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In Words: Survivors Zero

- Tapio Wilska - Feb. 2010 - Philip Thelen -

Survivors Zero - Tapio Wilska live in Saarbrücken
© Philip Thelen

Tapio Wilska - February 9th 2010 - Saarbrücken (D)

Survivors Zero aren't widely known, but this might change now as they are on tour with Hypocrisy. Time to learn a bit more about Survivors Zero, thanks to bassist Tapio Wilska to answer my questions!

Can you tell me something about the tour start? And how were the fan reactions about Survivors Zero?

Well, I mean we have now been on tour for two weeks and I am so very surprised, because most places we have played we had no idea our album has just been out in September and it's our first album so we have no idea what we expect. And from the start the reactions have been very good. Especially the last gigs we have played the two shows in France in Lyon and Nancy and one in Eindhoven in Holland were amazing. I mean the reactions of the people... Two nights ago in Lyon we're basically in between standing on stage and asking the audience: "What the fuck are you doing?" There was a circle pit going on and people stage dived. "Ok, you like us? Thank you!" But anyway I mean this is way better than we expected but pretty fucking good.

Are you happy to go on tour in the USA with your previous band Finntroll?

Yeah, again it's a good opportunity for us. We didn't expect this to happen so fast. Well, when I heard that the Finntroll guys were asked, if we could do the tour I was really happy, because there is no bad blood between us.

That would be the next question!

Yeah, there is absolutely no bad blood, I mean back in 2005 and 2006 when that happened we didn't talked to each other for awhile. We have noticed that we are much better friends, when we are not in the same band and we have to be stuck in a bus for weeks and weeks and weeks. It's all about the drinking.

So you, have two tour busses on tour in the USA?

Yeah, we are propably doing it in a van or so. There is still no definite plan, but I'm glad to do it. Just before we went on tour I was out drinking with Tundra and Skrymer from Finntroll and we had a blast. It's gonna be good.

Is there a main songwriter who does write the songs for Survivors Zero?

Well, for the first album, Sami, our guitar player, put this band together three years ago and the whole band started as Sami had done a lot of studio work. He is a producer and he records albums and he got a little burn out to be all day in the studio with other bands and recording. He had a lot of riffs and song ideas and just wanted to put a band together with certain people he wanted into the band like our vocalist Tommi. And for the first album he wrote all the music for the songs. Of course we all put arrangement ideas in the songs, but he is the main songwriter and he does the music and Tommi and me do the lyrics. He's productive. I mean. There are whole songs on the album that Sami just emailed me at one o'clock in the morning very drunk with the text "I just finished the song now. Fuckin sleep now. Do lyrics. We're a death metal band. Write lyrics about serial killers. Now I sleep." The song I Bury Them Deeper is how that got to be. He writes the music and Tommi and me writes the lyrics. We have made the album and certain lyrics are by Tommi and certain lyrics are by me. But we arrange lyrics and talk about lyrics a lot together.

How was the studio time? Did you had fun?

Oh yes, we had this Swedish guy who produced the album, Jonas Kjellgren from Scar Symmetry, guitar player. Well, he's basically fucking crazy, but he's an excellent producer and he's fucking mad. We recorded the whole thing in this studio right outside of Helsinki's center which is built on an island called Suomenlinna. Really great on the studios are their nice big rooms with very good acoustic and of course we were close home so we could go home and sleep at our own beds in the night. The studio time was about two weeks we recorded it and then Jonas mixed it in Sweden at his own studio. He is working with Peter from Hypocrisy. They have their studios in the same building. There is Abyss Studio and Black Lounge studio and they do a lot of work together. And during the two weeks we recorded it there was a lot of fun, a lot of craziness and a lot of hard work, because Jonas has a mixed personality: On one hand he has amazing ears and this musicality. He understands music really well. And if you try a bit of sloppy play in the album he goes like a whip and says: "You not gonna do that! Play that you asshole!!". And on the other hand he is crazy and a funny guy to be in the studio with. It ended up in the studio that we spoke this mixed language of Finnish, Swedish, English, German. It's nice to go to studio in the morning when the producer just wakes up and he has a leather cap on and he's doing basically mixed German military sounds...

Ah...ok... are there plans for a following up album?

Yes. We are already actually writing it. On tour we have our laptop studio things with us and writing riffs when we have free time on the road. Another plan is to go propably to the studio at the end of the summer. Maybe in late August or September.

Do you record with an audio interface and digital modeling guitars while you are on tour?

Yeah, we do demos with modeling amps and drum machines like 'Drumkit from hell' just to put our ideas and riffs into demos and then to give it out to the other guys and then we start to work on the ideas. It does work for as pretty well. And in the whole digital recording you can change things when your are at home, at night whenever you have an idea, you put it down and play.

I read on your homepage that the single Reclaim My Heritage hit the Finnish single charts at position 14. For me I can't believe this, because here in Germany, especially metal, is really rare on the charts. When there are bands in the charts, then it's Nightwish or Avantasia. But I never saw an new death / thrash metal band hit the charts here!

Yeah, it was just weird. Probably a slow week! Finland and metal or metal anyway has come to a sort of mainstream, so you can get bands like Nightwish or Children of Bodom or whatever, they go to the top of the charts when ever they release something. But even for a small band, like us, it is possible. The album I think got place #92 or something. But in Finland you don't have to sell that many albums to get in the charts. But our single was the first single to go on the Finnish single charts which tells about basically re-crucifying Christ or whatever.

I saw the header of your homepage. Is this a pope?

Well, I'm not gonna go into that, but yes it's just a common. The lyrical theme of the album is very anti-organized religion. Because for me, the album title CMXCIX, 999, that was the first year with that global panic among Catholic people that the world has come to an end and the whole album, from the lyrical matter, the album goes through organized religions that shape people, shape history into what we are now. Organized religion for me has always brought mostly bad things, just close down thinking, close down intelligent people, put back science and this is basicly the whole theme of the album.

Ah ok. Nice to know. Which gear do you use live and in studio?

Well, in the studio it was mostly finding good sounding tube amps. Most of the guitars are done with a Marshall JCM 900 and Sami, our guitar player, collects distortion pedals and his whole sound comes of his array of five different distortion pedals that do a different thing like the old Boss, he basicly use this as an EQ. Live we use a different setup, especially when we do a support tour. After Hypocrisy built their Marshall towers there is not much space for us, so we run all our guitars and basses through DI boxes and Preamps. And that has proofed on this tour, so we could use our Blackstar preamps for the guitars and I have an TC Electronic bass amp that you can use as an DI. We can get lower volumes on stage and so it's good for the monitoring. When we talked to the house mixers, they said that we also got a clear sound. Yeah, this works perfectly. When you take out two 120 Watt Peavy amps off the stage it lowers the volume and is just easier to handle and you still get a powerful sound.

Ok, final question: is there anything you would like to tell our readers?

Well, I hate this question after answering it more than 200 times. No?! Ha. Ok, honestly. Give our band a chance. I mean, buy the album, come to see us live. I swear that you not gonna be dissappointed when you come to see us live. We started to find our way how we do it live, which works, which doesn't. So, we gonna kick your ass, man!

Thank you a lot for the interview!

You can listen to our little conversation by clicking here!

Philip Thelen


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