Many thanks to Harri, Ossi, Teemu, and Leevi, for this fun interview about the band and family called "Grimace". Being in a band and making music with friends is one of the most fun and rewarding things you can ever have in your life, and it's our hope that more young people will become a part of this, starting by learning to play a music instrument.
Is there an interesting story behind the band name? How'd you come up with it?
(Harri and Ossi answers) Well, we wanted to find name that wasn't way too used up and should be short and have some attitude, you know like punch and kick in it right? Well anyhoo, Harri came up to the practises with the name proposition one day and there it was.
Fun (fact): at first we played up with double meaning with "Grimace" and "Grim Ace" and we even used the ace of spades for short period of time along our promo shoots and stuff. Now it's the Grimace only, thought.
You've recently released a new video for the song the Watchman, can you please tell us more about it? Inspiration behind the video, what the song is about?
(Harri answers) The song lyrics are written in the aspect of imaginary soldier during the Vietnam war who had his guard post along the base in the hostile territory, right at the edge of jungle. Now he's telling the story of all the terror and horror he had went though to survive and also enlightens the scarring of his mind the war had left behind.
So it was something we wanted to have in the video too, the Watchman himself - faceless, behind the mask hiding his true self and doing the guard duty. I think this was well achieved!
Fun(ny) fact: No alcohol was consumed during the video shoot, hahaha! 😀
So you've been together since 2009? Thats 10 years! Can you tell us more about your band? How you met?
(Harri answers) Yes, we put this band together back then... So long ago already, lol 🙂 In the beginning me and our founding drummer (we shared the same working place) we had this small nameless cover band going on and as it wasn't picking the pace, one thing led to another and Ossi joined us and we started crafting our own songs. Teemu joined the band at the end of the autumn 2012, and Leevi joined us at the end of 2017.
(Fun) fact: We started as four piece band, in the middle we were five piece and now we're here again as four piece again.
Can you describe your band members - like, is there any special roles of each band member (aside from being the guitarist, singer, etc)? Band members with interesting personality traits? Band member with the weirdest habit?
We are all individuals but we get along so well it's almost weird hahaha 😀 Well, band is a another family and we're very happy and lucky to have such good understanding among us. It's something not to take granted and that's why we always remember to give compliments to each other when ever possible.
Harri is the last original member (back from the cover band days), but shares the founding member status with Ossi as Grimace is thought to have its beginning only after he joined the band. Harri does most of the lyrics ans composes the vocal parts. He has good sense of humor, is kind and friendly and has the role of the organizer in the band. He knows lots of people all around - has some network built up.
Ossi is the another founding member and the man behind the song demos and frameworks, the riff master. He does some backing vocals too. Ossi is the man equipped with good sense of humor but is also very self-critical. He keeps his feet solid to the ground.
Teemu is sunny and radiant personality and he's very laid back, open and easy to approach. He has a very good sense of humor and pratically always finds something funny on almost any occasion 😀 Teemu does the bass lines for the songs and does the backing vocals too.
Leevi is the youngest member in our band and he is the rhythm machine. The man with a mission of drum thunder!!! He's the most dedicated on pratising, very friendly and awesome guy in total.
(Fun f)act: We like to - in the idea level, not in practise - tin foil hat around.
Whats it like working with each other? What's the best things and the worst thing about your band members?
Our working together is seemless. We have lots of fun, the songs come out pretty easily and we have a wide backlog when creating new song - we can drop stuff out easily and move on to next songs when needed. Best thing is we have our own personalities and it is tolerated and accepted. The music we make comes 100% from our heart and is not calculated on marketing terms.
As we have quite wide distribution on age, the hardest part sometimes is to stitch up the different states of lives we're each going through on our own half; we have families, kids etc. It brings up different perspectives and ambitions and those aren't always so easy to agree on. So compromises must be made often and that can be hard sometimes. As self supported band it's sometimes also hard to come by the expenses, but things are to be managed and solved!
(Fun) fact: Harri has two more bands and so does Leevi. Teemu and Ossi still are only in this band.
What do you consider your best gig? Can you describe it?
(Harri answers) I think our last gig at Bar Kivijalka in Mikkeli was the best so far. It was techically and performace wise almost perfect. The audience was great and people were moshing around!!! I even got so inspired I went to sing among the crowds, doing high fives with people hahaha 😀
(Ossi answers) The previous gig we had in Bar Kivijalka, Mikkeli, was the best so far. Small venue, tight intensity, audience living along with our song and performance. There was an insane vibe!!!
(Teemu answers) Every occasion is unique, so hard to say actually. Maybe the warm up for Blaze Bayley was the biggest one for me!!!
