After the release of 2019's Tetralogy EP with Vegas, I had so many questions about mysterious Finnish hardcore outlet 647. So, imagine my surprise when I started hearing murmurs that the band's next set of songs—"Binary" and "The Fiction"—was going to feature a connection to one of my all-time favorite unsung gems of the '90s!? Led by guitarist Jani Haapalainen, this configuration of 647 is fronted by former Elements DEC (and current Man Destroyed Man) vocalist Larry Cooney, with Jukka Leikas on bass, and drummer Jaakko Forsman—combining my loves of both the '90s New Jersey and '00s Finnish (featuring members having been involved with Death From Above, Down My Throat, Ratface, etc.) hardcore scenes.
While the tracks will eventually be released as a very limited edition 7"—hit up the Sticky Sounds label on Instagram and there's a chance that you can still get your hands on one—you can procure them through Bandcamp now, and they'll hit the other streaming services in early-April.
Hear both compositions below, followed by an interview with Jani and Larry to shed some light on how this iteration of 647 came together...
What's the general backstory for 647? We first heard from the project two years ago through the Tetralogy collaboration with Vegas, and now this forthcoming EP will feature Larry Cooney from Elements DEC/Man Destroyed Man on vocals. How did 647 get off the ground, and is the goal to sort of be open and work with different musicians each time out, or...?
Jani: After the latest Cartel Records releases around 2005, I was losing interest in new heavier music, as everything I heard just sounded uninteresting to me. I would listen to anything with Jeff Porcaro [Toto, etc.] on drums, Tori Amos, Mobb Deep, or some "older" stuff like The Icemen instead. Slowly, after some interesting heavier releases here and there, I started recording demos for future use. Nothing too serious, but just storing ideas along with my other music projects.
It took some time and wasn't until 2018, though, when I recorded a bunch of songs and suggested my friend T from Vegas do vocals for them. Mike Stack from The Final Sleep [as well as Dying Breed, etc.] was also nice enough to lend his chops on one of the songs. The Tetralogy EP was released soon after.
So, yeah, I would say the idea definitely was (and is) to create something original and interesting by working with various people worldwide.
How did it come about to collaborate with Larry, and what was that process like?
Jani: After said EP, I was talking to a Finnish friend of mine (a drummer) about recording some of the new songs I had just put together. At the same time, I was also working with this singer from Arizona and we did some interesting demos. I have no idea what happened next, though, but I never heard from the singer again—total disappearance. Then what happened was the drummer got really sick and sadly passed away in late-2019. R.I.P. Kyösti.
In early-2020, I discovered the Elements DEC SoundCloud site. This was the first time since the '90s or early-'00s that I'd heard from them. I listened to the demos and remembered how original they were and just how good they sounded. This made me contact their singer, Larry. I told him about the previous collaboration and asked if he'd be interested in doing some vocals for the new material.
Larry: And little did Jani know, I had basically been waiting 20 years for someone to ask, so I was just psyched someone was down.
How surprised were you to receive such a message 20-some years after the end of Elements DEC, and at a time when you had yet to become "reactivated" with Man Destroyed Man?
Larry: I was literally dumbfounded. I got a message one day on Facebook that I could have easily missed, as it was under "requests" or whatever since we were not friends yet, but I just happened to have Facebook open when it arrived. I am paraphrasing a little but it basically said, "Are you the same Larry from a group called Elements DEC, by any chance?" I immediately clicked on the person's profile—like one does—to see who the hell was asking me this, and saw they were from Finland. I was like WHAT!? People in New Jersey barely know about us, so it was just wild and also really damn cool. We got to talking and one of the first things I confirmed is that Jani had initially heard of us thanks to your site, Andrew. So, yeah, I absolutely credit you with getting us together thanks to featuring EDEC previously.
I also credit this encounter for actually making Man Destroyed Man become a reality. I reached out to [Elements DEC and Man Destroyed Man guitarist] Scott [St. Hilaire] and was like, "Check this shit out." I explained the situation and ended it with, "I may be recording something with them." I really was just sharing to say, "Someone in Finland actually knows about Elements DEC." That was it. Much to my surprise, Scott eventually said it was funny I reached out, as he had been writing heavy stuff again and was going to reach out to me. Full disclosure: we had talked about it all a few years earlier, but nothing ever came out of it. So, the entire 647 project is what really got things going overall, and no doubt led to MDM getting together.
