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"...The band still plays a sort of Traditional Doom with Progressive elements (they're named after a King Crimson song), and it sounds good. Erno Taipale (guitars, vocals) and Sami Harju (bass, vocals) reveal some details of the new record in this interview…"

Interview with Garden Of Worm.
"Garden of Worm isn’t a new band. The Finnish trio chose the path of Doom about 12 years ago, though the guys weren’t incredibly active. I found them on a split-album with great German doom band Mirror of Deception somewhere in 2009(?). A year later, Garden of Worm released their first self-titled album. And it took almost five years to do the second LP, 'Idle Stones', that was released by Svart Records in March 2015. The band still plays a sort of Traditional Doom with Progressive elements (they're named after a King Crimson song), and it sounds good. Erno Taipale (guitars, vocals) and Sami Harju (bass, vocals) reveal some details of the new record in this interview… I just wonder where they left their drummer Micke Suvanto…"

Today's interviewees: Erno Taipale and Sami Harju.

Hail men! Garden of Worm's second album 'Idle Stones' was released in March 2015 - my congratulations. What has the band done since then?

Sami: Hi Aleks, and thank you! We’ve been doing gigs here in Finland again more actively to promote the “Idle Stones” album. On top of that we’ve also worked on new material, which seems to be shaping up quite nicely. Should everything go as planned, we will have a couple of EPs recorded and the following full-length more or less composed by the end of this year.

The absent Micke Suvanto.

Can you tell how the new stuff that you're working over sounds?

Erno: There’s a couple of heavier and more straight-forward doom songs planned for the next recording sessions as well as something more experimental. The stuff that we’ve been working over for our next full length seems like a logical continuum to “Idle Stones”, though I’m sure we’ll wind up having some surprises as well!

What were your general inspirations during the recording session of 'Idle Stones'? Do you aim to do something unique and original when you compose?

Erno: Well, the influences come from a very vast area. We all share a love for old heavy rock / metal from the late 60’s until the early 80’s, classic doom and old progressive & psychedelic rock. So I guess they’re the basic ingredients. And for me personally, some krautrock, old Swedish experimental rock (Träd Gräs & Stenar, Baby Grandmothers etc.), 60’s avantgarde jazz, folk rock á la Fairport Convention and Pentangle… Could go on forever.

Sami: Making unique and original music has never been a goal in itself, but living with this band for a third of our lives kind of naturally makes it sound like us. When you put yourself into something and give away a part of you in the process, the result will be original.

Don't you want to use these songs for some split-record instead of an EP? Which bands would you choose?

Sami: In fact the plan is to release an EP of our own and also a split-EP with The Wandering Midget. This is something we’ve talked about for, I don’t know, some eight years already? Hah! It’s finally going to happen.

Garden of Worm was a trio, but only two of you are in this art-work. What's the band's current line-up?

Erno: At some point we started to play with the idea of having a band photo as a cover art. Then we remembered the small old graveyard that was close to the place where Sami used to live and his parents still do. As teenagers we visited there every now and then and tried to imagine what kind of gloomy band photos we could shoot there with this giant stone cross. Yes, we had a band together back then, too. These things in mind we finally decided to go with the idea – what first was more like a joke.

Sami: If you take a closer look at the photo on the front cover, you can see that Erno is standing in the distance. Turn the cover around and you’ll get the idea we were going for. So yeah, the line-up has not changed – it’s still the same three guys doing their thing. I don’t whether the band would completely cease to exist if one of us decided to call it quits, or what. Having had this steady trio for more than ten years already, it seems like a really strange idea altogether.

'Idle Stones' was released through Svart Records both as CD and vinyl edition. How do you work with the label?

Erno: We didn’t have any deal at the time we recorded the album. So we contacted couple of record companies with ready material in our hands. Svart Records was interested and it was an easy decision for us to work with them. They have good distribution and reputation, and I also knew the Svart people through my activities with Seremonia. We’ve been very happy with them.

Have you already had feedback from listeners? I'm not talking about reviews and interviews now - just how does your connection with listeners go?

Sami: Sure. It’s mostly people at our gigs who talk about the album, maybe making a comparison to the gig or something. The feedback has been mostly positive. Of course, people who haven’t witnessed the band’s “evolution”, mostly observable at our shows in the time between the two albums, may have been taken by surprise because of the change in our sound within the last five years.

