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I do not collect music as I do not think anything is valuable just because it exists

Interview with Skepticism.
With a new album in the works and with a tour coming up, there is definitely more ado about the Finnish funeral doomsters of Skepticism than there has been in a while. Many people have been wondering how long it would take before the new album 'Farmakon' would finally be unleashed on the dark masses. Many people are also wondering about the mystery surrounding this band. Doom-metal.com talked to keyboard player Eero and tried to answer some of your questions.

The Skepticism sound typically consists of slow, heavy and dark atmospheric melody lines, displaying a great symbiosis between organ and guitar sound. Slow, pounding drums and deep vocal lines add even more depth to the music. The result is a hypnotizing, entrancing kind of doom metal. During the years, Skepticism incorporated all kinds of influences in their music, including samples and very dissonant chords in the last miniCD. So what can we expect from the new full album?

"Everything about 'Farmakon' is by now so natural to me that I really cannot explain what one should expect from it. 'The Process of Farmakon' relates to 'Farmakon' in the same way as 'Ethere' relates to 'Lead and Aether' - the miniCD versions of the album tracks have again been brought a bit further than on the full length. In other words. 'Farmakon' is not a full length 'Process of Farmakon'. That's about all I can say."

There have been quite some issues with this new album apparently. Originally, the release date was set for Autumn 2002, but there have been a few delays. What happened? And when will 'Farmakon' now eventually be released?

"The original release date was set to March 2002. We had various troubles with the release but I am not willing to describe them any further as they are behind now. 'Farmakon' is being printed as we speak and we expect to have some copies of it with us in the Belgian Doom Night."

That is good news!
It is the second time that Skepticism releases a CD that was referred to by a preceding miniCD (cf. 'Ethere' - 'Lead & Aether'). What is the purpose behind this?

"Sometimes we come to a point where we consider two different versions of a song to be two different songs. That happened with the songs released on 'Ethere' and again on 'The Process of Farmakon'."

Do you think this will happen more in the future? Or does it happen only when you feel it is fit with the songs you have written?

"I am no fortune teller. Really."

Skepticism's line-up has been very stable throughout the years, whereas very often, bands who last as long as Skepticism does, have several member changes and other likewise problems. What is your secret behind this?

"Skepticism was formed to be a band - not just a group of musicians playing together. The effort of keeping the band together was made by choosing the members invited to join. In other words we avoided the trouble before we got any."

The line-up being quite unconventional for a "metal" act, (Skepticism has no bass guitar for instance) the produced sound is rather avant-garde. Is this choice of line-up made through the musical ideas, or is the music generated through the provided instruments?

"I would say that we first formed a suitable band and then adjusted the instruments to create the sound we wanted. Our original line-up did have two guitars, bass and no keyboards."

Would you say that you were not pleased with the sound as you had it back in '93? Or did the change towards keyboards come organically?

"The instrument changes could be described as organic. We never had an explicit plan on how we should sound or what we should do. We were and are working based on intuition. It took us a year to find our sound and our roles in creating it. So I would not say we were displeased with the previous sound - we were just incomplete with it."

Do you continue to look for a bassist (there's one on 'Stormcrowfleet') or do you find you don't need one?

"There was a bassist on our debut 7". After recording that piece the bassist quit music and Skepticism as a part of that. When that happened we modified the line-up keeping same members. The second guitar was replaced with keyboards. That was the line-up in 1993. And that is the line-up in 2003. Frankly it was and it would be impossible for anyone to join Skepticism. The bass in 'Stormcrowfleet' studio sessions was played by a session member from Lihtede group - for the first and only time in Skepticism history. He was also involved in creating the cover art of that album in co-operation with the band. This worked very well in the 'Stormcrowfleet' case but was a temporary solution in the first place."

It is stunning to see how many good doom acts hail from Finland. Although most of these bands are very isolated and not part of a scene as such, there seems to be a common influence there. What is it that you have in your drinks in Finland?

