Right after the release of Extinction Era, Mors Subita’s fourth album, I had the pleasure to ask founder and guitarist Mika Lammassaari some questions.
Hello and first of all thanks a lot for your time! Would you mind introduce yourself and Mors Subita for someone who doesn’t know you yet please?
Mika Lammassaari (guitar): My pleasure. I´m Mika Lammassaari, I’m the lead guitarist, composer and founding member of Mors Subita. We come from Northern Finland and play brutal and beautiful Melodic Death Metal. The band has existed for almost 20 years and it feels we have just started.
Extinction Era, the band’s fourth album is just out. How do you feel about this album? How are the feedbacks?
Mika: Feedback has been overwhelmingly good thus far. We feel very satisfied with the outcome and think we made a very strong album.
What is the story behind this album? How does the composition process happen? Is it different from the beginning?
Mika: The story is quite straightforward, we wanted to push our limits on every level, on the melody, speed, brutality etc. and I think we succeeded in that. The lyrics are quite dark and speak a lot about depression for example and other personal issues. There’s still hope in some parts, so the balance is achieved as well. I think the album sounds a bit more like a mixture of our 2nd and 3rd album with some new elements also.
The compositions are usually created in late hours in my home studio. Sometimes the process is easy, sometimes the song takes 5 or 6 versions to come to its final form. I tend to not be satisfied very easily, there has to be goosebumps or other strong emotion connected to the composition for it to be ready.
Inspiration was very easy to achieve this time also, there was lots of things that happened during the last few years which had to come out in some way from my head. There’s also a bit darker side to these experiences, which can be found on my upcoming solo album Obligatory Human Destruction.
The band started more than twenty years ago. As the band’s leader, except line-up changes, what are the main changes you notice?
Mika: We don’t take ourselves and this whole this as seriously anymore. Of course we are serious about music, but everything around it not that much. I at least only want to write good songs and something I can also enjoy myself listening to. We don’t care about what people think about us or our music, how we should change it to get more popularity, we just do our thing and that’s it. Success or not, I still will write my music.
What is the relation between the artwork and the music you play in Extinction Era?
Mika: It´s our graphic designer Nikos Stavridakis’ idea. I think it captures the essence of the darker lyrics, the mental health issues, hatred, lack of compassion etc. and the brutality of the music.
I noticed that many of your songs are really vivid, but there are also some soft ones, like Farewell on this new album. How do you manage to infuse rage or quietness into your music?
Mika: Easily, there has to be balance. If you go full throttle the whole 40min album, it´s like one chunk of boring, there has to be dynamics on the album. If you have a quiet emotional song which is followed by a total grindcore blast, it will keep the interest up. Well, at least this album was created to do this exact thing.
What are your main inspirations to create your music? Did your previous band experiences help you in this musical journey?
Mika: Well, I think I write music when I feel something worth writing about. We finnish people are known for being quite introverted and quiet. We keep to ourselves easily. So, music is a very good portal for speaking your mind. In a way it helps me clear my mind and works as some sort of medicine.
The band recently welcomed Juho Näppä on guitar, after two years of only being live member, do you feel the band just made a step forward?
Mika: Sure, Juho has brought lots of new energy to the band and he is quite a forceful figure on stage and outside. It’s usually very tough job to find the right person to fit the band, it takes a lot to be honest to be a band member. Juho is a total work horse and willing to give 100% for the band and also he´s a beast on guitar and a really nice guy in general. So, it truly is the bands benefit to have him on board, and we´re glad to have him.
I know that Covid-19 crisis just fucked up a lot of things, but how did you manage to take advantage of the situation as a band? How does it affect your personal life?
Mika: Even tho all the booked shows were cancelled, we have been keeping very active. We´re planning to shoot 2 more music videos and I have been also very busy with writing the next album. It has affected our personal lives also, but gladly we and our closest ones all have stayed healthy thus far.
In France, the country I live, there are no live shows anymore since March. We had to sit to attend live shows this summer, but I know that in Finland it is not the same. Is playing in front of an audience different from before?
Mika: We haven’t played since february this year, but yes, some festivals were held during the summertime. But most of the bigger festivals were cancelled. Some shows have also been held with strict rules, but unfortunately I have not attended these shows, so it’s hard to say how it affects the atmosphere. If I had to guess, it’s not making the shows better at least.
Do you already have plans for the future you can talk about?
Mika: Yes, we´re writing the next album already and shooting two more music videos in the coming times.
I personally make a huge difference between Finnish Metal bands and bands from other countries, because Finland’s sound has very cold and majestic tones. Do you agree? Maybe you have an explanation for that?
Mika: Might be yes, it’s probably the well known finnish melancholy. You just have to listen to some of the finnish old folk songs and you can really hear the similarities.
How did you discover Metal back in time? Which band or song gave you the will to create or join a band and play on stage? Did you also remember the first time you picked an instrument up? When and how was it?
Mika: I remember listening to Guns n’Roses cassettes when I was still in primary school like 1994 and also Offspring and Nirvana. Some of these songs’ energy really spoke to me and I remember I first wanted to play the drums along with these songs. We used to band the hell out of our school friends Tama drums in his basement. Of course we could not play for shit, only like the basic beat, but I remember I was so excited about that simple banging, like I had really found something I felt a huge passion for.
Later on, my cousin and his drummer friend introduced me to AC/DC, Pantera, Sepultura, Megadeth etc. Around 1997-1998 I started really practicing guitar and later I joined their band when I could play on the needed level. Later on we started Mors Subita with the drummer of that first jam band.
I can´t remember if there was a certain band or song which inspired me to play, I guess it was just love at first listen and the rest just followed. I did not think about playing live, I just wanted to play with the other members. Music has always been the most important thing, everything else is secondary.
What are your best and your worst experiences as a musician?
Mika: Best experiences have been always when I feel like I wrote some musical piece or a song that I really like. Also some of our most memorable shows with Mors Subita have been really exciting, like playing the mainstage of Tuska Metal Open Air in Helsinki in 2015, and playing in Japan in 2018 for three shows.
Worst moment probably, and funniest at the same time is when we played a tiny show in Kuusamo, Finland. It was more like a pub and the whole time the atmosphere was very aggressive. During the show, one person gulped some beer and spit it on our vocalist. That was truly a gig to remember.
What would be your dream career if it wasn’t musician? What are your hobbies in life aside from music?
Mika: I think I have currently very interesting day job working at an audio design company. I think I could not think of more suitable job at this time. For hobbies I try to work out every now and then, I play outdoor sports with my kids and work on cars a bit.
What if I ask you to compare Mors Subita’s music with a finnish meal? Which one would you pick and why?
Mika: Rössypottu, which is bloodpudding with pork and potatoes. It’s a local delicacy and very tasty!
Last question: imagine you can go on tour all around the world with Mors Subita as opener and three other bands, who would you choose?
Mika: Rammstein, AC/DC and Metallica.
Thanks a lot for your time, that was the last question for me! Final words are yours!
Mika: Keep the Metal flowing and keep on supporting the music you love.