MELODY LANE had a very interesting interview with ANTTI RUOKOLA, drummer of the finnish Modern Progressive Rock band MINUTIAN.
Their new album titled 'Magical Thinking' will be released on 12th March via Secret Entertainment.
Band highly recommended to fans of TOOL, A PERFECT CIRCLE, KING CRIMSON, SOEN, OCEANSIZE and RIVERSIDE. 

MELODY LANE: First of all, also if it can sound a bit expected…Can you tell us where does the name MINUTIAN come from?
ANTTI RUOKOLA:  Well, I would love to tell you a really interesting story about the name, but unfortunately there isn’t anything that special to be told!  If I remember correctly, when we were thinking about the band name we all came up with a lot of different ideas and just bounced around them collectively until we came up with Minutian. It doesn’t really translate to anything, it is just derived from the word minutia that means a minute or minor detail. Perhaps retrospectively it’s a fitting name for us and our process of creating music.

MELODY LANE: The line-up of the band is confirmed, is it the same from the beginning of the band…or have you had changes in the last years? Can you tell us anything about the roots of MINUTIAN? And where the band was born?
ANTTI RUOKOLA: The basic idea for the band came to me around 2007 when I did a three song instrumental demo and asked Jouni to track some bass for it. After the demo was finished, I went to live in France for a few months and had a four month period when I didn’t have any access to any instrument. During that time it came to me that the next step should be to gather some people around these songs and get some kind of band-thing going on. Before that, I was always just the drummer, more or less, so it was totally a fresh start. Jouni Mikkola has always been the bass player of Minutian and we go way back to ´97 when we first met and played thrash metal together with Jesper. In the very early days in 2008-2009 we had a few different guitarists come and go before Jesper finally announced his willingness to come and take us to the next level. A little after that we met the guitarist Jaakko Jernberg and our singer Mikko Heino who both fit right in to a merry bunch of musical nerds. This was the lineup for our first album Repercussions back in 2010-2011. The making of the first album as well as the whole release year was an intense period for us, a lot of work and quite a few gigs, too. One of the highlights of that year 2011 was supporting Riverside here in Helsinki. But, unfortunately in the winter of 2012 Jaakko Jernberg died in an accident. Naturally that was quite a shock to all of us. After a while, we picked up the pieces and got a couple of friends to help us with some upcoming gigs. Pekka was one of those helpful hands and soon enough we asked him to join us for good. Luckily for us he accepted our offer.

MELODY LANE: Can you list us 5 songs, from  MINUTIAN ‘s discography (including new material), that can define the sound of the band … 5 songs that can help our readers to know MINUTIAN at the best. 
ANTTI RUOKOLA:  Five songs, uh, that’s a tricky choice. I think each of us would choose a different set of five songs, but these are my picks at the moment:

1.         “Alien Reflection” from the upcoming album Magical Thinking

I think this is a really good heavy song that has a lot of character and great rhythmic ideas. It showcases the updated sound of the band really well. I also like the triplet feel it has, it really gets it to groove.


2.         “Supersymmetry” from the upcoming album Magical Thinking

This is also a really good combination of rhythmic ideas and emotion. A slow and big song with many layers of vocals present. Also a good song to counter “Alien Reflection” with its laid back feel.


3.         “Void Within” from Inwards

I really like this song from our sophomore album Inwards from 2015. It has a really big dynamic range on it. The song starts out with really quiet and reserved parts and suddenly grows to a behemoth of a song full of emotion. Mikko contributed some amazing vocals to this song.


4.         “Aphelion” from Inwards

This is also a really epic progressive song. I think I had the idea for this song already when we were doing our first album Repercussions, but we had several different iterations of this until we got it right. Over ten minutes long, it’s our longest song but it’s still relatively simple. I think it has a lot of post-rock’ish feel to it.

Aphelion is also one of the first songs where I tried to do something a bit different with drums than just playing your regular drum set.


5.         “In Circles” from Repercussions

“In Circles” was a song that defined us in my mind for a long time. It’s one of the best songs off our first album Repercussions. Weird guitar parts and the whole song is in 5/4 signature. I remember that we had to practice this song quite a lot just to get the groove right.

