Meet Custody, a Finnish band that plays melodic music that makes them happy. Not just them though. All it took was one listen to their self-titled debut album and I was feeling pretty friggin' happy myself. That's what happens when a band writes solid songs that sound like Samiam and Get Up Kids. We caught up with guitarist/vocalist Liimis to talk about the band's history and their debut, which is out now via Little Rocket Records.
PRT: Can you take us through the history of the band real quick?
Liimis: The band started towards the end of my and Pasis’ previous band Cigarette Crossfire when we had a hard time putting together proper practices in 2015. The overall mood after the last tour was that ‘this is it’ I think. We ended up writing as a duo when & the first songs were born and they didn’t sound like what our then band was about, so we then called Sami to try out some vocals for them.
We had met him through playing shows together with his then band NHL95 and always loved what he did behind the microphone enough so that we had actually been discussing doing something together a year prior already. Joose also is a good longtime friend of mine with whom I’ve played in Life Giving Waters some years ago so he was our first go-to-guy behind the skins. Antti we found to flap bass for us through old friendships alike. He played in the early version of Cigarette Crossfire and also had Buried At Last (hc) together with Pasi.
It really was a gathering of good friends and everything felt super natural and easy from the get go. No pressure, just create music, have a good time and see what happens. That sort of approach really took a lot of the weight off from ‘having’ to try and manage a fleet to play as many shows as possible or something like that... I think you can hear that no hard-management-push approach through our tunes :D If we all like something and I get goose bumped while playing, it’s a keeper.
PRT: Did you ever regret naming the band Custody? It’s a good name, but not very Google-able.
Liimis: Oh my yes! My day job is actually around SEO and related digital things, so the struggle is very real.
Enough so that I’ve spent 0 thought on optimizing our one pager at http://www.custodypunk.com. Maybe I should try to work with it and move to a proper platform... I hope once we get more of our stuff out in written form like this interview and some backlinking, we can rise above all the child custody news we get tagged in on social media hahaha J
I remember that we had an idea to have one word name, plain and simple! Pasi came up with this one, pretty sure there’s no deeper meaning behind the name other than that it fit visually and tastes good in your mouth.
PRT: You are from Finland, which I imagine can be something of a disadvantage because it seems kind of isolated? Or am I completely wrong about that?
Liimis: Well isolated in a sense that it’s a long ass travel to get to mainland Europe for example – so yes for touring & logistics wise well isolated, but in a sense of creating and releasing music it’s really no different from anywhere else.
Finland as an audience is not the best place to do this kind of pop / melodic punk rock, because the amount of people that like this sort of stuff is really small. But we really don’t mind, as said above – it’s enough for us that we like it and luckily it seems that a lot of folks abroad are into it too. This helps us sort of ‘isolate’ our precious time for touring out there, instead of having to run out to play shows here. Write, rehearse and record here and do stints of tours when the finances and families allow us to break away from the isolation J
PRT: In your bio you state that you ‘sound like Sergie Loobkoff having a knife fight with Matt Pryor and Mike Carter in the 90s’. If that fight ever really took place, who do you think would win and why?
Liimis: Sergie actually got in touch with us because of this reference which was both mind boggling and humbling at the same time. He really liked our record which is nice!
Not sure about their actual combat abilities but I would imagine Matt would have the upper hand purely because by his physical appearance, but you know those Californians might be packing some serious self-defense heat too? If I were to bet my money based on musical abilities I would call a tie – a beautiful & soaring tie of melody heaven.
PRT: You recently released your debut album after two 7”s. Maybe a dumb question, but was it difficult to go from a 2-song release to a full-length where you have to take things into account like sequencing and so on?
Liimis: At first the idea actually was that let’s just do songs in pairs and keep putting out 7 inches, but as the songs started to flood in after the first 2 7”s – it didn’t seem feasible to move forward like that anymore. Also, it’s a lot of artwork, layout and overall organizing stuff to deal with small discs so putting songs on a bigger slab at once makes more sense. I think that sequencing was the least of our worries. What set it apart from the 7 inch sessions was the fact that it took way more time and effort to get the whole thing ready. We laid most of the stuff out in 3 days but it took in total some 5 months to get all the vocals, overdubs, mixes and masters done.
