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To/Die/For - Interview

Interview with: Jape Perätalo
Conducted by: T.V.

To/Die/For, one of the most significant bands from the Finnish rock/metal scene surprised their fans a lot with a new, already their seventh, recently released album entitled Cult. The band which went through many things, they have tasted glory and many misfortunate events, went through a lot of line-up changes, illness, even death of an ex-member and much more, when almost everybody thought that it's over for them when they've announced a hiatus soon after the very successful album, Wounds Wide Open (2006), To/Die/For returned and showed that they have still much to offer with Samsara in 2012. The story of To/Die/For began in the early 90s, when three guys from Kouvola, Finland, formed a rock band called Mary-Ann. Mary-Ann released two self-financed CDs, the latter of which, Deeper Sin EP, included songs that would eventually end up on the albums of To/Die/For. In 1999 Spinefarm Records’ Ewo Rytkönen checked the band live, and started negotiations to get the band signed to Spinefarm. After so many years of going unsigned, it didn’t take long for Jape and the boys to sign their names onto the dotted line. Two things were to change though: the band’s name and their style. The band’s rock attitude took a vampiric turn, giving the music a gothier edge, and the rock band Mary-Ann became the goth group To/Die/For. Debut album named All Eternity was released soon after and the rest is history. Late in June this year a new album Cult came out through Massacre Records and showed the band from another perspective, edgier, raw, rocking and most of all heavier, but still keeping their traditional melancholic touch (you can read the detailed review over HERE). Their vocalist and one of the two members who are here since the beginning, Jape Perätalo, was kind enough and explained us many things behind the new album, about the past events, his view of things and revealed some future plans.

T.V.: Hi Jape! It's a real pleasure doing an interview with you! For starting it, tell me how are you satisfied with the just released To/Die/For's seventh album Cult?
: Cult is ok, but personally I have never been one houndred percent satisfied with anything we have done and I see that is how it must be. If there would be one album we ever did, with which I would be totally satisfied, I wouldn't do any albums after that. Anyway, Cult album makes us smile and it makes us enjoy to play these songs on stage. Yet those songs are simple and it just works very well when played live.
T.V.: Cult is quite a strong name for an album. Tell me what was the reason to name it like that?
Jape: To/Die/For has always been like "our own little clan" and we have always stayed a bit more far away from the others. Living in our own camp. That is one thing which made us to feel we are like a "cult" hiding from others in our own secret place. The other reason is that some people already started to call To/Die/For as a "cult band"... and yes, in some places we are accepted as something you can start to call as cult.
T.V.: I think that this album is soundwise one of the heaviest albums you ever did. How do you see the major differencies between Cult and Samsara for example?
Jape: Samsara has much more stuff in it, while Cult album doesn't have too much of anything.
T.V.: And if you have to dig one song from the new album that you prefer the most, also playing it live, which one would that be?
Jape: I cannot name just one song, but if I try I can expose "Unknown III" because it's very important to us because of its meaning, and "You" because it's easy and rocking one.
T.V.: What about the lyrics on the new album? What inspired you the most and is there something special that you want to say with them?
Jape: For example "Unknown III" is dedicated to Tonmi Lillman, with whom we went through so many things together since we were kids. "You" is some kind of a lovesong, but is a lovesong to myself. We need first to love ourselves to feel fine and when we love ourselves first then we can love all others too.
T.V.: Were you guys still good friends with Tonmi after he left the band and then joined Lordi and stayed with them until his sudden death, that you decided to dedicate that very song to him?
Jape: We had our fights, but in the end we were friends again. In autumn 2009 I tried to create sixth studio album with Tonmi, but it just didn't worked out anymore. In the beginning of To/Die/For career we made a deal that we will create three songs called as "Unknown" and Tonmi played on first two of them. So this was a very natural decision to dedicate this one, the last part to him. Many people here are still missing Tonmi very much.

