The enigmatic PH (formerly Mr. Peter Hayden) is the perfect vessel for undergoing space exploration. The band from Finland has released a series of intriguing albums, showcasing a great grasp on the more experimental side of extreme music, space rock and drone extensions. In this interview, we address the mystical quality of PH, the mysteries of their concepts and themes, as well as their imminent plans.
Hey guys! First of all, thanks for finding the time to do this interview, it is much appreciated! So, would you like to introduce the band and give a brief history of PH.
Thank you for being interested. We are a five-piece originating from Kankaanpää, Finland, and have been around since the year 2000 and doing our thing ever since. Touko plays drums, Vesa V. and JP play guitars and handle the occasional vocals, Vesa A. operates Moog and takes care of samples and I play bass.
So, first things first. What is up with the name? Who is Mr. Peter Hayden and what signaled the change to simply PH.
For some reason, people keep asking that question and I keep telling them that they will learn it eventually. It’s not the answer itself that is important, but the process that will lead you to it. So it would not make any sense to ruin one’s possibility to go through the process by leading him or her straight to the answer. As for who Mr. Peter Hayden is, I can say he is important inspiration for us and represents a kind of ideal, something to be.
Then to the name change issue. I do not see it like we have changed our name. We have always used the PH-monogram as our insignia or sign, and after completing the album trilogy, and returning to the point where we left off to that voyage, we felt like this rebirth must be conducted also on the physical level. So we dropped the use of “mr. peter hayden” and decided to stay with only the monogram as our sign. Nothing has changed; actually, the situation has returned toward its pure and original form.
So far, you have worked with some small labels for your releases, including Winter Records, Mikrofoni, Kauriala Society and Ramekuukkeli. How has it been working with these guys? Do you feel there is an advantage in working with smaller labels.
Every coin has its sides, and I do not prefer money at all. Ville Lilja at Winter and Kauriala has supported our artistic views with utmost trust in our early stages, when very few saw what we were going to reach, and I feel obligated to thank him of this. Other labels have also made things possible for us, which is always a good thing.
I want to go a bit back, on your debut album. The album itself was said to be dealing with the concept of time. Can you elaborate more on that subject? What was it that fascinated you with this concept?
In the early days, we discovered that our songs seemed to get very long, but they actually did not feel to take the same time when we were playing them. This drove us to explore the concept of time, how one experiences it, the personal nature of the perception of time. Somehow this became the main idea when playing the material and preparing it for the album. For me, it’s still very fascinating, the whole essence of time.
Are the three albums that you have released so far, Faster Than Speed, Born A Trip and Archdimenson Now, a trilogy of sorts? If so, what is the underlying link between them?
Yes, they can be viewed as a trilogy. On the very basic level, the albums are linked through a theme. On FTS, we were concentrating on the time, trying to overcome the personal perception of it, maybe even get past it, escape the time. On Born A Trip we continued on this mission with the three remaining dimensions, escaping them, entering something beyond the time and space. And at last on Archdimension Now, we reached it, we did our best to overdo what we had learned on the first two albums, totally go beyond the concept of time and place, getting rid of everything, reaching the, well, archdimension.
Of course, this is just one level of the whole. Terribly long story to be told and definitely more rewarding when experienced by listener him- or herself.
Since your music contains few vocals, can you further explain what has generally influenced your sound, in terms of the philosophy behind PH?
From my point of view, our sound is, on each album, one of the outcomes of the process as is the whole album itself. What has influenced it? Very interesting questions, which I am unable to answer I am afraid (yet pleased). Actually, does it even make any sense to try to chase the influences, at least on an album-level? But generally, well, our sound is influenced by the surroundings of our lives, the process this band is, I believe, and as you mentioned the philosophy has its share of influence on everything.
Throughout your albums you have some very long tracks, so I am a bit curious about the creative process of PH. How exactly do you go about crafting these songs? Does it start more like a jam session and then adjustments are made or is it a more meticulous procedure?
