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Interview conducted November 18 2021
Interview published November 24 2021

"But since I'm so picky I'm comparing everything I'm looking for out there with Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius and it's hard to find something that I think is just as good."

Stockholm power metallers Insania put out their first album in 14 years on November 12th and Metal Covenant got some time with founding member and drummer Mikko Korsbäck.

Band lineup:
Mikko Korsbäck - drums
Niklas Dahlin - guitars
Peter Östros - guitars
Dimitri "Dimman" Keiski - keyboards and backing vocals
Ola Halén - vocals
Tomas Stolt - bass

V - Praeparatus Supervivet lineup, due to Covid-19 restrictions:
Mikko Korsbäck - drums and keyboards
Niklas Dahlin - guitars and additional keyboards
Peter Östros - guitars
Dimitri "Dimman" Keiski - vocals
Ola Halén - vocals
Tomas Stolt - bass

Former band members mentioned in the interview:
Henrik "Henke" Juhano - guitars
David Henriksson - vocals

Tobbe: Most fans, including myself, thought Insania was gone forever. Yet, now, 14 years past Agony - Gift Of Life you are back with the album V - Praeparatus Supervivet.

[Locations below are too complicated to try to explain. Just deal with it, right? Mikko is not off track, but names of counties, municipalities and islands just cross over one another in this area east of Stockholm.]

Mikko: Yes, it's sick. Just at some point, I can't tell you the exact time, but I moved out to a house at Vindö in 2018 and noticed that there wasn't a room sufficient enough, so I wanted to build a studio just like other guys in the band. Peter and Niklas have had their studios for a long time and they're really great with that stuff. Henke had some kind of studio at his home with his iMac and I was like "I can do something similar to that. I have a large room and I can even plays drums in here.".

Niklas moved to Gustavsberg and my partner and I lived in Gustavsberg in 2015 as well. And Niklas' wife is originally from Värmdö. So they moved to Värmdö where they purchased our apartment when we moved to the house. So I and Niklas live just half an hour between each other and we were talking about the opportunities that that would open, like "We live close to each other, we can play music, we can meet if needed. Maybe we should make an attempt to write music together again, for real.". We had already started to a little extent, but now it became real. Surely there was a few beers involved, you know. So we made a decision one late night / early morning, like "One more. We must make one more record.".

So I told him that I would make it official and then there's no return. We already went public with some teaser on YouTube in 2013, and that turned into a fiasco. You know, due of families, kids, I was out traveling / playing, same with Dimitri, everything just withered away somehow. So I said "Okay, I will make it official once again. I will publish it on Facebook. We will probably get some shit, you know. But I will make it official and then we just have to do it.".

I don't know, but there's where it became kind of carved in stone, that Insania is going to put out a record. So we asked everyone. Ola had already told us before that he wanted to come back and sing Insania songs. Dimman had already done quite a few shows with us, handling both bass and vocals, so we would be able to play shows that we had been offered, although we were kind of on hiatus or whatever. Dimman and Ola are old friends since way back and that's how we got Dimman to the band.

So it was like "Two singers: Okay, let's go! Peter: Okay. Tomas: Okay.". It's so easy to entwine this group. We're old buddies, you know. And there never was any hard feelings. When Niklas and Tomas and those guys ran Disdained together with Henke, there was never any hard feelings when someone quit. Naturally, there might be some personal ego making someone a bit disappointed when someone else leaves, but that's because we like one another, you know.

But we've never been enemies, from what I know no harsh words, nothing like that, but we've still been buddies and been able to call one another. Occasionally when I've done gigs out in Jakan [Short for Jakobsberg, west of Stockholm] as a troubadour or kind of as a freelance to different bands I've been able to be at Niklas' place both before and afterwards. So we still have our friendship and that's what made this get-together... I don't know, but I think there's just a few bands that can pull something like this off, in that way.

Tobbe: It's quite rare with reunions where everyone is returning. Was there anyone that needed a little more persuasion than anyone else to come back to the band?

Mikko: No, not really. I and Henke started to write songs, for instance Moonlight Shadows and Entering Paradise together with Peter. And that was quite a long time ago. It was before the time for that first come back that we were going to do. We were even thinking about having 3 guitarists. I and Henke had started writing songs, Peter wanted back in again and Niklas wanted to come back and, like, "We can't exclude anyone, and everyone is friends with one another. What are we going to do?".

