interview with Vortech

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What´s the name of your band? Vortech

How was the band formed? Originally, we started out jamming in a garage and basement in Northern Finland with Tero Konola, back in early 2000. Eventually the foundation of the band was formed. The original sound was a bit different, but little by little it started to sound more like the Industrial Death Metal we play nowadays. The band became Vortech in late 2005, following the departure of Tero, who started to play more grindcore and sludge in Relativity and Kollapse.

Can you tell about your band? I have always been a fan of electronic music, ever since a very young age when MTV still played music :) Late 80's electronic and early 90's techno was very inventive and fun to listen. As I got older, I also started to listen to more and more extreme music, like death metal, grindcore and black metal, and all kinds of dark ambient. In the late 90's, I discovered Sonic Mayhem and Fear Factory, and that settled the deal for me! It was a perfect combination of my favourite styles of music, and that's where the spark came from. The dark ambient gave a nice touch to bring out a bit more atmosphere, too, which many enjoy in our music.

Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band?

When the band was founded, I (Juha Untinen) played most of the guitars and Tero Konola played bass and drums in rehearsals. Starting from our very early recordings, we mostly used drum machines, and it sure brought a nice industrial edge to the music! After some years, when Tero left, it was just me doing all the instruments (guitar, bass, synths, drum programming, vocals).

During the recording of our second full length album, Wasteland, there were a lot of guest artists on the songs, and Matti Särkimäki did almost half the vocals for the album. He had such a great voice and enjoyed the music, so I asked him to join the band as a full-time vocalist - and he did. From there on, we made a few more releases and played live shows in Northern Finland with me recording all instruments and playing the guitar live, with Matti on vocals. We had a bit of a different live setup, since we had a drum machine and we also re-amped our second guitar and bass live. Basically re-amping in that way means that I recorded the guitar and bass parts at home, and then we send those recordings into amplifiers and it sounds like a real player! Quite fun!

In late 2010, we had a few test rehearsals with Ville Miinala on drums, and he finally joined the band! Now we had a real drummer, but unfortunately Matti left the band. But we knew Mikko Nikula from another band of ours (Coldway), and he luckily joined as a vocalist.

And that is our current line-up! Me on guitar (and studio bass+synths), Ville on drums, and Mikko on vocals.

What was the ambitions of the band when you started? I really wanted to create music that combined my two favourite styles, and to bring the sound much further than before. Fear Factory was quite fast, and Front Line Assembly was quite industrial, but I wanted to mix those up even more, to create something more extreme and more electronic at the same time! We were not afraid to use even a black metal sound with industrial beats, hehe.

Could you explain your music to someone that haven't heard you? As our slogan goes: Fast, Futuristic, Electrified! We enjoy blastbeats, 4/4 technobeats, fast technical guitar riffs and atmospheric synths to the fullest!

Where was your first gig? There was one quick show in late 2001, but I would say the first proper show was in June 2009 in Oulu, Finland. That was one great show, as everything worked perfectly, the people enjoyed the music, and we had a blast playing with other bands!

Where was the latest gig? We actually co-headlined a festival in Liminka, Finland, where we played in a medium big hall, with I think 8 other bands, in the middle of a forest! Quite different styles of music, but it was a great show, and by far our biggest audience so far! Lots of fists in the air, I can tell you.

Who writes your songs?/ who writes the music who writes lyrics? I write all the songs, and until our newest album, The Occlusion, I also wrote all the lyrics. On the newest album, Mikko has been helping out, and he wrote lyrics for a lot of the songs. I have quite a quick method of writing songs, so I always end up with a lot of songs quite quickly. In fact, in the past 9 years, we have put out 7 releases! I rarely have trouble making songs, so there is always something to use for albums.

Who has the best since of humor in the band? Mikko and Ville are always having a blast, and cracking jokes in rehearsals. They seem to have a cornucopia of one-liners!

What's good/bad with the band?

At the moment the band is quite comfortable, and we have rehearsals whenever possible. Our workflow is quite natural like many other bands have: write songs, record them, release an album, rehearse, repeat. It works quite well, although it would be fun to practice even more! There's a bit of distance though. 750 km to be exact, hehe.