PRT: The release of the album came with a video for the song ‘It’s All Real Now’. Is that what you feel like now that you have signed with Little Rocket Records, have an album out,... Like holy shit, it’s all real now?
Liimis: Not at the moment of writing the song but yes, that did come to mind when it all started to manifest into an actual thing! I’ve known Graeme from Little Rocket Records since we toured together with Cigarette Crossfire & Leatherface in 2012. We just kept in touch from there and saw each other at things like FEST a couple of times through the years and when the whole record was all said and done, it felt natural to ask Graeme too –seeing he was active in the label front again.
Lucky for us he really dug what we had done! It’s been a true pleasure to work with them on the album as they totally know what the deal is nowadays and are coming from the same place as us you know?
PRT: When I look at the artwork of the album alongside your previous releases, they all have a similar style. Is that something you pay a lot of attention to?
Liimis: I think we have all been fans of cut and paste / collage stuff, so when our bass player Antti introduced the idea to look at his friend’s artwork to use, it was a no brainer!
Riitta (collageriittard) is such a talented soul that I imagine we will be digging into her archives long into the foreseeable future! But, yes and no – I mean we all like nice designs that accompany the music and ones that carry a theme but if you were to ask if we’re trying to portray anything specific with them I’m sorry to say we’re not. Having this nice artwork available makes life much easier though, like one less thing to figure out. That said, we recently also steered away from the cut and paste stuff and did a really neat skull design for a t-shirt together with Dan Allen (Ducking Punches) that totally draws a story. It’s a daddy skeleton hugging a baby skeleton, portraying something relatable, most of us being daddies ourselves. It’s like the internal struggle of keeping it all together you know? Family routines and that alternate-diy-punk-rock-reality we all need to keep going as well not to lose our minds. Thus the term #daddypunk that we’ve been throwing out there for quite some time now.
PRT: Following the release of the album, you went on a European tour. How easy is it for a relatively new band out of Finland to get shows in the rest of Europe?
Liimis: It’s never easy but it gets easier through the years. Me and Paul from Holiday put most of it together and we immediately went through all of our old contacts that we had. But there were few dates that did give me headache for weeks though. It seems a lot of the booking nowadays has moved from groups, emails & phones towards instant messaging and people putting other people in touch with each other, which is bit new to me – but that approach totally worked out so can’t complain!
It’s still amazing to see so many people giving new bands the time of day!
I’ve made some lifelong friends all over through playing shows which is the best.
It’s still a lot easier for our kind of band to get shows outside of Finland – the UK and Germany being our main go-to grounds for sure.
PRT: You got to play the Booze Cruise festival in Hamburg. Was that what you expected it to be like?
Liimis: Totally, I mean it really was like having Gainesville over for a couple of days! Everything went super smooth and efficient.
We played 2 sets in 2 days to small but enthusiastic audiences J
It was super fun and awesome in every sense but the reality too was that we (like so many others) had to play against some of the more established bands playing elsewhere at the same time. They drew a lot of audience on the boats etc. where you can only get off at a certain time. That’s the way it goes though, I would have gone on the boats too if we weren’t playing hahah! I imagine we could easily double / triple the attendance next year given the chance? <3 <3
PRT: What’s up next for Custody?
Liimis: We’re just putting the finishing touches on a batch of songs for the next full length album & a split 7” and are looking to record in the near future. Hopefully we have everything finished by the end of the year the latest. We will also be making a trip across the ocean for FEST and a run of shows in October with that. After that we need to start planning our dance moves for next year. Really hoping to travel places & continents we haven’t been to yet. Have had my eyes on Japan for a long time for example, and would love to visit Canada too. Writing more music and having fun at it has worked good so far, so more of it!
Other than world domination, what is one thing you would love to achieve with Custody?
Liimis: World domination is the easy part, we’ll do that this afternoon (Bart Simpson voice)!
Growing old and not ending up as the geezer with 0 stories to tell is the hard part. Hopefully we get to create more adventurous experiences and leave our marks with music for generations to come.