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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Antipope Interview

answers by Mikko Myllykangas (vocals, guitars (studio), bass, and songwriting of Antipope)

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?


Hello, thanks for asking! Well, quite recently, we have been focusing on promoting the album mainly through social media, giving interviews and so forth. But as the album was recording over past four years, there has been a lot of stuff going on. The biggest thing was the decision made little over a year ago to wake Antipope from the slumbering state and actually finish our 4th album, which turned out to be “Denial/Survival”. Bandwise, we have also had some changes as Juho, our long-time guitarist decided to leave the band, also a year ago. As we had no live activities planned, we didn’t rush into finding a replacement as I took care of the recording guitars and bass for the album with Antti, our other guitarist, served as a consultant and as an extra pair of ears.

In last December we finally wrapped up the cycle for the previous album, “3 Eyes of Time”, by releasing the music video for the song “White Summer Night”. It’s too bad that video received very little attention at the time of its release, as we were practically in a non-existent state as a band for media. But it’s definitely a nice piece of audiovisuals, absolutely worth checking out!

So it’s been kind of like tying up some loose ends and getting our new album ready for the release. Now that it’s done, were rehearsing as a band again and I’ve also started to work on the next album. I haven’t had such a long break from writing new music since I started to play in a band back in early 90s, so I can tell you that there’s a huge amount of ideas emerging from my subconsciousness…

2.Recently you have released a new album how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
“Denial/Survival” has retained some of our past characteristics but overall, I feel that it is a departure from the previous two albums, House of Harlot (2011) and 3 Eyes of Time (2013). As those albums were written to be a bit less “progressive” than our early work, when I began to write the music that ended up on Denial/Survival back in December 2013 I felt that I wanted to write an album that would be more in line with those 70s prog albums that have songs from many different styles creating an artistic whole. I didn’t think so much about how the songs would turn out on stage as we had no shows planned for the foreseeable future. Well, in the end, I think there are a few nice live songs too!

Obviously, you can find the various styles of metal that have been influential for me, ranging from black metal to progressive death metal and even some radio-friendlish stuff with pop grooves.

While mixing the album, I wanted to make sure that you can actually hear what is being played by different instruments, so I think the general sound also differs from our previous efforts. While the past two records have a kind of a industrial metal undertone with rather uniform sound characteristics throughout the albums, Denial/Survival has more experimenting with different sounds. The rhythm guitar tracks are recorded with active pickups but here and there I used my other guitars that have passive pickups to give the album more organic and dynamic sound. The final lead melody on the album is played with my Ibanez RG505 with DiMarzio Evolutions, which actually had the twentieth anniversary this year. I hadn’t touched that particular guitar in years as I was looking for more aggressive and “modern” sound (well, Evos are pretty aggressive too), so when I was thinking how to finish the album, my old guitar kind of just gave me the melody without much asking.

All in all, I think our new album offers a more nuanced side of Antipope’s music than our previous efforts.


3.This is your first full length since 2013 can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time frame?
Well, originally, back in May 2013, we didn’t plan to take a break but it was more about wrapping up the band stuff for good. We, and me personally, were quite exhausted after writing two EPs and three full-length albums in a space of five years, between 2008 and 2013. Our original drummer, Jyri, died in June 2008 of aortic aneurysm, and as we were in the middle of releasing our first promo EP “Chaosmos”, we wanted to make sure that things would not be stopped because of the tragedy. We found a new drummer rather quickly, and I think Jyri’s death partially installed a certain mode into my thinking that I should do everything to keep the band project going forward. Well, have any obsession for a few years 24/7 and see what happens. Writing music was not the thing that made me want to step away from music and band stuff but the endless struggle to try to book gigs and to promote our music online and any way possible.

As we did almost all by ourselves while having day-jobs and families and other activities, I started to question in my head what’s the point of all this. I also had a PhD thesis to finish, which I did in 2014, so I wanted to be able to focus on my career outside of music. A simple break of one-two years would have been in order, but as none of us had actually had a break from band activities, it felt like an all or nothing solution was the only choice. Of course, and I admit this with more than little shame, it didn’t take long for me to realize that going from one extreme to other (having a band and pushing it with 110% to no band at all) was not really the solution I was looking for. I think it was only after 7 months of our “break-up” that I began to write music for Denial/Survival.

Retrospectively, I think in the end the break from band activities and constant writing new music was a good thing. I had a chance to re-activate my other hobbies, so I went back to practicing kendo (Japanese sword fighting) which I had practiced in the mid-2000s. It was a good experience to get to know the more about the physical side of your being, kind of like re-connect with your body, how it moves, what it can do, and because of being over 30 years old, what it cannot do anymore as well as it used to when you were a teenager. Thanks to being quite competitive by nature, I think I ended up pushing myself too much with kendo also, so nowadays I try to maintain the balance between mental and physical by going for long walks with my dogs, doing yoga and other little bit more mellow stuff.

I think it was during the summer 2016 that I finally felt that I “need” to finish our fourth album and I started to talk about it to other guys in the band. As things seldom go exactly like you planned, Juho decided that it was time for him to leave the band and concentrate fully on other things. Partially, the departure of Juho, who had been in Antipope since 2005, ignited the creative spark after all thinking and talking about ‘maybe we should…maybe’. Those kinds of changes in your social sphere makes you re-evaluate what do you do and why. And what I discovered that the reason why I had had a band since I was 12 years old was that I could write music of my own and have fun playing it with my friends. And that’s what we have been doing for the past year now!

