Interview with Insuna

DSC_0040 copy  Insuna

I recently caught Cardiff based metal band Insuna opening for Triaxis at Bogiez rock bar and was great impressed by the quality of the bands songs and the power with which they delivered them, so I felt it only right that I featured them here.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?  
Collectively we’re Insuna but individually… AK – the singer, CHRIS – guitarist and one of the songwriters, LIAM – guitarist and another songwriter for the band, MATT – bassist and DAVE – drummer and I also get involved in the arrangements.

Where did the band’s name come from? 
CHRIS – Liam made it up, we all hated it at first. It was only once it got paired with a rough logo idea I had that we all started to warm to it, so it just goes to show that it’s all to do with context sometimes!
LIAM – Yeah, I think even I hated the name when I thought it up!  As he says, it was only when Chris made a cool looking way of showing the band name that everyone seemed to like it and it just clicked into place with us.

How did you get started?  
DAVE – I met Liam way back in Nov 2006 through ‘Formingbands.co.uk’. Countless auditions and meetings later (including trying out Owen from Triaxis on guitar!) we finally got a line-up that clicked in May 2009 and other than a bassist switch from my previous bandmate in my old band to er, the other bandmate in my previous band – that’s who we are today.
AK – I actually posted adverts everywhere that I’m a drummer and want to form or join a band. I wrote that I also can do some backing vocals. Dave contacted me in April 2009 and since he is a better drummer, I could not move him off the drum-chair! After him and Liam rewrote songs into Drop-D, I turned out to be not bad singer!

What have you got going on at the moment?  
CHRIS – We are completing our 4-song debut EP ‘Causality’.
DAVE – That’s our main focus but other than that we’re keeping the local gigs ticking over and also working on getting some of our newer songs into our live set to keep things interesting and moving forwards.

Favourite music and why?  
AK – I like different kinds of music. From classical to experimental . From light to heavy. My list of “favourites” are changing all the time. Sometimes it depends on what mood I am in, sometimes, in what mood I want to be. At the moment in my list are Tristania (with Vibeke Stene), Lamb, Appocalyptica, Guano Apes, Pin-Up Went Down and my friends – Estonian band Emphasis, with who we may organize a tour in spring next year.

LIAM – Anything from metal to pop.  As long as something is catchy/groovy and well thought-out I’ll probably like it.

MATT – I love listening to metal, rock, dub / reggae, drum & bass, experimental, indie, plus loads of other stuff – specific reasons why vary for different genres / tunes, but music I love inspires me to do such things as… cry man tears, or screw my face up in elation, or move my limbs rhythmically in an asexual manner, or learn to play bass better / faster / harder / longer, or question things I take for granted etc, etc, etc

CHRIS – I like a wide range, from old spanish music to death metal – my favourite music varies a lot, but I think its always important that it moves you in some way. When it comes to guitar playing though, metal music is my favourite as I love riffs. DAVE – Personally, of course Metal, specifically anything with busy drumming! It’s such a broad genre but it’s all based on some level of technical expertise above other genres, eg. folk lol. I’m not saying it’s better as of course all art is subjective but for me I find complexity necessary to keep my brain and ears interested. I have a very low boredom threshold!

Favourite book and why?  
LIAM – Probably ‘I Am Legend’ by Richard Matheson.  I really enjoyed the storyline, which was pretty tense throughout, but the way the character dealt with isolation gave the book a whole different twist on things.
AK – The manual for my video camera because I cannot figure out how to use this damn thing!
MATT – I’m Not decisive enough to choose just one but recently I’ve read and been hugely impressed by George Cockcroft’s ‘The Dice Man’ and Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Haunted’, both of which were thought-provoking and stylistically really interesting. My to-read list is forever growing – I definitely need to make more time to read!
CHRIS – Hmmm, I really enjoyed ‘American Psycho’ by Brett Easton Ellis, the ‘Books of Blood’ by Clive Barker are superb and Stepehn Kings ‘The Stand’ comes to mind.
DAVE –  I don’t really read fiction but as for non-fiction,  Brian Greene’s ‘The Elegant Universe’ which is about String Theory is good. I’m definitely not going to elaborate on the technical details here so to answer the question – let’s call that my ‘favourite’ because ‘I like Physics’.

