FALL OF THE LEAFE BIOGRAPHY
IntroductionFALL OF THE LEAFE GENRES
It is probably audible that Fall of the Leafe is rooted to extreme metal in one way or another. Besides the metallic taste, some may find flavors of strange 80’s pop and rock there, as well as hints of grunge and seventies action rock. What what we listen to naturally filters into our own sound too. Our music is largely guitar-driven, melodic, layered and in some people’s opinion, horrible. In general, it is somewhat faithful to the heritage of rock music. It is, however, not much of my business to describe our music here. There are samples on this website and also, your local record retailer will be happy to sell you our records. Then also our band house landlord will be happy, because we will be able to pay the rent. At the moment, Fall of the Leafe is operated by the following individuals: Jussi Hänninen - guitar/compositions, Kaj Gustafsson – guitar, Matias Aaltonen – drums, Miska Lehtivuori – bass, Petri Hannuniemi – keyboards, and myself, Tuomas Tuominen – vocals/texts.
Though established in Uusikaupunki, the Detroit of Finland, most members of this band have since concentrated in the southwestern city of Turku. A cold cellar in an industrial area named Itäharju (calque translation East Hill) is the home base of our musical activity. You can easily get there with buses 32 and 42, or like myself, by bicycle. When it rains, it sucks, though.
Fall of the Leafe dates back to some earlier century, when people used to address a season that way. In 1996 the particular term was not in use anymore, especially in the southwest corner of Finland where they speak mostly Finnish. Jussi Hänninen, Marko Hyytiä and Juha Kouhi were, at that time, occasionally jamming some of Jussi’s riffs and song ideas together. Because the material seemed slightly difficult for such a narrow combo to perform, Kaj Gustafsson somehow appeared to play the other guitar. Only a vocalist was missing, and then Jani Lindström was linked to the group. As far as I know, he was the one who came up with the silly idea to unite these fellows under a common title, Fall of the Leafe. Five new songs were recorded at the first recording session at the local Crusell Studio in 1996. The resulting demo-tape, Storm of the Autumnfall, was distributed shamelessly among the worldwide metal press, friends, mothers and some record companies. Somehow, perhaps through myself as I was staying in the U.S. at the time, the demo reached Defiled Records in Colorado. One thing leads to another, and Fall of the Leafe signed a recording contract. Evanescent, Everfading was recorded at Tico-Tico Studios in 1997. They say that the album was recorded almost live, or at least in very few takes during no more than 5 days. Another story tells about the eventful roadtrip up north to Kemi and a third one about the band’s bachelor life there, but I am going to save the details for some other context. Due to financial problems and what not, the eventual release of this CD did not take place until the next year. I believe that the Evanescent-sessions were a good lesson, if nothing more remarkable. First of all, the band seemingly realized in the studio that they cannot play the keyboard very well. Therefore Petri Hannuniemi joined soon after to do the job properly. At the same time, Jani Lindström left. For the band’s misfortune, I was still associated with some of the members around the time and somehow ended up impersonating Elvis at some rehearsals. Of course I had zero prior experience, but they don’t always shoot every bird that don’t sing beautiful, do they? They should have.
I am under the impression that after I showed up, the smooth rock n’ roll song and dance party-hula-hula was over. It did not take very long until we had to carry our things out of the house where we rehearsed at. Seems that people around here like to have all kinds of culture to enjoy, loathe and consume, but they dislike it being rehearsed anywhere. I do believe this is a universal issue. Wake up, all. Young people need places for rock and roll. The next place was across the street from the fire station, but this fact did little to help the building from being burnt to crisp after a couple of months. Although it has to be mentioned in defense of the fire department that some bastards first broke into our band house, took most of our equipment and then played with fire. The entire event was quite disappointing, really. Despite the setback, we were planning to record a new album later that year (1998). The studio time was in fact scheduled already, when Defiled Records called it quits. Soon after, Kaj joined his motivation somewhere as far from Fall of the Leafe as possible.
