NAPALM TED (FIN) – Interview – 09/07/2018
– Version en castellano aquí –
«Our mouths are getting full of shit that is going on in the world today«.
Subterráneo Webzine: How’s Teddy bear? Does it get bigger with time? Soon there won’t be space for more ribbons on its arms…
Han Ted (drums/vocals): You should ask Teddy Bear himself (our multi-talented collaborator since the first demo), hah. But yeah, Ted is getting hungrier and meaner with every hibernation phase when we cook up new material for it to be devoured.
Subterráneo Webzine: Finally, after a bunch of EPs and a split with MUSTASUO, NAPALM TED has edited a long play: Mouthful. Why now? Had you amassed a ton of songs?
Han Ted: We joked already with Coffin liquor (2017) that it should be our first album since it had as much as eight original songs. But this time we found ourselves with masses of material that ended up lasting well over twenty minutes, so it was finally time to call it our debut album. Though I guess even that could be considered too lengthy for a grindcore (if one will to label us upon that) album by some puritists.
Subterráneo Webzine: While you have been active as a band for three years, Teddy bear has changed a lot. You mix crust, death metal and grind, but you offer a different sound on each release. But I think Mouthful shows more of your death metal ‘face’.
Han Ted: Yeah, I think you are on track with that one. We actually switched death metal to come before grindcore on the description of our style on the new promo letter. Also others have noted that “change” as well. But we didn’t sit down and go like “ok, let’s make 55% death metal and 33% grindcore this time”. It just happened naturally and maybe next time we start to play ska’n’chamber doom with touches of EDM and djent, who knows! This time we all did songs individually except for “Decoration of doom” that was conceived during rehearsals and Mouthful is what we ended up with.
Subterráneo Webzine: I also belive that the band’s grown a lot toward the public. This last tape is almost sold out and it hasn’t even been a month since you released it. We will soon see NAPALM TED’s cassettes amongst the rarities of auction sites… Can you see it as well?
Han Ted: The first hand numbered edition has moved on really smoothly, mostly outside Finland as usual. Overall the tapes are something that are selling well these days in certain circles. We already made a new batch that we can sell at our gigs. Haven’t yet seen our tapes at auction sites but I find it funny that people are willing to spend absurd amounts of money for some piece of plastic. I just found some leftover covers for our first demo Swallow (2015) so maybe we’ll make a new edition of that if there’s enough demand.
Subterráneo Webzine: Those of us that are kin of the physical format, we got our vagaries… Some like CD, others prefer vinyl and then there are people like you, who love cassettes. Even though you have edited all your albums on vinyl and CD, they come out first on tape first. Why? Haven´t you bought Teddy a record player yet?
Han Ted: At least I prefer tapes and in our case they also sell much better than CDs. One rewarding thing for myself is moulding the cover art to fit the cassette format. I’ve grown up with taping songs off the radio or duplicating cassettes from friends and then typing and drawing the covers myself so I guess the interest comes from there.
Sure vinyl would be always great to do but that’s much more expensive and you need to gather associates to invest in it and spend time with all that. In 2016 we had a pleasure to do 7” split vinyl with MUSTASUO but that was all self-funded and in the end we didn’t even break even with the costs. So for us dealing with tapes has been the most convenient thing and it’s also easier to get labels interested. But we’re all in if anyone wishes to invest and publish for example Mouthful on vinyl!
Subterráneo Webzine: Getting back to Mouthful, the cover reminds me of CAPITALIST CASUALTIES, though I am guessing it is a coincidence. What it is for sure is that this cover is the most punkish yet it is your most death metal record… Were you looking to uphold the dichotomy of the visual aspect? Do you consider yourselves as punks? What does it mean to be a punk?
Han Ted: CAPITALIST CASUALTIES thing is pure coincidence since this is the first time I heard of the band or saw the covers. Dima Andreyuk who also runs this awesome magazine called Tough Riffs, asked us if he could do a cover for us. He had this cool collage ready that we started to adjust and it ended up being quite classic grindcore style cover. We weren’t looking for dichotomy, it was just really good looking cover that I think also resonates with the music. I guess we feel ourselves being a bit outsiders in the local scene, maybe too metal for punks and too punk for metal heads. But we’ve had chances to play in many kinds of evenings also outside our neighborhood so it’s all good.
Subterráneo Webzine: What gets your mouth full? What topics do you discuss on the lyrics of «Need for spread», «March of the ducks» o «Eaten by pigs»?
