Finland’s Swallowed play doom-laden old school death metal, with a deliciously dark and twisted atmosphere. After the Autopsy worship found on their highly regarded demo tapes, the band has refined their bleak and uncompromising sound and released their debut self-titled EP as a 7″ and digital download. M3 conversed with guitarist/vocalist Samu Salovaara about the beauty of vinyl, the pros and cons of Bandcamp and their touring plans…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Samu – I play guitar and write songs for Swallowed. I also run a really small underground label/distro called Emptiness. On my free time I like to draw and paint.
What inspired you to form Swallowed? What are your own musical backgrounds?
Back when we started it was old death metal such as Nihilist and Abhorrence. I didn’t like the music people were doing here at the time. It was lacking something and I wanted to do something different.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Any physical format will do but I’m mostly into vinyl. There’s just something magical in it. The whole listening experience is much deeper when you take the time to sit down and spin some records. Focusing on the music as a form of art and not just playing something on the background while you are doing other things. I also like tapes for their compact size and the affordable way of promoting music in physical release.
Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
Yes definitely, there are some exceptions though as this doesn’t fit for every kind of music. But I get the most out of the music when it comes as an entity. And I see our music in that way too.
Your debut EP is currently available as a 7” and digital download from your Bandcamp page. Why did you decide to use Bandcamp, and what advantages and/or disadvantages have you encountered through using the site as a method of distribution?
I really don’t see Bandcamp as an important tool for selling the music. It’s a good place for sharing it though. I set up the Bandcamp page after Myspace got useless. Bandcamp is much cleaner and user friendly. And there’s a possibility to offer your releases as digital files for people who want to download your album but still support the band. It’s nice to see that some people actually do that instead of going to some Russian blog after a free download.
Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
We still have a handful of good record stores here in Helsinki and nowadays they are carrying more and more vinyl. They seem to do quite ok at least. I could imagine the growing popularity of vinyl has probably something to do with the fact that they are still in business. I’ve recently been in Frankfurt and London. Both had some good record stores so I don’t think they will be gone in a while.
Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
Can’t really say much to that since we haven’t been touring. But the record sales for this kind of music won’t make a fortune…
Do you think traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age, or do you think we will have to rethink the concept of copyright itself?
Don’t know much about the details of copyright laws… Probably needs some work to get them up to date.
What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
Originality. Almost everything has been done already. If you really want to make something people would be interested in there has to be at least little uniqueness.
Finally, what does the future hold for Swallowed?
We have our debut LP in progress. Then some shows. Maybe a USA mini tour in 2013.