Posted on February 27 th. 2018
Questionnaire by Omni on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
I’ve been loving Chevalier’s debut EP entitled A Call to Arms since I heard it last year. I was fortunate enough to talk with Tommi, the guitarist and backing vocalist for the band, and we were able to conduct this interview after I reviewed Chevalier’s recent split with fellow Finnish heavy metallers Legionnaire.
Omni: First let me thank you for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going?
Tommi: No problem! Things are all good and hectic now, preparing for some live shows and releases of Chevalier.
Omni: I suppose that it’s good to be busy if you are a musician, because that means that your fans have things to look forward to. Can you tell me about the origins of Chevalier and how the band got together?
Tommi: I wrote some French heavy metal inspired riffs back in 2011/2012, planning a band called Cavalier, but since I was living in the middle of nowhere in northern Finland nothing came out of it before I ended up in Helsinki in the autumn of 2015. Then I thought about the possibility of getting this thing finally going for real, decided to go with the French version of the name and wrote A Call to Arms, followed by asking the other members who I got to know in Helsinki to join a new band.
Omni: You’ve got quite a unique sound. What are the main sources of inspiration and influence for Chevalier?
Emma: I am not able to pin point one or two singers who inspire me. I guess it is more a combination of achieving not a certain sound but to learn the skill of painting with the voice and being able to take the listener somewhere. It’s a long way there, but it is the driving force and it is what I look for in other singers and musicians and it is my goal.
Tommi: Apart from the Great Old Ones like Judas Priest, Running Wild and Mercyful Fate, I’m a lot into more obscure heavy metal from Eastern Europe, Italy, France etc., as well as the US of course. The real spark to properly form Chevalier came from listening excessively to Omen and ADX and thinking, why aren’t there any bands around sounding more like them?
Thrash metal became the big thing so fast and effectively in the mid ‘80s that the other branch of faster, powerful metal like Agent Steel or Brocas Helm for example pretty much died out or stayed in total obscurity and a lot of territory in there was left unexplored, and that is one reason why Chevalier might sound quite fresh compared to the countless amounts of new thrash bands. Naturally other influences are involved, for example a wide variety of black metal which I have been listening to for way longer than traditional heavy metal.
I’m not a ashamed to show and talk about my influences, it would be pretentious to act like we don’t have any in Chevalier, but nowadays there seems to be a common way of thinking “Everything’s been done before so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, if they just play well it’s good” when it comes to new bands playing heavy metal the old way and I think this is extremely destructive to the determination of doing something original. I think the key to still do something unique is to mix influences that no one has ever mixed before, and there are a lot of possibilities with decades (or centuries, if you will) worth of great music out there.
New retro bands trying to sound exactly like it’s 1982 or something are building walls that are much too tight around themselves and then end up quitting or completely changing their sound by the time of the second album because of that.
Omni: You’ve really put a lot of thought into your answer. Thank you! When did you know that you were going to play heavy metal music one day?
Emma: I didn’t until Tommi asked me to join. I have been listening to heavy metal since my late teens and I’d been drawn in by the whole atmosphere and energy of the music, but for some reason I thought that I didn’t have the talent to take part in it in other ways than listening. A few years ago I started to get annoyed at myself for thinking so negativeIy, so I took a few singing lessons mainly to prove myself that I have the guts to do what I want regardless of the fear that I might suck at it. It set off a whole new chain of thinking that has been very liberating in many aspects of my life!
Sebastian: At the age of 14 when I got myself a bass kit, playing along to Iron Maiden songs badly and thought that it can only go upwards from there if I keep on practicing.
Tommi: I got into playing music myself quite late, starting with drums at the age of 16 and from there on it was clear that I wanted to play. Quite shortly I changed to bass and eventually to guitar though since I noticed I’m more interested in writing riffs and songs.
Omni: Well, things worked out in the end even though it sounds like there was a lot of work tonget to where we are now. What’s the Finnish heavy metal scene like these days? Are there a lot of newer bands?
Tommi: There’s more and more coming and the amount of gigs has been increasing during the last couple of years too, although more and more venues get changed into dining bars and such… Finland has a huge amount of bands, but even the most original and better ones usually remain unknown to the outside world, I think it’s partly because of the isolated Finnish mentality which is completely different to our neighbors in Sweden for example.
Omni: Yes, most of the Finnish metal bands that I’ve heard are older death metal acts from the 1990s. I can only think of a few exceptions. I saw quite a bit of discussion about A Call to Arms last year. Were you surprised by how well it was received?
Joel: I already knew that I was involved in doing something that I’d enjoy listening to. I was fairly surprised over all the positive feedback we got.
Tommi: We believed in it from the start and therefore the fact that it has been quite well received is a nice bonus of course. The style and production have got a lot of recognition as something original and fresh, as it was meant to be.
