Born and bred in Helsinki, Finland, alternative rockers Poets Of The Fall burst on to the scene with their instantly well received debut album, ‘Signs Of Life’ in 2005 . Since their illustrious first effort, the band has since gone from strength to strength, instilling a boisterous anticipation surrounding the October, 2018 release of their new album entitled, ‘Ultraviolet’. Though jump in not head first, for the bands eight studio album may come as a surprise to some.
Metal Wani’s Carl O’Rourke had a quick chat with frontman Marko Saaresto on all things POTF and the new record.
1.) Your new record, ‘Ultraviolet’, is at long last almost upon us, and you guys have teased fans with some new material ahead of its release. How has the initial response to your leading release been treating you so far?
It’s been treating us very well, thank you. We’ve received tons of feedback from fans around the globe, and it’s been very supportive and also very diverse, as I’m sure we we’re already expecting. We’ve seen myriad different interpretations and emotional responses to the new music, and in all it’s diversity, we are very grateful for it all. It’s always so amazing how music can transcend cultural boundaries and traverse the world, pinching cheeks and picking at nerves, soothing and confusing. We’ve been amazed at some of the stories we’ve heard about how this new music has affected the listeners. It does give more meaning to what we do and we find it all very inspiring. As a musician it’s good to know that we have something to give that touches people.
2.) ‘Ultraviolet’ sometimes sounds like Poets Of The Fall but with a twist. You guys have retained that strong sense of melody you have always excelled at, but you seem to have deviated somewhat from your usual edgy delivery for a more polished sound this time around. Would you agree with this assessment? Sonically, what were you going for when you set out to make this record?
When we start writing a new album, producing it, we usually try to start off with a clean slate. Every song is an individual, and we’ve come to understand that it’s important to allow that initial intuition any given song invokes in us, to lead the process, also where sound choices and delivery are concerned. We weren’t necessarily looking for, say an edgy sound to the album, but were rather content to just make the album and see how it turned out. Of course the process is a lengthy one, and there’s room to make changes to the album many times over, if deemed necessary. All in all, Ultraviolet turned out pretty much exactly how we wanted it to turn out.
3.) One of the core components of the band have always been your very honest, at times admirably vulnerable lyrics. ‘Ultraviolet’ is no exception, perhaps most notably in “Fools Paradise”, which is a stunningly good track by the way! Lyrically, what was it that informed your writing on this record? What was it you wanted to say here?
Thank you so much. Ultraviolet talks about the unseen world, the things which influence us in our every day lives, but we remain oblivious to. On a metaphorical level that can be thought of as the ultraviolet spectrum of light, which even if not discernible by the naked human eye, can still have an effect on us. Fools Paradise delves into these themes by looking at snapshots of our memories, which become the stories we tell ourselves, which in turn may become patterns which govern our lives, even our identities, which may then become our ‘false ‘kings’, our ‘prisons’, but which can also point to our deliverance, when we look at it all from a different vantage point.
4.) When I listen to ‘Ultraviolet’, as we said, I find there are some trademark Poets Of The Fall elements there, without question. I also feel an intent within it to step away from anything you may have done before. Would it be fair to say that this record begins a new chapter, or ushers in a new era for the band?
I think you would be absolutely right in pointing out that Ultraviolet is a deliberate step away from the norms and patterns we’ve maybe held on to before. Even though in the past we have always considered ourselves a cross genre artist, loosely defined as rock. This time we decided to indulge our whims and make each song it’s own contrasting individual on the album. But we still wanted the album to be a cohesive work of art, instead of a work of art of uneasy rapport. The idea behind this was in part the idea that Ultraviolet is also about contrast, which is a dear subject to us. The same is true, when you take it’s previous counterpart, Clearview, into consideration as well. Clearview had a much more of the edgy, rock sound to it. Ultraviolet is throwing it a curve ball, saying:” How do you deal with this, then?” But it’s also done the way it is for the sake of doing something different and keeping the music making fresh and interesting for ourselves. Perhaps it also ushers in a new paradigm for us as musicians, but perhaps that also happens in small uneven steps with each new album we write. I mean, we’re always on the look out for the next new thing we want to experiment with. Ever the alchemists.
