Cover photo by Erika Rousku
Turku, Finland is a city located on the southwest coast of Finland near the mouth of the Aura River. It was founded in the 13th century, making it one of the oldest cities in Finland. It was declared the European Capital of Culture in 2011, and in 1996 was named the official Christmas City of Finland. It’s a notable commercial and passenger seaport with over three million passengers passing through the Port of Turku every year. But here’s the thing, none of these facts are the most intriguing thing about Turku. You see, Turku is also the home of the lasermetal band Nightsatan. You’ve never heard of lasermetal? That’s because Nightsatan created it. They wanted to meld the synth sounds of John Carpenter, Goblin, and Zombi with the loud and dark angst of black, doom, and heavy metal. The result is what Nightsatan have created on their debut album Midnight Laser Warrior and their newest effort, the soundtrack to the film Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom, which they star in as well.
I had not heard of Nightsatan until just this past spring when I’d read about Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom being released as a Record Store Day release. The description of the music peaked my interest and I checked them out via the internet. I was impressed, to say the least. Dark synth music with a heavy cinematic feel, it reminded me of all those great scores to early 80s sci fi flicks I’d watch on Night Flights or late night cable access. After some mild frustration at not locating a copy of said movie soundtrack I tracked one down via Mondotees in Austin, Texas. It was as great as I’d hoped it would be and came with a copy of the film, which was written and directed by filmmaker Chrzu. It’s a wild film with the band playing post-apocalyptic warriors that use their synths as weapons in a desolate landscape. There’s also a head in the sand that screams and post-apocalyptic sex and blood and strange characters. It’s crazy and cool.
I reached out to the band, which consists of Wolf-Rami, Inhalator II, and Mazathoth(birth names? Maybe..maybe not) and they agreed to talk with me about the band. Enjoy.
J. Hubner: So tell me how Nightsatan came together. Were you three playing in different bands? Did you have a concept in mind from the beginning? Something theatrical as well as musical?
Wolf-Rami: Nightsatan is my first ”real” band. I had a short lived project called Krull before it, but it disbanded itself due to laziness. Nightsatan’s story began when I saw Reverend Bizarre play an instore gig at the record shop I used to work at. I was amazed by the heaviosity and raw energy they brought to such a small venue and wanted to do something similar myself. The problem was that I only had a pile of synthesizers and drum machines and couldn’t play a guitar. How can you play doom metal without guitars? Thus laser metal was born. I asked Inhalator to join me on electric drums and soon he brought Mazathoth to our rehearsals.
Inhalator II: I’ve played in about dozen different bands, and when Wolf-Rami told me about the consept of Nightsatan (Doom Metal meets Miami Vice) I really wanted to do it. Mazathoth has played with me in couple of bands before, and I knew he would be perfect for this band.
Mazathoth: When Inhalator and Wolf-Rami told me the concept behind Nightsatan (I don’t think we had our name then), I knew I had to join them.
J. Hubner: Who or what were some influences on Nightsatan’s sound in the beginning? Did you guys bond over 80s post-apocalyptic movies like ‘Cherry 2000’, ‘Escape From New York’, ‘The Road Warrior’, and ‘The Terminator’?
Wolf-Rami: We’ve all had a misspent youth with Commodore 64 -games and bad VHS-movies. It tends to somehow show up in our music. We bond over some shared favourite movies. I have to say that besides Enzo G. Castellari’s postapocalyptic italo-movies, the most important thing for me both musically and otherwise have been John Carpenter movies and their respective soundtracks. I think I have eleven different pressings of the Escape From New York soundtrack in my collection and in my record store days my nickname in the shop was “Snake”. In my eyes John Carpenter is a god given genius.
Inhalator II: I really do enjoy all the B-movies and soundtracks to them from the eighties. My influences range from synthesizer music and soundtracks beginning from the 70’s (Tangerine Dream, Goblin, Carpenter) to jazz, post-rock, heavy metal, etc.
Mazathoth: Yeah, Carpenter’s creations and Goblin soundtracks are all shared band favourites. I’ll have to mention their modern followers, Zombi. We all have been inspired by Moore and Paterra and their solo projects.
J. Hubner: Before Nightsatan, I’d never heard the term “laser metal” before. But, after hearing your debut ‘Midnight Laser Warrior’ I’d say the label is rather fitting. That record seems like more of a metal album done with synthesizers than Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom, which feels like more of an 80s synth score. Visions of Michael Mann films and Tangerine Dream come to mind listening to that record. Was the sound from ‘Warrior’ to ‘Doom’ smoothed out a bit because of the film concept, or is it a natural progression of the band’s sound?
Wolf-Rami: We still have the metal in us, but in a film score setting it probably wouldn’t have worked out. In every band rehearsal we talk about doing the heaviest song ever or doing something in a black metal style. Very fast, very brutal, but with synthesizers.
Mazthoth: Part of it was because of what Chrzu asked from us (you gotta have a love theme), part of it was the natural flow, when you know you’re writing for a movie soundtrack. We have an upcoming single, also a soundtrack recording, that is in the same vein, but I’m definitely yearning to do some heavier stuff now.
J. Hubner: Let’s talk about the film. Was the film the concept of filmmaker Chrzu, or was it an idea of Nightsatan? How did the film come about? I’m curious regarding the process. Did Chrzu make the film around Nightsatan’s music, or was it the other way around? Did you guys enjoy the process of filmmaking? Is acting something you’d want to do again?
