Chimp Spanner – By: Gordy Flannigan

Gordy – Greetings Jim, I wanted to start off by saying that I’m a huge Chimp Spanner fan and would like to thank you for agreeing to take the time out of your busy schedule to conduct this interview with me.
Jim – No worries, Gordy,  happy to do it!
G –  For those who have never heard Chimp Spanner’s music, how would you describe it and what have been your main influences as a guitarist; both in the beginning of your development on the instrument and your influences currently?
J – I’d describe Chimp Spanner as eclectic, but tastefully done. There’s tons of influences swimming about, from almost unidentifiable, subtle jazzy licks to big, aggressive polyrhythms with time signatures that can sometimes seem like they have been picked out of a hat at random! Before Chimp Spanner was even on my radar I was big into tech metal and prog – stuff like The Human Abstract and Protest The Hero to stuff I picked up from my Dad – Pink Floyd, Roger Waters etc, so I feel like I was of the right mind to tackle this kind of music!
G – How long has the band been around  and how did you come to be a member? Pretty good gig I would imagine!
J – Chimp Spanner as an entity has been around since about 2004 when the first album, Imperium Vorago was self released by Paul [Ortiz, writer and founder of Chimp Spanner]. Paul and I actually started working together on a project named Blessed Inertia, with the idea that we’d be able to take it live, as back then Chimp Spanner was just a guy writing albums in his home studio. Little did we know how the band would evolve!
G –  I just became aware of your endorsement with Strictly 7 Guitars and saw that they have designed and created ( with your input ) the JMH7 Signature Series, made with your exact specifications! How did that opportunity come about and what was the process like? And are you pleased with the finished product?
J – The deal with Strictly 7 Guitars came about through my good friend Ola Englund.  He put my name forward to Paul De Maio over at S7G and made him aware that I was shopping around for a new company to work with. De Maio saw working with me as a great opportunity for both Chimp Spanner and S7G, and I definitely agree! The design, or should I say, spec-building process consisted of tons of emails spanning a few months between me and Paul De Maio. To be honest I knew what I wanted in a guitar before I realized that what I wanted just so happened to be pretty much what everyone else wanted too! As of writing this, I actually don’t have MY guitar with me yet, but it’s well underway at the moment and I plan to have it from 2013 onward.
G – A lot of bands are playing 7 string, even 8 string guitars these days and I was wondering what your thoughts are on the advantages of going with a 7 string guitar verses a 6 string and was there a learning curve there in making that transition?
J – There was definitely a learning curve – anyone will tell you the same thing. And then even more so, I’d say, from 7 to 8 strings. 8 string guitars are different, as I think that’s where you’ve really got to start thinking about the rest of your rig above and beyond just longer scales, wider necks and thicker strings. You need to be aiming for as much definition and clarity as possible in your tone – that kind of comes naturally when you’re playing ‘ordinary’ guitars, so people don’t give much thought to why their 8 string guitars sound like mush with their old settings (or in our case, patches). It really takes a lot of consideration to get everything right.

G –  How is life on the road and what do you do on your downtime and for entertainment when you are touring?
J – Touring is fantastic, I love it. I basically quit life as I knew it (steady job, comfortable income) to tour last December with Cynic, and I don’t regret it at all. Prior to that tour I’d gotten used to van tours – sleeping wherever I could physically fit my body, being thankful whenever we hit a venue with a shower and taking on a strict diet of ‘drive-thru’ cheeseburgers – but it was still my favorite thing to do. Downtime on tour is a LOT of waiting around! But it gives us a good chance to hang out with the bands we tour with. As a band we still have got a lot to learn, so hanging out is very important!

