This interview with Leif Hedström of Hevein was done by instant messenger by Juliane John on June 28th, 2006.

Hevein are definitely one of the most innovative bands the music scene has brought up lately. Crossover is the key word. But if you think that mixing thrash metal with symphonic elements was everything, then have another go with their album. From fast thrash songs to wonderful ballads, from angry growling to beautiful clean vocals, from electric guitars to classical instruments, this band has it all. There seem to be no boundaries in Hevein’s music and believe me, you will not get bored if you listen to them… oh, and did I mention there from Finland, this country that seems to produce many bands with new, groundbreaking music styles? Just take Amorphis, Children of Bodom, Finntroll, Nightwish and Apocalyptica. But enough of the rambling. I was actually planning to do this interview during my short trip to Helsinki but due to some unfortunate circumstances concerning guitarist Leif’s health it had to be cancelled. So we did a chat interview a few days later instead. Read on and find out more about their first album Sound Over Matter (which has just hit the stores in Europe and the US after it was already released in Finland last year), plans for the new album and what guitarist Leif thinks of the Eurovision winner Lordi.

So, how are you? Have you recovered from your health problems?
No not fully. I'm on sick leave from work at the moment. It's a problem that will take some time to fix.

Hevein have many times been entitled the new band of Max who is a former member of Apocalyptica. Does that annoy you as Max wasn’t a founding member?
No it doesn't bother me. I haven't heard many people say that. But I understand [it] because he has been in a successful band.

When Max joined the band, what kind of feeling was it for you to have such an experienced musician on board?
The time when Max called me (after listening to our crappy demos) and said he was interested in joining [the band], I was very happy cause I knew he had a lot of talent and could bring some great ideas to make this band something better than it was at the time. And that’s what he did. I don't think we would have got a record deal this soon without him.

If I’m right you were singing in the first days of band. Why did you decide to get a full-time vocalist?
I started singing on our 2nd demo just to see how it feels. And I noticed that I can't do the growl/scream vocals at all. It's really hard to scream and make it sound good. So I wanted someone who would take care of that and also help out with the clean vocals. On the album I sing all the clean vocals and most of the choruses and Juha does the screams and he is happy with that. And because we usually have harmonies on the clean vocals Juha sings them when we play live.

On your website you describe your music as “mainstream rock/metal” which surprised me a lot because I a) didn’t hear many mainstream soundings parts and b) most bands are afraid of being labelled mainstream.
I think that might be from the record company… shit... this bio was written by Spinefarm Records... the webmaster must of copy/pasted it from their site.

So you don’t agree?
Well I don't think we are mainstream and it's deleted now... I really don't care what we are as long as it's good but I wouldn't call us mainstream. Perhaps some of the softer songs could be called that but I didn't hear much of us on the radio so...

I would consider you one of the most outstanding bands when it comes to combining extremes of music. Did you already have in mind what you wanted to sound like when you started the band or did that develop throughout the time?
The band developed quite a bit during the 5 demos we did, and I think during that time I became confident what I wanted it to sound like. More development came when Max joined and we are currently moving into new territory with the new material that is being written. I have a broad range of musical tastes as does everyone else in the band. And I think we developed it because we got bored playing just one type of music. At one stage I thought about just sticking to one style but I just got bored with it.

I think if I had to describe your album with one word versatile would be the answer. Your versatility has however distracted some people and led them to the conclusion that you haven’t found your own style. How would you counter that?
Yes versatile would be a good word to describe our music. To counter the point that we haven't found our own style, I'd have to say that they might be right. But I do believe that mixing the music up the way we do is also a style. Why should we play one style of music? I find it to be very boring, I mean I don't listen to just one style of music so of course that influences what I write. For e.g. today I wrote a new song that is an acoustic song but I've been listening to everything from Slayer to Bob Marley. I think people just get confused because it's easy to label most bands, but when one comes along that is hard to label it's easy to say we don't have a style.

Do you remember what it was like for you to hear the album for the first time? Did it sound the way you had expected it?
Well I was present for the recording, editing, mixing and mastering of the album so when it was finished I didn't listen to it for a few weeks. But when I did I was quite happy. Could have been better, I would have changed quite a lot of things if I had the chance but I guess I'll never be 100% satisfied. I remember my girlfriend cried when she heard New Hope, that was great for me. I knew I had made something that moves people in a certain way. But all in all it turned out the way I expected.

Your album has about the same amount of ballades and calm songs on the one hand and fast and heavy songs on the other hand. Was this planned or rather a coincidence?
That was planned. I wanted to leave “Only Human” out because I thought it was the weakest song on the album but the rest of the band voted against it. We had a few heavy tracks that we're half ready but just before we went into the studio we decided that it would be good to go 50/50 on this album.

