An Interview with Chris McGuirk of Music With Rocks In magazine (Feb 2005)

AARNI is the curious brainchild of one very experimental Finn - Master Warjomaa. Bathos, his latest album, is at the epicentre of that experimentation: warped, meandering doom with an avant-garde finish and BURZUM-esque mood swings. If you don't already have it in your collection, order it from Firedoom records post-haste! But, keen to find out more about the person behind the creativity, I managed to get an interview with Markus, and he turned out to be a very obliging, interesting guy indeed.

CMCG: First of all, your album 'Bathos' is rarely leaving my CD player. Was it always an ambition of yours to make such unique music?

MW: When I first learned to play a musical instrument, my goal was to use it as a tool for creation rather than just to play along with my favourite artists' songs. But isn't that every musician's intent? Composing music has a very practical function for me - as a form of therapy, I guess. Apart from that, I also want to make original material as opposed to copying the style of my current role-models, whoever they might be. After all, an original approach is better for everyone involved... Having said all that, I feel 'Bathos' doesn't portray AARNI at its most "original". It was a conscious decision, as I wanted my debut album to be somewhat approachable, even commercial to some extent. This I did in order to be able to release more unique material in the future. I don't know how well my devious little plan worked out. In any case, what I consider to be more unique stuff will follow.

CMCG: Who would you cite as the most important influences on your sound, and why?

MW: I guess conscious influence from artists such as BLACK SABBATH, CANDLEMASS, MY DYING BRIDE, JOE SATRIANI, OZRIC TENTACLES, CAMEL and PIIRPAUKE are more or less apparent in some of my musical arrangements, because I am, or have been, fond of their style. Perhaps the rest of my influences are unconscious...

CMCG: Reviewers seem to be fairly divided when it comes to describing Bathos. How would you describe the sound?

MW: "A somewhat under-produced mixed bag of styles", "antinomian music", or something unlike that.

CMCG: Which bands did you listen to growing up?

MW: KISS and classical music in the early '80s, followed by the mandatory IRON MAIDEN, METALLICA and BLACK SABBATH. From 1990 e.v. onwards came PANTERA, PARADISE LOST, CANDLEMASS, KING DIAMOND, MY DYING BRIDE and ANATHEMA. In the last couple of years I've been mainly listening to such acts as CAMEL, YES, AMON DÜÜL, HAWKWIND, KING CRIMSON, and FOCUS. I've also been irregularly listening to folk, ambient and even jazz my whole life.

CMCG: The alternative scene has been fairly low on new ideas of late. Do you feel that now is a good time to release experimental music?

MW: I feel it is always a good time to release what you consider to be original music. I don't view my material as being 'experimental', because that has the connotation of "let's record something weird and see if it sells!", for me. In my opinion, the bland conventionality of most popular music needs to be constantly opposed. Fight the System, man!

CMCG: How do you feel about the public reaction to Bathos?

MW:I don't know what that is, apart from the feedback I've received from a number of individuals. I suspect album reviews have little to do with actual music fans' opinions. Obviously I am glad if people enjoy my songs, the sales figures of Bathos seem to indicate something to that effect. But, at least currently, I do not really concern myself with the listener. AARNI seems very much a private trip, 'music for no-one' in a sense, since I myself almost never listen to the released material. Our approach is "fire and forget".

CMCG: Do you think, in light of the bland nature of most commercial metal, people will go in search of more avant-garde music from independent labels in the next few years?

MW: I have no idea. Those who have grown bored probably will seek out what they consider more interesting music. Big corporate labels won't by definition release anything which they believe won't reap profit. This seems to result in a vicious circle of ever more bland releases. These tyrants also insult music fans in all genres by regarding them as an unintelligent, faceless & tasteless mass. But, alternative material is available to those interested in it. As always, it's up to the individuals.

CMCG: Do you plan to tour Europe in the coming months? If so, where can I buy a ticket?

MW: We don't really believe in live performances, as it would be very difficult to perform AARNI material in a satisfactory fashion. Currently I have no interest in playing live, nor in attending gigs by other bands. I prefer to listen to music with as little distraction as possible.

CMCG: Last but not least, which direction will Aarni move in next? Can we expect the musical boundaries to be pushed even further?

MW: I am currently in the process of writing and recording music for the second album, tentatively titled as Songs Of The Grotesque And Arabesque. We aim for a no-punches-pulled approach, meaning extreme introversion among other things. The general style looks to be much heavier and 'Metal' than on Bathos, some songs nearing Funeral Doom, while having also more psychedelia and progressive elements.

So, for those of you who might have yet to make up your mind about avant-garde music, I hope this interview has whetted your appetite for more. I personally adore AARNI's album, and given a few listens, I'm sure there are plenty of MWRI readers who would come 'round to that way of thinking.