Interview: Vesa Ranta and Janne Markus (The Man-Eating Tree)

The atmospheric metal band The Man-Eating Tree are the latest edition to the Finnish metal scene. Iza caught up with their drummer Vesa Ranta and guitarirst Janne Markus at Tuska festival to discuss the band, Finnish seasons and the rise of Oulu metal.

Iza: Hi there!

Vesa and Janne: Hello!

I: So it’s your first ever Tuska with The Man-Eating Tree. How does it feel to be here and how are you enjoying the festival so far?

Vesa: Yes, this was a very nice experience. I have played here with Sentenced a couple of times. This is the first time here in this new location and everything went quite well. We played quite a good show tonight…erm…today. It was very early show but we managed to get a good feeling.

I: So how do you like the new venue? Because you have obviously been here with Sentenced before. Do you prefer this or was Kaisaniemi better for you?

V: I think Kaisaniemi is a more beautiful place and of course it’s in the middle of the city and a nice park. But I think this is a quite an ok place to make Tuska. We played in that tent and it was the best place for us because we don’t like to play outside when the sun is shining so it was good for us.

I: Ok, you mentioned Sentenced because obviously you used to play in Sentenced and I know you had a longish break before you started this band. I was wondering how does this compare to Sentenced? What are the differences?

V: Of course we have some similarities, we play melancholic metal music but I think with The Man-Eating Tree we have…Of course we have a keyboard player and maybe it’s even more atmospheric stuff than Sentenced. Yeah, but of course there is the same kind of feeling in the music but our singer is totally different than Ville (Laihiala, ex-Sentenced).

I: You mentioned your singer, Tuomas whom some people may know from his previous band Fall of the Leafe. Are you familiar with Fall of the Leafe? How did you get together with Tuomas and decide to form The Man-Eating Tree?

V: My old friend told me that Fall of the Leafe had split and sent me the Myspace link. I was sure that he was the right guy to join The Man-Eating Tree because we…With The Man-Eating Tree we were looking for something different, a very unique thing. Yeah.. Tuomas’ voice is very unique and I like that a lot. He has a big part in The Man-Eating Tree sound.

I: Ok. It’s very difficult to describe your music. Most people say melancholic… Some people came up with the tag “atmospheric gothic metal”. I was wondering how do you feel about that description and how would you, yourself describe your sound?

Janne: There’s some parts of rock, metal… I don’t know… but Tuomas’ voice is very unique and… it really puts all the different parts of the songs together and he makes them act together. Some of the parts are really soft and some are harder. But Tuomas’ voice is so unique and from that we can do this kind of stuff and Tuomas’ voice is really connecting all the parts together…

I: So how would you describe the sound?

J: I don’t know…Oulu metal (laughs). Yeah I don’t know…maybe atmospheric metal. Yeah, atmospheric metal.

I: How do you feel about the term gothic metal? Because nowadays when people hear that they that they think of the bands like Nightwish. How do you feel about being compared to bands like that?

J: I don’t think we are a gothic band in that meaning and we don’t use eyeliner or… (laughs). No I don’t think that’s us.

V: Gothic rock for me is bands like The Sisters of Mercy or Fields of the Nephilim and maybe we have some…I mean Fields of The Nephilim is a really nice band but Gothic rock for me is like Sisters of Mercy and we don’t sound like them.

I: Ok, so obviously you have all come from different bands. I mean you’ve got members from Fall of The Leafe, you’re from Sentenced and one of you was in Poisonblack. I was wondering what are your influences and inspirations for The Man-Eating Tree? You seem to concentrate on nature and things, could you tell me more about that?

J: I don’t know… All the songs come from your life and you really try to get what happens in your life. I really try to…when I’m writing something, I try to make those feelings in my music and I don’t think like “Oh, there’s a forest” or “Oh, there’s a tree” I have to make a sound! No, it’s not working like that. It all comes from life and what happens in your life. Things like this yeah.. and when I have some ideas for the lyrics, I write everything then I tell Tuomas that I have these kinds of ideas.

V: Tuomas’ lyrics are like poetry, it’s very beautiful but he has a very unique writing style. I think that’s what I like about our work.

J: I don’t think we all have a set influence from which we write, like old movies or it’s just what’s happening.

I: Like life?

J: Life, yeah.

I: Ok. In the documentary of the making of the new album ‘Harvest’ you talk a lot about recording it during a very hot summer and the album is all about the autumn. It’s about very dark, depressing time in Finland and I was wondering how do it feel to play that stuff at a summer festival?

J: Luckily we played in the tent.

V: Yeah, about that recording session. Of course Janne wrote those songs in the winter time but we recorded those songs in the summer. It was a very hot summer and it was a strange feeling because inside you’ve got a cold studio. The contrast was pretty amazing. Inside you’ve got this very cold feeling and outside you have this very warm and hot feeling. Yes it was nice, really nice.

I: Did you try to recreate that cold autumn atmosphere when you played in the tent?

J: Of course; and our lights guy was really nice. He liked to use very cold colors and we had a very good style for the lights. We don’t use red or green that much but lots of blue, really like cold colors making the sound a little bit cold. I don’t know, I hope so.

V: Yeah.

I: Oh ok. Your new album new album ‘Harvest’ also features a cover of Type O Negative’s ‘Everything Dies’? What made you pick that song in particular and what is it about Type O Negative that you like?

V: That’s actually a really easy question. (laughs) We didn’t have enough songs so we just thought like “what’s our favorite band?” – “Type O Negative” and “what’s that song that we all know? – “Everything Dies” and how does that go? (starts air-guitaring and mimicking the noise of a guitar).

J: Tuomas’ voice worked quite well with that song. But there’s no real story behind why we picked that song. Type O Negative is the best band in the world.

V: Peter Steele (Type O Negative) was my big idol so of course we wanted to do a tribute to him. Swallow the Sun made one also, a nice tribute to the band.

I: Ok, speaking of Swallow The Sun. You have recently toured with them. So how did that tour go and what other bands would you like to tour with in the future?

J: It was a very nice tour. Hard drinking, big parties, very nice! They are very good friends and very nice people.

V: and an excellent band.

J: Yeah, yesterday we talked to their bass player and said that maybe we can do a European tour together some day.

V: They want to invite us to open for them but in the future we will be so much of a bigger band that they will be opening for us…Let’s see… But they are a really nice band and really nice guys. It’s maybe the best band for us.

J: In Finland there is not so many bands whom we like to play with. Swallow The Sun, maybe Ghost Brigade, that kind of bands we like a lot. I think this type of music is not so popular in Finland. I think it’s more like rock or more like metal, heavy metal like Sonata Arctica or something like that and then it’s the radio rock.

V: We have some similar parts in our music to Swallow the Sun and I think. I mean if I can choose which band to tour with, my dream would be Tool or Anathema, Katatonia that kind of stuff. Anathema is quite big nowadays but I love them still and they are great guys but Katatonia is very a good band – my dream is to tour with them but we’ll see.

I: Any final words for your fans and the people who came to see you today?

J: Yeah when we go back home, we will start to write a new album. We have already, over one hour of new material and we started to practice a lot. We are going to the studio at the beginning of next year and we will make an even better album. Maybe even darker and harder than ‘Harvest’.

I: Ok. Thanks a lot!

V & J: Thanks!

One Response to “Interview: Vesa Ranta and Janne Markus (The Man-Eating Tree)”

  1. […] Interview with Vesa Ranta and Janne Markus (The Man-Eating Tree) ( […]

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