(Leevi answers) Hard to say, gigs are always the best thing. There's a old sailing boat converted as restaurant called Toivo in Mikkeli and the gig we had there was absolutely blast! It was hot!
(Fun) fact: We've done approx. 50 gigs so far. It's not much, but each one was delivered 110%!!!
Craziest, most interesting, or funniest thing that ever happened on a gig / concert?
(Harri) Well, there's always something, lol, specially in the backroom with the other bands, but maybe the funniest one was when we had our gig at Henry's Pub, Kuopio. We started a song and I was moshing around when I felt it - the mic cable was stuck under my feet and the cable detached off!!! I was in a hurry to find the cable head and put it back on before my singing parts started hehehe.
(Teemu) The backroom conversations are the thing, I mean really 🙂 It's the place where stuff happens, very lively and funny conversations! Good moments!
(Leevi) At Bar Kivijalka Teemu took of from stage and went playing among the audience!
Fun fact: One the most memorable discussion our band had while everyone else but the driver (Harri) being drunk as a skunk and the drunkards had a blabber/ramble/chatter/whatnot about space physics. Yes, really, space-f'n-physics 🙂
Are you ever nervous during a gig? What do you do prepare for a gig?
(Harri) These days more, yeah. As I no longer drink beer/booze pre-gig (well maybe one pint of beer but no more) the excitement has creeped upon me. But as I get on stage and the first song starts it goes off and it feels like being at home again.
The last 30-60 minutes before the gig, I usually do some warm ups, both vocal and body and last 15 minutes I just concentrate and start building the mood. I always am afraid I can't remember the lyrics, so therefore I frantically go through lyrics sheets also along the last 15 minutes before the gig.
(Ossi) Always a little, careful preparing for the gig and going through the songs pre-gig helps out.
(Teemu) Not any more. After playing so long together you can trust the band 110%. It's so easy, it just works!!!
(Leevi) Always. Few beers, warm ups with drum pad and hanging out with our audience.
(Fun) fact: We no longer do beer at our rehearsal room. Only mineral water and/or sodas.
What is your favorite song to perform?
(Harri) Watchman / Blindness / I Know Why The Skyscrapers Fall
(Leevi) Watchman / I Know Why The Skyscrapers Fall
(Fun) fact: Only two songs from our debute album, Gates of Mind, is still live play: Suppressed Flame and Clash of Time.
What can you say about the metal scene right now, the music, the bands, and is there something which you think can improve?
(Harri) It's getting harder and harder year after year to get out playing music. Venues close down, people don't go out for the gigs as much as they did before and things are getting more expensive. People tend to listen the music/check the gigs at home via Spotify/Youtube/whatnot. And then there's real surplus of bands - you can find 14 band in a dozen and everybody fights to get their share of live slots.
These days it's hard to get yourself heard, you know, to the right people who can make a difference. There's so much messaging going to the booking agents, venues, record companies and stuff, that it's hard even to get through. You must have some luck along the talent as well to get heard and noticed.
(Ossi) There's lots of bands and these days there are too few (smaller) venues. The scene itself is strong but the bands who break out these days sound too much of the same - maybe they're the certain choices for record companies..
(Teemu) The culture has changed and live opportunities are getting few. Stuff just goes on to the wrong direction. Live rock/metal is not respected enough these days anymore. Pop music shows out too much, radio channels playing mostly garbage.
(Leevi) There's lots of bands and it's very hard to compete. As we're a small name it's hard to get gigs with decent compensation or actually these days it's hard to get any gigs at all... So much competition for every gig opportunities.
Fun fact: Grimace has had plenty of online radio plays via Metal Nation Radio's (now already closed show) Too Metal for Church.
Who or what inspired you to be a musician?
(Harri) I have always listened to music and in wide perspective. I prefer metal, of course, but I can listen to almost anything, thought finnish popular songs are a bit tought cookie to bite 🙂 So I grew up with WASP, Twisted Sister, Kiss, Anthrax, Metallica, Iron Maiden, and (much) later came along Cradle of Filth, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames etc. My greatest inspiration vocals wise is Stanne fom Dark Tranquillity and I've had the opportunity say this to him in person 🙂
(Ossi) Metallica, Ronnie James Dio, Ritchie Blackmore
(Teemu) Music has always had a big role in life, been listening to it since lil' kid. Big brother has inspired. Music is a breathing hole, habit of life.
(Leevi) Iron Maiden and my dad.
Fun fact: There's no spoon.
What are your plans in the future? What do you hope to accomplish as a band?
We're gonna go for professional studio the next songs and try even harder to get more gigs. We want to build the Grimace name bigger and bigger and grow our fanbase significantly! We want people all around the world to hear what we have to play and say!!! THANKS!!!