Hooded Menace Interview

You’re band has been around for 14 years, and since 2007 the music developed in a way that still we know what to expect from you guys. As a newer member why do you think being authentic to the original roots is important?

Of course, the whole thing comes from Lasse, who was the only one who started the band, back in 2007. So right from the start the whole band and the music has been following his visions. So I think it’s not only necessary but it’s also an inevitable thing because it’s his sound and the music reflects his vision about the band. Altough the music having some changes towards the years, it’s all because of him being the main person. The only person responsible for the music and production.

Your music is great and you have a bunch of albums as well. Do you think that you deserve a bit more attention than that you are already getting?

I don’t know about the “deserve”. It’s great that people seem to be liking the music and have been liking the music since Lasse started the band. I can’t say that we deserve more or less. I think people who want to listen to this kind of music, they find it. And yeah, I am glad that people like it.

The horror movie ‘The Blind Dead’ inspired the lyrics for your songs. What can you tell us about this? Why do you like this topic?

I’m not the best person to answer this question, because I wasn’t in the band when the whole horror movie theme started. Because throughout the years it became less and less focused on specific movies like it was when the band started. But I think, that like with heavy metal in general, the imaginary and the visual side of it plays such a bit role, like setting the atmosphere and the mood. So I think it’s kind of a fruitfull way of getting inspired with the visual and lyrical kind of things. But like I said it’s not that the latest albums had specific movies referring to them. It’s more like that they may serve as an inspiration for some lyrical parts or the grahpics and visuals, but it’s not like that. We just want to do the horror music. The music has the biggest importance and all the other elements are just to support the music.

As your influences you listed bands like Candlemass, Cathedral, Paradise Lost, Autopsy and Asphyx. What albums do you like from these artists best?

I think that all the other members of the band may have different favourites, but for example I like the early Paradise Lost albums the most from the band, especially the debute and also Gothic. Like them a lot. Autopsy, it’s Mental Funeral for me. As I am not the person responsible for the band for making the music, so for instence Candlemass is a big influence for Lasse and his songwriting, but for me it’s never been the band that I was the biggest fan of. I like Epicus and the Doominus Metallicus album, but it’s not like among my favourites.

At the end of last year, you went into the studio, to record the band’s 6th album. You recorded at different locations. Could you talk us through about how was the working flow?

The working flow was kind of the same as previously. Altough we had a different guy to do the mixing and the guitar recordings and stuff, but the drums were recorded in a North Kareliam studio. Lasse and the drummer Pekka did that together. Guitar recordings were done by the guitar players down by the guitar players, and the only recordings where I were present was when we recorded the vocals. But we did them here in Helsinki, because the members of the band doesn’t live in the same city. I live like hundreds of kilometers away from the other members, so it was easier for me to do vocal recordings here with a friend of mine, with whom I’ve been working on a couple of different projects over the years. So yeah it was quite the same as we used to, so no problem with that, because whenever Hooded Menace enters the studio it’s all been like already prepoduced so in deatel so there’s no surprise elements going on. Everything is already planned, and everything is just to be executed as they are planned to do. So it’s just work that we put on, like everyone puts their effort on making the music as it was written. Of course this time we had Andy LaRocque with the guitars and the mixing and matering. He was a different person than when we had worked with him earlier, but luckily and happily he was really down to Earth, really nice and really professional guy to work with. So I think we got what we wanted quite easily and fast, so we didn’t need to fight with the sound, but of course we already had an idea about it, so it was just communicating that to Andy. But it was like I said, he was easy guy to work with, and he was a true pro, so nothing to complain about.

About the sound, it feels like that next to the death and doom elements, you put in some heavy metal elements as well. How did this develop? What do you think about it?

I answer the latest question, because I think it’s great. I think it’s a really natural next sort of element to put on the music. Since this is, like you said, the 6th album, it’s quite natural to have things evolving over the years and throughout the albums, and now I feel that this is a fresh thing. We can do little different things this time. Not that we are forgetting about where the band is coming from and what the sound, like the death/doom core of it is about. But yeah I think the heavy metal elements are adding some really needed extra things on top of that, like the trademark sound of Hooded Menace. And yeah I guess the main reason we are having that is because that Lasse is like I said writes all the song. He is digging his own childhood favourites, like the stuffs he grew up with. The 80’s heavy metal stuff. It’s mostly the music he is listening to, so it was quite natural to get that into our music as well. But it’s more like the place he comes from and place we all are as well, so it’s a really natural thing to do. And of course it’s like Lasse said somewhere himself, that because he used to do all the vocal for all the albums from the first to the fourth album, so with his kind of voice this move would’ve never been possible to make sense like it does now. I am not a vocalist that can do as filthy low growls as he is able to do, but in a change I guess mainly the reason I am in the band for the last couple of albums, is to achieve a different kind of style with the vocals and dynamics. So now when we had that kind of element it was natural for Lasse to go all the way with heavy metal like that. Not that muddy and with more punch to it, to get all the dynamics out of it.

