Exclusive Interview: Ceased Sunfire talk writing and recording “Sleepless”!
It may only be just over 10 minutes long but the debut EP “Sleepless” from hard edged Stoner Sludge Doom Metal trio Ceasing Fire serves as more than an amuse-bouche, an appetizer for what the band are currently working on for their debut album. Hailing from Helsinki Finland and comprising a trio of veteran musicians masterminded by Aleksi Manninen the three cuts give a real flavour of the kind of sound that the band are looking to create and it’s one for riff worshippers out there. So here’s our second conversation with them about their debut record and what it takes to make Metal alchemy happen!
How did your previous experiences writing and recording music help to smooth the path for “Sleepless“? “Yeah for sure they’ve helped – I’ve learnt how my creative process works and am comfortable with myself that the process will bring results. It’s also important to work with people you trust and feel comfortable with. Everybody should be aware what’s expected from them. The pre production period is important and can be tough but when done properly paves way to an effortless studio session. Many of these things clicked with the “Sleepless” process and I’m very happy with the result”
How does the writing process of a new track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? How does it evolve from there before you consider it the finished article? “I’m recording riffs all the time and then forgetting them. This is the fun creative part! I recorded two yesterday. Still maybe 90 % of the song is yet to be done. There’s no structures, lyrics, what style it should be played or anything. A few times a year I get myself together and sit down and really start working on songs. Which riffs belong together? Which lyric lines fit which riffs? I record them in Logic with click or the Logic automatic drummer, just to mark general ideas about where should maybe be half tempo, where to play hi-hat, where ride and so on. Then I send these demos to the guys who bring their own real instruments parts in. In the band rehearsals everybody already knows the songs, and we’re able to concentrate on details, single notes here and there, what’s the feel of drums… This is being recorded and then I’ll use the recording to work on the vocals. This is really relieving for the guys since they don’t have to be a part of that process and save their ears!”
Recording, mixing and mastering for “Sleepless” was done by Juho Karenko at CBH Recordings. What was it like working with him? How did you come to choose him to work with? “I chose him because working with him is bliss. He’s an awesome guy who understands what the band is supposed to sound like. I gave him some reference songs to listen to but mostly he has creative freedom for doing his thing. We have known for years and I like his methods. He always has good suggestions but still maintains respect to the music. We set up the mics together and listened until the sound was right. I think he’s almost like a fourth member of CS. We will work together on some of the new songs during the summer and he has agreed to work on our LP as well”
If you had the opportunity, who would you like to work with as a guest musician in the studio?“Absent in Body, Swallow the Sun or Kal-El!”
For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “I can’t remember what the others are playing but can speak a bit for myself – I have a cool late 70’s Epihone SC-350 which is an awesomely inspiring instrument and has given me the most of the Ceased riffs. I use very thick strings in Drop-B tuning. Pedalwise I like to keep it simple to make sure live performances are more playing and less stepping; the fuzz is Big Muff and I use Mooer EQ for solo boosting. I then have a nice warm sounding Boss RE-20 for delay and then a split to two amps. I love the work of Finnish amp manufacturer Bluetone and have two of their heads, a Dumble clone (the ODS model) and their superb take on a Marshall Plexi. Driving the Big Muff to these two rather different amps gives a really layered and personal sounding, heavy and powerful distortion which works nicely with my vocals”
What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “I’m interested in some new concepts of the electric guitar and actually have had some discussions with my luthier friends. It’s interesting how many elements of the electric guitar are so old, maybe even 70-80 years old technology. With this possible future endorser I’d work on tuning, ergonomics and maybe some crazy controls and chaos enabling elements and create a tool of true sonic destruction. I’d be thankful for a new set of strings every now and then as well though!”
“Sleepless” by Ceased Sunfire is out now and available over at bandcamp