25 February 2024

S-TOOL – 16-09-2017

[schema type=”person” name=”Ville Laihiala & Aksu Hanttu” description=”Interviewed by: Sabine van Gameren & Juho Karila” ]It is a bit before the release show of the debut album of S-TOOL when we are talking with Ville and Aksu about this album. Aksu has the final products in his hands for the first time and we learnt a lot about how this came to what it is.

“Tolerance 0” is an album that comes mainly from Ville’s own hands. He thought at first that the end of Poisonblack would be a sort of end of his participation from musicbusiness, but at home the writing of music continues. Recording some music after listening to songs of Metallica and old ACDC was resulting in something inspiring. “When I finally picked up my guitar I played riffs, not like I usually did… playing chords. I just wanted to challenge myself and it was really fun to do this”, Ville tells us.
So then the recording starts. Some riffs, some demo’s were recorded and according to Ville it was his wife that encouraged him to get a band up for this material to grow into what we now know as S-TOOLs “Tolerance 0”. The search went on and via friends Aksu got in, and so the rest followed from that.

Quite some material had been written, but not all was up for the standards that the guys had in mind. “I had around 60 songs ready. Most of them were pretty awful, some songs on this album came at the very last minute” Ville tells. An album that has been made with a strong eye for detail and that they have taken their time to put some stress on that also comes forward when we are talking with Aksu, who produced the album. “We thought about the whole album a lot and I tried to figure out what Ville was looking for”, he tells. We can imagine it takes a bit knowing they had not worked together before and this is a whole new thing to start. “Then when I found that I tried to make my own vision of it”, Aksu continues.

What the band had been aiming for was a quite rough and raw sound and for those who heard the record, you can clearly hear that they succeeded with it. Ville comments: “Throughout the album we wanted to keep the not-overpolished sound. Unlike what everybody seems to be doing these days. Keep it raw and simple”. Also Aksu has some sentiment on this, “I tried to make something not so basic, not so polished like what you hear from Sweden a lot nowadays. Sad but true. Where is the old Swedish sound? It’s gone! Think of In Flames and those kind of bands. They sound so light, too polished. We wanted to make it rough.”
When we spoke a bit more on this the name Entombed came up and knowing the guys played a cover of them also in the live show of this night it is clear that the appreciation of that sound is of some sort of influence here too.

But the album, as well as the first song of the evening is “Lights Out”. We thought it to be a sort of transition song between what has been done before in Poisonblack towards the sound of S-tool. Although Ville tells us that is not directly the case, there is some sort of link to that though as Ville tells us: “It was actually going to be on the next Poisonblack album, not in this form, it changed quite a lot. It is an old song and it felt like a great opener for this album”. In the end they found it the perfect opener in which they are probably right.

When talking about a couple more songs of the album we hear Ville say that every song has to feel relaxed when they are playing and then we start wondering about “ And You Call Yourself Sane” which with its daring sound we were imaging to be one that needs careful attention when playing live. With a bit of a smile Ville says: “Yeah, I still can’t play it”. Obviously joking, but they tell that they all just need to practice it. Which seems a good idea in general. Looking more at the album as a whole he says the album brings him more joy. “If you listening to the lyrics it is that I am not feeling sorry for myself any more. the main thing was that it had to come naturally, you can’t force anything out. I am talking about the music. That is the reason why it is so simple, you can’t play it more complicated”.

To get to this album, the guys had started a crowdfunding campaign. We were wondering if that changed anything, having some pressure of the people who donated lurking behind the door, but it seems that for Ville it did not affect him that much. He states clearly that he just did not want to sign the band to a label for an artist contract. “Even though I knew that as a band we don’t have anything to offer to people. We were broke, no music recorded, so we just asked if you wanted to take part in this to help us record the album. Turns out people were interested”, he explains. Besides the crowdfunding they also found some support in the Finnish radio station Radio Rock. They have been speeding up the process by pitching in as well. About this Ville explains: “I got this phonecall with the question: Do you need money? And I said, yes we do. So they offered to pay the rest of the budget, what we still missed to record the album in exchange for playing a couple shows for them”.

Some shows have been played and the band has been doing some festival shows as well. Now the album is out the options are open, the album is not only released in Finland but soon as well in the GAS area (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and Japan, so we bet to see the guys roading there also. But first some more Finnish shows are ahead.

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