Eurovision was a big moment for Blind Channel, the sextet from Oulu secured 6th place and cemented themselves in a line of successful rock and metal bands to have graced the Eurovision sphere. The rollercoaster did not stop there as they signed with Century Media, performed sold-out shows across Finland and are now planning on their first major European tour with many shows looking set to sell-out also.
Aptly dubbed 'Finnkin Park' (even though their 'Violent Pop' sound brings together a variety of rock and metal genres), Blind Channel released a music video for their latest single 'Balboa' (released back in August), echoing the core story of the Rocky films i.e. getting up and taking the fight head-on.
Blind Channel's Joel Hokka spoke to Global Metal Apocalypse about their journey since that evening in Rotterdam and how one of Finland's most successful musicians Lauri Ylönen (The Rasmus) came in touch with Joel about doing a special cover of 'Dark Side'.
Blind Channel gained overnight international success after the Eurovision 2021 finals, talk us through the emotions on that night. Additionally, what was it like signing with Century Media?
“Yep it happened pretty quickly with 'Dark Side' & the whole ESC thing. To be honest we didn’t expect that kind of success at all. We were thinking that if we hit the finals it’s already a win for us, and then we ended up in 6th place. But the real victory happened the day after when we saw that 'Dark Side' was #62 on the international Spotify global charts. I think we’ve been hyped up since that night until the last live shows of the summer ended last month. Century Media feels a great home for us. We want to be a massive alternative music outcome and CM / Sony has a great platform for us to be who we are without selling our souls!“
Your achievements have given bands not only in Oulu, but other Finnish cities too, hope that they can break out internationally. Thinking back to when you first started out, did you ever imagine you would be where you are at now?
“We always wanted to make it big internationally. There was no other choice. We were always looking up to Finnish exports like HIM, Children Of Bodom etc, and we thought if those guys can make it so can we! So yeah, we were pretty sure since the start!“
You released your new single / video 'Balboa' last month, first impressions are that the song is to do with the 'Rocky' film franchise, is this true? Either way what was the inspiration for 'Balboa'?
“Balboa is an anthem for the underdogs. It’s simply about getting up again and again. That’s how we’ve felt with our career for past 8 years. And yes, Rocky is the ultimate example of an underdog!“
Assuming 'Balboa' will be included on your forthcoming album (due out 2022), how far are you in the album creation process? When will the next single drop? Will this album be the darkest you've ever done?
“The album is right now in the hands of Dan Lancaster who will be mixing the whole thing next month. After that it will mastered in the US. The next single… hmmm…. maybe soon. The album itself will be the purest Blind Channel ever. We’ve gone through a lot while writing & recording this so there’s a LOT of stories to tell. Of course there’s always the darkness in our music. We come from the North. It’s in our DNA.“
Will the new album be released on vinyl? Will there be special, limited editions released? Maybe a mini-documentary of the band's rise from humble origins to international success?
“There will be many different forms of physical album. Vinyl's for sure for example! We’ve already documented a lot of stuff during 2021 but of course there’s a lot of things still to show for people so let’s see. Hopefully!“
Now you did a live duet with Lauri Ylönen (The Rasmus) on the song 'Dark Side', tell us how that came about? Could we see Blind Channel tour with The Rasmus in times to come?
“Lauri called me (Joel) and told me about the idea. I was blown away ‘cause Lauri is one of my childhood idols from early 2000’s and I really love The Rasmus. I really hope we can tour together ASAP! Maybe next year?“
Speaking of tours, you recently finished a string of dates across Finland, talk us through the logistics and emotions. Your next tour in early-2022 will be with Eskimo Callboy and fellow Finns One Morning Left; assuming you will be playing songs from the new album?
“The shows in Finland have been incredible. Thousands of people every night, pure insane adrenaline all the time. We played over 16 shows and had the best times of our life. The tour with Eskimo Callboy is something we really look forward to now. We will be playing brand new songs but also classics. Our set will be around 40 minutes per night so we need to be smart with the choices when it comes to songs!“
Regarding next year, are you looking to secure slots at festivals across Europe? Could we see Blind Channel at Download or Bloodstock in the UK?
“We’d LOVE to play some big European festivals but right now we don’t know about them yet. Only thing we know for now is that there will be MASSIVE festival slots in Finland for sure but Download, Rock Am Ring, Bloodstock, Reading etc. is always good for us!“
What plans do you have for the year ahead and into 2022 other than your tour supporting Eskimo Callboy?
“Album 4. Hell a lot of touring in EU / FIN (Hopefully US as well), new videos, cool TV things and tons of empty white wine bottles!“
Do you have any greetings and thanks that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?.
