Finland has always been an exciting country for heavier music and could never really been compared to what Sweden or Norway used to come up with. Especially when it came to brutal Death Metal (in the late 80s / early 90s) bands like early XYSMA, old DISGRACE, DEMIGOD, FUNEBRE or ABHORRENCE definitely delivered some very cool shit that easily stood the test of time in terms of raw, uncompromising brutality! Reasons enough to have a look back on the mighty ABHORRENCE (not to be mixed up with Brazil’s masters of brutality and speed) in an in-depth interview… Luckily former frontman Jukka "Shrike" Kolehmainen answered our request with a lot of dedication, so that the result turned out highly entertaining… Read on!
"Before going on with this interview, I have to make a few things clear. It’s been almost 15 years, some of the things I say are absolute truths, but there might be things that I have forgotten, I remember wrong or stuff that have just gotten the label of a memory even if they are false. I can’t be certain, so all of the readers should take it with a grain of salt too. Enjoy these ramblings as if it was a great story, that just got better along the way. Cheers…"
You were all still pretty young when you started out (between 14 and 18 years old), but still there was talk that your guitar player Tomi Koivusaari already used to be in in a band called VIOLENT SOLUTION, while Kalle Mattsson, Jussi "Juice" Ahlroth and yourself were in DISASTER prior (!) to forming ABHORRENCE… Could you tell us a bit more about that?
"Yeah, that’s true. Me and a friend wanted to start a band and had a hard time finding other musicians into it. So, it basically started out as two or three of use jamming (none of those are the ones mentioned above) and I had lots of friends in bands. Mika Arnkil in Antidote (now in Impaled Nazarene), Tomi Koivusaari (and Jan Rechberger of Amorphis) in Violent Solution and so forth, so I got into alot of other bands practises, later wanted to be part of it myself. Now that I think of it, there were bands all over the place and on most weekends we were going to some gig or rehearsal to get drunk at, we travelled all over southern Finland just to see cool bands play. Anyway, we started getting a group of people together and we wanted to play Speed / Thrash Metal and just have a good time. I think we practiced at Antidote’s rehearsal space for a while. We had lots of different names, we jsut couldn’t make up our mind about the name… also, I don’t think Juice was in the band just yet. Disaster was the name we used when we played our only gig, after the original Violent Solution drummer committed suicide and we played at the afterparty, I think it’s called wake really. I don’t really remember too much specifics about that period of time, I would have to ask those other guys about it and it would stretch this interview into a hella long epic, so I’m just gonna go with what I remember. Most of my / our close friends (me included) started getting into Death Metal, digging the fuck outta bands like Morbid Angel (when "Altars Of Madness" came out) and other bands like Bolt Thrower and Carcass… we were also into tape-trading back then with demos and such. Anyway, as time passed on Tomi got bored with Violent Solution’s music, which was Thrash Metal, and wanted to play Death Metal, as the rest of the band didn’t want that, he quit and started jamming with us. We had a few people coming in that we jammed with and just wanted to see who wanted to play with us and who we wanted to join. After some time we settled with me on vocals / growls, Tomi on guitar, Kalle Mattsson on the other guitar, Juice Ahlroth on bass (which he bought, just so he could join the band) and a friend of Juice’s, Kimmo Heikkinen on drums. Kimmo was a big tape trader and had ridiculous amounts of demos on tape, so we also got a lot of new music through him."
How long did those bands exist? Have you recorded / released anything with them?
"The bands I was in never released anything prior to Abhorrence, we might have recorded some rehearsals with Disaster, but I don’t have those tapes myself. I might have the one and only Disaster gig on VHS though, but that is something I would never let out into the circulation. The music was shite you see HAHA! The band wasn’t a long time deal, but the same guys did play for around a year or so (before it turned into Abhorrence). Violent Solution recorded some demo-tapes and one self-financed 7“ (check it out at www.isten.net/guide) as far as I remember. They were around for a long time for all I remember, but if I’d have to guess they existed for 3-4 years. There were other project bands we were all just having fun with though, but none of those are worth a mention, since they were all just for fun and means to buy more beer around weekends (we sold those shitty recordings at gigs and such)."
