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The Progressive Here And Now of Joviac

The Progressive Here And Now of Joviac

Viljami Jupiter Wenttola of Joviac – Photo Credit: Carolin Büttner

The Progressive Here And Now of Joviac

Joviac is an exciting progressive metal band from Finland who are ready to launch their way into the worldwide big leagues.  Their latest album is entitled Here And Now, an absoulute epic in auditory intrigue now available from Inverse Records!  Fans of acts such as Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree will surely want to check into the wondrous tapestries presented by the dynamic Joviac.  In addition to the thrilling musicianship found within Here And Now, a special guest appearance by Matias Kupiainen from the legendary Stratovarius sends the entire album into the stratosphere.

Highwire Daze recently interviewed founding member Viljami Jupiter Wenttola to find out more about the mesmerizing refrains of Here And Now, the Stratovarious connection, their great admiration for the iconic Toto, and a whole lot more.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Joviac, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Viljami Jupiter Wenttola (you can call me Will) and I’m the guy responsible for putting Joviac together. I founded the band in January 2017 on my own but to me the real start was when the band came together later that year and ceased to be just a “project”. I handle the vocals, guitars and songwriting in the band and I’m fortunate to have Antti Varjanne on bass and Rudy Fabritius on drums. Right now we also have Joona Niemi helping us out on stage with live guitar duties.

Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
We’re based in Tampere, Finland, with the exception of Rudy who’s from Helsinki. Finland is very much the country of heavy metal. You hear it on the radio and you see its influence around a lot. That’s pretty special, however that’s mostly limited to “mainstream” metal. The big bands get a lot of coverage and airplay but the subgenres don’t get as fair of a shake in my humble opinion. The big bands of progressive metal such as Dream Theater, Opeth, Haken, Leprous etc. sell out their venues so there’s clearly a market for the genre, but because there haven’t really been any big progressive metal bands to come out of Finland, the local scene is non-existent. That means typically at small venues we get lumped together into some very interesting bills with very different types of bands. On a positive note though, I’ve seen some really promising smaller bands come up recently and I hope they stick around! If we get enough bands then maybe we can start a movement!

How did you wind up signing with Inverse Records?
I’ve been aware of Inverse Records for a long time. I used to play in another band that had a little bit of traction before Joviac and we were already in talks back then. When it came time to find a release partner, we looked around but settled with Inverse because of the people that work there and our history.

Basically the way I see things is that you can’t do it all on your own. You need help and you need a good team if you want to go far. Does that mean that every aspiring band out there needs a label to gain success? Probably not, but to achieve the things that I wanted Joviac to achieve with this album, we needed someone to take care of promotion, PR and all that stuff that we weren’t specialised in. If we had put this album out on our own without anyone helping us with marketing, I wouldn’t be here answering these interview questions and the release would have just been a tiny (or tinier) droplet in a sea of obscurity. The goal is to go forward and to be a slightly bigger droplet with each release!

Is there any overall story or concept behind the Here And Now album title?
Originally my intention was to write a concept album. I’ve tried it a few times in my life and failed happily because the material has had a mind of its own. That’s one of the most rewarding feelings when the material takes the lead and you feel like you’re more of a vessel or conduit for the music to channel itself through.

The reason why the album is called Here And Now is because of the title track. I felt like it should be the focal point because within that one song you can hear all the major musical influences and directions present on the album. It gives you a really good picture of who we are Here And Now as a band.

Select two songs from Here And Now and what inspired the lyrics.
There are two distinct lyrical topics on the album: personal struggles with mental illness such as anxiety and depression, and the discourse that we engage in online and especially in social media.

Decay is an example of the latter. The lyrics are a very clear snapshot of how I was feeling at the time. A lot of musicians and people that I looked up to died, and the polarisation caused by Trump’s presidency was bringing me down. Everyone was at each other’s throats it seemed, especially on social media, hence the lyrics “and the world keeps turning and the tempest churning inside out, fuelled by self doubt, hear it scream and shout.

Crossfire is about personal struggles. I write a lot about my hurdles with anxiety and this song is a good example of what comes out. I remember walking out of therapy a couple of summers back, I had just had a breakthrough and I felt euphoric. The line “I’ve been walking around like I’m the devil himself, like the worst guy in town you shouldn’t lift a finger to help” just came to me on the bike ride home and I hummed it the whole way so I wouldn’t forget it. Those moments are special.

