Interview – Jape Von Crow of To/Die/For

Hailing from Finland To/Die/For are a goth metal band unique to others in the genre. Defiant to conform to any particular style of music the band combines piano, heavy guitars, synthesizers, and sorrowful emotional vocals for a rich atmospheric blend of ’80s influenced new wave and metal. Achieving success in their homeland of Finland and other parts of Europe the band has made a name for themselves over the years.

Recently we caught up with mastermind Jape Von Crow aka Jape Perätalo to talk about the past, present, and future of To/Die/For, his inspirations, and issues of the world. – To/Die/For first album was All Eternity back in 1999 and since then the band has released 6 more albums. Each is slightly different in sound although maintaining the same style. Tell me briefly how you created the distinct sound we know as To/Die/For?

Jape Van Crow – We had no plans in the beginning how we should sound. It all just came out as it is known nowadays. Before we had To/Die/For, I already had some songs, where we wanted to try to play with keyboards also, that´s how it started.

When we had a band Called MARY-ANN, a time before TDF, we already had lyrics that fit totally with TDF songs…It all just grew up with us. Difficult to explain because in the end it is such a natural thing. By the way I am now starting to make music with MARY-ANN again (smiles). It is a bit more rock and roll, sweat and whiskey kinda thing (smiles). It is good therapy for me too. – That very interesting. Can fans expect to hear some material of MARY-ANN?

Jape Van Crow – For sure! Now we’ve been rehearsing, and we´re doing our first show at a festival here in Finland, Playing old Mary-Ann songs, some new stuff and also covers. In July-August we´ll record some new songs and we´ll surely share it with you all!

Spinefarm Records
Spinefarm Records – The band has gone through some line-up changes and you took a 4 year break between Wounds Wide Open in 2006 and Samsara in 2011. What caused you to take a break from To/Die/For and form Sundown Sindrome in 2009 and what made you decide to do another To/Die/For record?

Jape Van Crow – We all kind of burned out! We were touring a lot a few years, and somehow in the spring of 2008 I just had no inspiration anymore. We were fighting for our rights and for our success too for a long time, and we lost too many times so…. I could say that some assholes ruined us. I made Sundown Sindrome with my German friends, which we met on tour for the first time in 2006 and we became good friends.

It was a very nice time, and we had a lot of fun. I am a bit sad that we didn’t continue, but it was very hard to start some activities together. As you know…I would fly to Frankfurt and have rehearsals (smiles) so, somehow it just “fell asleep”, but we never know what happens with it. We will continue if we get inspiration to do it.

In regards to the reformation of To/Die/For,  was in 2010 when the guys, Juska Salminen and Juppe Sutela, came to me and said, “Jape you can’t stop doing TDF, it is been your life too many years, so let´s fucking continue”. Then we promised to each other, not to make problems anymore, and after all promises were done, we started to make new songs (smiles). We felt like a new band again and it was very refreshing!

And…. Well, about Sundown syndrome, I very much liked the song called “Vale of Crows”. Now I decided to release my own album too, under a name J.von Crow and I had permission to record “Vale of crows” again and add it in to my own album. Also I already wrote one new song so…let´s see when I will let you hear something about it(smiles). It is been my dream for a long time to release even one album under my own name. – I will be interested to hear some of your solo material and I am sure many fans will as well. The Sundown Sindrome project was announced back in 2009. There are a few tracks floating around the internet but it’s merely impossible to find any music from the band. Is the project dead or will fans ever see some of the material you were working on with it?

Jape Van Crow – We recorded 8 or 9 songs and we printed 250 Promotional Cd’s which includes 4 songs. That´s all, and yes we will continue if planets are on a right position someday (laughs), let´s see. – (laughs) Alright well maybe sometime you can get me one of those promotional Cds, would love to hear it. Now To/Die/For has been successful in the European market. We both know the North American market is a very different dynamic. Do you find it difficult to break through to the North American audience?

Jape Van Crow – The North American markets seems to be difficult for European bands, and I have to admit we haven´t been thinking about it seriously…Maybe European or Finnish Accent is one of the reasons (smiles), and of course you have a lot of your own bands there also. One thing which makes it even harder is that U.S and Canada are very far away from Europe, and it is very expensive to travel there, and do some promotional shows. We should find someone to pay our travels first. – Yes it is very expensive to travel to North America and unless you have a good promoter and record label backing you it’s merely impossible. The USA market is very hard to gauge because you never know what is going to be popular next here.

It’s a very trendy culture but above all good music should always be heard. Answering the question above you actually did a North American tour back in 2007. How willing would you be to come back to play shows in the USA?

Jape Van Crow – Of course To/Die/For guys would be ready to come there again and do more shows! Whenever. But when things are up to money, we know it is not easy.  Hopefully some promoters will do it someday! We´ll just wait (smiles). – It would be great if you guys had the opportunity to come back to reach the North American audience more. As I stated earlier the band has it’s very own unique sound. It’s very melodic and atmospheric rock music, and absolutely separates you from many bands out there. With this said you have a good product to offer music fans. Your music is broader than just for a metal audience. How difficult is it to get your music out there to a larger audience?

