Niilo Sevänen | Vocals & Bass
Bass and vocals
Metallica (the old stuff…), Sepultura, Paradise Lost, Type O Negative, Amorphis, Sentenced, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir, Dissection, Opeth, Aerosmith, Guns n´Roses, Queen, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Swallow the Sun, Arcana, Omnium Gatherum, Ghost Brigade, Jean-Michel Jarre…
J.R.R.Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, Umberto Eco, Aleksis Kivi, Aino Kallas, Johanna Sinisalo, Tove Jansson, F.M. Dostojevski, Edgar Allan Poe, E.L. Doctorow, Michael Cunningham, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Mika Waltari, Eino Leino, Kalevala, Kanteletar…
Carl Barks, Don Rosa, Petri Hiltunen, Joakim Pirinen, Gary Larson, Sandman, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hellboy, Sin City, Druuna, Tintin, Asterix, Lucky Luke, Viivi ja Wagner, Calvin and Hobbes, Fingerpori…
The Godfather trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Clockwork Orange, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Braveheart, Star Wars, Bram Stoker´s Dracula, Some Like It Hot, Modern Times, Gold Rush, General, American History X, The Usual Suspects, L.A.Confidental, Snatch, The Cube, Indiana Jones movies, Blues Brothers, Täällä pohjantähden alla, Akseli ja Elina, Sin City…
Studio julmahuvi, Mennen tullen, The Black Adder, Cold Feet, Frasier, The Simpsons, South Park, McGyver, Modern Family…
Pizza, pasta and lasagna, filled pancakes, kebab, tortillas, Italian ice cream, karjalanpiirakka, lanttu- ja kalakukko…
Milk, water, tea, White Russian…
Strategy games, board games, football, floorball, gym…
I was born 1979 in Turku, the oldest town of Finland, located in the south-western coast. But soon I left the tumults of the sea behind me as my family headed towards the heaths of Karelia in the east, and we settled in Joensuu when I was about 5 years old. As a child I was a quite ordinary boy, I enjoyed football, computer games, comics and adventurous films - like the first Star Wars movie which I watched dozens of times. Since my father worked at the department of literature in the university and my mother was a librarian I grew up in the middle of books. I read many kind of books, from children´s books to historical works – already at the age of six in kindergarten I was enthusiastic about Napoleon, who was my hero (probably just because our names started with the same letter). In kindergarten I also had Iron Maiden´s ”The Trooper” –shirt, because it looked so cool. Older boys had shown me some dangerous-looking pictures of Maiden, Kiss, Mötley Crüe, W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister but I didn´t have any clue what their music was like. I was maybe seven when I recorded my first heavy rock songs from the radio – probably Kiss or W.A.S.P. But something strange must have happened because I lost my interest in heavy metal for the years to come.
I was quite young when I found the books of Tolkien, and from that point on I was frequently cast into some strange and enchanting fantasy worlds. I played a lot of role-playing games with my friends and dreamt of becoming a fantasy-novelist myself. From about the age of 11 onwards I wrote a lot of stories but they all would have been such a massive tales that I never got very far with them. Afterwards it´s of course hilarious to read the writings, but back then I took them quite seriously. Anyway it made me enjoy the writing very much, which has been very useful ever since. And it also gave me the spark to create something new, something of my own.
I was maybe 12 when I became interested in music again. Queen and Aerosmith were the coolest bands I knew then, and their stunning videos could be seen from the music channels. Then once I saw the video of ”Enter Sandman” from the tv, and afterwards it kept haunting my mind. I think I had only seen the video once and maybe heard some songs from the radio when I wished Metallica´s black album for Christmas present in 1992. That was one of the crucial moments of my life. I remember as I sat alone in my grandparents´ kitchen on a Christmas eve and listened the album. Black was the night outside, and dark and strong was the music, stronger than anything I had ever experienced before. Nothing remained the same after the Sandman.
I had to have all Metallica´s albums of course. ”Ride the Lightning” was the one I learned to love most. And for me the one song still above all the others is ”For whom the Bell Tolls”. I spent all my time listening the albums, banging my head and ”playing” imaginative guitar in my room. I heard Paradise Lost´s ”Remembrance” from the radio and soon I had to buy the album ”Icon”. Ever deeper I fell when I bought Sepultura´s ”Chaos A.D.” without hearing it beforehand. First I was terrified by Max´s vocals, but soon I learned to like them. I think people in general need some kind of adaptation time before they can understand growling singing-style or appreciate its ability to represent extreme feelings - hate, frustration and sorrow.
