written by Marko Jakob
Pix666: Hello Mikko. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well?
Mikko: Hi! Thank you for doing this interview. By most standards I’m alive and quite well!
Pix666: Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. What kind of music does True Lovers make?
Mikko: Well it’s definitely a bit on the harder side of rock and roll. Quite melody-driven. Hate to pick any exact band to be compared to True Lovers, but let’s say that there’s a lot of albums from the late 90’s to early 00’s that fall into the same realm with True Lovers. A lot of the inspiration comes from the production and programming side of the albums. To name something, Tim Sköld and Chris Vrenna are the kind of people with the body of work I hope I could come close to someday. By digging through those guys’ material, I think you find a lot of similarities with True Lovers music.
Pix666: The music is quite different from the music of Ravage Ritual, of which you are also a band member. What made you decide to launch this new project a few years ago?
Mikko: That is true. Ravage is a full-time hardcore and metal band. Not to say there’s no metal in True Lovers, but not to that extent. And that’s one of the bigger reasons behind all of this, to get to do something else than just that one thing. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ravage does well what it does, but there’s not much room for my riffs or songs in Ravage, so this is the more natural way to get things done. Of course there’s the lyrical side of TL that’s an outlet for many of those things that would be left unsaid otherwise. To put it simply, it’s from the need to express the emotions the only natural way for me, through songs. Also True Lovers allows for much more experimenting with electronics and synthesized sounds.
Pix666: What was your inspiration to become a musician and what are your favourite bands?
Mikko: Originally – hardcore music. The punk attitude of not letting your maybe limited capabilities and resources at the time prevent you from having fun doing and playing music was an eyeopener. Also to see a local band like Rotten Sound doing a lot of touring internationally with their super eclectic material I learned that it’s a possibility to do something relevant from small surroundings while maintaining the focus on your personal sound. Also a big early push to discover music, doing it and being part of a music scene was through live shows at a local venue, Club 25 in Vaasa. I tried to get into as many shows as possible as a teenager.
They hosted all-ages shows quite often so I got to see the bands but also the people working for the bands and club and thought it was magical.When it comes to exact bands, in my youth Napalm Death is definitely one of the most important bands. Not only the band’s own evolving sound from primitive aggression to what became Fear, Emptiness, Despair and Diatribes continuing to this day with Apex Predator, but it naturally served as a gateway for me to get into industrial music through the connections to Godflesh, Meathook Seed, Blood From The Soul and Scorn. Another as important band is The 69 Eyes. It was the first peek into the gothic music that led to my everlong journey into the gothic culture. I still regard Blessed Be and Paris Kills as perfect albums and it would be a dream come true to work with Johnny Lee Michaels on a song someday.
All in all, I don’t think there would be True Lovers without The 69 Eyes. At present time, I try to listen to music with a more varied taste. Still I won’t shy away from an interesting metal record but I think I would name Bohren & Der Club of Gore as a favourite of mine for some years now.
Pix666: Last year you already released three songs that will also be on the upcoming album. How were the reactions to these songs so far?
Mikko: It’s been modest so far. But to be honest, it’s still more than what I expected. For myself, when something gets released, it means it’s finished. I can’t go and change the arrangement or the mix anymore, so to release those couple of songs it was quite a relief to get them off from my to-finish-list.
Pix666: Your album ‚Blessed Are The Lovesick‘ will be released on May 28th. What else will listeners expect on the album and where can the fans buy it? Is it already available for pre-order?
Mikko: To put it shortly, the album is a 33 minute version of a couple of years worth of relationships, love and death. Many things that would be interesting but still too painful to live again. So there’s a lot of emotions on the album. The name of the band also derives from some of these same events that have inspired many of the songs on the album. Musically, apart from the single releases, on the album there’s a couple of more synth-driven songs compared to the more guitar-driven ones.