A Section Title
So reality came along in 1998. In the last days of that year, we recorded three songs in the glorious Crusell Studio, with their awesome 12-track system. Besides the overall sound being seriously underground, I learned that I personally still have a long way to reach the same level of musicianship as the rest of the band. The result of this studio experience was the Promo 1999, which is nothing short of sheer fucking crap. Despite being so horrible, it was mailed all over the place and we did, surprisingly, get some feedback too. Some of this feedback came from the Argentinian record company called Icarus. While the world was still short of breath in consequence of this disastrous tape, there were things happening at the personnel department. Mika Rostedt filled the gap left by Kaj. It had already been a pain in the buttocks to play with only one guitarist. Then, this same problem changed its shape when Kouhi left, leaving us with very little or no low frequencies. In 1999 we signed a two album deal with Icarus. A good part of that summer was spent nicely, locked up in Mika Haapasalo’s Popstudio. In the absence of a permanent bass player, Jussi laid down the bass lines himself – with a humongous blister on his finger. In the end, August Wernicke came out of the studio as a death metal album of some sort. Whatever it is that you want to call it, the album still serves as the best example of what Fall of the Leafe sounded like in 1999. The artwork for the album was dramatically delayed, which is probably my fault. The entire album was released about seven months behind schedule. This one too can be traced back to me. The rest of that year and most of the one after were just all round lame. People* (allright fellows all of them) were coming and going, only the girls were still nowhere to be found. Perhaps this fact, combined with Mika’s disguised interest in The Scorpions was behind his decision to leave. All the line-up changes were exhausting especially because small towns usually just swarm with virtuoso musicians. Then, at some point, Juha Kouhi joined back in after spending a year somewhere else. And wouldn’t you know that on some grey evening Kaj Gustafsson showed up at a rehearsal, immediately crushing a bluesy riff into my face.
In January 2001 we hauled our stuff over to Popstudio again, which had moved further away since our previous visit. Haapasalo had re-built his studio into a goddamned old cowshed but seemingly hadn’t bothered to build a toilet. I don’t know if it was this fundamental deficiency that caused it, but everyone seemed slightly nervous and nothing went very smoothly. For example, Jussi malfunctioned quite seriously and was hospitalized. At the mixing stage, nobody was honestly surprised by our failure to meet the planned schedule by some three months. After the mixing, we took Fermina’s remains over to Finnvox Studios for Mika Jussila to rescue whatever could be rescued. Fermina was finally released in January 2002. In April 2002, founding member drummer Marko Hyytiä left the band. The famous rock and roll animal Matias Aaltonen enrolled in his place. First on a session basis, to later become a fully committed member.
It has now been two years since I last wrote on this page. I am not much of a mathematician but it seems we have now kept this band going for eight years. To be honest, my faith in Fall of the Leafe has been tested many times during the years but every single time she has built my faith back again. It has felt to me as if this band was so fragile and while at the same time there still existed a curious cohesion that kept it together. I believe that recently an important part of this cohesion has definitely been Matias. Last time I informed you people that he would fill in on a session basis the gap left by Marko´s departure but it seems he has become more or less a full time member. Maybe this was a natural development. Afterall, Kaj and Matias have been very good friends since little kids. They have also jammed together since little arrogant juveniles but only now are they actually performing seriously in a real band. Their stronger role has built us an entirely new kind of chemistry and this in turn has made us, I think, more determined to see what Fall of the Leafe is really cabable of. Allright. Enough of this crap. Next I am going to write about things that have really made a difference. One of these things was the fact that we were systematically shot down by all major labels after our time with Icarus had ended. This was rather depressing, really. All our good new songs and everything. Then, out of nowhere, the British label Rage of Achilles dropped some e-mail, gently asking about when our next album would come out:
Rage of Achilles: ”When is your next album coming out?”
Fall of the Leafe: ”It’s not going to come out.”
Rage of Achilles: ”Oh yeah, why?”
Fall of the Leafe: ”Because we don’t have a record deal.”
