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INTERVIEW: Kimi Kärki (Lord Vicar)

Kimi Kärki (also known as Peter Vicar) is someone that has become an icon of sorts within the Finnish metal scene with involvement in multiple band across sub genres. Lord Vicar, which was born from the  ashes of Reverend Bizarre is one of his more well known bands and this year they have come up with their third full length ‘Gates of Flesh’. A departure from their long drawn ruminations, the new album showcases the band’s punchier rock n roll side and the result is an album that is fun, engrossing and highly memorable.

We managed to talk to Kimi about the new album, the bands he’s involved in among other stuff, which is presented below for your reading pleasure.

Lord Vicar

Transcending Obscurity (Shrivatsan R): Hi Kimi. How’s it going? The new Lord Vicar album ‘Gates of Flesh’ is expected to be released soon. How has the reception been so far?

Kimi Kärki: All is great, even if the album release got delayed by a couple of weeks due to quality control. I am so busy right now that I haven’t had too much time to reflect the actual release that much. The reviews have been full of praise and admiration, almost all ranging from full points to 8/10. I am happy with that, as the album is truly a grower; it will stay with the people a long time, if given a chance. Nowadays music seems to have become something that is perhaps too easily available for quick listening and browsing. This stuff needs repeated listens and some devotion, but rewards the patience.

TO: The new album has shorter tracks, compared to long form songs that dominated the first couple albums. Was this is a conscious decision on the band’s part?

Kimi Kärki: Both ‘Fear No Pain’ (2008) and ‘Signs of Osiris’ (2010) were epic in their presentation and length. We discussed how we would want to approach the third effort, and agreed that a more raw, shorter and punchier rocker was the proper thing to do. It didn’t become very raw in the end, but rather an organic, relaxed album, with confident live feel and a proper narrative arc.

TO: Tell us about the name ‘Gates of Flesh’

Kimi Kärki: The album is loosely themed around sexuality, lust, Dionysian potency, and the decline of those things, the failing body and crushed spirit. I wanted to approach old cliched subjects of sex and death from a different angle. ‘Gates of Flesh’ is about human body as a glorious and crumbling temple. There are many gates to human body, and there are many keys to open the locks — some are sharp, some hard, some are made of sounds.

Lord Vicar Gates of FleshTO: Lord Vicar has an international line up, with members spread across Europe. How does the band work together? Is the internet the sole medium of communication?

Kimi Kärki: Our singer Chritus lives near Stockholm, drummer Gareth in Basel, and your’s truly in Turku. At least there is a direct ferry between Stockholm and Turku. We tend to discuss things via internet mostly, and plan well ahead. Obviously, when we get together, we are relatively focused. We do not fuck around or do endless lazy jams. We obviously try to get together for a rehearsal before tours, usually day early at the start location, and in Turku for album sessions. Right now we have Sami Albert ‘Witchfinder’, on bass guitar, but on the album Gareth and me shared the low frequencies.

TO: A lot of Lord Vicar’s lyrics seem to have a personal touch to it and on the new album tracks like ‘A Woman out of Snow’ seem to echo deep personal losses. How much do personal feelings play a role when penning the lyrics? What other sources do you take inspiration from?

Kimi Kärki: Let’s just say that the lyrics are moving from epic universal grand narratives towards something more personal. But that can actually lead back to universal. A lot of the lyrics reflect my own inner world, as a sort of purification, a banishment of the negative aspects of my personality: frustration, hate, sadness. That ritualistic quality extends also to reflecting my dreams. Other than that, religion, war, nature, history, and the future offer endless inspiration… The nocturnal side of our culture!

TO: Apart from Lord Vicar, you’re also a part of other projects like Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr and Uhrijuhla, each with a different sound. As a songwriter, does your work in one band influence your work in the others? 

Kimi Kärki: Everything is connected in my mind. It’s all about loving different musical styles and genres, and about the challenges the variety of framing offer me both as player and writer. The heavy metal of Lord Vicar, progressive rock of Orne, cosmic ambient of E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, psychedelic Finnish pop of Uhrijuhla, and the acoustic folk I play and record under my own name, they all contribute to my understanding of music.

TO: You released your solo album, ‘The Bone of my Bones’ back in 2013. Are there any plans for another solo release in the future?

Kimi Kärki: In the time of writing this, in June 2016, I am nearly done with recording my second effort, ‘Eye For an Eye’, again released by Svart Records. This time nylon string acoustic will be in the forefront, 12-string offering added aural pleasure. But I also played electric guitar, bass, synthesizers, and various percussion. Most of the vocals are done by me, but there is some very nice guest work as well! Hopefully we are looking at late Autumn/early Winter release.

TO: The artwork for ‘Gates of Flesh’ is taken from the Nymphs and Satyr painting. How did the selection process go? And how did this idea of basing the artwork on classic paintings come about?

Kimi Kärki: I just needed something that would connect nature, sexuality, and violence. Hence the painting ‘Nymphs and Satyr’ (1873) by William Adolphe Bouguereau was absolutely perfect. Using old art has been something that has been part of most things I am involved in since the days of Reverend Bizarre. It adds another interpretative layer, certain prestige and aura… every time the choice has been done very carefully.

Lord VicarTO: Are there any tour plans to support the new album?

Kimi Kärki: We play Tuska Festival in Helsinki in early July, and some one offs in the Autumn. Hopefully we get to tour longer in November.

TO: Lord Vicar has been associated with The Church Within records since the debut album. How did this relationship start and how has the experience been so far?

Kimi Kärki: I have known Oli Richling, the label owner, since the Reverend Bizarre days. Obviously this has worked, as we stick with him. We have a good deal, he likes to package our music in a lavish way, and he also arranges some of our touring. Good man! Obviously he has limited financial muscle, which means we don’t get that much advertising or distribution to your nearest corner shop. But he has a mighty mailorder, you will find also our stuff at http://doom-dealer.de/

TO: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Kimi Kärki: The CD and some nice merch, including shirts and hoodies, are out now, glorious vinyl in six months… Get our stuff and come to the gigs, we will give you a relentless experience!!! See you on the road.

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