Hi Jaakko and Janne, I’m really glad to have you on Grande Rock webzine. Congrats on your new album, “Telepathic Minds”. It’s truly astonishing. It’s was named “Album of the Month” on Grande Rock!
Jaakko: Hi Thanos and thank you very much, we are very honoured to be the Album of the Month! It’s so great to hear how much people love the new album. We knew we had made a great record but still the overwhelming response from the fans took us by surprise. And it looks like we have made a lot of new fans with the album as well. We couldn’t ask for anything more.
What has happened these 5 years between your previous album and the new one?
Jaakko: To start with our bass player Janne Katalkin joined the band and was then followed by Jere Saarainen to take over the keyboard duties. This made the line-up stronger than ever. We did some live dates around Western Europe to support the previous album. Then we started writing material for “Telepathic Minds”. While doing that the Covid and the lock down happened. It threw some obstacles on our way but on the other hand gave some ideas for lyrical content. Recording and mixing a double album took a long time. We did some more live dates after the worst of the pandemic was over and then started concentrating on promoting and releasing the new album.
The new album features new members, the keyboardist Jere Saarainen and bass player Janne Katalkin. When did they join the band and how did you decide to bring in new musicians?
Jaakko: Janne had actually wanted to join the band already since the first album! He is a long-time friend of our singer Alex and has played a lot together with our drummer Ville, as well in other bands before joining Overhead. After the “Haydenspark” album the time was finally right for him to join the band. And we couldn’t be happier! He and Ville create such a strong rhythm section and that has made the band better than ever. We had some gigs coming up so we needed a new keyboard player as well. Our drummer Ville knew Jere through some other musicians, so we invited him along. At first, we thought Jere would just do the upcoming shows and we’d see about the future after that. But everything went so well that he stayed with the band and did the new album with us.
How did you approach songwriting for the new album this time?
Jaakko: It was pretty similar to the previous album. First, I write the music, riffs, chord progressions and put together the structures of the songs and make the basic arrangements. Alex then writes all his vocal melodies and lyrics on top of the demos that I’ve done. We two have become a great songwriting team and our different styles and approaches complete each other’s work very nicely. The other members then come in and arrange their parts and bring in new ideas and very much improve on the demo tracks that I’ve done. They come up with things that I would never have thought of. And everything affects everything else, like the way that Ville arranges his drum beats affects what kind of bass lines Janne plays and that in turn influences Alex’s vocal lines and so forth. So, in the end it’s very much a group effort with me in the producer’s seat.
These days, releasing a double album (that’s around 90 minutes long) appears to be a bit risky, since people are mostly care for singles on Spotify and music video on YouTube. I guess you wanted to do things your way and to be loyal to your prog rock roots or what?
Janne: I think that the double album lends itself naturally to a longer form of expression and you don’t have to edit yourself as much as in the single album format. And nowadays when information is being condensed into a tighter and smaller space like in Instagram and YouTube etc… maybe it is more rock ‘n’ roll to release a double album in these modern times. And when everybody is doing 15 second content in Tik Tok, it is a privilege to release a 20-minute prog song and actually someone clicks play and listens to it. That’s prog!
Have you had to make any changes to your recording or writing process due to the pandemic?
Jaakko: Not too much, we’ve been doing the writing and recording more or less the same way for years now. But the pandemic put some things on hold like recording the drums was postponed so some things took even longer than before. But on the other hand, it gave us more time to write new songs and suddenly we noticed that the new album had turned into a double album. So, it wasn’t all that bad in the end.
Can you tell us about any challenges you faced while recording this album? Did you try any new techniques or approaches?
Jaakko: We’ve been together so long now that our working together is very fluent and easy-going. Like I barely had to say a word when recording the other members and they played perfectly and I could just sit and look at the magic happening. The challenge is really in finding a time slot that works for all. Because we all have other duties outside of the band like day jobs and families and some had new babies during the making of this album. It was a bit of struggle sometimes to find a good time for recording but then I would do some editing or mixing so things never just stood still.
On a technical side of things, we did experiment with more guitar and bass amps when recording. The bass often gets connected just into a line input in the studio but we used an actual classic Ampeg bass amp and I think it made a big difference and made the bass sound really groovy – especially with Janne doing a marvellous job playing it. We also used more actual hardware gear on the vocal sound rather than just digital software.
How did you choose the title “Telepathic Minds” for the album? Is there any relation with the cover artwork?
