About Me

Interview with Omnium Gatherum

Jukka Pelkonen, Omnium Gatherum’s vocalist, had a chat with Metal Imperium and told us all the juicy details about the new album “The Burning Cold”, the new record deal with Century Media and the upcoming tours.

M.I. - How are you? 
I’m good. Thank you, the sun is shining, so…

M.I. - How do you feel now that you finally have an album ready to be released? Proud? Accomplished?
Yes, both of those things and also really relieved cause it’s been a long process. The first demos we did for “The Burning cold” were almost 2 years ago.

M.I. - It’s a long time…
Yeah, it is. The first rough demos, riffs and parts of lyrics were done then. I am so happy that the making of the album process is over and we can start to play these songs live.

M.I. – Basically you started working on the new album as soon as “Grey Heavens” was released!
Yeah, I think “Grey Heavens” was released in the spring of 2016 and the first demos for the new album were done in September/October of that same year.

M.I. – I guess it means you are quite creative.
Yes, you can say that, yes.

M.I. - The band will release a new album at the end of August titled “The Burning Cold”. What are your expectations?
A lot of things because we changed labels and I am looking forward to cooperating with Century Media and looking forward to touring because I am really proud of these new songs. Hope we have a lot of gigs with good people, metal parties and meet metal people all around the world. 

M.I. - Reviews are being quite outstanding.
I haven’t read many yet, I guess I only read one really. I have been busy cause I have been renovating my house but it’s nice to hear people seem to like it.

M.I. - According to the label, this is the biggest and most infectious album the band has ever made. Do you agree? 

I think so yes, if you compare it to the previous albums. “Grey Heavens” was a bit darker, gloomier with hints of light here and there. “Beyond” had really old school OG style songs. So, this new album is a combination of our last 3 or 4 albums with a new twist. We have wanted to do this for years but we have really succeeded with this album. I would say that CM used those words because they know we have something special here.

M.I. - Fans seem to be quite anxious… what can they expect? Want to reveal some surprising details?
Haha! What kind of details? About the music? I would say the combination between the harshness, the power of death metal vocals and strong riffs and the guitar melodies come really well together in this album. People will be surprised that we have made this union work so well.

M.I. - Has the recent line-up change affected the band’s sound somehow? How’s the new drummer fitting in?
Tuomo is fitting in really well. He’s a drummer whose standards for playing are really high which we appreciate because we like to be as professional as possible. He’s a kind and nice guy with a good sense of humour. He fits in almost perfectly… nothing is perfect but this comes pretty close to it. He’s been touring with us since 2015 and he has proven to us that he can deal with the pressure of touring. Sometimes there are people on the road that for some reason can’t cope with that kind of lifestyle, they get really stressed. Tuomo is nothing like that and that is one of the most important things. 

M.I. - Markus Vanhala has said that ‘The Burning Cold’ album has a sense of special chapter for him, that he hasn’t been this excited for a new album for ages! Do you share his feelings?
Yes, I think so because we really have things coming together on this album and I am really, really excited. Markus has also done work in Insomnium for the last 3 years or so, so his situation is different than mine… sometimes we say this is our joint operation. I can’t wait to go on the road and play these new songs.

M.I. - The first track is titled “The Burning” and the last is “Cold”… the title seems to be a junction of these two titles… is it that simple or not? 
It’s more, because the album title came before those songs were named and also they share the same basic structure composition so they could be literally combined but we have divided them to the beginning and to the end. There is a sense of something… something new begins when something old dies in a way. There is a connection, yes.

M.I. - Omnium Gatherum mostly deals with personal themes… does the same apply to the lyrics in this album? 
I think it happens. There’s something personal in each and every album. There’s no way to avoid it because you put something of yourself into that whole making process, creating new songs and new albums. I think it’s inevitable.

M.I. - Do you write lyrics? What inspires you?
I do all the lyrics for OG. So many things… nature is a constant inspiration for me, and also everything that is interesting, that is happening around me. The lyrics for 3rd song of the album, actually the 4th, if you count “The Burning”, were inspired by one intense scene in the series Penny Dreadful… I just had to put something of that scene into the song. Inspiration just happens…

M.I. – Have you ever had a blank mind with no ideas? 
Yes, of course. I think as an artist waiting for inspiration you can’t really think about the fact so much ‘cause you can’t predict when it happens. If you spend more time with the thing you want to be inspired by… if you train and keep on doing it and take breaks, it will eventually come up… inspiration is symbolically like a shadow that you never catch but you have to be patient and wait for it to happen. Otherwise you’re just striking your head against the wall.

M.I. - You have once again worked with Dan Swano… what’s so special about him anyway for you to keep on using him?
We have considered other alternatives but the first album he worked with us was 10 years ago. He is awesome and he’s a really great professional, he can listen to what we have to say and put his own opinion to the table and not be afraid to say what he thinks. These reasons are the most important ones why we have continued to cooperate with him for so many years. I love the guy’s sound!

M.I. – He’s not the only one you’ve cooperated with… there's also Olli-Pekka that has been responsible for your cover artwork ever since the band’s first demo!!
Yeah, yeah! We really had to do it because of “Grey Heavens”! The cover of “The Burning Cold” has all the things that we liked when we were younger.

M.I. - And it looks awesome…
We have come to depend on him. We gave him the new songs, the ideas and told him that he had the freedom to create what scene he pictured for all that. And that cover came up and I think it’s really cool.

M.I. – Indeed! Well, you joined the band a little over 10 years ago… how has your life changed ever since then? Did it change for better or worse?
Yes, of course. I played in another band at the time and Markus asked me to join and I was busy but I tried. It changed my life a lot because I have been touring so much that I had to stop working two years ago or so and sometimes I miss it. That’s the biggest change.

M.I. - Is it difficult dealing with the touring and managing time with your family, children and all?
I wouldn’t know about children because I don’t have any but sometimes it is… there’s a lot of days you just keep touring and you don’t have time to spend with your loved ones. There are also a lot of occupations in which people travel a lot as well. I have to make it work. Sometimes it’s hard but it’s worth it, if you use your common sense.

M.I. - Now that you are on Century Media you will be touring a lot more!
Yes, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Now is the right time to do it. Bring it on!

M.I. - What are your expectations regarding the new label? Better promotion? 
Yes, I think so. For a band that is really active like us, we need to have a label like that working for us. It’s really hard to get by with all the social media and competition. They are a good label and seem to have a lot of good people working there.

M.I. - Of the new tracks which do you think will be more appreciated live?
I think all tracks will sound good live but you only find out when you start touring. There are always a couple of gigs for warming up and then “we get in the zone” and… I believe each and every single one of the songs will work live. If I do have to pick one, I would say the 4th song will kick ass!

M.I. - The Burning Cold Over Europe dates have been revealed and Portugal is not included… why? 
Unfortunately, you’re not in! I don’t know why really! We played in Portugal last year and it was really great but this time it won’t happen. I don’t know why. I think we are gonna do another European tour with this album and Portugal will probably be included then.

M.I. - You’ll be touring in North American with Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity and Moonspell. What do you think of this bill?
I expect a lot because we have toured with all bands except for Moonspell. I don’t know them personally but I have heard nice things about the guys. People seem to be excited about this bill. It’s a good one with lots of different bands from the same genre.

M.I. - Are you familiar with any other Portuguese bands?
No, not really!

M.I. - Thanks for the interview. All the best. Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you very much for the nice interview and to all the metalheads. See you on the road! Stay metal!

For portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca