» Blog Archive Conversing with Omnium Gatherum's Jukka Pelkonen -

dsc06934 I wrote in my Ophidian Spell review that I love watching a band rise from humble beginnings. To restate what I’ve said, I’ve been lucky to watch Nails, Ghost, and a few others start from a single Facebook page and demo early demos to the juggernauts they are in the wider spectrum of heavy music. Omnium Gatherum, one of Finland’s quintessential melo death bands, are no newcomers to the genre, but with the release of Grey Heavens, it seems they’re finally getting an ever-increasing amount of attention.

Having stopped in New Jersey with Sonata Arctica and Leaves’ Eyes recently,M this tour marks the band;s return to the US, as well as conveniently their first show in the Garden State. Humbled, I caught up with vocalist Jukka Pelkonen briefly before the show and asked him a few questions concerning Omnium Gatherum, the live show, and his own vocal abilities.

dsc07016-3Metal Machine: This has been a pretty awesome year for you guys, you’ve done a lot of European shows, and this is your third US tour?

Jukka Pelkonen: Yes, indeed.

MM: You guys were hyping Grey Heavens up as early as last year on your tour with Insomnium, what was the process like getting the album out?

Jukka: Well, it was like a couple of stages. You know, we do the demo stages, me and Markus (Vanhala) thew demos at each other with email, and little by little we started forming the songs. I do all the arrangements for the lyrical content, and then we just rehearsed with our guys and progressed into the studio. We had Dan Swanö in Sweden mix and master it after that and

MM: So that’s why it sounds so good!

Jukka: (Laughs) Yes!

MM: If I’m correct, this is your fourth or fifth album with the band…?

Jukka: This one’s my fifth.

MM: Fifth, right. Having listened to the albums in order and hearing you guys get up to this point, this a huge… not a change in sound, but a maturation of your style and writing. Is the writing still feel the same to you or is there something new with every album you’re feeling?

Jukka: Well like you said, the material is the point, because, you know, I’ve always liked putting in so much effort to have those kinds of lyrics I really want to reflect the things that I see around me, like from the outside and inside or my imagination, and it’s an process ongoing because I think we’re gonna make many albums still. There’s no point in being left in one particular place but always explore. But still, I have this fine red line that goes through every album lyrically to keep focused, so I will continue that way to get better and better and to make it more understandable to other people, as well. There’s a tendency, sometimes, I think for every lyricist, to be lost in one’s own message, so I’m tuning it and tuning and tuning it.

dsc07001MM: I noticed on the band’s Facebook, the genre was labeled “adult-oriented death metal.” When you listen to the music, it kinda makes with that maturity. Do you feel like that’s still intact with the band’s sound?

Joukka: Yeah, that term started out with us having fun with it because of the melodies and maturity in the lyrical concepts, but it’s kinda grown on us in a way. I think it’s as best of a term as any to describe us.

MM: I noticed on Grey Heavens, in particular, it does feel like an accumulation of so much. There’s melody everywhere, there’s a lot of progressiveness. I think it’s on the last track where the last half of the song is almost proggy, which kinda makes me wonder if you guys have the live setting in mind with performing material?

Jukka: Well sometimes, but I try to concentrate on the whole concept of the lyrics in every song. I usually have two or three different versions of the lyrics, some different and some similar, and it kinda just happens when writing.

MM: Transitioning into that live setting, you have a unique and powerful attack with your vocals. Do you have any methods of preserving your voice, especially on an extensive tour like this?

dsc06931-2Jukka: Yes I do, I do the basic warm up things like most singers do. Some nights not so much, but I drink a lot of water on and off stage. I don’t drink so much before the show, but maybe a few beers to get the juices going. After the show it’s mostly water and cool downs. And definitely trying to not get a cold! And I like my share of drinks, but on tour I try to maintain this balance of not going out of bounds, because it’ll physically bother me and my psyche and it’s hard to be on tour when you’re always hungover and shitfaced. Me, personally, I don’t judge anyone who tours that way, but for me going clean on tour is the way to go. To be able to deliver a good set every night is great. Especially when we come as far as here, it’s very important to me to have that quality every single night.

MM: Your fans over here recognize a lot of your songs. I saw you in New York last year with Insomnium and you guys got positive reactions to almost all of them. Your set is shorter this time around, so how do you go about picking songs to fit in such a condensed time?

Jukka: I think the most important thing, in a way, is that we want to play those songs that are popular because we’re not just pleasing the hardcore fans but trying to win people over who haven’t heard us. We try and pick the songs that best represent Omnium Gatherum, and at this point, especially abroad, that’s the way to go.

MM: That being said, if you could have any Omnium song in the set, what would you pick?

Jukka: I think… I think I would do “No Breaking Point” form The Redshift album, or… from the older ones, “Spiritual” from the Stuck Here on Snakes Way album, that’s also one of my favorites. Definitely those two!


Omnium Gatherum’s Grey Heavens is a available everywhere now. You can stream the video for “Frontiers” right below.

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