Madonna certainly isn’t an artist that you would think of when it comes to metal music, yet many metalheads tend to cover the pop goddess’ songs. One of the recent additions to that camp is a Finnish metal band Memoremains who have covered “Sorry,” a song from Madonna’s 2005 album “Confessions on a Dance Floor.”
The group fronted by singer Johanna Ahonen answered our questions about their beginnings in music, the new single, and more.
Let’s start from your early music beginnings. How did your musical career begin? When did you start playing? Which groups have been your favorites? Please tell us something more about your early life.
Johanna: I think that I’ve been singing always, at least, as long as I remember. Singing has been a natural way for me to express my thoughts and feelings. I have performed ever since I was a child, mostly by myself and singing cover songs. Memoremains is the first actual band in which I’m involved. I always wanted to sing in a band and make own music so I can honestly say that Memoremains is the best thing that has happened to me!
Mikko: I’ve done songs for as long as I can remember. I have thousands of demos in my stock over many years. Music has been a part of my life for a really long time. I took my first contact with the piano sometime between the ages of 4 and 5 and drums and other rock instruments came along at around the age of 10.
How did you go about starting Memoremains? Who was the most influential when the band started its musical journey?
Mikko: It’s really hard to determine who did what, because our band is really democratic. However, I had written the first songs of Memoremains before the band was born, so in a way it is possible to think that this is where our band was born. Eemeli and Aapo came along as old musician acquaintances. We found Johanna through an online announcement, just as we found Aleksi. Soon we were playing together and releasing our first song ‘We’re Not Alone.’
How would you describe Memoremains’ music on your own?
Our music is a combination of pop melodies, metal riffs and groovy disco beats. We’ve mixed together elements of different genres and created an own recognizable sound from them.
The new single is a cover of Madonna’s hit “Sorry.” How did you come to an idea to cover this song?
Mikko: Oh, it’s such a great song from the Queen of Pop. Unfortunately it has been forgotten from the general public during these years and we wanted to bring it back to life but in our style. Hopefully, people will find the song and listening to it takes them back to the last decade.
How difficult was it for you to shape this song and make it different than the original? Obviously, originally it is a pop song and you combine these elements with metal, but what would you say is the thing that separates your version from the original?
Mikko: It’s been a fun and creative job that we’ve been excited about. The first step was to internalize the song as our own, that is, to have it feel like our own song. Only through this can a functional cover be obtained. Once the song was thought to be our own, it was easy and fun to work with. But, strictly speaking, our version is faster, more energetic and heavier. However, we have retained the original song’s epic melodies.
What is the most important thing for the structure of your songs? Is it a riff, a melody line, vocal arrangement?
It really depends on which of those elements the song is created from. ‘Ballerina’ was born simply because it sounded like a good name for a song. “Time Is Running Out” was born from the melody of the chorus, and other parts of the song were built around it. In the end, though, the most important element of our music is addictive melodies and engaging rhythms. That’s where our sound comes from.
Recommend us some good metal acts coming from your area.
Mikko: There are so many great bands coming from Finland. We made a European tour together with Resolution 13 which is an alternative metal band from Helsinki. We’ve also been following Escalane, a band from middle-Finland, and their story. I need to bring up also a very original band, Awake Again, from Turku. On our tours abroad we have met many really awesome bands like Austrian Ardenite.
Are you also involved in any other projects or bands beside Memoremains?
Mikko: I play drums in a finnish language metal band called Riesa. The band name means like “ nuisance” or “annoyance”. Go and check it out!
Aleksi: I made own project with drummer Teemu Koski last year called “i Helvete”. It released two long songs and right now I am writing new ones. It is much darker and heavier than Memoremains. I also play bass in one another, unknown band.
So, what comes next for Memoremains?
We strive to make everything that happens even bigger. The goal is to make every release and tour bigger than the last one and there will also be more festivals.
More new music, live albums, reissues (regular, deluxe & super-deluxe) and even books about music heading our way between now and Christmas? Yep. Following up on my previous post, it’s another exhaustive sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with other personal priorities — below. Click on the titles for pre-order links — whenever possible, you’ll wind up at the online store that gets as much money as possible directly to the creators.
A Prog Rock Christmas: Billy Sherwood produces 11 holiday-themed tracks from the typical all-star cast (members of Yes, Utopia, Flying Colors, Renaissance, District 97, Curved Air and more). Download and CD available now; LP available November 1.
King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (50th Anniversary Edition): featuring brand new stereo and surround mixes in 24/96 resolution by Steven Wilson. Available in 3 CD + BluRay or 2 LP versions. (Note that the new mixes will also be included in the Complete 1969 CD/DVD/BluRay box set, which has been delayed until 2020.)
