Finland's Cemetery Fog are a band I've followed, supported and reviewed here at The Lair of Filth for quite a while now, both Shadows from the Cemetery and Towards the Gates were exceptional releases. In January they announced a name change to Asphodelus and soon after released the excellent Dying Beauty and the Silent Sky 12" MLP. With new music and a new name I jumped at the chance to interview the band and find out what's been going on.....
Interview by Trevor Proctor.
Hi, I hope all’s well with Asphodelus, thank you very much for agreeing to an interview – with a new name, new music and a new band member it’s a very exciting time for the band and the chance to catch up and find out a little more about what’s been happening is very much appreciated.
Filppu: Thank you for the interview!
After a year of relative quiet from Cemetery Fog an announcement came from nowhere on 5th January when you stated you would be changing the name of the band to Asphodelus – why change the name after some years of hard work establishing the name Cemetery Fog?
Filppu: I was browsing some books about Greek Mythology at the library over a year ago. I read about this mystical flower called 'Asphodelus' and found it very interesting. First time in our band's history I thought 'this is the name that suits for us now and in the future.'
The Facebook post made reference that changing the name took over a year – does this mean it was a difficult decision to make and what led to the name change taking so long?
Filppu: No, it wasn't that much of a difficult decision. We wanted to do songs for the first release of Asphodelus before changing the name officially.
I’ve supported the band since Iron Bonehead Productions re-released the “Shadows from the Cemetery” demo which I reviewed along with the “Towards the Gates MLP” when it was released. I’ve watched the band’s support gradually build over the past few years, did you see changing the name as a risk in any way, what has the overall reaction been so far and did anyone try to discourage you from changing it?
Filppu: The majority of the feedback about it has been more or less negative. Of course I knew it would be a big risk for the band, but it was the right thing to do because the name just feels right. If some people are against the change, it's their problem. The main thing is to remain true to yourself and your music.
The press release mentioned a new member within the band, J. Väyrynen - what led to the decision of adding a new member, is it someone you’ve known for a while and will this change your writing process in any way?
Filppu: Väyrynen has been in the band for about two years now. He joined the band after 'Towards the Gates' MLP. We needed a second guitarist, and he was willing to come. He has been my friend since 2008 when we met in school.
How did the band come to choose the name Asphodelus and what relevance does it hold to both the band and its music?
Filppu: The mythology behind the Asphodelus suits very well to our Dark Gothic Death Doom, and there's details above as to how I found the name.
I recently reviewed your brilliant new MLP “Dying Beauty and the Silent Sky” and was very impressed – how happy is the band with the final result and how did you get the mastermind that is VK on-board for mastering duties?
Filppu: I'm very satisfied with this release, it shows the band's development. I worked on the songs for a while. At the same time I was learning more about two guitar melodies. At first, the album was a bit crappy mix, so Patrick from Iron Bonehead told me that he can give it to a guy who can mix and master it better.
On “Towards the Gates” you experimented with a haunting female vocal which added depth to your sound, a mark of both brilliance and ambition in my opinion – this vocal again features on “Dying Beauty and the Silent Sky” is this a friend of the band and what led to their inclusion in your music?
Filppu: Yes, the lady who sings the female vocals has been our friend for a long time. She was actually dating our former bassist and that's how I met her.
As Cemetery Fog you played two prominent gigs last year, Finnish Death Metal Maniacs and Unholy Metal Mayhem – how were your performances and did you play many other shows during 2015?
Filppu: FDMMF was a fucking killer, we played very good gig there and the atmosphere was great. Unholy Metal Mayhem was good, but we had some guitar problems. Our trip to Germany was quite insane, personally I don't even remember much of the outward journey, because in the morning at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport I drunk a bottle of whiskey, and when we arrived to Germany we started arguing about some worthless things because we all were drunk. But big thanks to Iron Bonehead who booked us Lufthansa flights, where there was free beer and wine!
