Edge of Mind – An Interview with Finis Mentis

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Many thanks to Finis Mentis - Markus, Katri, Pablo, Anssi - for answering this interview. Finis Mentis, as the name might suggest, plays symphonic metal with philosophical messages, musing about the human mind, thoughts, and more. 

About the Band

Finis Mentis was formed in early 2017 by Katri Snellman and Markus Alppi. The duo worked on and released their first demo Prima Lux Mentis digitally in December that year. The demo consists of four home recorded songs. All the instruments were recorded and played by Markus Alppi, with Katri Snellman doing all the vocals.

Year 2018 the band showed up with another musical release called Longing for Clarity. The four song EP was recorded with a more extensive line-up as Antti Leskinen performed as a session drummer and a guitar virtuoso Joel Herman participated with some additional session guitarparts and solos. Markus Alppi played all the keyboard, piano and bass parts, as well as most of the guitars and did all of the orchestral programming. Katri Snellman sang all the lead and backing vocals. The EP was mixed and mastered by Samuli Rimmi at Stuodio33.

After Longing for Clarity was released digitally and physically in November that year, the band extended it’s permanent line-up with drummer Pablo Rojas. In summer of 2019 the band entered studio to start the  recordings of their first full-length album at Deep Noise Studios. With Pablo Rojas on drums, Katri Snellman on vocals, Markus Alppi on bass, keyboards, piano and guitars, and session guitarist Joel Herman once again on additional guitars, the album is being finalized.


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Where did your name Finis Mentis come from?

Katri and Markus: When we were just starting the band, we came up with the name after going through many different options. There were just the two of us in the band at the time, so we basically tried to find a unique name that would reflect something that we had in common. “Finis Mentis” is a latin expression that freely translates into “Edge of mind” or “End of reason”.

We both are interested in human thought processes and psychology in general, and the name also fit well with the song themes, like religious skepticism, in the works at the time.

How did you get together as a band? Do you have other bands aside from this?

Katri: Years back I was actually looking for a symphonic metal band, that would have use for contralto vocals and growls, but as symphonic metal is mostly soprano range vocals, I obviously couldn’t find one. So, I decided to form a band or a project myself and asked Markus to work with me just for a couple of songs. Me and Markus knew each other from a former band and we knew our musical taste would be a match, but we did not know that the project would escalate quite fast into plans of a full length album. We started as a studio project back in early 2017 and had Pablo join us as a drummer in late 2018 as our guitarist Anssi joined us some time after that.

Markus: What comes to previous bands, I was a bassist in a doom metal band called Vuolla and also in a melodic metal band called Teardown. I also played guitar for a dance- and partyband Los Eskimos, in which Katri played the keyboards. At the moment I also play bass in a melodic death metal band Soulglass.

Katri: I’ve had quite a few bands in the past, ranging from metal to jazz.

Pablo: I’ve had several bands as well, with genres ranging from punk to trash and death metal. I currently have a black metal band called Stahlhelm.

Anssi: I’ve played in some unnamed metal bands, where I actually knew Markus from.

Can you tell us more about 2018 album "Longing for Clarity"? Who are your influences?

Katri and Markus: “Longing for Clarity” is our first official record released a year after our first demo “Prima Lux Mentis”. The EP is a short concept album with a theme of religious skepticism and abuse of power. Longing for Clarity’s songs continue into a full story on our upcoming debut album, that tells the full thought process of a person who faces their fears and turns their life around making one’s life better.

All keyboards, piano, bass and orchestral programming on “Longing for Clarity” are played and programmed by Markus, as well as most of the guitar parts. Our friend and a fantastic session guitarist Joel Herman visited for some additional guitar parts and solos. Katri handled all the vocals and Antti Leskinen played all the drums as a session drummer.

Markus: What comes to influences Nobuo Uematsu, Tuomas Holopainen, Joe Hisaishi, Yoshiki and Jari Mäenpää are probably the biggest influences for me.

