I heard about TEARSTAINED back in 1999 but i managed to find their work in 2006. The first notes of "Monumental In Its Sorrow" got my attention. Their influences are obvious from the start (MERCYFUL FATE, KING DIAMOND, BATHORY) but used in very creative and depressive way. We contacted MIKAEL, the mind behind TEARSTAINED, and shared wιth us some of his views and his plans about TEARSTAINED...
1. Tell me about the history of Tearstained? How did it begin?Where do you find your inspiration?
Mikael Vaalkoth : Tearstained began as a solo-project in December 1995. At that time I was playing in a band called Night Conquers Day, and basicly I started Tearstained just as a musical experimentation, and also the first recordings were also my first experimentations with my then-new 8 track analog studio (Mortuary Temple Studio, which I still use to this day). Since I was already playing in a band, and had 2 other solo-projects at that time, I had a specific idea in mind with Tearstained. I wanted to mix Mercyful Fate with Bathory, and make it depressive. So that I did. And it has simply evolved over time, and even more so after Night Conquers Day split up in 2001 and Tearstained became my primary focus. My inspiration comes from many things - bands, moods, life, nature, landscapes, TV, movies, the psyche, dreams.....each Tearstained album has a concept to it. They are not stories, but conceptual albums that stick to a theme that runs through the album. The 1st 3 albums dealt with Suicide. The 4th album deals with Homicide. The 5th with Dreams. And the new one I'm working on deals with Destruction.
2. I know you have some other projects except Tearstained which i haven't listen to. Tell me about the music and what are they about.
Mikael Vaalkoth : Well I did have 2 other solo-projects in the 90's, both of which went inactive in 2000. They were Shadowcaster (a non-metal atmospheric/ambient project) & Into The Sunless Meridian (a disorganized experimental mix of power, black, speed & death metal). I released 2 promos and 3 CD's by Shadowcaster. And I released 2 demos and a CD by Into The Sunless Meridian. I played in a band called Buried Beneath (dark atmospheric black/death) from 1992-1995 and we released 3 demos and a CD. I also played in Night Conquers Day from 1995-2001 (we released a demo & 2 CD's). Night Conquers Day was a GREAT atmospheric black metal band, we broke black metal barriers and wrote long epic songs between 10 & 15 minutes long. I was VERY active in bands from 1988 until 2001. Since then I have focused solely on Tearstained.
3. What is your opinion about "religion"?
Mikael Vaalkoth : Completely unnecessary. Organized religion will be the death of us all. I have no religious beliefs of any kind. I am an agnostic atheist. But I much prefer the company of those drawn to the darker and more realistic side of things. I do not like to be around God or Jesus nutballs. Those people are mentally cancerous. I dislike all the major religions, their influences and their belief systems. I can tolerate pagan systems because they are much more attuned to common sense and nature, even if I find much of the ritual now unnecessary. At one time I was very into ritual, and for a number of my teen years I did practice Satanism (LaVeyan Satanism). Throughout my life I have studied many religions - I did extensive research into the origins and customs of christianity and judaism. I know more about christianity than most christians do, fucking idiots!!!! But to summarize, I do not think any rational intelligent human being has any use for religion.
4. You are a true heavy metal fan. What do you think about the metal scene in general nowadays?
Mikael Vaalkoth : Nowadays? Well here in Rochester NY it is non-existent. We had a scene in the 80's and early 90's. It evaporated by 2000. I don't know what the fuck happened? I really miss the scene of the 80's. It had such an atmosphere and new-ness to it that made it so fucking exciting. I mean there are still great bands out there, but I have no live venue to go see great shows anymore. In the past 10 years we had 3 concerts come here worth seeing: Judas Priest, Dimmu Borgir & King Diamond. THAT'S IT! There is no scene. I'm lucky if I even spot another guy with long hair, let alone find someone even remotely familiar with bands I am into.
5. What kind of music do you like?
Mikael Vaalkoth : Well my main passion is of course metal. At age 13 it changed me profoundly. And by age 14 certain bands just became magical to me: Mercyful Fate, Bathory, Possessed, Slayer, Destruction, etc. If it was heavy, fast and Satanic, then I was into it. I still love every band I got into in the 80's, as well as all the black/death/doom of the 90's and much more modern stuff, although I tend to like modern black metal and some of the retro-thrash, but death metal stuff of the past 10 years does nothing but re-hash the same ideas. Death metals prime was 1985-1995 then after that it burned out for me. I'm sick to death of deep grunted vocals. I much prefer the atmosphere of black metal. I am also very into a lot of obscure 70's rock, the type of stuff that falls into the psych/space/prog rock category (Pink Floyd, Amon Duul II, Eloy, Rush, Hawkwind, Minotaurus, Necronomicon, Black Widow, etc). I'm into some trippy new-age music as well, something that is great to listen to when stoned and lying in bed - that you can zone to and get lost in. I fucking hate country, rap, nu-metal, pop, and almost all forms of commercialized music. There's some other non-metal bands that I really love that are proggy-spacey rock music, like Porcupine Tree, Monster Magnet & The Spacious Mind. Devil Doll was extremely avantgarde dark music, so was Dead Can Dance. But it's still power, black, speed, death & thrash metal that excites me the most. That's what I know, live & breathe.
