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22/04/2007 – Interview with EXCALION

Finnish EXCALION (official website), active in the Powermetal section, released their second album, "Waterlines", recently (March 2) via Limb Music Products. With this release the band showed how they have improved in those two years, becoming a very solid melodic Metal machine. You can check out the review of the album at this location.

As a result of this release - and like two years ago -, I had a little interview with the band, about this new album, their way of working and more career-related things.


Since you're still signed with Sound Riot Records, "Waterlines" got released via LMP... 6 months later. normally the release of the album was planned for October 2006, but everything was silent before and after that. Can you tell what went wrong (if anything went wrong at all, that is) and why the release was outsourced to LMP?

Tero: I guess Sound Riot was looking for a bigger label to buy the licence of our second album pretty much from the start. They made the deal with LMP a couple of months before the original release date of Waterlines, I think, and then the release was postponed to March 2007 because of new promotion and other practical matters... That was of course a bit annoying for us, but it did not matter that much, because the deal in general was definitely a good thing for the band.

The style has also changed a bit, with more Hardrock influences. Even in 2005 this was already decided. Will album number 3 be another evolution towards more Hardrock or will you remain in the Powermetal genre?

Vesa: I think the next album will be influenced by BACKSTREET BOYS and Eurotechno like DJ BOBO, because Jappe has revealed his dark past... No, just kidding, maybe Jappe can tell us something about his plans in songwriting.

Jappe: Thanks, Vesa, for bringing this up. I suppose that the style will be quite similar on the third album. With "Waterlines" we have found the sound that is very comfortable to us. So the main direction will be quite similar: making good, interesting songs with catchy vocals and melodies and not forgetting hardness. But we'll see how the next album will turn out. We'll never know before it is recorded.

The artwork for "Waterlines" was done by Jason Juta. What can you tell about him and how much influence did you have on the definitive version of the artwork?

Excalion - WaterlinesTero: We just had this idea that the artwork should have a water theme, and have blue as the main colour. Apart from that, Juta had free hands to create the art. He is a great artist, and he produced a piece we were very happy with.

The album title is probably metaphorical, but how does it connect with the songs?

Tero: Some of the lyrics on the album have water-related themes, and in some point we decided that the album title should have something to do with water also. There were many suggestions for the title and many were rejected, until Jappe came up with this one. People have already told us interesting metaphorical interpretations of the title "Waterlines"... Everyone is free to make their own!

Did you work differently on the songwriting or recording this time, compared to "Primal Exhale"? Or in other words, have you made a list of things that needed to be improved, be done better?

Tero: It was an important thing that we now had the experience of making a full-length album behind us. We learnt much from the studio session of "Primal Exhale". There was not a list of things, but probably a pretty clear vision of what kind of things we wanted to do better in general.

Jappe: This time all the songs were written in shorter time. In that way it was different than with "Primal Exhale", which had song from the time we had just started. We also made demo recordings from every song. The style and sound of the songs came very naturally. When a few new songs were rehearsed, we realized that these new songs sound very cool. We continued to that direction. As Tero mentioned about the studio work, we had pretty clear what do in there and what we were looking for.

The producer for the new record was again Arttu Sarvanne. What's he like to work with and did he have any influence on the songs?

Vesa: Arttu is a really nice guy to work with. If we wanted something to the sound he clicked a few mouse clicks and turned knobs and sound was there. Of course he had his own visions in our sound, but he was a sound engineer who did his job very well!

Tero: Yes. Moreover, as this was the second EXCALION album Arttu was involved in, he already knew the band and its style. That probably made it easier to come up with good sounds.

Were there left-overs from the time of "Primal Exhale" that you used for "Waterlines"?

Vesa: I think there were no left overs, "Waterlines" stuff has been composed after the "Primal Exhale" recording sessions.

Jappe: Every song on "Waterlines" was composed after the "Primal Exhale"-recording sessions. With "Primal Exhale" we did not even have extra songs that could have been recorded. This time we had a few songs to spare that did not make it onto the album.

