Mother Depth interview from Qvadrivivm #4 (2001)

A Barrage of the Profound

Interview: Kuronen

Now it is time for the proverbial blue moon when people in trolleys are headed towards the madhouse. And for nothing more than being a little strangely constructed and loopy in the head. If there is some sense in the answers of this interview, let alone the questions, it must be misguided. Understand what you will never understand is the whole of the law. Jaundiced contents, lines that do not match, the darkest of skeletons running amok on the loose... yes, the usual. For this bleary psychedelia, make use of your mind’s inattention. Where the hell are the “I am a stupid Finn” disclaimer tags?

The usual route for a Finnish band to get recognised (and have their fingers and minds burned in the end) is to make a demonstration tape that has as much Amorphis flavour and Sentenced smell crammed in it as is practically possible for one to have, get it reviewed in the loveable Suomi Finland Perkele metal magazine with one of those drunkenly performed hyper-hype reviews that they are famous for, and finally get picked by Spinefarm or Spikefarm and sign a record deal that is cool and raving perfect as well as it is barking formal and is set to last för all tid. Only very few orchestras keep away from this lowly path, as unbelievable as it may sound to any of you. The others either never get any recognition or then are something so wickedly special that only a handful people are to understand them, share mutual interests and knowledge with them. But hey, this is Finland. You are not likely to spot anything worth spotting by spinning blindfolded in the street, stopping and then pointing with your finger at any random direction. Intelligence is not needed as long as you are not compelled to have dealings with it.

Having been around since 1990 as a unit of sorts and since 1995 with the moniker Mother Depth, the Helsinki based lads that I have chosen under closer inspection in this space most certainly belong to the league of exquisite and odd bands that have more leftist blood running in their veins than would be generally permitted in the metal scene. They are not the ones with a past of gigs played in total and complete darkness at the youth centre only because the singer said it would be utterly fascinating and mysterious and downright evil. In short, they are not idiots.

Then, the most important question is, why have Mother Depth not gone for the obvious? It would be so easy with their material and musical thinking and playing skills to raise a cashing cow that would put the whole country on its knees in a matter of weeks, make the girls with their ‘Hate Me!’ garments weep of love towards the new idols, the Mother Depth converted Mother Cheese. And as it has been proved that Mother Depth are no idiots, then why, why, do they not aspire to become rock stars as they so effortlessly could? What slows them down? Integrity? Personal character? Lack of motivation? A certain yearn for depth concerning artistic matters?

Tuukka, guitar being his instrument in Mother Depth, resides in the lands of ennui as he answers ‘no’ for integrity and ‘yes’ for the rest of the list.

Yeah, but really?

Jaakko, who is responsible for the lead vocals as well as the bass thumping in the band, elaborates: “I’ve never seriously thought that I’d want to be a rock star. Making music and performing it has much more to offer than just that.”

That is quite self-explaining, if you think about it. Concerning Mother Depth, the music for the most part truly does stand out for itself.

Speaking of those matters, would Tuukka and Jaakko say that they have become more deliberate in their artistic inclinations via Mother Depth throughout the years, up until this fresh new creation, the Miscarriages demo? Would they say that the authentic essence of Mother Depth has only more recently, meaning after the Serenity Run Through demo yet prior to Enshrined All Woe, unambiguously and completely clarified to them?

Tuukka: “When we started out, we obviously didn’t have a clue. The first song I wrote for the band was called Eat My Fucking Shit. I believe the authentic essence of Mother Depth has evolved rather nicely since.”

Has this process been conscious?

Jaakko answers: “The process itself is not conscious but I’d say that the essence of Mother Depth and music in general has, to me, become clearer in the last years. I don’t know how to describe the essence but I can sense it being easier than a couple years back. I’ve kind of developed a certain taste for it.”

Tuukka sees that the process as we witness it today came to rise at a relatively early stage.

“The choosing of a non-random name and recording Serenity Run Through could certainly be called a kind of a turning point, where some idea of the art began to form. I’m not sure that anything will be clarified, though. I believe the essence of Mother Depth in itself is quite ambiguous.”

