When we started Metal Jacket Magazine, we wanted to somehow bring our readers closer to bands that might have a harder time breaking through to listeners in the sea of bands and music.
To begin with, it would be best if you introduced your band.
Hello Metal Jacket Magazine! We are AITTALA!
First, a lesson on how to pronounce it correctly since I know your readers are wondering. It’s pronounced ‘EYE-tah-la’ with emphasis on the first syllable. It’s Finnish in origin. We are a 3 piece eclectic doom metal band hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, USA!
The band consists of: Eric Aittala – guitars/vocals, Ali Lugo – bass, Gary ‘Zeus’ Smith – drums. The original version of the band formed in being in 1991 while Eric was living in Holland with the US military. After his military contract ended, he went back to the US with the intent to form a new version of AITTALA right away, but the time wasn’t right until 2008 when the band was resurrected and has been going strong ever since.
Is it hard to keep all the members together since this music has no income?
It can be a challenge, but luckily everyone in the band has good day jobs and money isn’t an issue.
How do you finance yourself and can you cover the costs of recording, equipment, and concerts with music?
As mentioned in the prior question, everyone in the band has a good day job to be able to afford to be a musician. It would be nice to make some money from music at some point, but we do it for the love of music first. If you’re not doing it because you love music first, then you shouldn’t be playing in a band.
What made you start playing metal music? Who were your role models in the beginning and has that changed over time?
Growing up as a teenager in the 80s I was influenced by Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Metallica and Megadeth…the list of 80s metal is almost endless. But as I got older, I started branching out and appreciating different genres of music. Those non-metal influences may not be evident when you listen to AITTALA, but they are there in primal essence.
Is it hard to find a publisher or is it better to self-publish considering the internet?
There are pros and cons to both methodologies. Having a good publisher will get you places you can’t get on your own, but of course, bad publishers will take your money and not really help you in the long run. So you really have to do your research. It’s definitely better to publish yourself than to work with a bad publisher.
What have you published so far?
So far AITTALA has released:
2022 – Live to Regret (ExSR Records) – coming out Nov 7th, 2022
2021 – American Nightmare (remastered) (ExSR Records)
2019 – False Pretenses (Curtain Call Records)
2016 – American Nightmare (Self)
2014 – Effigy (Self)
2011 – Haunt Your Flesh (Self)
2009 – Bed of Thorns (Self)
1993 – Selling Heaven (EP-Self)
How do you create songs, how do you record them?
When it comes to creating songs, it’s organic. As the main songwriter of the band, when I’m writing music, I just put ideas down that I’m feeling. I don’t pay attention to the genre or try to force it into a genre; I just let it flow naturally. Once I have what I think are a few elements of a song that go together (like a verse riff, chorus riff and maybe some other parts), I’ll put them in a loose, basic structure. Then I’ll reference my lyric book that I’m constantly jotting down ideas or shaping lyric elements and I’ll match lyrics to the music in a way that I think sounds good. Once I have a solid base for a song, I’ll take input and suggestions from Gary and Ali and just keep working with the lyrics and song structure like clay until it’s a finished piece of work. For any final recording, we’ll go into a studio to record the drums. You need a lot of expensive microphones and a good-sounding room to get a good drum sound. For everything else, I record in my home studio. Then I’ll have someone else mix it and then master it for the final product.
Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics?
Lyrical inspiration comes from everywhere. I have a lyric book and constantly write down phrases or ideas that either pop into my head or I might hear someone say or just what I’m feeling. When the urge hits, I’ll sit down and use those raw ingredients of words and phrases to start writing verses…then from the verses, ideas and song themes or stories start to shape which get fleshed out into complete lyrics which I then marry to music to create songs.
What is your favorite song you’ve made so far and why?
My favorite AITTALA song so far is one off the upcoming album called ‘Saint’. Lyrically, it’s one of my more personal songs about a chaotic relationship. The lyrics and the music came together very fast and fit perfectly together.
Where can readers listen to you and maybe buy your material?
Readers can check out AITTALA:
How do you organize concerts, is it difficult for you, and how many people come to such concerts?
We book shows in various ways. Sometimes promoters find us, some shows are arranged by the record label, some come from our manager and some come from making connections. And it’s hard to answer the question about attendance; sometimes shows are packed with a great crowd and sometimes there are a handful of people.
In which countries have you played and where did you have the best time, where is the crowd the craziest?
Besides the USA, we’ve played in Holland, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, France and Austria. I’d have to say the craziest mother fuckers are in Poland.
What do you think about the digital release and is it serious like CD or LP?
A CD or LP feels more real because it’s tangible; it’s something you can hold and look at and really feel like you own it. But unfortunately, things are evolving away from physical media, so we just have to get used to that fact. I think CDs and LPs will remain around for quite a while though. We still sell a lot of CDs at shows and CDs still sell at CD shops outside of the US.
Was metal music more honest than today?
I think metal has always been one of the most honest forms of music compared to other styles of music.
How do you comment on this bunch of sub-genres in metal and is it good for metal or is it destroying it?
It does get a little ridiculous at the amount of subgenres metal has fragmented into. I can’t keep up. When it comes down to it, I just consider AITTALA to be ‘metal’, since AITTALA draws inspiration from all genres of metal. We’ve been called Eclectic Doom several times, and we like that, so we use it.
Are all the subgenres destroying metal?
I wouldn’t go that far, but it does get confusing.
Do you support this commercialization of metal music and how about the wearing of metal t-shirts by some “exposed” people who do not belong to this philosophy of metal music?
You can’t control fashion or what people wear. I wouldn’t say I support it, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t go out of my way to not support it. But I look at it this way, if someone that doesn’t like metal wants to wear a metal band T-shirt, they just become a walking billboard, so it’s free advertising.
What would you change in the world of metal and would you like to go back to the time before the internet if you remember it at all?
The internet really wasn’t around until I was in my early 20s, so I was there at the beginning. It’s definitely a double-edged sword. Before the internet, bands could be more mysterious and maintain secrecy if they wanted to. You also had to get your info from magazines, word or mouth, and even MTV or other music channels. And there weren’t as many bands. With the internet and newer recording technology, it does make it easy for bands to get their music out there, but now there are so many more bands. It’s almost too much and harder to get noticed. I’m not sure which world I like better.
How important is supporting the local scene and can you single out a band from your area that you would recommend to our readers?
The metal scene we are in is basically dead. The pandemic basically took care of that. There are a few clubs that will have metal occasionally, but, if you’re not part of the ‘in’ crowd, you don’t get local support. AITTALA falls into that category of not being part of the ‘in’ crowd for the Raleigh scene, but we have our sights set on more than NC!
How do you see this situation in the world and how do you think it will develop? Will they imprison us again, scare us or maybe send us into a big war?
It’s definitely a scary thing going on right now with Ukraine and Russia. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into something bigger so the world (especially Europe) can get back to normal life!
Finally, what would you say to our readers and why should they listen to you in the sea of bands that are offered to them every day?
One of the biggest compliments that AITTALA gets is that we sound original and it’s hard to compare us directly to other bands. So if your readers are looking for something new and fresh, come and enjoy some AITTALA!