Antti Varjanne – Photo Credit: Carolin Büttner

Who did the cover art for Here And Now and how much input did you have on it?
Up until now I’ve outsourced all of our visual artwork to a good friend of mine, Dylan Jones. We have a very good rapport and he knows how to interpret my ramblings. I’m really limited when it comes to visual art, so I need someone who’s patient and can come up with creative stuff from a long list of adjectives and feelings I have about the visual direction. I always send him all of the lyrics as well, so the images are strongly tied to the music. I’ve been meaning to work on my visual art shortcomings though, so the next time I don’t have to just send him references accompanied by “this looks pretty cool” and “dude this is totally sweet do something like this!

If you like Dylan’s work, you should definitely check out his portfolio here:

How did Matias Kupiainen from Stratovarius become involved with the recording of Here And Now and what was it like working with him?
This is a very good example of the fact that musician circles in Finland are very small. Everyone knows everyone at least through one or two degrees of separation.

I took some guitar lessons from Matias when I was a teenager about 16 years ago (damn that makes me feel old) and recorded a project at his studio some years later. He’s a great guy and I’m glad we kept in touch!

Actually there’s a funny story about the song Here And Now. My intention was originally to just write a song for the neo-classical four finger tapping melody in the middle of the song. Matias originally taught me that technique all those years ago and I had been fiddling with it for this long so I thought it’s about time to use it somewhere. It was not my intention to have any guests on this album originally so I got a chuckle out of it when I realised that Matias plays a guest solo on the song that started from a lick he taught me 16 years earlier. None of it was planned.

Cue Circle Of Life by Elton John.

Rudy Fabritius – Photo Credit: Carolin Büttner

What could one expect from a live Joviac show?
I put a lot of emphasis on sincerity and honesty. That’s the point with the music on album and it’s front and center when we’re playing live. We’re not out there to be rockstars, but to be ourselves, or at least as much as possible in the excitement of it all. We put in a lot of work and practice so that we can be the best that we can be on stage, so you definitely won’t be disappointed if you like what you hear on the album.

If Joviac could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
That question is really juicy to think about. My dream would be to open for one or more of our heroes some day, and I think that dream is definitely reachable if we just keep working hard. So maybe some day we’ll share the stage with the likes of Haken or Leprous. They’ve given us so much musically and I can totally picture the scene in my mind, and just maybe if things go all storybook fairytale style, we’ll open for Dream Theater or Devin Townsend one day or at least play the same festivals. Just you wait 😉

Has Joviac ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
As of yet we haven’t broken ground outside of Finland. We absolutely definitely have every intention to do that some day. Playing in the US has been a dream of mine for a very long time.

Are you or any other members involved with any other projects outside of Joviac?
Joviac is my baby, I’m able to fulfill almost all of my artistic desires with it and it takes up all of the energy that I have for music. I have a couple of things left on my list that are better explored under a different banner though, so don’t be surprised if you see me in a synth wave or AOR band some day! That being said, our bass player Antti Varjanne has another incredible band called Time Primer that you should totally check out. They’re also a progressive metal band but a little heavier and technical with a more modern sound than Joviac.

Check them out here:

Joviac – Photo Credit: Carolin Büttner

You mentioned Toto as an influence on the band’s Facebook page. Have you ever seen Toto live and if your band could cover a Toto song, which song would it be and why?
Toto is a huge influence! I’ve been a hardcore fan since 2012. We started looping Stop Loving You in my group of close friends at the time and it just blossomed into a full-fledged fandom. I’ve seen them live every time they’ve visited Finland ever since (5 times) and every time if someone asks me what the best band in the world is, I always reply “Toto“. It’s probably not the most obvious band that comes to mind from our music but it’s definitely in there in our DNA. So sad to see that they’ve probably called it quits now, but it just makes me all the happier that I got to see them so many times.

I’ve thought about doing a Toto cover for so long that it’s pretty much become this impossibly huge thing in my mind. It’s so hard to decide from that immense catalogue of material and also there’s the fact that we don’t have a keyboard player, let alone two! My favourite albums are Isolation and The Seventh One so it would probably be from one of those albums. It can’t be Africa because I already saw Haken do such a great job of covering it a year or two ago.

What’s up next for Joviac?
We’re hoping this album makes as big of a splash as possible! Honestly it’s already done more for us than anything we’ve put out before so it’s all bonus from here. This Coronavirus isolation thing is the perfect time to write some new music and I’ve already got a lot of promising stuff together. Once this Corona thing is over we’re planning to play live as much as possible starting from our record release show September. The goal is to reach more people and make better music! You don’t have to like us, but if you’ve given our music a chance, I’m eternally grateful.

Any final words of wisdom?
Thank you for this interview! Let’s all try and stay hopeful in these trying times and let’s wash our hands!

Band Members
Viljami Jupiter Wenttola – Vocals, Guitar, Keys
Antti Varjanne – Bass
Rudy Fabritius – Drums

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Joviac on Facebook

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