Today, I am with Jukka Jokikokko from Zenith Reunion for another Q&A Session. They are, in their words, a hard and heavy and early metal band from Finland. Now, without further ado…
Lady Obscure: Can you give me a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up? You know, how the journey started, what the members were doing before…
Jukka Jokikokko: History of band started late -80’s when Jukka Ihme, Jouni Juurikka and I (Jukka Jokikokko) played in same band. Name Zenith came along about 1993 and very first lineup was Petri Sankala (drums), Jukka Ihme (guitar), Jouni Juurikka (vocal and guitar) and Jukka Jokikokko (bass). Last lineup of Zenith was almost same, Mika Alatalo played drums then. We did a few gigs and one demo tape before we split up in 1995. We all moved out to different locations over the Finland. We all continued playing in different bands, me in Scarlet Thread, Burning Point and Stargazery for example. 2010 came a burning need to gather up the band again by three original members, who now lived in same town, Oulu (me, Jukka I. and Jouni Juurikka). We found a pair of very talented musicians along (Jukka Uusi-Illikanen and Ville Hanhisuanto) and band was reformed. In the very first gathering we started to compose new songs and some of the old ones got a facelift. There were so many bands called “Zenith” so we took as a “Project name” name Zenith Reunion and it stayed.
JJ: Tough one. Actually we didn’t thought any specific genre, when we started composing our music. We just did that what we selves wanted to hear. We still don’t try to categorize ourselves but I sure understand that other want to do that, or actually I don’t.. We all for sure love heavy metal and listen it a lot, different genres from death metal to progressive metal and other than metal music, too. Our roots are in -70s and -80’s Hard and Heavy rock and early metal.
LO: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
JJ: We do music from our soul. In every song there are some personal emotions along. We do just that what feels right for us. We arrange our songs together with the whole band so that’s the main resource how the all elements evolve in our music.
LO: Are you happy with your album, Utopia? I mean, what aspect of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
JJ: Yeah we are very happy. Of course there are lots of things what we want to do better all the time. And in next album “Entropy” I hope we have improved many elements.
LO: How has the overall reception been?
JJ: It has been overwhelming positive. In Finland “Utopia”, our debut album, climbed up straight to top ten in Finnish official chart and reviews and interviews in Finland and abroad are absolutely positive. We are very humble that so many people like our music all over the world.
LO: Could you tell us about the lyrics and themes you focus on? How do the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process?
JJ: Sometime melody starts to play in your mind and you compose a song first and lyrics come later, sometimes the opposite. There is not just one way to compose songs. Sometimes one of the guys starts to play some riff in studio or rehearsals and soon it’s evolved up to a whole song. Ideas come from our life and everything what is around us. Basically we play and sing our emotions. Those feelings and happenings what we have processed in our minds and turned them to music.
LO: So, who is composing the songs? Writing the lyrics?
JJ: We all. Main parts of the songs are composed by Jukka Ihme and me, and especially on “Entropy” I have wrote most of lyrics. But we all compose and write lyrics.
LO: So what bands do you guys draw your inspiration from?
JJ: Every good song are inspired but we listen and have listen lot of bands like: (old)Metallica, Megadeth, Dream Theater, Stone, Zero Nine, Rainbow, M.S.G., Tarot, DIO, Circus Maximus etc.
LO: When you are writing, what’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
JJ: When we make new music, we make it for us only. So music is more important but if someone else likes it, we don’t mind. Of course it is great when you have lot of fans and people who want to hear your music. But we don’t and can’t make our music like calculating what kind of songs we should to compose to get more audience.
LO: What’s next? I know you are recording a new album. Touring? Any international tours?
JJ: As I speak now, we are recording our second album “Entropy” at the moment and it will be released at spring or early summer 2013. We start a tour at May here in Finland and we have some plans to go abroad but nothing confirmed yet.
LO: Which do you find more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
JJ: In a way they both are. On stage with live audience I think it’s the best place on earth. Veins full of adrenaline and heat of the moment are a dazzling feeling. On the other hand, in studio it is thrilling to see and hear how the songs are evolving bit by bit. Atmosphere in the studio is usually so unique that you can’t find like that elsewhere.
LO: What do you see for your future then? How would you say it’s looking?
JJ: – We will continue playing and composing music, that’s for sure. I sure hope that our plans will come true and we are allowed to play our music as many people as possible.
LO: Lastly, when you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
JJ: Aww… When I met these guys. No, seriously with ZR I think it was succes of “Utopia”. With other bands there are many great moments, lot of albums and tours.
LO: Thank you Jukka!
Here is Can’t Feel the Pain (Studio diary version) by Zenith Reunion…