Face of God is a rock trio from Helsinki, Finland. They were formed in 2010 by the vocalist/guitarist Leo Stillmann and bassist Benjamin Lehti. The drummer Oscar Kuutso later joined the band as the drummer. The band plays melodic and striking rock with influences from lots of different music genres.
© Tekla Valy
The band has released an EP called Fire in 2010. The EP was recorded in the legendary Seawolf studio in Suomenlinna, Helsinki. 2 years after the release of Fire, the band is about to release a debut album. This album will be a double album; the acoustic side will be called Illogical Psycology and the album will be called Dead Ballads and Forgotten Love Songs.
Face of God has played over 100 gigs in Finland and they have recently played in Helldone 2012 as a support act for the legendary love metal band HIM.
© Emil Pääkkönen
Recently, I have had the opportunity to interview Benjamin Lehti [bassist] and Leo Stillmann [vocalist, guitarist] in Helsinki on 29.12.2012. It was my first in-person interview and I was quite excited but the guys were beyond humble. In addition, we talked about everything; from the Helldone show to the New Year’s Resolution of the band. Check out the interview below!
You played in Helldone Festival on 28th December 2012. How was it like to play in a big show like that?
Benjamin : It was great. It was very difficult because we never played in Tavastia before; a new stage is always difficult and different but it was great fun. I think we did pretty good.
What were your expectations? Did you expect such a crowd? It was quite crowded for a warm-up band.
Benjamin : I was expecting people in the front row because of HIM and I was pretty sure that people would get the best spots there. There were also some fans of us but the first 5 rows were HIM fans.
Many fans wonder how you were picked for Helldone. Can you tell me more about it?
Benjamin : Our rehearsal place is in Nosturi which makes us neighbours with HIM. The guys in HIM heard us play live and they liked our music and at the same time we got to know Silke Yli-Sirniö (promoter of HIM). So our singer (Leo Stillmann) got the message “You are playing in Helldone 2012” and they weren’t even asking! It was like one of the best days, it was crazy. I couldn’t believe it.
As a band, you were formed in 2010 so that was not long ago. How did Face of God become a band and a part of the music world?
Benjamin: We were playing with Leo [Stillmann, singer] in a couple of bands earlier and he was playing drums at that time and then Leo had a lot of ideas and visions. I think he wanted to do something new and get more influence on the songs. We were in one project but we stopped that and we were then just jamming and learning how to play the guitar and singing for one year in the rehearsal place. We were practicing and making our own songs. We had to find somebody as a drummer, who is as weird as we are. We both knew Oscar for a long time; I went to the same school with him but I never knew him that well. We thought he would be crazy enough for the band and it worked! We realized that he is the right guy as a drummer of the band.
You were formed in Helsinki, Finland which is a very important and powerful region when metal/rock music is considered. Do you think that this affects the band’s music or do you consider yourself more as a universal band?
Benjamin : We are affected from the Finnish scene of course. We have one thing in common; we all have that rock vibe with the guitars. But then we all have our own heritage. I have been listening to metal, funk and music like Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the band, everybody has their own music style and I think that’s our strength; we incorporate each band member’s music taste into our songs.
As I mentioned, you were formed in 2010 and in 2 years you have become a quite successful band. Did you expect this success?
Benjamin : I haven’t been expecting this kind of success. We were doing what we love and we lived in the moment. We weren’t much ahead either.
Leo : We had really good chances so we were lucky. We had one of our songs in a soundtrack for a movie and usually those are kind of things that happen when you have a big record label.
The band’s name “Face of God” is also interesting. How did you come up with the band’s name? HIM also has a song called “Face of God”, are these two names somehow relevant?
Benjamin : It wasn’t intentional; it isn’t relevant to the song. It just came to us.
Leo : Yesterday [28.12.2012, the day of Helldone gig] was funny; after the show, there was the technician of HIM and he saw our setlist and in the setlist, there is a song called “Him” because of the riff sounds from HIM and we don’t have a name for that song yet so we called that song “Him” and the guy came and he said [with the English accent] “What the fuck is that? You have a song called HIM! That’s fucking cocksucking motherfuckers! HIM also has a song called ‘Face of God’ so yeah that’s fucking cocksucking motherfuckers!” The truth behind the name is that we we went to the studio for the first time and we were sitting, smoking and drinking coffee. Perttu [who is responsible for recording and mixing the songs for the band] asked us “What do you call yourself?” and we joked “Maybe face of god” and Perttu said “Ok, we have face of god here” and that’s how we came up with the band’s name.
Your sound can best be described as indie/rock. What are your inspirations musically when it comes to the band’s sound?
