|Interview with: Manu Lehtinen (bassplayer, vocals)
Date: 30th of June 1999
Where: Rotterdam, the Netherlands in Nighttown (club) in a backstage room
Other bandmembers: Miika Partala (lead vocalist, guitarist), Kalle Paju (guitarist) and J-J Kontoniemi (drummer)
Band's Hometown: Jyväskylä, Finland
Discography: Tribal Eagle (EP; 1997), Street Corner Queen (1998), ...To Die And Gain (single, 1999), Here To Stay (1999)
Contact Address: Box 533, 40101 Jyväskylä, Finland. See Links section too
Interview by MPO
|Formed in 1993 Deuteronomium has brought the world their energetic deathmetal. This
year they released their second full-length record called Here To Stay and as a
support-act they played in Nighttown, Rotterdam with Mortification. Check out this
interview I did with founding member Manu Lehtinen.
What is the history of the band. As far as I know you started with some of your friends and your brother Jarno in 1993. Were you just friends starting together as out of fun or was there some kind of vision behind it?
Oh, I think when we first started we started it as a hobby and we wanted to make Christian deathmetal. We were big fans of Mortification and were pretty much influenced by them.
In the same year, 1993, you recorded the first demo, The Paths Of Righteousness. Why so soon a demo?
Because we had some songs and we wanted to get something on the tape. I used to be in another Finnish Christian metalband, earlier, and we had made a demotape with that band so we wanted to make a demotape with our new band too.
So, you had some experiences with recording in the past, so that made it easier to do a demo?
Yes, that's true. We already knew a bit about the studiowork and that. Now, I think about that time that we knew actually nothing.
What musical styles have influenced you over the years?
Like I said in the beginning our strongest influence was Mortification. We thought that every song had to have real fast grinding parts in it like Scrolls Of The Megilloth by Mortification. That was really a big influence for us. Later there came lots of different influences. Our first full-length album Street Corner Queen was very diverse, musically, and it had everything between black metal and rap in it. But we always liked heavy bands like Sentenced, Amorphis and Schaliach. Bands like that have been influences.
So much all deathmetal bands
Yeah, mostly. Mostly deathmetal bands and nowadays, if you listen to our new album, Here To Stay, you can find rock 'n roll influences in it. And I think Entombed is one of the main influences nowadays.
You already said that Street Corner Queen has lots of styles from black metal and deathmetal and there's even some reggae on it, I'm told. The new album is much more a unity, stylewise. Why that?
There's many reasons for that. One is that we wanted to do something more united. And the songs on the Street Corner Queen were made during a time period longer than two years, and the songs on the Here To Stay album were all made in a few months. So, that is one reason for it. Another reason is that we faced some problems with promoting our album. Some distributors didn't want to take it because, they said, they don't know whom to sell it to because there's so much different influences. So, there were many reasons for that.
You said in your biography that you hope people will learn from your mistakes. Reading the lyrics on the new album, I can't find that back, really. What life experiences are you trying to refer to?
I think my own experiences as a Christian because everyone of us makes mistakes. I've done many mistakes that I hope I never do again. I think, I hope, that by handling those things in my songs, I can give someone an opportunity to avoid these mistakes so that he or she can get the idea behind the lyrics and think whether he or she is in the same kind of situation, that the song is telling about. So that they will have more wisdom then I had, and avoid these things that have long lasting influences in your life.
And how is that crystallized on the new album?
Can you repeat that question?
Well, I wonder because you said that you want people to learn from your mistakes from the past. I went through all the lyrics on the new album but I just couldn't find the mistakes back. So, how do you write them down in lyrics?
Well, on that album there are lyrics written by me, Miika and by J-J. So, it's not a theme-album. I don't think there's very much songs that have to do with some kinds of my mistakes in the past, directly. Perhaps the earlier albums had more of that. But it's one of the things that I like to handle in my songs because I always write very personal lyrics about things I've gone through, about things I've heard or read about and that have made me think about those things. And stuff like that.
