Carved in Ashes
- Juanma Draven: Vocals
- Jaakko Kuusisto: Bass
- Lauri Kuussalo: Drums
- Kimmo Kokki: Guitars
- Tomi Issakainen: Guitars
- Jani Lehtinen: Keyboards
Where in Finland are you from?
How would you describe your band for those who don’t know you?
A sextet of progressive metal layered with atmospheric soundscapes and nuances from postrock, folk and even jazz.
When did you form as a group?
The foundation was laid down when two jam groups merged into one in 2009.
What was the inspiration for your recent album?
The Shadow of Your Ghost was constructed upon Juanma’s original idea with a slight flamenco-like chord progression. We even planned to insert a genuine flamenco-part in it, but we couldn’t schedule a session with the flamenco-guitarist before the deadline for the recording to be sent to mixing, so we had to let go of the idea. The song starts off pretty much at where our debut-EP Neversary ended, regarding the arrangement and the mood. The song found its’ natural form pretty much on stage, as we’ve been playing this song for the last 2 years as the opening for our live shows. I think the idea for the rhythmic staccato riffage towards the end of the song must have come about in the backstage of some dark rock venue after a couple of beers. In the last stages of recording I added the distinctive strings-theme, in order to emphasize the Spanish-feel of the song. I think I was listening to an album called Fordlandia by a great composer from Iceland, Johann Johansson, a lot at the time of the making of this EP. So, I think the idea for using some epic strings came from there.
Deep Blue is our most postrock-ish epic, which evolved around Tomi’s original idea. The clue was to start off with a blast, then slow down for a smooth middle section before taking off again. This song took perhaps the most effort to put together in studio; The keyboard and leadguitar arrangements were changed constantly, as we tried different things – so it was a good thing that we recorded these parts on our own. The studio bill woulda been enormous otherwise! As far as guitarwork on this song is concerned, it’s basically postrock with a twist. Keyboards-wise there’s a bit of Pink Floyd and in the midsection, in particular, the inspiration for the smooth vibes-theme with a bit of jazz-harmony came from a German postrock/jazz-band Bohren & Der Club of Gore, especially from the magnificent album Dolores. The first review of this song associated it to the German postrock-band Long Distance Calling, and yes, I think all the bandmembers are familiar with that band.
Lupus Homini was originally crafted upon Jaakko’s dubby delay-basslines at the intro. Tomi added his Tool-esque guitar-riffing and the song took off from there. Vintage keyboards make the song sound more like some 70′s atmospheric prog epic. Quite a few of our fans have stated that Lupus sounds like “Tool from the 70′s”, so I guess there must be a hint of truth in such claims Well, Led Zeppelin is very dear to us all…
Midnight Solitude was originally one of Juanma’s acoustic songs. Then Lauri came up with the idea for the interlude-ish intro A Late Prelude, pushing me to come up with some sampled beat looping in the background. In our liveset the interlude crossfades smoothly into Midnight Solitude, the latter being a mellow piano ballad with a cool pink floydian guitar solo in the middle and some atmospheric slide guitars. This one has to be our most radio-friendly song, or lady-friendly even We had some debate if there should be more aggressive guitars on this one, but in the end we decided to keep it stripped down to just the piano motif spiced with some atmospheric guitar textures. In the context of Carved In Ashes it’s something out of the ordinary and will probably take some of our older fans by surprise…a sleazy piano ballad, wtf?!?
What other releases do you have?
Our debut-EP Neversary was released in August 2010. (in December 2010 issue of Inferno Magazine, the EP was picked as the demo of the month)
What is your favorite song on your most recent album?
It’s really hard to pick one! We like them all. The Shadow of Your Ghost has been the opening song for our lives hows almost since day one, ‘cos it’s such a perfect kick-starter. That’s why we put it as the opening track for the EP, too. Deep Blue, on the other hand, has been the closing song in our live set, being such an epic journey with all its’ different moods and changes in tempo; it builds up a tension and yet resolves smoothly in the end. However, we decided not to put it as the closing track for the EP, though, due to the song’s somewhat grim lyrics – on the surface level you can interpret the lyrics as depicting a suicide by drowning, but of course, there’s more to it than meets the eye, or, ear in this case. Lupus Homini is another epic on the EP, probably being the most metal song we have crafted so far. On this song, Juanma took everybody by surprise in the studio, when he started to sing the distorted vocal lines. During the recording sessions we really pushed ourselves and we think it paid off in the end. So, we like each song for different reasons – even the first ballad we ever made, Midnight Solitude. It used to be an acoustic breather in our live sets, but in the recording process it turned upside down and transmutated into a piano-driven ballad. So, it’s really impossible to pick any favourites, cos we love them all. It would be like saying: which one of your kids do you love the most?