Around that time, when Niklas was still involved with Disdained, I remember sitting in his place one night and we were, at least I was, quite hammered, and I said to Niklas "You know, can't we make an Insania song?". I know that he was a bit hesitant that night, but he called the next day anyways and "Maybe I promised too much, but it doesn't feel like the right time now.". So that was a long time ago, but I think it just took another week or so until he came back to me again and "You know, I've been thinking about it. I'm really eager to do it.".

So I didn't have to tell him twice, but I brought it up on that night and he came back to me. So no one had to be convinced or so. It's sick, you know.

Tobbe: I guess that some guys still found it a bit pleasant during this time when the band kind of didn't exist and they were able to pursue other things in life.

Mikko: I think it has been with us subconsciously. I've been longing for power metal, but at the same time maybe I've been too lazy. You know, when we did World Of Ice, Sunrise In Riverland and Fantasy - A New Dimension everyone ran different parts in the band, but I was quite strict about what Insania was going to be, so maybe there was kind of a dictatorship from me there.

But now in some way everybody has been able to do their thing. Niklas has for instance been doing Disdained with Tomas and played a much heavier music and have really gotten to do that stuff, which he maybe wasn't able to do in Insania. But I think we have matured together and it has been great that we've been getting to do different things.

When Insania has been on hiatus I've been out traveling with both Irishmen and Englishmen playing guitar, bass and piano and singing as well. Peter has been with Jaded Heart, Ola has been doing Shadows Past, Dimitri has been doing stuff in Finland. Everybody has gotten to do their thing, you know. Whether it's family life, job or career or whatever. But I think it has been quite pleasant and at the same time it has built an enormous hunger, I think. I remember the sequence when I was sitting in my car on my way home to Vindö, when we had made the decision that Insania would reunite, and everyone had said yes, we had called one another, and, like, "-Should we do like this? -Yes, that will be great! -Let's go for that stuff.".

I think this break has been kind of healthy, but I mean, it would have been better if we would have released 12 albums of course, and also getting some money off it too. Maybe not in Sweden though. But I think it has been helpful that everyone got to do their own thing and then come back really hungry, because the was what happened.

Tobbe: What do the listeners who choose to listen to Insania's new album get?

Mikko: Oh, wow! A buffet is what you get. There has been some critical voice about us having two singers. There has been some comments, you know. But there's always haters, which we talked about prior to it. Some weird comments have been like "The only thing I can see in the video is the drummer's big belly.", so there will always be haters, you know. [Laughs] And I got really mad, like "Why the fuck do you write stuff like that?". I actually got angry. But mainly it has been positive and from journalists too.

But about what the listeners get: I mean, everyone won't like this, but we have two singers: Ola, who is really clean and pure in his voice. You know, what range from low to high! And the same with Dimitri who is able to sing extremely low and go to a really high tone, you know. I mean, I love that. Maybe Dimman has a bit more aggression in his voice, like with a dist. And you are able to go back to the same feeling of Insania, with the melodic parts, but at the same time everyone has stepped up a level technically.

So you get the Insania that you're familiar with, but maybe more well-equipped than before and more modern, although Niklas in particular, and Ola, have caught the sound picture that we ought to have, you know. So you get a potpourri of a lot of songs perhaps and we have two singers and the songs are customized and written for those two specific characters. So you get the old Insania, yet a whole lot of new.

Tobbe: When the band started there kind of was tape trading, then around the time for the first album Napster was founded and when the last record was out in 2007 Spotify was just introduced and today when you release the new album almost everything is streamed. So in what way do you look at this digital voyage?

Mikko: Well, it's both positive and negative. The negative thing I think is that almost anybody, an idiot like me, can sit in a house on Värmdö, and have a keyboard… Now I have purchased a really awesome E-drum set just to get the right feeling.

But just about anybody can have a little plastic-ish drum kit, sit at home and record something, plug it into a computer, and the computer program quantize everything to perfection, and then you just have to maybe play one tone on a keyboard and do something from it and then you call yourself an artist. You know, people who create music… that's great, you know, but the negative side of it is that anybody can call themselves an artist, and anybody can release an album, and therefore there is so much music out, which on the other hand is positive. But back in the day, I sound like a fucking pig but… , there was real musicians and real artists who released albums.