4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
The lyrics on Denial/Survival revolve around what one thinks life is about and what millions of years of evolution have buried inside one’s psyche, and how these two things might collide. In fact, it is about oneness but because of our ideologies, beliefs, and politics people tend to think that whatever is buried in one’s unconsciousness is there only because of nurture and education, and by more education people could be taught not to feel certain unwanted emotions at all.

I think catching yourself from lying to oneself is one of the biggest revelations that people can experience, and that realization is at the core of Denial/Survival. I think it’s a continues struggle to stay awake, so to say, and be honest to oneself. As our previous album ends with the track “The Logic of Self-Discovery”, the present album deals with the difficulties that an individual may experience on the path to self-discovery.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Antipope?
The name Antipope is best understood regarding such concepts as “antimatter” or “antigravity”, as an absence of something, rather than as an opposition against something. The absence in this case is the none-existence of authorities, religious or otherwise. Antipope is not against religion per se, but about the sheep mentality that gives power to those who know how to exploit it. We’re not talking about anarchy either, and I think it’s pretty obvious that as humans are social animals, we do need some kind of a social structure.

Naturally, when you start to question the authorities, it is you who have to provide the answers or at least know where to look for them, when no one is any longer telling you what to do. With it comes great responsibility, as “do what thou wilt” requires quite a lot of premeditation, empathy, and acute self-knowledge, unless you want to end up as a psychological and social train wreck. So, Antipope is a kind of a court jester telling you that there’s no court at all.

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
I think our best show was in 2011 Jyrkkärock festivals. Our slot was the first but despite of that there was quite a lot of people watching as I poured a bottle of water over my head (it was a really hot day) while thrashing the stage with my corpse-paint kind of make-up running down my black leather stage wear. Another good one was in Helsinki, where we played the release party gig of “House of Harlot”. The crowd really got into sing-along while we performed “Rapeman” from that album.

7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
Plans yes, but nothing definite yet.

8.The new album was released on 'TCM Entertainment', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
TCM Entertainmaint is a new name for our own old label “Torture Chamber Music”. We released our first album Desert through Torture Chamber Music back in 2010. While browsing the interweb I found small labels with same name, so I wanted to change our label’s name to more entertainment-business like. We wanted to handle the publication of Denial/Survival by ourselves as I wanted to get it out as soon as possible after the finalization, and only other option could have been to contact some small independent label and see if they would have been interested. But as we had worked with independent label before, we know that we need to do most of the work any way (and pay everything, obviously), I thought that we could put this one out on our own label.

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of extreme and progressive metal?
The reviews so far have been generally positive, some even outstandingly positive. As the album presents quite varied set of songs, it’s nice to notice that at least few reviewers have had patience to actually listen to the album and dig a little bit deeper into what we offer. Personally, I didn’t have too high expectations precisely because of the not-so-coherent nature of the album, even though I like it just the way it is. Most of the metal albums are, in my personal opinion, very, very, very repetitive and way too conscious about the expectations of the audience. As an admirer of Frank Zappa, John Zorn, Devin Townsend, and 70s prog rock, I feel that there always should be room for variations and even humour on an album. Luckily for us, out there seems to be people who also feel this way and find Antipope’s music worth of listening.

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
As I mentioned previously, I already started to write the songs for the next album. While writing Denial/Survival I discovered some interesting and new musical territories, I feel like I want to explore them a bit more. Right now I feel that I want to write a bit more cohesive album, but you never know! It’s very possible that there’s going to be a few weird tracks there too. But someone recently described Antipope as “progressive extreme metal”, I think I want to explore a bit more what that could mean.

11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
On Denial/Survival, I tried to fuse together quite a lot of different influences. A few years ago, I listened to Muse quite a lot, enjoyed the dramatic qualities of their songs. Also bands such as Primordial and Gojira have been regularly on my playlist recently. Devin Townsend is also someone whose music I listen to constantly, and his production style has had a big impact on how I approach producing vocals on past couple of albums.

Most recently, I’ve listened quite a lot to the latest Steven Wilson album, as well as constantly re-visiting my all-time favorites, Iron Maiden, Cradle of Filth, Nine Inch Nails and Tool. The latest new discovery has been Australians Ne Obliviscaris. Their latest album definitely is not boring and repetitive.

12.What are some of your non musical interests?
My day-job naturally fills up whatever free space there is between waking up and going back to sleep together with writing music and keeping the band running. I would say that same goes with the rest of the band, we all have day-jobs and we try to do our best to navigate some time and energy to be put into making music. Personally, I like long walks in nature with my dogs, reading, movies, the usual stuff, really. Quite recently, I tried my hand in online gaming, but I soon found the unrestrained anonymous malice of even casual gamers towards other players too tiresome and both socially and psychologically appalling. Maybe it’s just not my thing. I rather enjoy the company of people who at least try to keep their nature in check.

13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
To all of you who read this interview, if you haven’t checked out our new album “Denial/Survival”, make sure to do so now. You can find it on Spotify and other online stores, and if you want to support what we do, go to our online store at antipope.bandcamp.com, and follow Antipope on Facebook! (Please forgive me this little moment of self-promotion)

And finally,, I have to say that I really enjoyed your thought provoking questions. I hope you make something out of my ramblings.

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