“Greetings if you read this whole interview! We really respect that a lot, and also thank you for all the support. Without you (the people and the medias) we’d be nothing. See you at the shows!!“
" [On venues] The problem is the same almost everywhere, I think, that the public has difficulty getting around to concerts by local groups"
Mention the genre Nu Metal and the response is either 'I love Slipknot, Korn, Disturbed, etc.' or 'that's not a metal genre, it's not metal'... such a simple diluted argument sparks a wildfire in the course of conversation. Nu Metal is a metal genre. No arguments. Now that's dealt with, time to focus the attention on French-Belgian stalwarts Through The Void who are predominantly based in Brussels, this quartet delivered their EP 'Aria' to well-received acclaim last year and ended up supporting Welsh Ragga Metallers Skindred. Through The Void have future in sights and are shifting from 4th gear into 5th, they tell GMA through their interrogation about their origins, what venues people should go to in Brussels, how they would describe their sound and how they are coping during the COVID-19 lockdown.
For those who have not heard of Through The Void, can you give us a brief history of the band and were you all in previous bands?
"Hey! The group was formed in Brussels in 2019. The group is composed of Chakib (lead vocalist and lyricist), Anthony (composer, guitars and backing vocals), David (drummer) and Roberto (bassist). Chakib and I (Anthony) had a previous project that was in some way the basis for Through The Void. David has a stoner project (Landing Planes) and Roberto before TTV was more into electronic music."
Now you play Nu Metal, do you feel at times the genre is under-appreciated or misunderstood by metal elitists?
"We don’t really care about this kind of thing. We make music that we love and hope that people can love too. We still need to choose some kind of “label” in order to direct people to our music, but we don’t really give ourselves any limit in our creative process in order to adhere to a certain “code”. It’s in any case a large genre, in which many styles contribute. As long as you can headbang to it, it’s good!"
How did you come to play Nu Metal in the start? Who are your influences in and outside of metal?
"Chakib listens mainly to metal, Chester Bennington is a real inspiration for him as a vocalist. He listens to a lot of Enter Shikari, Northlane and Of Mice and Men as well.
David listens to many different styles of metal, from stoner to progressive, his Spotify playlist goes from Monkey3 to Devin Townsend.
Roberto listens to a lot of progressive metal also, Jinjer for example, but also other styles like electro.
As for me, I'm a big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I came to metal through listening to Linkin Park, Korn, and today where I love Gojira as much as Nasty for example. Recently I discovered Night Verses, unbelievable. Besides that, I listen to trip hop like Emancipator or Tor.
We tried to take 3 groups we liked and we selected Linkin Park, Slipknot and While She Sleeps as "influences".
You had a dream start in releasing an EP this year and supporting Skindred last year, you must be blown back by what's happened so far?
"We are really happy to have had this opportunity, it was a great night! We received great feedback on the EP which warmed our hearts. Now, we still have a lot of work to do and we are working hard to prepare the follow up to ARIA.."
Tell us more about the Belgian Metal scene, what challenges do bands face, is the underground scene still as strong?
"The number of places where it is possible to play is constantly decreasing, both in Belgium or in France. Most of the places hosting “amateur” groups are managed on a voluntary basis. The problem is the same almost everywhere, I think, that the public has difficulty getting around to concerts by local groups. It’s a very fragile balance. The Belgian scene has very good metal bands, you just have to take the trouble to support the scene by going to see local concerts."
For metalheads visiting Brussels, what sights / attractions and venues / bars could you recommend?
"Well then there is an unmissable bar in the city centre, the "Rock Classic" which organizes several concerts per week in the Rock / Metal style. The Hellhole Project association also organizes concerts in Brussels regularly, check their Facebook page for more."
How are you coping during this global pandemic? What have you been doing during the Belgian lockdown?
"We all respected the confinement measures, so no rehearsals face to face. But we have not stopped composing, and we will very soon release new music composed during confinement. Look out 😉"
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"Thank you to all the people who listened to or bought ARIA, to all who come to see us in concert and follow us on the social networks. Continue to share our music if you like it and talk about it around you, your support helps us a lot! Thanks to André, our sound engineer / producer who brings us all his knowledge and who laughs at our poor quality jokes. Thank you to you for this interview, and to your work which allows to give a great visibility to many groups! We hope to see you soon for a concert as soon as possible."
Malicious Inc. are set to set the British Metal scene ablaze with their finely balanced sound of Groovy Nu Metal as shown on their debut EP 'Red Flag'; which was released through the Italian label Sliptrick Records. Morgan Weeds the band's lead guitarist filled in GMA with the details of their new release, what the Bristolian Metal scene is like and what metalheads can do down their, how they got in touch with Sliptrick Records and why in the space of 1 year 5 months they've managed to unleash a debut single and follow-up EP.
During the interrogation Morgan referred to Korn, Disturbed, Nu Metal, Bristol, Korn, and some more Nu Metal, Groove Metal and somehow... Bristol. Suffice to say he finished happy as Larry.