We are looking for some extra hands to join, but so far it hasn't worked out quite as well. The music is quite hard to play, so naturally there is less to choose from in general. It takes a bit of dedication to pull it off.

What are your songs about? Most of the lyrics concern the way of the world nowadays - all kinds of war, conspiracy and such, but I also make it a bit more forward-looking and futuristic. It's quite inspiring to write such things, as I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic games and movies. Fallout, Terminator, 1984 and so on. I also try to vary the themes a little bit, and also do some abstract lyrics.

Do you write your own material or mainly covers? All of our published material (68 songs!) are our own material. I've always been more about creating something new instead of visiting the past. We have recorded a few cover songs, but they haven't been published on any records yet. There's a song from Funker Vogt, a Castlevania 3 medley (the NES game), and some old Fear Factory covers, but I wouldn't count them as Vortech covers fully. The sound/mix is the same, though...

Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they?

Yes, we have released 6 full length albums so far, and 1 EP as Vortech:

Conclusion (2006), Wasteland (2007), Deep Beneath (2008), Posthumanism (2009), Infocalypse EP (2010), Devoid of Life (2012), The Occlusion (2014).

Under our old name, Sound Ogre, we have published 2 EPs:

Extinct (2004), Asphyxiation (2005)

Do you have any clips on YouTube? Yes, there is a full Youtube channel with a lot of material, although we have not been able to create a proper music video. That is something I hope to achieve one day, as I have a lot of ideas in mind! https://www.youtube.com/user/VortechBand

How old are you?/What got you started in music? We're all about 30. Originally I had heard the guitar playing of Tony Iommi and James Hetfield, and there was something special about the guitar, so I got borrowed an acoustic guitar for a while, and then after some years I finally got my electric guitar. From there on, I've gone to a few guitar courses and some theory, but mostly I've been self-taught by playing along to all kinds of songs. I usually play along to full albums, and my favourites to play along are Fear Factory - Demanufacture, In Flames - Whoracle, and Dream Theater - Train of Thought.

At what age did you start playing? I got my borrowed acoustic when I was about 14, and my first electric guitar at 16.

How old were you guys when you first stood on stage? The early show back in 2001, we were about 17 all of us.

Best/worst gig you've played? All gigs so far have been quite enjoyable and fun, so I have only had good experiences with Vortech live shows. With my other bands, the good shows are usually the ones where the audience likes the music and is active. The less good ones are usually when the audience stands still and doesn't really pay attention.

Witch band is the best you´ve seen? I've seen a lot of live shows, and so far my favourites have been Helloween in Jalometalli 2006, Emperor in Tuska 2007, Rammstein in Helsinki 2001, and Judas Priest in Oulu 2005. There's something special about some shows, but it's hard to pinpoint. Always a good setlist, great audience, and a nice live show, though.

Is it always the same songs live? So far we have always had a different setlist for each show, and I personally enjoy it when you see a band many times and they always have a different setlist. So I try to keep it like that for us, also. Of course we sometimes play the same songs that people like, but mostly it's a different set always.

What are the plans for the rest of the year? At the moment we are finishing the demo sessions for our next full length album, due out late 2014 or early 2015. There's now 16 songs ready and 2 more in progress, so quite a lot of material to choose from already! We will probably also continue rehearsals later this year, and of course record the next album once the demos are ready.

What are your goals with your music? I've always been more interested in making music that I would personally want to listen to, and unfortunately this kind of music is quite rare, so one of the options is to make music yourself. Luckily there are a lot of people that also enjoy this specific style of music, which I think many are at odds with, as usually metal fans don't like electronic music, and vice versa. But there are some scenes around the world, and those are the people I want to listen to our music.

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? I like to incorporate both, as there's all kinds of good ideas and inspiration in both old and new music. However, most of my inspiration actually comes from seeing bands live. For some reason it always brings out the need to write some music myself, much more than listening to an album. But in general, I would say it's about 50/50 between old and new.