MELODY LANE: Tell us something about the creative process of your music. Is there a main composer or we can talk about a team work? The songs come from ideas of a single member and then the band works on these ideas in the studio jamming together, or your songs are written in the studio and all the members compose together?
ANTTI RUOKOLA: The basic ideas for the songs come from me. I usually try to figure out first some kind of rhythmic idea and apply some chords and melody into it afterwards. Most of the time the basic idea is just done on one guitar, bass and a simple drum groove and recorded into Ableton Live. Then I start to add things on top of that and take something out and usually after doing this several times, I sit back and try to actively listen to what the idea might need or is lacking. It’s quite a time consuming process and I have tried to evolve it with incremental success.After I have a basic idea for the song and a simple structure for it, we start to go through it with the whole band. Some ideas tend to be easier to play from the start in technical terms, but I have noticed that some ideas might be very simple but the right feeling and groove is much harder to grasp. For example, from the new album, there is a song called “Supersymmetry” that has a really tight area for the right tempo – it feels like it should be really slow, but a little too slow and it suddenly feels like it’s dragging. The vocals are usually the last thing we concentrate on. Well, in a couple of the new songs we had some really simple rhythmic vocal ideas before we rehearsed them together.  

MELODY LANE:  Can you tell us something about contents and messages of your last album ? …Can you tell us anything about the whole concept?
ANTTI RUOKOLA: I think the overarching theme for the album is anxiety and all that revolves around that. “Alien Reflection” is perhaps the most glaring example of this as it pretty directly deals with the feelings and physical reactions one has when having a panic attack. The other songs tend to be more subtle in their approach – “Suspicious Smiles” deals with the feeling of guilt. It’s not necessary that you have actually done something bad, it’s more about the choices you have made and your mind second-guessing them. For me personally, I think I’ve grown to be an even more anxious person in the last couple of years than I was earlier. I guess it’s just an age question also – you start to really understand that everyone dies at the end, and the end might come sooner than you are willing to accept. But there’s also everything that is happening around the world and the feeling that you are helplessly watching everything go down in flames. Sorry to be so bleak!

MELODY LANE:  After time, are you totally satisfied with your choices about sound and the writing of your previous album? If you could… would you change anything?
ANTTI RUOKOLA:  For the most part I am satisfied. Of course you can retrospectively think about certain decisions that you could have made differently, but I don’t really think it's productive. Some drums parts on the Inwards album came to me while recording in the studio, but I think they turned out relatively good. For example in the song Burning Bright, the drum groove is recorded in two parts – the snare drum part as an overdub. The idea came to me while we were recording and the outcome was really great.We made some really good decisions for this new album and one of the biggest was to have Mikko Herranen on board as a mixing engineer. I think we are musically on the same page and he has the same sharp eye to the music as we have. He’s also a great musician – singer, drummer and composer. You should definitely check out his thrash metal band Misterer.

MELODY LANE:  So apart from the covid/pandemic situation…will you tour in the next future? Have you already a touring schedule? Any chance for us to see  MINUTIAN playing live here in Italy in the next months/year? 
ANTTI RUOKOLA:  We would love to play live as soon as possible! The last gig we had was in 2016 so it’s been a while. Hopefully the situation with the pandemic will ease up on the coming months and live shows will make a comeback. In these past five years, the venues have changed a lot here in Finland. A lot of places have been closed down and I think it’s because of the lack of audience. But, I don’t think it's in any way naive to think that new places will appear – people still want to hear live music. After the last album, we had quite a lot of gigs here in Finland and some in Estonia. We would be more than happy to come to Italy and showcase our music to you in live format. Unfortunately for us, we are quite a small business and we don’t have the contacts to arrange any bigger touring opportunities. I know that there are some great music festivals in Italy, like Ypsigrock in Sicily where I’d like to go just as a music fan. 