Getting to the rundown on your prior existence, what of the Enwreathing One-III releases? There were some complications with them, am I right? Of which sort were those?

Tuukka: “Enwreathing One was a selection from Serenity Run Through. II & III met with an overflow of the ambition and technology ratio, resulting in incremental updates instead of completely new releases. Nothing dramatic.”

As I have already mentioned, you have been around for quite a long time. I read in one publication that you played some gigs in France, at some point, even. Woo-hoo. But I am not interested in that, actually, or interested in any other pointy facts, but am rather curious of hearing of how the ambience of the band was back then, apart from prompting other people to eat your shit. Personally, when I look back at anything that happened ten years ago, a harmonic wave of nostalgia usually tends to sweep over me (call me sad, but that is how it is). I am guessing that you share the same kind of feelings about the past of your band, only increased to the second power. On the other hand, do you possess any spiteful agonies in the corners of your mind, any Dark Recollections?

Concerning their tour de France, Tuukka practises phoney offence and refuses to let out any secrets. The tasty details will escape you, he says.

Jaakko rationalises: “The feelings I had back in 1997 in France were quite the same I have nowadays, but the landscape was much more of a gruff sort than it is today. There are of course some nostalgic memories from the past years but that’s something that is bound to happen. I myself am mostly proud of everything we’ve done with the band. Nothing to be embarrassed about. No dark recollections or anything of that sort.”

Tuukka: “I and Jura Mikkola put the band together way back then. Eventually we recorded a demo as E.N.D. in 1995. Jura was replaced by Ville Salo in 1998. Occasional gigs have been played. The rest is, more or less, between the lines of our discography.

“Ambience you say? Lyrics inspired by Conan, or created by extracting pseudo-random sentences from Star Trek movies-turned-into-novels? I think our unwitting grasp on the perverse was far greater. That’s definitely something to be nostalgic about.”

Jaakko: “For me the ambience of the band has not changed in these years, everything is just as melancholic, dark, beautiful, intriguing and inspiring as it was in the beginning.”

Yes, grandeur words. As Jaakko’s answer hints, Mother Depth almost exclusively play with the most powerful of emotions in their music. In the songs, despondency, dejection and acrimony are built up to great castles, weighing tonnes and tonnes, yet not being all that overdone at all for the sentient listener. The difference between the every-day light feelings and the heavy moments of self-inspection is that the previous is considered the norm, while the latter is expected to be something that one experiences only occasionally. Therefore, the harmless feeling, which stays undisturbed, is preferable, and every ounce of energy is required to be focused there. In short, one is endorsed to a life in virtue and in positive thinking for nothing more than because the ‘bad’, the ‘foul darkness’ functioning as the other side of the coin is foreign and not known well enough to be advisedly recommended. Then, for which reasons has this path of the disheartened been chosen in Mother Depth’s instance, if it has been socially proven that it is not a desirable path? Should one’s personal life and musical expression be distinguished here?

Tuukka: “It’s just the nature of this band. I cannot remember choosing a path. This is where I am. Besides, this is not a documentation operation. Full convergence of personal life with musical and lyrical expression is by no means necessary… and you really couldn’t tell anyway. What you can’t see is what you may get here. Still, I wouldn’t wish to advise anyone as to how he or she should couple their lives and music, if they should do so at all. If our music had more of an idealistic streak, this question could really be raised. As of now it is only observations.

Jaakko: “I wouldn’t describe our music as disheartened so easily. I’ve always tried to give all of my feelings in the music, not only the ‘bad’ ones. The both sides of the coin if you like. The good and the bad feelings are both an important part of life. Instead of ‘coin’, I’d rather use the word ‘spectrum’ here to describe the landscape of emotions. The question is just how you can or want to express them. Some by anger, some by disheartedness. But in a way I make music to prolong my catharsis. To make it last.”

Tuukka: “How could you actually recommend something like ‘foul darkness’? It sounds so nasty.”