Favourite film and why?  
DAVE – Con Air. It’s got everything. No, seriously though – Meet Joe Black for one. Not exactly ‘fun’ to watch but existentially/emotionally it knocked me for six and few films have that depth these days. Recently, ‘The Grey’ had a similar effect on me. Anything about mortality I find simultaneously traumatic and captivating to watch.
CHRIS – So many good films… I like The Ring (japanese version) I think it was a very innovative horror and moved the genre in a different direction. And The Shawshank Redemption is a film that never seems to bore me on repeat views – great story and acting.
AK – Caótica Ana – it’s confusing and therefore interesting. The same is with the film Stay. Also I liked The King’s Speech – I thought it was going to be boring but turned out to be quite impressive.
LIAM – Hard to narrow it down but I think it’s Scrooged for me!
MATT – My list of favourites would have to include The Shining, Aliens, The Warriors, Return of the Living Dead, Fright Night, the-usual-suspects-for-people-who-were-born-when-I-was (Lost Boys / Goonies etc), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Robocop… some Woody Allen bits n pieces…

Best experience in the business?  
CHRIS – Having people headbanging and enjoying our music – it’s great to have a connection with the crowd.
LIAM – Yeah, I’m with Chris on this one!
DAVE – Yep, we had our own mosh-pit going in Newport’s 200 Club a couple of weeks back. I know it sounds like a small thing but to see people physically moved by something you’ve created is surely why anyone makes art.
MATT – Fondling Brian May’s hair would be the best experience in the business… best experience I’ve actually had is probably dreaming about fondling Brian May’s hair…

Why should soundscape readers care?  
MATT – Because… Soundscape reader Luke… I am your father…
CHRIS – Because I think we offer something different within the female-fronted metal genre, we try to take influence from many genres whilst trying to remain contemporary – we also enjoy riffs and solos so its a good combination!

Tell our readers an interesting fact about the members of the band?  
AK – I was born and lived in Estonia, which was included in USSR on that time. When I was 4 years old my mother sent me and my sister to Russia to our grandparents for a holiday – just for one summer, but in exact that summer borders closed, Russia and Estonia separated and we got stuck in Russia for five years, we couldn’t get back home anyhow.
MATT – Not sure it’s necessarily interesting, but aside from playing in the band, I’m also a drum and bass producer / DJ… um, I can make a clicking sound with my jaw!
CHRIS – I have eaten guinea pig in Peru… so there!
DAVE – Again, ‘interesting’ is subjective but music does unite people in a way few things do, we’ve all come from different places – our singer’s first language is Russian, our guitarist’s first language is Spanish, our lyrics are in English and we live in Wales! How we all found each other I don’t know.

What’s the best and worst things about touring?  
DAVE – No idea, we’ve never toured! So the worst thing is it’s difficult to do when you all have families and full-time jobs and the best thing is we would finally have experienced touring. In case you’re interested that sentence was written in the future-past-present-conditional tense.
CHRIS – Well, as for gigging at least – The best: playing our songs live, meeting new people, meeting other bands. The worst: having to set up at the speed of light.
LIAM – Yep I’m with Chris although to add to ‘The Worst’ I’d say lugging gear around isn’t a whole lot of fun but it’s worth it in the end.

Most embarrassing thing to happen to you while in the band?  
CHRIS – Fluffing the end of one of our new songs ‘Of Shadows and Light’ the first time we played it live – painful!
AK – I get involved in embarrassing situations all the time, usually due to me being foreign! I often say things in English which are innocent in my mind, but then turning out to be rude expressions  which I’m not aware of! Or I mess up grammar tenses when speaking on stage. Or another day, I said to the crowd to FILL the gap in front of the stage, but pronounced it as “FEEL the gap”, they were confused! Also, I fell off the stage! With grace and on my feet, but still, the fact is – I DID fall!
LIAM – My pedal board crapped out on me in a recent gig right in the middle of a solo, that was pretty cringey.  I haven’t fallen over on stage though… yet 😉
DAVE – I had a meltdown trying to play a 200bpm thrash beat in a tiny practice room a couple of years back and lost all control of my emotions. I threw my sticks nearly hitting Chris. Only 4 witnesses but it was still embarassing. Since then I’ve tried to take things slightly less seriously! I can now play the beat in question 🙂
MATT – Getting lost on the way to and from gigs… all the time!

