Beastmilk interview (Goatspeed)

"Rudimentary Peni made bored of black metal"

06/12/2013 @ 11:07
Finland's Beastmilk set foot in our musical life out of nowhere. Their post-punk (with rock 'n' roll and punk attitude) debut, "Climax", is one of the stand-out albums of the year. On vocals, we find Kvohst of Hexvessel, Code and Dodheimsgard, singing unlike anything he has sung before. We talked to guitarist and songwriter of the band's music, Goatspeed. Here's what he got to say...

BeastmilkHi, is it Manos?

Yes, this is Manos from, Greece, hello Goatspeed.
You look like Hulk Hogan, haha! (E.N.: my skype image)

Haha! Ok, let’s start. First of all, I would like you to introduce yourself, who are you Mr. Goatspeed and what is your course in the music world so far?
Ah, yeah, I’m Goatspeed, I play guitar in Beastmilk and I compose the songs, the instrumental parts of the songs, and Kvohst does the lyrics and vocal arrangements. I’ve earlier been involved in other stuff, nothing that you’ve ever heard of, but, like, you know, noise, ambient, experimental, black metal and that kind of introverted stuff and, at the moment, I’m active with Beastmilk and another electro-punk band called Rainbowlicker.

So, these are your first attempts to go to the outside world, outside Finland, let’s say?
Well, I don’t know, I mean, yeah, it’s my first album ever, yeah, but it’s not an attempt to go anywhere, except somewhere in my and Kvohst’s head I think, the other stuff is just a bonus.

Beastmilk - ClimaxSo, what is a beastmilk and why did you decide to name your band like that?
Well, when we were talking about the band names, we were, you know, trying around all sorts of thoughts that we had in our head back then and I was really obsessed by liquids (haha). I was thinking about the relevant of liquids in the society, to humanity and to planet earth and kind of the different aspects of liquids. If you think about milk, mother’s milk and then water, alcohol, black oil, urine, sperm, that whole thing and their different levels kind of affecting us, as humans, and you know some of the influences can maybe be seen as negative and some can be seen as positive and they are just kind of different cogwheels to this society. Then, the whole beast aspect of it, the biblical 666, the beast... There is, I guess, the human, in the end becoming god and then like just kind of inspecting who or what is really the beast and if you think about the role that oil is playing in world politics and who is using it, to what ends and then again if you think about mother’s milk and nurturing a child into this world and kind of that whole tension that’s going on there...

So are you trying to convey a political or social commentary through your music?
Well, Kvohst writes all the lyrics, so he would be the right guy to comment on that but personally, I think there are a lot of comments there… But I think it’s more on a personal level rather than on this kind of agenda level. It’s not our main purpose. I don’t feel that we are like preaching certain aspects of things to other people than ourselves.

The first one to pick you out from obscurity was Darkthrone’s Fenriz who praised your two-track demo back in 2010. How did this demo come to his hands and how did his praise affect your career?
I’m not sure exactly how. I mean, it might be so that Kvohst sent it to him, I’m not sure, but we didn’t really send it around. The only label we ever sent it to was Svart Records and they ended up signing us but I’m not sure how he got it. Maybe Kvohst sent it, maybe he got it some other way, I’m not sure. But yeah, in that sense, it affected us, it seems that a lot of people are following his blog and are interested in his taste of music. In that sense it affected physically how the album came about... Because, without him, Nate Newton from Converge wouldn’t have heard it. He may have picked it up from there, because then he ended up playing that stuff to Kurt Ballou and then ended up producing the album.

BeastmilkDid he himself offer to produce the album or did you propose to him?
No, we didn’t search for anyone. He proposed, he said that he would like to do it and that there would be time, like, in June or was it July, to do it. And it was this year, and we met up with him, last year, I think it was December or something, and we didn’t have an album ready at all back then so, since then it’s been quite a lot like rehearsing and writing stuff. I don’t remember how much we had done by then, but we were thinking about releasing a couple of 7 inches, before we met Kurt. But then he gave us the opportunity to work there and with him we thought why not just grab it and just go for it, you know, like, do write the album.

Yeah, Kurt Ballou is very famous for his producing other than his playing with Converge. So, you were very lucky, I think, to have him produce your album. Now, I would like to tell you that I really loved "Climax"; it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year.
Thanks, man, glad to hear that.

