Ceased Sunfire interview

Hi! Can you tell me about Ceased Sunfire and your previous musical experiences?

Hi there! Yeah Ceased Sunfire is my dream-come-true musically. I’ve been playing music in many kinds of bands since the 80’s: metal and pop/rock cover bands, rock/metal original bands, folky singer-songwriter, jazz, ambient, weddings, and so have the other members. Just the other day Juza just said he’s playing “in 30 other bands”. We all love music and playing and expressing ourselves through music. 

For me personally, it’s the first time I’m not a sideman, and also the first band where I’m singing lead.

Why did you choose your band name, how did you form, and what led you to play Stoner/Groove Metal?

I was setting up this band from scratch and it was a good chance to do it right. I used a long time to let my mind wallow in the themes of my lyrics, writing down name ideas for a few weeks. Every now and then I searched the web if the ideas already were in use somewhere and ditched them, but kept the ideas coming. When the release of our first EP was getting close it was the time to stop ideating and actually settle for a name. I did one final creative session and landed on this. Then a search showed it’s unique and that was it. Many of my previous bands have had problems with duplicate artists somewhere so I wanted to avoid that since I had the chance.

My previous band played grunge / alt rock in dropped D tuning and it felt quite nice and heavy. However, not all our songs were that heavy after all. My new song ideas started to have doomier and slower vibes but they didn’t resonate that well with that band.

I also used to play in a classic dad rock cover band for a while, and with them I got to perform all these legendary 70’s-80’s rock and hard rock hits, all of which have great hooks or riffs you remember after once hearing it. Somehow this all led me to tune even lower and start examining the power a simple riff can have. I had been recording some ideas and then worked on them to make them simpler and simpler, yet still more powerful you know? I literally spent days playing one riff to test what is the core essence of it. I wanted to strip off everything that isn’t absolutely necessary. You can even play a Ceased riff on an electric guitar without an amp, and still you hear how powerful it is.

So I had some songs and created demos. I found the fuzzy heavy low B tuned sound. I played the demos to my friend Juho and complained that I hadn’t been able to find decent players to play these songs. He said he might a couple of guys. Then we set up a session where I met Fellu and Juza (bass and drums, respectively) for the first time. It was heaven, and the songs started to work right away because the guys came in prepared. Then we agreed to do an EP to see how this music would resonate, the reception was good, and here we are. Juho (who runs his own studio CBH Recordings) helped really a lot to form both the band and then my sound. He always has insightful feedback, thanks Juho!

So what you hear now as the music of Ceased Sunfire, is a mix of a lot of influences. This music finally brought together some of my favourite musical elements: heavy fuzz guitar riffs, massive sound, bluesy soloing…

Can you tell us about The Divide?

It’s the first milestone of the creative work we have put together. It’s naturally a very important step for us as a band. It’s also the start of the rest of our career… We recorded and released the Sleepless EP as quickly as possible because I was so excited about what we had managed to put together, and the feedback showed us people want more. I had a bunch of riffs and song concepts and the three that fit together the best formed Sleepless.

Then there were about 4-5 others, which felt like they’re part of an album, but obviously, that wasn’t enough so I composed a dozen or so more. Then we looked at this pile of material and narrowed it down to the 9 songs that now are on the album. The process kind of feeds itself.

Then we got together a few times to rehearse the songs, and recorded them live, playing together in the studio. I loved that live vibe which happened and I think it got captured on the recording as well. Later I played some double guitars and solos and recorded the vocals and Juho put it all together to this huge wall of sound which is The Divide.

What kind of feedback are you hoping to receive for your album?

I hope we'll get honest feedback and we’ve already got some. I hope the music and lyrics will make people think. I’m not preaching anything, nor am I the one to tell anybody what to do with their own lives though… Fellow bands have welcomed us and I’m happy about that, and I welcome any kind of feedback. Any feedback is better than no feedback at all!

Do you plan to embark on a world tour in the future? Do you think touring the world is an option available to every band, or what does a band need to do to achieve this opportunity?

Well definitely yeah, it’s an option, but it comes with a lot of ifs! Probably the most important thing we have to do before hitting the road, is to build some more following. 

It also feels a lot like a financial decision: to put up a decent show people would want to see, you’d need a lot more than just good music. Building the organisation is a far reach for us currently, making very niche music in a genre where even the big bands aren’t that big globally. Working on it!

What are your thoughts on online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free, and if so, why?

It would be beautiful if all the people in the process would get a decent compensation for their hard work… Then again, in real life it has become an integral way of promotion to give away your music and hope it would generate something. I’m happy that there’s at least some platforms which pay the artist, but the situation would be better for sure. 

I think the failure to develop a good functional micropayment system 20-30 years ago led to the situation where we are now. Back then it was so much easier to just download what you wanted instead of buying. People need their music and I think it’s better they listen for free than not at all. Then again, I’m happy even a band like us already has some devoted fans who go to Bandcamp and pay more for our music than we ask for. Thank you, you know who you are! 

Who are your musical influences? Did you ever imagine your band could become as famous as your favorites?

Imagine, yes! But reality might give us something else. I have so many influences and some of them are amazingly popular. Might be safe to say we will never reach the popularity or fame of Pink Floyd, but I do love David Gilmour’s melodic and powerful playing. It’s like every note he plays has a meaning you know? The same applies to Jerry Cantrell and the music of Alice In Chains. Kal-El from Norway and Finnish Swallow the Sun are my maybe a little lesser-known favourites, both have such huge and heavy sounds!

We’ve been checking out a lot of bands just for their sound with our soundman Juho, figuring out why they sound as heavy as they do. Great inspiration. A couple of years ago I saw High On Fire at a festival and they had such huge energy… I think I’m a fan of intensity and passion for music, and that can be found in a lot of places.

Have you received formal music education? Do you think it's an important factor?

Yes, all of us in the band have received formal music education. It helps explaining song structures to others and maybe in how we rehearse, but I don’t think it’s that important after all in rock music. It’s relatively easy to memorise a band's repertoire face-to-face. Maybe you save a couple of seconds every now and then when you can say “the third note in the riff should actually be Db”, instead of describing which string and which fret. But yeah, not really. Great music has been done both with knowledge of music theory, or without.

How do you balance your music with other obligations such as family, job, etc.?

Music is a very important part of my life but obviously not the only part. Family is important in many ways: part of support, inspiration. I’m trying to keep things in balance and keep a situation where all aspects of life inspire each other… I consider myself lucky to have a family, job and an interesting second job which is Ceased Sunfire.

How do you deal with mistakes during a performance? Do you get nervous before a performance or competition?

I used to get really nervous, to the point it was affecting my performance. There was a phase when I dealt with that with alcohol, a couple drinks before a show. Then I started to feel it’s not a very sustainable option and I sat down with myself to think about what might be causing it. I realised I had huge overexpectations about how the show would go, building something I could never reach.

Another realization was that if I wanted to get even close to doing a successful show, I’d better practice a lot, to give myself the best chances to succeed in that. Onstage I can then think that right now I can play so well as I can play right now, and that’s it. Small mistakes happen here and there and I don’t care, because the audience won’t usually notice anything. Big mistakes won’t happen, because we actually rehearse, hahah!

What matters is giving a solid performance and enjoying yourself up there, then the audience can enjoy it as well. Competitions I don’t do it because I think art shouldn’t be competition

What's next for Ceased Sunfire? Thank you!

We’re now promoting the album, organising some gigs and there’s some new riffs for the next album already brewing as well. Thanks for having us, it was fun!