Interview: Blind Channel Speak on ‘Exit Emotions’

The Finnish band Blind Channel have released another album, Exit Emotions. Vocalist Joel Hokka and guitarist Joonas Porko sat down to discuss it with us. I first heard their song “Deadzone” from a SiriusXM Radio Channel, Octane.

What was it like to record Exit Emotions?

Joel: We wrote it in many places like in London and LA and Germany and we record it in in Helsinki, like, almost by ourselves, but we got some help from our friend, Zakk Cervini and Dan Lancaster to mix the whole album. That made a big influence for the album.

Joonas: Yeah, and it was pretty hectic summer since we were recording the album at the same time, we were touring a lot and touring at the European big festival. So it was quite hectic. We basically, were playing at the festivals. And from there, we went back to the studio. And from the studio, we went back to the festival. So it was, it was busy and hectic. We love the album.

I really loved “Where’s The Exit” when you first started; it was really powerful.  

Joonas: Yeah, I mean, that was the we already knew, like, for a long time that this is going to be the opening track. And yeah, it’s it’s the bit more heavier than we’ve done before. But we love it. I mean, that’s a perfect opening track if you ask us.

Is this going to be a new direction that you’re going with the band? 

Joonas: We wanted to approach this album from more from live perspective, you know, I mean, if there’s much big going on, we don’t want to stop it immediately.

Joel: I think we always progress a bit. Like with every album, we go a little forward, like to some new direction. Like for example, now we wanted to go a little heavier. maybe next time, we want to go a little poppier. We don’t know yet, but time will tell.

What were your favorite songs to record?

Joel: I mean, probably my favorite track to sing was “Phobia” or “Keeping It Surreal” because we recorded it with Dan Lancaster, and he’s a legendary producer from the UK. He’s been doing Bring Me The Horizon and blink-182 and other big names. It went pretty wild with Dan, because I’m not a native speaker. We’re not native. So he’s a native from the U.K., so he knows exactly how to pronounce on everything. So he had a really good tip for me.

Joonas: And for me, I think “Deadzone” for sure. That was a fun track to record and make the whole song with Alex and the other producer, Jonas. That was a fun experience and also the track “XOXO” featuring From Ashes To New. That was not exactly new since we had these low tuning guitars on their songs and that was a bit fun to record as well

What was it like working with From Ashes To New? 

Joel: Well, we didn’t work with them, like, face-to-face. It wasn’t a live situation. There was, like, just some emails, like emails and Instagram views, but we know them from 2022. When we had a tour with them, we were touring here in the United States for seven weeks. We were supporting them. Since then, we’ve been knowing each other. But for sure, when we came up with the idea that we should do something, we just had this idea to have them collaborating with us. And that happened, and now we’re here.

Joonas: Yeah I mean, they are really great. And they are really good friends of ours and a really good band. So that was nice to have them on this song.

What’s next for Blind Channel?

Joonas: Now we’re doing like radio promo here in USA and after this, we’re gonna have our biggest headline tour in Europe. After that, we’re coming back here, in America, playing with P.O.D. and Bad Wolves. A big tour, and lots of festivals, and also surprises that we can’t tell yet.

Have you considered touring other places like Canada? 

Joel: I mean we just get these offers of tours here (United States), and every time, there’s no Canada. We’re like, what can we do? Like we can’t headline yet. We’re not that big so we need to be a support.

Joonas: Yeah I mean, we couldn’t live up. We haven’t done our own shows. But yeah, we’ve been a bit unlucky to not have Canada yet but we would love to come to Canada as well.

In regards to lyrics in “Where’s The Exit,” the intro starts with the line “Have You Had Enough” repeated. What was the inspiration there? 

Joonas: I think actually, that was the first thing we brought to this album. We were on a tour with I Prevail, if I remember right. We were on a tour bus, and I was sleeping, and then I heard Joel and Nico jamming thins thing. Like, “have you had enough? Yeah! Exit Emo! Exit Emo!” So that was kind of the first thing we have ever wrote for this album.

From the names of songs and lyrics, a modern touch about current times struck heavy, was that the intent? 

Joel: If you read the titles, it’s a concept album. We want to bring this experience to people where you can enter the album, when you put it on your air pods or wherever you listen to the music, you start to listen to it. And it’s like a roller coaster ride where you kind of escape all the struggles, and this is everyday reality.

Joonas: All of the bad shit in the world.

