RIVERYMAN
Views, Fears & Stories
(Musea Records)

 

Signed 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 it’s 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 Finland’s 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 Riveryman’s emphasis on long, winding lyrical and vocal ideas, Gustavson’s influence can’t be understated. In fact, Toni’s 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 Toni’s 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. www.facebook.com



mwe3.com presents an interview with
Toni Jokinen Of Riveryman


mwe3
: It’s been almost eight years since your Magic World album came out. I’m 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 advanced?

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 CD.

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 he’s 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 Donati.

mwe3: What’s new in Finland these days? It doesn’t seem the same now that Pekka Pohjola has left the material world, or has he? I can’t believe it’s 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 Pohjola’s 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 hasn’t 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 father’s songs. It was really a great document with a really amazing band. Unfortunately Pekka Pohjola’s music hasn’t 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 it’s much harder.

mwe3: Your 2018 album is Views, Fears & Stories. How did you come up with that title? Interesting that Pekka Pohjola’s 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 World was.

Toni 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. It’s 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 again?

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 haven’t 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 song’s 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 it’s 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.

mwe3: 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 generation.

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. It’s 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 he’s 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 he died.

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 Keith’s 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 ELP’s 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?

Toni 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 people’s 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 in touch.

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 Anderson’s 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?

Toni 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 creativity.

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? I’m happy to see you released Views, Fears & Stories on the famous Musea Records label. It’s 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 tomorrow’s promises? I hope there won’t a long wait between Views, Fears & Stories and the next Riveryman album.

Toni 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 it.


 

 
   
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