This interview with Pasi Koskinen (guitars and vocals) of Ajattara was done face to face by Juliane John on April 17th, 2006.

Most people who are familiar with Amorphis should have heard about Ajattara but I will give a short introduction for those who don’t know them. The band was founded by Pasi Koskinen while he was still with Amorphis. Ajattara’s music is a symbiosis of dark and black metal with a typical Northern atmosphere as I like to call it. Unfortunately, the band is not that well-known outside of Finland yet so that shows in the rest of Europe are rare. So lucky me that I live near the Netherlands since they were on the billing for the Easter shows of the No Mercy Festival in Antwerpen (BE) and Tilburg (NL)- through some fortunate circumstances I got the chance to go to Tilburg with two friends. After their show, I sat down with Pasi to do this interview.

How was your show in Antwerpen? Besides of the Moscow show it was one of the first shows outside of Finland wasn’t it?
Yes, correct. It was great. It was a good crowd and it was nice to get out of Finland for a while (laughs). Today’s show was also good, I even saw some people with Ajattara shirts

Is it hard for a band with Finnish lyrics and an extreme sound to find a fan base?
I don’t know because I don’t care about that shit. But I talked to people from other countries and they said that language is not a barrier so I think it’s quite ok to so sing in Finnish.

Some people like to call your sound black metal while others refer to it as dark metal. How would you describe your music in your own words?
It’s white man’s black gospel (everyone bursts out laughing).

You are currently the vocalist for 4 bands that all sound different in a way. Do you have so much creativity to give away or why is that?
Yeah, something like that. I just need different channels to express myself and… I don’t know… I’ve been such a stupid kid that I can live with this. There’s no reason to do this for money. But actually, there’s only two bands which are active, Mannhai and Ajattara. Shape of Despair barely make any albums, every three years or so. It’s not that busy. And To Separate the Flesh from the Bones has members from HIM so we’re not that busy either.

So there’s no time problem?
No. We have the same booking agency.

Why do you use the nickname “Ruoja” for Ajattara?
Well, we all have nicknames for the band.

Ajattara is a rather small band. Can you all live off your music?
Ehh, not exactly. We get some pocket money out of this but it’s more for the feeling of it. We love to do this. It’s all for the music.

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing as a profession?
We would be alcoholics. Most of the time we’ve been on stage drunk I think.

Typical Finns huh?
Yeah, very typical.

Which bands influenced you?
Venom, Bathory and Sielun Veljet.

What bands are you currently listening to?
I listen to all kinds of music… (Someone throws in “Mötley Crüe”.) Yes, I was a big fan of Mötley Crüe when I was a kid. Now I listen to Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Darkthrone... Some of the other band members interrupt again: We all listen to James Blunt! (we all laugh).

Let me go on with some questions about your new album. How were the reactions towards “Äpäre”?
The reviews have been pretty good. We got like 9/10. I don’t know about sales but it was on 27 in the Finnish national charts. That’s quite ok for a black metal band. Besides, some things changed: with the first three albums we were only three guys. I played all instruments except drums and bass but this time there is a whole live line up so it gives more color to the sound.

How did you come up with the title “Äpäre” and what’s the meaning behind it?
It means bastard child and it represents our band which is our “Äpäre” in the whole scene

You are known to be the creative head of the band. In how far can the other band members contribute to the songs?
I give the basic spine for the song and the other guys do their own stuff like fills and all kind of little things. Everybody is given free hands to bring something in. But I write most of the music and then one week before we enter the studio I give the others the tape so there’s always space for surprise when it comes to arrangements.

Where does the inspiration to your lyrics come from?
Life itself! This is such bullshit. I was supposed to be dead like 7 years ago but I’m still going strong, unfortunately.

Almost all your songs deal with the dark side of life. What fascinates you about that? Is it even a fascination?
Yeah, it’s fascination, it’s anger, it’s all kind of negative stuff that you can feel and I put it into the songs. That’s the way I keep myself sane.

Do you think it is a problem that most people don’t understand your lyrics unless they find translations? Do you think they understand it through your music anyway?
They have some idea I think. Of course the feeling always comes through even though you don’t understand the lyrics. I don’t think it matters but we actually have some really good-quality lyrics. So those who understand them have been giving us some good feedback, you know, it isn’t ridiculous Satan-comes-to-kick-your-ass stuff (laughs).

Have you ever considered doing English lyrics?
I did one song in English but it doesn’t work out. It just doesn’t sound as brutal as Finnish.

One last question: If you had one last wish before you die, what would that be?
A joint!

Thanks for taking some time!

Links of interest:

Spinefarm Records