ABHORRENCE is an old school Death Metal band who – together with bands like AMORPHIS, SENTENCED, FUNEBRE, XYSMA, DISGRACE, DEMILICH and LUBRICANT – really put Finland on the map in the beginning of the nineties. With “Totally Vulgar”, they released a really cool live album a while ago which is worth to add to your collection. We had a nice chat with frontman Jukka Kolehmainen.
Earlier this year, you released your first live album, “Totally Vulgar”. It’s the recording of the concert which you gave at Tuska Open Air in 2013.
“That’s correct. When we decided to play a few gigs when our compilation album “Completely Vulgar” was just released, we put together a setlist with songs which we wanted to play. When our gig at Tuska was confirmed, we first played a few small clubshows. Tuska was very important for us. It’s one of the biggest Metal festivals of Finland and not that far from where we come from. The people of Svart Records attended one of those clubshows and they were very enthusiastic. After the show, they told us that they wanted to record our gig at Tuska. If the result was good, we could maybe release it as an album. And if the result was somehow disappointing, there was still no harm done. But the gig went really well. And the recordings turned out also pretty good.”
On “Totally Vulgar”, there’s no sound whatsoever of the audience. Something which is pretty essential for a live album in my opinion.
“You’re not the first one who makes this comment. We had a few microphones pointed to the audience during our gig to capture the live-atmosphere. But something went wrong with those recordings. And so we couldn’t use them. We even tried to set the record straight by using other audience recordings. But the result was absolutely not good. Many people – just like you – regard a live album as an album with much interaction between a band and the audience. We see a live album more as an album where everything is really played live. And that is definitely the case with “Totally Vulgar”. There are many so-called live albums these days where almost everything is done in the studio. “Totally Vulgar” is recorded in one simple take, with all the bandmembers playing together on a stage. So, it’s definitely a live album in that perspective.”
As you mentioned previously, Svart Records has released a compilation of ABHORRENCE a few years ago called “Completely Vulgar”. It includes your demo “Vulgar Necrolatry” (1990) and your EP “Abhorrence” (1990), as well as a lot of unreleased material. Do you regard that compilation as the ultimate album of ABHORRENCE?
“I would say so, yes. There are even two extra songs on the vinyl edition which we have never released. I think that we had even one more song which we have never recorded when the band fell apart. It’s possible that we played it live a couple of times. But there’s hardly anyone who can still remember that song.”
Is is true that Century Media also approached you once for a compilation?
“Indeed, they did. But we were already negotiating with Svart at that time. Personally, I really love everything that Svart does. They release a lot of albums on vinyl. And they look really very nice. You can see in every little detail that they really put their heart and soul into it. I also know a lot of people who work for that company personally. They’re all big fans of music. We wanted to have a partner we could really trust and where we would have a good connection with. And Svart is such a partner. It’s for example very easy to contact them if we have a question. We are right from the beginning on the same page. The whole cooperation is really excellent.”
What memories do you still have when you think back on the recordings of your demo “Vulgar Necrolatry” (1990)?
“The studio where we recorded that demo – the Syke Oy studio – was the studio of a Jazz musician. But he was more a hobbyist, so it was definitely not a professional environment. The studio was located in a deserted corner of a very big parking garage, right under a large appartment building. It was a very modest but soundproof space made out of concrete. That Jazz musician had absolutely no idea what was happening when we played our songs there for the first time. He was mainly very bored and constantly rolling with his eyes. He thought we were really terrible (laughs). I still remember very well that we tried his guitar amplifier. But the sound we got with that amplifier was way too good. Therefore we recorded the guitar parts with my bass amplifier (laughs). “Vulgar Necrolatry” (1990) did quite well in the scene afterwards. We copied it many times for others. Some of us were in contact with bands like NIHILIST, CADAVER, INVOCATOR and NOCTURNUS and really busy with tape-trading. That’s why “Vulgar Necrolatry” (1990) also ended up rather quickly in the international tape-trading scene. Death Metal was still something new at that time. Many people had never heard such extreme music previously. We got many very enthusiastic reactions. I think that we were at least in about 30 fanzines with an interview the first couple of months after we released our demo.”
You worked together with Timo Tolkki – the guitar player of STRATOVARIUS – for your next release, the EP “Abhorrence” (1990). If I’m correct you were already friends for quite a while at that time.
“Indeed. Our rehearsal room was located in Klaukkala back then. Klaukkala is a small city about 7 kilometers away from Vantaa, the city where we all lived. There was another band who practiced there as well, ANTIDOTE. Timo Tolkki lived back then together with his wife in the same region where ANTIDOTE was from. There were not that many Metal fans with long hair walking around back then. In the small cities where we all lived, if you were a Metal fan, you got in touch with each other rather fast. And STRATOVARIUS was just one of the local bands. We really got along with them. I think we even shared a bill with them once (lacht). But pure musically seen, STRATOVARIUS was absolutely not our thing.”
