Originally founded in 2006, but officially announced in 2015 by an internet release of the debut EP Spacebeast, Nibiru Ordeal is soon to release its debut album. PowerMetal.no caught up with founding member Pekka Laitinen to find out more about the history and the upcoming album.
Can you take me back in time and to when Nibiru Ordeal was founded? I know it was you and Vili Härkönen that founded the band; how was the conversation that ended up with «yeah, let’s start a band»?
Pekka: Me and Vili were just two 13-14-year-old idiots with no musical education or knowledge whatsoever. We both grew up in the same neighborhood listening to the same bands. Most importantly we were huge Stratovarius fans – to the point where we wanted to create similar type of music, but with our own twist of course. Both of us had been playing drums and keyboards and writing some melodies and simple song demos for some time. We lived in neighboring buildings, so we were often hanging out anyway and talking about music so the decision to start a band project came quite naturally.
I just have to ask: what does Nibiru Ordeal mean? Who came up with that name?
Pekka: I would freely translate it to «Trial of the end of times». We had plenty of different names earlier, all of which were either too lame or already taken. «Nibiru Ordeal» was supposed to be a name for an intro song, but I actually saw a dream where I suggested it to the guys for the name of the band and waking up I thought it could be worthy of trying. Little did I realize the fucking name is impossible to pronounce, at least for a Finn, and it has let me to countless situations where I have to write it down for people cos you just can’t say it out loud so that people would get it right.
The band was founded in 2006; for how long was it only you and Vili in the band?
Pekka: 2006 was the year when I decided to start doing music together with Vili, so I think there’s a slight bit of confusion whether the band was actually created at that moment. I wouldn’t really call it a band because we couldn’t even rehearse with just two of us – however we both wrote songs and had a shared vision for a band which would eventually have a full line up. Mirko [Byman] and Jussi [Pulliainen] joined in 2014 after we part ways with two musicians who we were kind of working with. The first true line up was formed in 2017 when Andi [Kravljača] joined the band, so whether we started in 2006, 2014 or 2017 is up to anyone’s interpretation.
How was the search for search for new members?
Pekka: Me and Vili were childhood friends with Mirko as well and we had actually played together in the past. We even had a 5-piece teen band called Gravity with a female vocalist, that in some way was an early version of this band I suppose, now that I think of it. However, we ended up disbanding because of musical differences and just plain incompetence as musicians during that time.
Fast forward to 2014 where Mirko, Vili & Jussi used to play in another band together. When we decided to start working with Mirko, we happened to be missing a bass player too so the idea to let Jussi try it out was natural and ended up working just fine. We quickly became good friends with Jussi too and now it would be impossible to imagine anyone else playing bass. As for the vocalist-search, that was a whole different type of ordeal, no pun intended.
Yes, we will get back to the search for vocalist.
From the band was founded in 2006 it took almost ten years before the first release. Did you write songs during that time, or was the band put on hold at some point?
Pekka: I‘ve been writing songs non-stop with Vili since 2006 regardless of the stagnation so there’s always been something cooking. But like explained previously we were never an active band until 2014.
In 2015 you released the EP Spacebeast, and at that time the lineup was complete. And on vocals you had PelleK. How did you end up with him, and why did he only record one EP?
Pekka: Per [PelleK] was actually hired only to be a session vocalist for that particular record. He had recently started his YouTube career and had been gaining good visibility through his cover videos. I ran into his «4 octave vocal range»-video by accident somewhere late 2012 and thought it was the sickest fucking thing I’ve ever heard, so I had to try and get him on my record! I wrote him a long e-mail which somehow got him interested against all odds. After all we were total nobodies from relatively small town +2000 kilometers away and nobody had heard nothing of us, so I still think it was kind of a miracle we got him to sing for us.
He’s obviously super talented and he shortly after got super famous as well, so looking back I think I was lucky to contact him in 2012 and not a day later. After recording the album, I was of course hoping to continue working with him but just looking at the number of projects he was involved with I figured it’s never going to happen. We needed a full-time vocalist that would be able to physically rehearse with us and do live shows etc. so we simply part ways.
Looking back, what do you think about the EP now?
Pekka:It’s an ambitious first record for sure. I mean, the songs are structurally very complex – too complex for the production quality we were able to afford at the time. «Icon 21» and «Manual To Life» are some of our oldest songs that survived this far, dating as far back as -06 and -07. I still very much like all the songs (after all we re-recorded them for the full album) but looking back, the production obviously isn’t the best and we rushed too many parts with both mixing and recording. The 2019 versions will be superior in every way.
Since the debut EP Spacebeast the band has released another two singles, Stardust and Gone With The Wind, both in 2017. This time with a new vocalist, Andi Kravljaca. Was it difficult to find a new vocalist, and more generally; is vocalist the most difficult to replace or to find?
