Garden of Worm | Interview | New Album, ‘Endless Garden’ | Share ‘Name of Lost Love’ Single
Exclusive video premiere of ‘Name of Lost Love’ by Garden of Worm, taken from the upcoming album, ‘Endless Garden’, out July 18th via Nasoni Records (vinyl) and Pariah Child (CD).
‘Endless Garden’ is the third album from Garden Of Worm. Having released their eponymous debut slab of doom metal under Shadow Kingdom Records in 2010 and having taken their sonic palette into a trajectory of their own on the 2015 sophomore album ‘Idle Stones’ (Svart Records), third album ‘Endless Garden’ arrives after another long pause after its predecessor.
Six years in the making, their third album ‘Endless Garden’ once again sees the band through different eyes than their previous two full-length efforts. The on-and-off process really took flight in 2018 when they recruited Antti Korpinen as their second guitarist. Around the same time, JM Suvanto decided to step down as the drummer and left the band a three-piece once again with Erno Taipale now doubling as both drummer and lead guitarist. Lead vocals and bass remained in the steady hands of Sami Harju.
Having known each other for more than 20 years, the trio was on the same page from day one. Their goal was to create a solid and timeless rock album that was more ambitious and adventurous than its two predecessors. An album that stood tall, feet firmly in the muddy earth and hands reaching towards the sky.
Recorded with the help of another longtime friend Tommi Lind and mixed by themselves between 2019 – 2021, ‘Endless Garden’ opens wide into spheres of rock, psych, improv and prog – and beyond. Enter sweet oblivion.
Limited edition of 300 pieces on 180 gram clear coloured high quality vinyl | Nasoni Records
Limited edition Digi CD | Pariah Child
“With ‘Endless Garden’ we’ve embraced a more mellow and psychedelic sound than before”
Upcoming album, ‘Endless Garden’ is the third album by your band under the name of Garden of Worm. Tell us about it? How did you start working on it?
Antti: When I joined in early 2018, the songs with the exception of ‘Hearts’s Waste’ had already been written and the guys had even played some of them live if I’m not mistaken. But with me entering and Mikael leaving the band, the process kinda started from scratch as far as arranging the songs goes. Erno took on the drum duties and I slowly started learning the rhythm guitar parts. The guys had recorded some demo versions of the tracks with Mikael on drums but we didn’t really listen to any of those, but rather just have Erno showing me the guitar parts and then start jamming the songs. We spent 2018 and early 2019 doing that. The funny part was that since we practised as an instrumental trio, with Sami on bass, it was such a treat even for ourselves to finally hear the songs come to life when we got past laying down the basic tracks (drums, bass, rhythm guitar) live at Easter 2019. After that it was Erno’s turn to start with his guitar parts and other overdubs, most of which Sami and I had never heard because we practised as a trio with Erno on the drums. Erno, being the undeniable mastermind in this band, could obviously hear the arrangements in his head but during the recording sessions there were several times when Sami and I were genuinely surprised by the outcome. Then again, even though Erno had ideas for what he wanted to do with lead guitars and other arrangements like the flute, harmonium and vocals, I feel there’s a strong sense of spur of the moment on the album. A certain kind of urgency that you can only achieve when you’re doing things live. All this made the whole process that little bit more special.
Sami: Antti got it right – much of the material had been written and ready by 2018, and some of it even dates back to the ‘Idle Stones’ times, i.e. 2015 or thereabouts. I think we had our mind set on recording the album already in 2018, but due to Mikael’s decision to solely concentrate on his death metal endeavours with Ghastly and Antti joining in as the second guitarist, that plan had to change. Although it probably felt like taking quite a few steps backwards at that point, looking back, I’m more than happy that we didn’t try to rush things.
“The material did mature a lot during these years”
There’s quite a time gap between your previous album. What occupied your life in between?
Antti: I already touched on this in my previous answer but as for why it took so long from 2018 till now, the process started pretty much from scratch after I joined the band, with the convenient exception that most of the songs had already been written! After Easter 2019 we really took our time with finishing and mixing the album, mostly because we were just busy with everyday life and we also didn’t have anyone breathing down our necks to finish the album sooner. Seven years since the last full-length album might seem like a lot but for me it really doesn’t feel like a long time.