6. Tell me your top 10 of classic metal bands and a top 10 of new bands.
Mikael Vaalkoth : Wow, only 10? I'll try. Top 10 Classic Bands:
1. Mercyful Fate / King Diamond
5. Iron Angel
8. Living Death
(+ Blood Feast, Onslaught, NumSkull, Hobbs Angel Of Death, Pestilence, Death, Razor, Dark Angel, Exodus, etc etc. Should I include 90's too? Ancient, Burzum, Gehenna, Urgehal, Satyricon, Unholy (fin), Dark Millennium, Thormenthor, Traumatic Voyage, Necromantia, Immortal, Enslaved, Xibalba, Edge Of Sanity, At The Gates, Absu, Pan.Thy.Monium, etc etc)
Top 10 new bands:
1. Virus (nor)
2. Silencer (ger)
5. Hellish Crossfire
6. Oranssi Pazuzu
10. Altar Of Perversion
7. Are you working on new material this time?
Mikael Vaalkoth : I have been working on the new Tearstained CD for over 2 years now. I have had a lot of unexpected delays, but by the end of 2010 the recording of the new album should be half done and I have a date to mix & master it in February 2011, so I am hoping for a summer 2011 release. The working title of the album is "The Inevitability Of Human Extinction". And I think it'll be a welcome album to long-time fans. Some songs were actually written over 10 years ago, others are new compositions, and it'll have a lot of variety like every Tearstained album does.
8. My favorite albums of Tearstained are "Final Thoughts" and "Homicidal Tendencies". I didn't like much your last album. It makes me feel that you pushed yourself to make it and it misses the pure and fresh feeling of the other albums. How do you feel about "Nightmare Visions" 2 years after you wrote it?
Mikael Vaalkoth : That album took me a while to record and I ran into many problems and delays during the recording of it as well. That could have affected some of the albums outcome. Certain songs I just fucking love. Others I wish I could re-do. But I think every musician does that. I still like that album, but the 2 albums you mentioned are also my favorite 2 albums. My goal is to make this new CD an even better album - I never try to rehash the same old ideas, but I also try not to stray too far from the Tearstained formula. I really see and imagine in my mind how I want an album to flow & feel ahead of time, then I write & compose to match that vision. Sometimes I rework old ideas in new ways. For instance I have 15 to 20 year old tapes full of guitar riff ideas. I might just go through them and find some riffs I wrote that I really like and long forgot about, and I'll work it into newer riffs or ideas I have if they fit.
9. I like very much the limited number of your releases.Is this your demand? Tell me your opinion about that.
Mikael Vaalkoth : That is the labels decision. Barbarian Wrath is an underground label. It's not mass produced. They aren't trying to sell thousands of copies. They do each album in limited edition hand numbered editions of 666 copies. If that sells out, they'll press another 666. Personally it works for me. I wouldn't have it any other way. I doubt I have more than 666 fanatics anyways.
10. You will never play live? Why you don't? Do you know if you have fans in Greece? Have you ever visited Greece? Do you like any Greek band?
Mikael Vaalkoth : I doubt I will ever play live. I'd have to find 4 musicians into this type of stuff, and I have found finding one other person impossible. I am sure I have a fan or 2 in Greece. I've received emails and mail from Greece before. I have not visited Greece, or ever been to Europe, unfortunately. I would someday love to take a month-long trip around Europe visiting Slovakia, France, Holland, Germany, Romania, etc. But that is about as likely to happen as peace on earth.
I like your music very much and really looking forward to your new album. Keep up the good work.
Mikael Vaalkoth : Thank you. As long as I still breathe I'll continue recording music. If anyone out there has a huge CD collection or tons of classic albums in MP3, I seek any CD-R traders. I have a HUGE collection in the thousands. It's viewable at Encyclopedia Metallium and my user profile is MikaelBayusik. Email me at email@example.com if you're interested in trading CD burns. Otherwise check out www.myspace.com/myopengrave for Tearstained info and songs. Plus I have 4 pages of obscure 80's metal posted beginning at www.myspace.com/obscure1980smetal and you can discover cult underground 80's thrash there from my collection. METAL FOREVER!!!!!!!!! M I K A E L