G –  I understand you are currently busy writing and rehearsing the material for the new album! How is that progressing along and what can fans expect to hear from the band this time around?
J – The new album’s going great! Over the past 6 months we have revisited a lot of material that’s been put aside from previous recording sessions, picked the strongest stuff and blended it as much as possible with new stuff. Not to say the older stuff is not strong material, but we don’t want to be released 3-disc, 4 hour albums! We feel blending the old with the new gives the sound a nice anchor point – it almost gives things a ‘vintage Chimp’ vibe, you could say!
G –  Are you involved in the writing process or is that primarily Paul Ortiz’s responsibility?
J – The writing process is entirely Paul, but the material is constantly being run past us so when songs are finalized,we can simply piece together the bits we already know. That saved a lot of time during the rehearsing of the recent EP All Roads Lead Here, which we now routinely play live in it’s entirety. The idea to have us involved in the writing process was floated when we first formed as a live band, but I am such a big fan of what Paul does and he’s tons better at writing music than I am, so I personally really didn’t want that to change. I’m involved in my own ways – I’ve been booking us a few shows here and there and I’m currently transitioning to being in control of the social networking side of the band, so, I’m sorry to say, you guys on Facebook are normally talking to me these days!


G – When can we expect to see the completion of the album and when and where will it be available?
J – The album’s release is aimed at the first quarter of 2013, and it will be available EVERYWHERE! Online on iTunes and Amazon, physical copies also from Amazon, and it will be distributed in the United States by our label Prosthetic and the rest of the world by Basick Records. Keep your eyes locked on the Basick Records Facebook page as I’m sure there’ll be some songs streaming for free.
G – How was the name Chimp Spanner chosen and does it have anything to do with the movie the Lawn Mower Man?
J – Lawn Mower Man? That’s the first I’ve ever heard of that being a reference! I believe the band name came from Paul needing a name in double quick time for either a college project or something similar, and just chucked a few words together after listening to some Foo Fighters.
G – Have you ever watched the movie the Lawn Mower Man?  If not, you should as it is awesome!
J – I’ll add that to the list!

G – Do you have any immediate plans for touring once the album is released? If so, where do you plan to tour and who with?
J – We have plans, options, details of people to get in touch with – all sorts. We’re intending to hit Europe, for sure, and the response from the recent Intrinsic 2012 tour with The Contortionist was so incredible that we feel we need to hit North America again as soon as we can. We really need a nice, long tour, as we have done a fair few one-off shows this year, and I miss being able to get into that pocket of being 3 or 4 shows into a tour.
 G –  You guys are very heavy, very technical, yet you have a beautiful melodic sound to your music that puts you head and shoulders above anyone else out there on the scene today! What are some of the metal bands that you enjoy listening to and if you could put your dream list together of bands you would like to tour with, who would be on your list?
J – I absolutely fell in love with Cynic when we toured with them last year – we all get post-tour blues, that’s usual, but I massively miss listening to that band being absolutely incredible every single night, non-stop for 3 weeks. As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of tech metal music, so THA and PTH will make an appearance again on this list alongside my good friends in No Consequence, who are without a doubt one hell of a monstrous group of musicians. I grew up listening to the likes of Metallica, Fear Factory, Chimaira, Strapping Young Lad, Machine Head.. all that good stuff that pretty much defines the foundation of Heavy Metal music. Ideal bands to tour with? It’d have to be Devin Townsend for me. That man is undoubtedly a genius. Then, of course, there’s Meshuggah. They’re just so tight live that I can’t even begin to imagine the things they could teach us about being a live band and putting on a hell of a show.
G –  Given the degree of technical proficiency that are present in your songs, are there any songs that are so difficult to play that you almost dread performing them, due to the degree of skill and concentration it takes in pulling it off live?
J – There’s actually two songs off the second album, At The Dream’s Edge that we don’t yet perform live: ” Terminus” and “Far From Home”. “Terminus” has recently been reworked and tweaked a little bit, so we’re really hoping that will happen at some point soon. One of the hardest songs we play live used to be “Under One Sky”, but now that’s a song that doesn’t even  phase us. The groove in “Dark Age of Technology” means that you’ve really got to stay on top of it, as soon as you lose it there’s no coming back! Then there’s ‘that’ middle section in “Cloud City”.  I’ve never learnt anything like that before, so I’m not ashamed to say that it took me an age to get it tight!

