About Me

Interview with Temple Balls

Temple Balls are a relatively recent Finnish quintet who released their third album this year – Pyromide. It was the perfect excuse to talk with Niko Vuorela (guitars), about the origin of the name, about what it is to be a hard rock band in a country dominated by doom and death metal, the sound and visual clearly a lá 80s and what are the difficulties of making a record in the middle of a pandemic. 

M.I.- Hey! How are you? Thanks for taking the time to answering our questions!
Hey! I’m doing great, thanks! 
M.I.- First of all, the name!... Why Temple Balls and how did it come about?
This is a very common question and there’s an article about the origin of our name published by Loudwire. There you can find the long and more thorough version but long story short: our bass player Jimi (Välikangas) came across with ’Temple Balls’ while reading Andy McCoy’s (Finnish musician) autobiography as a kid. He had no idea what it meant but thought it sounded cool and decided right away that this would be the name of his band.
M.I.- After two albums with Ranka Kustannus, why did you switch to Frontiers Records?
I think we got as far as we could with Ranka and eventually we felt we needed to move on. Frontiers had been interested in us for quite a while already and we also saw them as a more suitable fit for us. 
M.I- The sound, the attitude, the energy, the visual… Everything about you refers to the great metal bands of the 80's - Motley Crue, Skid Row, Def Leppard, Ratt, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Bon Jovi… That's where you seek inspiration? What models do you want to follow (if you want to follow any, that is)?
We all started playing our instruments at a very early age and musically grew up with these 80’s hard rock icons. It’s a very powerful and visual style and due to all these years of experience, the energy, attitude, visuals etc. comes very naturally. It’s just who we are and who we’ve always been. Our musical taste and sources of inspiration have enlarged a lot over the years but the mainline still lies deeply in the early days’ heavy music.
M.I.- Talking a little about the past… How did you get together and form the band?
It all started in Oulu (Northern Finland). Jimi, Jiri and Antti are the original members of Temple Balls. They went to the same school and were united very early by common taste of music. They played in a school orchestra and soon started jamming rock music in various line-ups. This was the one that stuck and it’s still alive and kickin’! 
Arde and I had a similar band back in the day and we met with Temple Balls in 2011 at a band competition. Eventually we joined forces (Arde in 2014 and me in 2017) and the line-up became complete.
M.I.- You recorded Traded Dreams in Thailand! How did a Finnish band record their first album halfway around the world?
It was partially about promotional value and also working with a top-notch producer and recording engineer Tobias Lindell, who lives in Thailand these days. Our manager had connections to Tobias so he organized it. Soon the band flew to Thailand and Traded Dreams was in the making.

M.I.- Speaking of Pyromide… Damn, what a great rock album! There are real hymns to music there! Great solos, top-notch voice... How was it to record these songs? How is your creative process? Does everyone participate?

Thanks, much appreciated! 
Recording Pyromide was very intense. Working 3 weeks - 10-12hrs a day - wasn’t a lot of time so we needed a gameplan. We simply split the process in 3 parts; 3-4 songs per week. That way none of us had to play our parts at once. It is very important - especially for a singer - to get some rest as well. This strategy turned out to be great and we didn’t need to compromise on any kind of quality issues. 
When it comes to the creative process, yes, we all participate. Sometimes we might finish a song individually, but everyone still participates to give that final polish if needed. 
Since our singer Arde and I live about 650 kms away from the other guys, we mostly write together. And the northern guys write together. At a rehearsal place we go through the ideas and start shaping the most potential ones to their final form.

M.I.- What is the concept / theme behind the album?
There really isn’t any particular theme. Other than the visual side which leads back to Traded Dreams cover art. We simply try to write killer tunes and pick the best ones for the album. All of our songs are usually in line so that they fit under the same cover. As an idea it would be cool to write a certain theme for an album though! 

M.I.- Pyromide does not seem, to me, to be a natural evolution of Untamed. The latter was a little heavier. This one seems to be oriented towards pop (without, however, dropping pure heavy metal and hard-rock solos)... Did you try to win more / another audience?
No, we didn’t. Like I mentioned before, our music taste and sources of inspiration has grown larger over the years and we’ve been experimenting with some new elements. Some might be poppier, some a bit heavier, but to me that’s one of the coolest things about Pyromide. It’s a more versatile while still maintaining the original Temple Balls style. Trying out new aspects makes the writing process more interesting and music fresher and more modern. 

