Roo from MGR Interviews Samuli Federley
Congratulations on your new album “Quest For Remedy“. You have a lot of experience as a guitarist who has played and toured many years now with a very respectable discography (6 albums with Reversion and Moottörin Jyrinä). Where did the idea come from to release a solo album? Not enough notes in Reversion?
Thank you! Finally it’s out after year and half of making it and after several years of planning! Well, even
though the music I’m playing with my bands is quite versatile I’m still not satisfied musically. I’m a hungry
fella. Yet I consider Reversion being kind of my band since I compose all the music, I can’t take those
songs into too many directions you know. I’m not holding back or anything like that when composing those
tunes but I just like to keep it stylistically tight. And on my solo album, I was able to incorporate some of
the jazzier influences, some pop stuff and even my piano playing there. Those were the songs that I had
been composing during the years and never fitted for Reversion or any other band. Still they aren’t left over
songs, I always knew I had to use on some record.
I also feel that I got lot to say as a composer, guitarist and as a soloist so a solo album was a logical next
step to take. And since I’ve got to the point of being in such a good position artistically when I can do clinics
at various expos, it’s good to have your own solo material to demo the products with. Also, I always had this
dream from the teen years, that it would be super cool to have a solo album like all my heroes does like
Steve Vai, Satriani, Cooley etc. I also wanted to challenge myself that am I capable of doing this all by
myself. And I think it turned out just fine. Now there’s already bubbling some new ideas for the next album…
;] And oh yes, there’s never enough notes! ;]
What musical direction did you want to take with this record?
How is that album different compared to what you have done before?
Well, first and foremost I wanted to have strong songs. Not the typical recipe for instrumental song where
you first have the main riff, then some melody in the verse, chorus, second verse with the melody played an
octave higher and the rest of the song soloing. I tried to break the routines when arranging the songs and to
avoid the basic solutions for song structures. And I wanted it to be heavy. Again, compared to Reversion this
album is at same time heavier as well poppier. Mainly it’s riff oriented and different rhythms carry the songs
forward. I also paid a lot of attention to the harmony. It has always been really important to me to avoid the
basic I – IV – V chord progressions. Well of course if the song needs that then I’ll use it but mainly I try to
invent some more interesting chord loops. I’m also into some “techno” sounds and programmed stuff so I
tried to come with some cool keyboard sounds as well.
The whole process was very different from what I’ve had before. Now that I was able to demo the songs
properly I had a chance to arrange the songs with time. I spent a lot of time with the solos but tried not to
polish them too much. Since I can’t play stuff like a robot when playing live, I tried to capture the sound I’m
able to produce on a gig. It was a big learning process from the studio gear point of view to the actual
playing part. Usually when you’re in the studio, there’s the producer or somebody breathing on your neck
and making you sweat. Now when I did it all by myself, it was a lot more relaxed experience. Some guys
needs to be kicked to the butt but this method suited me perfectly and I will continue making records like
this. At my own studio.
This is rare to see an instrumental album with 3 guest vocalists and no guest guitarist.
Why did you take this approach?
That was a conscious decision. The answer is in the question, it’s normal to have guitar guests on guitar
albums so I wanted to do something different. This way also non-guitarist may find this album appealing.
And the singer choices also reflect my broad taste in music. There’s some clean male singing, brutal death
metal stuff and some mellow female singing. Even there’s a lot happening on the record, I think it’s still a
tight package musically. I had these singers in mind in first place when I started to think of whom I may ask
to visit on my album. I even thought of singing something myself but that will be on the next album.. ;] I need
to rehearse a bit first.. ;]
If I’d ask some instrumentalist to be a guest on my album he/she had to be a really “different” kind of player
than me. Maybe some jazz guy or a classical dude. Actually my plan was to have a cello player on
Pitchblack but I gave up on that idea. I also love the sound of flute and oboe so I think you’ll hear this kind of
stuff in the future. I got lot of weird stuff in my head. :]
You endorse Amfisound guitars, have performed clinics at Finnish Metal Expo and Frankfurt Mess.
Why did you choose this brand and when did you started playing 8 strings guitars?