Even if I knew exactly how we do it, I surely would not tell it to anyone. Not that I think it’s something I should protect, but to protect other creative minds from the temptation to take the too easy way. All I can say is that we have some sketches and we play with them. We might jam, but are not forced to rely on it. We have unbelievable songwriters and producers among us and I am blessed to be a part of a group this talented.
Your sound is also quite diverse, containing many different elements across various musical genres. Does each member of PH brings a part of the band in the process, or all you guys have a clear idea of what the end result should be like in terms of sound?
Pleased to hear this. Thank you for your opinion, I take it as a compliment. Each of us have a role in what we do and we are also very eager to challenge ourselves instead ending up with an obvious way of doing something. We have ideas, yes, but everything is done in terms of the album. We are aiming toward something bigger than one’s personal view when composing and producing an album. Call it guidance or something, but the process and time has a big role in addition to our abilities of executing it all. In the end, it’s the extraordinary talent among our ranks that have made us able to sound like we do.
Can you give us some information about the production process of the three previous full-lengths? Where did you record them? Did you use engineer(s), or did you go about it yourself? Personally, I think that the debut album sounded a touch raw, but both Born A Trip and Archdimension Now had a great production, very suitable to your style.
First one was recorded in a rented old school in countryside near Kankaanpää, second one was recorded in our rehearsals space in Kankaapää also and third one, well, I can’t remember all the places. Some basic tracks in our rehearsals place and a lot of stuff in Vesa V.’s apartment and maybe even some tracks in Wastement. Two first were recorded by Ilpo Heikkinen and third one by Vesa V. and all three were mixed by Ilpo with Vesa V.
The artworks that you have used through the years are quite excellent. Can you give us some more information on them? What do the hazy words of Faster Than Speed, the dead bird(?) of Born A Trip and the bright orange color of Archdimension Now signify? Also, which artists did you use for them, and how much creative freedom did you allow?
All artwork, concepts and implementation is, as our music, by us. I think only the space photography on the first one and the ice photography on the third were by other artists. Concerning the art itself, they go with the themes of the albums. I think that the hazy words have something to do with the name of the album and the bird and the lively orange go with the themes of each of the albums. There are lot of things in the art that goes with the music and the whole story, I dare you to go through them as you go through the trip in audio format.
You guys also share a recording space (and some members) with Oranssi Pazuzu, Atomikyla and Dark Buddha Rising. Is there a feeling of a community and companionship between these bands? Do you guys all help each other with recording ideas, suggestions etc?
We are present in Wastement yes, but we also have few other places to go, as I mentioned earlier our place in Kankaanpää where we have also done a lot of recording during the years. But regardless of that, we have a close relation to these bands you mentioned, but I do not feel these relations reach any deeper level than pure trust and support.
Which other bands do you guys participate in? And are there any more bands from your area that we should keep an eye out for?
There are always many bands and projects and one should definitely pay attention to what is happening around and not just follow the given advice and common opinion. I advise everyone to go and find music, and art in general, that suits one’s own taste instead of trusting someone else’s judgement on what is good and what is not.
The jump in terms of sound from Faster Than Speed to Born A Trip was substantial, but then the jump from the sophomore album to Archdimension Now was even braver. Can you tell what signaled those changes? How would describe the evolution of the band through the years?
Our concept has evolved as we have explored this universe. I mean that each album leads to another as I mentioned earlier. It’s all a great voyage through the essence of being, nothing we could ever have written in beforehand. I view us as explorers whose output, and sounds, evolve as experience is gained. And the evolution that has happened between albums, it was all inevitable. From struggling out of the chains of time towards being totally free from all restrictions.
As far as I know, you guys are also working on an upcoming full-length. What information can you give us about it? Is it going to be as much of a sonic jump to Archdimension Now, as Archdimension Now was to Born A Trip?
It is going to be a jump once again, but I am not willing to give you any details, you will get to feel that yourself when the time is right.
Is there also any other release that we should be expecting from you? Any EP on the style of We Fly High or any split releases and collaborations? Do you guys have any upcoming gigs that we should know about?
Right now we are concentrating on the upcoming European tour and finishing the mix of our fourth album.
Alright guys! Thank you again very much for finding the time to answer my questions!
Thank you, Spyros!