Interview with Betrayal at Bespin

29-06-13: Tuska Open Air 2013, Helsinki (FIN).
By Laetitia, Ingrid and Tabitha.

The most fun interviews are the ones that happen spontaneously. It started with asking someone for a wifi password at Tuska 2013. The following day we sat around the table with that same person: Eero Hammais (guitarist), Jaakko Lehtinen (drummer) and their record representative (Avenger Records) Aapo Kivenmaa to talk about the Finnish post-rock band Betrayal at Bespin.

Tell us a bit about the background of your band.
Guitarist Eero Hammais: “In 2007 three of us were studying media in the university of applied sciences. Me, our bassplayer Heikki Hyvänen and our other guitarist Juho Leppänen followed the same course . We knew each other and all of us had a background in metal/hardcore, but we wanted to do something else. So we started Betrayal at Bespin started as a side project to do something different.”

“After the first record, Diary Of A Dead Man Walking, we got more band members. Mainly because we wanted to play live. We didn’t want to put any boundaries around our music. If we wanted let’s say, a saxophone, we needed a saxophone player for the album and the gigs.” Jaakko Lehtinen (drummer): “We put the record together first and after a while we realized that we had a band. So, after the first record, Betrayal of Bespin officially became a band.”

Can you explain your band name?
Eero: “It is from the Star Wars movies. It’s the planet where Han Solo is betrayed.” Jaakko Lehtinen: “The name sounded good and movies are important to us. We’re not Star Wars fans, but we liked that the name came from a movie. Our music is like a movie soundtrack.” Eero: “Sometimes we even compare our music to a movie: ‘we are going to play this movie for you tonight’.”

Jaakko: “When I’m composing, I like to picture a scene where I can put some music in.” Eero: “We want to visualize our music. For example, back in 2007, we made a mind map on paper for our first effort. There were western guitars , saloons and whiskey. It was all in a western, post-apocalyptic style. After that it was easy to compose our songs.”
Aapo Kivenmaa (Avenger Records representative): I think it works vice versa, the images inspire music and the music inspires the images.

We listened to some of the old songs and songs of the new album. We thought they were quite different: less vocals and more atmospheric.
Eero: “It felt natural to develop in that direction.” Jaakko: “It’s a natural thing, the music tells us what to do.” Eero: “It’s like two different movies. If you see David lynch or Spielberg movies, they don’t do the same all the time. Some movies are thrillers, others are dramatic. So the first album represents a misanthropic, post-apocalyptic, everyone is going to die- atmosphere. The first one was a dry desert sound, the second one more of a sea.” Aapo: “A wet sound.” Eero: “You mentioned lesser vocals. We don’t consider our vocals as the most important or our vocalist as the front man. It’s a part of the music.”

So a new album that you release will sound very different again?
Jaakko: “Yes, maybe.” Eero: “Jaakko always has something in his mind. It’s going to be different.” Jaakko: “The music tells us what to do”. Eero: “He gives mysterious answers all the time. The music comes to you, but that’s the truth.”

Your main inspiration was post rock/apocalyptic/movies/doom, does your Finnish background have an influence on the music. You know, the dark times?
Jaakko: “It’s a good question. I think that it wasn’t a big influence on the first album. We were very focused and the music was already ready in our minds.” Eero: “It always affects the music on some level, in the back ground.” Aapo: “The first album sounds hopeless, like a dark winter day. The second is more like a never ending mid summers evening. Also hopeless, but lighter.” Eero: “I think we all have a different opinion about this.”
Jaakko: “I think the Finnish influence comes from metal. It’s a big thing here. In Finland the metal is so popular, so it affects you somehow.”

How do you feel about playing here at Tuska, since your music seems to be different than most of the other bands.
Eero: “We all have a background in metal or metalcore/hardcore. I still play in a metal band. So when I look at the guitar I see a metal instrument. Our band plays something totally different, but I’m very pleased to be here. It was one of my dreams to play here some day, so it’s a good thing. I think our music fits the Sunday, the hangover day.”

Jaakko: “Yeah.. We were discussing the same question yesterday. When we started in 2007 we could not imagine playing here. No one expected anything.” Eero: “We are pleased to play here and we see it as an opportunity to attract new fans. Our crowd mainly comes from the web, they really liked our music there. Apparently our music has awoken some feelings.”

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