What kind of music did you play at the time, what lead to the demise of those bands and when and how did you hook up with Tomi and your first drummer Kimmo Heikkinen?
"Disaster played some sort of Speed Metal I think, it was all very basic as non of us could really play that good, so it was more like getting ready to play more seriously, honing our skills. Disaster didn’t really break up, it was more of a metamorphosis into pre-Abhorrence when Tomi joined. As I mentioned before, Tomi wanted to play more aggressive music, Death Metal to be exact, and thus left Violent Solution so he could fullfill this desire. After Juice joined it was pretty quick to get Kimmo in, some of our friends tried banging the drums prior, but none of them had their own set and they weren’t that good of drummers really. I also think they lost interest… one of those drummer guys is now a highly paid architect… haha!"
Is it actually true that Kimmo had no musical experiences at all before he joined you?
"No it’s not, he had his own drums (I think) and had played in some bands with his friends, those bands were prolly just something to pass by time with. On the other hand, when Juice joined he didn’t even know that a bass guitar has 4 strings, so I guess you’ve got these two mixed up. He actually learned incredibly fast and was a decent bass player when Abhorrence broke up."
So, as far as I know, ABHORRENCE’s official origin was sometime in 1989, wasn’t it? Which bands had a major influence on you at the time and was it difficult for you in any way to change direction, towards the very brutal oldschool Death Metal that ABHORRENCE got known for?
"Yeah, I think when we figured out the name Abhorrence the band officially started, we had played together for a while before that and I think we had 2 or 3 other names for the band. Can’t remember any of those right now. Major influences were Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Carcass… we also liked a lot of Speed and Thrash Metal and stuff like King Diamond, Slayer, Metallica and so on. Lots of Death Metal bands that only had demos out were on heavy rotation in our stereos. I also listened to older bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, all of us grew up with Heavy Metal (Accept, S.O.D., Scorpions and so on) so it was just a step towards the brutal end of the spectrum. The change to Death Metal wasn’t at all difficult as we set out to play it from the beginning, I also found out that I could growl a lot better than I could sing HAHA. So no, we just begun making music, then listening to those songs and making correction so it would sound as brutal and heavy as possible."
Your debut demo "Vulgar Necrolatry" got recorded in early February 1990 and features three songs (‘Vulgar Necrolatry’, ‘Pleasures Of Putrid Flesh’ and ‘Devourer Of Souls’)… What kind of memories do you have on the recording session? How was it like, entering a real recording studio (probably) for the first time ever? Any problems you had to overcome while recording the stuff?
"Well, I have lots of memories of that time, it also helps that we had a videocamera in there HAHA! The studio was probably just built for the owner and his crappy Jazz combo, so the guys who did the sound and recorded the damn thing didn’t have a clue about Metal. We paid him like 400FIM back then (around 65€, maybe a bit more as this was almost 15 years ago) and the guy was pissed off that he had to be there and listen to our shitty playing. I think our dad’s helped us to get all the gear to the place, which was like 60km from where we lived. The studio itself was just two rooms in the back of an out-of-date bombshelter and the acoustics were horrible, the board he used was old shit too. But for us it was all very professional, except for Tomi who had already been in studio a few times, while recording demos with Violent Solution. All in all it was fun, save for the grouchy soundguy. Some problems included shitty earphones, Kalle had a flying-V guitar he had problems holding in his lap and Kimmo couldn’t get the double bassdrum parts going right at all. Otherwise we just ate a lot and laughed a lot during those two evenings… oh yeah, it was recorded in like 6-8 hours during two different weekends. The intro in the beginning of the demo was also made up on the spot, the spoken bits were written earlier but all of the background we just made by fiddling with the keybs we found at the studio."
How many songs did you have around the time when you entered the studio? Which other songs were already written and what made you choose those particular three in the end?
"I think we had like 5 songs then, the first song we ever made together was quickly forgotten about as it was utter crap, the choosing of the songs was really a matter of newest material possible, so we didn’t really think about it that much. We just wanted to put a sample of our music out and let other Death Metal fans in the tape trading scene have their word on it."
The thanxlist on that particular demo already featured a whole lot of other underground names, like FUNEBRE, PROTECTED ILLUSION, INVOCATOR, CADAVER, IMMOLATION, TREBLINKA, NOCTURNUS, CARCASS or CORPSEGRINDER… Were they simply pen pals of yours at the time, that you traded your demos with or what kind of relation did you have to them?
