Interview With Timo Kaarkoski Of Armored Dawn: 'I Think A Big Problem With A Lot Of Bands Is Tha


Armored Dawn has been cutting its teeth in the streets of São Paulo since 2011, churning out a solid debut EP and debut full length, both entitled "Power of Warrior" in 2016. The album garnered the band big attention in South America, scoring performances along side high powered acts like Megadeth, Symphony X, Rhapsody and Sabaton.

The band certainly got the attention of AFM Records, which they signed to and released the highly touted new album "Barbarians in Black" back in February. Just check out what CROM had to say about it here! The album was mixed and mastered by Orden Ogan's Sebastian 'Seeb' Levermann.

Our own Alanna Macron had a chance to chat with guitarist, and Finnish transplant to Brazil, Timo Kaarkoski about the album, the band's concept, tour plans and even the weather!

CROM: Hi, it’s Alanna.

TK: Hi, it’s Timo, how are you doing?

CROM: I’m good, how about you?

TK: I’m fine. It’s a little bit too hot for me in São Paulo but that’s fine. I assume there that the weather is not that hot yet.

CROM: It was raining and there was a winter weather advisory yesterday. So…

TK: Oh yeah. *laughs*

CROM: So what made you decide to focus on Vikings and Norse Mythology in general for your music?

TK: I think basically what happened is that I’ve always been curious since I’m from Finland originally. So I’ve always been interested in the subject, but the main reason is our singer Eduardo [Parras] studies all sorts of ancient things and war. Lately, I think about four years ago, he started studying more Scandinavian culture and he got really interested in the subject and started writing lyrics of that genre and so we decided that it’s an interesting thing to sing about so what doing some songs about this? That happened before, because now the whole world seems interested in Vikings because of that television series.

CROM: Yeah, that had to have helped.

TK: So it turned out really well for us!

CROM: Oh, so Finland? You are used to the cold.

TK: Oh yeah! To me, I’m suffering because I got married a Brazilian lady so I live in São Paulo now. Even winter here, it’s like summer in Finland!

CROM: You didn’t want to convince her to come live in the cold?

TK: I tried but she was not that interested in suffering through the winter coldness so I agreed to move here.

CROM: Yeah, I don’t blame her there.

TK: *laughs* Well sunshine is always nice.

CROM: So, because you moved to São Paulo, is that how you ended up meeting Eduardo and everyone else in the band?

TK: Yes, well what happened is that I was already in other bands and Rafael, the keyboard player of Armored Dawn, also had other bands and our bands would play in a lot of shows together. So I knew him already and with the beginning of Armored Dawn, Eduardo met Rafael and they started putting together a band and Rafael thought of me when they were looking for guitarist because they wanted to do something Scandinavian and “we have a Scandinavian guitar player living in Brazil so let’s call him!” So that’s how I joined the band.

CROM: Did you have any favorite myths that you’ve covered, or just a favorite myth in general?

TK: No, it’s just an interesting subject in general so nothing specific.

CROM: So with Barbarians in Black, this was your first time recording with Armored Dawn on a record label, right? The first album, Power of Warrior, was independent?

TK: Yes.

CROM: Was there any major differences between doing those productions?

TK: I think with making the songs it was the same thing. The differences to distribute the music after, because when you’re independent, you pretty much have to do everything yourself and it’s really difficult and no one’s really going to help you. Actually you end up not sleeping since you spend more time doing everything else except playing so having a record label helps a lot so there’s somebody who knows what they’re doing and does all the bureaucratic things for you.

CROM: For once, bureaucracy works.

TK: Yeah. *laughs*

CROM: So what came first for this album? Was it the music or the lyrics?

TK: It was the lyrics, I think. Eduardo had lots of lyrics about the subject and so we started writing the songs based on his ideas because with the first album that we did, it was made slightly differently. Eduardo first made the songs with piano because he plays the piano so he wrote the songs on piano and brought the songs to us with the lyrics and we then tried to put the guitars and the riffs into it and everything. This time, we started the guitar riffs and that’s how we got it to sound a little bit more heavy than the first one. The first was more old school music.

CROM: So you based the music on what Eduardo has written then?

TK: Yes.

CROM: Do you feel this works best?

TK: Yes, exactly. It’s kind of a different approach, because usually the bands will make songs with the guitars first and add killer riffs and then they start adding lyrics to the songs. We did it the opposite way this time.

CROM: Well, that’s fun, right? Getting to do something different.

TK: Oh yeah.

CROM: Do any post release plans like touring?

TK: Actually we’re touring as much as we can. We made one video already that was released for the album but we already have two videos ready that are going to be released in the next few months and that depends on the record label since they’re now the bosses when it comes to telling us when we can release it. But basically the plan is just to play shows everywhere we can and probably around the end of the year, we will start writing songs for the follow up album.

CROM: Do you have any places in mind that you would like to tour?

TK: USA, definitely, because we’ve been to Europe twice for touring. This year, with Saxon and last year we went with Fates Warning and we’ve been everywhere in South America. So USA is really the place that we want to go. I love the USA, I usually go four times a year, just for holidays, but playing there would be great. With the band though, we’ve went twice. Once we went to Yosemite Park to make the video for the first song we’ve released. We also went to Miami for the Motörhead's Motörboat Cruise. Those were the only times the band has been in the USA, so we definitely want to play there.