MELODY LANE: Could you tell us two bands, from the actual international scene, you’d like MINUTIAN to tour with?... Two bands that would represent a perfect line-up for  MINUTIAN  to play with. And why these bands?
ANTTI RUOKOLA: Back in 2011 after we released our first album Repercussions, we were fortunate enough to be able to warm up the crowd before Riverside. That has been one of the highlights of the band to this day – Riverside is a superb band and I think we have some similarities with their music. So that would be really cool to share the stage again with them. As for the ultimate dream bands we would like to play with – for me personally, my all time favorite progressive rock band is King Crimson. But it’s difficult to imagine opening for them. I think more or less everything we try to do, they have done it decades ago and better. The only logical conclusion for that thought is that there’s no point for us to open for them :D. And because of that, I would think of a band / artist from a somewhat different genre of music. Just to make it a more interesting combination of bands than just two bands playing odd-time signatures on stage.

MELODY LANE: We know that ‘to define is to limit’… but how do you define  MINUTIAN’ sound? Are you an Experimental Prog Metal band…an Alternative Prog band… Or…?
ANTTI RUOKOLA:  I categorize us as modern progressive rock. Modern because we don’t really have any nostalgic pastiches of any 70’s prog rock styles or anything like that. I find it more pleasing for me as a musician to always try to go further and create something completely new. Of course the aesthetics and decisions on the arrangements of our music come more or less from the bands we grew up listening to, such as King Crimson, Tool and Oceansize etc. But the overall thinking is to try and create something completely new, not to take any clear influences from other different progressive rock bands that came earlier. That’s a great way of putting it ’to define is to limit’. Perhaps it’s not to never define yourself but to define yourself on not so frequent intervals and try to change the definition. By force if necessary. And I think that our new album really defines us really well as a band at the moment. There’s some grooving heavy stuff on it but there’s also a lot of emotion and introspection on it as well.

MELODY LANE: Which musicians are/have been your main musical inspirations? And which are your favorite bands nowadays?
ANTTI RUOKOLA:  When we first started the band, the influences were more from the similar genre of music. Bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Oceansize etc. As individual players each one of us naturally has their own influences. My all time favorite progressive rock band is King Crimson. Not necessarily the 70’s King Crimson, but the more modern version of it. I think the last two studio albums, The Construkction of Light and The Power to Believe, were really really good. They have a really unique sound to them and the combination of modern sounds with their style of music is really interesting. Just the song The Construkction of Light itself is a masterpiece for my money. It almost feels like it’s two different songs overlayed on top of each other – the bass and drum parts and the two guitars. I’m a huge fan of Pat Mastelotto as a drummer and a musician, every project and band he is sounds at least interesting if not really good. Currently I listen mostly to bands like Ulver, David Sylvian and Peter Gabriel. And a lot of electronic music. Electronic music tends to be really interesting because all of the sound design that goes into it. Some indie bands are really great like Death Cab For Cutie. If the songs are great, it doesn’t really matter what genre of music the artist represents. But I wouldn’t really say that I listen to bands that operate in the same type of music that we play ourselves that much, to be honest.

MELODY LANE: As a musician, what has been your biggest achievement to date and what do you want to achieve in the near future?
ANTTI RUOKOLA: This upcoming album is currently the ultimate pinnacle of our bands career so far. I think it really sums up everything that we have been working on for the last couple of years and we are really proud of the whole package. One other achievement is that we are still going on even stronger than before after over ten years of playing. We are a bunch of like-minded players and I think everyone of us knows the realities of the music industry really well. This means that we don’t really have any expectations of becoming rock stars, we are just in it for the music. For the near future, it would be great to get some feedback on the album from different media. The supply of music is so overwhelmingly big nowadays that you have to be grateful for someone to even notice your new album, let alone for someone to review it. And things like this interview are really great and we are really thankful that you arranged this to happen. Other than that, it would really make us happy that we could play our new songs live to an audience. No matter how small the venue would be, I wouldn't hesitate to pack my drums and hit the road! 

MELODY LANE: Until today...What was the most important concert for  MINUTIAN’s career? And why?
ANTTI RUOKOLA: I think it was the opener gig for Riverside here in Helsinki. It really gave us a confidence boost because it was just after we released our first album and the venue was packed. Unfortunately it was just shortly after the gig that Jaakko passed away.

MELODY LANE: In the end…A message from you to all MELODY LANE readers.
ANTTI RUOKOLA: Thanks for reading. If you want to support home grown modern progressive rock from Finland, hit that play button on our new album Magical Thinking, coming out on 12th of March. And be sure to follow us on social media also to get the latest gossip on our band.



ARTICLE BY: Mike Matty