"Most of those bands were friends with Kimmo, some of them actually friends and some just plain trading partners. I think Kimmo did some interviews for small photocopy mags so he might have interviewed some of those bands at some point. Funebre, Protected Illusion and Cadaver were actually friends of the whole band, first two we played a lot of gigs with and with cadaver we made this „gig trade“ thing, where they got us a gig in Norway and we got them one in Helsinki. I think they actually played two gigs here, the other one was at this Pub / Club I went to alot (even if I was under aged, haha). In the beginning, when we started playing gigs, the only bands that sounded at all like us were Funebre and Xysma, and later Disgrace too. But some gigs we did, the bands were playing glam style rock and then we’d barge in drunk and obnoxious AND THEN WE STARTED PLAYING! People would run away scared… HAHA, not really."
How many copies did you approximately spread around of that demo (sales, free copies, trades alltogether)?
"No idea whatsoever. Tomi did most of the Finnish stuff, I mean the postal orders and trades and Kimmo most of the abroad stuff. But I remember Kimmo telling me the demo was starting to ‚sell’ like hotcakes at one point. We got demo orders for years after the band had broken up too. I really can’t tell you how much it got spread around, but Kimmo was good at what he did and we got letters from all over the world, soI guess it spread wide and far."
Did you already play any shows around the time of the demo release (or even previously)? With whom did you play and where? How many shows did ABHORRENCE play in total throughout your rather short career?
"We played some gigs before the demo, it think so anyway, but those were mostly at Youth Centers and such places for local kids as ourselves. We played with all kinds of bands, I already mentioned a few, but here it goes again: Funebre, Xysma, Disgrace, Cadaver, Demigod, Antidote, Stratovarius, several Speed Metal bands but I can’t remember which (Airdash, National Napalm Syndicate, A.O.D. / Oppression, A.R.G. perhaps?). As to the amount of gigs I couldn’t say, we got to play some cool shows with great people, but also some really horrible gigs at places I wouldn’t go again if they paid me. Now it seems we were either playing or watching shows every weekend, but that is just time doing tricks probably."
When did you actually get in touch with Seraphic Decay Records from the US for the release of the "Pestilential Mists" 7"EP, which you recorded at the end of June, early July the same year?
"I think that the bastard Steve O’Bannon got in touch with Kimmo, we had sent the demo to labels around the world but not to Seraphic Decay as far as I know. He must’ve gotten our demo and then just wrote us really fast, more than that I don’t remember."
Did you have to finance the recordings on your own? Tell us a bit more about the origin of that EP, the four songs which are featured on it and the overall experiences you made with the infamous label?
"Yes, O’Bannon did promise us some money (again, I think so) but those never came, the deal was never on paper as such, so at some point we just agreed to get ¼ of all vinyls he pressed, of course we never got those either. I have nothing positive to say about that fuckface of a guy, he ripped us off and he ripped a lot of other bands off too, the first pressing of the EP was 400 and we got 50 copies for ourselves, that’s all. I heard that some bands didn’t even get that. I know that he ripped Disgrace and Xysma off as well, also I think Incantation and Derketa suffered the same fate. And those are just the ones I know. Later I found out that the guy had taken more pressings of the 7“ and made a Seraphic Decay CD Sampler too, of those I found out by myself and never got a word from Dickwad O’Bannon. I think some Mexican label is also manufacturing a CD which has 4 Abhorrence and 4 Amorphis demo tracks on it. Rip-Off Steve lived in Ohio for a long time and then went underground, I heard that he had been living somewhere in Texas around the change of the millenia. Actually I don’t really care about it anymore, talking about it just makes my blood boil… I think honesty should be mandatory."
The EP got produced by STRATOVARIUS mastermind Timo T. Tollki, who obviously wasn’t that well known at the time… So, how did you hook up with him back then and was he able to give you any good advices during the recording session or something?
