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Hallowed

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Late 2000, Hallowed released their debut album End Of This Age. The EP from this Finnish band contains melodic metal with powermetal leanings. To get a little bit more acquianted with them, Art For The Ears invited singer Michael 'Wildside' Majalahti to the Interview Message-Board. Here you can find some of the best moments of this board interview.

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Discography: End Of The Age (2000) Available through: Hallowed & Little Rose Productions. Official website: Hallowed.   Interview by: mpomusic, Melankolum, Jannuz, Olaf, Jarhead, DaPHNe_K, Liz & Sorg. Date: April 7th-13th 2001.

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Michael, can you first introduce to us the band, its history, its line-up and anything related?

Wildside: Hallowed was formed circa. 1997 under the name "Valo" (Finnish for Light) and started out playing power pop, or whatever it's called. Basically Finnish pop with a harder edge, but this was before I ever came into the picture. Originally the band was founded by Sam Hoisko (lead guitarist and songwriter) and Timo Peltokangas, picking up Jami Pohjoismäki (bass) and Mikko Tuliniemi (rhythm guitar and vocals), and sometime later adding Markus Ketonen (keyboards). In the fall of 1998 the band changed their name to Hallowed to record a couple of melodic metal tracks for Little Rose Productions' "From Kaamos To Midnight Sun" compilation album. Manu (Lehtinen, former Deuteronomium) mentioned me to the band in Joensuu, Finland (where they opened for Narnia) in late-summer 1999. The guys wanted to change vocalists, and I was looking for a band. I did the tryout and here I am today. Actually I really didn't think it was my thing in the beginning. I just took it as a "let's see what happens" deal. It's worked out all right though, and we've pretty much found our own sound now (about six months ago, after the completion of End Of   The Age). Basically they wanted me to be a Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) for them or something and I told them I come from a hard rock-songwriting background, and I'm a baritone to boot, so forget about me doing tenor-based vocals. There were a lot of kinks that needed to be ironed out before we finally found a common chemistry, but I think we've achieved that. It'll be much more apparent on the stuff that comes out after End Of The Age. The new stuff fits me perfectly (as a vocalist) and I think it's going to blow a lot of people away. End Of The Age, as good as it is, is just the start. The albums songs are tunes that we came up with when I came into the band, so we hadn't gotten the Hallowed-sound down yet. We were still searching, but it turned out very good none the less.

mpomusic: So, how would you describe the current direction of the band compared to the EP?

Wildside: The current direction has seen us drop the keyboards and go in more of a heavy metal direction, ala Judas Priest, Saint, Primal Fear and Manowar. There are still influences of power metal in the vein of Helloween and Gamma Ray sprinkled in to keep the power metal thing alive. Actually, you could make a lot of ties to Impelliterri with the new stuff. Like I said, it fits me better as a vocalist, and it's a lot heavier and more raw (due to the absence of keyboards, which always soften the music to a degree). Anyone who has seen the live shows can attest to the music being our own niche at this point. I think we've found OUR sound, and it really is totally different from what anybody else is doing right now. It's a mix of heavy rock and power metal, with a Manowar attitude.

Melankolum: I have heard that you have been described as the Finnish Narnia, but I do not agree. I think you sound quite different from them. What's your opinion on this?

Wildside: I have never understood the comparison to Narnia, unless people are making reference to Narnia being the top Swedish Christian name in metal and us being the top Finnish name. Christian Liljegren (singer for Narnia) sounds nothing like me. He's tenor and I’m baritone to boot! Narnia's music is highly reminiscent of Yngwie Malmsteen in its structure (melodic classical metal), whereas ours is much more in the vein of Stratovarius/Primal Fear/Gamma Ray (Power Metal). Our music is more rockish in its structure. Maybe people who have heard the first songs Hallowed ever recorded (for Little Rose's From Kaamos To Midnight Sun compilation album) with Mikko Tuliniemi on vocals brought this comparison about. Hallowed music changed quite a bit when I came into the band because the guys had to adapt to my vocal style and approach, thus making the music more rockish and raw.

Jannuz: I haven't heard your EP but I wonder, are you familiar with well-known secular bands like Amorphis or Sentenced. (In the Netherlands they're well known at least) You told us you've got a baritone voice. Is it something like the latest Sentenced singer? I really love his voice, it's wonderful and suites the music very well.