Sami: If Garden of Worm is known for something, it has to be our unhurried approach to doing things. I mean, being around close to 20 years, and just now putting out our third full length album must be some kind of a record, right? On a more serious note, when we began rehearsing the material with the new line-up, we quickly saw the songs evolve into quite something else than they initially were. So, we went through a cycle of rearranging and partly rewriting the album while kind of shedding our skin as a band at the same time. On top of the whole process of composing ‘Endless Garden’, the post production was handled by ourselves which probably took a few extra hours-turn-to-days-turn-to-weeks-turn-to-months, too.
Erno: If I remember right, ‘In the Absence of Memory’ and an early, very different version of ‘Autumn Song’ were played live at some gigs. Just recently I found early demos of a couple of songs on the new album, and they were different indeed. So it is true that the material did mature a lot during these years. I tend to process the songs in my mind until they are recorded, so there was time for thinking and re-thinking the arrangements, as well as playing with the ideas as a band. In fact I was quite frustrated at times because of all the delays we encountered, but now that everything is ready, it’s easy to say it was worth the time spent. Besides working on the new GOW material I’ve been doing things with some other bands too, day job, renovating a house, and last year having my first kid, so it’s been all but a sabbatical for me!
How would you compare your latest album with the material you released in previous years? Would you say that the band matured sound-wise?
Sami: With ‘Endless Garden’ we’ve embraced a more mellow and psychedelic sound than before, which I feel is perfectly complemented by its unpolished production and the live band sound that drives the whole thing. The album is definitely more song oriented instead of this free flowing jam assault we delivered with ‘Idle Stones’ in 2015. I honestly think that we managed to tap into some archaic vein that pulses through decades of psychedelic rock music, without making a “retro rock” record per se.
Antti: Very much agree with Sami on his last notion. To me at least ‘Endless Garden’ is a very natural progression from the previous album. Even though we all have a slightly different approach to music, due to our longtime friendship we also share a lot of common ground. Even if I didn’t have the exact same favourite bands as Erno and Sami, I can see and appreciate where they’re coming from when they come up with riffs and parts for Garden of Worm. I’ve always thought Erno, who again wrote the majority of the songs on ‘Endless Garden,’ has a very unique approach to how he writes riffs and melodies. So it’s been a real pleasure to be working with him (and Sami) so closely and also bring some of my own influences to the table. It’s hard to say if we’ve “matured”, I think all Garden of Worm material – especially ‘Idle Stones’ and ‘Endless Garden’ – has always sounded like us and no one else. To me these two albums also feel timeless in terms of both songwriting and production. And this to me is certainly the best way to mature as a band.
Erno: As ‘Idle Stones’ was a departure from the doom metal of early days soundwise and with the inclusion of lengthy improvised passages, it was still clearly rooted in the style. Much of the material would be classified as “true doom” had we cranked up the volume, and that’s how we played the songs at first, when we started to work on new stuff after the debut album. With ‘Endless Garden’, it is free of any kind of genre shackles since the beginning. Sure you can hear the doom in it but lots of other things too, and still it sounds cohesive – not a mishmash of different styles. I think that some kind of thread that goes through the album is the influence of folk rock, sometimes subtle, sometimes very clear. There’s this haunting quality to the songs that makes me think of bands like Fairport Convention, though it’s often more adventurous and experimental.
These days you have another guitarist in the band. How did you get in touch with Antti Korpinen? The lineup itself went through some changes…
Antti: The three of us, or the four of us if we include our previous drummer Mikael Suvanto, go WAY back. I’ve known Mikael and Erno for 30 years and Sami for about 25. We all grew up in the same town, went to the same schools and have been really close friends since our mid-teens. Mikael and I were in the same band in the year 2000 and Erno actually played live with us on a few gigs, so even in that sense there’s a lot of shared history. Without that bond I never would’ve joined the band, as much as I enjoyed the first two GOW albums. Even before I joined the band there was this joke, which is half true, that at a GOW band rehearsal the first 45 minutes is spent on the actual rehearsing and the latter 45-60 minutes is spent drinking coffee. I should probably stress that’s not to say we’re not serious about the music because we really are. In fact, all those years ago it was our mutual interest in music that brought us together, made us life-long friends so when the guys asked me to join the band I didn’t really have to think if it would work or not because I knew it would. Musically and personally, we were on the same page from day one when I joined the band in early 2018.
