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Satellite Stories

 

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Esa Mankinen, Marko Heikkinen, Jyri Pesonen, and Olli-Pekka (O-P) Ervasti make up the band Satellite Stories, a Finnish indie-rock outfit from the town of Oulu that’s been causing quite a buzz, from their 2012 debut album, Phrases to Break the Ice, to their 2013 release, Pine Trails, and their much-anticipated new set, Vagabonds, which just dropped on March 6.

While they’re most often compared to Two Door Cinema Club, echoes can also be heard of a less-sharp Arctic Monkeys or Vampire Weekend (Satellite Stories don’t quite have the audio conviction those two bands do – just consider them “lighter” – but not necessarily for the worse), or perhaps a more aggressive version of Of Monsters and Men. But whichever way you slice it, these are catchy beats with catchy melodies to match, especially Pine Trails’ most popular (and most-blogged) single, “Campfire,” with its circular refrain, propellant beat, and left-field turnaround section.

The band met, explains singer Esa Mankinen, through “a general love of music,” and the musical chemistry was, and is, apparent.

“We all knew each other through different groups of friends,” he explains. “Myself and our drummer O-P studied together; we needed a bass player and I knew Jyri from way back.”

“Marko just appeared out of the blue – we’re not really sure where he came from. He does not talk much and smokes a pipe – lead guitarists, eh?” Mankinen laughs.

They started the process for Pine Trails in early winter of 2013, when the entire band headed to a cottage in the Swedish countryside to write songs, a locale that would also inspire the album’s name.

“It was the middle of nowhere and had no TV or internet, complete isolation,” Mankinen says. “So during the day, we went for long walks in the woods, which was both inspiring and refreshing after weeks on the road.”

Once most of the songs were penned, Satellite Stories decamped and returned to their home town of Oulu. That entire summer was spent recording on the weekdays, and trekking to festival events all over Europe to play shows, trying out the new songs on a wide range of audiences, which also helped further craft the album itself.

“This turned out to be a good process,” Mankinen confirms. “I get the most inspiration from the people I meet and the places I visit. Especially now, when we have been travelling to so many places, it becomes very clear how different it is to live in such a remote place like we do.”

The theme of Pine Trails, Mankinen says, was about growing up.

“It is about memories and missed opportunities,” he explains, “a more mature record than our first, some may say.” And Vagabonds is poised to show even more growth for the band, as the lead title track single clearly showcases:

But that’s not to say that “mature” means that Satellite Stories are getting stuck in their ways already, although they do have a few routines.

A new contract with X-Ray Touring has amped up their touring schedule considerably, leading to praise for their live shows from the likes of MTV UK, Q, and NME.  And now there’s Vagabonds to promote, a set on which they’ve shared production duties with Editors/Temper Trap/Arctic Monkeys collaborator Barny Barnicott – and on which they say they tried to be even more diligent (responsible, even?), and try to get to the recording studio before 11 a.m.

But Mankinen reports that O-P refuses to “move, talk, or be active without his coffee” – so they’re often pushed until noon. Once they were behind the boards, though, it was definitely all about the focus.

“We’d discuss our recording schedule, and we’d go,” Mankinen says. “Sometimes, we got so into (recording) that we didn’t even notice that it was close to midnight.”
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For more info about Satellite Stories and their new Vagabonds album, visit their official website. The band will be touring Europe through the beginning of April 2015.