Autumn's First Triumph
CoC chats with vocalist Tuomas Tuominen of Fall of the Leafe
by: Paul Schwarz
It's rare that a band with a 'metal' sound manages to straddle the gap between catchy, hook-laden pop-sensibility and emotionally involved extremity; yet with their fourth album, _Volvere_, Finnish six-piece Fall of the Leafe have achieved a synthesis that is both unusual and intensely gratifying. Side-stepping comparisons to other metal bands -- either from Finland or cast from what I perceived to be a similar musical mould to FotL -- vocalist Tuomas Tuominen answered all my questions by e-mail (back in March) with a straight-up honesty and care-free humour that was truly refreshing.

CoC: Delving into your tumultuous six-year history via your press release, it strikes me that _Volvere_ may well be like a fresh new start, so to speak, for Fall of the Leafe. Your consistent portrayal of the past as a learning curve suggests that -- as a professionally-constructed, catchy and full-bodied album, which projects a solid identity and is getting released on a more reputable label than any other you've been signed to -- _Volvere_ is the first recording you've really been satisfied with. Would you say that's a fair assessment?

Tuomas Tuominen: Thank you. Yes, in a way Volvere is a fresh start to us. The truth is that Volvere is probably the first Fall of the Leafe album that has the chance to be recognized by wider audiences. This is largely a consequence of us joining into the Rage of Achilles roster of bands. Firstly, they are a European label. This means we are now operating in our home front, if you will. Second, they are professional and things work smoothly. In the personnel department, we have successfully integrated our old friend and rock 'n' roll animal Matias Aaltonen into the band -- in this process our sound has developed perhaps in an edgier direction. We have stolen Jussi's atmospheric music from him, whipped some groove into it, and out comes _Volvere_. It blends our trademark atmospheric elements and the kind of raw rock or metal edge that Matias and Kaj tend to bring into our jam sessions. And while we do value our past works very much, we do believe, naturally, that _Volvere_ is our best work so far.

CoC: Who would you say are your/FotL's core influences, in terms of bands or individual musicians? Paradise Lost and Amorphis seem to me to be the cornerstones of your 'sound', in the broadest possible sense: bands whose careers have produced work that has -essentially- informed what Fall of the Leafe write and perform on _Volvere_ -- other names also come to mind... what say you, Tuomas?

TT: Amorphis and especially Paradise Lost often come up as points of reference and it is alright. Both are excellent bands, although I have not followed either very much lately. However, perhaps some of the most important influences to our music come from Jussi's all time favorites. I happen to know, not least because it was already years ago he infected my taste with these, that the cornerstones of his record collection include works by New Model Army, The Mission (UK), Fields of the Nephilim, The Smiths, Dead Can Dance, The Pogues. However, apart from Jussi and myself, none of the other members are very fond of these bands. So while most of our material still comes from Jussi, the band that performs it seems to like very different kind of music. For example, Matias bends more toward grunge like Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and the likes, as well as bands like The Cult or U2. Now that this issue came up, I am planning on stealing this bastard's collection of The Cult vinyls. Kaj, on the other hand, digs the raw approach of, say, Spiritual Beggars or Phil Anselmo's Down. Personally, in addition to sharing many of Jussi's favorites, I am a big fan of the Hellacopters, Radio Birdman, the Finnish space-boogie band Blake, Verenpisara, and above all, anything that involves the world's most soulful rock singer Scott Morgan. So we have a large variety of tastes in this band. It means that a large variety of different influences seep into our work. And if we manage to keep this mess in any kind of control, like I think we can, things are all good for us.

CoC: Your PR statement is written in an intelligent style: it eschews, early on, the route of describing FotL's music, instead opting to present facts of their history. Was your purpose to fill-out people's image of what the -band- FotL are and what their history has been like, while at the same time to -invite- people to enjoy the music on their own, more independent terms? If there was a particular purpose to your unusually well-considered press release, please explain it...

