First of all: Who are you? Give a short introduction of yourself and the band.
My name is Jouni Rantanen and I sing lead vocals in the FINNISH band chILL. It's pretty hard to give a short description of chILL's musical style but we like to mix catchy grunge driven rock and modern metal in a slightly progressive way. You really have to hear it for yourself and make up your own mind. I also sing and play guitar in a band called Saasta. Saasta plays finnish grunge influenced rock acoustically on guitar and keyboards and we`re recording our first EP. chILL has released a couple of EP's, one full-length album "controlled chaos" and now we're promoting our upcoming sophomore album with a FREE two song promo single "In your spine". The original artwork and songs are available for download FREE at the band's official website: www.chillinyourspine.com
What was your first personal contact with music like, and which are your most important influences?
The first artist I remember listening to was Michael Jackson when I was like seven or so but music wasn't yet really that important to me until I was fourteen and I heard Nirvana's song "rape me" and the album "in utero" for the first time. It hit me so hard that suddenly everything changed. It was something I had never heard before and it just totally blew me away. I somehow now knew what I wanted to do with my life. It was actually Miska, chILL's guitarist who introduced me to Nirvana. We had been best friends since babies and both started playing guitar about the same time but always had our own musical projects cause both wanted to be the next Kurt Cobain and there can be only one! Of course other grunge labeled bands of that era were a huge influence too and still are.
The next huge thing for me was KoRn, again something totally different from what I had heard before and just really weird. For me It was Somehow a logical transition from grunge to nu-metal. I had always thought metal was somehow too testosterone-filled, too serious or narrow minded but now it was suddenly something interesting and new for me and I started getting more into metal. At that time I started developing an interest towards hip-hop too (for obvious reasons). Marilyn Manson's "anti-christ superstar" album was a huge influence too, especially lyrically. Nowadays I pretty much try to listen to, as well as let myself be influenced by all types of music. If the song is good it doesn't matter in what category someone has placed it.
Where does the band’s name come from?
chILL`s name comes from the sensation that makes the hair in the back of your neck stand up and sends cold chills running down your spine and of course the cold conditions of Finland had something to do with the name choice too.
How did you all get together as a band?
The first line-up of the band was formed in 95, me on guitar and vocals, eero on bass (chIll's guitarist) and Tomi Rantakangas (chILL's former drummer) on drums. We were fifteen and none of us really knew how to play our instruments yet but we just started playing and writing songs. Very dark grunge with a definite punk attitude to it. At that point we were still calling ourselves "hateburn". I can't remember the exact time we changed our name to chILL but our first gig was at a local band contest in 97, which we won! Our music had took a step towards a more heavier, KoRn influenced sound and it totally blew everyone away cause in Finland no one had heard or seen anything like that before... atleast not yet.
At that time the line-up was the following: me on vocals, Eero on guitar, Tomi on drums and my very good childhood friend Jussi Helminen on bass. Soon after the contest an another old friend Miska joined the group on guitar two, which brought a lot more melody to band`s sound. We we're doing small shows and succesful band contests here and there until 2000 we finally recorded our first official demo "chILL" in a "real" studio. That familiar KoRn influenced sound is still very recognizable on the first demo. Soon after the demo we slowly started acquiring recording equipment, recording material and released an EP "the brighter the nights" in 2002. The EP could be described as melodic rap metal with some electronic elements added to it. In 2004 while recording the EP "what counts" we had to let our drummer and dear friend Tomi go (one of the hardest things we've had to do) who was replaced by Miska's little brother Mika, although much younger than the rest of us, already a pro and a totally unique style of playing. The critically acclaimed "what counts" had three songs of catchy and melodic hard rock / metal /punk.
In 2006 our bass player and long time friend Jussi announced that he just doesn't have enough time for the band anymore... I kinda had seen it coming so we departed in total understanding without any hard feelings and we're still best friends. After testing out a bunch of bassists we eventually found the perfect one, Helend Jantsikene who was a familiar face in the local music scene. "Hellu" brought some much needed enthusiasm and new creative force to band. Hellu's backing vocals were also a welcomed addition to chILL's sound. We instantly clicked and found the same note and this finally perfected line-up meant a new beginning for chILL…
We found ourselves training a lot harder and doing a LOT more shows than before. All in all 2000-2006 was pretty quiet, almost a silent time for chILL but it was time to break the silence with an explosion. It was time to activate and put some real effort into our art. We had gotten tired of knocking on record label's doors a long time ago so it was time to put the wheels in motion ourselves. We started writing and recording material for our debut album "controlled chaos" which we ended up releasing ourselves through our own label "Twisted Entertainment" in 2008.
chILL's sophomore album is currently in pre-production.
What is the composing/writing process like and how do songs in chILL, all in all, come to life?
