Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cicutoxin Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?

Right now we are planning to make another recording. It’s not clear yet what exactly will happen to the recording, but hopefully a part of it will be released as a split 7” with Slave Hands. To give some background information about Cicutoxin: we began rehearsing in late 2009, then released some tapes (“Demo 2010” and “Delirious Excommunication”) and lately a split LP with Pigeon Hunt (recorded already in 2013). Our music is mostly somewhere between sludge and doom, with anguished “singing”. The focus is on composition rather than sound or improvisation. This is the current line-up: Allu (drums), Jaakko (guitar), Juhani (bass), Markus (guitar), Ville (vocals). (Answers to this interview by Markus.)

2. A few months back you were a part of a split, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

Obviously, the 1st tape is the simplest musically. The 2nd tape showed clear progression, with more interesting musical ideas, and we also played better. Contrary to the split LP, some of the tracks on these two tapes also included a violin. I’m still satisfied with the 2nd tape, but the recording on the split LP is another evident improvement. One of the reasons is that we have two guitarists now which makes the compositions sound more detailed and dynamic. Nevertheless, the musical “style” remains the same.

3. From what I have read in the lyrics so far, you have a different approach with each recording, what are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you cover on the newer release?

On the split LP, “Secespita” deals with being on the mercy of “destiny” and the fact that there is no security. “Dissidents” is about the minority of republicans in Ireland who still believe in the necessity of armed struggle. Our point is not to defend this political stance but rather to examine it. “Cicuta virosa” is describing the symptoms when taking a certain poisonous substance. “Where to go to get sick” is about the consequences of being concerned too much with other people’s opinions on what’s right or wrong.

4. On one of your recordings the lyrics were more focused on religion, occult and secret society themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics?

Our interest is rather limited concerning occult and secret society themes. On the 2nd tape, “Delirious Excommunication”, there is a track called “Heretic Beliefs”, handling freemasonry, but I can hardly describe the lyrics as serious. The point is rather to make fun of secret society beliefs. It is quite amazing to think that, especially in the past, the freemasons have been blamed for so many things. Obviously, the freemasons can also blame themselves for these suspicions. If you act like a secret society, suspicions will arise, even if you’re relatively harmless.

You’re probably referring to a track called “Inferno Experience” on the 2nd tape when you mention the word “occult”. It may be difficult to guess, but the lyrics are in fact about a Swedish author called August Strindberg and the bizarre period in his life, when he had a lot of interest in alchemy. It’s surprising to think that such an intelligent man wasted his time in an area like that. In any case, I highly recommend to read the works of Strindberg - and watch the film by Alf Sjöberg, “Miss Julie” (1951), based on Strindberg’s play, about class distinctions and their effects on romance.

An object of severe criticism in our lyrics, however, is religion. Perhaps it’s in the nature of human beings to try to fill their inner void with something significant, and therefore man has come up with religion. But this doesn’t explain all the villainy that is done in the name of religion (and certainly there are many better ways to find meaningfulness in life than religion). Especially in this age of extreme islamist terrorism, islam seems like the worst of all religions. But there are also very strong reasons to criticize the mingling of state and christianity in contemporary “western” societies: in our home country Finland the church and the state are still not totally separated. The church has too much power in the upbringing of obedient citizens ( the school system) and in defining “morality”. Belonging to church is considered “normal” and “Finnish”, leaving people not belonging to church with the role of outsiders. Well, perhaps this topic is too big to be properly discussed here...

5. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Cicutoxin'?

When deciding the name, we thought some poison could be suitable, and cicutoxin was one of the proposals. There are no big reasons behind this decision. The name of a poison fits to music like this: painful, uncomfortable and nauseous. Also, it doesn’t sound too typical.

6. What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

In fact, we have played only one gig so far! This is quite ridiculous considering that we began rehearsing in 2009. But gigs didn’t seem like a priority. We don't practice regularly enough to be in the condition to play gigs. There are some practical reasons for this: not all of us live in the same city and some of the members are very busy with work, family and other bands (Wound and Ydinaseeton Pohjola). We are satisfied with the first gig (Vastavirta-klubi, Tampere 19.3.2016). There was some nervousness but luckily we had practiced more just before the performance. I think we succeeded in combining slower pieces of music with some new, power violence style compositions (that have not been released yet). I hope the audience found that unpredictable and surprising. In our music there is very limited space for improvisation, so we just performed the compositions the way they are. We are not “show-oriented”: we have no special ideas about costumes, light, visual images etc. The music is enough.

7. Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

We have no touring plans, but most likely we will continue by playing isolated gigs now and then, as the first gig was an encouraging experience. The next show will take place in July (in Tampere, again) according to our plans.

8. Recently you were a part of a split with 'Pigeon Hunt', what are your thoughts on the other band that had participated on the recording?

Pigeon Hunt sounds “hysterical” in my ears. There are a lot of things happening all the time in their music, which is a good contrast to “heavy” music that’s very formulaic and predictable. I like that aspect at least, even if it is not exactly my kind of music. It’s original, they have their own sound, and they really deserve credit for that. As expected, Pigeon Hunt seems to divide opinions, which is a positive sign.

9. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your recordings by fans of underground music?

The feedback has been very scarce, so it’s pointless to generalize here. Outside of Finland there are a few collaborators distributing our releases (in Italy, France, Germany, and the UK for example), so I guess some have liked it at least. No actual negative feedback has arrived. In general, I think the feeling is (like in the reviews released in Finland) that we have progressed, and we agree with that.

10. When can we expect a full length and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

There are no plans to release a full length. First of all, we are not productive enough, and secondly, it would be a financial suicide. Who would buy it anyway? We are going to continue on the road of smaller releases. Some of the new tracks (hopefully recorded soon) are influenced by classic power violence bands. Probably we will continue to make music like that, but not abandoning slower, more sludge type of music. Excluding the faster pieces of music, the new compositions are more complex than in the past.

11. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

As mentioned in the previous answer, some newer and faster pieces of music are influenced by power violence. I’m referring to e.g. Crossed Out, Neanderthal, No Comment or Infest. I’ve admired them for years, and it’s very enjoyable to play something similar. In general, however, we don’t normally think of exact or strict influences. As long as the riffs sound good and as long as they don’t go “too far” from the area of sludge and doom, we will use them. In the beginning of this band, I remember listening to some “simpler” sludge like bands Wellington and Salome, and thinking that we could do something similar, but as things have progressed we haven’t had any exact goal like that. After the recent gig, someone in the audience compared us to Dystopia. That’s a great compliment, Dystopia was a top quality band, but even if I get the point (I think of the opening riff of “Where to go to get sick” especially), I don’t think the comparison is generally true. Some fantastic sludge bands that have inspired me especially are e.g. Noothgrush, Meth Drinker and Fleshpress. But I don’t think that we’re even close to what they’ve achieved, and we don’t even aim to sound similar. Of course, I listen to other types of music too, like punk/hardcore (luckily Tampere, my home town, is a great city for seeing live “shows” especially in this genre), old school death metal (like Swedish and Finnish classics, and additionally contemporary Finnish bands like Krypts, Stench of Decay and Swallowed), doom metal (Saint Vitus, Reverend Bizarre, Warning, Pentagram, Cathedral etc.) and even rap (like Finnish underground or “dirty south” type of rap). If I had to name a favourite band at gunpoint, I’d name two: Man Is The Bastard and Neurosis.

12. What are some of your non musical interests?

Concerning other areas of culture, I’m a lot into cinema and books (not only novels but also history and social science). Film directors that continue to inspire me include for example Lars von Trier, David Lynch, Bernardo Bertolucci, Ermanno Olmi, Ingmar Bergman, Luchino Visconti, Sergei Eisenstein, Luis Buñuel and Werner Herzog. Mostly the films that I’m interested in have been made in the 1970’s or earlier: I consider contemporary cinema pretty much dead (there are some exceptions of course).

13. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

Thanks for your interest! It’s not common that someone sends a request for an interview. To anyone who reads this I hope you’ll check out our material ( The “Delirious Excommunication” tape is still available, in addition to the split LP. We’re interested in trading too. Support underground/DIY metal/hardcore/punk in general!

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