It was great to see Steve Hackett return to Grand Rapids with his latest Genesis Revisited show. It was also great to catch up with fellow Progarchist Bryan Morey again! Brian’s review of the show is admirably thorough, so just a few points from my perch (20 Monroe Live’s left upper mezzanine, nicely depicted in the photo above):
Hackett has changed rhythm sections every time I’ve seen him: Lee Pomeroy and Gary O’Toole were on bass and drums in 2013; Nick Beggs and O’Toole in 2017; Jonas Reingold and Craig Blundell this time. Reingold and Blundell gave the low end a slightly heftier vibe throughout the show, while being every bit as fleet and fluent as their predecessors. I especially enjoyed how Reingold wielded a double-neck 12-string guitar/bass a la Mike Rutherford with both delicacy and devastating power on multiple songs. And Blundell brought the thunder throughout the night; as I said to my wife afterwards, “believe it or not, that’s how Phil Collins played before he became a star.”
I enjoyed both halves of the show about equally — partially because, unlike so many Gabriel-era Genesis fans, I’ve never warmed to Selling England by the Pound. Perhaps it’s because of the way I was exposed to Genesis’ music (starting with — horrors! — … And Then There Were Three … and working backwards), but I’ve always thought Selling England to be five-eighths killer and three-eighths filler (“More Fool Me”, parts of “The Battle of Epping Forest”, “After the Ordeal”, “Aisle of Plenty” — rather a lot, really). Between The Musical Box’s 2018 tour and Hackett’s current show, I’ve heard two bands make an excellent case for the album, and I’m still not convinced; Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, A Trick of the Tail and Wind and Wuthering all strike me as better Genesis records.
But my point of view isn’t germane here; Steve Hackett obviously loves all this music, so who am I to carp at his choices? Ably supported by Reingold, Blundell, Rob Townsend (consistently taking courageous improvisational chances on sax and flute), Roger King (the bedrock of this band — understated yet wonderfully dexterous on the keyboards) and Nad Sylvan (a solid singer and an arresting stage presence throughout), Hackett was on top of the music all night, whether sticking to his guitar parts as written or stretching out in new directions, taking strong lead vocals or deftly harmonizing with the ensemble. If you haven’t seen him, you should; if you have, he’s worth seeing again. Either way, I’d argue he’s at the height of his powers — making some of the best music of his career with At the Edge of Light, and still enjoying the music that made his bones, both from Genesis and (in the well-considered highlights of Spectral Mornings) from his earlier days as a solo artist.
As Bryan mentioned, it was a rowdier audience than usual — he didn’t even get to see the, uh, interpretive dance that an audience member treated the mezzanine to on “Dance on A Volcano” and “Los Endos”. (I’ve had to work hard to unsee it.) Fortunately, I can put on At the Edge of Light, Spectral Mornings or Selling England, close my eyes, and hear Steve Hackett’s supple, soaring guitar work instead …
Steve Hackett’s current Genesis Revisited Tour plays North America through October, plays the UK in November — then returns to North America in March 2020! Check out the tour dates here.
Ginger Baker, the eccentric drummer best known for his work in Cream and Blind Faith, passed away this morning at the age of 80. With Baker’s passing, Eric Clapton remains the sole surviving member of Cream (Jack Bruce passed away in 2014).
Here’s Baker – one of the true pioneers of rock drumming – in action:
Steve Hackett, Live at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI, October 3, 2019
Band: Steve Hackett, Nad Sylvan, Craig Blundell, Jonas Reingold, Rob Townsend, Roger King
Setlist: Set 1 Every Day
Under the Eye of the Sun
Fallen Walls and Pedestals
Beasts in Our Time
The Virgin and the Gypsy
The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere
Clocks – The Angel of Mons
Dancing With the Moonlit Knight
I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
Firth of Fifth
More Fool Me
The Battle of Epping Forest
After the Ordeal
The Cinema Show
Aisle of Plenty
Dance on a Volcano
I had been looking forward to this concert ever since I bought tickets at the beginning of the year. I had never seen Steve Hackett live, but it had been at the top of my bucket list for a while. He’s my favorite guitarist, and I’ve loved all of the recent Genesis Revisited live albums. I consider Selling England By the Pound to be one of the finest albums ever made, so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see Mr. Hackett and company perform it live. They didn’t disappoint.
During the first half of the show, the band played highlights from Hackett’s 1979 solo album Spectral Mornings and this year’s At the Edge of Light. The whole set was very strong, but I particularly enjoyed Craig Blundell’s drum solo. Some drum solos can be a little boring, but not this one. Very engaging, interesting, and complex. The opening “Every Day” really highlighted the light and airy style of Hackett’s solo music, while “Beasts In Our Time” showed how heavy his music can be. Jonas Reingold’s bass was exceptional all night, but the bass line on “Under the Eye of the Sun” really allowed his talent to shine.