CROM: I would definitely come see you, if you ever get to play in the USA somewhere! Hopefully in New York, or somewhere in the Northeast!

TK: *laughs* Oh, yeah!

CROM: Any big influences or inspirations for this album?

TK: Musically, I think that inspiration was everything that the band loves. Most of us love 80s metal and 80s hard rock so we kind of mixed all of our influences together but tried to keep it more heavy and slightly more modern, because we understand that nowadays, not everyone is as big of a fan of the 80s, of course we are getting older. So we tried to do something to attract the younger people, since they like more modern stuff, so we tried to make it more heavy and slightly more modern to try and reach a slightly more wider audience. But basically, it’s just a mix of everything we’ve ever liked.

CROM: And not just with metal, with rock as well, so basically anything?

TK: Oh yeah.

CROM: Any bands you’re currently enjoying?

TK: Well, a few weeks ago when we came from Europe, we had played with Saxon, and we’re going to play with them again. They’re coming to Brazil in May so we’ll be playing with them again. We have lots of bands to do shows with and lots of big festivals in South America. What I think is happening now is that AFM Records is trying to see which parts of the world the record is selling the best and that’s where they would like to send us to tour.

CROM: I’ve spoken to a couple of people that live in Brazil and they usually say that there’s not really that big of a metal scene and that it’s difficult to find shows or other metalheads. Have you ever noticed that?

TK: Well, for the local bands especially, it’s really difficult to find shows especially in the big towns like São Paulo. If you have a show and it’s with a local band with their own songs, almost nobody goes there. I don’t know why it is, but people here seem to only like cover bands. So if you have a Judas Priest cover band, there will be a lot more people than some great Brazilian band playing their own songs.

*We were having slight issues with the connection at this point but when we could hear

each other again*

CROM: Hi, are you still there?

TK: Yep!

CROM: Connection is cutting out, I guess.

TK: Oh, yeah. It’s the Brazilian crappy internet service. It’s the most expensive in the world, but definitely not the best.

CROM: Oh nice. So they’re just charging you a lot because “they’re the only ones” right?

TK: Yeah.

CROM: I’m not surprised. That sounds like my city, there’s really only one internet provider so they just keep raising the prices on me.

TK: Yeah, but I think the problem is that happens in Brazil is that most Brazilians accept almost anything that is at a huge price and that they don’t really demand so much quality for anything. So like, if you were to buy a car, for instance, like a Toyota Corolla in the USA, it’s like $11,000 or $12,000 right? Here, you’re probably going to end up paying around $25,000 for it, and here it would be the most basic model not like the ones you could buy in Europe or the USA. So people accept crappy service for a huge price and the internet providers will do the same thing, because “people pay us anyway, so whatever!”

CROM: So that’s just the culture in general, in your opinion?

TK: I think so. I think the people are just used to it and that it “works for them so it’s all good.” They don’t demand better service and I think that’s a big problem everywhere in South America.

CROM: Do you have any other bands in mind that you would like to tour with besides Saxon?

TK: Well, we would love to tour with a bigger band, like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, or something like that. That would be really awesome!

CROM: Good luck.

TK: Oh yeah! That takes good luck and probably a lot more money than we have! So we start from the bottom. Who knows? Maybe some year, we’ll reach it but if we someday reach that point, both of those bands will probably be retired!

CROM: Ok, how about a little more realistically speaking?

TK: Well, thinking of the public, in Europe at least, we could probably tour with Amon Amarth because it’s similar with the Viking metal! Actually, when I hear people call us Viking metal, I was a bit worried because they’re the first band I think of when I hear Viking metal and we’re still a little bit more old school than that.

CROM: Still a bit scared of that comparison?

TK: Yeah, a little bit!

CROM: Anybody else you would like?

TK: Well, I’m trying to think realistically, but what would be really cool is to tour with the guys from Last in Line! I’ve been a huge Dio fan since the early 80s so that would be a really cool band to tour with and I would love to be able to that someday. Who knows? They’re not that old and maybe they won’t retire by the time we reach that level!

CROM: You can do it! I believe in you.

TK: Oh yeah, that is definitely still a realistic plan!

CROM: I’m of the belief that you can do anything you want as long as you put your mind to it!

TK: Yeah, what I think a big problem is with a lot of bands is that they quit too early. Especially in South America, the bands will release one album and they end up fighting all the time so they just quit. That happens here all the time.

CROM: Or they find out just how much work they have to do and get scared off?

TK: Yeah, you have to travel a lot and maybe you’ll earn something or maybe you won’t. But that’s going to be a lot of work and “oh no, no, I don’t want to do this!” and just quit.

CROM: Yeah, not really like there’s a regular paycheck.

TK: Yep, that you can just forget about it you want to be a musician. That doesn’t exist. It’s not a huge

party everyday and there’s lots of sitting in a bus and waiting.

CROM: Well, I think that is about from me. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me!

TK: Thank you so much for talking to me as well. It’s always a pleasure and I hope to see you someday on the road! I hope that we’ll get the band to the USA someday and in your direction.

CROM: I hope so too but I will travel internationally for shows every once in a while so we shall see!

TK: Oh yeah, if you end up seeing us, come say hi and we’ll get a beer or something!

CROM: Party like Vikings basically?

TK: Oh, yeah, definitely!

CROM: Sounds awesome! Well have a good night!

TK: You too, take care! Cheers!

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