Garden of Worm – The Alchemist’s Dream:

There is a song 'Summer's Isle, Including Caravan' on this album: I remember that there's a song 'Summer's Isle' on the EP of the same name released in 2008. Is it a new version of an old song?

Sami: Yes, that’s correct. We had “Fleeting…” and “The Sleeper” already done, and thought that “Summer’s Isle” would fit perfectly in their companion on this album. So, we re-worked the song into this new version and appended the improvised “Caravan” at the end to take the song to another level. This is something that came together most naturally as a result of the time spent jamming on the new songs at our rehearsal place.

Summer's Isle.

'Summer's Isle'... What's the concept of the album? Does it connect with some pagan legacy?

Erno: On my behalf I can say there aren’t any connections to paganism. Summer’s Isle often seems to be associated with The Wicker Man movie, to which the title nods. However the lyrics deal with wholly different topic, about reaching a kind of a perfect state while constantly being aware that it can be lost any moment. A metaphorical thing. There isn’t any planned concept on the album, but in a way I see most of the lyrics representing some kind of release, or breaking free, and that suites well with the music too.

'Fleeting Are The Days of Men' isn't a new song either, what is the story behind it? Did you re-master it?

Sami: The first recorded version of “Fleeting…” is on a demo or EP of sorts which was done in the time between the first album and “Idle Stones”. We recorded a couple of songs on an old and dusty 4-tracker and released them by ourselves on a very limited run of tapes which were sold explicitly at our shows. The version you hear on the LP is from the same session as the rest of the album.

The new songs have a specific, a bit grubby, sound: how and where did you record the album?

Sami: During one weekend in the Spring 2014, we retreated to a cabin by a lake where we set up our equipment for a live recording session. All the basic tracks were laid down live and only some additional guitar tracks and the vocals were recorded afterwards. The idea was to try and capture the energy and flow of our playing as raw and natural as possible. The best recording sessions ever.

The band is named after a King Crimson song and your genre is sometimes labeled as Progressive Doom. Do you agree with that statement?

Erno: I’m not sure what to think about the labels nowadays. In the early days we clearly considered ourselves to be a doom metal band, and while having prog influences as well in the mix, the term progressive doom seemed suitable. Doom and progressive rock are still strong elements in our music, but instead of pigeonholes and categories we look our work through a very personal point of view: it is something that comes out of us naturally. The labels are useless in that process.

I've known about Garden of Worm since your split-album with German band Mirror of Deception. How did you come to make this record? And do you keep in touch with them?

Sami: It seems like ages ago, I’m not sure if I even remember how it came about anymore! I think I had been in contact with Jochen of Mirror of Deception, possibly originally asking for the possibility at Doom Shall Rise or something like that. This must have been somewhere around 2005..? Anyhow, one way or the other the idea of a split crossed our minds, and The Church Within was into releasing it, so that was it. We haven’t been in contact with the Mirror of Deception in years. I wonder if they are still carrying on with band, and if Jochen and the other guys are still planning on putting together another edition of Doom Shall Rise…!

And I have a standard question: do you remember a book which influenced you the most when you were in school?

Erno: I guess it has to be something by Tolkien. I’ll go with The Lord of the Rings. Sami: That must be it. Or The Hobbit, maybe.

This question isn't about music, but I'd like to ask it anyway: I've heard that there were some strikes in Finland, I guess it was car drivers and some people from municipal service. What's going on now? Finland always seems to be a calm and peaceful place.

Erno: Yeah, there has been issues with Finnish competitiveness. In order to strengthen our country’s economy the government threatens to lay some laws that weaken the working conditions, for instance cutting the compensations for overtime working. These weakenings strike the hardest at people working at low waged sector, like health care for example. That’s why many are angry and there was a huge demonstration and some walkouts. To me it seems that the government is misleading people by presenting very complicated economical issues in a more simple manner, like comparing state economics to private household or business economics. As far as I’ve concerned, the government officials exaggerate the problems to legitimate their aspirations keeping the rich getting richer and the poor poorer, heh. Well, like always with the politics, it isn’t so easy to find the truth between all the debate, that is if there even is any.

Well, men, I hope that the situation in your country (as well in my country and all the other places in the world) will stabilize and your music will reach people all around the globe. Good luck! Any words for our readers?

Erno: That’s what I hope too, though often it seems like naïve wishful thinking. And if that’s not going to happen, hopefully people can find some comfort from music at least (or whatever they feel important). Let it be our music, ha! Peace.

Garden Of Worm - Live 2010:

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Interviewed on 2015-10-25 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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