Sunday, November 13, 2016
A Sunday Conversation With Craneium
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
We tend to put Turku as our hometown in all our bios an so on, but all of us in the band have our roots in the region of Ostrobothnia where we crew up in/or close to the towns of Vaasa, Pietarsaari and Kokkola. We all moved to Turku to study and that's where the band formed in the fall of 2011. I think our music is a product of both the fact that Ostrobothnia is kind of the bible-belt of Finland and that Turku has a strong underground/alternative scene. Some of us comes from religious homes with strong opinions on heavy music, we fought the battle of metal being satans music and so on. These topics tend to show in some of our lyrics (witchcoven as an example) and it is a personal source for inspiration much like other subjects that religion condemns. So that is a big part of the background that has shaped us, the other part is the local scene in Turku which has a healthy DIY spirit and a great net of people working together and easily getting along with other bands and venues. There's many bands in Turku that opened up our eyes for stoner rock when we first came here, musical styles that was not really present in our hometowns. Turku is where we came in contact with other sub-genres of heavy rock and really became interested in this sort of music and sounds. So lyrics/themes Ostrobothnia and Turku the sound and concept of what the music was going to be, combine these two and you'll get Craneium.
Where'd the band name come from?
We didn't really have a name until we embarked on a mountain climbing-quest just outside of Turku. It was in the middle of the winter and we were determined to walk up that mountain, light a fire and hold a ritual for our dark lor..no wait, to grill some sausages and drink some beers (ööli e no entå bäst). Anyhow, we started to make some suggestions as to what the band name should be and we came up with Craneium. We thought we'd go with something that was not really clear as to what it meant but at the same time could have many meanings. Crane which is a majestic bird and also a machine suited the stonervibe perfectly, we then added the IUM and got Craneium. It turned out people didn't quite get the connection and just though of it as a head, skeleton..aka cranium, haha, but it's ok, the music is the most important part of the band.
You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
I would choose Gardenia by Kyuss, for me this is the ultimate stonerrock anthem and it was among the first stonerrock bands I really got into. The opening riff is just beyond everything else, so groovy, heavy and meditative that you just have to put everything aside as you turn into one of those transdimentional space goats people keep posting memes of when a riff is reeeally good. Other songs in this category would be Sleeps Dragonaut or Holy Mountain and Truckfighters Desert Cruiser, that first time you hear them, you just can't begin to comprehend the heavy-ness and how those riffs just crawl under your skin, the melodies are so addictive yet some very simple, it's all in the attitude and groove.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
I would say I'm the most proud of the last track on our album: Ceasing To Exist. This was my first attempt at writing anything stoner-ish back in 2011 when I joined the band, they had started as a power trio some months earlier. The song starts out with a simple melody that builds up and then clashes into some fuzzy riff-rocking. It was played as an instrumental track at our first gig, but then we put it back on the shelf for a couple of years, until Martin suddenly brought in the idea for the clean verse and the lyrics during one practice. We had always felt we needed to complete the track. Over the year and a half that followed we played it during live gigs and it evolved into the version found on the record. As it had the melody that goes on through the whole song I knew I wanted something melodic for the solo as well, which I think turned out pretty good. The acoustic ending was something that we added in the last minute, I fooled around with playing slide at home and noodled along that melody and it hit me that it could be a great acoustic piece as well, or why not both. So I added the melody once again acoustically in the end with some chords, some slide guitar and a little guitar-bowing á la Page. I think the dynamic of the music suits the title well, in the end it fades away slowly until only the melody remains, and then ceases to exist.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
For me personally punk really opened my eyes. When I started to get my own taste in music I listened to rock and metal a lot. At the end of and after high school I got in to more punk based music. What I liked about it was exactly what I love about the stoner scene. These things are DIY ethics and the fact that great music doesn’t have anything to do with how good of a musician you are. I know it sounds cliché but to me music with roots in punk is more real. Craneium is not a punk band. But I think we all appreciate the realness that comes from punk. Nobody dresses up for a show and missing a note on stage due to headbanging is not necessarily a negative thing.
What makes a great song?
Since I am a drummer I should say something about drums. And sometimes drums can be insanely important to a song. Just listen to what Oscar Johansson does on Witchcrafts album Legend or on some of the Truckfighters songs he plays on. If we talk stoner rock and doom, and maybe we should, I look for a few things. Riffs that are so heavy that you get a nosebleed. Listen to the song Squidman by Skraeckoedlan for an example. And remember a heavy riff is heavy even played on an acoustic guitar. Something weird sounding, scary or hypnotic can also make me love a stoner rock or doom song. There are so many examples with bands like Jex Thoth, Mars Red Sky or even Electric Wizard. Also sound is a big thing to me. When I listen to the Monolord song Cursing The One I can’t stop thinking about how fucking awesome the sound is.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
I have to choose beer even though I love a whiskey now and then. Where we come from in Finland there is an old saying that goes “Öli e jo entå bäst”. Idioms are hard to translate and my English is not good so I should not even try. But the essence of it is that we as humans come across many things in life and even though the choices can be many the best and most fulfilling paths go through beer. Preferably loads of it.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
Our first song was called Iron Giant. It’s a fast-paced track, sort of like a more punked-up Fu Manchu song about a crane that demolishes a city. It was featured on our limited cassette release ”The Slowerdrive Tapes”. We wrote that song when we were still a power trio.
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Vinyl everyday! People will always tell you the same clichés - ”with vinyl you actually listen to the whole album”, and ”the sound is so much warmer”, or ”the artwork looks best in vinyl-size”. Those clichés are completely true.
Digital is nice too. I’ve discovered SO many great bands through Spotify. It’s ridiculous how much music you can get in touch with these days, which of course has a downside to it too.
CD’s should just disappear. No one need's them any more.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
Playing live is what we’re all about. When you wake up in the morning knowing that you have a gig that night is the best feeling in the world. Our music has a lot of energy and it makes you sweat for it on stage. We always play at 110%, no matter the venue. I remember a particular gig in a small town in the ”bible belt”. We played there on Good Friday in the easter. The crowd unanimously chanted ”Hail Satan” when we finished. It felt dangerous. At the same gig some guy had donated 200 euros to our band just to support what we’re doing. We’re so grateful for that.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?:
The songwriting process is really different from song to song. Sometimes someone brings in a complete concept and other times we stitch together music from ideas we haven´t been able to use before. Everything is tried 1000 times in the rehearsal space, though. I think our strenght is the interaction between four very different musicians....so we we just exorcise the songs through rehearsing!
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
Everyone has their own sources...films, books, the news I guess. Personally I look for inspiration in other bands that we get to meet. What really keeps me going is taking inspiration from people whose bands have gotten a little bit further than us – they show you that it´s possible. No use in looking at Metallica for example, rock will never be that big again. But it thrives among a lot of kickass people in the world, and that makes me happy
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
Once when we played Stockholm our roadie was given speed by members of a profilic swedish doom band (no names mentioned) and disappeared for 12h. He showed up the next day..wearing thongs. Oh, and a guy was slamdancing with a friday 13th hockey mask on during that same gig. And I had forgotten all my pedals in Finland. Good thing that I could borrow from Andreas wide arsenal, haha.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Lots of bands! I like songwriting that catches you off guard, regardless of genre. Baroness, Kvelertak, Dunbarrow, Dungen, Oranssi Pazuzu....the good records of this world are too many for anyone to ever be able to find