Joel: Yeah, like everything that is going going through your head or in you’re life, and we kind of wanted to see to fell, like and escape or exit from this is going on in your head. So that was like the main idea of Exit Emotions. 

There was another present feature on the album. What was it like working with RØRY compared to From Ashes To New?

Joel: Well she actually recorded the parts for the song in London, but she came to Helsinki to film the video with us. So we met, like she came to Helsinki and yeah we did some stuff with her.

Joonas: Yeah and actually the whole story started like we were in London in November or October 2022, I guess. And we were writing these two songs; “Phobia,” and “Keeping It Surreal” in London with Dan Lancaster and RØRY. And after that, we flew to LA and we kind of finished the song, “Die Another Day.” And we were thinking about how we’ve never had a female feature. And RØRY would be unbelievable with this one. And then we asked her, and she said yes, and the rest of it is history.

Any thoughts or plans to tour with RØRY?

Joel: It’ll be dope!

Joonas: Yeah. I mean, why not?

Joel:  She’s surely popping up in UK at the moment.

Where do you see Blind Channel in five years? 

Joel: Hopefully here, playing arenas, sold out arenas and touring with Metallica and winning Grammys and everything. Hopefully.

Joonas: Bigger nad bigger tours and that we’re a much bigger band than at this moment. I mean bigger and bigger, you know?

What are some of your inspirations? 

Joonas: Yeah I mean, our inspirations, I think, Mom and Dad, movies and life itself. I mean, Linkin Park was one of the bands we originally-

Joel: Johnny Cash

Joonas: Thirty Seconds To Mars, back in the day

Joel: Spider Man

Joonas: Everything

One thing I noticed, during the song with RØRY, it was was much quieter than the rest; is there a reason that you chose to go that path?

Joonas: I think that the audio for the “Die Another Day” song, that came from actually, like, six years ago from Nico’s old hard drive. And then we found it again, and we already knew that this isn’t going to be a heavy one as well. And we just thought that we need something spicy for it, since it’s like a kind of power ballad and RØRY was the perfect singer and feature for that.

Have you toured with any of the people you’re about to go on tour with? Like P.O.D. and Bad Wolves? 

Both: No! That’s the first time

Joonas: It’s really a first time, and we’re also fans of P.O.D. They are legends. Really looking forward to that.

Any stops that you’re looking forward to on the United States Tour? 

Joel: Oh, I think if I remember, right, we got to New York or New Jersey. And I’m really looking forward for that because we haven’t been there for years.

Joonas: Yeah, I mean, we have played more more shows at the West Coast. And it’s nice to go back to the East Coast. And, of course, we are playing our first American rock festivals, Welcome to Rockville and Sonic Temple.

What was it like first arriving in the United States?

Joel: It was exciting. It was like a new world, like, I felt the time difference. It’s 10 hours back behind. So when we came here, we were super jet-lagged. It was two years ago when we played our first show in America, and it was magical, but we knew that we belong here. Our music belongs here, and we will fit in super super well here.

Joonas: I think for me, like, the first time we came here, I was just a bit scared. Like of the local bands because we are those weirdos from Europe. And you know, it just felt so exciting, like Joel said, but nowadays we kind of realized like, this is what it is. This is our place and our home.

Have you ever considered doing a song in Finnish? 

Joel: No, no no. That’s a bit too muc.

Joonas: Yeah, I mean, who knows what’s going to happen? Maybe not the whole song, but I don’t know.

Joel: But if you want to hear something in Finnish in our album, listen to The Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous, our previous album. There’s the last track, and the outro is speaking in Finnish because we had our very first interview from 2014. The whole audio is there in the outro, so you can learn. You can hear Finnish.

Oh, yeah. There’s an artist who translates some of her songs from English to Spanish which she also speaks. So I was curious if you were doing something like that with but with Finnish.

Joel: Well, I mean, it will be dope, but right now we feel that the Finnish domestic musical market is so so small. When we win a Grammy and get, like, platinum records in America, we can do something for fun and release something in Finnish so that fans can hear what Finnish sounds like. But right now, it doesn’t make any sense. We have to take over America, and if we’re singing in Finnish, everyone is like, “What the fuck is this music?” So we have to sing, and it’s a much better language to sing in.

Joonas: I mean, it’s just more natural to us, since the beginning. Like, it has never been an option to sing in Finnish for us.

Stream/Buy Exit Emotions here.

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