to keep it different and to create your very unique sound for it. Of course we always keep our key elements but we are not afraid to experiment.
Suiciderock: Youíve been touring a lot with the new record and you still will be on the road for the rest of this year. You can been seen on stages all over Europe until December. How did the audience react to the new material?
Michael: I think we did a good job with the record. I always compare making an album to making a movie. It is also a very difficult thing to do because you canīt really control the result. I mean you can control how the album should sound like or be arranged but of course you want people to love it and that`s some part you can`t control. You will see that first when the album is out in the stores and has hit the ears of the people. But all of us were really pleased, the band liked it, the fans did and also the critics. The songs go very well when we play the live. So I think we did a good job.
You had to undergo a little line up change this year but only for a couple of
shows. Neil had to sit out some shows during the festival season. How did that
feel for you? Was it difficult to substitute him, even if it was only for some
Michael: It was ok and we understood his reason for doing that perfectly. I mean he knew that it was a very busy time for us as a band but he and his wife expected a child and this is a very important reason for a break like that. We talked about it and agreed that he sits out those shows and we find an replacement for that time. We saw the positive about it as this line up change brought fresh air into the whole band. One of the guys who drummed for us is the producer for ďA Brief Crack of LightĒ. It was a great experience and it worked out pretty good.
Whatís your plan for the rest of the year. You will be touring a lotÖ
Michael: Thatís right, we will tour a lot still for the rest of this year. After tonight we will still do one more show here in Finland. We will play in Tampere tomorrow, than we head to Denmark, after that to Germany, Spain and France. After that we are going on a pretty long tour in the UK which we are looking forward to. So there is still a lot to do for the rest of the year and we canít wait to do it.