Erno: Another joke, which is half true, is that to become a GOW member you have to be from Kangasala (the town we used to live as kids and Antti does again nowadays). I guess we have to give up that rule if we want to find a new drummer in the band! I remember meeting Antti for the first time at a football field when we were five or six, so there really is some shared history!
Antti: Yes, I remember it well! The first football practice I went to as a 5-year-old was cut short by heavy rain and thunder, so together with Erno we had to go shelter in my parent’s car. Quite a doomy start to our friendship!
“We always leave room for improvisation”
Where was the album recorded and tell us more about the recording process itself? Do you usually jam when working on new material or what’s the usual process for you like? How important is improvisation for you?
Antti: The album was recorded at our rehearsal place in Tampere, Finland. We started at Easter 2019, recording drums, bass and my guitar live as a trio in one day, with our good friend Tommi Lind lending a helping hand with the recordings. Then we proceeded to record Erno’s guitars, all vocals and other additional bits like the flute and the harmonium very sporadically in the course of 2019 and the first half of 2020. Throughout the process it was very cool to see and hear how the album was starting to turn out, because like I said we had practised as a trio and hadn’t really heard a lot of Erno’s lead guitar lines. Erno can talk more about this himself but I think with many things what he had in mind for his parts was a starting point and when the time came to actually record the parts, the original idea could’ve been taken to a whole new direction. One of the cool things was to record the backing vocals, where many of the vocal lines were written on the spot. We always leave room for improvisation and happy accidents in the songs. Improvisation and spontaneity are also key parts to our songwriting, especially in terms of arrangements. Having said that, one of us (usually Erno) always has the foundation of a song written and laid out for the rest of us, after which we get to work as a trio and start jamming the parts together.
Sami: Yeah, improvisation has been a key element in Garden of Worm since the days of the self-titled first album. I believe that most of the time spent with our instruments on our hands at the rehearsal place, is spent jamming contrary to just learning the songs. Speaking of Endless Garden, it’s difficult to assess how much of the preceding jams translated directly to the songs in the end, but in general improvisation has a huge impact on everything we do, without a doubt.
Erno: As I said earlier, there was a lot of time to think about the arrangements thoroughly. And with another guitarist in the band it seemed easier to give some clearer instructions than just go like “make up anything from the scratch” (which Antti also showed to be very well capable of). That’s why all the improvisations are “written in the arrangements” more than with the ‘Idle Stones’ album. Also with Mikael leaving the band it wasn’t possible to jam as a whole band as I had to take care of both drums and guitar. I tried to do both at the same time once or twice, though! I personally hope that we can occupy more free form improvisation in the future, but I’m still perfectly happy with the latest results, and I find this method to be very natural. What is life if not improvising within a certain structure? You can’t really forget the name of your band, how did that come about?
Erno: The name is taken from a King Crimson song, so nothing really mythical about it. We thought it would be the perfect name for our band as we have always considered our approach to be very earthly, and I think it applies to everything we do. Even when it’s wildest and most psychedelic, our music makes me think of soil, roots and branches rather than something “far out”. Not space rock but earth rock!
There seems to be a concept/theme running across ‘Endless Garden’… compared to the previous two albums, it seems that you really took a lot of time to make an album that works more as a whole than just a bunch of songs.