It is a matter of negation and variation. Sometimes even the devoutest of saccharine lovers want to taste something else, and I would guess that living in perpetual happiness functions the same way. You can get fed up with unwrapping the papers only to receive the same gift over and over again. In such a situation, would you not beckon one to the opposite, if solely for the possible chance of healing? If even for such a nasty entity as the ‘foul darkness’?

When one tries to figure out the consistency of how the different aesthetic elements mix in Mother Depth and what may be the proportion of these elements, one instantly thinks of depression, which pretty much seems to be their primary substance.  But is depression not an overly used concept these days? Anything from your granny’s moaning to the wonderful darkness of winter to Slovakian brutal death metal can be traced as the ultimate source of depression and depressive elements. Whenever someone has not got the ‘good vibes’ pulsating in the heart of his or her life, or whenever something stops to function, if even for one second, the world suddenly becomes a horrid and depressing place. Suicide instantly becomes a valid option for the shallow folk. In my opinion, something is deeply wrong with such behaviour. Do you have an aversion to this superficial way of thinking?

Tuukka does not take up on my suicide theory.

“Depression is when suicide seems worthless and futile. Actually, I don’t seem to recall seeing ‘depression’ in the headlines lately… seems to be in regression. ‘Burn-out’ is back. Wonder who or what will be on top next year?

“People really seem to get caught up in all sorts of transient things and forget the path for the pebbles. Must be fun, that. It happens - else nothing happens. Curiosity keeps you alive either way. Keep all your eyes open.”

Will we ever hear a Mother Depth song that is, as Anders Nyström of Katatonia puts it, about ‘the true struggle and hope to reach happiness’? Do you postulate that you would have enough talent to not treat this matter with the juvenile touch that so many have treated it before - like most of the radio garbage, MTV, etc., which, as everyone knows, up to a very high extent are about procuring seconds of happiness unto the suggestible audience?

Tuukka: “Question your desire for happiness. Not that it will change anything; you’ll still want it. What makes you happy? Whose interests does your happiness serve? Mother Nature has you on a chemical leash.”

Ah, so cynical and idealistic. But really, you cannot phase out the fact that happiness still is the leading factor in people’s lives. It may drive us into foolishness or it may drive us into success, but it controls our actions all the same. Admittedly, it would be extremely satisfying to see the majority of human population obeying this law of the Mother Nature, but the sad truth is that most would not, for the life of them, recognise this chemical leash from the one on the gallows that prevents them from achieving ultimate happiness. For instance, you have the Norwegian band Ved Buens Ende who used to write brilliant tracks about devils and swans and things, fill their lyrics with striking metaphorical innovations, and still merely a handful of people ever gave a damn about it. “This sweetness that surrounded us, and bled with us… / We touched it, and it smelt far worse than weeds…” In a synchronous event, you would be smelling your idealistic world, and would notice that what catches your nose in fact smells like an icky world; a realistic world, the world that actually exists.

To taste night’s blood is what Nödveidt, another legend, is in search of on one of the most fundamental Swedish records ever, Storm of the Light’s Bane. He has made it all, or did make it all, very outspoken with his band: from the roots they strove and toward shreds of clear sophistication they went. How do Mother Depth comply with the variant needs of the underground scene, wherein one might want it brutal, the other experimental, meditative and so on. Especially the demo Serenity Run Through very much hinted at some effect of ‘two-sidedness’ and obverse factors with the harsh gruff vocals and painful riffs on one side and the lulling clean vocals and soothing melodies on the other. Was this a dilemma that you saw you had to untangle? The new material, in its shape, is much less obscure, though still not simple by any means. Musically it appears to have gone a tad more intricate even, right?

Tuukka: “Regarding compliance, I think complying with our own variant needs is all the compliance we can handle. As for variance, I thought Serenity Run Through was our most coherent release to date…!”

Hey, I was just going out on a limb there… Who knows… It was the personal aesthetic apparatus that reflected this on the instinct rooted cerebrum forum.