M.I.- Pyromide was produced (exquisitely, i would say) by Jona Tee. He played keyboards and delivered back vocals on the first album, didn't he? How did this collaboration come about?
You’re absolutely right. Jona has been working with Tobias Lindell (who produced Traded Dreams) already and as talented as he is, Jona was the perfect guy to take care of the additional backing vocals and keyboard tracks. 

M.I.- This album was created in the middle of a pandemic. What problems / restrictions did you have during the whole process?
Well, the travelling restrictions were a huge concern but, luckily, everyone made it to the studio - and preproduction session before that - in time. Some of the preproduction was made over the phone though. We did weekly videocalls in spring to go through our latest songs ’cause it was unsure if and when Jona could fly to Finland. 
Covid also made us quite cautious at the studio. If anyone had even a slight symptom of any kind, he had to go to get tested and stay isolated til’ the results were in. 
Although there was kind of a silver lining as well! We were very busy touring and deadlines kept coming closer but when the pandemic and restrictions appeared, we got the necessary time to finish the album. 

M.I.- Of course, you must be anxious to take this new album on the road. Do you already have something planned, as soon as the world goes back to normal? How is the promotion going?
Yeah sure! We got the train rolling and we’re aiming to be ready for the stages as soon as it’s possible. In October we’re doing a European tour with H.E.A.T. It’ll last for four weeks and we couldn’t be more excited to hit the road again. Obviously, this pandemic might still postpone the tour but you gotta keep our fingers crossed and stay positive.
Other than that, we’ve mostly been able to promote this album on social media. Luckily, it has spread very well and gotten a lot of attention (reviews, interviews, press releases etc.) but nothing beats live shows.

M.I.- Is Portugal a possibility in a future tour? Have you had the opportunity to come here, even on vacation?
We’d love to come to Portugal and I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later. 
Yeah, I think Jiri might’ve been there for a vacation. Hopefully, we’d get to tour there soon!

M.I.- Taking into account the turns that the world has taken and the reality that we live in today, what do you think is more important or, at least, with more influence: the “traditional” means of communication, such as newspapers and music sites, or the new influencers and everyone who has YouTube channels, where they make their own criticism/reviews? As part of this millennial generation, do you give more importance to the latter?
I definitely prefer the more traditional ways, because I find them more accurate, reliable and informative, but all these social media accounts / channels have become a huge part of today’s world - especially for the younger generation. To me the latter is more about daily entertainment, but you can also come across with a lot of instructive things about pretty much anything, which I like. That being said, I’m fine with having both in our everyday lives. 
M.I. - You already shared the stage with some heavyweights - Sonata Arctica. Queen, Deep Purple… If you could choose, what name would you add to this list?
One of the greatest things in this profession is the likelihood of meeting your heroes on the road. I’m sure it’s safe to say from all of us that KISS, Iron Maiden or AC/DC would all be amazing additions to that list.

M.I.- What is it like to make a name as a heavy metal / hard rock band, coming from a country with such a strong tradition in more extreme metal genres, such as doom or death metal? Although, at the same time, this can be a great differentiating aspect and that makes you stand out from the rest.
It’s been our thing since the day one and I think it’s just an advantage not to do what everyone else does. There’s also quite strong rock scene as well, yet the extreme metal is more popular in general. 

M.I.- Difficult question… If you had to choose a song from your repertoire to present to someone who doesn't know you, which one best represents you?
Basically, any single we’ve released. My suggestion right now would be “Thunder From The North”. It shows well what we’re all about. 

M.I.- It is still early to talk about the next album or you already have something in mind?
We have started writing album number four already and it’s going well. A lot of songs are taking shape but there’s still lots and lots of work ahead before we get to releasing anything. 

M.I.- Almost finishing… Any last words for our readers?
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed Pyromide as much as we have. Get a physical copy if you haven’t got one yet. Keep streaming our music and massive thanks for your support. Hope to see you soon! Stay safe!
M.I. - Again, thanks for your words. Continue with that awesome energy and I hope seeing you on a Portuguese stage, soon.

Stay safe!
For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Ivan Santos