There`s not one certain way of writing a chILL song. Everyone writes riffs, rhythms and melodies and we just toss ideas back and forth. Sometimes we might start building a song based on one killer riff or melody and other times someone might have nearly finished structure for a song which we then start playing around with and adding stuff into. Some of the best stuff are just pure accidental. The songs evolve constantly and no song is really finished until it's recorded. I handle the lyrical and vocal side of the songs and write a lot of choruses for chILL with an acoustic guitar.
Where do you find inspiration?
Lyrically I can find inspiration and ideas from almost anything and anywhere. I'm constantly writing down thoughts and ideas for songs on my cell phone. A lot of stuff I talk about with my friends might end up in a song just as easily as something I've seen on the news or in my dreams even. Just things I feel strongly about and things that touch me in a way I feel the need to write about them. It's not exactly hard to find subjects to write about in this fucked up world, just gotta keep your eyes and ears open.
What are your personal favourite topics, things you cling to in some way, or things/topics that keep you coming back to every now and then?
Writing is great way of getting out all the excess package of your head but some stuff is stuck there pretty hard and you just keep writing and writing about these issues till you`ve dealt with them completely. Basically just bad experiences and memories, for example violence and betrayal would seem to be recurring themes in my lyrics.
Which plans do you have for the near and the further future? What will be next?
We've gathered live footage from almost all of our this year's shows so we have easily enough video material for both songs of "In Your Spine". I`m editing the videos myself. Also at some time this year we start recording material for our sophomore album.
What do you want to achieve with your music?
I guess something that everyone wants: leave our mark in the world. It would be great to create something immortal, something that would keep on living a life of it`s own long after our time has passed… a classic album for example.
Regarding your songs’ contents, your interest is on more than the usual “shallow&selling” policy that can be found almost everywhere in nowadays’ music. What would you say is the biggest problem the common music policy suffers from, and do you see a chance to change that?
There are so many bands around these days and many that sound so much alike, that a lot of great music just gets lost in the grey mass. Everything sounds the same and everyone loses interest. For many it feels like there's only one right way, standard or formula of making music and when they hear something different they automatically reject it. In my opinion people should listen to all types of music without prejudice or pre-conceptions and just form their own opinion about it. It really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, it's enough if you like it.
Now and then someone succesfully creates something different, original and innovative and everyone else starts copying it and just wear it out and soon it becomes the same grey mass as all the rest... but I guess that goes with all entertainment. Also the music considered mainstream is the only music most people hear and it barely manages to scratch the surface. There are great bands and shitty bands in all types of music, you just gotta find the ones that work best for you. Most people are happy just recycling the same old melodies and styles without even trying to add something of their own to it, something original. Also a lot of people's motives towards making music would seem to be all wrong from the start: just for fame, just for the money or just to score chicks... what do you expect the songs' content to be? If you`re not in it for the music then stop abusing it. I'd like my music with real feelings and a deeper meaning, please.
You are also singer/guitarist in SAASTA. Tell us about this part of your musical dedication…
I like to keep myself busy with many different types of projects in many different styles of music and Saasta is something of a side project with Teemu Källi who also played the keyboard parts of "in your spine". I like to describe Saasta as finnish grunge acoustically on guitar and keyboards. We've played some gigs together with chILL and Saasta's gigs are a nice variety to chILL's intense body breaking and voice shattering shows. Saasta is currently recording it's first EP "harmaaseen hukkumassa", which will be released throug Twisted Entertainment. If you like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Muse, Deftones or even Linkin Park then you should love Saasta..
What would you say is most important for the music you’re involved in?
The artistic freedom to do what we love and doing it our way and just to open people's minds a bit for different types of music than just the basic (mostly) shit they see and hear on the mainstream media. Individuality is in my opinion very important but the sad truth is that many people are programmed creatures of habit that follow the other sheeps to the slaughter`s. We'd like to raise the blinders a bit and get people questioning what's really going on with the world instead of just swallowing everything whole. Musically we'd like to break the formula a bit more and create something totally outside the box that truly stands out and shines.
Now getting to “the other kind of” questions: The best/worst habits of yourself and your band mates?
Alcohol is a bad habit if you're too drunk to play. I don't think anyone wants to watch someone fucking up on stage cause he's too wasted. I don't usually drink that much maybe a couple beers after a show and I don't usually smoke either but when we`re on gigs I'm always bumming cigarettes from my band mates. Some "bad" habits are perhaps better left unsaid out loud.
Where do you see yourself in about ten years? Which wishes need to be fulfilled until then?
Hopefully releasing great records and doing bigger shows. Hopefully we'll be making our living through music and "Twisted Entertainment" is a globally succesful record label. We've perfected our skills as musicians and raised our art into whole different level... not necessarily re-invented the wheel but improved our own unique style of spinning it into perfection. Up till now We've only been touring in Finland and it would be great to do shows in other countries too, in Germany for example.
Imagine the world would end tomorrow: what would you do?