You know, if you got a record deal back in the day… I mean, when we got our record deal, you know, it was beyond awesome. When that came from House Of Kicks and we got a record deal, I mean "Wow! Now we're artists! And we will release an album that a record company will pay for. And we will go into a studio.". We were in Finnvox and it cost 6000 Euros a week or so and we were there for a couple of weeks.

And today you can go home and press rec and play and a computer will do the work. The negative side with everything now that can be streamed is that just anybody is able to get their music out on every possible platform. There's always some producer that can tweak stuff. The positive side is that you are able to get the music that you have created out much easier, and you get it out all over the world, and it's out overnight. If we say that we're going to release an album tomorrow, then it's out past midnight, and that's amazing.

Back in the day there was a process with "The plant doesn't have time to press enough records. We can't release the record on that date, because we have to press this and that many, and they're going to be shipped there, and deliveries are late because this ship that's going to Asia is late.". That's not the way it works today, you know.

Tobbe: Tell me all about the video. Choice of song, theme, et cetera.

Mikko: Mats Vassfjord recorded the whole video by himself, like a camera crew, with different cameras, different angles, running around, putting up tripods, et cetera. So he made the whole video, from start to finish, and we filmed it more or less in one day. It was a great thing. Niklas has written the song, Praeparatus Supervivet, and the theme is kind of the downfall of Earth, the apocalyptic.

About the choice of song: I actually don't know if the record company [Frontiers] was involved in that decision. But anyway, "We're going to film a video. A real video for this song." and everyone was onboard [except Dimitri] so we went to those adventure caverns in Dalarna and spent almost the whole weekend there. We arrived late Friday night and prepared ourselves with sauna, booze and beer, in order to be tired as you should be.

The next day we filmed the video. It's constantly 4 degrees Celsius [39 degrees Fahrenheit] down there and humid. So down with all the instruments in some kind of elevator for goods and then we carried and pulled trollies with our stuff, you know. We rigged everything up and then we were down there the whole day and played the song maybe up to 30 times. An amazing experience.

And we also filmed the scenes down there on that day, when we run and walk in the caverns, and also the stuff outside. And on the day after that we filmed a couple of scenes, before we went home. So, about the choice of song: I think that the record company had something to say about that. But it's also the title track. The whole artwork is based on specifically that title, Praeparatus Supervivet, so fully logical and best choice possible, you know.

It was completely magical to film and to do that for real. We have filmed a video before, to Forever Is A Long Time, but it never got released for various reasons. It's out on YouTube now and that was really the only real video we had done. So we had some knowledge, and Peter has done it with Jaded Heart.

So we knew how it would be done and everyone has filmed some video sequences here and there. So it wasn't really a new experience, but it was a fantastic experience, to do it together, and with Insania, for the 5th album, to be able to put out a real video. It was magical, and still is actually.

Tobbe: Are there any plans for playing some live shows, like maybe on weekends, or a shorter run, or maybe a festival?

Mikko: Yes, we have talked about this and there's no one who doesn't want to play live. No one has said "I think I don't want to be on stage or go out on tour.". But the thing is that everyone, more or less, have a family and everyone but Ola has kids, and this simply puts some demands on life and it's not so easy to get everything together.

If we would be able to play some festivals for example; sure. To go away for two months in Europe isn't optimal. I have little children, and Niklas too. The other guys have children that's slightly older, but. Of course it would be great to do it, and it's magical to wake up in a city in the morning, do a soundcheck, and then maybe go out for a walk and have dinner and all that, and then you play a show in the evening and meet fans, you know. And if you want to be a rock star you drink a few beers and so. That whole feeling; it's awesome, and I could easily do that again, but there are a bit different priorities in life now.

But however, to be able to play live with this gang, to go out on a large festival stage or whatever… We played at Sweden Rock in '99, when we had released World Of Ice, and those feelings, you know. It's a privilege only a few will get. Also if you go out on a little smaller stage before maybe just a few thousand people. If you've done that, and you're passionate about your music, then that's a thing that you want to do again. I think it's the same kind of feeling for us all. So we absolutely want to go out and play, but then we need to get it together in some way. So let's see what kind of offers that will come.

