ZT INTERROGATION: DEPHOSPHORUS AND HAAPOJA TESTIFY ON THEIR COLLABORATION
Collaboration is a split LP released by Greek astro-grinders Dephosphorus and Finnish progressive death metallers Haapoja. It is a split in the classic sense that both band have contributed songs for this release, but it is also a shared release as the two bands have worked together on some of the songs. Out now as a joint effort by 7 Degrees Records, Handshake Inc. and Nerve Altar, this Greco-Finnish alliance has been carefully designed to flatten everything within reach of its transmissions.
Haapoja formed in 2007, Dephosphorus one year later. They both debuted in 2011 and this split is a follow up to LPs (Haapoja’s 2013 s/t; Dephosphorus’ 2014 Ravenous Solemnity).
Ladies and gentlemen, without further delay, welcome Dephosphorus’ singer Panos and Haapoja’s guitarist Pekka (also singer Jyri on one question) as they discuss collaboration, splits, Jeff Hanneman, and more.
(note: the Q and A format has been retained for clarity)
-What lead to this collaboration?
Panos: We’ve known each other for a few years now, have been fans of each other’s music in addition to an appreciation on a personal level – even though we’ve yet to meet face-to-face. When after Ravenous Solemnity we’d rounded up enough material for an EP or a mini-LP, we naturally thought of Haapoja as the ideal partners in crime for a collaborative effort.
Pekka: Panos first contacted us in 2011, after we had released our first EP Hallitsematonta Voimaa. We’ve been in touch ever since, and when the guys from Dephosphorus came to us with the idea of a collaboration LP we naturally agreed without hesitation. In my opinion Dephosphorus is one of the best bands in the scene, and since we are all fans of each other’s music there couldn’t be a better starting point for a collaboration LP.
-What lead you to pick this as the album title? Is it the simplicity and accuracy of it, or is there something greater hiding behind it?
Panos: We’ve already released two split-7”EP’s that we’re very proud of, the first with Wake (CA) and the second with Great Falls (USA), the latter being part of Hell Comes Home’s boxset/7” series. We didn’t feel like making another classic, “my side – your side” split record, therefore we discussed with Haapoja about collaborating on a bunch of tracks and they immediately agreed. It made total sense because our individual music styles have many things in common, sharing in particular a similar obsession with discordance.
Pekka: There is much more collaboration going on than on your average split album, so we wanted the title to be descriptive about that. So it really is about the simplicity and accuracy.
-Is there a shared theme, a unifying thread in the lyrics of the album? What are your lyrics about?
Panos: Dephosphorus are a concept band. Our lyrics and artwork materialize the mythos of Dephosphorus, an ancient cosmic entity roaming the universe in quest of meaning, recruiting other sentient lifeforms along the way. It is of existential but also political nature, and is heavily influenced by science fiction and cosmology.
Concerning the opening tracks of each side on which we’ve swapped vocalists, Jyri can tell more about the lyrics of Aika. As far as we’re concerned, the lyrics of We See With Teeth (Κοιτάμε Με Τα Δόντια) are taken from the poem of the same name by Miltos Sahtouris, a legendary greek poet (R.I.P.).
It is the first track that I’ve screamed on in Greek and I must give credit to Haapoja for pushing me do it. Indeed, when we were discussing about those two tracks, they’ve naturally told us “well, you should go on and sing in Greek”. Screaming in my native tongue has sort of been a taboo for me and once I’d laid down the vocals in the studio it was a big revelation for us! Back to the lyrics, the poem was Thanos’ choice and he also came up with the vocal lines. Additionally, the artwork of the release has been largely inspired by the poem itself…
Jyri: My lyrics are basically short stories and there are different aspects on every record, though main themes are dark, violent and twisted aspects of human life. The lyrics on the collaboration are a bit different, since I did the Dephosphorus’ song ‘Aika’ from their point-of-view. The title translates for Time, but the song holds a bit more depth to it, since it’s basically about losing all grasp on reality and sihfting through life, death, space and time and, eventually losing all sanity in the process.
-In this day and age of digital downloads, youtube and whatnot, what is the point in having a split vinyl? Wouldn’t you both be better off with uploading your respective songs on your webpages?
Panos: Excellent question! The point of making music (and art in general) is the inner satisfaction you get by expressing yourself, but also the pleasure of sharing it with the world, getting feedback and interacting with likeminded individuals. That’s the whole point: the feeling of not being in this alone, the strength you get from comradeship, as well as the inspiration and motivation that ensue.
Having the whole effort available in its entirety from both bands was a prerequisite from the beginning. It would be absurd separating our sides, since as I’ve already mentioned we’ve swapped vocalists/lyricists on two tracks, and we also got Pekka play a stellar guitar solo on Shades Of Reality, our joint tribute to Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.).
Pekka: In a sense, yes, uploading songs on our webpages would be easier of course. But that could be said about any album or release in general. A lot of people still prefer the physical package, and vinyl is the ultimate format for that. And since this isn’t a traditional split but a real collaboration album, the sides really can’t be separated. From our own perspective, uploading songs on a webpage really doesn’t compare to the satisfaction you get from having a collaboration effort like this finalized in vinyl format.
-How different is the material we find on this split from your previous works?
Panos: To my ears this is some of the most eerie material we’ve ever written. Personally speaking, I’ve let myself loose and croaked some of the most scorched howlings I’ve ever recorded. It’s also the first time I’ve screamed in Greek (on Haapoja’s We See With Teeth), as well as the first time I did vocals in a more shouted register, on Shades Of Reality: it’s our tribute to Hanneman and it made sense having some more traditional, Slayer type of vokills.
Pekka: I would say that our material is the most aggressive and dark we’ve ever done. I think we’ve moved more into that direction on our every release. There’s no dramatical change in style, but it’s different enough to keep us from repeating ourselves. We’re not interested in doing the same songs over and over again.
-Any split albums you hold in great esteem?
Panos: Oh wow, a lot! Akitsa/Prurient, Fell Voices/Ash Borer, Antaeus/Aosoth, Red Sparrows/Grails, Emperor/Enslaved, Akitsa/Ash Pool, Shora/Merzbow, Keelhaul/Anodyne, SPK Kommando: We Hope You DIE 4-way split, Black Witchery/Conqueror, Varathron/Necromantia, Biosphere/Deathprod, Coalesce/Converge, Napalm Death/Coalesce, etc.
Pekka: Our drummer Tuomas wanted to chime in here, and mention the Primitive Man/Fister-split
-Which band would you dream of sharing an album with?
Panos: There’s so many of them. Right now I would say (in no particular order): Dead Congregation, Antimob, Napalm Death. Thanos (note: Dephosphorus’ guitarist) would definitely say Yautja!
Pekka: I could make an endless list here, so I’m just gonna say one name that could actually be realistic: Absurdist.
Panos: Last summer we recorded our third full length album and C. Sinclair from Diocleatian fame is currently mixing it. We’re also composing fresh material and have already completed a few tracks.
Pekka: We’re writing new stuff that’s going to be darker and more twisted than ever. We are also currently recording a side project EP which will be heavier, simpler and slower stuff than Haapoja.
The stellar cover artwork for Collaboration has been crafted by Viral Graphics.
In true underground fashion, all releases Haapoja and Dephosphorus releases (including the split discussed in this space) can be found in their respective Bandcamp pages.
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