G – Paul is one of the best guitar soloists on the planet! How does it feel to be part of a band with such skilled musicians and how the hell did Paul get that good? It almost seems to be beyond human ability, the level of playing that is present in your music! And you are pretty damn accomplished yourself Jim!
J – Paul’s definitely next level. Working with him in the past was always a completely different experience.  I’d occasionally jam with people and come to see that they’re just not getting up to speed with what I’m trying to accomplish. In my first writing experience with Paul, we wrote a pretty fast, technical metal song. I’d come up with most of the riffs in my own time, and seemingly played them to Paul once before he’d began double-tracking guitars into Cubase. That level of complete understanding of what’s going on, and that ability to absorb what someone else is telling him is what sets him apart. Then he wrote a mean shred solo off the cuff.. And double tracked that, too. I think Paul started at an early age as a pianist, and took up guitar later. All I can think of is that he maybe had a head-start in the dexterity department.. But there’s no denying he’s an amazing musician and instrumentalist. Being a pianist is where his natural ability to trigger a full drum set from a keyboard comes from. What will really make you sick is that he can play actual drums, too. In fact, he plans on tracking the drums himself on the next album! The trickiest part of joining the band for me was learning Paul’s nuances as a composer. 50% of ‘doing it right’ was getting my head around how he does things. I’ve always had a natural head for timing and groove, so that helps a lot with all this complex music!
G –  Do you listen to artists such as Greg Howe, Guthrie Govan, Frederik Thordendale, Frank Gambale, Shawn Lane, etc…? If so what is your feelings on these types of artists, as they are similar to what you guys are doing in Chimp Spanner?
J – Guthrie Govan is actually from the same town I am. Before he joined Dizzee Rascal’s touring band, he performed every Thursday night at a small bar in Chelmsford, Essex. Of course, my luck being as it is, I found out he’d done that AFTER he joined Dizzee! So I never saw him, unfortunately. It’s hard to say that guys like Greg Howe and Shawn Lane are doing similar to what we’re doing as we hold those guys in such high regard that we’re too humble to even mention them in the same sentence as us. If our fans want to make that connection then that’s great.

G –  Any chance you guys may team up with Jeff Loomis or Intervals and come to Ohio (my home state) for a show sometime in the near future?
J – We’d love to! I’ve only recently discovered Intervals, as Aaron Marshall and I are both endorsing Strictly 7 Guitars. Those guys are fantastic! I also finally met Jeff Loomis in person at this year’s Euroblast Festival in Cologne, Germany (this past October). He’s an amazing guy, we bonded over German Burger King breakfast! I’d been a fan for years, so it’s great that meeting him wasn’t disappointing!
G – And this question is a little off topic ( ok… alot off topic ) but what are your thoughts on the current state of affairs and world events, both in your own country which is the U.K and here in the U.S.A?
J – If I’m completely honest, I stopped taking an active interest in current affairs a few years back. It’s not that I avoid major tabloid news (I actually treat it more like a soap opera), but I see no point in using up any more of my precious time on this planet to pay any attention to an institution that I believe to be inherently corrupt and biased. But we’ll save that for another interview, maybe!
G – Any final thoughts or anything you would like to say to your fans or to anyone who has not heard your music who are metal fans and fans of shred instrumental music? I feel they would love it and for the record, you guys are currently my favorite band on the planet! And that is saying something as I have over 2,000 CD’s in my personal collection ranging from Jazz, Funk, Fusion, metal and 70’s era top 40!
J – That’s very humbling to hear, man! I’d just like to ask people who haven’t heard us yet to check the band out! It’s fairly different from most other bands that we’re associated with – maybe you’ll like us more!
G – Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule and making yourself available for this interview, Jim! Best of luck to you and I can’t wait to hear the new album!
J – Thanks a lot, Gordy!


Wykked Wytch – By: The Kibitzer

Interview with The Ultimate Wytch Ipek

By The Kibitzer

1.     Thank you, Ipek, for joining us and giving us some of your time to talk about Wykked Wytch and your latest release The Ultimate Deception! You have a lot of things going on,    especially with the new CD and Wykked Wytch will be supporting the Soulfly 15th Anniversary Tour: MAXIMUM CAVALERA with SOULFLY, INCITE, LODY KONG. How’s everything going with both the new release and the tour?

Ipek – Yes, we have so many things going on, right after our new album was released 2 months ago, we landed a month long tour with Soulfly. As you are reading this, we just completed the tour. It was awesome! We had a great time and made many new fans and met up with the old loyal fans around the country.