Janne: We were in the studio and reading the lyrics that Alex had made and we got all philosophical and waxing about the lyrics and it felt to me, that the lyrics are about the fragmentation of our reality and the times we live in… The social structures are crumbling, monetary systems falling down, wars, new technologies running rampant… It dawned on me that maybe the new technologies like the internet and AI and the blockchain, maybe they will eventually assimilate us humans into this collective singular entity that is one being. Hence the title “Telepathic Minds”.
Please give us a hint about each track…
Janne: “War to End All Wars”: The great fire that will purge the forest.
“Ghosts From the Future”: Isolation. Losing connection. Alone in space or in a dinner table with a loved one.
“Sail Across the Universe”: Maybe we are in the end, just molecules crashing to each other and causing distorted ripples in the indifferent universe. Or is there a signal amidst the chaos?
“The Pilot’s Not Fit to Fly”: Lamentation for the leaders not being able to lead.
“Sleep Tight Sweetheart”: An Innocent being travelling through the dark cosmos.
“Telepathic Minds”: The struggle to bring about a new being, a collective entity and how humans through machines will be able to ascend and attain Telepathic mind and become one.
“Tuesday That Never Came”: A post-apocalyptic ballad. Maybe it will play through a broken car-radio and where raider groups will scavenge gasoline in the wastelands.
“Planet of Disorder”: A Distorted simulation called earth running in the program that is cosmos.
“Sheep Stay Silent”: Waking up from the matrix. Or opening eyes to the structures of reality. Or about sheep staying silent in the pasture.
“Almost Always Near the End”: After the nightmare the things will eventually be alright. Maybe.
The production is excellent. It’s clear and dynamic without being either retro or too modern.? Who is responsible for the mixing, the engineering and the mastering? Are you completely satisfied with the final result?
Jaakko: Thank you, that is a huge compliment to me! Because I’m responsible for the recording and mixing of the album. I guess what I like and what is my style is a combination of retro and new. As in I use real instruments, real amplifiers and other analog gear, but I certainly make use of modern technology when recording, editing and mixing and I couldn’t do it without. And I spend ages in mixing and editing and making everything as perfect as I can. I’m very happy with the result, I wouldn’t change a thing really. We do everything ourselves from the writing to recording to the cover art. The only thing we trust for someone outside the band is the mastering. That was done by Svante Forsbäck like many of our previous albums. The guy is just brilliant! Bands like Rammstein wouldn’t hire him if he wasn’t.
Once again you decided to release the album independently. Why’s that? Will you ever consider working with a record company, and why do you choose to release your albums independently?
Jaakko: We just feel that these days a band like us doesn’t necessarily need a record label. Unless it’s a label that can invest millions into marketing and promotion. We do everything ourselves anyway: the recording, the mixing, the editing, the cover art and so on. So why not be our own record label as well? It gives us freedom. We are very happy to have partnered with Bad Dog Promotion for the promotion of the album. They have done a brilliant job with that. We have nothing against labels of course, we’ve worked with many in the past and surely would consider any offers very thoroughly. So, record labels don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Do you think “Telepathic Minds” will bring new fans to the band’s camp? Is this the album that will push you to the next level?
Jaakko: It certainly looks that way. We’ve already reached so many new listeners it seems and the album is already becoming our best-selling album so far. And it’s only been out for a short while. So, we want to thank all our fans from the bottom of our hearts!
What are your expectations from the new album and what do you wish to achieve with Overhead over the next years?
Janne: We wish to broaden our horizon and travel to new places and play and carry the torch of prog to uncharted lands and convert the infidels at the altar of prog.
Have you scheduled any live shows yet? What can fans expect from your live shows in support of this new album?
Janne: We have several upcoming shows in Germany, Poland and in the UK and also others that are being negotiated so stay tuned.
Jaakko: We will be playing songs from the new album of course but also the old classics including some songs from the very first album that we haven’t played live in like fifteen years.
How would you describe the music style of your band to someone who has never heard of you?
Janne: Retro futuristic tapestry bridging the mathematical and spiritual.
Jaakko: It has always been so difficult to describe our music in words. Take Pink Floyd, Marillion, Uriah Heep, Porcupine Tree and add some Finnish melancholy. Mix it all up thoroughly and what comes out is something like Overhead.
It’s time for our “Strange Questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Overhead initially?
Jaakko: The band name was a last-minute thing when we had to come up with some name to book a rehearsal space back in 1999. It just came out of our brains… and went over our heads.
Are “social media” a “compulsory part” of music biz these days or bands, artists & labels can do without them as well?