What’s your favorite type of venue to play?
We’ve played mostly in small venues in Helsinki: Semifinal, On The Rocks, Club Liberte and we’ve also had our mandatory share of playing in the corner of various Pizza & Kebab-eateries We prefer the “real” rock clubs, though, as they usually have a decent PA-system, and the dude behind the mixing console actually knows what he’s doing. A while back we played in Semifinal with the former singer of Finntroll behind the mixing desk: he really knew the tricks of the trade and I think we have never sounded so good! I also found out that we shared a mutual fondness for the nothing short of mythical Finnish industrial band: Itä-Saksa! We wouldn’t mind stepping up to the next level and playing in some festivals and bigger venues, too. Playing in the farm league, it’s pretty hard to throw TV-sets out the hotel windows when you have to sleep in the van with 5 other guys
If you could play anywhere in the world this week, where would it be?
It would be nice to play in some of those legendary venues like Whiskey A-Go-Go in L.A., Madison Square Garden in New York, or Fillmore East, if that venue still exists. The rock-mecca in Helsinki, Tavastia, would do fine, too! Tuska-festival? Oh, yes please!
Do you have a Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter etc?
What are your influences as a band?
This is a hard one! Each dude has his own influences, but we do share some influential bands that everybody loves: Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Tool, Kingston Wall, Katatonia, Novembre, Alcest. So, the hard core of the band pretty much consists of a kind of progressive metal with atmospheric overtones. In the songwriting process each bandmember then throws in his own ideas – and sometimes they couldn’t be further from the paradigm of progmetal. But as Juanma said in one interview: “We’re too rock to be metal, and too metal to be rock” – as long as we can maintain our unique, signature sound, it doesn’t really bother us whether you want to call it progmetal or not. Just the other day we thought we should get together one day, maybe go to the sauna and have a couple of beers, and bring along some essential albums from our personal record collections – albums that we think are just too awesome to go unnoticed – and then we could listen to them and have in-depth discussions. We do talk music matters at our rehearsal place, but we thought we really oughta have this kind of a special evening with music every now and then.
People who enjoy your music tend to like what other bands?
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the way how Spotify comes up with all those “similar artists”, but it seems to make those lists of bands according to the actual statistics of what bands people really listen to, and the Spotify list reads as follows: Defuse, Eilera, Lebowski, Wasara, Godsplague, Curimus, Andreas Gross, The Black League, 2nd Suicide, Ghoul Patrol, Chaosweaver and Embassy Of Silence. Well, I have to honest with you: the only band I know from that list is Godsplague, and I don’t think we sound like them at all. Of course, I’ve seen a few of those names popping out the pages of music magazines, but I don’t think I’ve heard a single note from those bands. But as a matter of fact, people who have listened to our music in Spotify, listen to this stuff. I’ve also noticed that our fans seem to like the bands that have influenced us greatly, all those bands that I mentioned earlier. And then, young emogirls who like HIM, seem to like Juanma’s honey-dripping voice, too Maybe we should warm up for them?
Are you signed to a label?
Nope. We’re still looking for a label. Both of our EP’s are released pretty much on DIY-basis. But we’re confident that we will find a decent label for us soon! That’s one of the reasons we decided to release a special digipak-edition of our new EP, The Drowned Silhouette, with an 8-page booklet, to show for the world that we’re serious about our thing.
Where do you think you’ll be as a band in 5 years?
Playing festivals, maybe even tour in Europe, with awesome albums out via some class-A record label.
Is there anything else people should know about Carved In Ashes?
Our liveshow is pretty awesome! So, if you ever have the opportunity to come and see us live, you really should!