Interview with Markus Vanhala – Guitarist of Insomnium
By: Habib Tabaja - 2016-09-12
Habib: Hi Markus! It’s an honor to be interviewing one of my favorite bands of all time! How’s it going?
Markus: Heya and thanks for your nice words. It’s all well and busy here in autumnish Finland at the momentum. Lot of press and buzz around ”Winters Gate” release and at the same time we just finished extra busy festival season with my both bands, and tours ahead with both Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum. Now just taking everything out from the special good time at home and playing a normal dude. Haha.
Habib: So, this album seems to be the biggest and most daring step you’ve taken as a band. What made you do it?
All started one late wintry evening at our rehearsal camp – in the cabin in the woods, like all cool stories start (true story) – when we were listening one of our all time favorite album ”Crimson” by Edge Of Sanity. Borrowed the idea, when we were speaking that would be cool to break your normal album and composing routines and do something special like this. This musical concept gave such a vast landscape for music where you can do so much more than inside the ”normal song”. So, selfisly artisticly this was something completely different for ourselves. Then Niilo came up with the idea adding his old short story as the concept of the gigantic song, and here we are. Promoting the 40-minute single song and a book. At the same time this is also a statement for nowadays disposable music culture, where people are listening 1 minute and 1 song here and there with Spotify, Youtube, Applemusic whatever. This you have to swallow in full in take it or leave it spirit. With 1 or 2 minute preview listening you won’t get far with this release…
Habib: You mentioned in one of the album trailers that the album will go back to the ‘90s with its sound. Im sure many of us fans, including myself, will definitely love this. Whats the reason for you taking such a direction, musically, with the album?
Basically, it’s nothing new as Insomnium’s structure has always been based on that good ol’ 90’s melodic deathmetal that we used to love when we were teens. That’s where all this is coming for our musical roots. But as we had this ”Crimson” turn, this project got a really nostalgic vibe and it can be heard from the album. We even got the sound god Dan Swanö, who used to sing in Edge Of Sanity, to mix this ”Crimsomnium” album in a tribute vein. He joked and said that we must’ve drank some secret potion of all the albums he mixed in his famous Unisound studio between ’93-96 and breeded that thru Insomnium trademark formula. That’s the spirit here. Bring it on, all your old early 90’s albums Dissection, Edge Of Sanity, Opeth, Emperor, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames et all.
Habib: You guys put all your hearts and souls into this album. I’m wondering if there’s anything left for the next one.
Next chapter’s always a mystery after brand new album project. Bleed evrything for the album and empty your sacks always for the album you’re making at the moment. Then i always need a creative break for the creative juices to recover and start flooding. Though, i already have some new songs ready for both Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum new albums. Work-a-holix when it comes to metal.
Habib: The story of Winter’s Gate seems to be epic. Do you think it’ll ever be made into a movie? (Or a 40-minute long music video?)
If I have to gamble my money for that, I would say no way, haha. There’s no plans like that, but of course you never know, and never say never because never is a stupid strong word… When waiting this to happen you can for example watch ”Vikings” TV-series haha. Though, Niilo’s story is older as he wrote it already back in 2007.
Habib: Will the format of the Winter’s Gate album (I.e. A one-song concept album) be adopted for future Insomnium releases?
Like I said future is a mystery shrouded in mist for ourselves too... There might be another 40 minute song, or next album can be 40 one minute songs. At the momentum ”Winter Gates” was a special project and it’s not anything like ”the new direction or new default format for Insomnium”.
Habib: What emotions does this album evoke in you when listening to it?
Happiness and proudness about that we got that hard work done and ready. After all the pressures and deadlines it still came out as a pretty good song and project. Sounds and feeling of winter is definitely present in that cold opus.
Habib: So, you guys will be performing that 40 minute song on stage without any breaks? That’s hard core, dude! I would love to see that!
Definitely we’ll be playing the song on our upcoming record release shows and tours, it will be something special that we won’t be doing after that. At least not regularly on all shows, so people, be sure to catch Insomnium in near future if interested about to see us sweating 40 minutes without breaks.
Habib: Speaking of performances, your show in Dubai in January was surreal. Do you ever intend on returning and playing Winter;s Gate for us?
That whole trip in Dubai early this year was something truly special that i some really warm memories and did some good friends along the way. Sand safari et all! So we definitely wanna come back as soon as possible. Dubai needs some sonic winter breeze upon it!
Habib: As a fan since 2010, I would like to say that this will probably be the most epic thing you’ve released!
Oh yes it is and that it was also intended to be! It’s a song but there’s an albumful of material in that.
Habib: Any words for the fans of Insomnium in general and JoScene/Jorzine readers in specific?
Please check out ”Winter’s Gate” and give the whole 40 minutes for that album without any hurry. This album isn’t any background music that you can listen minute here and there. If you dont have that 40 minute break in your life, choose something else and spare this for your relaxed 40 minutes that we wanna steal from your life. You’ll getting old sooner than you think when you use these quick 40 minutes repeatedly. J
Habib: Thank you so much, Markus, and a big shout out to the rest of the band! All the best!
Take care and all the best for our Middle Eastern fans’n’friends. See you in the future to come definitely!
Interview by: Habib Tabaja
Edited by: Muhammad Jaber
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