2.     Wykked Wytch has been around for a long time now and you’ve come a long way since your first release, Something Wykked This Way Comes. In the beginning, how did you envision Wykked Wytch?

Ipek – I always had a vision where we would be real extreme and theatrical. Not just a band that play great heavy music but the same time visually very exciting and interesting to watch, almost like a heavier version of Rammstein. We never had a budget for a show, but always imagined that.

3.     What do you think is the secret to your longevity?

Ipek – Determination, passion, & love of music.

4.     I know that you don’t want to be tied down to being labeled as Black Metal and that you consider yourselves more Extreme Metal than anything, but was this exactly where you wanted to be now with your musical direction with Wykked Wytch?

Ipek – We never labeled ourselves as this and that’s because we are not a one dimensional band. We possess many different talents and styles in our music, which is hard to describe our music. The reason we say extreme metal is because all the stuff like black, death, thrash metal elements can be found in our music. We also have catchy riffs, solos, & melodies.

5.     Would you say that Wykked Wytch definitely has a signature sound or would you rather say that you develop a new sound with every CD that you release?

Ipek – When I originally started the band I just wanted to play hard and heavy music with no limitations or boundaries. Where we can demonstrate classical, opera,thrash, death and black metal influences. I would say the same idea is there from the beginning but music and sound evolves with the musicians I’m working with at the time and how I’m feeling as well. On several of the early albums we did some experimenting and in time you feel what works or not. Every CD has it’s own sound but you can still identify it as Wykked Wytch. I would say with our last album Memories of a Dying Whore we finally developed our own sound and with the new album The Ultimate Deception is a big step up from Memories of a Dying Whore album. I’m really confident where Wykked Wytch is today, still evolving but have our own sound.

6.     Since I am still new to Wykked Wytch’s music, The first CD that I had purchased from your catalog was Angelic Vengeance. With each release that you have made, you’ve actually turned it up a notch. Where does most of your inspiration come from when it comes to constructing the music and lyrics of Wykked Wytch?

Ipek – Well you need to hear our very first album Something Wykked This Way Comes to appreciate the progress in the band. Every album, I work with the current guitarist on composing the music. The sound of the music will be influenced by the guitarist’s writing style, but at the same time I make sure that whatever is written goes with the WW style. If I don’t think a song or riffs fit then it won’t make the album. Also I always maintained my vocals in extreme harsh and melodic way, which is WW trademark.  As far as lyrics go many things inspire me to write lyrics: child abuse, war against women and children, lies and deception I received from friends and family and the tragedies I have lived through in my life. In the past some fantasy style lyrics, but the last couple of albums’ lyrics were more true crime based and personal.

7.     Let’s talk about your current release, The Ultimate Deception. When did you start writing for the new CD?

Ipek – The writing began after I found our new lead guitarist/songwriter Nate Poulson, which was Spring of 2010. It was a couple of months after we came home from our European headlining tour.

8.     How did you approach the making of the new CD?

Ipek – I had some  song ideas previously and after our last guitar player quit, but I buried those songs with him. When I met Nate I knew what the subjects and concepts were going to be for the new album, which was anger and rage. So everything came together easily. Nate would email me over song ideas and riffs and we would go from there back and forth until a song was done.

9.     On The Ultimate Deception, how different is the new release from the previous releases?

Ipek – The Ultimate Deception is modern, new, and a breath of fresh air. Our guitarist Nate was not opposed to new modern melodic, yet very heavy ideas, so he kind of took me out of my comfort zone and we crossed our boundaries to create a very mixed metal style album. We didn’t want to lose the sound from previous albums, but at the same time wanted to create a whole new beast. So this album works great as a follow-up to Memories of a Dying Whore but is just 10 times better and with much more shit going on.

10.  What kind of influence lead to the inception of  The Ultimate Deception?

Ipek – There wasn’t one direct influence. As from a musical standpoint, you have our new guitarist Nate, who is bringing his influences, but at the same time is respecting what was created before with WW. So we want to create something off the wall but still what WW fans will recognize and love. Vocally and lyrically this was going to be a very angry album because of the subjects covered.

