All Around The World: Our Far-Out Trip To Far-Flung Prog

Finnish bassist Jonni Tanskanen leads his bandmates into the wild in search of inspiration.

Even if four of their five members were born and raised in Helsinki, Malady’s heart would probably not beat the same way if it wasn’t for Finland’s glorious nature and, more precisely, the summer cottage that bass player Jonni Tanskanen’s grandfather built in the late 50s. Then just a trio, Malady’s first stay there to record a demo may have been, according to Tanskanen, “a complete disaster due to technical difficulties”. Yet, in hindsight he admits, “we still had a blast. And you can definitely say this place played a pivotal role, as a few songs for the album were created during those days or nights.”

Malady was started by drummer Juuso Jylhänlehto and guitarist Tony Björkman, who were both serving in a stoner/doom band and were eager to start playing some prog rock on the side. It took them three years to complete their line-up and by the end of 2013, the five-piece rehearsed together for the first time. Their goal was simple. “We just wanted to sound akin to our favourite 70s bands,” explains Tanskanen. “The music from that decade was perpetrated with a smooth and warm sound that was to some extent lost with the advent of the 80s digital synths and reverberated snare drum sounds.”

Laid-back and pastoral, their recently released self-titled debut evokes quiet Northern summer nights spent in remote places. Some of the songtitles even make direct reference to the country’s bucolic places, like Kakarlampi, a group of lakes renowned as fishing spots.

Although the band name comes from old English – “It’s been with us from the beginning,” says Tanskanen, “even before anything was written, so we’re stuck with it,” – their lyrics are all in their native tongue. Still, when asked if they fit with what is defined as ‘Finnish prog’, the bassist believes, “The first thing that pops to mind is the language. But that doesn’t really hold water, seeing how the two of the biggest names of Finnish prog, Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam, both sang in English. Prog is such a varied genre and escapes definition almost as a rule, so I’m not sure if words can capture its essence.”

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