Han Ted: Our mouths are getting full of shit that is going on in the world today. You don’t need to look that far to get influences for topics like there are on the album. But there are also some more tongue-in-cheek type of stuff like “March of the ducks” that deals with a phobia of fearing ducks or “Shitty dealer” that’s a vision of a black market dealer of excrement capsules that might as well be reality today. “Eaten by Pigs” and “Need for Spread” basically tells a similar story in different settings, one is about a greedy sperm banker and the other is about a dude that goes on a morbid gluttony frenzy. Other than that the songs mostly deal with horror (fictional, actual and some political) and death. Also this time our in-house lyricist Brain Ted was behind most of the texts. Our collaboration has worked like a glove since the day we started. Brain Ted was also promoted as the unofficial fourth Ted after our last Finnish tour in 2017.
Subterráneo Webzine: The first time that I saw your name I thought you were a comedy band like CANNABIS CORPSE. Then I realized that it had nothing to do with that. How did this name come up? Where you on one of your children’s room and saw a teddy bear while you were listening to NAPALM DEATH?
Han Ted: I think it was our second song ever that Gravy sent me via email and he had named it NAPALM TED. It sounded so funny but also rather descriptive that we decided it was the name. Now thinking afterwards we could have picked a more serious title that could have maybe led more people to check us out. Then again as a name NAPALM TED stands out and it also allows us to do funny shit. But music-wise we tend to be grave serious. Hilarious side note: when we were about to release Swallow, we found out that there indeed was another band called NAPALM TED in Finland that was playing at the after-party club of the biggest folk music festival in Finland. So I tracked down the band via email and asked would there be problem if we use the same name. It was okay with them since they were just a project that played that one gig. I think it would have been epic to play a battle concert or do a split album with them, grindcore meets folk!
Subterráneo Webzine: You all have something in common, a groove metal band called CLOCK PARADOX. Was NAPALM TED born there?
Han Ted: After we had released the last album with CLOCK PARADOX in 2015, a new band was already formed with a slightly adjusted line-up and music style but that faded away pretty soon. Then one day we demoed this old grindcore song of mine («Ancient beast«) with Gravy Ted (guitar/vocals) just for fun and things started to escalate from there. Pretty soon we got the whole Swallow material ready and started to look for a vocalist. Found some but weren’t too satisfied so we ended up throwing the vocals by ourselves. For the second release Into a black ooze (2016) we got third CLOCK PARADOX dude, under the alias Ted Nugget, to play bass for us and the band was complete.
Subterráneo Webzine: I just mentioned one of the bands on which you have all played, but you are very active musicians and play on every kind of band: progressive metal, black metal, thrash… And I think even jazz, am I right? How does all of this fit with NAPALM TED? Is it a band to have fun with? A priority?
Han Ted: Well, jazz may be a bit exaggerated… But yeah, we have also other bands with other kinds of music styles. I’ve had a busy year with different releases, there’s been this country’n’western album/movie, a black metal split album and then some prog’n’alt metal to come, but they’re all more or less seasonal projects. I feel that NAPALM TED is eventually a priority for all of us and also a fun one!
Subterráneo Webzine: I suppose that you being that musically active comes from your country’s culture. We have a conceived idea that the Nordic countries invest a lot on culture, of whatever kind, and so the musicians (and artists in general) can make a living out of their passion. Is that right? Can you live off music? Is there institutional support for culture?
Han Ted: Haha, I think you’ve got it all wrong when speaking about Finland’s situation. It seems that Finnish government and institutions mostly support classical music and other “high culture”. Here in Oulu it is getting harder and harder for common bands to even have a place to rehearse. I think in Finland there aren’t that many bands that can make living by music only. Basically you need to play in a cover or schlager band that tours around the country all the time if you like to get some bread to the table. Many seemingly successful bands have members that have day jobs so that they could afford to do tours and some records occasionally. That’s how we rock and roll here!
Subterráneo Webzine: Does the weather and daylight hours (you being form Finland) also weight on your creativity?