"I really do not know.
Another fact is that almost all of the Finnish "Doom" bands seem to differ from each other radically - you really cannot speak of "Finnish Doom" as a style. There might be a connection if you compared Finnish literature and arts to those of other countries and used that as an analogy to the underground metal scene. Or there might not."

Where do you get your inspiration from during the writing of the music? And what about the lyrics?

"I just get it. Where from is indescribable."

Although Finland seems to have a lot of doom metal acts, apparently those bands are not in touch with each other much. Do you know the other bands? Do you listen to their albums?

"I know a few people in Finnish "Doom" bands but I can't say I'd be too socially active in these matters."

What kind of music do the Skepticism members listen to?

"Various. I like silence. In addition to that I have been listening to 21st century classical music - especially organ works - lately. What I know of the other members' tastes is that the style definition or artist seems to be less important to them than the mood created by an individual song."

Are the Skepticism members actively searching for other, new music? Do they collect music or do they rather take some distance to what is released, with only attention for very specific works of art?

"Speaking for myself - I do not collect music as I do not think anything is valuable just because it exists. My relation to music in general is a bit passive - the things I get into seem to get to me even without searching."

How does Skepticism write songs? Do you write music on your own, or do you compose as a band?

"We bring thoughts to the rehearsal and compose a whole based on that as a band. Turning thoughts to parts and parts to wholes takes time - from two weeks like in the case of 'Aether' to two years like in the case of 'The March and the Stream'."

Do you consider lyrics as a part of music that is being written, or do you add lyrics after the music is about finished?

"The lyrics are created in the process of composing a song and finalized when the song is ready. Which phase of these is writing them is a matter of opinion. The idea is not to write music and text but to write a song. If this is what you assumed you are absolutely correct."

Skepticism doesn't play many live gigs. I am aware of only three gigs in the last two years. Is this a deliberate choice, or why is that?

"As a matter of fact it is three gigs in the last 8 years. Our first gig with the current line-up was in Turku in January 2001. The one before that was with two guitars back in 1993. The break was a sum of reasons - the reason we re-entered the stages in 2001 was simply that we got a suitable offer at a suitable time."

Do you prefer playing live or do you prefer recording new albums?

"Both have their good sides. On stage there is more endorphine involved and at the studio there is more time to concentrate into details. I do enjoy both."

What about the balance between the two? Given that you would get more suitable offers, would you agree to play live more?

"More than 3 gigs within 8 years - yes.
More than 3 gigs within a year - probably not.

Playing live is something we enjoy doing but still a sidetrack in the whole process of Skepticism."

Since the first full album 'Stormcrowfleet', Skepticism is signed to the label Red Stream Records. I assume that Red Stream gives Skepticism total musical freedom?


From the point of view of Skepticism, how important is label support to you? And what does Red Stream Records expect from Skepticism?

"Very. Red Stream has been very cooperative and given us the resources we have needed. They never really stated their expectations on us but based on the feedback after sending them the master tapes of each release I assume it has been 'that'."

For the fans of Skepticism's music, it is often very difficult to get to know more about the band behind the music. Your names are not in the booklets, there is no mentioning of line-up in any CD, there is no info at all on the website, it is hard to get in touch with you. It is clear that you deliberately choose to keep the band low-profile. Why is that?

"For the fans of Skepticism's _music_ such information should also be clearly irrelevant."

Does Skepticism has a certain goal to work for? Is there anything you dream of, or want to reach, musically or otherwise, with Skepticism?

"We are on an endless journey - there is no goal to go for. We may want to pass by some significant sights but still keep going."

Any of these "sights" that you have in mind yet?

"None of a kind I'd like to mention here."

Thanks a lot for doing this interview with us. We really appreciated it that you took some time to go through and answer the questions. May the future for Skepticism look dark and gloomy - as you like it. And good luck on tour!

Visit the Skepticism bandpage.

Interviewed on 2003-04-13 by Heiko.
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