TT: I have no idea what documents Rage of Achilles has sent away, but I presume it is the Fall of the Leafe band biography we are talking about here. [We are. -- Paul] I wrote the text with two things in mind. The first one being the fact that I cannot tell this band's story from any other viewpoint than my own. This group is a bunch of down-to-earth blokes and since we have only recently started speaking to each other, I don't know what they all have felt in a given time or situation in the past. So in lack of other viewpoints, our band history is, so to speak, a Fall of the Leafe history through my eyes. Therefore it is impossible for me to present a band biography that would be simultaneously honest and objective. I dropped objectivity. The second thought I had was about one's freedom of independently forming an idea of what we are. All I can offer to our listener is an explanation of what I believe our music stems from. And what I believe we are. Chewing the bits and pieces and spitting them out, saying 'this is what we are, this is what our music is and you had it better to see it that way too or you are a bad person', would be nothing short of under-estimating our listeners who are all capable of independent thought. They wouldn't care anyway. All are free to hear and understand Fall of the Leafe in any way they see fit. My interpretation is mine and forcing it on anyone else would be like stealing one's own.

CoC: Any interest in shedding more concrete light on what happened around the recording of _Evanescent, Everfading_? I'd be interested to hear an anecdote about "... the eventful trip up north to Kemi and... the band's batchelor life there."

TT: Revealing too much here would ruin my plans of a massively successful release of the _Evanescent, Everfading_ sessions video diary. However, I can tell that the band's van was a hideous piece of junk and was pulled over several times en route up north. But before actually managing to even start the trip, the band noticed that their singer was refusing to go and their drummer had gone missing. Alright, I will cut the crap here. The truth is I only have second hand knowledge of the events because I was not a member of this band at that time. In fact, I was not even living in this country.

CoC: How would you connect Fall of the Leafe to Finland? Would you say there is anything intrinsically Finnish to your character? Would you resist or welcome comparisons to the likes of Sentenced or Babylon Whores?

TT: Well, we are undeniably Finnish fellows, that is for sure. We don't speak much and if we do, we speak Finnish; we like the sauna, porno, rock music and many of its subgenres, and we like lager. However, apart from the sauna and silence, many blokes in their mid or late twenties are made of the same components regardless of their country. So besides being Finnish, we have cultural ties to many things that do not have a home land. Such as rock music, for example. Now that I have effectively made clear that I have little cultural sensitivity, I am afraid that further comments on this subject will only contribute to me making an ass of myself on an internationally recognized arena. Which is fine, because I care little, and I have further comments. First, the electric guitar is much more a part of my cultural heritage than kantele, and second, people are basically the same everywhere. Only small differences here and there, but people everywhere share quite similar dreams, hopes and needs. Seriously, on my list of components of a good life, nationality in itself does not come close to the top one hundred. Now, I am confused as to whether these comparisons to Sentenced or Babylon Whores should be made to music, or the musicians involved. I do not know any of these people in person, so it is difficult to say. Music-wise, I really don't care much. I don't know what kind of music Babylon Whores play and Sentenced, while quality rock music, should excuse me while I kill myself.

CoC: You've played live only six times in your history. Any concrete plans to radically alter this situation in the near future? Do you feel your music, as primarily not rooted in live performance, has taken on a character which lends itself badly to live performance? Do you think gigs are something that will ever become a "high point" in your life as a band?

TT: Correction: we have now played live eight times and have more coming. We finally cut our two year live celibacy and are now in the process of changing our previously lame live situation. Our first show in two years we played in support of the Finnish-singing Verenpisara, which features members of Amorphis. With a new line-up, new material, and pretty much a new situation we were a bit uncertain as to what was going to happen with that 'come-back' show. And shoot, we were really good. We managed to shift our songs and our great jam session atmosphere into a live situation. And people liked it too. I could hardly believe my ears when people came up after the show and asked for more. Also, we played another good show at our _Volvere_ release party. So much for being less of a live band, I think. This is all about the scarcity of opportunities to play live. But whenever a possibility comes up, playing live is nothing short of sheer brilliance. It feels good and -- I never thought I would say this -- we kick ass at it.

(article submitted 12/7/2004)


ALBUMS
12/17/2005 P Azevedo 7 Fall of the Leafe - Vantage
4/12/2002 A Bromley 7 Fall of the Leafe - Fermina
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