I really loved the last song especially, "Strange Attractors". So, I spot in your music many influences... I would describe you as something between Wipers, Sisters of Mercy, Danzig and maybe Echo & the Bunnymen’s atmosphere. Who would you spot as your main influences?
Well, I don’t know, I mean I’ve never heard the Wipers, never heard -I think- Echo & the Bunnymen. I maybe have heard once a Sisters of Mercy song or something like that, but it’s fun that people find all kinds of stuff in there. I think it depends on the musical taste of the listener. I think for me, personally, when we wrote the first track I think I was listening to a lot of English anarcho-punk, so I think Rudimentary Peni was for me like that (an influence), because I was really like drawn to the energy, the fury and the kind of grandeur. It was somehow really inspiring to me and after being really disenchanted with black metal and extremely bored with that, whatever its stance was to me, it became very stagnant, rigid and really uninspiring in many ways. Then I started finding new things all the time, I mean I love music and I try to find music all the time and interesting things to listen to and, so yeah, back then I think I was listening to a lot of, you know, Crisis from the UK during that time and afterwards, Chumbawamba, their early albums from the 80’s  

BeastmilkYeah, when they were actually punk.
Yeah, yeah, not so much the 'I get knocked down' stuff that they did in the 90s, the weird pop stuff. I’ve heard those songs, but that’s not very interesting to me. The old stuff is really good and yeah I remember that was something I was kind of thinking about a lot when we wrote the first songs.

Nice. Let’s talk a little bit about Kvohst. I loved him from Code and Dodheimsgard and I really adore Hexvessel, his current band. I am really curious how you knew he could succeed in this post-punk thing; it’s unlike anything he’s done in the past. How did you know he could manage such a thing?
I didn’t know. I’ve always been a fan of his stuff since the first Code album and when he was in Dodheimsgard, you know, back then it was probably my favorite band in the world. The 666 International had a huge impact on me when it came out, so I was just a fan of his stuff back then and then I ended up meeting him a couple of times abroad, seeing his concerts and stuff like that. I was just you know a fan boy. So then when he moved to Finland he just happened to move just a couple of blocks away from where I live and then we became friends and hang out and all of sudden we were doing some music together. So I didn’t think about it in the sense if he’s gonna be able to do it or not, I was just a big fan of what he had done before and I had become friends with him so it seemed like a natural thing to do.

His singing was a big surprise to me, a big and positive surprise.
Yeah, he’s doing an amazing job I think.

BeastmilkSo, now, I would like you to give us a picture of the music world in Helsinki.  What kind of music is popular there among young people and are there any underground bands we should check out?
Uh, I don’t know, let me think. One band I’ve been really excited about lately are friends who have a band called Ranger. You should really check them out if you haven’t heard it. These young 20-year-old guys who play this kind of weird, I don’t know, it’s really highly energetic and kind of thrash, heavy something. I don’t know, it might sound a bit dull and maybe it would sound like a lot of other people do it, but I feel they really captured something magical in their music and live they are just really amazing. They are on the label of Jussi Lehtisalo who is the guy behind Circle and I don’t know if you know.

Yeah, I really love Circle, from kraut rock to psychedelic rock to heavy metal, they play everything.
Yeah, yeah, I love his music also, but Ranger are signed to Ektro Records now, so it’s really a mini LP and previously to that they released two cassettes and tapes they are all really good releases. Apart from that there is a lot of hip hop stuff going on which I tend to like and then, I don’t know, there is a lot of stuff going on I think, a lot of punk music also and yeah just weird experimental stuff, there are a lot of gig places here and I think people are being pretty active about it.

Yeah northern Europe is likely to have many gig places and bands have many opportunities unlike here.
Yeah I guess so, maybe it’s not the same everywhere. Maybe we just take it a bit for granted, but, yeah, a lot of people go to the gigs and a lot of people are passionate about their music so it’s cool yeah, it’s quite active here.

BeastmilkVery nice. I would like you to state your opinion on music piracy. Does it help or does it annoy a band like Beastmilk?
Well, I mean, I’m glad if someone hears our music and that’s cool but I don’t think we ‘re gonna be a band that will ever sell that many records... Nah, I don’t think about those things really, I guess the only thing I’m concerned about with this release in particular, is that our label is a pretty small label and they kind of put –at least on their scale- a lot of like financial stuff behind it so I just hope they get their stuff back and that they are happy and then after that I don’t really care, haha.

Ok, it was nice talking to you. I really hope that your album will be a success and that it will be followed up by another album of such quality!
Yeah, I hope so, too. Thanks a lot for the kind words, nice talking to you, too!

The last words belong to you...
Hope to see you soon, Greece!

Have a nice evening!
You too, man, take care, bye!

Manos Paterakis