Yeah. Reading the lyrics on Here To Stay, I missed the personal description of your life like the first demo, Paths Of Righteousness, has a song about a friend of yours who is drinking beer on a beach. That's really descriptive of something going on in your life. Having that back in mind and reading then the biography about trying to formulate you own mistakes so people can learn from them, I didn't really find it back on the album. Did you do that more on older albums, like Street Corner Queen?
Perhaps, yes. But that song you mentioned, Apostasy, on Paths Of Righteousness- our first demo, was about a situation that was real hard for me. I wrote that song. I've done that many times when something's bothering or I have a difficult situation I put my thoughts on paper and I write a song about it. I think there wasn't any situations like that when we were writing Here To Stay. So, who knows, maybe when we record our next album there might be some lyrics like that if there are situations that affect me in that way.
And because the Here To Stay album was done in a few months that had influence on the lyrics.
Yeah, I think so. Many lyrics deal with things like, how do I say it, that life ends some day and what then? We wanted to make think about what's coming after you die. And because we wrote the lyrics in a few months it's naturally that the songs handle the same kind of themes.
Your lyrics are much about faith and are evangelistic in character while Miika's are about how difficult life is. What lyrical direction do you prefer?
Well, I don't think one of them is better then the other one. I think it's important that when you write lyrics you're not just trying to make some cool lyrics but you put your heart and soul in it. And you can stand behind what you say.
What is the impact of Deuteronomium, because of the lyrics and what you do?
We wanna....I hope we could people give people something more then just some good feelings, listening to our music. Of course, that's also important. But we also want to make them think about life, think about this reality and another reality, a spiritual reality. Think about the things the Bible tells about. And we want to tell them about Jesus, that Jesus has died because of their sins and that He wants to save them. And also about when you leave your life you can have Jesus, a rock-bottom that stands.
You said, 'I hope'. Do you see impact on peoples lives during the ministry of Deuteronomium?
Yes, we have seen that. The best impact we have seen, a few times, is people giving their lives to Jesus partly because of listening to our music, being at the concerts, talking with us. And I think that's the most important thing. And that's the best feedback we ever can have. To hear that someone has found a faith in Jesus through our music.
You're doing a few concerts in Holland now. Last Sunday you played for example in Gouda. How did people receive you there?
Well, that was a very interesting place where we played in. A youth church. We never did that before. We usually play in rockclubs and places like that. Youth-clubs. But never before in a church, or a youth-church, and it was really interesting and though the crowd wasn't very big I think many people liked our music and that was very good.
Are you Here To Stay?
(laughs) What do you mean?
Well, I mean, when people like you they want you back and that kind of stuff.
Yeah, I hope that we can come back to the Netherlands and play more gigs next time.
I hope so too. How are your experience so far? I know from Raffi (the Dutch Little Rose Productions promoter) that you're doing some promotional work. How is that going?
I thing there are pretty good chances to have some good results. We don't know it yet. We have sold some CD's to recordstores. We have been planning with Raffi how we should do the promotion and he's going to help us by contacting the magazines in the Netherlands and stuff like that. And also we hope that we can find a secular distributor for the market in Holland.
And did you succeed in finding a distributor?
Not yet because the guy who runs this distribution-business was having a vacation. So, we couldn't get in touch with him yet. But Raffi's going to handle that later.
Tonight you're going to play with Mortification as a support-act. Is that a fulfilling of a dream or just another step into the future?
Well, at least for me it's a fulfillment of a dream because I've been a fan of them since their first album. I've got all their albums. I like their music very much and I respect Steve Rowe as a Christian musician very much. But I also hope our career will go on from now on.
Your new album makes me think of the Swedish band Entombed. If you had to choose tonight between playing with Entombed or Mortification, what would you choose?
(laughs) Ah, that's a hard question.....Maybe I would like to play with Mortification more tonight. Because I haven't done that before and it's such a great band and I also think in the same way about things in life. But it would be great to play with Entombed some day too.