Musicscan: Who am I talking to? Could you please shortly introduce yourself to your readers?
Hanging Garden: Toni: I’m Toni, and responsible for the vocals in Hanging Garden.
Hanging Garden: Nino: And I'm the guy behind the keyboards.
Musicscan: At Every Door shows up a band that seems to be vital and fresh once again. Could you please tell us what happened to Hanging Garden after the release of Teotwawki?
Hanging Garden: Toni: A lot has happened. The crew has gone through a substantial make-over after the release of the last album. While not trying to remake the whole sound, the joining of four new people was bound to affect the style nevertheless.
Musicscan: Why did you switch the label? What are your expectations for your cooperation with Lifeforce Records?
Hanging Garden: Nino: Well, in general all the music label people I've been in contact with in Germany have always shown a great deal of enthusiasm, motivation and honest interest in new bands. We really hope that having some actual contacts in continental Europe will give us that extra push to get to do some gigs outside of Finland, which is unfortunately still one of the big landmarks that we haven't reached yet, but I have a feeling that is about to change soon.
Musicscan: Were the songs which now made it to At Every Door already written when you entered the studio or did you have the possibility to even improve them in the studio and experiment a little bit? Would you say that – for Hanging Garden – recording a record has become sort of routine or is there always something new to it?
Hanging Garden: Nino: The songs were more or less ready at the time of recording, though there are always some small things that have to be tweaked in the arrangements, especially with the more unconventional songs in terms of metal music, there was a fair amount of experimenting in the studio. As Toni said, four new members since last recording does have a profound effect on things like routine. This time we started off by going to Spleen Studio, which is a moniker for my family's summer place in the countryside, where we recorded the drums. After that it's just been basically ”every man for himself” recording at home studios their instruments. It's amazing how much freedom it gives you nowdays.
Hanging Garden: Toni: One song that was quite made over from the demo version was Wormwood. The first third of the drum recordings for Wormwood were somehow lost and we had to consider building a drum track from samples, but that didn’t feel right. Fortunately, our drummer Antti did some cool machine-drum loops, which we used to manufacture this kind of an eerie intro. We also did some completely different vocal arrangements for this song. It was supposed to be the most straightforward growl-verse/clean-chorus song but it came out a whole lot different.
Musicscan: Every band has a vision of how their album should sound like after recording it. Listening to At Every Door right now - would you say that this was a successful mission or would you even say that the band was able to surprise itself?
Hanging Garden: Toni: I’m not sure if we had a specific sound that we were aiming for. I think we were just shooting blindly for “big and dirty”, and watching where we would end up. Having recorded everything ourselves without the aid of a producer, we just handed the raw tracks to Jarno Hänninen of D-studio, and bid him to do his worst. The result was quite satisfying. The one thing that has got quite a lot of attention was the atypical synth sounds, which we have Nino to thank for.
Hanging Garden: Nino: Big and dirty, well maybe warm and dirty in my case. I know that the whole vintage synths in metal music has kind of become a bit of a paradigm in some sub-genres so I tried to not make it too obvious or at least give a distinct feel to it that I felt was the soul of the album. So there's some inconventional stuff; percussive noise and for good measure a bit of distortion for that extra warmth and grit.
Musicscan: Lyrically and musically, Hanging Garden seems to stand for a certain kind of emotional intelligence that sometimes gets missed in nowadays music. Do you as a band ever think about your lyrics and music in this particular way?
Hanging Garden: Toni: I think you just put it into words rather nicely there. “Emotional and intelligent” has a nice ring to it. We would like to think that - for good or worse – our sound has matured quite a bit. Be it for intellectuality or artsy-fartsyness, the change is still there. If even a few people can relate to this, I consider it a success.
Hanging Garden: Nino: Hope I'm not sounding elitist in any sense, but what really gets me is the kind of “hiding behind humor” which so many bands do these days. It might, and propably is, a very natural sub-conscious thing to just let out all the worst jokes as soon as the music stops playing, be it at a gig or posts on the bands Facebook-page. I feel that the band should try to act at least a bit according to the stuff they are singing or playing about, of course on a subtle level. It gives so much more credibility to the whole thing and it makes it easier for listeners to actually relate and not feel schizophrenic while listening and seeing what's going on inbetween the songs. Sorry, I think I got a bit sidetracked there...