After a demo and an EP, the next and most logical step is an album. Were you already preparing yourselves for that when the band fell apart in 1990?
“We were actually thinking more on a new EP or a mini LP. At that time, we already discovered that we really couldn’t trust Seraphic Decay, the record company who released our EP “Abhorrence” (1990). So, we were looking around a little bit to find a new partner. And at the same time, we were working on new songs. When ABHORRENCE fell apart, we had three new songs which were completely finished. And we had many riffs, ideas and little pieces we could work on. I think Tomi even used quite some of those ideas in AMORPHIS later on.”
Would you say that the song ‘Vulgar Necrolatry’ is somehow your ‘hit’ and your most known song? Because AMORPHIS recorded it later as well.
“I guess so. A ‘hit’ is maybe a bit a strange description for the music we made with ABHORRENCE (laughs). But it’s definitely our most known song. Many people think it’s originally a song by AMORPHIS. But it isn’t. I noticed that during gigs – especially this year – that we really grab the attention of the audience when we announce ‘Vulgar Necrolatry’. But songs like ‘Caught In A Vortex’ and ‘Pleasures Of Putrid Flesh’ are also really popular.”
With bands like FUNEBRE, XYSMA, DISGRACE, DEMILICH and ABHORRENCE, Finland had a quite an interesting underground scene in the early nineties. Nevertheless, the only Finnish underground bands who were really successful internationally later on are IMPALED NAZARENE, AMORPHIS and SENTENCED. Why is that do you think?
“That’s an interesting question. I don’t really have an answer for that to be honest. SENTENCED were rather quiet and even a bit shy guys. They didn’t like to talk about themselves, something which is pretty characteristic for Finnish people. Promoting your own band is really going against your nature for most Finnish people. SENTENCED were quite often on tour. And that must have helped them a lot. Throughout my career with ABHORRENCE, we only played just once outside of Finland. That was in Norway.”
The gig you’re talking about now took place on the 28th September 1990 in Oslo. You played that evening together with DARKTHONE and CADAVER. What can you still remember about that evening?
“Quite a lot to be honest. The Norwegian televsion interviewed us that evening. But I really can’t recall what I have said that evening. I never saw the interview and the footage that they recorded that evening. It would be very interesting to watch that now, so many years later (laughs). The thing that I still remember the most is our meeting with the guys of MAYHEM. They dropped by before the show, completely in corpse paint. All of the sudden, they were at the back of the club. They really scared me to death, I almost pissed my pants (laughs). They told us that we should come to their house after our show. And that’s what we did. There was a party at their place with lots of booze and alcohol. The guy who did Slayer magazine – Metalion – was there as well. Later on that evening, we all went together to their rehearsal space. I still remember very well that the bass-sound that MAYHEM had was the best I ever heard. It’s still a complete mystery to me how they managed to get such a great sound.”
What’s the main reason do you think why so many people still look up to ABHORRENCE that much?
“I hope it’s mainly because of our music. Our bassplayer Jussi made the comment not so long ago that there are a lot of Punk influences in our music. Our whole musical approach was rather rough and straight from the heart. There were no technical stunts in our music. We just went for it. And I think that’s one of the major factors why our music stood the test of time. I also think that ABHORRENCE really sounds very Finnish. There are no influences of Swedish bands in our music.”
The band FUNEBRARUM has covered your song ‘Caught In A Vortex’. ADRAMELECH did the same with ‘Pestilential Mists’. Is it nice to get a sort of recognition this way?
“Definitely! I’ve even become really good friends with Daryl, the frontman of FUNEBRARUM. Playing covers is always fun. During our shows with ABHORRENCE, we played ‘Chapel Of Ghouls’ (MORBID ANGEL) and ‘World Eater’ (BOLT THROWER) a couple of times. It’s quite possible that we will put ‘Chapel Of Ghouls’ in our setlist again. It’s just a great song that everybody knows and really gets the audience going.”
Many bands who used to be active re-unite these days to play shows again. After a while, the question often comes up if they will also record new material. You mentioned earlier that when the band fell apart, you had three new songs which were completely finished as well as many bits and pieces. So, in theory, you could start to work on an album.
“We don’t have any plans for something like that at the moment. The biggest problem is everybody’s agenda. Tomi has his hands full with AMORPHIS. And Waltteri is also going to be really busy this year since the new album of PARADISE LOST is just released. I’m a single father. I have a job. I am very occupied with that as well. Everybody is really busy. If we could find the time for it, we are willing to give it a try. But I’m not going to promise anything (laughs).”
In the summer, you played at Nummirock Metal Festival. Are there still other festivals scheduled?
‘‘No, Nummirock was the only one. We’re still negotiating regarding a show in December. But it seems like it’s a rather strange winterfestival. So I’m not sure if we will play there in the end. We get offers quite often. But the circumstances have to be right. We’re all already a bit older. The days when we would sleep in a tent or on the floor at somebody’s house after a show are definitely over (laughs).”