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Jari Laine (Torture Killer)

Interview with Jari Laine from Torture Killer
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 02 August 2013, 4:24 PM

With their explosive new album “Phobia”, Finnish Death Metal kings TORTURE KILLER are back with a vengeance and ready to conquer the scene. Guitarist Jari Laine took time out of his brutal schedule to answer Metal Temple’s Steinmetal’s questions about the band’s vision and inspirations. 

Hello there Jari, great to have you for this interview on Metal Temple. How have you been doing?

I’m doing just fine. The last show for now was at Tuska Open-air and it was packed and amazing. A really special show and if you ever get to play there you know what I mean.

Looking back to Torture Killer’s formation year of 2002, if I am correct, you guys decided that it was not enough being a Six Feet Under cover band and it was time to write stuff of your own making. What caused the sudden change? Was it a fine dosage of extra motivation perhaps or maybe plain boredom from covering someone else’s material?

Well it all happened so quickly it wasn’t like we got tired of playing them – we also did Obituary and some other stuff when a friend of ours heard about it and asked if we would come and play in this show he was arranging. We didn’t have a name or anything, so we picked a set of Six Feet Under from their first three albums and like every cover band does, take your name from one of the classic songs you were going to do… after that show we decided to write our own stuff with a similar approach and here we are. At first we had a balance between our songs and covers, and then we came up with more songs and pretty shortly stopped playing covers, maybe doing a song here, a song there.

After all this time, do you still perform live solely as a cover act for Six Feet Under or did you abandon it completely?

We stopped playing those years ago. The last cover song we’ve played was “Immortal Rites” from Morbid Angel when a legendary venue closed here in our hometown. We´ve done Deicide, Bolt Thrower, even one Madball cover at some Hardcore-meets-Death Metal nights. But yeah, we’ve been doing our own stuff for years now.

Since becoming Torture Killer, you guys released four studio albums, the newest one being “Phobia”, released now a while ago via Dynamic Arts Records. I really enjoyed the non-complexity of the music, the taste of old school Death Metal. I wonder how you feel about your musical influences?

Well I’m still a fan of those late 80’s, early 90’s Death Metal bands and I embrace their influence on us. I pick up stuff I like from those and try to write something in that direction, combining ideas and just trying to get that same “feel” to our stuff. In times of super complexity, high speeds and all that, I think there’s room for a band like us. Glad you found something pleasing in what we do.

Do you believe that you have managed to upgrade the old school arts into something of your own?

In some ways yes, I mean, I don’t kid myself thinking we are anything new or innovative…that’s not what we are about, but I do think we´ve managed to stir the influence pot so that there actually is something you can describe as “our sound”. There’s the use of different types of melodies and lead guitars…stuff like that. Blending them in so that they would fit naturally… maybe that’s the thing we have.

As for “Phobia”, do you perceive that it was a level up from your previous efforts? Generally, have you been trying to perfect you music into new highs or are you settling for “plain, simple and to the point”?

I really loved our previous EP “I Chose Death” and would’ve wanted to continue doing EPs. I am happy how “Phobia” turned out. A lot of work went into it, but from now on when we are free from our contract we can finally do what we want: focus on the right songs and not try to push something out just to fill an album. Having said that, I think we have good moments in all our albums, and once you come up with something good, that sets the par for the next ones, because you don’t want to sound you are doing washed up sequels of your old songs. We´re not getting paid for what we do, so we don’t have to meet any deadlines. All we have to do is write something we feel good about. You need to have that to make all this sense. You want to play good riffs and good songs, and the world doesn’t need anymore filler tracks and neither do we.

Let’s talk about “Written In Blood”. This one took hold of me and captured my taste buds and really shaped up as a fine Death N’ Roll showcase. What is your personal appreciation of it?

Yes I think that’s one of the best moments in the album. Very diverse song, very unusual song structure but with a very strong feel and vibe. Its definitely something “new” for us especially the semi-distorted guitars in the beginning. But like I said, the feel is right. It’s something that for sure will guide us in to the future, trying to use ideas like that with the riff-based stuff. To me, it’s all about the riffs. It’s really, REALLY, hard to come up with one good riff – not to mention an album worth of good riffs. You know that feel when you hear a catchy riff? The feel that you just want to fucking headbang yourself unconscious? That’s the thing people will remember. Nobody will remember a super fast drum roll (except drummers). It’s the song itself that counts and everything you do should serve the song, not individual egos of musicians. People will remember a good song; they won’t remember a band that did 10 albums with none.

Within that same song you had Chris Barnes of Six Feet Under as a guest vocalist, I assume him to be one of your band’s idols. How did you guys set it up? Did he pick the song or did you go to him with an offer to participate on this particular song?

As you might know if you’ve done the internet search that we share a history together, and he definitely is an iconic figure in the scene. I certainly look up to him, and being able to be friends and work with him is something I never thought would happen. After he asked for some ideas that they could potentially use for the new Six Feet Under album, I thought maybe he could help us out with this one song. The song had gone through numerous different versions and just weeks before into the studio, the final form of the song was reached. To me it sounded like an instrumental track but I couldn’t name it, so I sent it over and asked if he could take a listen and maybe come up with a fitting song title for it. He has a great talent of describing audio. He came back with full lines for a song and I loved the patterns he did on the first riff when the whole band kicks in… He also does the second part of the verse on the song, and I think he sounds explosive – one of the highlights of the album and it means a lot he’s there to do it with us.

Have you had the chance to support Six Feet Under sometime? If so, please share a few key moments of how it was like to perform beside your inspiration.

Sorry but no, we have had offers from the booking agents but those are just ridiculous “pay to play” type of deals bands are forced to take in the business. Hopefully one day that’ll happen.

Overall, do you feel that Death Metal music should be served as grotesque and blasphemous as possible or on the other way around, with progressivity and modernity?

Well, to me death metal has a specific elements and a style that I love, but bands are free to do whatever they feel, so don’t get me wrong – I’m not here to tell people what to do but for me, there are elements that I love, that need to be there. There are still catchy old-school Death Metal songs to be written and are very hard to come up with, but that’s where our eyes will be. You can only take something to a certain point until it becomes something different. Working within those limits is increasingly hard, but like trying to find the Holy Grail, people are still looking for it.

Anything planned for you guys for the support of your new release?

We’ve pretty much done all the shows for now. There will come a time to do more but for now, we’ll just take it easy and cool off for the summer.

Jari, I wish to thank you for your time to answer this interview. I found tremendous promise with your new album, and it would be great if you guys keep this same manner of music on to your next recordings. Any last words for the readers and fans?

Thank you so much for the kind words, I can tell you put time into this and it means a lot. Glad you found something worthwhile in our music to do this. Much appreciated. This is what we are and will for sure be doing in the future as well.


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