Eternal Tears of Sorrow (commonly abbreviated to EToS) is a Finnish melodic death metal band formed in Pudasjarvi in Northern Ostabothnia, Finland. I became friends with Altti Veteläinen, I think some time back in 2005, through my long time love of the bands music, as well as our common friends Nightwish and Dark Tranquility. I started out in the national and international metal and death metal scene years ago working with bands touring the US from overseas, as well as having a long time relationship and living with my now ex of four years, Jason Piona of Lilitu, and then Blood Promise. He toured with dark Tranquility, and was at the table for some time with Roadrunner Records.
I changed my company name around 2005 to Chaotic Beauty Music, and never once thought about the EtoS album “Chaotic Beauty” till going through my CDs one day. Altti and I connected on the funny similarity, and have been good friends ever since. I have stayed in touch and talked music business a lot as I am up working on tours at night, or having to stay up in order to conference with acts I work with overseas. One day we will get EtoS back over to the states touring, but for now, let’s have one killer interview with the amazing frontman Altti!
So Altti, tell me when you guys got your first start as a band?
Altti: Officially Eternal Tears of Sorrow was formed in 1994 under this name when we recorded our first promo tape called “The Seven Goddesses of Frost”..but we had played with the same guys already before under different names various of styles.
When did the name Eternal Tears of Sorrow come along, and where did you guys get it from?
Altti: We chose the name at the recording sessions of our first promo tape. Haha..the story of deciding the name is funny. We wanted to have long enough name to avoid already exiting duplicates and at the same time we wanted to have name that would describe our musical style. We had lots of good words fitting into our style and basically wrote them on a blackboard. Then we started to throw eraser on the blackboard and every time eraser hit a word we erased it. At the end we had 3 words left: Tears, Sorrow and Eternal.
When was your first label deal signed and with what label?
Altti: It was 1996 when we signed the first deal with a very small independent metal label from Sweden, called X-Treme Records.
Do you feel that the process has changed a lot with labels now, or is it just in the US?
Altti: It has surely changed A LOT during these years. That time we sent promo tapes all around the world and the first thing we were aiming at was a deal for 7” EP. It was usually the first thing bands tried to get and after that it would have been easier to get deal for full length album. Luckily the label got interested in enough our material for a full length album and it naturally was a big step for us on our career to step on the next step. Naturally Internet was not big thing at that time yet..so basically all messaging between band and label was done via letters and snailmail! It took always weeks to get replies and send your reply back then.
What was it like touring with the guys of Nightwish? My ex and I had a blast with them in the US when he toured with them, as well as their awesome music collection on the tour bus. Haha
Altti: It was really great time. We knew each other already before the tour because we were on the same label. So it was really like touring with friends.
What was the reasoning behind the January 2003 breakup after “A Virgin and a Whore” went to the top 40 of the Finnish charts?
Altti: It was basically all stress and burning ourselves out with all the tight schedules etc. Some of us were studying and some of us were working in day job at the same time. So it was very much like doing 2 jobs at the same without any real free time or breaks. We had released 4 albums in 4 years, toured extensively, taken care of our studies and even doing day job at the same time. We just felt that we need a break because chemisty between members started to suffer from all that stress too. We decided to have break and a year later split up because we still felt that it would not work anymore. We wanted to do also something different and concentrate on other important things in our lives where we hadn’t have time during those years.
Why was Petri Sankala having so much back pain after 2008?
Altti: He had some physical problems in his back that forced him to slow down rehearsing and finally leaving out form the band because he could not play due the back pain. It was hard decision for him and us, but we made it together in good understanding.
You guys have gone through a few members, whom do you miss the most that has left the band?
Altti: That is a very hard question. Honestly most of them have been really amazing guys and would not be fair to name only one guy.
Your sixth album has done well, topping at number 19 on Finnish charts, who writes the songs or is it a collaboration, and how in the world do you guys keep up the chart topping songs?
Altti: It has been pretty much collaboration. Of curse it’s always one of us who brings the basic idea or basic structure which we then start to build together as final version. Haha..we don’t think too much is the song or album going to hit charts and what other people think about it when they hear it. We just make music that sound great for ourselves. So far it has worked the best way.
