Interview with Ville-Pekka Valtonen – Rhythm guitar
Interview by Kayleigh McKenzie
Surut are a metal/hardcore band made up of five friends from Finland. In this interview we talk about their new self- titled EP which is full of aggressive, in-your-face songs that fit the feeling of 2020/2021. We also talk about what other artists influence Surut and their intense live shows.
Hey, thank you for your time. Could you please state your name and position in the band?
V – Hi, thank YOU for your interest! I am Ville-Pekka Valtonen, and I play the rhythm guitar.
1. How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard you?
V – You are starting off with a tough one! We sound like beating a gorgeous swan to death with a medieval mace, all the while gazing deep into its beautiful, dying eyes and crying hysterically. Or something of that nature, I guess!
2. How did you all meet to form the band?
V – Me and Juuso, the other guitar player, have been playing music together since we were kids. We have had multiple phases and projects together musically, and eventually over the course of our musical expeditions the rest of the band formed around us. I think every individual member contributes their own sound to the broth, which adds up to our current sound.
3. Where did the band name come from?
V – “Suru” is Finnish, which means grief/sorrow. “Surut” is just a plural form of the word, so maybe “Griefs” would be a direct translation. I think “suru” is an extremely powerful and beautiful word, that captures something essential in our content sonically and lyrically.
4. Is there a concept behind your self titled EP?
V – The concept kind of formed along writing the songs and their lyrics. The baseline that we all agreed upon in the beginning of the writing process was to be as honest as possible in composing songs that we love to listen to, and lyrics that truly mean something to us on a personal level. The end-result is a very personal and meaningful record, which is themed around struggling with extreme emotions and losing control.
5. What was the recording process like for this piece?
V – We had a blast! Our producer and good friend of ours Oula Maaranen is such a pro and made our lives very easy during the recording process. We also came well prepared and had all our songs thought out in detail before the recording sessions. We did what we had to do and partied like demons!
6. Was there a song that you found the hardest to write?
V – All the songs came to existence naturally; I cannot say any of them were particularly hard to write. “Vihollinen” has some technical parts that took some extra sweat. “Palo” was the hardest one lyrically, possibly because it takes a bit different standpoint to all the other songs on the record. Whereas the other songs focus on very dark subjects and approaches, “Palo” is about desperate love and hope. It seems to be easier to write lyrics to heavy songs that are all about the doom and gloom than taking a more positive and wholesome approach.
7. On the flip side to the last question, did you have a favourite song to record?
V – I had heaps of fun recording “Nousen”! It is such a tight and badass song with filthy riffs and killer drum-sequences. Though it is technical, it was still somehow the easiest one to record.
8. Are there any artists you would say are influences on your music?
V – There is a TON of artists that have influenced our music. The main inspiration to compose comes from hearing a cool record, song, or a specific part of a song, or even from witnessing some totally different form of exciting art. The list of influences is endless and ranges all the way from the kinds of Converge, Deafheaven, Fall of Efrafa and Daitro to Sigur Ros, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Tom Waits and countless others.
9. You guys have been said to have an intense live show. Do you have any memories that particularly stand out from being on stage?
V – Our last show in November was particularly special. It was the first show we got to do since putting out our record, and we had the possibility to make it happen on this short period when the COVID-situation in Finland was better and the restrictions were lifted. The atmosphere was so unreal and ecstatic, everyone was so excited to finally have a chance to perform and see killer live shows. At the same time there was this general realization that it could take some time before anything like this would be possible again, so the whole thing just exploded into a frenzy, it was one of the sweatiest, most exhausting, and most fun gigs I have ever played.
10. When live music is allowed again is there anywhere that would be a dream place to play?
V – We would LOVE to tour outside of Finland – anywhere. I have heard that the crowds in Russia and Eastern Europe like to get crazy, I would love to see that for myself!
11. Do you have any hobbies that are keeping you busy during this hard time?
V – Making music is possibly the most important one for all of us. I also draw, work out, and do adventures in the nature. Bless Finland for all its gorgeous forests to wander in! I think it is especially important during these times to have something meaningful to do, and to take care of oneself physically and mentally.
12. I thought the artwork for the EP was really cool, what was the inspiration behind it?
V – I did the artwork, so I am very flattered , thank you! The idea was basically to capture the concept of the album, the meaning of our name and our pursuit of absolute musical honesty as an entity. Also, it tries to convey, that even though the album is about these extreme experiences, struggles and sensations we personally have gone through, there is something inherently shared, common, and human in them. That is why I chose this sort of Da-Vincian Vitruvian man-character to represent humanity in general.
13. Can you give me any pros and cons about being in a band?
V – PROS: It can be the most important, rewarding, and therapeutic way for one to create and to express oneself. At the same time, it is a group-effort, which creates a strong sense of unity and belonging. I am extremely lucky to have the privilege to hang out and work with these mad-talented dudes.
CONS: Takes all your time and money.
14. Do you think that image is important for a band?
V – Yes and no, depends on the goals and the approach a band has. As for now, it is important for us to be honest and sincere, so it is challenging to “craft” any kind of fake image for us in that setting – we are what we are. This is our image currently, I guess. The music comes first.
15. Is there a particular story you want to tell with your music?
V – Our music is about and inspired by extreme experiences and emotions – both positive and negative. It is our goal to convey them through the music. Angry, sad, crazy, melancholy, beautiful, intoxicating, energetic and emotional are some of the descriptions that can be found in reviews and on our platforms on internet. Most of the people that have written about us do not speak our language and have no idea what the lyrics are all about, but they still gather all this from our stuff – all of which is very close to the truth. Considering all this, I think we have succeeded at least to some degree.
17. Thank you for your time, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
V – Thank you for your interest! Please check us out from Spotify, Youtube or Bandcamp and come talk stuff with us on Instagram or Facebook. We are currently working on a new full-length, which will kick some serious ass. Also, invite us to play anywhere when it is possible to arrange shows again; We would love to come to your hometown to annihilate! You rule!