This probably just the answer they were anticipating because they decided to offer us the deal we were missing. After carefully weighing all the options that we really didn’t have, we chose to accept their offer. And goddamn. It felt brilliant to get some serious action again. Then, one crispy fall morning in 2003, I was driving a small van to Mika Haapasalo’s Popstudio once again. A too small a van it turned out. First off, my passengers Kaj and Matias were sitting much too close to me in the vehicle - and just in case this wasn’t uncomfortable enough, these two lunatics sang their bloody hearts out and played snare drum rolls in the van ALL the way to the studio. I tell you, I was this close to calling it quits in this fucking band. The recording process itself was much easier than the preceding trip over. In comparison to the Fermina sessions, we had more beer, were much more relaxed and none of us needed medical attention. If there is a causality here, I don’t know. In any case, we came out of the studio with our fourth album Volvere. It was later mastered at Finnvox by Mika Jussila. Unlike last time, he did not come up with funny euphemisms about how he actually had some real work to do. Maybe he had no reason because Volvere really does sound pretty good.
Vantage and other known issues (Q4, 2005)
Wow, Rage of Achilles was the third label to go belly up with us in the roster. Coincidence? I want to lie to myself that way. However disappointing this setback may sound, it was not such a shock. We had been in the same situation before. Fixing that sort of a problem is easy. You make a hundred promo packs and spend a fortune at the post office. Then, you wait. And wait. Then wait some more. This time the Finnish label Firebox Records heard our call, and welcomed us warmly. First came out the fine digipack edition of Volvere. This baby features some bonus material we were guarding closely after the Volvere sessions. A remake of the August Wernicke outro Bleak Picture, as well as Mostly Ashes, a view into our more metallic side. Personally I think of death metal as a part of my generation’s cultural heritage in the same way as rock music in general has been to many of our parents. Afterall, it is all about the same rock music, just comes with a slightly different polish. Inside, it’s the same, and the electric guitar still kicks ass. While the Volvere re-release was in the works, it kept busy for us. First of all, I had once again a rewarding road trip with my friends. We moved all our things from our childhood home town Uusikaupunki to Turku, where most of us now live. That way it is by far easier to arrange night time jam sessions and be able to return home by foot or bike. Surprisingly enough, the logistic safety of my friends has been at dramatically lower leves since the relocation. While we earlier always went to rehearsals by car, now it is too often the bike. This means we have a... more liberal atmosphere, so to speak, at our jam sessions. This in turn has too often resulted in fierce bicycle accidents among Fall of the Leafe members returning from the band house. It has also caused traffic congestions on the Helsinki freeway, in consequence of my friends Kaj and Matias too often choosing that particular route for the return trip. Bicycles on a freeway? Goddamn. If the police won’t stop these gentlemen soon, I swear I am going to call their mothers. Ilse and AG will go mental. Concerning juveniles, then. Our new bass player Miska Lehtivuori is not one. Check the dictionary for the word decent and you’ll find the picture of this sorry ass son of a bitch. I have no fucking idea how a person can take such a biblical load of bitching from band mates and not come back with a shotgun. No, he always shows up at rehearsals, unarmed. We have tried everything. All the way from his mother, to his shirts, to his car. And the guy plays the bass and goes nuts on stage. Good. And just this minute I came to think he’s been in the band for what, two years, and we have never seriously told him that he’s pretty damn good at playing the bass guitar and making all kinds of things work out. So here it goes. Good work Miska. Keep it up. It came spring 2005. We were pretty much in condition to start recording our fifth album and booked Mr.Haapasalo’s Popstudio to get started. The budget was very tight, so we agreed to record in short sessions to use whatever