Jape Van Crow – I’ve noticed that when music does not fit 100% into some genre, it is always a bit more difficult to go anywhere. Not totally metal, not rock, not pop… and one of the most difficult question has been “What music TDF is playing?” (smiles), and best I can say is “ We´re playing To/Die/For kinda music!” But I am sure, that if we would get a good promoter, good manager, good label for us, we would grow much bigger anyway! First we just should find people who would be ready to create this TDF-clan with us!

Spinefarm Records
Spinefarm Records – Exactly, unfortunately now a days it’s very difficult to find a label willing to promote a band the right way but let’s hope To/Die/For finds the right mix of people. What are the future plans for To/Die/For?

Jape Van Crow – Now we’ve done some demo clips at our homes only, and we´re not taking any pressures. We have some shows here in Finland, and I guess we will go to the studio in the near future and record something new. TDF´s future sounds boring, new music, more shows, that´s all (smiles). But when it exactly happens we do not know. We´re not gonna record anything before we´re sure it is worth it. – I am sure many fans will be eager to hear some new music when the time is right. It truly is best to wait until you find the time that is right to record new material. To/Die/For’s music shows a broad range of musical influences which bleeds out in your sound. I’d like to know what are some of your musical influences and what bands do you listen to?

Jape Van Crow – This may sound weird but actually I am not listening to much metal at all. At home I am listening to “weird” stuff I would say (smiles). Not weird for me, but this may be a weird answer. In the mornings when I am depressed, especially in winter times, I just have to listen to reggae, because it helps a lot. Also, I am listening to some meditation music. The Doors, The Beatles, some dirty rock and roll like Mc5, Dead Boys, Smack (old Finnish band from 80´s), and all music where Stiv Bator is singing.

If I listen to some metal, it´ll be old Sepultura, In Flames or something like that. Mainly I would say I am listening to good classical music, rock and roll, and metal to punk…If the song is good, then music is good (smiles). I just need to find good vibes to every moment! That´s why we need every kind of music in our lives! Nowadays, I play more myself at home than listen music from internet or from CD´s. I have piano, synthesizers, 4 acoustic guitars, sitar, djembe drums etc. It is better to play yourself, you see (smiles), and create something. – It’s great to have a broad range of musical tastes and not limit yourself to one form of music. If you listen to just metal or just rock or just whatever you maybe missing out on a great piece of music. Now, I am curious, 7 albums deep into To/Die/For’s discography do you have a favorite album?

Jape Van Crow – No I don´t. Like if I would have 7 kids, I would not have one favorite one (smiles)…. and actually, we have 7 albums yes, but one of them is a compilation album that Spinefarm records wanted to release. It includes old songs, but also one demo song called “Angelica”, (Angelica is my daughter)…let´s see if we´ll record it someday…

Spinefarm Records
Massacre Records – I hope the song does get recording someday it would be excellent to hear it. My last question for you is regarding films. is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?

Jape Van Crow – If I need horror, I will check some documentaries from… for example Syria or news from TV. People are so fucking crazy and stupid nowadays because of money, oil, gold, authority and religions etc.etc. When I see some horror movie, I am not scared, and blood and flesh in it does not feel that bad. But when I see some documentary from the war they are having at the moment in Syria for example, when little kids are bleeding, legs and some pieces from the bodies are on the street…that is horror man!!! It makes me cry. How the fuck could I share love, peace, word of freedom with rock and roll for the all people in the world?….At least I am gonna try!!!! But anyway…People already wrote the scariest horror movie, and it is called “Civilization of human being on the planet earth”. – That is a very good point. We are living in some pretty disturbing times. It just seems as if even in mainstream civilization there is a lot of negativity lately. Maybe it has always been this way but we are so tapped into everything with social media and technology it’s right in our face. It’s difficult to keep positive but you must to keep going and want to make a difference in others lives. Without getting too political do you think that there is hope for humanity?

Jape Van Crow – Our society is based on deprivation. When you have more stuff, money, and more authority and all that shit, it means you´re higher than the others. Another shit thing is religion(s), and now when churches are the same institution with governments, it is not a good thing at all. We human beings have one very bad sickness and it is ” I am always right”. It brings a lot of harms you know “my country, my religion” etc. We´re all from same energy, we´re all created from same shit…most of the people know that, but still they live in fear of their religion , their god and so on. Our lives are, at least “they” want it to be, planned before we were born!

If someone goes his/her own ways, he/she is called as “renegade” or rebel. For me, renegades are those assholes who are keeping this kind of society´s spirit alive! As long as there is this kind of economy system going on, as we have at the moment, humanity lives only in our hearts and dreams. As long as people do not respect nature, we have no hope. Personally I try to live in harmony nowadays. I respect nature as much as I can! I always keep in my mind that “We came here with nothing-We leave with nothing”, no matter if you are poor or rich, motherfucker in the coffin we´re all naked. We do not take our millions, houses, cars or whatever with us…..but we can leave good and bad feelings behind us. Remember that!

We all have both sides in us, Good and bad, and which one wins? You decide it! It depends which side you´re feeding! This sounds slimy I know, but in the end love is most powerful thing. Not only love between two people, but love for nature, love for life, love for anything good! All good things starts from love. Like…no one would write good music without loving music (smiles). Peace, love, freedom and rock and roll!

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