TRACEDAWN, the “Turbocharged” Death Metal Act of Finland – Interview with Guitarist Roni Seppänen

Year 2008, TRACEDAWN’s first release sees the light of day and in no time the band is booked for venues like Wacken Open Air and Summer Breeze in Germany, and Tuska Open Air in Finland. In 2012 they advance their third studio album, ‘Lizard Dusk‘, and a new frontman – Niko Kalliojärvi, the much-acclaimed former vocalist of AMORAL. The band delivers modern melodic death metal in the typical creative Finnish vein and has a solid international fanbase. We saw in TRACEDAWN a proof of Finnish proficiency and talent ever since their stormy debut, and asked guitarist Roni Seppänen about the evolution, the past and present of the band.

MFF: Greetings from MFF! Looking back on 2012, Tracedawn’s release does stand out among the most interesting of the year… Firstly, what is ‘Lizard Dusk’ signifying?

Roni Seppänen: You mean the title ‘Lizard Dusk’? I’ve got no idea. Pekko came up with the name but he didn’t really tell what it meant. I guess he just digs reptiles and such.

MFF: Tracedawn managed to captivate metal fans worldwide right with its first release. That was back in 2008. Was it something that you expected? How was the ride so far? A bunch of young guys making music in the city that’s bustling with top-class metal bands…

R.S.: The ride’s been good so far and we’re all excited about ‘Lizard Dusk’ and the release of the new EP. The couple of European tours and festival gigs we did supporting ‘Ego Anthem’ were all amazing experiences and helped us gain more international attention. Even though we’re always thrilled to play in front of new audiences, it’s also nice to play occasionally in Helsinki in front of familiar faces. There’s so many good metal bands here in Finland that’s it’s really hard for new bands to stand out. Some rock clubs have even stopped hiring metal acts because of the oversupply. I guess we’re the lucky ones, since we’ve played around 10 gigs in Helsinki this year.

MFF: You even had a gig at Wacken Open Air, and that’s quite a milestone for any band’s career, especially for young ones! How was the Wacken gig and what changes did it bring along?

R.S.: The gig at Wacken was a lot of fun. I think we played a few minutes overtime and the electricity was cut during the last song. Somehow that just made it even more memorable experience. It was the second gig we had played outside Finland so it felt like the biggest thing in the world at the time.

MFF: The melodic death metal scene in Finland is highly valued – and crowded, too. Perhaps this got Tracedawn to add so many different creative elements to the new tracks? Or was it simply a matter of putting together musicians with different preferences and ideas?

R.S.: I think the stuff on the new album just happened somehow. I don’t think we’ve ever tried to sound original or anything. This album just turned out to be a bit more melodic than the first two. There’s also some “jazzy” elements and groovy stuff in there that just came by accident. When you try to create something “original” on purpose it might easily turn out to be artsy.

MFF: What is the atmosphere like within the band? Best friends or personality clashes?

R.S.: We all get along well and there’s no bad blood between the current members and the ex-members. So the working environment is just great.

MFF: It feels like Tracedawn has taken a new direction when Niko was brought in. The feeling of the new material is less introspective and more “in your face”. Was this new attitude dictated by the newly-acquired frontman, or was there already a changing vibe within the band? and how did you eventually choose Niko?

R.S.: We’re always trying to move forward as a band and I guess we went another step ahead with Lizard Dusk. The new material is much more straight-forward than the old stuff, so in that sense it’s definitely more in-your-face. Antti left the band around the time we were recording the drum parts for the album and we had to spend almost six months without a singer. So the fact that Niko joined the ranks really motivated us as a band, and maybe that’s something you can hear on the record.

MFF: What is the feedback you’ve been getting on the latest album? In terms of sales, gigs, fans’ reactions…

R.S.: I think most of our listeners have liked it. We’ve played a lot of new material live and people seem to dig it. To some of the older fans it just might be too melodic. I don’t know much about the record sales, but I’m pretty sure they’re not huge. But I guess that’s the trend nowadays.

MFF: Would you detail a bit the lyrical themes on ‘Lizard Dusk’ and the moods involved? It often seems like you guys are having much fun when building up some of the songs, in spite of some bitter topics! Feels like it’s more playful now, more enthusiastic, and also more defiant. So how about the current topics and vibes?

R.S.: I don’t know much about the lyrics. Pekko and Niko wrote all the lyrics for the album, so you’d have to ask them. There’s a lot of humor involved for sure and I think some of Pekko’s lyrics deal with the classic Jim Morrison type themes like sex and death.

MFF: And then you decided to have even more fun by creating acoustic versions for the new songs…

R.S.: We were asked to play an acoustic gig last Spring and it turned out to be a success. Then we were asked to record a couple of acoustic songs as bonus tracks for the Japanese release of Lizard Dusk and we ended up putting four songs on tape. Our Finnish label dug them so much that they wanted to release them as an EP. And it turned out to be pretty good.

MFF: Is Tracedawn going to have a gig-filled schedule in 2013 or the members plan to focus on their other bands?

R.S.: We have a couple of gigs booked for 2013 but I think we’ll have to start focusing on writing new material. We’d love to play more gigs outside Finland but unfortunately it’s been almost impossible to organize them. So I guess we’ll try to come up with some new material next year!

MFF: Alright! 🙂 Good luck and thank you for your time, Roni. I’m looking forward to witnessing some Tracedawn stage action in Helsinki or elsewhere!


Tracedawn Official Website

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