Getting to Know Negative: Negative People with a lot of emotion
On January 23 the melodic hardrock group visited Madrid where we had a chance to chat with lead singer and creator of the band Jonne Aaron.
Soft ballads, explosive guitar riffs, melodies and lyrics dealing with life itself, that is Negative, the group of rock n 'roll from Finland who visited Spain last January.
Created in 1997 the band has released 6 albums: "War of Love" (2003), "Sweet & Deceitful" (2004), "anorectic" (2006), "Karma Killer" (2008), "God likes your style "(2009) and the recent “Neon ".
Although the group began with just three members, it’s currently formed by Jonne Aaron (vocals), Antti Anatomy (bass), Jay Slammer (drums), Larry Love (guitar) and Mr. Snack (keyboards).
At 7 pm on January 23rd, before the door of the Sala Ritmo y Compas people already waited to enter. Within the venue, the group prepared the stage and relaxed before the concert: Jay and Larry tested their instruments, Snack went from one place to another arranging skeletons and eating and Antti, with no shoes, read a book in the corner of a couch in the dressing room. Meanwhile Jonne, visibly tired, sat with us and answered our questions with a smile and a lot of kindness.
Question: How was the Barcelona show?
Answer: It was really nice, I mean, to me as a singer it was one of the roughest on this part of the tour.
Q: How come?
A: When you do so many shows in a row your body is getting exhausted in some point, but I made it, and I gave all I could from myself and we did a great job, I suppose.
Q: How are you feeling now in Madrid?
A: I feel good. It’s good to be back. Actually, this is the venue where we started here in Spain; it was where we played our first show ever.
Q: How would you describe Negative to someone who’s never heard your music?
A: Beautiful, [pauses], aggressive, maybe not aggressive, but, unacceptable.
A: [Speaks in Finnish with Antti which corroborates that it is unacceptable, and suggests surprising.]Yes, yes, Surprising.
Q: Surprising and emotional maybe? You guys classify your music as emotional rock n’roll?
A: Yes, beautiful melodies, twisted with rough guitars, that’s Negative.
Q: It’s been more than 10 years since you guys created Negative. How would you say you’ve evolved?
A: Oh my gosh, first of all, we’ve learned how to play, for example. We were really young though when we started, so… The main idea is the same, it’s still there that it should be fun, that it should be a whole new adventure every time when we go to the studio and start writing new songs. How can I say it? Of course as a human being we’ve grown pretty much. I’m 27, I was around 18 when the first album came out, so I’ve spent my whole teenage years and all the years until now with this band. So I think Negative is a huge part of us, you definitely cannot deny that. And music wise we’ve become even better. But you have to value that shitty side of you as well, because that is the naïve side. When you create something new, you can’t become too good. [Laughs].
Q: You have to keep your feet on the ground?
A: Exactly, exactly.
Q: What are Negative’s plans for the future?
A: Touring, touring, touring, nothing else. Just touring and promoting the new album. And at some point, usually when the new album is out, you already start looking forward to the future with new songs, for the next album. But not yet, we don’t have to hurry with that. We’re going to take our time with touring. We’ve deserved it and I think so because it took almost two years to get the new album together. It was a long process.
Q: I was going to ask you that. How was the process of creating this album? You recorded in Los Angeles with Grammy winner Warren Riker. How was that experience?
A: Ah, you can only imagine [laughs], it was really nice and afterwards it feels even better, [laughs]. You know what I mean? When you get some view on it and some perspective.
Usually we’ve done all the albums in Finland and in our home neighbourhood, as you can say. For example, “Karma Killer” was recorded in the heart of Tampere, and the farthest place we ever went to was Hollola in the middle of Finland, precisely 100 km away from our hometown, and now we were in LA so it was a big change.
Q: Are you thinking about entering the US market?
A: Of course, it’s a big step. I think we still have a lot of things to do in Europe and Asia. For example, we’ve never played in UK and that is the country, territory where we are heading next. After that, maybe it’s some kind of bridge to America, when you make something happen in the UK.
Q: I read that when you recorded the second album, “Sweet and Deceitful” you were about to give up on gigs. How are you feeling about them now?
