Grendel has had quite a few positive reviews on our A&R Dept. and they’ve just released a full album. They learnt the tricks of the music business as they noticed that good reviews will only get you so far. The band didn’t get signed by any label so they took matters into their own hands. “Lost Beyond Retrieval” is the name of their debut album and, like any good entrepreneurs, the guys released it on their own. At this point we thought it would be nice to know what’s going on at the Grendel camp right after the album’s release. The guitarist Mika Kivi answered our questions.
Rockunited: Most of the people are probably not familiar with Grendel yet. Give us a short introduction of the band.
Mika: Grendel was formed in 1999 in Helsinki, Finland. Only one line-up change has happened since then as our current lead singer Mikko Virtanen joined us in year 2001. Other fellows are: Mika Kivi (guitars), Jussi Kraft (guitars), Juha Terrilä (keyboards), Kari Martikainen (bass) and Jarkko Piipari (drums). We were in the same school and soon we founded this band. First we played cover songs from different bands but it was pretty clear that we wanted to make our own music. And did you know that our name at first was ”Crimson Sky”.
Rockunited: Your new album is titled “Lost Beyond Retrieval”. To what kind of people would you say your music appeals to?
Mika: Grendel can be described as melodic melancholic metal. I have read reviews of our past promos and EP´s, and of course of ”Lost Beyond Retrieval”, where reviewers have compared us to bands like Sentenced, Amorphis, Charon etc. so basically if you know those bands and their musical style you’ll get a hint what we are all about. But we listen so many different bands that I think we all bring certain touch to our music. And I hope we have sound that can be recognized as Grendel.
Rockunited: You’ve had a lot of positive reviews on your last few demos. Why do you think Grendel has not been signed by any record label?
Mika: Basically I think record labels think that our music is too ”light” for metalheads and too ”heavy” for all the others so I guess we should take a step to one side or another. But we take no stress about that. We do what we do and if people like it that’s great but if they don’t that’s also fine.
Rockunited: You decided to release “Lost Beyond Retrieval” on your own and not wait for a record deal. Are you happy with that decision?
Mika: We did send promo copies to record labels and few were interested but no contract was signed. At this point I think that to release ”Lost Beyond Retrieval” by ourselves was definitely right decision. And as our album has been finished since November 2005 we thought that this is the time to release ”Lost Beyond Retrieval”. We didn’t want to wait any longer.
Rockunited: Your website, album covers etc. have looked professional for a long time now. Who makes the decisions on your visual side? Has all the effort been worth it?
Mika: Our singer Mikko Virtanen has done all the covers for the CD´s since ”Fight Against Time” EP and we are very lucky that we have such a talent among us. Mikko also does our posters, stickers etc. Our new website was also designed by Mikko and our keyboardist Juha helped him with coding and other stuff. We've always gotten great comments about our covers so it’s simply positive thing.
Rockunited: Pasi Rantanen and Kari Tornack from Thunderstone are visiting on your album. How did that co-operation get started?
Mika: As some may already know Nino Laurenne, Thunderstone´s guitarist, has recorded and mixed almost everything we have ever done with Grendel. He also has helped us with songs and sounds every time we have recorded at his Sonic Pump Studios. In this album we needed someone to play the piano part to song ”Something To Remind” and Nino kindly asked Kari to do it and that’s simply beautiful. Also when we started to record backing choirs to the songs we asked Pasi to join us and luckily he did. Pasi is one great singer. We also asked Kimmo Blom (Dyecrest, Urban Tale, Heartplay) to sing choir parts with us but in the last minute he had to cancel. But it was great feeling to sing those choir parts in the studio with such a great singer as Pasi is.
Rockunited: Do you have other similar connections? What would it take for Grendel
to become a support act for one of the Finnish metal bands on their tours?
Mika: Well we do know people who operate in the music field in Finland but that’s not relevant. We do our thing and see where it takes us. I guess to become a support act for some Finnish metal band it would take lots of luck, money and visibility in media. I don´t know.
Rockunited: You’ve been around for a while now, what kind of expectations do you
have for the future?
Mika: I know that Grendel will continue making music and playing gigs all around. We have already written some killers songs and I personally hope that we can release our next album in spring 2008 at the latest. But in the end we have no hurry for anything. We have played together now for over seven years and I think that this is only the beginning as to what comes to our musical style and sound. All the rest is bonus.
Rockunited: Do you have a band motto or some guidelines you try to live by?
Mika: All six of us live our lives as we feel best. There’s no similar guidelines or ”rules” among us.
More information and samples from their new album can be found their website
Photos provided by Grendel, www.grendelband.com
21 December 2006