Probably the key similarity between this new material and the Vegas collaboration is that the songs are super concise and to-the-point. You do seem to be exploring a little bit more darker/dissonant riffing amidst the foundation of chunky metallic hardcore herein. Were you looking to find a balance between your style and what you felt Larry might bring to the table?
Jani: I just openly shared what I had already and we started from there. I knew the general direction I wanted us to go and was certain Larry would add to it perfectly, but also bring some fresh ideas to the table. My influences stem from acts like the Bad Brains, Carcass, and Leeway (just to mention a few), but the music probably doesn't sound like them much at all. Anyhow, all the influences are there, but hopefully the outcome is still something we can call our own.
Larry, you've mentioned to me how the thrashy side of this 647 material was a little different for you to work with. Talk about the impact that this slight shift may have had on your performance or lyrics, etc.
Larry: As soon as Jani shared some stuff with me, I was really down with what I heard. I also had made up my mind that I was not going to rehash the past if I had this new opportunity. While what Jani presented was no doubt hardcore in nature, I also felt it had some thrash elements to it, which I am all about. I think it is safe to say most people that listen to hardcore wound up doing so thanks to one of two paths: through punk rock or through metal. I made my way to hardcore thanks to metal, and I also never stopped listening to it. In fact, these days since I listen to way more metal than hardcore, pretty early on I decided that I wanted to take a different, more thrash/metal approach to my vocals. Not sure if I succeeded or not, as I am me at the end of the day and do not have the biggest vocal range in the world, but part of it was the writing itself. I really tried to keep it very straightforward and simpler with the lyrics than what I have done in the past. As much positive as I have heard about my lyrics for Elements DEC, I had also heard things like it was hard to follow/sing along with my old lyrics. So, I wanted to absolutely verify that was not the case this time around. Also, since Man Destroyed Man did start while 647 was in full swing, it was important to myself not to sound exactly the same on each project. Simply put: I wanted there to be a difference, since it is two different bands.
The new EP will be released as a 7" through Sticky Sounds, which is an interesting label that has released a few super-limited 7"s and flexis thus far. I know that Jukka from the label also played bass on these two 647 tracks, so how did that come about and what led to the opportunity to work on a vinyl pressing as well?
Jani: I've known Jukka (ex-Down My Throat) since the '90s. When my old band's drummer passed away, the rest of the band recorded a tribute. The guy who helped out with the recordings was Jaakko (Ratface, Skulmagot, etc.), and Jukka was the one to release the recordings on a split 7" (Death From Above/Bolt). It was after that when I asked them to play drums and bass on the 647 tracks. Sticky Sounds then soon approached and suggested we'd release these tracks on vinyl, too.
Larry: It is just so kick-ass to me that this is being released on vinyl, as for me it is my first official vinyl. Especially since most of my bands happened when I was a lot younger and a lot more broke, it was never an option back then, so I just cannot express how cool it is to me.
Apparently 647 is already working on another EP. Will it feature the same lineup, or a new cast of collaborators, and is there any idea of what listeners might expect so far?
Jani: The original idea (with this lineup) was to record a couple of songs at a time and eventually release them as a digital EP. The upcoming 7" was just something extra that came along. We'll just continue from where we left and see how things develop. Something new and interesting is definitely in the works, and hopefully coming out by the end of 2021. Stay tuned...
Larry: I know I have complete lyrics written for another song, and Jani has said he will be sharing some more ideas, so definitely curious to see where things go from here. Regardless of where they do end up, I am incredibly grateful for Jani reaching out to begin with, and I just think it is really damn cool to be part of a project like this.
Stream or purchase "Binary" and "The Fiction" directly through Bandcamp (streaming services to follow in early-April). If you missed the 7" pre-orders (and you almost certainly did), contact Sticky Sounds and cross your fingers. Look for more from 647 by following on Facebook or Instagram.