Taru Harjula makes a guest appearance on several tracks. Who is she and how did she get involved?

Tero: She is a friend of our vocalist Jarmo, she is a singer in a non-signed band in our original hometown Konnevesi. Visited the studio for one day for some female vocals.

Last year I had the chance to listen to rough mixes of "Losing Time" and "Arriving As The Dark", where both song had a radio-effect on the intro. It seems only "Losing Time" kept that effect, although I thought it suited both songs. Whose came up with the effect suggestion and why wasn't this applied to both songs?

Vesa: When we rehearsed new songs for the "Waterlines" album we thought that it would be cool to start one or two songs differently with vocals and in the studio we experimented with the effect. The reason why only one song has that effect in the intro is that effect sounds too similiar if used in both songs.

The bonus track "Yövartio" is "Arriving As The Dark" in Finnish. Was this a request from the Finnish fans or media or your own decision? Does this form the beginning of more Finnish songs in the future (be them translations or originally sung in your language)?

EXCALION bandTero: On our debut album there was one song in Finnish as the European bonus track. We like the idea of having one song in our native language, so we wanted to do it again. Originally "Yövartio" was only in Finnish, but the guys of the record label wanted us to make an English version also. I think it is highly possible that there will be single songs in Finnish in the future, too.

Last year you made a video for "Losing Time". Can you tell a bit about the making of, the reason for this song, how much influence you/the band had on the video, etc...?

Tero: Well, the whole thing was shot in a single day with practically no budget at all. It is nothing glamorous, but the video is a nice addition to a promo package and for an online download.

We're now two years further since the release of "Primal Exhale". How well did it to in sales? And where was it sold the most, which country/area?

Tero: We have not seen any very accurate sales numbers. But basically, the label did not have much resources to promote it, so its sales were pretty low. Unfortunate but unavoidable.

How well do you think "Waterlines" will do?

Vesa: I hope it will do good, but in a real life without big promotion your record sales wouldn't be in platinum class. Definately this album is a good showcase of our songs and I'm sure things will get better in the future.

Did Sound Riot Records or LMP have an influence on the tracklisting? Did it originally look different?

Vesa: We had our own version of the tracklisting, but Sound Riot changed it a little and I think it's much better now.

To promote "Primal Exhale" and EXCALION you played the necessary series of gigs, which (hopefully ;-)) gained you a good load of experience, turning the band into a well-oiled machine, right? Were any of the gigs recorded (audio/video) for a future DVD or possible bonus tracks?

Tero: That is true, we now have enough live experience to deliver a great show every night. And indeed there are some live recordings.

For "Waterlines" you'll probably also hit the road. What are the plans so far?

Vesa: We have had a few gigs here in Finland and we're been promoting and organizing gigs for summer festivals and clubs. Without promotion and promotor it is really hard to get decent gigs, I hope our music will spread and people keep asking us to play in their hometown clubs and bars.

In 2005, when I first interviewed you, you mentioned Timo Tolkki, Mikko Karmila, Sascha Paeth/Miro, Bob Rock as wanted persons for one or more collaborations. Have you already 'asked' this to Sound Riot Records yet? Or is their budget a bit too small?

Vesa: It would be cool to work with those kind of names, but SRR had a limited budget so it was only a wet dream for the "Waterlines" sessions, but maybe in the future we can have a producer to push our sound to new limits.

The question above leads to this one: for how many albums are you still with SSR? And are you in talks with other labels, who could provide you with more means?

Jappe: Our contract with Sound Riot is now ending. So we are looking for new opportunities. We'll see what happens.

Well, that's it for me. Many thanks for your time. Good luck with "Waterlines", the gigs and future recordings and hopefully you'll get some playtime on Belgian soil. ;-)

Tero: Thanks to you. Hopefully we'll see you on tour someday!

Jappe: Cheers.

Vesa: Thanks.

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