Musicscan: Thinking of the vision of your songs: What do the lyrics mainly deal with and what´s the main intention behind the songs and the lyrics? Do you want to change something, is the band “just” a release or is it by far more than that?
Hanging Garden: Toni: The music isn’t about driving for a change or sending a message. In the thematic universe of Hanging Garden, the shit has already hit the fan, so to speak. The lyrics are about reprisal for the whole of mankind, of the inevitable consequences of our neglect.
Musicscan: Is there a main difference between the messages portrayed in the lyrics of At Every Door and your previous records? What different thoughts are being brought out this time?
Hanging Garden: Toni: Not really. The themes are quite the same, the viewpoints have just been altered. I think the fresh touch comes from a different writer: while the lyrics for the previous albums were done by Matti Reinola, I made the most of the stuff for At Every Door.
Musicscan: I got the impression that you had the chance to experiment a lot more with the intensity and the melodies on At Every Door. The record offers partly different sounds and textures. Would you agree to this? What did you guy do differently this time?
Hanging Garden: Toni: To put it plainly, we just didn’t hold anything back. We had a complete freedom of creativity this time. The album was mostly written by Jussi H. and Mikko, who were a bit shy about a few ideas that they thought were too far from the metal/hc niche, sounding more like gothic rock. We still decided to have no holds barred, and come forward without any preconceptions. I think it paid off.
Hanging Garden: Nino: Metal genre in general is to my experience on the most stagnant music styles there is and you always feel that you have to do a lot of explaining when trying out something new. Maybe not so much any more, but it's been like that a while ago. So, yeah, we just did some things without reservations. For my part the biggest thing was using some crappy electric guitar synth sample as the base for a sound. It kind of felt like one of those things you're not supposed to do as a keyboard player, but it ended up being one of my favourite synth sounds on the album, so I guess the experimenting paid off.
Musicscan: Listening to the new album makes one wonder about the intensity of the songs. They're definitely much more atmospheric and intensive than the ones on Teotwawki. Was it a conscious decision to let the new songs sound like this or was it just a natural development? Is the mentioned intensity something you are striving for?
Hanging Garden: Nino: I like to believe that it was a natural thing that came out of the passion of the band members. At least to my knowledge these things weren't thoroughly discussed. Everyone just got into mood of the album and did their part to support that thing. I guess these projects usually become their own worlds in a sense and there's a lot of things about them that can't be put into words, but it's a definitive feeling or mood and if it's clear and powerful enough, all the people around the project will get into that mood and channel it through their output.
Musicscan: Is it an exception in these days that bands play the music they really want to without focussing on what the fan's and the industry expect? Are we really that far? What do you personally think about that?
Hanging Garden: Toni: I think that the way the world is going - where major labels only go with sure-fire moneymakers and are really careful about new comers – comes with a few advantages: with the self-financed releases and smaller labels comes the freedom of creativity, so I think the money-hungry corporate producers are quite rarely standing cross-armed in the control rooms during the recording process.
Hanging Garden: Nino: I think I already answered this one a few questions ago, but in short I guess it really depends a lot on the bands and how far they are willing to put themselves on the line for the music. I mean this is practically just a hobby since we're not living off this and it's the same thing for most of the people in metal music I know. In that sense I believe most people are trying to do something that they're honestly into. Recording your own stuff and putting it online for everyone to hear isn't a very complicated thing anymore. Then it's mostly up to you to find the people that'll listen to it and with 7 billion people in the world and 2,5 billion of them using internet you are bound to reach your listeners if you put some effort into it.
Musicscan: Just let's briefly talk about your plans in 2013. What are the most important aims and plans with Hanging Garden? What is about to happen to support the release of At Every Door?
Hanging Garden: Nino: The two things that the band is anxiously waiting for are the release of a very unconventional music video/short film based on the upcoming album and the gig with Cult of Luna. After the gigs in Spring it's probably back to the studio as we have quite a few new ideas ready to be tried out.