Time of Despair (Century Media)
An interview with drummer Aksu Hanttu
by Scott Hefflon
You’re the founding member, along with the guitarist Tom Mikkola?
Yes. We were in a local band together, but it was a different band with a different name and a different style.
I don’t have your first record, The Treasures Within Hearts, because it was just on Spikefarm, but I have and really like the two most recent records distributed by Century Media, Gone and Time of Despair. But the first one was significantly different, right?
The first album had a different singer, so it sounds quite different. About a year after we did The Treasures Within Heart, he decided to leave the band. That album also had a different bass player. Gone and Time of Despair both have Mika (Tauriainen) singing, and he has a much stronger voice.
Time of Despair has more of an aggressive vocal style.
Mika has really found his own voice. On Gone, the vocals were much more clean, and on this one, they are much more rock.
It’s really a guitar-crunchy record with passionate vocals and sweet keyboard, but the drumming is kind of in the back of the mix.
Yes, many people are saying that. And the funny thing is, I was the only band member present during the mixing of the album.
While vocally, the bands are obviously different, both Entwine and Lullacry (also on Spikefarm) have very rockin’ rhythm sections. Do you twirl your sticks?
Stick-twirling… You know, where you twirl the stick between your fingers while playing?
Oh! (laughs) No, not really… On stage, I sing background vocals, and I also take care of the background tape with the additional keyboards and strings, so I’m a busy guy on stage.
The female vocals on the title track are not by your keyboardist Riita (Heikkonen) but by someone else?
Saara Hellström. She’s been our studio female singer since the first album. She’s in a quite famous band in Sweden called Neverwood.
How old are the members of Entwine?
I’m 23. Mika is our oldest member. He’s 27.
What kind of music did you grow up on, and what do you listen to now?
I’ve always listened to a lot of different music, but a lot of metal. In Finland, we have some very cool bands, like Sentenced. And Nightwish. And Lullacry, Children of Bodom, and To/Die/For. I also like some black metal bands, like Immortal from Norway and Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir…
Some very aggressive stuff, what about the more dark romantic stuff? I’m a big fan of Tiamat…
Oh yeah, they’re very good. Also Paradise Lost and The Gathering, from the Netherlands. They have a very cool atmosphere. We all listen to a lot of different music… Type O Negative is very, very good, and I think we all really like Rammstein, from Germany. Everything about that band is good.
What’s Finland like? What’s behind this “sad” movement of “suicide rock”? Moody ballads and the whole “dark embrace” thing?
What? Who’s sad? Our hometown is quite small, but in Finland, there are cities. Maybe small in comparison to your cities…
But it’s not like you’re all sheep farmers or something…
So you have, like, paved roads and indoor plumbing and cable TV, right?
Yes, of course. We live in Lahti, which has had the ski-jumping championships. It’s a pretty famous skiing town, known throughout Europe.
Michael Monroe is Finnish, isn’t he?
Yes. Hanoi Rocks played this summer and I saw one of the shows and it was very, very good.
They’re more glam rock, but there are a lot of similarities between Goth rock and glam rock.
In some ways, yes. Glam rock is not very big anymore, but Hanoi Rocks is still a very popular band here in Finland.
Are you or the band fans of The Cure and New Order and so forth? More dark New Wave-type bands?
Mika likes The Cure very, very much, but I don’t like them so much.
When you’re not touring or playing shows on weekends in Finland, what do you do for work?
I’m studying music technology to become a producer and engineer, I have two more years to go.
You’re a six-piece, which is quite a lot of people in a band, does that ever become a problem?
Only on small stages. (laughs)
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