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27/05/2005 – Interview with EXCALION

EXCALION (official website), a new Finnish band in the Powermetal section, released their debut album, "Primal Exhale", recently on Sound Riot Records. You can check out the review of the album at this location.

As a result of this release, I had a little interview with the band, about the forming of the band, the album and some other things.


Where did you learn to play an instrument? School or by yourself?

Tero: I only had some guitar lessons when I was ten years old or so, then forgot all about it for a couple of years before starting to play for real. So I´m self-learned, although I don´t recommend that for anyone. It´s the difficult way.

Vesa: By myself from books and records.

Jappe: A couple of my friends where playing guitar (one of these was Tero) and they said that start playing something and choices were bass, drums and keyboards, so my choice was keys, because I was able to get some old "home keyboard" in my hands. Then I started to practice on my own some tunes. Six months later I bought my first real synth and still use it. In the same time I started to do my first compositions. So I´ve have learnt by myself, but I have got some good tips from Jarmo´s brother Jari, who is a great keyboardist.

Jarmo: I´m self-learned singer, I listened records and sang along.

Henri: By myself. The inspiration to drums started when I was starting up in high-school.

Where does the name 'EXCALION' come from? Did a book or movie inspire you?

Henri: Timo just came up with it. Actually he was trying to remember one lord´s name but he wasn´t sure what it was. He said "EXCALION" and we thought, good enough, let´s take it. After that we´ve thought many times if we should change the name.

How was the band formed? Did you place advertisements on websites or other places, or did you already know who to ask to form a band?

EXCALION logoJappe: Well, I had some tunes ready and I was anxious to try play them a real band. I knew that Tero could play the guitar, but drummers and bassist were hard to find. Then I heard Henri and Timo, the guys who knew from school, were digging STRATOVARIUS, and there practicing their instruments, so I asked them to come to rehearsals. Then after a couple rehearsals we noticed that we needed a singer, so Jarmo was the obvious choice. I knew him from elementary school. Then we had a band.

Jarmo, how did you react when you got an invitation to join EXCALION? Did you know EXCALION before?

Jarmo: I was interested to sing with these guys, who I knew from school, so I went to rehearsals.

Tero, you're playing the bass now, since Timo stopped with it. Will you still play guitar, if just for the recording of a new album?

Tero: Vesa really doesn´t need much help to make guitars sound great. Definitely I can still throw in some guitar ideas, but I don´t think I´ll have to meddle with the actual guitarplaying anymore.

Timo, are you completely through with playing the bass guitar or will you maintain your skills on it?

Timo: I've still been playing for the fun of it. I love to play along with some basic rock and old hard rock. There was a problem of finding inspiration for music like EXCALION and when you don't enjoy playing anymore, something has to give.

Kimmo was recently replaced by Vesa. Was it easy to find a replacement and how did you meet Vesa?

Henri: It wasn´t an easy task to find a replacement. We had pretty high standards because of Kimmo´s talent. Vesa contacted via e-mail. He had seen the advert in a Finnish music webzine. He sent us some soundclips and that was it.

Vesa, what was your first reaction when you were asked to join the band? And how did the integration go?

Vesa: At first I was really happy and satisfied because EXCALION plays the music what I always wanted to play. But when unknown person meets 4 good friends it's always hard to know how chemistry works. In this case it wasn't a problem. It's really nice to play with these guys.

Is this now the definitive line-up? Or will you eventually look for a second guitarist?

Henri: Yes, this is definately the best line-up we can imagine. No need for two guitars anymore.

Could you tell a bit more about the album, like what the songs are about, why the title 'Primal Exhale' and the correlation with the cover artwork?

Excalion - Primal ExhaleTero: The idea of the name "Primal Exhale" was that this is the first real recording we get out for the public, it´s a beginning of something. And, obviously, the syllable "ex-" rhymes with the band name. When it comes to lyrics, Jappe´s texts tend to be about the feelings and hardships of an individual. They´re usually clearer stories and maybe easier to approach than the ones written by me.

Did everyone contribute to the songs (lyrically or musically)?

Jappe: I do the composition for the song, and then we decide who will do the lyrics. Arrangements for the song are done by the whole band, but often some of us have more ideas, but variates from song to song. Some vocal melodies and rhytmparts are finalized in the rehearsals. So we all have some contribution to every song.

By which bands were you inspired for 'Primal Exhale' or EXCALION in general?

Jappe: Every member has their own favourite bands, but we all like STRATOVARIUS, BON JOVI, SYMPHONY X. I think that EXCALION is inspired by good music in general.

Why did you choose Sound Riot Records to release the album and not AFM Records or Limb Music Products or ... ?

Henri: In 2003 when we made a five song demo, we didn´t actually put that much effort in it. The sounds were awful (No studio used), not to mention the production. But still we send it to some media and record labels, we didn´t have any expectations, just to see what kind of feedback we would get. Sound Riot showed us alot of interest and we just gave it a go.

Is there anyone you'd like to work with, be it a producer, guitarist, singer, ... ?

Jappe: I´d like to see us someday working with Timo Tolkki, Mikko Karmila, Sascha Paeth/Miro, Bob Rock, they excellent producers and sound engineers.

Henri: I haven´t personally thought of this much before but it would be nice to work with a producer outside the band and see what he had to say.

Jarmo: Someday I´d like to work with Timo Tolkki.

Any hints on how the second album will sound?

We have some clue how the second album will sound. Few songs are done. I would say that new material is more tight and sound even more like EXCALION. The songs variate between hard rock and power metal elements.

Are you planning to go on tour or will you first concentrate on making more albums and then see what is possible?

Henri: We´ve just started to look for a gig manager. We´re ready for it and hopefully we´ll get a chance to play live as much as possible.

Thank you for doing the interview and all the best with things to come for EXCALION.

Henri: Thank you. Nice summer to everyone. Check "Primal Exhale" out!

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