Leo : Michael Jackson. I love Michael Jackson. Who wouldn’t love him? Actually I met one HIM fan after our gig and I told her that Michael Jackson is great and she was like “Fuck you! Don’t you like Black Sabbath?”
Benjamin : We all have our own influences. I like difficult and technical music but also groovy music as well so my influences come from those aspects. Then again, Leo has melodic influences.
Leo : The first rock band that I started to listen to was actually Ozzy Osbourne because there was the TV programme [The Osbournes] and I was watching that and I didn’t even know about Ozzy or Black Sabbath because I was so young. That’s how I started to listen to Ozzy and Black Sabbath and then HIM was the other band that I listened to. I think there are a lot of influences from HIM in our band with the poppy side and also with the hard riffs. Our band’s sound doesn’t sound like HIM but there are a lot of elements from there. But I am also a huge fan of Biffy Clyro; I love the band. They have an album called “Puzzle” and that album changed my life and before that, I never thought that an album could change one’s life. After that, when I saw the guys play live, I wanted to do the same. For me, that was the reason why I started to play the guitar and sing. When I saw them [Biffy Clyro], I thought “If they can do it, I can do it”.
You have released an EP called Fire in 2010 and in 2013, you will release your first debut album . The album will be a double album; there is an acoustic side and then there is the main album. Why did you choose to make it a double album?
Benjamin : We made a little tour in May and we played 60 acoustic gigs. We realized then that we have an acoustic and sensitive side too. We have many songs that we can’t play with e-guitars.
Leo: It sounds like shit [when those songs are played with e-guitars]
Another thing that caught my attention was the names of the albums. The acoustic album is called Illogical Psychology and the main album is called Dead Ballads and Forgotten Love Songs. How did you come up with the names?
Leo: I have had that idea since I was 12 years old. It sounds so fucking crazy that it doesn’t make any sense. It’s a good name as well. We don’t have any ballads so they are dead ballads. We are still in the process of thinking of which songs to put into the album. We have been to the studio for 3 months and we have been making demos. It wasn’t like every day working.
Throughout your career, you have played in over 100 shows in Finland. Are there any plans for a European tour?
Leo: It depends on people who live outside of Finland. There’s no point to go anywhere if there’s noone listening to our music in that place. After the whole Helldone show, it might be easier and there’s point to do that then. It will be a great opportunity to book a couple of gigs in Germany or Sweden.
I have mentioned that Finland is a powerful country when it comes to metal and rock music. Do you have any favorite Finnish metal/rock bands?
Leo : Hanoi Rocks.
Benjamin : Kingston Wall.
Leo : Stone is really good as well.
Benjamin : When I was younger, I listened to Children of Bodom. Nowadays I don’t listen to a lot of metal anymore. Now and then, I listen to Meshuggah because it’s completely different stuff. Callisto is also a great band; it’s a bit of a doom. The singer is also great
2012 was a colorful year for metal and rock albums. What were your favorite albums of 2012?
Benjamin: The new album of Soundgarden is my favorite; I am a huge Soundgarden fan and I have been waiting for it.
Leo : I don’t listen to music in that way. I have been listening to a lot of old stuff recently. I have also been listening to Kings of Leon nowadays; I love them.
What is the New Year’s Resolution for Face of God?
Leo : Play gigs and do something crazy. We want do things that we really enjoy; it’s not about the success. I really like to work a lot and really suffer for the things that I dream. Next year, I want to learn how to live in the dream; my dream was to play in a band no matter what. It didn’t matter if there were fans, gigs or whatever. But that was my dream; to play in a band, enjoy and make songs and be creative, share ideas. I think that’s really important to remember. This year in May we had this crazy idea to play a show every day. So we had 60 shows in a month so we played at least a show every day. That was a good thing for our band because we learned to play better as a band. It was our idea and it was called “One World Tour”; we wanted to play in weird places like shops,zoos and in crazy places like that. It was also good and “healthy” promotion for the band [Finnish word for that is tervetta].I think it’s important to do things that you do enjoy and do it by yourself, then it’s interesting. And if you do the right things and get fans, it’s a good thing but if you do it the wrong way and get fans, then it’s shit. It’s not true.
I want to thank Jennifer Kuhn for contacting me for the interview as well as Benjamin Lehti and Leo Stillmann for answering the questions. Hopefully, I will see the band in Germany or Turkey in the future. I have to say they were great in Helldone 2012; I did not know what to expect from them but their unique sound and their energy on stage blew up my mind. 😀
Leo, me and Benjamin after the interview. Great guys! 😀
Face of God is :
Leo Stillmann : vocals/guitars
Benjamin Lehti : bass
Oscar Kuutso : drums