to the legendary French Musea label, Finland native Toni Jokinen
returns in 2018 with, Views, Fears & Stories,
his latest album as the leader of the band Riveryman. Toni
is in fact Riveryman, with his songs, guitars, keyboards and vocals
backed up by the late, great drummer Mika Pikkis Korkeamäki,
who sadly died after these sessions were completed. Toni first came
to the attention of mwe3.com with his 2009 first Riveryman album Magic
World and although its been nine years, the release of Views,
Fears & Stories is worth the wait. If anything, the
Riveryman sound has evolved and improved and the combined effort features
a range of progressive rock vocals and instrumental tracks that serves
to establish him as a bona fied contender in the industrious progressive
rock world. Some older music fans have compared Toni to both Finnish
progressive rock legends Pekka Pohjola and Jukka Gustavson, both early
members of Finlands most acclaimed progressive rock band Wigwam.
As Toni expresses in the following interview, Pekka Pohjola is a clear
influence, you can hear it in the way the guitars are recorded, although
with Riverymans emphasis on long, winding lyrical and vocal
ideas, Gustavsons influence cant be understated. In fact,
Tonis voice even sounds like Jukka Gustavson too. Commenting
on the title of the new Riveryman album, Toni tells mwe3.com I
came up that title because these three words set kind of the right
scene when you think about the big picture of this Riveryman album.
Views is how you can read the lyrics from different perspectives and
how these lyrics are talking to you. Fears are more like the fear
of knowledge, fear of the unknown, and fear of the afterlife, which
are also things the lyrics are speaking of. Stories describes the
whole story of this album, that it is telling. These three words are
kind of subjects that the album lyrics/songs are offering. With
Tonis guitar work and keyboard arrangements floating on top
of his intricate lyrics, it's certain that music fans who were lucky
enough to hear the 2009 Riveryman album will equally enjoy the sounds
in play on the deep musical grooves of Views, Fears & Stories.
presents an interview with
Toni Jokinen Of Riveryman
Its been almost eight years since your Magic World album
came out. Im glad you were able to release Views, Fears &
Stories, which is the 2018 album by your Riveryman band name.
Why was there a big wait between the two albums and how has your sound
changed or evolved over this period of time? How do you look back
on your early music compared with the new music, as your career had
Toni Jokinen: There was quite big wait between these two albums
cause there was quite big changes happening in my life. I met my wife
Jenni and our twins Adalmiina and Verneri were born in May 2012 and
I didn't have so much time for my own music in those days. I still
composed new songs and I did lot of thinking job in my head and I
did choose the right songs which I put in this Views, Fears &
Stories CD. Our sound changed quite much different cause we used
different technic on our recordings and, one professional mixing and
mastering guy, Sami Koivisto did the final sound in this Riveryman
This new Riveryman CD is a more technical sounding album than the
previous one. We wanted also to come a little higher level in progressive
rock music with this new album. This album is quite big step forward
when you are comparing it to previous album Magic World. A
great artist, Ed Unitsky designed the Riveryman album cover art and
sleeve design. Ed has done cover art also for many great names
for example the Flower Kings, Tony Carey, The Tangent, etc. I had
also two great quest artists on my new album. Esa Fors is singing
with me in the Messenger Of God. Esa is my long time friend
and hes a very talented singer and multi-instrumentalist. Today
he is working with his ambitious long time band project Refallen.
Another one is the great Alex Argento, from Palermo playing the keyboard
solo in the song Generation Of Corruption. Alex plays
with various different artists and on their albums as a session player
and he is doing fantastic mixing mastering jobs also. He has mixed
and mastered, for example Virgil Donati's In This life album.
His own solo album Ego is a very amazing album. Today, he has
a band called Icefish with his mates Marco Sfogli, who also plays
in Premiata Forneria Marconi, Andrea Casali and the legendary Virgil
mwe3: Whats new in Finland these days? It doesnt
seem the same now that Pekka Pohjola has left the material world,
or has he? I cant believe its ten years this month. I
think Pekka must have influenced a whole new generation of musicians
and among his fellow Finns, and I would put you into that category.