"Timo was a good friend of ours, and still is even though I haven’t seen him many times in the last few years, and we used to go and party at his house a lot. So it was really a matter of getting some cheap studio time and as a bonus a guy who actually knows what he is doing. He did have a good laugh while doing the recordings though, I still see him folded twice over the soundboard as I started to sing my vocals for the first time heh heh. He was really good for us and he understood what we wanted as we always brought music to the parties at his house. So he knew what the source of inspiration was, so to speak. He made it sound what it sounds like today, so yeah, I would give him a big hands up for that."
Who came up with the slightly changed bandlogo for that idea and for what reasons?
"I think the last logo was done by the allmighty Luxi Lahtinen, who used to be a big name in the Finnish Metal scene when it came to demos and trading. He also did the cover picture for us… oh, I just checked and it looks like it was a guy called Damhair who did the logo for us. Another ‚big’ name in the Metal scene around that time."
It was available on blue vinyl… was it a limited edition or was the entire pressing of that EP exclusively in blue?
"I think the first pressing of the EP was blue, I have a white label test pressing of the EP which is on black wax, that’s a kind of collectors item, I guess. As I’ve never seen a copy from the other pressings of the EP I can’t tell you anything about them."
What exactly happened after the release of the 7"EP? First of all you split with Kimmo, didn’t you? How did you convince your new drummer Mika "Arkki" Arnkil (who used to play in ANTIDOTE before) to join the band?
"Well it was a long process before Kimmo left the band, but it was his own choice and no-one got kicked out. Kimmo just lost interest in the whole Metal genre as a whole. I remember him selling shitloads of demos and all kinds of obscure tapes and vinyls to us at ridiculously cheap prices. So he just decided to quit. Mika on the other hand was an old friend on ours and as Antidote was on a temporary break (they’d been playing and doing demos for ages and labes just passed them by, so everyone in the band was really fed up) we didn’t have to twist his arms or anything to join. And quite soon after we started to practise with him we got some gigs, so he was all for it."
And then you played a show in Norway sometime later, where you also stayed with the MAYHEM guys, right? Tell us a bit more about that trip / gig?
"As I mentioned before, we were in good terms with the guys from Cadaver after their visit to Finland (when they actually stayed at my parents house) so they hooked us up with a gig at… Sound Station, sound something, some club anyway. I think they had trouble getting us all housed in somewhere, so they turned to the guys in Mayhem and asked it they could help. They did. I can’t really remember much about the gig, except that it didn’t go all that well as we would have wished and that in the middle of our set I spotted Euronymous and Dead in the middle of the crowd, in full corpsepaint and leather gear. After the set we got interviewed by the Norwegian TV which was fun and so after the Mayhem guys popped into the backroom and scared the living shit outta us all. Man, that was the first time I saw corpsepaints and all that Black Metal gear really close and it really scared me. Turned out they were cool guys, Dead a bit of an eccentric to say the least. Then we drove to their house / rehearsal place and there was a bit of an party there, we met lots of cool folks that nite, can’t remember any of their names though HAHA! The guys who did the biggest zine in Scandinavia / northern Europe was there and so on. Anyway, it was all really fun and a bit scary at times too, Dead was really weird at times if you know what I mean, going on about Necronomicon and shit. I really liked Euronymous though, he was a smart guy for all I can remember and I remember talking to him a lot with Juice."
When and why did ABHORRENCE break up shortly after?
"I don’t know the date, but it turned out to be exactly one year after the band was formed… well, actually exactly one year after we started using the name Abhorrence, but anyway. There were several reasons for the break-up, but to me it seemed like things happened too fast and suddenly stopped. We got a demo out and soon the 7“, then we did some great gigs and suddenly nothing happened. As it was the first band for the most of us it just felt… not good. In fact, I was the last one to hear about us breaking up, I called someone and asked about next rehearsals and was told that the band broke up over a week ago HAHAHA!"
But you got an offer for a full length album from Relapse Records around that time… was it actually before or after the band’s split up? Why didn’t you still go for it and at least record the album? Have you ever got other offers for a full length?
"That offer came something like 6 months after we broke up and at that point Tomi, Snoopy, Oppu and Esa already had Amorphis going. So they mailed their demo and said something like „Abhorrence already broke up but here is our new band“ and the rest is, as they say, history. As for other offers, I really don’t know. I kinda lost interest for a while and have no idea what happened after we broke up. As a ironic tidbit of info, Esa and Snoopy asked me to come and growl in Amorphis before they got Tomi in it, but I thold them something like I didn’t have time or so. So later they asked Tomi to sing… after Abhorrence was no more he also started playing guitar and so it got started."