left-over time Mika would have. Then it felt like a good idea. Would save money and leading a normal life aside recordings would be somehow possible. But the Haapasalo was even busier than before and I was dead wrong. His own excellent Happoradio was constantly touring and he had other production work coming in through all windows and doors. However, the first sessions were nothing short of sheer brilliance. Matias did an amazing job, and did pump a relentless groove into his work. I should urge all of you to check out his musicianship at our shows, where he is the show within show, or you could visit our jam sessions. Bring beer if you do. Anyway, the man is a comedy on two feet, though sometimes far too inflexible with his views. Miska laid down his bass work under the strict guidance of our bass player wannabe Jussi. Miska did a good job, as usual, though his style and sound is a lightyear away from Jussi’s. Check the difference between Volvere and Vantage, for example. Pondering the usual guitar sound issue in studio, Jussi and Kaj did manage to catch on tape their own guitar sound very faithfully. That way we sound on this album like we do in real life. Once again, the two are perfectly recognizeable from each other. Kaj’s style distinctively violent, whereas Jussi’s is by far lighter. The latter I like to call playing the guitar as it was a sore pussy. Anyway, Jussi and Kaj most certainly make Fall of the Leafe a guitar driven band. And they work together like a well oiled machine. It was not much into the sessions when the chosen record-when-time-available system started to go awry. It proved a serious challenge to make schedules meet. I don’t even know when Petri recorded his keyboards and how he felt about it. For me, these sessions were the most difficult ones ever. The one-off sessions now and then somehow broke concentration and my own feeling of vulnerability made it serious. Thinking about it, life in general, and probably thereby my performance as a singer was probably somehow affected by the stress coctail of juggling mandatory non-military service and dayjob, as well as the recordings and turmoil in my private life. It was all overwhelming. There were vocal sessions when I just couldn’t sing my own songs right, there were times I felt I am the fucking wrong man for this job. On those moments I felt as if I was flushing not only my own, but my friends’ dreams down the toilet. That’s even worse than cleaning the shower floor drain. However, having now gained some distance to the recording sessions, I am beginning understand my own difficulties did not translate to a bad album. It is different. Though I may not be as satisfied with my own performance as I could have been, this album is down right honest. It sounds very much like Fall of the Leafe, it is down-to-earth and sort of breathes free. To me, it is a reminder that I am only human. And dedicated to go where-ever it is this band will take me.
Tuomas Tuominen In Q4/2001 and light modifications Q1/2002 and Q4/2005 Continued Q1/2004 and Q4/2005
*Ex-members in order of appearance:
M.Hyytiä – drums (1996-2002)
J.Lindström - vocals/lyrics (1996-1997)
K.Gustafsson - guitar (1996-1998)
J.Kouhi - bass (1996-1999, 2000-2003)
M.Rostedt - guitar (1999-2000)
Mika now plays in Matias’ other band Voodoo.
P.Bunda - bass (2000)
Pasi is currently a member of Death Du Jour.
T.Hatakka – guitar (2000)
+ a few visitors – thanks for the jam company.
Melodic death/folk, gothic metal
FALL OF THE LEAFE LYRICAL THEMES
FALL OF THE LEAFE ORIGIN
Finland (Turku/Helsinki/Lavia), formed in 1996
FALL OF THE LEAFE CURRENT RECORD LABEL
FALL OF THE LEAFE STATUS
FALL OF THE LEAFE CURRENT LINE-UP
Jussi Hänninen - Guitar (ex-Unhola)
Kaj Gustafsson - Guitar (Kaj Gustafsson Explosion)
Matias Aaltonen - Drums (Voodoo)
Miska Lehtivuori - Bass (Ablaze in Hatred, Searing Meadow)
Petri Hannuniemi - Keyboard (Endermic)
Tuomas Tuominen - Vocals (Kaj Gustafsson Explosion)
FALL OF THE LEAFE PREVIOUS LINE-UP
J. Lindström - Vocals (1996-97) (Catherine La Voisin, Septentrion (Fin), Kyrpä, Kirkkopalovaroitus)
Mika Rostedt - Guitar (1999-2000) (Voodoo)
Pasi Bunda - Bass (2000) (Death du Jour, Luciferase, Necrobiosis (Fin), Nightside (Fin))
Taneli Hatakka - Guitar (2000) (AN, Annihilatus, Crimson Midwinter, Nightside (Fin), Torture Killer, Unhola)
Marko Hyytiä - Drums (1996-2002) (Unhola)
Juha Kouhi - Bass (1996-99, 2000-03)