What's the first step when making a new song? Most often it starts with a template project open, and then I start playing some made-up guitar riffs. After a while, I come up with a riff that I like, so then I record that into the open project. Then I write some basic drums to the riff, and then I start to add more riffs in the similar style. I continue doing this until I usually have about 10 riffs or around 1 minute total from each riff played once. Then I start to add some synths with either a mouse or a MIDI keyboard, and I go through all kinds of VST-instruments to find sounds that I feel fit the mood of the riff. Then I repeat that to all riffs, and then I start to build the structure of the song, and leaving out some riffs that don't fit. Eventually there's a full song with two guitars, lead guitar, programmed drums and almost always the final synths that are also on the album. Then later on, when all songs are ready, we start to write lyrics, and then we record real drums and vocals to all songs.

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? It's a good way to find new music you would normally not buy. If the music is good, I always buy the CD, too (I've got almost 900 CDs hehe). If not, then I just delete them. It's quite tough censorship, but at least it's fair.

What would be your dreams for the band? It would be great to do a tour in Europe, and get a lot of new fans through that! It's quite hard to stand out from the crowd in the internet, so touring is a great way to catch the attention of possible future fans. We have a lot of active fans in Russia and Australia, too, so that's something to consider also. Perhaps one day!

Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to? Actually I listen to more ambient, neoclassical and industrial stuff than metal. But overall, my all time favourites are Front Line Assembly, Fear Factory, Emperor, Ulver and Arcturus. Other bands to mention, at least in terms of inspiration, are Dead Can Dance, Funker Vogt, Katatonia and The Amenta.

Have you been part of any other projects? We also had a grindcore band called Relativity with our original drummer, Tero, and we actually were very active with that band, playing live a lot between 2004 and 2010. Mikko Nurmos did the vocals and Heikki Raudaskoski played bass. I also played guitar in Coldway (death metal) for a few years, and some live shows.

What do you work with outside of the band and the music? Just a regular day job as a Software Engineer.

What would you do if there was no music? Now that's a horror story! I would probably do my best to make music exist again.

How important are your fans? It's always great to hear comments and ideas from our fans, and they can of course influence how the music will be, and what sort of merchandise there is, as we usually have public votes for many things, and so far we have had a nice participation rate!

What's the funniest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you? We have had a few people simply donating some money to keep the music coming! That is an awesome thing to happen from a fan, and it really inspires us to keep doing more music!

How often do you rehearse? Lately about once a month, but usually they are marathon sessions. Around 3-4 hours per day for a few days in a row.

Where do you rehearse? It changes quite a lot, but so far the two most common locations have been near a train station, and an old military base that has been converted into a band practice complex.

Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment? I'm really happy how the new tracks for the next album have turned out, especially the tracks currently called "Disconnect" and "Signal Loss". From our released material, at the moment I really enjoy playing "Xenomorphosis" and "Demon In the Circuitry". They are always fun to play in rehearsals and provide a nice workout for the picking hand, hehe.

What do you feel is the best live band you've seen? While there a lot of great live shows I've seen from many bands, there are a few bands that consistently provide an awesome show, and I always try to catch them live whenever possible. At the moment, they are Satyricon, Front Line Assembly, Meshuggah and Amon Amarth. And the interesting thing is that none of them really have a live "show" - they just play so well and with good setlists always.

Do you have any webpages? Yes, we have an official website at http://www.vortechmusic.com

Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there? Keep doing music that you like. There will always be people that don't like it, so don't get discouraged!

How do you view the musicindurty of today? It's very very different even compared to the time we started. Nowadays it's hard to sell CDs and other merchandise, so you have to put more of you into everything. But that might be a good thing in a way, as perhaps less dedicated people will not cloud the field so much, so it's easier to find good music.

What are the biggest obstacles for a band? It's hard to stand out from a huge amount of other bands, so it takes a lot of work to get people to even hear your music. Also, finding opportunities to play live is also quite hard.

How would you describe your sound in one sentence Extreme and melodic at the same time.

What is your favorite crappy instrument? It's really classic to record some special parts with some really cheap amp, like a 20 euro miniamp to get an interesting special tone!

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