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 Im 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 Ive
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
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. Im trying to incorporate some of
Tobias Sammet's techniques nowadays too. All of the voice training lessons Ive 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
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: Im 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
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.