A: I don’t know, for some reason, usually when you’ve just released your album or made it you get some kind of depression. You can compare it to the depression when a woman is giving birth to a child. They’re getting a little bit down because after 9 months… I would compare it to the process of recordings, but it disappears, you just need some time for yourself. It’s just that I got scared of that, and we all got, well, I don’t know about the rest of the guys, but I got scared, and I felt like music is really exhausting. When you think about it all the time… the process is going on all the time and it’s hard to turn yourself off, so you just have to deal with it. It is part of being what you are.
Q: Do you think gigs are important? For example, in Spain there are a lot of illegal music downloads and they say that what is keeping the music industry working are the gigs.
A: Ok, I agree. In our scene, in rock music there is no shortcut, there isn’t any time machine to happiness, it’s all about hard work and long roads and we’re playing to the people, that’s why Negative was formed, for making shows to the people.
Q: To connect with the people?
A: Exactly, exactly, spreading the message of Negative. That’s the best way to get known as a band.
Q: How about social networks, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter?
A: It’s really important now a days and I think that the net is getting more and more important for Negative. For example, if you think about America both northern and southern…In general, we’re getting a lot of feedback all the time from all over the world from those countries we haven’t been able to visit yet, so it’s been a blessing for us. First I thought it was a curse but then I realized it’s good.
Q: Why a curse? Was it because of all the fake profiles that exist about you?
A: Oh yeah, there is a lot of them, I’ve heard about that, I’ve checked it myself [laughs] ‘cause I got so curious. It’s good. For example, we have a really active Facebook profile on the internet. We update it almost every day, especially on tour, on the road. It’s good and we’ve seen the reaction of the people and the crowd and they really like it and it’s important to stay in touch with the fans, I mean, not fans, with Negative people, that’s how we call them. [Laughs].
Q: On your webpage there is something that says “Negative Legion”, what is that?
A: It’s coming up. It’s going to be like… Kiss has their army, it is going to be precisely like that. Maybe more like fan club meets street team kind of thing. It’s gonna be nice.
The main idea is that there will be a Negative chat were you can chat but you have to log in and you have to have all those passwords and stuff like that. I think that it is part of why we come to play for the people and making shows. It’s part of that because the idea is that in each country there is going to be an international street team, “Negative Legion”, and there will be a president for each country who leads that countries stuff and there will be some posters you can print out, stickers and you can spread the idea and message of our band, and I mean, for free. It’s not your duty or anything like that. It’s for fun. If you feel so you do it. You can be part of Legion if you’re just a lazy ass and want to stay at home and enjoy the music, whatever. But the main idea is that once a year we’re going to have this “Negative Legion awards” in Finland and the president from each country will pick the most hard workers, the most active people and probably they will show up and we’re gonna play there and meet with these people and have some nice tasting food and stuff like that. Some day it’s going to be like the Oscar gala, it will be broadcasted on TV, that‘s the highlight in mind. In 20 years, in 50 years, but you have to start somewhere, even Bill Gates started from a garage.
Q: What has your inspiration been for Neon? Why that title?
A: The working title was a whole lot different at first. Before we even knew that we were going to go to Los Angeles, it was really something different. Soon after arriving in LA we realized that there is a lot of hope in this album and it’s much brighter and it’s not as dark as the previous one, “Karma Killer”, for example.
We just started to think about a different title and I think Larry came up with Neon. First of all I didn’t like it but I had to choose it. And after chewing it and tasting it for a while, it started to feel like, oh my God, that’s cool, I like it. And we got all these great neon lights, different kind of neon signs to decorate the studio.
Actually there are many meanings behind the name, Snack found out that in ancient Greece it means something new. And in Finnish it means “they are” Negative Ne, they, on, are, so that’s the thing, it was some kind of breaking point.
Q: How about the inspiration for the album, going from negative to this new vibe?
A: The inspiration, oh my God, what is the inspiration? Life itself.
A: Snack says: California sun.
A: California sun, Hotel California, [laughs]. That was the inspiration on this one.
Q: Any words for fans and future fans?
A: What would I say… it sounds old cliché, I would like to say, enjoy your time because this life is just a flash in eternity so try to make it possible and don’t take any stress, extra stress [laughs], and enjoy the ride.
And it’s nice to come around time after time with Negative. And we are really glad to see that there are people coming to see our concerts time after time and this second round in Spain especially. It has proved that it’s worth to come around again. So, I’m really looking forward to the next tour. And remember, join us on Facebook, bring your friends and stay Negative.