All in all, we played many small gigs in 2015, some of which we arranged by ourselves and the rest were bar gigs.
Aside from those shows 2015 seemed to be a very quiet year for Cemetery Fog, was much of the year spent writing new music and what else occupied your time?
Filppu: We have been writing some new material, yes, and of course rehearsing. In addition, two of us moved to different cities during the year.
Have you plans to play many live shows this year and will future live sets include Cemetery Fog tracks?
Filppu: We have some great ideas for our live performances, we want to play as many gigs as we get. We're especially looking for some promoters who would book us to play somewhere in Europe.
I know you draw inspiration from The Doors, also a favourite band of mine, are you all fans and in what way do they influence your sound? Another favourite of mine, Katatonia, is another influence on your sound – aside from Katatonia and The Doors what other bands have influenced and helped shape the band’s music?
Filppu: I'm a big fan of The Doors. Jim Morrison inspires me a lot, he was a genius. Some other big influences to my song writing are Kate Bush, Depeche Mode, UK Death/Doom, Fields of the Nephilim, Sisters of Mercy, Old Amorphis, Sentenced AMOK and Hellenic Metal!
Väyrynen: I like the Doors too. They were the pioneers of the dark / gothic style with The Velvet Underground and few other bands at the time of the hippie movement when everybody were singing about love and flower nonsense...
Some other influences / personal favourites: KISS, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Stooges, Ramones, Hanoi Rocks, Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate / King Diamond, Christian Death, Celtic Frost, Death SS, Hell, Sabbat (UK), Mayhem, Denial of God, Master's Hammer, Root, Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Varathron, etc etc etc...
You’re signed to one of the underground’s finest labels in Iron Bonehead Productions; this is now your third release with them – are you hoping to stay with them for future releases?
Filppu: I'm not sure, we will see how it goes.
Speaking of future releases, have you any plans for an album and if so have you many new tracks written?
Filppu: I have written three songs for the debut album. We will record promo of this album in end of 2016. In the beginning of the next year we will go to the legendary Tico Tico Studio to record the real debut!
I’m a fan of all your music, from the first demo tape onwards and feel you’ve made great evolutionary strides from release to release whilst also maintaining an identifiable sound – can we expect to hear future changes in your sound on further releases?
Filppu: Maybe a little.
Your new MLP saw the band explore faster tempos more than before yet also showed a mellower side in the form of the third track, a beautiful instrumental “Dying Beauty and the Silent Sky” – can we expect to see further exploration of these elements on future releases?
Filppu: Yes, especially acoustic tracks and faster parts will be separated to full songs.
Your young ages have often been referred to in press releases, what ages are you and it must surely fill you with pride to achieved so much musically at such an age?
Filppu: We all are born in 1995. I'm not sure whether it's an achievement, because there are bands like Katatonia who were 17-19 years old when they released their mighty debut album 'Dance of December Souls...'
Are there many young up-coming Finnish underground bands that you support which we should be aware of?
Väyrynen: Legionnaire. Heavy Metal influenced by Brocas Helm, Slough Feg etc., they have released two demos. There's also a new Goth Rock / Post Punk band called Fallen Icons which sounds quite promising, they have not released anything yet though.
If you had the opportunity to share a stage with any 5 bands, past or present, which bands would you select and why?
Filppu: Sentenced Amok era. This album has been very important to me, I have listened to it probably more than thousand times. Also Katatonia – Dance/brave murder day era, because this band has been such a big influence to us.
Väyrynen: Hanoi Rocks in '82 - '83. They were the biggest internationally known Finnish Rock band in the 80's. Sadly their drummer died in a car accident during their first US tour in '84 and the band broke up a year later. They have not influenced us much musically but we are all fans of this band.
Thank you very very much for taking the time to answer these questions - what does the rest of 2016 hold for Asphodelus and have you any closing comments?
Filppu: We will play a few gigs and continue writing songs for the upcoming album.