It was very difficult to lose his genius at a relatively early age
when he died. Is Pohjolas music gaining more in popularity over
the years since he died and have heard his the music of his son Verneri?
Certainly feels like his music hasnt aged at all in the past
nearly 50 years since his Wigwam debut in 1970.
Toni Jokinen: There are a lot of great bands in the current
Finnish prog and jazz scene. Bad thing in Finland is that the live
music is mostly getting worse. There aren't anymore enough places
in Finland that offer enough jobs for good musicians so they could
earn their money as professional musicians. This situation is killing
many good bands. Pekka Pohjola is in heaven, but his music still lives
strong in many great musicians and people. To me it is a great honor
that you mention me in the category where I belong. Pekka's son Verneri
did a fantastic album which has the album title Pekka'. There
was also a document in Finnish television where Verneri and his band
played his fathers songs. It was really a great document with
a really amazing band. Unfortunately Pekka Pohjolas music hasnt
gotten so much new popularity. Jazz and progressive music isn't popular
in Finland. If you want to earn money in music business nowadays in
Finland, this time its much harder.
mwe3: Your 2018 album is Views, Fears & Stories. How
did you come up with that title? Interesting that Pekka Pohjolas
last album was called Views as well. How does the CD title
reflect your approach to composing these tracks? Seems like Views,
Fears & Stories is a more worried title than say Magic
Jokinen: I did came up that title because these three words set
kind of the right scene when you think about the big picture of this
Riveryman album. Views is how you can read the lyrics from different
perspectives and how these lyrics are talking to you. Fears are more
like the fear of knowledge, fear of the unknown, and fear of the afterlife,
which are also things the lyrics are speaking of. Stories describes
the whole story of this album, that it is telling. These three words
are kind of subjects that the album lyrics/songs are offering
mwe3: Views, Fears & Stories begin with a very unique
sounding track called Passing The Chamber Of Insanity.
In the lyrics are you saying that we have to pass through some kind
of madness to try and find God in some ways? What is the meaning
of everything that you can say?
Toni Jokinen: Yes! We must pass a kind of madness of understanding
and look at things in many different ways before we can understand
the things right in our heads. Then we will be able to find the meaning
that God gave to us. In the meaning of everything I am describing
God as the greatest knowledge in the universe.
mwe3: View To A Forthcoming is very optimistic.
Its a very short but very inquisitive song in nature. You always
say that being optimistic is the best way to be as it enables you
to tune into your 3rd eye so to speak. Does this track reflect your
feelings on being human and how about reincarnation or being able
to correct human mistakes from your past lives and falling to Earth
Toni Jokinen: The main thing this little piano song and its
lyrics are saying is that even though we are not perfect and we all
do mistakes we must still have a positive thoughts about the future
that we could survive and that our meaning on this planet will have
to come to its final understanding before we can take our bigger step
in the higher universe / consciousness. I think the world is not ready
for the higher knowledge yet, that's why I am talking about reincarnation.
When humankind comes to its end there will be a bigger change in human
evolution. Before that we are staying on earth.
mwe3: Do the lyrics in Rumours In The Darkness
speak about a time on Earth perhaps when the gods ruled
the world or were trying to figure out what the mortals would do to
the world? I guess as you say or sing about in the song lyrics is
that we mortals havent done a very good job at transcending
our limited lives
Heroes are falling one by one, Tears are
dropping from the eyes of the poor
In your view, will
this era of fear and uncertainty change at some point?