Omni: I love it, so I think that it deserves all of the praise. I’ve recently heard the split 7” with Legionnaire that came out on Gates of Hell Records How did you come to work with them? Were you fans of their music already?
Tommi: Yeah, I’ve known them since their early days, even attended a rehearsal or two trying out vocals for them before their first demo since I was living in Tampere at that time and thought they were really on to something good that no other band was doing in Finland.
For the first gig of Chevalier it was natural to ask Legionnaire to join and since then we’ve played and will play several gigs together. We share a lot of the same influences but have both forged a style of our own so we decided to do a split release recorded in the same studio over the same weekend, knowing that the result would anyways be two different and recognizable bands.
Omni: You’ve just released a new demo. Can we expect a Chevalier full-length in the future or will you continue to stick to shorter releases?
Tommi: Our next release will most likely be our debut full-length, for which I have all the material written already, and at least two of the three songs on the new demo Chapitre II will make it to the album as well. In preparation for the album we decided to do a demo just to show a bit of what’s coming! But more singles and demos should be expected as well. I like shorter releases between albums myself so I’m aiming to do those with Chevalier too.
Omni: Good to hear. I look forward to whatever comes next. I understand that Tommi has appeared on the new Master’s Hammer album entitled Fascinator. Can you tell me the nature of his contributions to the album?
Tommi: I’ve known the guys of Master’s Hammer for some years now since my first trip to the Czech Republic, and as they got back into live playing last summer, they ended up playing also here in Finland. Franta Štorm got inspired by the writings of the Finnish Pentti Linkola and wrote a song about him, for which he needed a part in Finnish and asked me to do it, I was happy to contribute.
Omni: I live in the United States, but Metal to Infinity is based out of Belgium and we have staff there who are looking forward to attending your upcoming show there with Hunter. What should they expect from your live performance?
Tommi: Total epic speed metal mayhem with a bit of chaos thrown in!
Omni: Sounds good! Do you think that Chevalier will play shows in America in the future?
Tommi: It’s not an impossibility, but I don’t see it happening in the near future. We still have a lot of countries to conquer here in Europe too!
Omni: What are your favorite newer heavy metal bands?
Joel: I don’t have that many, but if I would have to name a few I’d say Rapid, Vulture’s Vengeance, Terminus and Eternal Champion.
Tommi: Portrait, Legionnaire, Vulture’s Vengeance…
Omni: Good choices. I’d recommend that you check out the new Gatekeeper album when it drops in April. They’re a great band. What albums have you been listening to lately?
Emma: This winter countless spins of Songs of Love and Hate by Leonard Cohen, he’s an amazing poet and musician, Led Zeppelin IV and Judas Priest always.
Sebastian: Gillan’s Future Shock mainly.
Joel: Lethal’s Programmed, Metalinda’s self-titled, Brocas Helm’s both Black Death and Defender of the Crown, Deadly Blessing’s Ascend from the Cauldron and Tarot’s Spell of Iron.
Tommi: Our own demo Chapitre II has taken most of my focus lately, with the mixing process and release on bandcamp, but also Malokarpatan’s Nordkarpatenland, Brocas Helm’s whole discography, Katharsis’ World without End and Mercyful Fate’s Return of the Vampire have been on a heavy rotation.
Omni: What are your all-time favorite heavy metal albums?
Emma: AC/DC’s High Voltage, Judas Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny, Exodus’ Bonded by Blood, Metal Church’s self-titled, Led Zeppelin IV… list goes on and lives.
Sebastian: Motörhead’s Another Perfect Day is my favorite.
Joel: Fates Warning’s The Spectre Within is probably my all-time favorite record. Some other favorites of mine would be Omen’s Battle Cry and Crimson Glory’s Transcendence. My favorite Priest album varies a lot for me from time to time. I’d say it’s Sin After Sin right now.
Tommi: They change according to the mood and time of the year but here it goes:
Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny
Mercyful Fate – Melissa
Hell (UK) – 1982-1986 Demo compilation
Dark Quarterer – The Etruscan Prophecy
ADX – Suprématie
This list made me feel bad for Solstice, Omen, The Black, Brocas Helm, Sarcofagus, Running Wild and plenty of others though…
Omni: Those are all excellent choices. I’d list a lot of the same albums. What has been the biggest challenge for Chevalier so far?
Tommi: Rehearsing the songs to a good shape since I keep writing more and more progressive and intense songs!
Omni: Haha, that would do it. What has been the proudest moment for Chevalier so far?
Tommi: Probably the great feedback after every concert so far, but my personal highlight was handing our CD to the singer of ADX who then asked me to sign it!
Omni: You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished in such a short time. Thank you again for your time and willingness to do this interview. Do you have any final words for our readers?
Tommi: Thanks for the interview! Stay tuned for more epic sword-edged speed metal.
Chevalier has been doing great things in the Finnish heavy metal scene. Be sure to check out their new demo entitled Chapitre II and look forward to a full-length