Pekka: Yes, and yes. Finland has an oversupply of heavy metal musicians for hire and just from my town I know maybe 15 guitarists that are talented… some of them like seriously mega fucking super talented. I personally know many great drummers and many great bass players, but keyboard players and especially traditional, clean-singing vocalists are very hard to find. From what I’ve observed it feels like at least 80% of all new metal bands now have guttural vocals and power metal seems to be a dying genre not just in Finland but worldwide. Some of our songs are almost impossible to sing and we needed a world-class vocalist to replace a world-class vocalist. So, I consider ourselves very, very lucky for finding someone like Andi.
But, let’s focus on the upcoming album. First: was the two singles released in 2017 songs written during the songwriting for the new album? Will they be on the album?
Pekka: The first single, «Stardust», already appeared first time on Spacebeast EP with Per on vocals, but it was 100% re-recorded with Andi. «Gone With The Wind» is actually one of our newest songs. Oddly enough most of the songs on the 2nd album are older than GWTW. Mirko came up with that insane intro arpeggio and teached me how to play it, I then wrote rest of the song around it in 2015 and immediately thought it had to be the opening track for the 1st album.
So, the songwriting for the upcoming album goes way back?
Pekka: All 12 songs for this album are written between 2006-2015 so there were some kind of versions out of most songs before we even had PelleK singing. The EP-lyrics and musical arrangements have been revisited since and the vocal lines that were originally written for an unknown vocalist were rearranged for second time to suit Andi’s voice.
According to a Facebook post in November last year there have been some confusion regarding the album production? Can you elaborate a bit around that, and what it is like being «broke ass students» trying to produce the best album possible?
Pekka: Me, Vili and Mirko have been studying and/or unemployed during most of the album making process. Jussi is the only one with a steady job so it was tricky to figure out how to make a professional sounding album with very little currency available. We eventually found out that a friend of ours is extremely good at mixing and started working with him. Before this we discussed with several professional mixing engineers, e.g. the «new» Stratovarius guitarist, Matias Kupiainen. He’s a total pro but we simply could not afford to work with him, so we had to think of something else. Several other «reasonable options» ultimately went out of the window as well.
Is the confusion around the production the only confusion you experienced during the songwriting and recording? Did everything else goes smooth?
Pekka: Pretty much yes. We’ve had more than plenty of time to plan out everything songwriting-wise, it’s always been about the absence of band members and/or money.
The plan was originally to release the album in 2018, but that didn’t happen as it would mean you had to self-release it. Why was that never an option?
Pekka: Self-releasing is still a valid option, we just haven’t discussed it through. If we want to release this album ASAP, the fastest way is to self-release, but we’d then be skipping the entire process of finding partners who could help us in promotion & marketing. We’re not going to make money with this album no matter what, so if you ask me, we might as well self-release it and hold all legal possession to the music. Other option is to wait for another eternity for reasonable deals which could never happen, and we’d probably end up getting fucked over anyway.
What can you tell me about the music on the upcoming album? How much have you evolved since the previous releases?
Pekka: We have evolved a ton since the EP came out. The two singles that were released shortly after are still going to be on our upcoming full-length album but again, remixed and remastered by another mix engineer.
You haven’t revealed a lot about the upcoming album, any chance you could do that now?
Pekka: It’s going to be 12 songs, out of which two are intros and two are +10-minute-long epics with lots of different moods, changing tempos and styles. All in all, it’s going to be a +70-minute listening experience so definitely not your regular mainstream-metal album. The songs are progressive, dramatic, somewhat experimental and most importantly super melodic and super energetic complex pieces of music that we mostly wrote during our teenage-years and early twenties. We do have a few interesting and talented guest musicians on this record too.
And what about the release date?
Pekka: We have failed all previous attempts at predicting album release dates, so I can’t promise anything. That being said, we have never been this close to finishing an album and it’s been absurdly fun to heard first actual mixes of songs that first came into existence in 2007 or so. This is going to be the year for this record.
You have also stated that you will start the recording of the second album right after the first. Have you already begun the writing?
Pekka: I’m already writing songs for the third full length album, writing-wise the second one has been pretty much finished for a year or so. It took us so long to set the ball rolling we had plenty of time to write good songs for further albums while discarding the filler songs out of the way. I am not exaggerating if I say we have several albums worth of very good well-thought-out material – from now on it’s just about learning to play the songs as a band and finding the money and time to record, mix and release.
Will we see you on tour soon, or what is the plan here?
Pekka: I’d like to say yes, it would be a long-time dream for all of us to do even just a handful of shows. We’re still uncompromised and totally self-reliant on all levels so it’s hard to say what we can make happen just by ourselves. Whatever happens we’re going to release a ton of quality music and do our best at presenting it to people who are thirsty for this type of music.