There also used to be a Seraphic Deacay CD compilation at some point of time… As far as I can recall it featured several 7"es… Was ABHORRENCE also part of that compilation?
"I mentioned this earlier and we had no part in making that happen. Shitbrain O’Fuckface did it without us knowing about it at all. I also understood it was released several years after the bands demise, so in that respect we couldn’t have done it with him. I think the CD does have our tunes, but anything on it was put there without us knowing."
What have you guys all been doing afterwards? I mean, except for Tomi, who went on with AMORPHIS not much is known about the whereabouts of you guys? Did you all leave the Death Metal underground behind completely? What kind of music are you listening to today?
"Let’s start with me: Around the time Abhorrence broke up I was already working fulltime, so it was eating away the time I could have put into the band. After the band broke up I started working like a motherfucker, I worked as a printer (magazines, bullshit ads you get in your mail HAHA!) and started reeling money in. I also bought ridiculous amounts of music and hung around in clubs and shit. That led to other things and I started doing DJ gigs in bars and clubs, playing Metal and anything that was heavy. At one point I actually had a club date of my own called Stoner Hands Of Doom Club, that lasted for about a year since any of the fucks here didn’t get what Doom Metal or Stonerrock was all about HAHA! I also wrote reviews, interviews and shit like that for a magazine called Suomi Finland Perkele Metal Magazine, nowdays I’m part of the biggest Metal Portal / Web ’zine in Finland called Imperiumi. Net and I do occasional DJ jobs when they pay me HEHE! On the job front I’m leaning IT-trade and programming and trying hard to get a good paying job. As you said Tomi went into Amorphis and has been doing that ever since, he also has other bands he plays in like Verenpisara (awesome stuff, melancholic rockish stuff with Finnish lyrics), Ajattara (Black Metallish music that Pasi (of Amorphis) writes, really good, eerie music and scary lyrics) and Jam-Bore (kinda ambient music but done with real instruments, great live band). He also is a father nowdays. Kalle quit playing evetually, he did play by himself for a long time but since no band opportunities came knocking I guess he got bored and sold his guitar. He still lives in the same town we all grew up in and works somewhere there. I see him now and then but we really don’t talk all that much anymore. Kimmo quit Metal right around the time he quit Abhorrence, last I heard he was in university studying languages or someshit like that. Only Juice has seen and talked with him after that, I think I’ve seen him but he didn’t even say hi. Juice went on to play bass, and later switched to guitar, in several bands, the one I really like is called Spiha. Juice quit that band though, since he felt it was too time consuming, he didn’t have time to do tours and serious promotion, so he felt it was best they find another guitarist for the band. He did some webthingies for a while and is now a freelance journalist, he has also done some work for book publishers. Mika ‚ Arkki’ Arnkil continued with Antidote for a bit and then he played in several projects, when Luttinen (Mika) of Impaled Nazarene asked him to join the band as a bass player, he sold his drums and bought bass gear… and now tours the world with ImpNaz. And admins the bands homepages as well. About the music, it’s all over the place and I will only talk about myself. I’m mostly into Stonerrock and Doom Metal nowdays, I also collect old records from forefathers of Doom and Heavy Metal, bands like Budgie, Blue Cheer, Black Widow, Cactus and so on. I do like the occasional ‚normal’ Metal band, like Rotten Sound or an up and coming Norwegian band called Humbug, but mostly it’s as mentioned before. Well, to sum it up, I like 70’s oriented Heavy Rock and traditional Doom (ie. Krux, Pentagram, Saint Vitus) along with some modern Doom Metal bands like Skepticism, Winter and so on."
You also ended up singing on the AMORPHIS EP "Privilege Of Evil", on their version of the ABHORRENCE track ‘Vulgar Necrolatry’… How did that come about? How did it feel for you to finally hear a proper recording of that track?