Antti: As Sami said earlier, I think ‘Endless Garden’ is a more song-oriented album compared to ‘Idle Stones’. As much as I enjoyed the more jam-oriented parts of Idle Stones, personally I usually work in more song-oriented environments musically. But I definitely don’t think it was my influence that pushed the songs on ‘Endless Garden’ into this direction. More like Erno and Sami feeling a change, whether conscious or not, from the jam-oriented direction was in order. The songs have a lot of different musical elements and vibes in them but also share enough common ground to feel like they belong on the same album. The feel of a sort of concept or theme might come from the track order, which I think works quite nicely on ‘Endless Garden’. Beyond that I don’t think any concept or theme on the album was intentional but lyrically I think many of the songs deal with many of the same themes and feelings. To me, a sense of loss and hopelessness is constantly present in many of the songs – it may take different forms and be the result of different kinds of events but it’s there. It’s certainly not a very optimistic album lyrically.
Erno: Any kind of concept or theme wasn’t intended in the first place. However, as Antti said, many songs on the album share quite a similar lyrical theme. I don’t see the themes to be all that bleak, even though many of them have bitterness to them. On many songs that I’ve written I find myself dealing with the vitality of a change – be it on a personal level or within society et cetera, it’s up for interpretation. A kind of key track is ‘In the Absence of Memory’, with lines such as “In the absence of memory disaster is another chance” and “Hands up you’re free!”. The latter is not my own invention but “borrowed” from the Dutch band The Ex. Whereas The Ex used the line to ridicule the so-called freedom in consumer society (juxtaposing capitalism with the Third Reich) I see it in the light of being free to decide what to do with your life, and which are the forces that hold you back. For many people, including myself, it seems to be very difficult to change the way of living or thinking, even if it would be necessary. And often we need catastrophes to have the courage to take the crucial step. Sometimes even that doesn’t help as we all have seen. But yeah, it depends on your mindset if you are raising your hands to celebrate freedom or as a gesture of surrender, giving up.
How would you describe the scene in your town?
Sami: The music / art scene in Tampere is really quite varied, and people coming from different “scenes”, for example bands from different musical genres, work together fairly often. It’s not uncommon to have a show with bands doing stoner rock, post punk and industrial noise, or a zine covering artists from hard core punk to black metal in the same issue. I’ve always had a liking for the open mindedness and the kind of relaxed atmosphere that we have here.
When it comes to local bands doing “our kind of music”, I’m afraid I’ve fallen by the wayside big time. Being so obsessed with music done some fifty years ago, I rarely find current bands operating in the field of psychedelic rock interesting or relevant to my taste. One might ask, why bother giving Garden of Worm a chance then, and they’d be right in doing so, heh.
Antti: With the exception of Garden of Worm, making music for me has tended to be a decidedly solitary effort. I’ve also largely concentrated on just making music and not performing it live. It might sound weird but even though I’ve lived in or close to the city of Tampere all my life, I’ve never really attached myself to the local scene. The exception might be that I consider some of the best (metal) fanzines to have come from Tampere: Isten, Quadrivium and Kaleidoscope/Arise! are all among my all-time favourite zines.
Erno: I think Sami summed this up very well. The scene in Tampere is very open-minded, it seems like there are no boundaries at all. The different genres and even different artforms in general – at least in the underground circles – seem to overlap. And that’s really refreshing and inspiring.
Were any of the band members in any other bands before forming Garden of Worm?
Antti: We’ve all been in bands for more than 20 years. Like I said earlier, we grew up in the same town and as close friends so our paths have crossed musically as well. Both Erno and Sami were either live or session members in my very first band, which was founded by Mikael, the longtime Garden of Worm drummer. I also did session vocals for Erno and Sami’s band in 2001, so there’s definitely a lot of shared musical history between us. As for my other bands, since 2003, I’ve had an acoustic/ambient band called Subaudition and we’ve released two albums on the German Prophecy Productions label. For the past ten years we’ve essentially been on a break, however. In the past couple of years I’ve done a lot of cinematic/electronic music under the monikers Sinne and Hemmelig, in addition to Garden of Worm, of course. Safe to say we’ve kept ourselves busy artistically, although Erno has been the most prolific of us three.