“We always have quite variable material, so we just try to figure out which pieces fit together, avoiding and embracing obversity as needed.”

Why do you insist on romanticising practically anything and everything between heaven and hell?

“Romanticising is the creation of a personal myth, reflections of experience extrapolated. There are de-romanticising elements as well. Some things put on a pedestal, some put down.”

Yet regardless of everything, charismatic attributes galore is the only way I am able to describe your band. However, something that I discover to be particularly to my liking are the design and layout of the releases. They seem very thoroughly thought of before the magic of printing. I presume it is mostly Tuukka and Ilmari that are responsible for these matters. Could Tuukka say if there is any special target that they try to attain with the layout - layout which most daft metal heads probably do not even notice or care about when consuming the platters.

Tuukka: “The design is just another instrument, really. It serves to enable the packaging to coexist with the music. This is necessary. The photography comes mainly from Ilmari, his family and friends.”

To land with a mundane question in between, have you drawn any straws of inspiration from the premium Finnish death/doom ensembles? And which bands would you wish to greet in terms of gratitude and admiration if I was to give you space for such activity hereon?

Tuukka: “My Dying Bride, Anathema… My familiarity with Finnish metal is woefully lacking.”

Jaakko: “Nothing here either. The 3rd and the Mortal, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, The Sea… nowadays.”

Tuukka, in the Meathooked #2 feature of Mother Depth, you made a statement that was sturdy enough to pass as the heading of that interview. The statement was, and I quote precisely, word for word, “My view is that no good music has been made after the 18th century.” What was the idea that you intended to bring forth with this rather prudent statement? Was there any seed of truth in it? I cannot imagine.

Tuukka: “That was me? I probably couldn’t tell apart the 60’s from the 70’s. I must have been summing up someone’s thoughts on the unavoidable recycling of musical ideas. Call it a preamble to synthesis; a device of discourse. Or, in layman terms, ‘shock value and being audacious’.”

Before approaching the demise of this interrogation, here should be mentioned my sincere thank yous to Mr Sorvali of Meathooked magazine for initially taping me the Enshrined All Woe demo of the band that you have just read about, and thus making it possible for me to further investigate the Depths by myself. Now let us proceed onto the last theme, i.e. the transcription of the emotions portrayed by the music, as for once that sentence proves valid with a metal band.

Usually I would spend far more time, space and kilobytes discussing (but not quite dissecting) the lyrics of a band, which in Mother Depth’s case are so deliciously meaningful that the temptation is almost too much to bear. But, seeing as I have inquired about so many different type of subjects already, I cannot quite start an immense analysis on the lyrical topic here, not anymore. Because I do regard myself to have some of that substance that in the metal world usually goes unnoticed: yes, decency.

Notwithstanding, something has to be mentioned, so pay heed for the last few lines. That how Mother Depth’s lyrics at places seem so delicately to take the best out of worn-out clichés (for instance, “The time we spend together / Will stay forever - in my heart”, in the track Meadow, is actually the crest of the entire song) is close to being over all my understanding. The sensitive (and yes, very sentimental) lyrics together with the touching music have soundtracked my ponderings on many a sleepless night, and will do so in the future as well.  They are exceptional, the lyrics. So, see this as a further recommendation.

Tuukka hears me out and intervenes for one last time: “Where’s the cliché in Meadow, really? What makes that a cliché? Perhaps it’s been fed to you too many times.”

…Which is precisely the point. Recently I have caught myself off guard many a time musing upon this contradiction that the marketable, clichéd emotions as opposed to my personal emotions create. And there is certain fatigue to be seen on the personal emotions due to this. How is this for Mother Depth?

Tuukka: “Besides disposable entertainment fodder, emotions have real uses too. If we have occasionally managed to convey emotion where, once uttered, it is not already worn out and tired, good.”

Emotions which have been depleted once can still verse into new-found beauty; this is firmly substantiated by the music of Mother Depth. Love this demo band that will hopefully not be a demo band for much longer.

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