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!!“
"Nowadays we have promotion going on in our releases, but in the beginning people outside Finland found us mostly accidentally."
Metal has to evolve naturally and in doing so has to embrace what some might see as unorthodox sounds. One such band who is devoid of being restrained and willingly exploring the music avenues in pop music and disco, is Finland's Memoremains of whom released their latest single and music video "Pounding Heart" to critical acclaim. If you were to strip Amaranthe of it's Death Metal influences and inject it with ABBA or the BeeGees, then you get Memoremains. Given their sound, it almost seems inevitable that they will go far and become another Finnish Metal success story.
Filling in the details of their history, their sound, plans and what metalheads can do in their city of Seinäjoki, the band clearly have a roadmap of where they're aiming to go and showed no weakness in their interrogation... determination radiating from this quintet.
For people who have not heard of Memoremains, could you please give us a brief history of the band?
"Memoremains was founded 2016 in Seinäjoki, Finland. The band began to build its career by releasing singles. In 2018 the band released its first EP, “Louder”. Memoremains started touring late 2018. Their first gig in Bar15 was chosen as “The Best Gig of the Year at the Venue”. Since the very first show, the road has already taken the group on an European tour and to summer festivals in Finland - including Provinssi, one of the biggest festivals in Finland.
2019 was a roller-coaster and climaxed with gigs and a new single. Always flirting between metal and pop it was probably just a matter of time when this genre-bending band would release their first pop cover song: Madonna’s “Sorry”.
Memoremains wastes no time and is already fiercely writing new music after COVID-19 cancelled all of the spring and summer gigs. Well received new song "Pounding Heart" was released in early April. As a release party Memoremains set afoot on new territories and dived in the world of streaming as they had their first live streamed gig on YouTube. Memoremains is locked and loaded! Ready to release their debut album this fall and hit the stages ASAP!"
How would you describe your eclectic sound seeing as you bring in influences from Symphonic Metal, Groove Metal, pop and disco?
"We don’t use time thinking about what genre we play or are some musical influences right for our music or not. We listen to a wide variety of music and bring the best parts to our music. We haven’t yet found any limits where we could not lead our songs."
You released your latest single and music video "Pounding Heart" (taken from your debut album out this Autumn), what was the reception like and have you had views outside of Finland?
"Reception was awesome! Thanks to everyone who has given feedback for us! People have said that the song is catchy, fast and well-produced. They have liked the music video as it presents the song genuinely. We have got fans outside of Finland already from our very first releases. It’s actually a bit strange how music can spread nowadays all around the world. Of course nowadays we have promotion going on in our releases, but in the beginning people outside Finland found us mostly accidentally."
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, what plans have you had postponed or cancelled? What have you been doing whilst under lockdown?
"We had a few gigs in April / May and those have been moved to the future. We had to have our support gig with Battle Beast in April in our home city cancelled; it was very sad that it was cancelled. But we have used this time by making our debut album “The Cost Of Greatness”. We still have some recording to do, but we have progressed quickly. We also had a live stream on the 3rd of April when we released the “Pounding Heart” single."
What plans do you have for late 2020 going into early 2021? With Brexit, are you worried about the financial cost of coming to play in the UK?
"Our debut album should come out 16th of October and we have few gigs already agreed during autumn and winter. We try to get some more gigs and plan a tour outside Finland in 2021; and who knows if we write new music also. About Brexit. Well, it makes things of course more complicated, but we don’t think it would be a problem to come to play in UK if we had a chance!"
Do you have any other hobbies or interests outside of Memoremains? How do you unwind at the end of the day?
"We all have jobs because Memoremains is not working full-time yet. So most of our time goes to our work. Music is the biggest hobby in our free-time and some of us has other bands running on. We also try to do sports and sometimes we are just hanging out together, which has nothing to do with music."
For metalheads visiting your city of Seinäjoki, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"For metalheads we would definitely recommend to check out “Rytmikorjaamo” if there would be interesting gigs for you. It’s our city’s biggest venue, you can also find more live shows and underground metal at “Bar 15”. But we recommend to explore Seinäjoki open-mindedly, we have a lot of nice pubs and bars all around the city. There’s not many any mind blowing sights. We recommend to look around and enjoy the rivers, lakes and nature or whatever makes you feel comfortable."
Do you have any hellos or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Hey everyone! Follow our journey! We have awesome singles and music videos coming out over the coming months. And don’t forget to check out our debut album in October!"
Pop Metal? Melodic Heavy Metal? Finnish Metal? However you want to describe Segmentia is down to you, but the truth remains that they are one of the fresh products coming off of the Finnish Metal conveyor belt. Only having formed this year, devised and unleashed their debut EP 'Shanghai' and signed a deal with renowned Finnish label Inverse Records, things certainly are going well for this quarter. But as Jere explains, their humble beginnings have provided some guidance for this new beast to follow by...
"Rumours say that Alvar (Aalto) wanted to paint the coffin shaped church black!"
