Meet The Band: Decrowned

Rockshots Records

The Finnish melodic death metal group Decrowned are this week’s featured Meet The Band artist. After a couple of EPs, they just released their full-length debut album Persona Non Grat. Vocalist/bassist Miikka Hulmi, drummer Antti Venäläinen, guitarist Jaakko Kauppinen and guitarist Simo Puustinen introduce us to their band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Decrowned.
The band was formed in 2017 and we all had our previous projects and there was a desire to make very good metal music. Jaakko and Miikka arranged a meeting and the basic concept of Decrowned was born. To make catchy riffs that are simple enough to play live and enjoy it. Antti and Simo were already in a band with Miikka and it was easy to ask guys to join Decrowned.

Describe the songwriting process for Persona Non Grata.
Miikka: The album formed like all our songs in the past. Everybody brings something to the table. Sometimes it’s already a full song or like when it comes to stuff that I bring, it’s riffs and parts of the song and then guys help me to make a song. For this album, Jaakko and Simo did most of the songwriting.

Pretty simple. I compose with guitar pro and send the files to the guys. Everybody brings their own touch to the songs.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Miikka: First of all we recorded the whole album by ourselves. Antti has studied recording and he has gathered a good amount of recording equipment for our HQ and without his remarkable work, this album wouldn’t be finished. Also working with Tero “TeeCee” Kinnunen, who is also doing work for Nightwish, was something so great that we definitely continue working with him.

Jaakko: The final mixing session in Röskö. Nice summer days in the countryside with Miksu and Tero.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
Miikka: the biggest challenge or let’s say setback was that, all bass tracks were already recorded and then Tero called that those tracks were unusable. So I had to do all the tracks from the start

Jaakko: there were not really big challenges. We used our rehearsal place as a studio.

How would you characterize its style/sound?
Miikka: Groovy, catchy, unique, melancholic and hopeful.

Antti: Not so modern than most (in this genre nowadays).

What lyrical topics do you cover?
Jaakko: Lyrically the album is very dark, reflecting things that pass through the generations, consuming us from inside. It is a description of a haunted future and the past that took wrong turns on personal and universal levels. This undefined black matter that flows ignoring time and reason is the unwanted entity… Persona non grata.

How did you come to sign with Rockshots Records?
Miikka: We contacted Rockshots during our previous EP Hansel’s Nightmare and the interest was shown at that time, but we didn’t have enough good material for the album. When we decided to do this album and had the first rough mixes ready, Rockshots was the first company to contact. And there came an immediate answer…yes!

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
To build the band’s reputation and fame. Earn a lot of money (laughs). To be realistic, building the reputation and getting more live shows. And hopefully, a lot of people will enjoy our music.

What has the response been to the singles you’ve released from the album?
Both singles have been very positive uplifts for the album and the feedback has been very good. Followers and fanbase have been growing steadily and the message is that people are really expecting the album. So at this point, everything seems to be going very well.

What has been your most memorable Decrowned live show?
Definitely Unholy Winter Fest 2022! Sharing the stage with Insomnium, Battle Beast, Scar Symmetry and Trio Niskalakaus was crazy!

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
To do as many live shows as we can and hopefully attend some summer festivals. There are shows booked already and plans to book many more.

How did you get started in music?
Simo: My whole family was a bit musical and played different instruments so it was kind of natural to pick up something. So as a kid, I asked for a guitar and Mom got me a bass, played that for a bit before I got the guitar that I wanted.

Antti: When I was about 8-9 years old, I played keyboards at the civic college. After a couple of years, however, I became interested in heavier music and started playing the guitar until I finally got the drums, which I had been dreaming about for a long time. We had a band at school since elementary school. My older brother played guitar, so we probably had jams at home every day as a teenager. Sorry parents. (laughs)

Miikka: My mother’s family is very musical and it comes from there. I started playing clarinet at first, but classical music just wasn’t my thing. I have played guitar, drums, and bass. Singing was always very interesting and that came along a little bit later. But basically, I have grown into music since I was born.

Jaakko: My childhood was filled with music. My father is a musician. I always liked guitar and I started playing at 14 years old. My first guitar was a nylon string classical. I bought a cheap electric one year after that. My musical influences come from classical music and melodic metal. I like classic rock also. Led Zeppelin and Queen for example.

Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Simo: I grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and so on with my father, eventually I dipped to heavier stuff but I’ve always had a very wide range of music that I enjoy.

Antti: There are a lot of them. Manowar, Helloween, Acdc, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Sentenced, Stratovarius. Those are perhaps the most important ones (in random order), but I really listened to a lot more.

Miikka: Classical music was the thing I heard a lot in my childhood and choir music also. But for me, Queen was the first thing that really hit me. Then came Iron Maiden, Metallica, Startovarius, Amorphis, Sentenced, Nightwish, In Flames, Diablo… the list would go on and on. As an artist person, one of the biggest influences has been James Hetfield.

Jaakko: Queen, Metallica, Pantera, and some classical composers as mentioned earlier.

What was the first metal concert you attended?
Simo: Maybe not the first, but at least a bigger one of the early shows that I saw was the tour that included Slayer, In Flames, and Lamb Of God.

Antti: The first big metal gig was Metallica in Helsinki. As I remember, I was 14 years old.

Miikka: Metallica in Helsinki. I don’t remember the year.

Jaakko: I don’t remember. But the best ever for me was System of a Down in Jurassic Rock 2013.

How’s the metal scene in your area of Finland?
Simo: I would say it’s good, we don’t get a lot of bigger shows in this part of Finland but the metal scene is very active.

Antti: That’s right. Luckily we have Kerubi though. A great venue where I have seen bands like Arch Enemy. In addition, the annual Ilosaarirock festival, where of course metal is in the minority these days, as in most festivals these days.

Miikka: We have a very active and high-quality metal scene in our city. Lots of good bands and people come to see smaller bands at gigs. Antti also mentioned Ilosaarirock and Kerubi which has been the starting point for a lot of bands. Hopefully, we see more local metal bands in Ilosaarirock in the future.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Simo: All nerdy stuff like gaming, lately I’ve been really into Warhammer 40K books.

Antti: I like to do woodwork and other crafts. I also really like video and photography. There just isn’t enough time to do everything you want.

Miikka: Reading books, different TV series, movies. I play padel, and golf and like to ski in winter time.

Jaakko: old computer games and sports.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Miikka: First of all, buy our album! Follow us on social media and when the album is out, share your thoughts about it. In general, support bands by buying albums, and merchandise and by going to the live shows. Those things mean a lot and are very important to smaller bands like us.

(interview published February 24, 2024)

Listen To Decrowned – “Stonewing”


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