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Toni Toivonen (Hanging Garden)

Interview with Toni Toivonen from Hanging Garden
by Cameron Ervin at 20 February 2013, 5:08 PM

With the release of the their third album At Every Door the doomish sextet from Finland, HANGING GARDEN has made quite an impression in the metal globe sphere. Using Metal Temple’s patented jet propulsion system, with the help of Cameron Ervin, that managed to fly until there in order to get an interview with their vocalist Toni Toivonen and find out more about the band, the new record and other cool stuff.

Hello there Toni, how are you? Thanks for taking the time for this interview for Metal Temple.

Very well! The new album has just been released, and it has been received quite nicely.

Let's start off with something general before reaching to your new album. What is your main inspiration for making music?

It’s an efficient channel for thoughts, ideas emotions and creativity in general. From the myriad ways of self-expression in existence, it’s what felt the most natural. Also, it gives you the excuse to hang out with your mates and travel around performing the pieces crafted together, and some people might even enjoy listening to it. Personally, if our music incites some kind of strong experience even in a single listener, I consider the effort worthwhile.

What got you interested in Metal music in the first place?

The usual: coming across a song as a kid, being awestruck by it, and hungering for more. For me, it started with the likes of Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow and such.

 Now about the band. How did you and the other members of Hanging Garden come together to form the band?

Well, the latest incarnation is quite different from the one on “Inherit the Eden”, with only Mikko left from the line-up of that time. One by one, the old guys faded and some common acquaintances were found as replacement. Our keyboardist Nino and I have been in bands together for some 10 years, and he asked me to fill in for a few gigs when Ari took off, and it happened that I was a permanent replacement

Where did the name “Hanging Garden” come from and what does it mean?

I think it’s a name of many meanings, and a kind of a pun also. Go figure. \[Editor’s notice: Boobs? J]

Which artist, would you say, has influenced you most?

-Myself? It’s impossible to point out just a single artist that would have had the strongest impact. Instead, I’ll give you a handful of those most meaningful to myself. It includes artists such as Ulver, Nick Cave, Tenhi, Arcturus, Tom Waits and of course the obvious ones such as early My Dying Bride, Katatonia and Opeth.

How would you describe the music Hanging Garden creates to someone who has not heard of the band yet?

Its heavy, melancholic and ethereal. It’s the kind of music with a tendency to take you to some other place. In this case, that place is not a happy one.

What can you tell us about the new album?

 Well, I’ll tell you about the way it was recorded. Having the necessary know-how and equipment in the band, we decided not to go to a studio at all. Instead, we wanted to use some nice and atmospheric locations in the recordings. We went to Nino’s cabin in the woods of Pernaja, and set up the drum studio setting there. You can find some material about it on Youtube. There we went to sauna, ate good food and recorded the drums next to a fireplace, in the cold late autumn nights of a weekend in November. The rest of the album was recorded in various home studios.

How about its title, "At Every Door", what did you mean by that?

This one I’ll have to leave unanswered. Some things, such as the album title, have some vaguer references, and it’s nice to leave something for the listener to find out. It’s not very hard to find out, with google at your fingertips and all…

Any interesting power points, when it comes to the song, that are is worth mentioning? Maybe special moments of clarity while recording or song writing?

I’ll tell you a story about the strangest song of the bunch, Wormwood. The way it came to sound was a kind of lucky accident. While recording the drums, we were using the software Reaper, which I wasn’t very familiar with. I botched the safe-copy, and the drum recordings of the first third of Wormwood were lost. I was crestfallen, as that was supposed to be the sure-fire metal song of the album. We considered building a drum track from samples, but that didn’t feel right. Fortunately, we decided to go all-out experimental with this one, and do a machine-drum filled eerie intro, with completely different vocals. What was supposed to be the most straightforward growl-verse/clean-chorus song, came out a whole lot different. In the future, we will most certainly experiment more with these kinds of sounds.

How do you guys go about writing a new album?

Individual members record and share their ideas, then we gather together, jam on those ideas and let them mature that way. After this, we make demo versions in quite a similar way as we recorded the last album. The album version will be a kind of perfected version from the previous demoing, with all the last-moment ideas and nuances added as a flavor, and everything recorded with fresh drumheads and strings and a well considered sound.

Any plans for touring?

We have plans, but they will most probably have to wait at least until next fall. Individual gigs will be played in Finland during the spring and summer.

Where do you think Hanging Garden will be in a few years from now?

Hopefully with another new album, and having played a lot of live shows. Hopefully with a sound that is refined and developed even further.

Toni, I wish to thank you for this interview. It would be great to see how you guys are doing. Enjoy the new album and what will come next.

Thanks for the interest! New stuff is already on the way…


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