Erno: Well, Garden of Worm turns twenty next year, so there haven’t been many bands before that. Me and Sami played in Blueprint Human Being, which started as a (death) doom metal band and evolved into experimental rock – all in the course of three years whereas for GOW the same took almost two decades, ha! Nowadays I have a couple of more or less active bands besides GOW – Seremonia (heavy psych / jytä), Vuokkoset (punk / post-punk) and Opal Satellite (a guitar / synth duo improvising calm ambient music a bit in the vein of early Popol Vuh or Deuter). Oh and there’s some free jazz coming up too…
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
Sami: I’ve been completely preoccupied with the harsher side of experimental music for the past year or so, listening to harsh noise et cetera day in, day out on my headphones. It kind of opened my ears for a whole new way of listening to music / sound, and I can’t recall being this excited about any sort of personal “musical discovery” since I-don’t-know-when. I won’t even have a try at a favourites list, but other albums, excluding the noise stuff, that have been on a heavy rotation on my turntable during the pandemic include DOM ‘Edge Of Time’, The Pretty Things ‘S.F. Sorrow’, Älgarnas Trädgård ‘Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp…’, Mistreater ‘Hell’s Fire’ and let’s throw in Wagner Ödegård ’Om Kosmos Och De Tolv Järtekn’ to mix things up a bit further. And if you are into more experimental sound, check out the music of Mattias Gustafsson (Altar of Flies et al.) – his works cover a lot of different ground, and can sometimes be strangely and deeply psychedelic, too.
Antti: Always fun but also difficult to answer a question like this. Some of the artists that I’ve listened to a lot lately include Scott Walker, Kae Tempest, Ólafur Arnalds, Pan Sonic, The Smile and Thom Yorke’s music in general. Scott Walker is an artist whose work I’ve really enjoyed from all different eras. Just recently went back to listening to albums 2 and 3, which for some reason I haven’t listened to as much as 1, 4 and some of his later stuff. Kae Tempest is a more recent discovery, an absolutely amazing spoken word artist whose album ‘The Book of Traps’ and ‘Lessons’ is really wonderful. Ólafur Arnalds and Thom Yorke are longtime favourites whose music just keeps pulling me back in year after year. Pan Sonic is also a more recent find from the past couple of years when I’ve listened to a whole lot of electronic music. Minimalism done in an absolutely sublime, hypnotic way.
Erno: I have to second that Älgarnas Trädgård album Sami mentioned! Not a new find, but an album that I revisit quite often. The 60’s/70’s Swedish psych movement in general has had a HUGE impact on me and definitely has influenced Garden of Worm too, especially the more guitar oriented bands such as Träd Gräs & Stenar and Baby Grandmothers (we even covered ‘The Sleeper, Including Being Is More Than Life’ on our last album). Last couple of years I’ve been investigating African music and keep finding true gems. One of the recent favourites is Malian artist Sorry Bamba and especially his self-titled album from 1977. I guess nowadays Mali is best known for its Tuareg-based desert blues, but there’s much more to be found. Sorry Bamba’s music combines strong vocal performance, repetitive guitar lines and swirling organs to complex rhythms with really hypnotic results. The mood is melancholic and almost grim at times, at least to my “western ears”. Another quite recent discovery is ‘Out of the Tunnel’ by the Californian band MX-80 Sound. Released in 1980 by The Residents’ label Ralph Records it was initially marketed as “heavy metal”! Well, I guess there wasn’t a better term for noise rock as that genre tag didn’t exist yet. Basically it is very original punk rock with strong experimental and psychedelic overtones. At its best it sounds a bit like if Faust was a very loud new wave band.
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Antti: Many thanks for the interview! It felt really nice to talk about the process of making ‘Endless Garden’. The road from April of 2019 when we did the first recordings for the album has been a long one for sure, and I’m quite relieved we’ll soon have ‘Endless Garden’ in our hands – and available to everyone else, of course! It also means a lot to all of us to have it out on two quality labels (Nasoni for the LP and Pariah Child for the CD) that seemed to understand pretty well what the album is about, musically. I’m also confident that people who are into this kind of music will find a lot to like about the album. At least I hope so!
Headline photo: Photo by S. Kujansuu, 2021
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