All singer Taneli Jarva wants to do is get on with his new band The Black League and his music. It has been a few years since he parted ways with his old band, Finnish act Sentenced, and he just wants the past to stay the past.
Finally, after years of hard work, Jarva has managed to group together a sturdy set of veteran metal henchmen to form the League -- bassist Florida (Legenda, Impaled Nazarene), drummer Sir Luttinen (Legenda), guitarists Maike Valanne (ex-Faff-Bey and Terveet Kadet) and Alexi Ranta -- and release their Spinefarm debut _Ichor_. But you know what? His past still haunts him and there is nothing the somewhat irritated Jarva can do about it. Or is there?
"A lot of the fans who seem to be into this band seem to be ex-Sentenced fans and remember me in the old line-up", starts Jarva down the line. "Obviously my past accomplishments with my old band have helped in spreading the name of The Black League out to metal fans, but as it might be a blessing in a way, it is also a curse."
"I'm not to keen on discussing old times and my previous band", he explains. "Somebody did an interview with me yesterday and two-thirds of the interview was about Sentenced. Overall, I think people who liked the _Amok_ album also like the Black League record. A lot of people think this Black League record is a continuation of _Amok_, but I don't really think so. It bears some similarities, but mainly it is a completely new band with a new sound. The only thing that is the same is that it is the same old singer. <laughs>"
On the topic of the inception of the band, Jarva says: "This whole project began back in 1996, I had the ideas and it grew from there. I had just left my previous band Sentenced and I was unsure if I wanted to continue in this music business. But because of this "disease of my soul" and the love of music, I found I couldn't live without it. So in 1997 I met up with Sir Luttinen (drummer) and we started working on material for the band. We rehearsed as a two-piece for several months before we got the rest of the line-up solidified. By Christmas 1998, we had a solid line-up to work with for The Black League.
"It is an honour for me to play with such a talented and skillful group of men. It is just perfect. This record is a very strong record and it is full of passion. I couldn't really tell you where the musical influences come from for this disc, but the lyrical inspiration for songs came from the work of Nick Cave. His work has easily been a big part of how I approach the lyrics to the music. I draw from my experiences or other experiences of those around me. Everything in some way triggers my writing and makes me want to write about it. I can't explain it. It just happens."
While Finnish label Spinefarm is releasing the record, Nuclear Blast has picked the record up for distribution in North America and a larger scale of Europe. How does Jarva feel about them getting some strong support from NBA? "It is a good thing for us, but to tell you the truth, we didn't really expect much from this release and have it go crazy and sell all of these records... We were unsure of how this disc would do. We are glad just to see the record get a better distribution and to send the name out to people."
And The Black League is spending no time waiting around. They already have new material on the way. Jarva fills us in: "Like I said before, music is the "disease of my soul". Our songwriting is in a continuous process. It goes on all of the time. From the recording sessions of the debut disc, I was secretly thinking of new ideas for the new disc. Once the record was done, I started to concentrate on the next album. A good chunk of that material is done and we have already rehearsed a lot of it. We're ready to enter the studio again already. We're going to polish it for six months or so and then record in the Summer of 2001."
"But we have something on the go, coming out real soon", blurts Jarva. "It is an MCD titled _The Doomsday Sun_ EP. It is a grouping of older tracks and a cover of Nick Cave's cult classic "City of Refuge". The music on the EP is really tight and experimental, but not very different from what people have heard with _Ichor_."
And while Jarva has a dislike for questions regarding his past work with Sentenced, his dislike always wanders into the path of today's metal music scene (including his homeland's). The veteran metal man has a few choice words on the subject.
"I'm sorry to say that I don't really care too much about all of that and what is going on. Right now some people feel that the Finnish music scene is at its peak and it is great that all of these bands are getting exposure everywhere. I agree, it is a good thing and a lot of bands are helping expose other bands, but The Black League wants to just be the outsider to this kind of music scene going on here. If you compare us to the other stuff going on, we don't really have much in common with the power metal or goth bands. I'd rather have people see us as a different band than part of a scene."
"Whether people like what we are doing or not, as long as people acknowledge that we are doing something different, then I take that as a compliment", Jarva says. "It is always a compliment that people see it as fresh or something not done before. I've always said this. I'd rather see The Black League become a cult band with a long-lasting following rather than become overnight sensations and sell 100,000 records and forgotten later on."
"There's a lot of people in the music business who are intrigued and follow what is going on and what is popular. I don't care what is popular or not. We do what comes naturally and that is the only way it has been and will be for the band."
The Finn finishes: "Seriously, I believe, or I want to think, that we are doing something timeless or something that cannot be connected with a certain period of metal music. I want it to last and people to be impressed with what we are doing."