Give us a brief background of Segmentia, were you in previous bands? What does 'Segmentia' mean?
"We started playing together with Arttu in 2012. During that time we were playing only covers and the line-up changed a lot during the years. I had already composed a few songs of my own but before that I proposed that we started to create own music, with the band I wanted to have line up that works. I think it was around 2015 or so when we recorded our first demos with that line-up. After that the line-up still changed a lot but we still decided to start recording the songs for our EP.
All the recordings were ready at the end of 2017 but we were still struggling with our bassist and vocalist. Finally in the end of 2018 when Sami joined the band I was sure that the 3rd member was found and soon after that Laura joined to complete the line-up. I personally have played in many bands, but before Segmentia my main band has been a Power Metal band called Celesty. Actually when we decided to end Celesty it took like a couple of years when I started to look for a new group.
Segmentia doesn’t mean anything. Our first name was Seventh Segment, but we wanted to have a band name with only one word so I came up with the idea of Segmentia.
You play Pop Metal, would you liken yourselves to Dead By April or how would you describe your sound?
"When I start to compose a song I never think about the genre or any other band. I just create what’s in my mind and basically clear my head from melodies to my computer. Then I start to write vocal lines and add rhythms etc. then I go to my rehearsal room’s studio and start to produce the song. I know Dead By April and I listened to their first album a lot when it came out, but they might be like one of the 100 influences I have when I create music."
Shanghai' is your debut EP and so what was the response like? Will you tour in support of the EP? Any shows outside Finland?
"The response has been great. I only have heard good things and when we play live, people really seem to enjoy our performance and music, even if they don’t know our songs well. We have done some shows in Finland and yeah we are planning to play worldwide. This is only the beginning of Segmentia and we have lots of plans for the future, so we’ll see what is going to happen. Anyway I’m very excited about the future."
Talk us through 'Shanghai', what do the tracks mean and why is the EP title borrowed from a city in China?
"Shanghai reflects the light that comes when there is someone whom shares the joys and sorrows of this life. We are quite alone here on Earth called "The Dark Sea" in the song, and when there is someone whom you can share that life, the shores of the dark sea shimmer. Geographically, Shanghai is an island in the middle of a dark sea, and thinking of that actual island maybe can help to see this idea.
I almost ended my entire musical career after Celesty about 7 years ago. Then my current wife told me to stop those crazy talks. This gave me the courage and the spark to try and start a new band. Shanghai's lyrics are not only a tribute to love, but also a tribute to my wife. The song also tells us how each of us should have that bright person in our lives. We called the EP Shanghai also because every song tells a story in its own way from different parts, from the trip to a band and family. We have to be able to share joys and sorrows because that sense of security really has a lot to do with how our band holds together."
How does it feel to be a part of the Inverse Records family? Surely this is a dream start for the band?
"Well this was very natural choice for us. I have studied their work a lot and I know the guys who work there. Also we decided to try to do a lot of ourselves for the release and that we didn’t try to get any labels behind us or anything like that. We just started this by ourselves and so that we can do a lot of ourselves we choose Concorde Music Company and Inverse to help us out."
For metalheads visiting Seinäjoki, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any pubs, venues?
"Actually Seinäjoki is like other cities in Finland as well, it's at it's greatest in the summer. Here in Seinäjoki is quite little sight so see but one of our sights is the church in the down town who has designed by famous Finnish Architect Alvar Aalto. Rumours say that Alvar wanted to paint the coffin shaped church black!
We also have many quite big festivals here in summertime. Provinssirock is one of the coolest and biggest festivals in Finland and the venue called Törnävän Saari is also wonderful sight to see. Also we have Tango music festival here, which also brings a lot of people to our city. Then there is also Vauhtiajot rock and race festival which is music and rally on the same weekend. Then we have the famous club called Rytmikorjaamo and a legendary pub called “Warttibaari” Bar 15, where also Segmentia played their first gig on 6th April 2019."
With 2019 coming near to a close, what plans have you got for the rest of the year leading into 2020?
"We have planned a lot. Priority one is to finalize our own website http://www.segmentia.net. Also this end of the year we are planning to play at least one gig and also we shoot our second music video from one of the EP songs but I won’t tell you yet which one. Also I have started to record demos from new songs I have composed and I believe that we start the pre-production of Segmentia debut album in year 2020.
Also, we are going to be active in many ways to keep the name Segmentia familiar in people’s ears. Play lot of gigs in Finland but hopefully also in approach, maybe support some bigger bands."
Are there any greetings, or thank you's that you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?
"Hello all Global Metal Apocalypse readers! Greetings from beautiful Finland, the land of the thousand lakes! I hope that you enjoyed our interview. Go and check Segmentia music, follow us on social media, tell us to your friends and families and most important, remember to say kind words to your loved ones!"
Order the CD: https://www.recordshopx.com/single/segmentia/shanghai/#654877