In the Meet The Band spotlight this week is the Finnish group Smackbound, who just released their debut album 20/20. Vocalist Netta Laurenne introduces us to her band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Smackbound.
Netta Laurenne: Smackbound was originally founded in 2015. We had three demos with Nino Laurenne and I played them to Teemu and Tuomas who I knew before from having our offices (production rooms) all at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki. I asked if they wanted to join the band and they did and then brainstorming about who would fit in the group Teemu Suggested Rolf for drums and Tuomas suggested Vili for keyboards. We all met and the guys told they are in. At the same time we founded a cover band called Run for Cover and started touring to see what it’s like to play and spend so much time together. We got along so well that I couldn’t have asked for a more better bunch of people around me and after playing gigs for half a year or so we started writing songs together for Smackbound. It took a couple of years to finalize the record as all of us were busy also with other bands and projects, but all was very easy for us straight from the beginning.
Describe the songwriting process for 20/20.
It took a couple of years to finalize the record as all of us were busy also with other bands and projects but all was very easy for us straight from the beginning. Basically we wrote the songs in few retreats driving up to the summer cabin for a few days at a time. Making pancakes and drinking some wine, smoking our own salmon and enjoying the woods was the recipe for us.
We recorded the album in sections at Sonic Pump Studios, Helsinki. First drums for 7 songs and a year later the rest (we were still writing the songs in between and choosing the best ones). Then Teemu played the guitars and Vili all the keyboard and synth stuff. Then Tuomas played the bass and last, after I had the lyrics ready, we sang the songs and also the background vocals. The album was produced by Tuomas, Vili and myself with Tuomas being in charge of recordings and putting all the files together and adding final touches. Everyone had a level of freedom to arrange their own stuff and contribute their expertise and vision to the album.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
The end hustle was kind of epic.
How would you describe its style/sound?
We play with many different styles and sound but we clue it all together with my voice and some production choices. We take the best from every decade and mix it to something fresh. We are not afraid to take influences also from pop, trap and whatever style we feel is hot. So you can hear ’80s hard rock mixed with modern pop sounds.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Self improvement and self empowerment, respect and honesty in all the good, bad and the ugly.
What inspired the album title?
It means 20/20 vision. Seeing everything clearly. Seeing the world, oneself and others behind the masks and ego.
How did you come to sign with Frontiers?
Talking with several labels we felt like Frontiers was most committed and passionate about working with us.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
For it to find its audience and build anticipation on what’s to come next.
How did you get started in music?
I started writing songs at age 8 and I was trained as a classical singer before shifting it to other styles of singing.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Maria Callas, Nina Simone, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey as singers.
What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
A local band from my hometown. Around 2000 I really got into Pain of Salvation and Symphony X and started going to their gigs.
Your album was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Was there any consideration to pushing it back even later?
That was honestly really never discussed other than inside the band and ultimately it was the label’s decision that we supported.
How has Finland been affected by the pandemic?
Borders are closed, restaurants, shops and schools were closed down, all public gatherings cancelled, etc. Huge effect on the financials of the country but we have handled the pandemic well and are now slowly easing up on the restrictions. Of course all public gatherings like festivals and gigs are cancelled at least until September but there is light in the end of the tunnel.
How have you been keeping busy/occupied since all of this started?
It’s been a very busy time trying to manage all the counterblows. Trying to find new dates for cancelled gigs and so on. Also many TV productions (I’m an actor as well) were postponed and trying to fit everything to the fall. I also own a wine importing company and the affects have been devastating as restaurants were shut down by law and in Finland the monopoly law denies selling to consumers. So a lot of hustle and problem solving. But we have also started to write the second album so that’s a positive affect of cleared up calendars.
When do you think Smackbound will be able to play your first live shows?
Probably next year, to be honest. No idea how many places are still standing after this pandemic and the ones that are up and running, have bands lining up to find a date in the gig calendar. As a new band it’s not easy to fight for those spots.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I always listen to Pain of Salvation, I love the band’s music. Also a big fan of Halestorm. And Dio is also regularly playing.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Be sure to follow the Netta Laurenne YouTube channel because Smackbound will be publishing behind the scenes material, acoustic versions of our own songs and and also some covers over there.
(interview published June 20, 2020)