Han Ted: When you have little to none light in the darkest days of winter and in the midsummer time the sun is visible almost 24/7, the contrast is massive and it sure can have some impact to one’s mood. I’ve noticed that when I’m making up a name for the draft of a new song, it usually reflects on the current season. There have been working titles like “Ski or die”, “Summery”, “Grind skiing”, “Rough xxxmas” and so on…
Subterráneo Webzine: Looking back, you have always had a very particular sound for death metal and grind. Many bands come to mind, like DIGRACE, XYSMA, CONVULSE, FUNEBRE, DEMILICH… All of them seemed to fuse typical Stockholm’s sound with CARCASS’ kind of vocals and a unique halo of darkness. Yet, people usually associate Finland with NIGHTWISH and similar. What do you think about that? Does this sound also influence you?
Han Ted: There are sure many NIGHTWISH sounding bands in the Finnish scene but I just don’t listen to that stuff. Happily more and more original sounding (metal and other) bands have emerged from the crypts in the last years. It’s worth mentioning that Gravy Ted is old enough to have played in a death metal band during that golden era of early 90s. He had this crazy-ass tech metal band called RECTUM that was provably pretty popular in the Oulu region back in the day. You need to check out youtube (or redtube) to find some yummy material about that. It was due to RECTUM that got us thinking of Gravy doing vocals again after 20+ years of hiatus!
Subterráneo Webzine: Which Finnish band has influenced you the most? AMORPHIS? SENTENCED? They are two examples of bands that have changed their career paths…
Han Ted: Those are some of my favorite bands of all times, especially the first three albums of AMORPHIS and SENTENCED have played an essential part when I started doing my own songs back in the day. Also many other Finnish legends like the ones you mentioned earlier have influenced me and I think the other guys as well. Especially XYSMA and DEMILICH have hitted me hard with their unique style and approach. We’d like to give a big hand to Kalle Taivainen of XYSMA who gracefully delivered the laughter for the song “Lethal laughter”. Initially the idea came from Brain Ted who suggested we’d make “Loiri-like” laughter on the song. Then I remembered this weird project LOIRIPLUKARI where Kalle imitates the voice of Vesa-Matti Loiri, a legendary Finnish singer/actor, on these short psychedelic pieces of songs. He said yes and the rest is history!
Subterráneo Webzine: Speaking about influences and chaging the subject… For a while now, Nordic skiing and Nordic walking, which must be your day by day. Are you aware of the boom that both sports are having outside your country? Do you guys play any snow sport?
Han Ted: I’m not aware of that boom at all. But that’s very cool. I had to google «Nordic walking» for this interview since the term was strange but I know the sport. Fun to think that it’s somehow hip elswhere since here you mostly see some seniors walking around with those sticks in hands. But skiing is more my thing and I used to do that a lot more when I was younger. Nowadays it’s just a few trips during the season but even that is all good for your head and body. I usually have something playing in my head all the time when skiing and a couple of years ago I got this ZZ TOP like drum beat stuck in my head that was eventually expanded into a whole drum track of a song when I got off the ski track. Later when we were in studio recording Coffin lquor, I played the drum track like it was in my head and Gravy made up the riffs afterwards from the scratch. That’s how the song “Death Island” was born and it was a whole new approach in the song writing for us. Actually a few other tracks on CF was made up like that as well, but I’ll let you wonder which ones, kjeh-heh.
Subterráneo Webzine: How is life in Finland? Scandinavia’s quality of life is known to be really good, but winter’s long nights must make you avid of sun. What do you think? Do you like the places you live at? Have you ever been to Spain or know any place for south Europe?
Han Ted: Life is good! Feels like the winter is always coming and it’s long but we are used to that. I like living in Oulu, it’s a proper-sized city where you can live nearby all the services without being in a constant influx of people. There are also bunch of active gig organizers that are putting up very cool events and festivals like Hässäkkä-Päivät and Uleaborg Festival Of Psychedelia among others all year long so you don’t necessarily need to travel far away to see gigs from bands all over the world. I’ve never been to Spain but surely would love to visit there some day! Also NAPALM TED would be more than interested in doing some gigs there, wink wink.
Subterráneo Webzine: Thanks a lot for your answers. The following space is all yours to leave Teddy bear free so he can dance to the rhythm of grind. Cheers!!
Han Ted: Thanks a lot to Subterráneo for giving us exposure! We’d like to say cheers to all the other supporters in Spain and Salute to my mate Gian from the band SANS SOLEIL! Lastly we’ll leave you with this: our first cover song was «Fear of napalm» by TERRORIZER, the second was «McDahmer’s» by MACABRE and the third will be… A big surprise, I’ll reveal that much!