Janne: Well in my mind the commerciality and social media has been intertwined and a part of music since the dawn of time. 50,000 years ago, a caveman hit the hollow wood with an animal bone and sang to the stars in the night sky, the sound waves travelled to the nearby settlements and people came and joined the festivities around the fire and danced. And after that were the Indians with smoke signals and after that pigeons that carried messages and after that newspapers that touted a new hot band. So, the outer layer will change over time, but the base layer will stay the same on sending information across distances and getting yourself known. Or you can stay in the basement and strum the guitar and create prog symphonies for your pleasure only.
What do you think about the “downloading & streaming issue” of our time? Do you prefer the streaming services more or not?
Janne: I think the availability of music is amazing that nowadays it is so easy to get music. I remember as a kid that you had to travel to a library and make a reservation for the album and wait weeks and you could loan it for a limited time. Or if you had the money you could go to a shop and buy one. And I’m not a format-centric guy at all, it’s whatever medium suits a certain type of people. And some prefer the five star-dining experience with fancy cutlery and a sommelier pouring stuff into the glass and everybody nods aristocratically in acceptance and that correlating and being the vinyl experience in music that you buy a 180 gram hi-def vinyl and listen to it through a very expensive sound system at your home and set the atmosphere perfect. Or then just get a burger on the go, fast food style and that being the equivalent to listening some streaming stuff through the earbuds in the bus. So, to each their own and whatever tickles the fancy (haha). But the monetary thing is a different story altogether, that artists are being screwed over earnings and in the end, who is the one who decides how much a song should cost on the web?
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
Janne: The earnings structure has been broken for the artists to get a fair compensation for their music.
Jaakko: There’s too much focus on what’s trendy and no room for originality in the main stream.
Fill in the phrase… “Prog Rock wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
Janne: The man in the cave with the bone beating a rhythm.
Jaakko: The Beatles.
Which are the Top 3 Prog Rock albums of all time according to you?
Janne: “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd, “A Song For All Seasons” by Renaissance and “Trilogy” by Kingston Wall.
Jaakko: Marillion – “An Hour Before It’s Dark”, Kansas – “Leftoverture” and Pink Floyd – “The Dark Side of the Moon”.
Which is the most underrated musician/band of all time?
Janne: There are so many! One that I have to mention is The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. It’s from the seventies and from an era, when rock ‘n’ roll was at its peak and there was an embarrassment of riches to delve into, so many of the bands at that time didn’t get their due, this being one of them. And of course, Kingston Wall from Finland. Trio playing at its finest and mythical psychedelic prog rock. We Finns tend to keep precious things close to the vest, so this band is maybe not so well known abroad.
Put together the best prog rock line-up of all time. Who plays what?
Janne: Carl Palmer from ELP on drums, Geddy Lee from Rush on bass, Rick Wakeman from Yes on keyboards, David Gilmour from Pink Floyd on guitar and Annie Haslam from Renaissance on vocals.
Jaakko: Steve Walsh on vocals, Steve Rothery on guitar, Tony Levin on bass, Esa Kotilainen on keyboards, Ian Anderson on flute and Phil Ehart on drums.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
Janne: Queen in the seventies.
Jaakko: Rainbow in the seventies.
Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in rock history?
Janne: Freddie mercury & Tina Turner.
Jaakko: Ronnie James Dio & Sheryl Crow.
If you had the opportunity to invite any musician, living or dead, to play on your album whom would you choose and why?
Janne: Vangelis. Because of the worlds that he created on synths.
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
Janne: To the future. 2500. And see if prog has become the dominant genre that the space-faring civilizations listen to in the universe as I predict.
What are your thoughts on A.I.? It appears to have taken over the world in every part of our life over the last few months, and this is just the beginning.
Janne: AI has been a part of making our album art and music video, so we are very enthusiastic about the possibilities it holds for us as a human race. But it springs a mind a question that maybe it is something more profound, the emergence of AI. Maybe it is the next step in the evolutionary process of evolving consciousness. Maybe humans are just a transformation period for the spark that is consciousness and AI is the universes way of protecting the consciousness and humans will eventually extinguish themselves as a race and the consciousness will continue to expand itself deeper into the universe in the form of an AI. That is just truly a fascinating concept. And a beautiful one in a way. Universe protects the one thing it can observe itself with and that is consciousness. Like Bowie said: “everything is transient”.
That’s all for now guys. Thank you for taking the time to speak with the Grande Rock webzine. Say whatever you want to say before we conclude… take care, dude!
Jaakko: Thank you very much for doing the interview and giving us a chance to get our name out there a bit. Live and let live. Keep progging!