M. Lehto (October Falls) interviewed

You write long songs. At what point do you go, “OK, I’m done. The song is complete.”? M. Lehto: A Collapse of Faith and also the previous album The Womb of Primordial Nature have long songs on them, no question about it. It’s something that worked for me naturally as I usually like to make conceptual albums instead of just individual tracks. It has been something that just happens, not something I’ve really planned in advance. However, I felt that A Collapse of Faith takes that path as far as I can reach, so since it was recorded, I’ve demoed much shorter tracks for the next album. I still always want to keep things tied together, but I also want to reach something a bit different next time. To answer your question, a track is done when it feels that the highest point has been reached.

Most bands have a Myspace or Facebook to promote their music. You don’t. Why is that?
M. Lehto: I cannot understand what leads people to use such channels for communication, especially with all those “Hope you’re fine” messages, adding people to your friends and commenting how you like their posts, etc. After all, you don’t know those people, you have no real contact with them and the overall atmosphere is just as plastic as it can be. I have nothing against emails and am open to communicating with people, but I have no urge to support or be a part of that MySpace/Facebook/Twitter circus, no matter how much easier it could make some things.

Would you call your non-Myspace and non-Facebook stance unique?
M. Lehto: Not really, as there are a lot of groups with the same attitude towards social media like MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, but there are also a lot of groups and individuals who have had the same attitude earlier, but eventually broke down and opened sites to get more exposure and promotion. I’m sure it can be a successful promotion channel, but I have written earlier that October Falls will not participate in anything like that and I’m going to stand behind my words, no matter how much the decision limits worldwide promotion. I don’t believe in jumping from one wagon to another.

A Collapse of Faith means what exactly?
M. Lehto: Basically, I took the title from the lyrics as I felt it fit perfectly for the aura around the time when the album was been made and it’s also about the theme of the concept where the old traditions are slowly fading away. It’s not really that one dimensional, but a bit hard to describe in full.

The album is divided into three parts. How are the parts connected?
M. Lehto: For me, it could’ve been only a one track album, but I wanted to separate it in three different parts on the CD index, mainly because it’s not something you can call an ‘easy listening’ album and I wanted to leave the option to choose which part to listen to. That was the main reason, but it was also about the fact that if and when it will be released on vinyl, it would’ve been cut into parts anyway because of the play time limitation for each side, so I thought it was better to cut down also for the CD. Overall, the whole album is a big concept in every way and not just three different tracks.

All of your CDs use roman numerals as titles. Is there a reason for this?
M. Lehto: For me, all the albums are more like one big picture than just single songs and that’s why I’ve mostly only named the album and kept the tracks without actual titles, other than the name of the release and the number of the track. There have been a few exceptions though, the first version of Tuoni had titles and so did the tracks on The Streams of the End, but those are also the albums that contained material from a longer period of time instead of a more conceptual approach.

Musically, October Falls is melodic and dark metal. Initially, you were inspired by Katatonia and Opeth, but you’ve moved on. What drives October Falls musically at this point?
M. Lehto: Those influences were basically around at the very beginning, however those very first recordings are quite hard to come by and none of the official releases have that obvious influences from either of them really, maybe a bit of old Opeth here and there, but other than that, not that much although I like pretty much everything Katatonia have done and also older Opeth and also some later material. Overall, the inspiration comes from everything surrounding life itself, but if I were to think about the music itself and to mention few names, I could mention bands like Ulver, Hades, Empyrium, Tenhi, Drudkh and Primordial. I don’t care to be a copycat but to use the influences and mold them as part of my own vision.

There are two sides to October Falls. A metal side. An acoustic side. You’ve separated those sides with different releases and different logos. Why the separation?
M. Lehto: It was after I recorded the debut full-length album, Marras, when I started to write some new material and felt that it worked better with a harsher apaproach, so I decided that it was not wise to limit the expression to only acoustic music, but I also didn’t care to form another group, but instead I decided to keep both paths under the same name and just use different logos for them and to use Finnish titles for the acoustic material. Maybe it would’ve been clearer to form another band for the harsher material, but I felt and still feel that the music itself is not that different between them anyway, it has the same atmosphere, only the approach differs.

Do you envision a future where October Falls combine the two to form a singular October Falls musical entity?
M. Lehto: No, I still want to make all acoustic albums too and it would be too limiting for me to make them as one. I use a lot of acoustic elements on the harsher releases too and there will never be an album without the strong presence of acoustic guitars, but I’ll also make fully acoustic releases in the future, just like I’ve done in the past.

Where does the band name come from?
M. Lehto: It’s been nearly 10 years since October Falls was formed and honestly, I can’t really recall why the name was chosen. I personally enjoy the cold autumn days of October, but it’s not really about that.

October Falls was originally a solo project. Why the change? Do you find working in a group dynamic better for your musical aspirations?
M. Lehto: Basically, it still is a solo project, as I still write all the music and lyrics, make the demos, the artwork, etc. But I’ve also given a bit more space for V. Metsola and M. Tarvonen. V. Metsola basically wrote most of the bass lines for A Collapse of Faith and M. Tarvonen contributed ideas in song arrangements and drum lines. Overall, I’m not good at making compromises, so October Falls will never turn into a ‘normal band’, but will always be a channel for my personal vision and I want to keep it that way.

In your view, A Collapse of Faith is a progression from The Womb of Primordial Nature in what ways?
M. Lehto: I thing A Collapse of Faith is more focused in every section; it has better compositions, better performances and also better production, I could say that in many ways it’s a more mature version of “The Womb of Primordial Nature”. Still, I also think that it’s a harder record to listen to and needs more patience when listened to. It’s strongly conceptual, with long parts that take time to grow, so I feel that it’s not as easy and fast to digest as “The Womb of Primordial Nature” was, but if you have the patience to let it grow, it will give much more to the listener.

A forest means what to you?
M. Lehto: In many ways, inspiration. I love roaming in the woods. There is so much going on all the time if you just quietly look around. It has every side of life, from the cold cruelty of nature to the peaceful warmness away from the modern haste.

** October Falls’s A Collapse of Faith is out now on Debemur Morti Productions. Order it here.