5.) Throughout your career you guys have always been quite ambitious with your sound. Whether it’s writing for a record or a game and so on, you’ve never feared reaching further. And, while not all, many artists feel there is an alarming lack of musicians who do this. In fact, some would go as far as to say they feel that many contemporary musicians blatantly imitate as opposed to innovate. With this divide in opinion in mind, what are your thoughts on this? Do you feel there’s no shortage of forward thinking musicians, or is there a state of Retromania happening, where our music culture is dangerously addicted to its own past?
In my opinion, the music field is very diverse and vast. I really do feel there’s no shortage of forward thinking musicians, it’s just a matter of are they being heard. While what you’ve just portrayed in the question is probably true to some extent, I see no need for alarm. History is the base we are always building on, in any field, music’s not different in that respect. Without history or the past, could we even gauge what is truly new and what is not? Inevitably phenomenons rise and fall in the musical landscape as well, and whenever something new and exciting comes along, there’s bound to be imitating and imitators to follow, as others may want to join in, or in some cases, cash in on the new trend. This is also how new movements are created, new genres are brought to life. They may live for an undefined amount of time, before something else comes along and the scene changes. I find no dangerous addictions in that, and we use nostalgia as a bittersweet spice. (I hope this answers your question to some extent. I felt that maybe there’s a more specific case you had in mind, that I don’t fully see and therefore couldn’t answer more exhaustively).
6.) We mentioned that the band wrote for a game earlier, and many know you guys for you work on Alan Wake. I’m curious, do you have any plans to write for any more games, movies etc? And is there anything on yours, or the bands, bucket lists that you would love to write music for in the future?
We are most certainly always open to new and inviting quests in the field of music. Whether its writing for games or movies or other projects, we do try to conserve a space for those in our schedules when we can. As far as bucket lists go, I think we’d all be very happy writing soundtrack music for a film or two at some point, as we are all also big fans of score music. We’ve also written music for other artists in the past, so that’s probably something we’d like to do more at some point too.
7.) You guys have always managed to be part of that rare breed of bands who manages to cross over between pop, rock and metal fans alike to name but a few. The demographic of your fan base is quite varied. What in your opinion is it about Poets Of The Fall that successfully breaches these borders on either side and unites them all?
That’s a very good question. What could be a definite factor there is that for us music is just music, without genres. So we really love all the aforementioned musical styles and more. That puts us in the same seat as the fans who really dig a certain genre, like metal, and then finds that style in our music as well. We could probably spend a lot of good times with these people just listening to music we all like and have a blast. So because that love for music is honestly conveyed through our music, it could be what connects with people. Could also be the lyrics. When you find some part of your own life experience in them, it’s easy to feel connected. Btu of course, I have no definite answer here, as I’m not the one experiencing the music from someone else’s point of view. This is merely a rumination on what I’ve heard from our fans about how they’ve experienced the music.
8.) Finally, with the new record about to drop and a tour to support it, how long will you guys be out supporting ‘Ultraviolet’? And have you any preliminary plans as to what you will do as a band, or separately, once this cycle comes to an end?
We’ve talked amongst ourselves about this very topic, while we we’re still in the midst of writing the album. As we’ve kept a pretty hectic pace with touring and releasing new albums, we promised to give ourselves more leeway with future schedules if possible. Call it breaking the cycle, if you will, in accordance with the Ultraviolet’s themes. So it’s possible we stay on tour for quite some time, and get back to writing new music only when the time feels right for that. Of course, we seem to be ticking for new music all the time, but there’s more of a peace to it now, that we donate have to run against the clock all the time. Could be other projects arise and we will go and try our hand at those. Aside from the tour there are no definite plans we can tell of at this point. But we’ll be sure to tell when there’s something to speak about.