Toni Jokinen: Rumours In The Darkness is a song
where I am trying to say that even humans use their power wrong when
they are ruling the world and many times we ask why and blame God
for many things. Life isn't fair to most of us always and human life
isn't so long and that is why I am saying in the songs chorus:
we can always find hope but we can sometimes be too blind to see the
meaning. Many of us have hard things in life to survive with. If we
are having troubles or there are hard things happening in our life,
maybe if we just can have the strength to turn those worse things
around for the better and survive, then that is sometimes the only
way to keep going on if we want to live our lives more happier in
the end. I know it is always hard thing to do. Sometimes its
even impossible for someone. We all have to believe our rumors in
our own darkness sometimes in a lifetime. The only strength is sometimes
to turn the light on in the darkness.
Views, Fears & Stories track Messenger Of God
is one of the highlights of the new album. Do you view yourself as
a messenger of God? As in the Rumours In The Darkness
you sing about the one who gave his life so we could live. Are you
singing about Jesus or some other divine being who commands you to
keep telling and reminding about the truth?
Toni Jokinen: I don't view myself as a Messenger Of God.
It is a person, the subject, in the album story who is leading the
world into better days. He who gave his life that we could live describes
Jesus and people and soldiers who sacrifice their lives for the next
mwe3: The Messenger Of God lyrics page in the CD
booklet features a picture of your late great band mate Pikkis
who sadly passed away just about 3 years ago. Its always tragic
to lose a great musician at such a young age. What can you tell us
about Pikkis and how did he inspire the Riveryman sound? You list
Pikkis in the album credits, so did he play on the new album even
though hes been gone for 3 years now?
Toni Jokinen: Pikkis was a great part of the Riveryman sound.
Pikkis had very unique technique in how he did the sound of the drum
tracks, for example. The sound he made for Riveryman is a unique sound
and Pikkis was a great musician. He was a very good and important
friend to me who had visions and ideas. Yes, Pikkis has played the
drums on this album and he recorded the drum sounds already before
mwe3: You have several instrumental tracks on Views, Fears
& Stories including Figurine Of 10 Mysteries,
which is dedicated to the late great Keith Emerson. It was such a
shock to find out about Keiths sudden death and of course Greg
Lake died soon after that. Are those two deaths kind of linked together?
What influence did Keith Emerson have on your own music and how did
you come up with that cryptic song title?
Toni Jokinen: I don't think that there is a connection between
these two deaths. They are both my idols. I have always liked ELP
and their lyrics too. Pete Sinfield and Greg Lake did a fantastic
job in ELPs lyrics. Greg Lake also had a great singing voice.
He was my personal favorite singer. Keith Emerson gave me lot of ideas
in music for example in keyboard things, in progressive chord progressions
and ideas regarding my own music. Pekka Pohjola gave me lot of that
too. The song title describes the 10 commandments and the 10 miracles
that God gave to us, which are the rules that we are depending on.
Figurine is a little statue, which could be a material form of the
10 commandments or miracles.
mwe3: The instrumental track leads to Generation Of Corruption,
which you say is also in the sonic spirit of ELP. The song features
quite extensive lyrics and pictures of Jesus Christ. You really rail
against what you describe as our atheistic system and you speak about
the 2 classes of humans who are pitted against each other and you
even question whether or not life is fake. In this track
are you pleading with people to find God and to connect with a force
greater than money and fear?
Jokinen: The one thing this song is describing is how the media
nowadays are leading people into having selfish thoughts and things.
Many times we forget who we are and the things that are the most important
things in life, like our health and the things which we really are
good at, which is not something famous or fabulous that the other
people worship. Many times we don't appreciate those things like our
health and who we really are, when we drift into selfish and self-destructive
thoughts. It is also describing that if we climb too high in life
we don't see anymore the others. These two kinds of people are people
that are more selfish and that are just seeing themselves and only
their own point of view
and, the people that are making the
more important decisions and things in life, who are supporting the
productive side in our system and seeing the real things in many different
aspects. This song is also trying to speak of the idea if we gather
our forces together and support to each other in hard situations of
life we could make the world better in the future. It needs also strong
belief, because if we don't have belief or hope we are turning to
more atheistic thinking and then we are just like parasites wasting
our world and sucking other peoples lives.
mwe3: The two instrumentals that follow are classical guitar
inspired and are respectively dedicated to your two children on Flower
Of The Future, and the album closing When The Stars Unite,
which is dedicated to your wife Jenni. I forgot you are a very skillful
classical guitarist. What inspires you most about classical guitar
instrumental music and what guitars are you playing on those tracks?