I think it was February 1994 when my schoolmate Tapani Pesonen and I thought that we should form a band with a couple of other guys. Tapani had played drums and guitar for some time and he could play many Metallica´s songs, but I had never ever played anything – so my fate was to take the bass. In the first rehearsals the bass was given to me and then we were suppose to play ”For whom the Bell Tolls” which starts with a bass lead! I bet it sounded just great. Well, the beginning is always difficult, but I wanted real hard to stay in the band and so I practiced with my friend´s acoustic guitar at home. During the spring we played once a week some Metallica´s songs and little by little I learned to play bass so that it wasn´t utterly horrible. In the summer I finally got my own bass and our band got a “steady” line-up and a name, Paise (“Abscess” or “Furuncle” in English – scary, isn´t it?). Along with Metallica we played songs of Nirvana, Sepultura and some poxy Finnish punk bands so it was quite a mishmash. Our own works were some kind of strange “funny” punk-songs, and we surely dominated the underground punk-scene in Joensuu during the next winter. The climax of our short career was the “Shittiest Band” –contest, where we were the best band and thus the last in competition. Soon after that success we broke up because of some personal and musical disagreements. At least the glorious times of Paise taught me that playing in a band was the best hobby a young man could have and that drinking booze could be extremely nice in good company.
In autumn 1995 me and Tapani started in upper secondary school (or senior high school) and we were eager to form a new band. Soon we found some guys from the school who had similar plans. The first name of our new band was Disharmony and that describes pretty well what we sounded like. It was some kind of “light-grunge” what we played, since our singer, who did most of the songs, was an eager fan of the Seattle-genre. Soon we changed our name to Stonecrow, but unfortunately our style didn´t change in the process. In March 1996 we went to a real studio to record a demo cassette. Working in a studio was a nice experience, but the outcome wasn´t that great. Then we made a video from one of the songs and our music teacher showed it to the whole class, so for a while being in a band was still cool. Unfortunately our style became lighter all the time and when the vocalist started to make Finnish lyrics we sounded like some Finnish alternative pop/rock band. In that point playing in the band was not nice anymore, so I started pondering what could save me and Tapani from that awkward situation. Months passed slowly and it became the spring 1997 until something finally happened.
I had noticed that there were some younger metalheads in our school, and I knew that one of them at least could play guitar quite well. I had composed an acoustic song which I wanted to perform in our school´s spring concert, and so I asked these younger dudes, Markus Hirvonen and Ville Friman, if they could join me and Tapani to play this work. The guys agreed and soon we had a song for four acoustic guitars and another one for two guitars and a piano (which was played with four hands!). Our show in the concert wasn´t that great since one guitar was badly out of tune and we were not that good playing the piano - I have never been more nervous on stage when playing that damn thing. But that didn´t matter since now we finally had a band where everyone enjoyed the playing! We had a great time together and we all wanted to play same kind of music. In the beginning it didn´t sound that marvellous but we had lot of motivation to practice. And now for the first time I had a band that could play exactly the kind of music I wanted to make, so I composed a lot and learned all the time more from songwriting. Soon Ville and I figured out what kind of music we wanted and were able to make together: furious and yet melodic metal with many acoustic passages - catchy music which still had many layers and some complexity so it was fun for us to play. From that finally grew Insomnium as it is known today.
At the moment I’m living in Kotka, a small city on the south coast of Finland. A lot has happened since we founded the band over 14 years ago. We’ve made five albums, toured Europe and North America, played awesome festival shows, met many of our idols, won some awards, gained a lot of fans and had a lot of fun. At the same time we have surprisingly grown older. I’ve graduated from cultural history from Turku university and now I’m working as a program manager in the Cultural Centre of Kotka city. Running the band is A LOT more complicated than 14 years ago but it’s still good fun. I’ve got to know so many great people because of this band and that alone makes all this hard work worth it. And when four guys throng in a small rehearsal room to play some new killer riffs… That’s where the magic happens.