What’s your writing and recording process?  
CHRIS – For my songs I normally tend to write the music, lyrics and vocal melodies at the same time so once I have demoed a song I will send it to everyone else and we all have a discussion as to whether the majority are keen on it or not. If it’s something enough people are behind then we would work on further arrangements and tweaks, if needbe, and start practising it at rehearsals. Cubase helps a lot when ironing out demos!
MATT – For me it’s simple – Listen to new riffs written by the band… Think ‘cool!’ Learn new riffs… Attempt to keep up… Record… ReRecord-not-fade-away…
DAVE – As for recording, we haven’t really settled on one way of working yet as we haven’t done enough although it’s hard work doing everything yourselves (like we’re doing with the EP production) so we’ll likely be keeping a look out for people to work with in future at prices we can afford. We currently have no management or label involved at all so if you’re interested, get in touch!

What inspires you?  
LIAM – People who write their own music, work hard at it, and are passionate about what they do.
MATT – Good things / beautiful things / bad things / boring things.
CHRIS – Tons of stuff – mostly it’s listening to unusual music or genres which I wouldn’t normally listen to, it can really freshen up ideas and give you a new impetus to write.
DAVE – We’ve covered most of it already – films, series, intelligent music, challenges, people who do things better than you ever think you could or was even possible, people who you know you can do things much better than getting way more attention than you! Y’know – the usual.

Best thing about coming from Wales?  
DAVE – It’s nearby so not too far to drive to gigs.
MATT – Being there ‘now in a minute’.
CHRIS – Half and half – rice + chips!
LIAM – I’m gonna sound cheesy, but I love the beautiful countryside surrounding us!

Who are your role models and idols?  
MATT – Samantha Fox and Billy Idol.
LIAM – Hmm tough one!  I think Kirk Hammett was the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place when I was younger.  In addition, even though we don’t have much in common with them in terms of music, I think someone like Misha from Periphery is a great example of someone who has worked hard at something to get results, starting on a sort of ‘do it yourself’ approach to writing music. Also being a great guitarist and songwriter helped him too!
CHRIS – Guitar wise it’s James Hetfield, I’m a massive fan of his riffs and his playing and that’s what my own style is based on. As an overall musician probably Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth – he can sing, growl, compose songs, riffs, solos, it’s crazy! He is what I would consider a modern day musical genius.
DAVE – In no particular order; Daniel Erlandsson, Adrian Erlandsson, Chris Adler, Gene Hoglan, Ray Herrera, Danny Herrera, Dave Mcclain, Jaska Raatikainen, Paul Bostaph (NOT ‘caveman’ Lombardo lol) and really any tasteful metal drummer that writes to enhance the song but also keep drummers interested. Also Devin Townsend and Robb Flynn for just putting so much into their music at the cost of, I’m sure, their family lives and sanity. Modern metal wouldn’t be the same without them.

Hardest thing about the current business?  
AK – For a band to be noticed and remembered.
LIAM – Yeah there’s so many hard working bands/musicians out there from all walks of musical genres who deserve success. Seeing some of these people not being recognised in the mainstream is baffling to me but it’s really motivating to see them carry on doing what they love even if it means they won’t make a living out of the success from it.
CHRIS – Making sure people hear your music, I think there are so many bands out there – it can be hard to stand out from the crowd.
MATT – Many, many bands… little, little money. Working a full time office job!
DAVE – Yeah oversaturation is a problem I guess due to the internet connecting everybody to everybody. There’s a disconnect between how good a band are and how hard they work and then how popular they become as a result but then that’s pretty much always been the problem in this country with the existence of chart music.

Favourite Batman actor?  
CHRIS – George Clooney lol! Nah it’s got to be Christian Bale for me, closely followed by Michael Keaton.
LIAM – Michael Keaton!
DAVE – Surely favourite Bond is slightly more topical now? Anyway, I’d pick Michael Keaton. Anyone who spends half their time as a costume wearing vigilante that only goes out at night must be slightly mentally unhinged not least due to sleep deprivation and that’s exactly how Keaton played it… although, I’ve seen his other films and he’s pretty unhinged in them so maybe that’s just him!
MATT – I think Alun Carr brought a beautiful intensity to the role.
AK – Am I the only one who didn’t watch any of Batman movies?

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All photos courtesy of Rhys Heal, www.hokumdeadfallphotography.co.uk

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