T.V.: And what's the background of it, and is there any kind of a significant message in this special song ("Unknown" I-III)?
Jape: I have always felt like I'm in a wrong place. I don't even feel my own family deep in my heart, of course I love my brothers and sisters but still... I haven't had a happy childhood, at school I felt just like I'm some kind of an outsider. I hate this kind of society and most of people don't understand me. "Unknown" is the place I am craving for and I don't even know where it is, so I think I'll find it after my earthly death, in a new world.
T.V.: Thank you for opening yourself this way and believe me or not I understand your feelings! Ok, back to the music and your new album... As well your vocals are becoming from album to album a bit by bit harsher and harsher, and I like it. Is there any special reason for that, because you almost left behind that melancholic clean vocal style you become known for?
Jape: There's not any heavy reason for that. I can sing both ways anyway and now I just sang a bit more in a rocking way. I tried to sing some parts with clean "old" style, but these songs needed to be sang more harsh. It depends on the song more than what I want myself. A song is telling me how to sing it and not my options. But still you can find some clean parts on the album, like on the song "Mere Dream" for example.
T.V.: Also use of electronic elements is much less present on Cult than it was before (for example on the first couple of albums). Everything is much more direct and in your face if I can say so?
Jape: We decided not to use so much keyboards there just because we "should". We were listening a lot to the songs and making decisions which parts need some keyboards and which parts don't. This album is done in a very simple way. It was also recorded very fast, without thinking too much and without going back and repairing things. One important thing is that we needed to make some changes on each album,... it does not make any sense to record a new Epilogue album, it is already done years ago. We need to go forward and find something new all the time.
T.V.: As well the production is much more "straight" and "rocking" one like ever before. Soundwise it might not be so rich but it's much heavier. Was this your intention since the beginning to make it that way?
Jape: Like I said it before, we just wanted to make it simple this time. If we had more time in the studio we would have added more stuff in it. We just left this album as some kind of a demo kind of thing... What we do next? We don't know yet.
T.V.: What about the cover artwork, pretty interesting one. Any deeper meaning behind it?
Jape: Our friend from mexico, Raziel Kainen aka Dark Prince Graphix created this booklet for us. I just gave him some very small tips and he knew exactly what we need. There are seven To/Die/For hearts in a circle, which means this is our seventh album, also there are signs of songs from each of our albums.
T.V.: In the promo-sheet I couldn't find anywhere who performed those really captivating female vocals?
Jape: Female vocals are by Linnea Kelin. She's our guitarist's Esa Viren little sister. She's a wonderful girl with a beautiful voice.
T.V.: I liked her vocal performance very much! You already released two cool video clips. How do you like the process of shooting videos and is there any other video for a song from new album in the making?
Jape: Personally I don't like shooting videos, it just doesn't feel right for me. That's the reason why I'm usually a bit drunk at our video shootings. We have plans to shoot a simple video for the song "You" in our rehearsal place.
T.V.: Even though you did some very surprising cover songs in the past, you surprised and shocked a lot with Paula Abdul's cover of "Straight Up". What was the reason to cover this specific track?
Jape: We never take too seriously our cover songs. We do them for our own fun. 80s disco songs are a lot of fun to make them more rocking ones, it can make you smile or puke and we don't care what some of the puritanist are thinking. We do what ever we want to.
T.V.: Good thinking about that, and I believe that you must have in your "pockets" still some covers that you haven't released them yet?
Jape: Personally I would like to make finally some Duran Duran cover song. Many of To/Die/For fans have been asking Duran Duran cover for years so,...
T.V.: So, I know what to expect on the next album... Are you a big fan of 80s disco and new wave music? Actually I wonder what are your musical preferences?
Jape: I'm not such a big fan of 80s music, but on the other hand all those 80s cover songs reminds me to my childhood and when I was a child I did't listen to disco music at all. I have always been listening to many kinds of music styles, from classic to metal, also to reggae music, believe it or not. I just cannot name any my musical preferences, I can only name one influence and that is my own feelings,... this life.
T.V.: Some live dates were already announced, some already played, but mostly in your home land. Do you plan going on any tour in support of Cult?
Jape: We would love to be on tour with Cult album, but it's not up to us that much. We just don't have good enough promoters to handle a tour for us. Still I hope that some nice promoter would contact us and offer something. We are ready for support tours and our own tours. We love to be on stage, so, shows are welcome!

T.V.: I can't go past a lot of line-up changes, even kind of a hiatus that To/Die/For went through. Tell me how does the current formation of the band stands and how are you satisfied with it?
Jape: Line-up changes always sucked a big time and killed me little by little every time. Believe me that I'm more than tired from all those line-up changes and I don't know if I can stand even one more single change anymore. Now, at this very moment we are like brothers, the spirit is good and all of us like to play the same kind of music.
T.V.: There was a huge gap of six years between the album Wounds Wide Open and Samsara. I know that beside many line-up changes also some health related reasons were a cause for that. Are you feeling ok now?
Jape: Some days I feel ok,... but I'm a restless person and I think I'm looking for some kind of peace in my life. I wanna continue with To/Die/For no matter what happens, because I don't have anything else to do and something inside me tells me that I just have to write songs.
T.V.: That's good to hear. Cult is already the second album in a row released through Massacre Records and I wonder how are you satisfied with their job?
Jape: Massacre Records has been ok, but now we are free from all companies and we need to find a new label for next album. I guess in the end of the summer we are going to record a couple of new songs and send them to the labels. Let's hope we will get a new worldwide deal soon enough.
T.V.: Oh really. Is the reason to end with Massacre the expiration of contract or any kind of a disagreement?
Jape: We do not have any fights, we just want to look out for some new ways to go on. That's all.
T.V.: With seven albums now behind you I wonder which one means the most to you?
Jape: The first one of course! All Eternity is a classic goth rock album!
T.V.: On many places I've seen that your music style is described as "Suomi metal". Do you think that this classification has anything to do with To/Die/For and how do you see labeling a certain music style after a specific country?
Jape: First of all, in my opinion I don't think is right to say that To/Die/For is 100% a metal band. We have some elements from metal, but still... And that "Suomi metal",... well,... What the fuck it is? Melancholic melodies yes, but I don't know what to say.
T.V.: Because you mentioned it before that in the end of summer you are going to record some new songs, I believe that a new release might be out sooner than expected? What are now your future plans?
Jape: Yes, we would really like to release our next album in 2016!
T.V.: Thank you Jape for taking your time and answer to my questions. But is there anything you would like to say at the end of this interview to your devoted fans and as well to our readers?
Jape: Stay alive, have fun, share love and try to make this world a better one! Rock on!

To/Die/For links: Official website, Facebook

To/Die/For line up 2015: Jape Perätalo (vocals), Juppe Sutela (guitar), Eza Viren (guitar), Samuel Schildt (bass) and Matti Huopainen (drums)

To/Die/For discography: All Eternity (1999), Epilogue (2001), Jaded (2003), IV (2005), Wounds Wide Open (2006), Samsara (2012), CULT (2015)