|Posted on January 10, 2015 at 8:35 PM|
Interview with Anton Kabanen
By Dave Smiles
Battle Beast are set to release their third studio album, the first after their breakthrough self-titled sophomore effort from 2013. After frantic touring and seemingly overnight success, guitarist and main songwriter, Anton Kabanen was faced with the task of composing the follow up to their runaway hit album. A task that would seem daunting under any circumstances, but add to it a need to ask yourself some hard questions and to challenge everything you know to be real and you’re in an environment where some of the most fascinating art can be created… if you’re brave enough to battle through to the other side.
First up, Congratulations on the upcoming release of the third Battle Beast album.
What can fans expect from the new album?
A lot of heavy metal, a lot of beautiful music. I think there’s a lot of stuff for everyone. It’s a versatile album, music wise. I think everyone will find their own favourites on that album. A lot of good music.
With all the acclaim your previous Self-Titled album received. How much pressure did you feel going into it this time around to bring the band up to the next level?
Well this new one was even harder, you know. It was kind of hell, once again, the whole process. To be honest. Especially from the time schedule perspective, it was hard to finish the album and it got delayed many months and all other problems occurred as well during the process, which I won’t go too much into, but yeah it was a horrible experience. I was personally working on it over a year, cause I’m also the song-writer and it started last year (2013) the actual song selection or song writing process for this album. It became also very personal. In a way it’s a concept album cause in a way a lot of my personal times… that I went through a year ago. And the actual recording and production was very hard work as well. I’m happy that it’s done and finally there’s some other things in mind as well.
How do you go about writing your songs and your lyrics?
It was kind of like questioning your own existence, like who are you? What’s real and what’s not real. What is my place in this world or in this universe? What are my deepest fears and demons and facing those demons and when you start learning the right questions, when you know what to ask yourself, then after some searching you find an answer, and have to find the courage to face the answer because it’s not always what you want to hear or know when you find what you’re looking for. It’s kind of a spiritual journey so to speak, but it’s kind of a natural thing I think for every human being to go through at some point of their life. For some people it goes for their whole lifetime. It’s natural to question yourself. It means that you want to go forward, you want to go further. You don’t want to be stuck in one place, not knowing what’s real, what’s truthful. At least that’s how I think people will be at some point of their lives. I can’t imagine that there’s a human being who hasn’t thought of these questions.
Do you feel you’re fortunate to have music to be able to explore these things with?
Absolutely, yes. It’s a privilege. I see it as a privilege and I’m very happy that I have this way to express these things. Apart from that, it’s not always about these topics – your own existence and all that stuff. It’s not always about that. At least not as straight forward about these topics. Sometimes, you do things you don’t even realise until afterwards that you were actually discovering something about yourself. And that has happened to me as well, when I look back some of the songs I’ve written I didn’t know what I wrote, what was the thing behind them? Lyrics or songs, but afterwards I look at it I understand okay.
What first got you interested in music when you were young?
I think what first started it was my grandfather brought an acoustic guitar and my dad then taught me the first chords on the guitar. But even before that even I would play guitar, not real guitar, a self-made piece of wood with some kind of strings on it. I already was interested in it back then before I was six years old so I don’t know why I was interested in it, it just felt so… interesting, so nice and so comfortable. I knew I wanted to play the guitar even though it wasn’t so serious as a kid. As soon as I started practicing when I was a teenager. Music has always been a part of my life. I’ve been listening to hard rock music since I was maybe eight years old. All kinds of music. You can’t feel it, if it’s your thing you’ll just know.
What’s the best thing about being able to perform your own music in front of a live audience?
Once again, it just feels good. Even though we have performed, many years ago, cover songs I remember I had kind of the same feeling when I was performing those cover songs as my own songs because when you’re playing live songs that you enjoy it doesn’t matter, well of course it matters to some extent, but to me it’s not that huge of a difference if it’s a cover song or my own. At least if it’s a small addition to your own concert if you just play a cover song as an encore or something it feels just as good as performing one of your own songs but the difference is when you’re playing your own concert and the set list is mostly your own songs I feel privileged, personally very much, because it shows that people care about what you do and when you see that people care about it you want to keep doing that and hope that people will continue to like it and listen to your music in the future. It’s a privilege and I appreciate that.
What would you like to achieve with Battle Beast in the coming years?
To have a long career, that we can all make our living purely out of this band so that we won’t have to do anything else. Unless we want to do something else, like side projects or whatever we want to do. As many albums, as many tours as possible, or course.
Getting back to the new album, are there any tracks on it you’re particularly proud of and are looking forward to playing live?
My personal favourite is Angel Cry. The final track of the album. It’s a very unusual choice maybe because there’s not even a band on that song in the background, there’s only orchestra stuff and acoustic guitars and a lot of keyboards. That song is really like… I can’t explain. It just feels like my favourite. It has felt as my favourite for a long time. It may change in the future, but so far I would say Angel Cry, definitely.
Yeah, it was a good track to end the album on, it kind of calmed everything down. Any thoughts of continuing on in that sort of style, or just keep mixing it up?
Yeah, definitely. To me it’s only natural to write that kind of stuff because I’ve been writing that kind of stuff for many years, but this was the first album that we finally released something like that. I’ve been writing all kinds of songs, eighties kind of synth pop, there’s some of that on this album as well. As a song writer I feel it would kind of be suppressing me to only write this kind of traditional heavy metal stuff. I like to use the wide range of musical abilities that I have as a songwriter, I like to reveal those on the albums as well not just keep them to myself.
In recent years the metal genre has divided into many sub genres. What does ‘metal’ mean to you?
Personally, I always have to think what metal actually is. Is it just a music genre or is it something else? I don’t know. During this album, this process about these questions about ‘your place in the world and what’s real and what’s not’ has made me think about many things like what we categorise and put in boxes and many people expect us to have opinions on and … I’m starting to get kind of lost on this question because I don’t know what metal does mean to me. I really don’t. To me it’s just … it can be music but to some it’s a way of life. I just think, myself as a human being who writes heavy metal music as a way to express himself, as a composer. Apart from that I also write different kinds of music that’s now present on that album like Angel Cry and The Black Swordsman. It’s not all heavy metal even though there’s elements of heavy metal in those songs. I mean vocals can also make it like ‘heavy’. The Angel Cry song, the last chorus is very raw sounding, with a very strong voice and there’s this very huge orchestral sound there, with a bombastic feel to it even though there are no distorted guitars. In my opinion it’s not only the distorted guitars and drums that make heavy metal. It’s kind of the powerful feel of the music. If it’s powerful its heavy metal, in my opinion. It really doesn’t matter how people categorise the music as long as the music’s good and as long as people live their lives the way they want to live it’s good, in a way that it doesn’t harm other people either. That’s the most important thing. I’m sorry if I got a bit carried away from the original question. Sometimes I get blabbery.
Not at all. It’s a great way of summing things up. I think it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
Are there any plans for Battle Beast to tour down here in Australia?
I’m really hoping that we can get to Australia as soon as possible. We’ve never been there. If we can get there as soon as the next year it would be amazing, cause we’ve already been to many different countries and even to Japan which was a big dream come true. The same thing goes for Australia if we finally get there it would be a dream come true once again. We’re really hoping to play some tours there, or a festival show. It would be amazing to be able to play there.
Thank you for your time. Good luck with everything with Battle Beast and for yourself.
Thank you. It was very nice talking with you.
For more information about Battle Beast visit the official website at www.battlebeast.fl/
Battle Beast – Unholy Saviour is available on Nuclear Blast Records.