Your new album is called “The Tritonus Bell”, and it’s coming out 27 august by Season of Mist. Good sounding and punching songs with a good label, what are your expectations? How do you think these 7 new tracks are gonna come across to the fans?

I am enthusiastic about it. Pretty excited to see and hear how people find it. And it’s couraging, because with the 2 songs we put out as singles, we already get quite positive responses, so with the heavy metal elements and the punchy sound that we have right now compared to the other albums, it looks like that not at least all of the old fans have step aside, and actually liking what we are going to do next, so not that any of our music is written based on the expectations, but it’s always exciting to hear and see peoples response and how people react when you do something new. Right now I feel that people have the same kind of what we are doing. Those people that listen to this kind of music anyway. I am happy about it, because it’s the music we wanted to do right now, so it’s always good to heart when people appreciate what you are doing.

It’s going to be released in multiple formats. For example digibox. What can you tell us about that? What other bonuses does it have?

Yeah, there are different formats, there are different colors vinyl records, there are different CD-s, with a standard CD with that glam box, there are some exclusive shirt designes in Season of Mist and other webstores as well. But musicwise the most important bonus is the bonus song on the special edition CD-s, a cover version of “W.A.S.P. – The Torture Never Stops” that we recorded in the same sessions as the album tracks. I think this is the most essential bonus we have.

From your new album there are already 2 songs out with official videos. Based on viewer opinions, it seems quite promising. How does it feel to read the comments?

Like I said it’s always nice when people get what you are doing. Of course some are disappointed when the direction is somewhat different than the previous ones, but that’s how it is. You can’t make everyone happy. Some people expect the sound of the previous albums, like that exact sound, and of course they are gonna get disappointed because there is no point doing the exactly same record over and over again. But the overall response has been quite positive, so it’s really nice. And it’s really nice to see and hear people think about it especially when they get the idea we are after.

Gigs nowadays are pretty rare, but you had a few really big ones. What memories do you have? How hard do you miss the crowd?

I myself would be happy to do some gigs, but since the band has not been playing any gigs in almost 3 years, and that has nothing to do with corona. Of course we were supposed to do a 10th year anniversary mini tour for “Never Cross the Dead” album last year and that got cancelled due to corona and this pandemic, but the main reason we haven’t been doing gigs has nothing to do with the pandemic. It was before 2 years than the whole pandemic started that we decided that we stop doing gigs for at least a few years. So even though I myself as a person would like to do some gigs right now, but it’s not the thing that the band is intrested in. Even though the pandemic has affected a lot of bands and their touring plans, it’s not something that is affected Hooded Menace gigs. I could say almost not at all. But yeah I have some really nice memories about the gigs. I’ve been in the band since 2016, and my first gigs with them was the USA West Coast tour with Demilich and Vastum, and it was my first time in the Unites States as well. I was excited about it and all the gigs were really great. We did the whole West coast of the US. The other highlights for me with the band wold probably be the last gig that we did in 2018 when we played in Copenhagen the Kill-Town Death Fest. That was the last gig we did so far. And also we did a gig with Candlemass in Italy, that was pretty nice as well. And also all the Tilburg gigs like Roadburn, Deathfest. It’s always nice to go there to the Netherlands, especially the Tilburg area.

What is going on with the band? What are your plans?

The main plan is to have the album out and to get the music unleashed. After that, we’ll see what happenes. You never know if we actually get excited as a band to get on the road again. Maybe not on the road as in touring, but who knows if even there are some gigs that we want to do. Not that I can promise anything because it’s not up to me. And usually when we are done with an album, there is gonna be new material writing happening, but it’s not a hasty process, because like I said, when Hooded Menace enter the studio, it’s always like really and all through thought, so that there is no room for any experimenting in the studio. It’s all going to be a long preproducing process, and every block will be put there, and everything will be thought through before anything is recorded. So I don’t think that anything is gonna happen after the release.

Thank you for your answers. Best wishes.

Thank you! You two. It was nice chatting with you.

The interview was taken with Harri Kuokkanen on 12.07.2021.

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