Thank God the others voted against you because I love “Only Human”!
Hah I've heard that before...

Let’s talk about song writing. In how far does the fact that you use two classical instruments affect your song writing and what comes first, guitars, bass and drums, vocals or the classic instruments?
I mainly write songs at home. So when we practice we will get the guitars, some vocals, drums and bass pretty much ready before the strings are added. But I do leave space for the strings when writing new material. And I always try to think of different ways to bring those instruments into the music.

You said on your message board that you are already writing new material. How much is done at this point?
We have about 10 songs that are in various stages. None of them is complete, but we are starting to put them together. I think we will finish about 14 songs and pick the best for the next album.

Can you reveal anything about the upcoming album regarding sound or lyrics?
Sound wise I think we will be separating the strings from the rest of the music so it doesn't sound so messy. Nothing too radical but just enough to make the sound tighter. It will be heavy and melodic like the last album but variations will be more extreme. All the songs on the next album will be new ones (no more digging up old demos) and I have given it the working title of "Gentle Anarchy". I think that sums up what it will sound like.

Juha’s seems to go absolutely insane on stage. Has he ever hurt himself?
I'm sure he is not doing his voice any good by screaming the way he does and I think he's only got some cut's and bruises from a few gigs. But other than that he hasn't done any real damage, yet. We'll see what happens when we go on longer tours. The main thing that worries me is he might smash Max's cello, that thing is very expensive.

Can you tell us how you came up with the name Hevein and what it means?
To me the band name Hevein does not really mean anything. When I thought it up it was just a cool name, I didn’t know the word existed. In Finland Hevein is a slang word for “heaviest” but that really has no relevance to me. I think it came from the song "Girl who lives on Heaven Hill". I thought Heaven Hill might be a good name but then Hevein just popped in there and that was that.

Your website is very elaborate and special with lots of graphics, video clips and a very unique layout. Do you happen to have a computer genius in the band or is a friend of the band doing it?
We happen to have 2 computer nerds (Alpo and Janne) and 1 (Alpo) of them is also a graphic designer. So that does help. They did the site together. We are actually at the very last stages of opening our own web store. The boys have done a good job on that too.

When I read reviews about “Sound Over Matter” I came across many different comparisons and references to other bands because it is actually very hard to nail down what Hevein sounds like. Do you think that at some point Hevein will be trademark or do you constantly want to reinvent your sound without any boundaries?
You said it... we constantly want to reinvent our sound without any boundaries. Yes, that's what I want but at the same time you still know it's the same band. We joke about that a lot, about what bands we sound like. I've read some funny comparisons like Deep Purple and Dimmu Borgir... don't get me wrong they are great bands but I don't think we sound like them. If we get a trademark sound it'll be from using the violin and cello and playing the music the way we do now.

The Finnish metal scene seems to be one of its own kind with bands like Nightwish, Children of Bodom and Apocalyptica who all kind of defined their respective music genre. And now there’s Hevein. So does the scene seem special to you as well or do you think that every country has its little specialties?
I think the Finnish metal scene is unique. It's quite an amazing amount of good and bad bands that come from this small cold country. Those bands you mentioned are quite special when you think about it but I'm sure the reason Finland has produced bands that have taken certain genres and moulded them into their own is because of the need to be different. Those bands are pioneers and they were a peak in Finnish music especially HIM, have you lately seen the amount wannabe HIMs coming from Tampere [a Finnish city] alone (sigh) it's sad. I respect what Valo has done with his band but [I’m] saddened by what he made even if he didn't mean it. I think quite a few countries have special bands but I hope we see more and better bands in the future.

As you’re the first Finnish band I get to interview after the Eurovision Song Contest I need to ask you this: Before the Eurovision Lordi were accused of Satanism but after their triumphal win were suddenly praised for promoting Finnish music. How did you view the whole thing?
I didn't know Lordi was ever accused of Satanism... I don't read the tabloids and I've never been a fan of Lordi. But it's great that they won and praised Finnish music but I must say the whole Eurovision song contest is an expensive joke. I have never watched it. And my view on the whole thing is, how to put it nicely... if there is a hell on earth it's that contest.

My last question is always different and has nothing to do with music: If you could meet a person of your choice no matter if this person is still alive or dead who would it be?
Well I could easily name over a hundred people I'd like to meet at a certain time in their life but I'll have to go with my Grandpa who was killed in WWII. I'd like to shake his hand and thank him for keeping this country free.

Thank you for taking some time!

Links of interest:

Spinefarm Records