Pablo: I would go with Gojira, Meshuggah, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater/Mike Portnoy.

Anssi: There are so many, but I guess the most influential bands at some point were Iron Maiden, Moonsorrow, Amon Amarth, Death, SYL and Stratovarius.

Katri: Same here. So many bands and artists, but I’m gonna name Sonata Arctica, Iron Maiden, In Flames and Nightwish, because those were the first metal bands I ever listened to.


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Can you tell us more about your background as musicians?

Pablo: I’ve always played something since I come from a musical family. My first instrument was a violin and after that I started playing drums.

Anssi: I’ve mostly played guitar, but have done some singing, too.

Markus: I have a background as a music educator and a music therapist. From time to time I like to grab a new instrument to learn the basics with.

Katri: I started with classical piano as a kid and eventually proceeded to vocals.

How do you go about songwriting? Is there any recurring message or theme in your songs?

Markus: I write all the songs and Katri writes all the lyrics. I usually start writing from a single feeling or an idea I get and try to express it in form of music, first improvising and then writing the chordbasis. The ideas can come from anything really, driving a car or watching anime. I always work on the exact notation on my laptop.

I also listen to my sketches a lot, and that gives me ideas about how to arrange other instruments and vocals. When I get stuck, I listen to other bands and artists to find a solution to the problem. I base my writing on musical theory a lot.

I think listening to a lot of music in general helps with writing. To loosely quote Chopin: I try to write every song different in structure, so I wouldn’t write the same song twice.

Katri: So far the lyrical themes have revolved around empowerement, religious skepticism and the universal need of finding clarity. Mostly psychological texts and reflecting of one’s emotions and thoughts.

What does music and being an artist mean to you?

Anssi: You get to express yourself and have fun.

Pablo: Listening and playing music motivates me to learn more. There’s always something to practice. Shows and gigs, both with a band or solo, are always fun.

Markus: Being able to express and develop yourself and work together with other people.

Katri: Same as above.

Can you recall your earliest memory about music? That one thing that made you want to play / create music?

Markus: I remember working on a Windows 95 based music notation program as a kid. I didn’t have any conceptual understanding of music back then.

Katri: My earliest memory is my dad’s old Elvis Presley C-cassette that I found from our attic. Listened through it ‘til it broke. I still got it.

Pablo: I guess I kind of got my interest in music from my family. One of my earliest memories is me singing and playing guitar with my dad as a kid.

Anssi: It’s difficult to say, but I think the earliest memories are hearing some Christmas songs as a kid and then later seeing and hearing some of my guitar heroes and picking up the guitar myself as I was inspired by them.

What’s the best thing and about being in the studio and making music?

All: The best things are when you create something out of nothing and hear it come together in the studio or in the rehearsal place. And it doesn’t even sound like shit.

Can you describe your best gig so far? What’s the best thing about playing live?

All: We all have different memories for that one. Anssi played drums on one gig and remembers that because it was so different. Markus did some shows in Romania some years back and remembers the epic crowd and awesome people. Pablo remembers a tight show at a local metal festival from last summer and Katri can’t name just one occasion as all gigs have been nice. Overall it’s the feeling you get on stage!

Most memorable, weird, interesting, or funny thing that ever happened to you as a band?

Katri and Markus: We had quite a funny moment in studio when we were recording “Longing for Clarity”. We had a really tight schedule and we had the studio computers crash on us, not once, but twice during our sessions. Sure it was simultaneously a bit nerve-wrecking and hilarious, but we pulled it through after all. Now, afterwards, gives a good laugh.

If each one of you were a fruit, what would you be and why?

Markus: I would be a coconut.

Pablo: A watermelon, ‘cause I’ve got thick skin but I’m mostly water inside.

Katri: A peach. For some reason some friends called me Peach when I was younger.

Anssi: Possibly a pineapple, because it looks cool and goes well with pizza.

 


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