For those who have not heard of Malicious Inc. could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"The band was formed in January 2019 by vocalist Kyle Mortiss and myself. I heard him release some solo stuff under the name ‘Of The Wolf’ and has got a very Randy Blythe (Lamb Of God) feel to it and was looking to start a band of that sort of style. We put auditions out, which brought drummer Luke Hill on board. Kyle brought in former band mate Christian Elvins on rhythm guitars and friend Chris Watkins on bass and we began writing. Since then, Chris and Christian have left the band and Luke brought friends Kyle Zehtabi and Matthew Hulin into the band and we’ve been working away ever since. The band name comes from the legacy of vocalist Kyle Mortiss’ previous band “Malicious Intent” combined with the fact that we are a new incarnation with new music, new members, new feel etc and we mean business."
You recently released your latest EP 'Red Flag' via Sliptrick Records, what was the reception like and did you have anyone outside of the UK buy it?
"The reception seemed really positive to be fair. We weren’t sure what to expect from people as it was our first release but people are digging it, the industry seems to love it for the most part from the reviews and interaction we’ve had. We’ve had people all over the world listening via streaming services, downloading and / or buying physical copies which is an incredible feeling for us. To see our music hit everywhere from home turf in the UK, to America, Europe, South Africa and many more is an amazing feeling."
Talk us through the process of creating the EP - how long did it take to curate? Master? Mix? etc.
"The EP didn’t actually take that long to create. We hit the ground running as soon as the band was fully formed. We went from forming in January 19, to writing a stand alone single and the 5 tracks for ‘Red Flag’ and then recording it and producing it by the end of April the same year."
What was it like signing with Italian label Sliptrick Records? How did you approach them or did they approach you? Talk us through the partnership?
"We approached them. We were sent some contact details for Carlo who runs the label. After vocalist Kyle Mortiss made the initial contact, he handed proceedings over to me (Morgan Weeds - Lead Guitarist / Manager) to begin negotiations. They offered us a deal based off the final mixes as at the time we approached them it hadn’t been mastered by Martin Nichols yet. We finalised everything, signed in July, announced it in August and had the stand alone single and music video for ‘Bone & Mortar’ out by the end of September."
Given the UK is in lockdown, what plans did you have cancelled / postponed? What plans will you have late 2020 / early 2021?
"We were supposed to hit the studio this April just passed to begin the recording process for the songs we’d selected to be the singles out of the tracks we’ve created for our debut album, but due to the situation that has been put on hold until we know what’s happening regarding the pandemic and lockdown. The guys at Sliptrick Records are working on and have nearly completed a lyric video for our track ‘Wintered Trees’ so we’ll be putting that out as and when, dates to be confirmed, but basically we’re gonna be hitting the studio and planning on hitting the road around a release schedule for these singles. Sadly as everything is so up in the air we have no idea about when and how these things will come to pass yet though. Watch this space I guess."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tagging?
"It’s just brutal, honest, hard hitting heavy music. Deep lyrical content and emotive emotive execution."
For metalheads visiting Bristol, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"A lot of venues are close to shutting down right now which is a sad and scary thought, but The Fleece, The Exchange and The Louisiana are great venues that have wicked bands on all the time. The Crown is a kind of Metal / Biker pub with a venue underneath called The Trap. There are club nights of varying genres over at the Fleece and The Lanes. Rough Trade is a record shop opposite The Lanes that also has a stage. We played there back in February and it was a wicked show. We’ve got an O2 Academy.
There’s a fair bit to do if you’re fresh to the area, but with the current economical climate a lot of venues are struggling and a lot of the competing club nights all claiming to be “Bristols Best” can become much of a muchness, same as anything really. People dig it though which is the main thing. There’s always a crowd at these places which keeps the local scene alive which is important now more than ever, especially when things start to normalise. The independent venues will need that ongoing support."
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"Thanks to everyone who is continually supporting us and everyone that has helped us get to where we are. We appreciate all the support from our friends, families and fans and we hope everyone is staying well and safe during this time.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us."
When Skindred was announced to perform at Bloodstock 2017 there were a number of people who took their angst onto social media, raging at a band not being 'metal' enough being booked to play, when they should be at Download. Reality check, they've done Download, they've had their song 'Nobody' on the NFS Underground 2 game soundtrack, they've been going nearly 20 years, they've played Wacken for heaven's sake. That's metal enough for us.
Despite the whinging and whining on the net, the amount of festival goers Skindred pulled was more than adequate to put the elitists in their place. The well known 'Newport Helicopter' was a fitting way to end their set, even the ShowSec crew in front of the Ronnie James Dio stage got involved:- watch their song 'Warning' with the Newport Helicopter included here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpnPeFtUGkU); credit goes to YouTuber Jamiet1994 for the video - skip to 3:51 for the legendary Newport Helicopter.
Benji Webbe and Mikey Demus both were more than happy to spend time with GMA to talk about their origins, playing BOA for the first (and possibly not the last) time, plans ahead, the origin of the Newport Helicopter and much more... over to the Welsh Ragga Metallers.