Already in 2018, when I went out on Facebook and said that Insania would be back and this time for real, I got mails from both Russia and the USA, like "Can't you come and play stuff from your last record?". And I was like, "I have just said that we will put the band back together.". I mean, occasionally you do break-even tours and "If we travel from this city to that city it won't cost so much, and maybe we'll earn some extra money there.". But between Russia and the USA and to do a break-even thing there… [Laughs] Who will pay for that, you know?

Tobbe: Dimitri doesn't live in Sweden anymore. How are you able to get him over to Sweden for different stuff?

Mikko: No, he lives in Lahti, in Finland. You know, this Corona pandemic is one of the reasons that David… You know, David was going to sing on the album as well. You know, there are specific thoughts and ideas about what to do, and the idea was that David was going to come down from Norrland to Stockholm and we who wrote the songs would sit with him, coaching like "Sing like this. Do like that.".

And now that we didn't get to rehearse that becomes even more important. And with Dimitri we were lucky enough that in certain periods he could book time in a studio nearby where he could lay down vocals. You know, about internet and all that. You can just send the files and you don't have to send them by snail mail. It was harder with David. We couldn't book a song studio in Stockholm due to Corona times.

When we recorded the drums for example, Simon Johansson and Mike Wead and a few other guys were in the studio. Simon had contacted Corona already, but was still affected by it, like with his trachea and stuff. Everyone else was fine. Simon had been really sick apparently. But he was well now and therefore we were able to record. This was in November last year and at that exact point we found a break, like a pause in the Corona pandemic where you could meet and hang out with other people.

But then it was just I, Niklas and Ola in the studio, so it wasn't like everyone was there. So to get Dimman over here on a ferry or an airplane was totally impossible. But luckily he got access to a studio that he could sing in and then send the stuff over. Ola has a studio that he has built in his country house, so he could go out there and sing on his own in peace and quiet. That's a completely different thing. But it hasn't been easy and it hasn't been the right conditions to record an album, and especially when you ought to be 5-6 guys who are going to do it together.

All credit to Niklas and Ola in this case who really ran things there. I mean, oh, what a job those guys did. Without them this record wouldn't be out, although we said so in 2018, but then all these difficulties with Corona came and without Niklas and Ola we wouldn't be sitting here today. That's just the way it is.

And Niklas has done the cover artwork as well. I don't know if that info appears somewhere. It's usually like, you know, it must be sent out, someone must do the artwork, it needs your approval, there must be sketches, and back and forth, delays and everything, and in the end, Niklas is really artistic, he just said that he could throw something together and we were like "Great! Why don't you do the whole cover? This is awesome!".

Tobbe: In what way do you look at the regrowth in power metal? Is there still any relevance in power metal for younger band or is it just better that you veterans continue holding the flag up high?

Mikko: Through the years quite a few really good bands have come, like Majestica, with Tommy Johansson, and what he has done before with ReinXeed and so. There are musicians, a bit younger than us, that in some way have had power metal within. There are a lot of good bands there.

But there has also been growing many artists that create a band where they record something, release it, and then there's MIDI drums there, and everything is programed, you know. There are so many different bands out there and I actively search for lists in order to find something that I think is good. I don't think we are better than other power metal bands, I don't.

But since I'm so picky I'm comparing everything I'm looking for out there with Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius and it's hard to find something that I think is just as good. Labÿrinth was there for a while, you know. I think Nocturnal Rites was awesome power metal. They are still just as good as musicians, even if the lineup has changed a little bit and it's a different style of music, but it's not power metal, I think.

So I'm searching high and low for those kinds of bands. There are so many bands that reach level 3 or 4, but not up to 5, according to me. I don't know if we are there either. That's not what I claim. It's hard to say who will keep the flag up high. Some people think that Helloween has become crap because Michael Kiske has come back, even if he's actually an original singer. But then Andi Deris has been in Helloween for almost 30 years, so he is probably more Helloween than Kiske is actually.

So everything is a matter of taste about who will carry this or keep the flag up high. I guess it's to each his own, but in my ears power metal is power metal, but that's maybe because I'm so picky, you know.

And our band should absolutely not be compared to the bands that I've namedropped here. The only band that has reached that level, and might be comparable to those bands today, is Majestica.

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