At that time, when I got interested in extended range guitars, back in 2007 or so, there weren’t too much
those kind of instruments available. I was visiting Finnish Metal Expo and suddenly my eyes caught this
most beautiful guitar plus it was an 8 string! PLUS, it was made in Finland by Amfisound. I tried it out and
immediately fell in love with it. I talked with Tomi, the guitar builder and soon I had my own custom made 8
string guitar. I suggested that hey, I could do some clinics with you guys, I got some cool songs to play
along that might be appealing to the audience. So when next year came and the next FME, I was holding a
clinic there with Amfisound and everything went tip top. Since then, I have done clinics in FME 3 years in a
row, Musik Messe in Frankfurt 3 times, AV-Expo, Music Exhibition in Helsinki, Guitar Gently Weeps
2009-10 and several smaller fares all around the country.
So why I wanted an 8 string guitar? Well, I’ve always loved low frequencies. I mean really low. :] There’s just
this cool energy going on when you crank up the volume and hit those low notes. I used to play with a 7
seven strings for years but still I wanted to go lower. Now I think this low F# is enough ’cause below that it
starts to get muddy. I mainly use the bottom strings for riffing and for big chords. I should experiment a bit
more with different tunings and other stuff but somehow I don’t find time to do that.
Last month you performed in Helsinki with Reversion and played among the set your song “Colonoscopy”
from Quest For Remedy.
I was there and enjoyed it, the transition was perfectly crafted. When Aleksi (Vocals) leaves the stage,
do you have a different approach when performing “alone”? More pressure, more focus?
Yeah, it was cool to play with Reversion. It has been some time since our last gig. Now that our new
records, Obscene, is out we’re activating again. I wanted to utilize the opportunity and perform one of my
solo songs on that gig. It was the first time to play Colonoscopy live so keeping that in mind I think it went
pretty well. Thanks to those clinics I’ve done I don’t stress those situations too much. I remember the first
clinic I did at FME 2008 I was soooo nervous. But of course I wanted to perform that song as well as I
possibly could so I focused a bit more and did less headbanging. ;] When you play the song more at
different occasions you get more confident with it and be able to move around a bit more..
I also tend think about the overall structure of a gig. Since Reversion is very technical and guitar oriented
music anyway I thought that it might be interesting to the audience to have one solo song in the middle of
the set. And I know there are a lot of other guitar nerds and musicians in the audience I guessed they might
appreciate this tune.
Also I like to challenge myself and playing solo material in front of lot of people makes me to practice even
more. The same thing with clinics: it can be the worst place in the world trying to nail those difficult songs
while some serious shredders are judging your performance just few meters away from you. ;] But when you
can handle that, you can handle everything. :] So the more stressing the situation is, the stronger you will
Beside all this, you find time to play with another well known band here in Finland: Moottörin Jyrinä
The band describes itself as Heavy Metal for Kids. Sounds crazy, what message do you deliver for kids and
how is your approach to keep aggressive guitar tones that are softer in a way?
Yeah, I always got time to have fun with good buddies and play wacky gigs. Even though the music is for
kids, we take our music seriously and play as well as possible. Again, this is a good chance to improve my
skills when you get to play a lot of shows at weirds times (10 a.m.!) and it has also made me better
composer. When making songs for kids, you need to come up with stuff that is kinda straight to the point
and very catchy. And it’s not an easy task to do. The kids can be very merciless; if they don’t like song,
they will show it immediately. And on the contrary, if they think it’s good they will party like hell. So you get
direct response whether your music works or not. They also pay a lot of attention in our stage presence. If
you look like bored, they won’t be happy.
What comes to the aggressive guitar tone, we’re not holding anything back. ;] On our latest album,
Metallimyrsky (Metal storm), there were few moments while being in studio when I thought that is this sound
too heavy. We decided that it’s not and afterwards I’ve heard that the kids find it cool. So they aren’t afraid of
it, the sound of vocals is a bit more important in my opinion.
One part of the message is that metal doesn’t have to be too serious and isn’t just for grumpy and dirty men.
Usually metal music represent aggression and other feelings that are considered as negative feelings. I think
that for example aggression isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it’s a part of basic human nature and when
handled right, it can be a strength.
You are a professional musician for a living. What advice would you give to readers that are interested in
making it with guitar?
Well, you should practice a lot and be as versatile as possible. As a touring musician it’s not a good to stick
with just one thing. For example I play party-, jazz-, pop-, wedding- and metal gigs and all in between. You
can always learn something useful from them and meet new people. You need to practice live playing and
the only way to do is to play live. The other opposite to this is to focus on one thing only and try to master
this little segment of playing. For example Tiago Della Vega is known for playing Flight of the Bumblebee at
750 bpm. Being able to do that, you have to commit your life to it and when achieving it you can be pretty
sure to get a lot of attention. I try to combine these two approaches yet of course it’s impossible but you