What label are you guys currently on?
Altti: Our main label is KHY Suomen Musiikki Oy, which is independent label from Finland. Album has been licensend then for several other metal labels all around the world who then take care of releasing and promoting it on their area.
What can we expect fromn the 7th album, that is due out around 2012 that we haven’t had on any of the previous albums?
Altti: Well, it’s definitely going to sound pure EToS J But we have still never made two albums that are exactly same style. And I can tell that the next one won’t be an exception in this neither. So there will be plenty of new energy and fresh blood surely around! But still very recognizable EToS.
Let’s talk for a moment about your phtography. Who created the photography and artwork from your last promotional shots on the website? They are amazing.
Altti: It was O.W. Kinnunen / Studio P.S.V. from our home town Oulu. He’s one of the best photographers on this style from Finland and it was just great to work with him. We discussed about the vision and album themes and he then made the whole photography to match the ideas in the album. I’m sure that we will work with him on this new album too.
Tell me the most important thing to the band that you want the fans to understand about you.
Altti: Hard question again. Maybe it is that everything we do comes straight from our black hearts and souls. It’s all our vision and there has never been any producer outside the band. From artwork ideas, compositions, lyrics, the style of the band..it all comes form us and it’s we wh decided how we sound and look like at the end. We are not puppets of some commercial producing machine.
How do you like the constant contact with the fans that social media has brought to artists?
Altti: I like it and it is nice to get direct feedback from fans. IT was the same in early times when fans sent you letters..then they sent emails..and now they are sending messages via social media. This all has made band and fans closer each other and much easier to communicate. Of course this can cause some problems sometimes too when people don’t understand meaning of privacy..but luckily it happens very rarely because true fans really understand that respecting bands’ privacy is the only way how they can be in touch with them in the future too.
Where do you see the band going musically in the future?
Altti: I really don’t know and it is very hard to predict. I don’t even want to predict it because like I said, we have never made two identical albums. Surely there will exist always the very same corner stones in our music: beautiful and catchy melodies, strong atmosphere and then this dark and aggressive side. But the rest what is built upon these basic corner stones and how they are balanced between songs really depends on the mood we are writing the songs.
Does anyone in the band have other side projects or other genres of music they work in?
Altti: Oh yes, there are many of them.. like Janne has Tarot and Turmion Kätilöt, Mika has Mors Subita, I have For My Pain…, Jarmo K is composing music from many different styles / genres, and lots of other projects. There are so much good music that still needs to be composed and so little time, haha..
Is there a plan for a US tour for the US fans anytime soon? If so who would you like to tour with?
Altti: There aren’t any schedules yet, but surely we are naturally interested in playing in US too. Let’s hope that it would happen at some point when the timing and other conditions are right.
Do you think it is harder for bands in your genre today than is was just a few years ago?
Altti: Surely it is. It comes harder all the time because there are more and more new talented bands..but at the same time it is so hard to differentiate from each other. Also music business is changing heavily at the moment and it causes other big challenges for the bands and the whole industry. For examples labels are not willing to take any isks like they were doing before.
What advice do you have for others in the music business to have the longevity and success that your band has?
Altti: there is no magic formula for it. You just need to work hard, be humble, believe in yourself and in the music you are doing, and do your own thing without copying someone else. You also need to have good contacts and networks and use them efficiently. And one big issue: you need to have lots of luck too.
Are you really as scary as you look in the pictures and on stage in real life? Hehe
Altti: Of course I need to answer that I am..the most dangerous of them all! 😉
When are you going to let your friend Kimberly James (Me) tour you in the US? You knew I had to throw that in there.
Altti: Tomorrow? hahaaa..we need to start negotiating about that issue too 😉
Thank you so much Altti. I am delighted that I have become your friend, especially after being a long time fan of yours, and I can’t wait to see my friends over here packing the shows again.
Altti: Thank you very much for this interview! KJ It was my pleasure.
You can head to the bands website at: http://eternaltears.info to check out their tour schedule, more images, and keep track with their current recording.
You can also add these great guys on Facebook!