Do you practice classical guitar and how do you combine your classical
technique into your more rock based electric guitar style?
Toni Jokinen: I have listened lot of Steve Hackett's classical
guitar playing. He is my favorite classical guitarist. Of course there
are a lot of others too, but I love Steve Hackett's classical guitar
songs. I play these two songs with my electro acoustic Ibanez guitar.
I practice classical guitar skills when I have more time to play guitar.
I have practiced a lot of different hybrid picking techniques with
my electric guitar. Classical guitar playing can be hard and it has
different technique than electric guitar playing. If you want to play
for example fast licks with your classical guitar technique, you are
doing everything with both hands and fingers. These days I play a
lot of hybrid picking with my electric guitar and I play even less
classical guitar nowadays, but I try to keep my classical guitar playing
mwe3: Sandwiched in between the 2 classical guitar pieces is
Concealed Universe. What is that brilliant keyboard sound
you use in the beginning of the track? A novachord? What is the concealed
universe you sing about and is there is a kind of reincarnation type
of thought patterns in the song? The song kind of reminds me of YES
or Jon Andersons music in YES in a way. Is Concealed Universe
the upbeat side of Views, Fears & Stories when you sing
about keeping faith in our hearts and wait for a better tomorrow?
Jokinen: The keyboard sounds in the beginning of Concealed
Universe are from my Korg XD5. It is old but quite a good keyboard
still. I bought this keyboard many years ago from some guy. I haven't
done anything for the keyboard solo sound in the beginning. I used
that sound as well on my Magic World album. The other sound
is a string sound played with some big chords. Another keyboard that
I use in this album is my Kurzweil K2000. It is also an old but still
very good keyboard. Concealed Universe tells you about
We all have some creative sides inside us, which give us inspiring
feelings in ways we can be very useful. It is telling to you also
about the meaning of knowledge and how important our life can be.
One thing in the chorus is: Concealed Universe we'll been
waiting our whole lifetime. It means waiting for big things
happening in the human evolution and more eternal type of thoughts.
Dreaming about the better world where we could live forever. Concealed
Universe is the upbeat side of this album. The main point that
this song is trying to say is that don't waste your life. Let your
creative side be strong.
mwe3: In your opinion is the current state of the art in progressive
rock music in both Finland and Europe and even world wide? Im
happy to see you released Views, Fears & Stories on the
famous Musea Records label. Its interesting that Musea was one
of the first European labels to specialize in progressive rock music.
What do you think of Musea and are they still moving the state of
the art of progressive forward?
Toni Jokinen: I am not sure about the current state of art
and which country rules it nowadays. In Italy there are also some
very great bands in progressive rock and jazz. Many of them are my
favorites. I think it the current state of art is a worldwide thing.
Musea is still doing good job and releasing new music. They are still
spreading the word of new progressive rock music and doing a good
job with that. There are many great artists and bands that have released
their music through Musea Records.
mwe3: So now with Views, Fears & Stories out and
people getting the chance to hear it what are you hoping for as 2018
winds down and 2019 is waiting in the wings? Are you remaining positive
and upbeat about tomorrows promises? I hope there wont
a long wait between Views, Fears & Stories and the next
Jokinen: I will hope that my album Views Fears & Stories
will get great feedback. My future plans are: if this Riveryman album
gets enough success, I will plan more things and maybe gather a band
together and do some live gigs and concerts with the Riveryman band.
It would be also nice to play these Riveryman songs in the future
and do some live concerts. I have also lot of great musician friends
and when the time is in right place I will plan more things further.
A third Riveryman album will come about when it is right time for