Overall the album is quite moody, a bit on the edge. To balance out all the roughness there’s a song Royalty which reminds me of a danceable club tune. All in all, I tried to create a bit of a cinematic flow to the rhythm of the album. Not sure if it’s a happy or a sad ending, but it’s definitely an ending that screams a straight-to-video sequel. Something like Maniac Cop 2 or Phantasm 3: Lord of the dead. Well I guess Phantasm had a very limited theatrical run but I guess I digress. Pre-orders for the physical copy are available and they are being taken in by the releasing label Future Lunch.
Pix666: Are there any plans to perform live with Ture Lovers at the time of the album release or later in the year?
Mikko: It’s a good question. Definitely not at the time of the album release. Later this year or next year? I have high hopes for it, but planning anything is a more or lessup-in-the-air kind of thing, at least for now. I have a couple of friends from other bands (Supreme Havoc, PH) that I’ve been in contact with about getting the band thing going on. Sooner or later I know it’s going to happen, but in what actual form, that I don’t know yet.
Pix666: Social media channels are incredibly important nowadays to represent a band. Do you plan to shoot a video clip soon to be more present on YouTube as well?
Mikko: I really hope so! I do have some plans for a video that I hope will pan out. I grew up with Beavis and Butt-Head so to contribute to the history of rock videos, I’d be glad to take a part.
Pix666: …but Social media and music streaming are both really a blessing and a curse for bands. From your point of view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this development for bands in general?
Mikko: Not only for bands but for everyone on social media, building the brand of their band or of themselves is a huge thing now. It’s hard work for bands and artists to appeal in a fast way and sell a like or a follow with pictures, when there is a whole catalog of work in music behind that. It’s only a few really, really extreme sub-genres that can flourish without a twitter or an instagram account. That’s not to say I dislike the social media approach of being in contact with people or trying to push my stuff to people in there, but the more popular you are, the more you are able to get through to people in social media. Still nothing beats the world wide access to the eclectic scenes, when in Finland and locally there can only be so many into your music or art.
Pix666: How did you personally experience the Corona crisis – did it affect your songwriting and what is the current situation in Finland and especially the mood among the people?
Mikko: The corona crisis has hit me personally quite hard. Financial-wise at least. In my personal life, I work as a light and sound engineer for bands and in a club here in Seinäjoki. In that perspective my life’s been more or less on hold, waiting for bands to be able to perform again, tours to go on again. Songwriting-wise, it’s been helpful because in normal situations I have a limited amount of time between tours or gigs to put into songwriting. During this we’ve finished most parts of the third Ravage Ritual album, I wrote the lyrics and did the vocals on Gangrened’s Deadly Algorithm album (released just recently) and I’ve started the work on the second True Lovers release.
So it’s also given me possibilities to stay on the creative side. Overall in Finland the situation has been under control, I feel so. We are a small country, a small number of people and like other countries the government has taken quite severe actions on what you can do, what you can’t do, but I think most of them are being done in a justifiable manner. As I said, those actions have had a severe impact on my possibilities to work, but I’m glad I’m not the one who calls those restrictions, legislation, any of that. The general mood, from what I can gather from my friends, is that everyone seems to yearn for culture and arts. What I’d like to seeafter we get over this crisis is galleries full of people, theaters full of people, only sold out shows… I don’t know if that’ll be the case but we can dream.
Pix666: As a musician, you certainly spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to get your mind off things – are there any interesting hobbies that you pursue? 😊
Mikko: To really get my mind off of things I tend to find myself watching movies or tv-series. The more obscure the better. I can’t turn down an invite to a 40’s or 50’s party of Jules Dassin’s Naked City or Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker. I also think there’s not a day that can’t get a bit better with a Halloween or Hellraiser sequel (i.e. The Curse of Michael Myers and Bloodline). When I really like to take it easy, I listen to old radio dramas like The Shadow. Orson Welles’ as the voice of The Shadow is phenomenal in my opinion.
Pix666: Do you have any other news about True Lovers, that you would like to share with the fans?
Mikko: Be sure to check out the album when it’s out. Everything beyond that is still a secret that will expose itself to us when the time is right.
Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with the album and stay healthy!!!
photos © True Lovers