Mazthoth: The concept was pretty much all from Chrzu’s mind. The Nightsatan in the movie is basically a cartoonized version of us. The script was written around the idea of a “real” post-apocalyptic band and it just evolved from there. A lot of the music was written before we began shooting, so some of the storyboarding and a lot of the editing was made around the music.
Shooting the film was definitely a great experience and we had a fantastic crew, but I don’t think I’ll want to try acting again. Inhalator’s performance was great though, so maybe you’ll see him on the silver screen sometime.
J. Hubner: How was the film received overall? I quite liked it. Very strange and visceral.
Inhalator II: It traveled all around the world in film festivals and won some awards. It got really good reviews and people seemed to like it. It’s something totally different and when we talked to people in gigs and film festivals, i think that people were waiting for someone to do this kind of stuff.
Mazathoth: I think the audience that liked our music beforehand enjoyed the movie. And the people that saw the film before hearing our music can enjoy the music as well. I think it feels like a very natural continuation for our band. It definitely is rather strange at times, but we are fans of strange things and weird people.
J. Hubner: I wanted to ask a gear question. What’s your main gear you all use to make a record? What sort of synths and drum machines are involved in making a Nightsatan record?
Wolf-Rami: Speaking for myself, since our last album I’ve sold most of my vintage analog synths and bought modern analogs like Arturia Minibrute in their place. Even some digital stuff. We all love gear and gearporn but there comes a time when acquiring gear detracts from your music making. All you think is: ”I still need that piece of gear so I can write a good song.” Sometimes you lose touch with the whole creative process by obsessing over technology.
Inhalator II: Mostly we try make our records playing stuff ourselves, so not that much drum machines were used. Here’s some stuff I like to use recording and playing live: Roland SPD-series (6, 11, 20, 30), Roland TD –something, Roland TR 606 & 707, Roland Juno-106, Yamaha CS-15, Arturia Microbrute etc.
Mazathoth: I used to be a proper gear whore and have gone through a great number of synthesizers during my time as a musician, and obsessed about filters and voltage-controlled oscillators and whatnot. But like Wolf-Rami said, our obsession about gear is nowadays more about obsessing about composition and production. I’m still not letting go of my Jupiter-4, Prophet-600 or SH-101 though.
(Author’s note: I recently bought an Arturia Microbrute myself. I feel this purchase has been justified ten-fold. That is all.)
J. Hubner: What’s a Nightsatan show like? I imagine lots of lights. Lots of sweaty bodies. What can someone expect at a Nightsatan show?
Wolf-Rami: We do a lot to make our shows really stand out and be memorable. Over the years we’ve accumulated a huge selection of different light fixtures, post-apocalyptic helmets and weird bits and pieces of obsolete technology. Our shows are loud and very visual.
Inhalator II: Leather and studs.
Mazathoth: Definitely rougher and dirtier than on our albums. And most of the music is played live, though we use the odd sequence or arepeggio here and there.
J. Hubner: If each of you had to pick one album that changed your life and pushed you into the direction of Nightsatan’s sound, what would that record be?
Wolf-Rami: Probably Zombi’s Surface To Air was the most important album that made me start this band in the first place. I had been thinking about starting a band, but that album grabbed me by the balls and forced me to make it happen. It opened new sonical realms I had not experienced before.
Inhalator II: John Carpenter – The Fog. Pure gold from start to finish.
Mazathoth: Tangerine Dream – Phaedra.
J. Hubner: Are you guys writing at all for a new record? How does the writing process work in the band? Do you get together in a practice space and throw ideas around, or does someone bring melodies or song structures to the rest and you go from there?
Wolf-Rami: We’re working all the time on new music. Sometimes it’s not fit for a Nightsatan song and it becomes something else. We all have some gear at home so we can try out new ideas and then bring them to our studio. We have a very comfy studio/rehearsal space in the middle of the city and it’s very easy to just go there anytime of the day/night and start noodling on synths.
Inhalator II: We actually just finished (thanks to Mazathoth) making music to a short movie that the director of Loops Of Doom, Chrzu, directed. It’s gonna come out as a DVD/7” early next year.
I would love to spend more time at our studio and write music/record it, but when you have a kid and have to work for a living, things get complicated. Well, that’s life.
Mazathoth: Sometimes we just jam and things evolve from there. Probably the most fun way of making music. But yeah, I don’t think that the writing never ends, new ideas emerge all the time. Fleshing them out into whole songs or even albums is the hardest part, I think.
J. Hubner: What can we expect from a new Nightsatan record?
Inhalator II: Something that will sound like Nightsatan. We are always evolving but I guess that the new stuff will sound nothing other than Nightsatan.
Mazathoth: A shakuhachi solo. And distortion.
J. Hubner: What’s in store for Nightsatan in the future? World domination in 2016? Will you guys be ready for the apocalypse?
Wolf-Rami: The best I could personally wish for Nightsatan in the year 2016 would be to get to play some overseas shows. So far we haven’t left northern Europe, but it would be a dream come true to play central Europe or even on a completely different continent. There’s a lot of stuff happening that is still too early to reveal, but it’s going to be another great year.
Inhalator II: New music and hopefully new places to play it.
Mazathoth: Yeah, I definitely want to do more gigs. So hopefully a lot of those. And a new album.