Interview – Daggerplay

Daggerplay are an amazing rock band that I simply can’t get enough of, discovering them through their song, National Day. I decided to have a chat with Pekko Mantzin to find out what they’ve been up to recently.

By Jane Howkins

You’ve just released a new song called Insomnia, what can you tell us about the track and where can it be purchased?

Insomnia is Daggerplay´s sixth single since the release of our second full album, Subterranean Reality.

That album gained very good reviews around the globe but we also came to notice it ain´t easy to sell records nowadays, if not touring constantly. That´s why we made the decision to release single tracks digitally. All our songs, including Insomnia, can be purchased on Bandcamp.

Of course, Insomnia will be available on all major streaming services including Deezer, Tidal, Youtube and Spotify.

The song itself is a fierce & unfiltered rock&roll tune with a lotta punk rock and it was written when the Covid pandemic started – back then I was having some sleepless nights asking what the hell is happening in this world. Then again, I changed the whole idea of the lyrics because I noticed that a lot of songs were written about the lockdowns and the pandemic. Eventually Insomnia turned into a song about an anti-hero, Johnny, who´s messing around during his sleepless days and nights.

You also recently released a track titled National Day, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the song?

Yes. We released that just before the independence day last year. The song is dedicated to Finland. Following social media and the news can be extremely depressing as people can be so fucking cruel. It seems like peoples joy and hobby is to talk evil to one another. On top of that comes provocation and violence. All too much.

In the same time, some stupid gallup was once again spreading a lie about Finland being the happiest nation in the world. That´s all bollocks. Finland is fucking far from that. Maybe the people who were interviewed for that shit were the ones who walk with their eyes closed. Just look at the crime and suicide rates and you´ll get the idea that it is a bad joke. Youngsters and even little kids having depression, increasing poverty, social security services cut down are the facts over here. The happiest nation my ass.

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

Absolutely it has. We played plenty of gigs before Covid started. Then everything stopped and we didn´t get together for a long time. Anyhow, we then thought that at least we can start to nail some new stuff down and that´s what we´ve been doing.

What is the writing and recording process like for you?

When it comes to writing songs I gotta say, it is always an adventure. Music comes first and then come the words. At our rehearsal place we arrange the tunes together. Sometimes, we might realise that something´s just not right and not working so we chuck it away. At least for a while. Sometimes the whole lot just sounds as perfect as it can. Then it’s a moment of joy.

Recording sessions are always enjoyable. Our studio albums were recorded in a professional recording studio and especially with Subterranean Reality, the time spent in the studio didn´t really matter. We were probably aiming for some kind of perfection back then and personally I still love that album, and the same goes to our first album, Urban Campfire Songs, which we recorded very fast – at that time we were into more straight forward punk rock. They were recorded at East Sound Studios here in Helsinki with Sammy Aaltonen.

After those two albums we wanted to go back to the very basics and record edgy and raw sounding rock&roll and work fast. Our mate has a studio at his rehearsing place so we thought it would be cool to see what it´s like and yes, we liked the outcome a lot. Antti Pekkanen is a brilliant musician and he knows rootsy stuff and punk rock really well, so he understood what we are after.

Do you plan to release any more singles in the near future?

Absolutely. We´ve still got one completed track in our pocket and we do have some pretty    good stuff that could be recorded when the time is right.

Have you started writing for an EP or an album?

Well, these tracks could be released as a mini album, or when more songs will be recorded. That could become an album but to be honest, promoting an album is one hell of a job when you´re an independent, almost DIY artist. Personally I´m not very keen about that idea anymore… Been there and done that quite a few times, and it is very very tough job indeed.

What/who influences you most as artists? What have you been listening to recently?

I´m not the right person to answer that on behalf of the band but when it comes to my personal taste of music, I love to listen to early soul, outlaw country, Americana and blues. Good glam rock and power pop is always welcome, as well as old school punk rock. Actually, Rancid and The Clash could be the bands that all of us dig a lot. And most of us dig Social Distortion a lot too.

Where are you based? What is the music scene like in your part of the world? Are you influenced by your surroundings?

Helsinki, Finland. The promised land of metal. You most probably know Nightwish, HIM, Children Of Bodom, 69 Eyes. All from Finland. I´m not very familiar with metal but I respect these bands a lot. They´ve done (and some of them are still doing) a great job. When I was a kid, the most interesting bands in Finland were Hanoi Rocks and Smack. Both of them are definitely influencers for Daggerplay too.

Back in the early 2000 when I moved back to Finland from UK, Finnish rock and pop scenes were really happening. Great bands with interesting music like for example Kwan, Negative, The Flaming Sideburns, Bomfunk MC`s, Darude & HIM were big and doing their own stuff in their own way. Nowadays, mainstream Finnish pop and rap are very popular but I don´t know absolutely anything about those genres. And actually, it´s the same thing with Finnish rock music these days. Though just recently I have noticed a few younger bands coming up with something cool. Lovers Left Alive, for example.

But yeah, I would say we are not influenced by our surroundings at all when it comes to music. Our musical influences come from elsewhere.

Do you have any tour dates lined up? What can people expect from one of your shows and why should people come and see you perform live?

We should probably become more active again when it comes to booking some local or regional gigs. On the other hand, we´ve already played way over hundred gigs because before the pandemic, we played everywhere and at almost any time when we were offered a gig. A couple of gigs are confirmed at the moment, but touring abroad I cannot see happening very soon because it is just way too expensive for a band on our level. But for the rock&roll fans who are not living in Finland, there is always a solution to see us playing and it´s Youtube. I believe two years break hasn´t slowed us down. People can expect some hard driven punk rock&roll as always.

Any last words for the fans?

Be well and listen to rock&roll! And if you like what we are up to, please let your friends know about us too. Cheers from all of us!

Daggerplay – Insomnia – Out 20 May