"HAHA! I always considered the 7“ to be a proper recording, we just wanted the sounds to be really dark and musky. But yeah, I think the guys just asked me if I would like to ‚guest star’ on their demo (I think it was a demo anyway, later made into a CD). I actually went on some of their gigs with them as part of the ‚show’ and doing that track live with them. It was fun for me, because I didn’t have to care about anything and I could just get drunk as hell and have fun with friends. I don’t remember how I felt about the remake then, but now I like the original better, as with the later version I didn’t have time to practise it a lot and my voice almost gave out. The original has that fucked up sound that I really like too."
Most recently you also contributed lyrics to a track (‘Adoration Of Abscessed Cadavers’) on the FUNEBRARUM debut album… When and how did you hook up with those guys?
"GODDAMN! It made it onto the CD??!!! I didn’t know that! Fucking cool to hear this! Last I heard when I talked with Daryl Kahan via email was that he wanted to use one of my lyrics (that I sent him) after he did some tinkering with them. Those lyrics were actually for an Abhorrence tune that was never recorded, it was a full song and we did it on some gigs I think, but it was never recorded on any kind of tape. So when Daryl emailed me and told me he had seen my Abhorrence page at MP3.com and was a big fan, then we talked some and he asked if I had any old lyrics I could give him or maybe write some new ones. I think I gave him those old lyrics and wrote few new ones, which probably were shit and I don’t blame him for throwing them out, but you can’t expect much when I haven’t written shit in 10 years. HAHA! Damn, I gotta get that CD from somewhere for myself… I hope the tune and album is good." (it certainly is – just check out the FUNEBRARUM review and interview on our site as well! – Ed.)
Are you aware of the bootleg CD that is available from ABHORRENCE, which features the demo, the EP as well as AMORPHIS’ "Disment Of Soul" demo?
"Yeah, as I mentioned it earlier myself and I’m kinda pissed off about it. At least we should get copies of it if nothing else. In a matter of a fact I’ve thought about doing a CD-R of the Abhorrence material, put the original covers in to the cover sheet and make it look good and then sell it to folks for 5€ or something like that. I’m also going to put good quality MP3s online, all of the tracks will come there too, just wait a while and you can get the all from the following address: www.timetombs.net/abhorrence. That is my site by the way, just drop the Abhorrence part off it…"
You’re calling yourself "Shrike" now – any particular reason for that?!
"I’ve been part of different digital messaging medias in one form or the other for a long time now and I used it as my nickname. First in old bulletinboard systems (BBS, anyone remember those?), later in IRC and such and a lot of people started to know me by that name, so I kinda got stuck with it. I don’t mind really as I ripped it off from one of my favourite books, it’s from Hyperion cantos by Dan Simmons which is a 4-book long saga of sorts. Shrike is a demigod like being, made of living metal and it moves backwards through time. I used to write it Shrike Of The Time Tombs, that’s where my site got its name from, but that was too long. Besides, no one outside Finland can pronounce my name right, Jukka Kolehmainen is a tongue twister that soon becomes Fukka Coalminer or someshit like that, Shrike is easier for people who talk english. Real answer is: Force of habit."
Do you know that there’s also a band from Brazil these days who call themselves ABHORRENCE? Do you mind that in any way?
"Yes, I knew, there was a band in Holland by that name too. I actually sent them an email telling them that the name was already in use in the late 80s and that there is another band like that in Brazil with CDs out and all. I got a reply back that said something like „fuck you asshole, we’re not gonna change just because you say so you fucking fuck“, something stupid like that. All I really tried to do was let them know that they are twice too late."
Anything else we might have missed out here, which you’d like to add?
"Nothing comes to mind right now… keep up the good work and support the underground. There’s never enough generous and caring people who keep doing good things for things they love. Stay heavy. TUNE IN, TURN UP, DROP OUT! Some relevant links: Jukka’s homepage www.timetombs.net. A Stonerrock linkspage I maintain www.timetombs.net/stonerlinks.html. Tomi’s bands (some of them) www.amorphis.net, http://www.verenpisara.com, http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/164/jam-bore.html, www.ajattara.cjb.net. Juice’s old band www.spiha.net. Arkki’s current band www.impnaz.com. Abhorrence on MP3.com http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/62/abhorrence.html. Abhorrence page on Jukka’s site http://www.timetombs.net/abhorrence at some later date.