Wildside: As far as my voice, I wouldn't say I sound very much like the singer from Sentenced. I would say it's very hard to categorize my voice because I don't think anybody sounds like me. The closest comparison I can give you would be a mix of David DeFeis (Virgin Steele)/Eric Adams (Manowar)/ Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray)/ Dale Thompson (Bride)/ Spice (Spiritual Beggars). It's odd, because when I sing hard rock I sound a lot like Dale Thompson (Bride) or Billy Idol, with a little Mike Patton (Faith No More) thrown in. In Hallowed, because the music is a far cry from being hard rock, it would be harder to make the aforementioned connection. This is due simply to mixing a certain type of voice with a certain style of music. There are even people who've said I sound like Robert Plant (not the screeching highs though) or Ian Gillan when I’ve sung Zeppelin or Purple tunes before. Some people will like my voice and some won't, since they'll expect the usual Power Metal cliché, high-pitched tenor vocals. Maybe the exceptions to the general rule in metal are the singers of bands like Running Wild, Annihilator and Iron Savior. Mixing has a lot to do with how vocals sound also. Poor mixing can make even the best singer sound like crap. The singer of Sentenced and I might have some things in common, but keep in mind our music is far less melancholic than theirs too.

Olaf: What music you are listening to and what are your favourite CD's at the moment? I know this is a boring standard question but I always find this interesting because it shows if the musician has some taste! He! He!

Wildside: My favourite albums at the moment are Avantasia - The Metal Opera; Solarized - Neanderthal Highway; Arch Enemy - Burning Bridges; Dio - Holy Diver. Pretty diverse, huh? I love all kinds of heavy and hard music, from Motley Crue (my favourite band of all-time) to Judas Priest to Trouble to In Flames. I even like old 70's and 80's stuff like Rainbow, Blondie, Boston and Golden Earring. My favourite Christian artists are Vengeance Rising, Tourniquet, pre-Scarecrow Messiah Bride, Saint, Impelliterri and Living Sacrifice. Yeah, I think keeping metal alive will be no problem for yours truly since it runs in my blood.

Olaf: So if I would ask you for your favourite vocalists what would you say? Who has influenced you the most in your own style? By the way have you ever had any professional voice/sing training?

Wildside: Who has influenced my vocal style? First and foremost Vince Neil of Motley Crue. Vince is THE MAN! Others would include Kai Hansen, Eric Adams, Mike Patton, and Ronnie James Dio. I’m trying to incorporate some of Tobias Sammet's techniques nowadays too. All of the voice training lessons I’ve taken can be counted on one hand. They cost quite a bit and it would probably help to some degree, but I think it is still more important to develop your own unique style different from anybody else. Like Jimmy Page once said, as soon as they start teaching how to play guitar in rock, the music is dead. You have to find your own niche. It sucks if everybody sounds the same, no matter how technically sound they might be. Ozzy and James Hetfield are good examples of singers who are not the greatest in the world, but they have carved out their own distinct style and it works for them!

Jarhead: I noticed that End Of The Age has quite a remarkable cover. What does it depict?

Wildside: The cover has received a lot of attention and positive remarks, which is cool. Basically I've tried to depict Christ in a way that is not very common in art, which is as a conqueror and champion. All I've ever seen are melancholic paintings of Christ on the cross or praying or suffering. I'm very serious with this Manowar-type of attitude towards the Gospel of Christ, so I've taken a very in-your-face approach in painting the cover. The picture is depicted in Revelation chapter 1 in the Bible, so I'll leave it up to you to check up on. My Jesus Christ is a dynamic warlord not to be messed with, and I've had experiences which can attest to that. Besides, He's the creator of all things, so why depict Him as anything other than awesome?

DaPHNe_K: I was wondering if you ever tour with other bands, Christian or non-Christian. How do you experience that? Any competitive feelings now and then? You know, trying to be better or something? How do you guys cooperate with other bands...?

Wildside: We've done shows with different bands, but they've been christian up until now. The reason for that is because I absolutely believe that secular bands are scared of us. They may not admit it but they are subconsciously avoiding us, only due to the fact that there must be something behind us which poses a threat of some kind to them. Of course, the Bible tells us that we (the redeemed) are "the stench of death to those who are perishing", but it is kind of pathetic when we are passed over just for being Christian. I've begun to challenge secular (anti-christian) bands to "Heaven and Hell" tours and gigs. Trouble and Slayer did this in the 80's when both were on the Metal Blade label. It would raise a lot of interest, and it's going to be fun to see who has the guts to take us up on this challenge. We will play with Marduk, we don't care! I challenge any secular anti-christian band to step up to the plate and show us they've got the guts. Otherwise their tough talk and threatening is just that...talk. And nothing else. As far as competitive feelings, I guess in a way there is always some form of (friendly) competition involved. We try to put on a spectacle when we are out on stage. We go all out to make it visually exciting. So sure, we are determined to be the best band out there on any given night, and it's up to the other bands to "up the ante" in that case. When the concert is over, we make sure people remember the name Hallowed! 

mpomusic: I've been to your website and noticed in the guestbook there were a few karate/wrestling related entries. What is your connection with those sports? Are you are wrestler yourself?

Wildside: I used to wrestle professionally in the independent promotions in Canada and Michigan as Michael Wildside, taking the artist name from my entrance theme, Motley Crue's Wildside tune. I was trained by WCW superstar Lance Storm and also in part by Karl Moffat, who wrestled in Canada and Japan as Jason The Terrible. I am very good friends with WWF superstar Chris "Y2J" Jericho, and I am proud to have him as a brother in the Faith. I started in the pro wrestling business back in 1992 as an announcer under the name Mike Marshall in Rocky Mountain Pro Wrestling in Calgary. Chris Jericho and Lance Storm had just begun wrestling a year earlier and both were in that promotion at that time. Even back then I could see that Lance and Chris were going to go far in the business. Chris had this flare and charisma that just couldn't be missed and Lance was just incredibly gifted as a wrestler from the get-go. I struck a fast friendship with Lance first, and we became workout partners at one of the local gyms. Lance took me under his wing and trained me out of the goodness of his heart to become a pro wrestler, God Bless him. My first match ever was on January 7, 1994 in Calgary vs. Lance Storm and we had one of the better matches of the night. I wrestled up until May/June 1996 when, for financial reasons, I moved out to Finland in search of the future. I actually picked up the tights to wrestle again last September in England, but things didn't go as planned and I won't be going back to the UK. Wrestling can be a very shady business. I also used to take Go Ju Ryu Karate under Sensei Darren McGuire, who was the 1994 world karate champion after winning the honours in France. My karate time was nothing to brag about, since I dropped out partially due to losing interest and partially to my knee giving me serious problems. I basically took karate to add a new dynamic to my wrestling style, mainly kicks, like leg lariats and savage kicks. Karate just wasn't my cup of tea though. I got bored to death with kata's. Sparring was cool though. I like action.

Liz: Do you have anything on video about yourself that can be bought and watched? Wrestling and music are a big thing here in the Southeast of the USA.

Wildside: Most of the rasslin' I've done was taped for local TV channels in Canada and Northern Michigan, so unless you're a hardcore fan and you have connections with independent video dealers like RF Video (www.rfvideo.com) you might have more than a bit of trouble catching any of my matches. I know RF Video has one of my matches against Lance Storm from Manitoba in November of 1995 on one of their tapes. The sad thing is that even I don't have most of the matches I've wrestled on tape myself! I know they were taped but I have no clue who has the tapes and who did the taping. There is a clip of concert footage in the Gallery-link at  www.hallowedmetal.com, if that interests you. The picture quality isn't very good but it's a video anyway.

Liz: How have you adjusted to the Finnish Culture? And where does the group do its shows? Clubs or ministry related places?

Wildside: The move to Finland was a subtle but prolonged kick in the face for me. Finland is emotionally a VERY cold place. People usually get drunk in order to show feelings here. Coming from North America, you know that over there, you just spill it if you feel like it, but over here they look at you like you're from Mars if you do the same thing. Sometimes I've felt like suffocating in this environment, but as with anything in life, you learn to adjust. They do their thing and I do mine. We usually play in clubs or auditoriums/halls. We do not do church gigs. We are not interested in preaching to the choir. If we accept a "Christian" gig, we make sure it has been marketed to the secular group.

Liz: So what are you currently reading? I think that always tells much about a person.

Wildside: I’m a terrible reader. I can't bear to look at monotonous lines of text, since I'm a very visual (animal!) person. My literary (?) passion has always been comic books. Especially Conan The Barbarian, The Incredible Hulk (back in the 70's and early 80's), and Godzilla. Guess that tells you something about my make-up, huh? Really, I'm an untamed Tarzan kind of guy at heart. I refuse to be subdued. This society tries cauterising people and making them clones of mass perception, but not me. My character training comes from the school of hard knocks (since I'm so hard headed) and from picking up on the bits and pieces from other people's lives and examples that are worth picking up.

Sorg: How soon can we expect to see a full-length CD from Hallowed? I am VERY excited to hear more new music from you guys!

Wildside: We'd like to target the fall of 2001 to go into the studio to cut a full-length album, but we'd like to get whatever the label is at that point to cover the cost. Actually, the cost of producing a full-length LP is the main thing holding us back right now. We've got material to cover a full-length LP, so as soon as the funding situation is solved, we'll be heading into the studio.

mpomusic: How well does the EP sell and can you finance the next record through the gains of the EP? Or is the market for the EP too small?

Wildside: Someone once said that if you want to make money, forget about that in the music business, unless you're a Metallica or a Limp Bizkit. Truthfully, our royalty from the sale of the EP will be quite small, but it may be enough for a couple of studio sessions. The market really is too small on a Christian scale to amount to any extravagant sales figures. The album is in its second printing right now but unless a larger channel is secured for its distribution, the gains will be minimal. Plus, you have to take into account marketing and advertising, which cost megabucks, and this is what record labels usually take care of. Labels with a lot of capital have no problem in putting lots of cash into ads. For small labels, most times they can't afford any ads after all the other costs are taken care of. We're looking for ways to resolve this issue right now, but it's not easy. What we really need is a secular deal to get us into the larger market, but the message we carry is such a big steppingstone for most labels (and people). There's something to pray about. 

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