11.  Do you think that you’ve stretched out the limitations on your vocal capabilities or do you think that you have a lot more ground that you would like to cover?

Ipek – There are no limitations when it comes to my vocal ability. I’m sure there will be some songs I may be doing some cock rock vocals if the song or the riff calls for it.

12.  In regards to the music on The Ultimate Deception, I can also hear elements of other styles of not just Metal but other forms of music, if I’m not mistaken. Was that something that was planned or was that something that progressed during the making of the CD?

Ipek – Everything that appeared on the album was planned and rehearsed. The only element on the album that was completely came up in the studio was the Metallica “Fade To Black” song. That was a last minute addition.

13.  You also did a cover of Metallica’s “Fade to Black” on the new CD. What made you want to cover that song and how does it tie in with the other new songs on the CD?

Ipek – On the last album we included a cover song and everyone loved it. So we thought why not butcher another classic song on this album. We just couldn’t agree on what song. We decided in the studio that we would do a Metallica song. Then we finally agreed on “Fade To Black”. We thought that it tied in well with the whole theme of the album and was a great song and of course we had to make our own version.

14.  The last track on the CD, “Eyes of A Vulture”, is one of my favorite tracks off the new CD. Can you tell me what that is about?

Ipek – It is one of my favorite tracks as well, a very technical and direct heavy song. It is about how people are like vultures, waiting for you to go down or die so they can rape you and kick you some more or they can’t wait to get a piece of you…everyone is all about money and that’s all they care ..

15.  The production for The Ultimate Deception is very strong and compelling. Who helped you produce the new CD this time around and is this the first time you’ve worked with them?

Ipek – We recorded at the Lambesis Studios (San Diego,CA) owned by singer Tim Lambesis from As I Lay Dying and engineered by Daniel Castelman, whom we enjoyed working with very much for the very first time. The album was mastered in New York by Alan Douches who we used on our last album.

16.  Given that you have worked with many musicians both in the studio and live up on stage, who will be up on stage with you this time around?

Ipek – New lead guitarist: Nate Poulson, Pat O’Malley (Rhythm Guitar), Matt Florio (bass), Weston Stone on drums , Salvatore on keys , again same line up I had since 2009 with exception of new guitarist Nate.

17.  Like your music, you have an extreme live show as well. How do you prepare for something like that and keep things strong up on stage every time you go up there?

Ipek – We did not have enough time to prepare for this tour at all. It was a last minute notice, so Nate flew down to Ft Lauderdale from Illinois and we rehearsed like a week before our first show. But everyone was so pumped and extremely happy to be on the tour, it was a natural everyone gave their 100% live and the result was obvious everyone loved us. At each venue we gained many new fans. Especially when all of us got sick with a cold and did not even care once we were on stage. Towards the end of the tour, I got really sick with coughs and I had a  hard time breathing between songs. But luckily the cold did not effect my singing.

18.  I know that you have your own opinion about women who front other Metal bands and you’ve stayed true to those words. Do you think that the Metal scene today has changed a little and has learned to accept female vocalists more for their talents rather than their looks? Do you still think that a woman, especially yourself, has to work twice as hard for men to accept you as a musician and not just for your looks?

Ipek – As you may know, metal is a very much male dominated music scene where close minded, sexist pigs still would not want to credit females for their hard work. It’s  a turn off for them thinking ooh.. another tits and ass type. This attitude will never go away and because some of the females are exposing them selves showing off their breasts and  causing the male audience to disrespect female musicians. Yes, in that aspect we, as honest talented females have to work harder for the opposite gender to accept us. There are still many of them that claim females can not deliver brutal music or can sing as males, which is  bullshit because your vocal ability has nothing to do with your gender but more with skills and training.  Just like any other musicians,  you have to know your instrument well to deliver the goods.

19.  You also have a radio show called Ipek’s Wytching Hour that you host weekly. How did you get started in the radio industry and how long has the show been running now?

Ipek – I was a guest one time on Metal Messiah Radio and was offered a spot hosting my own show. I guess they felt I was being interesting and knowledgeable about the metal. It’s been almost 2 years now and has gained some respect from musicians around the world. I don’t consider myself as a pro DJ, more like a radio personality as a Ms. Howard Stern. I like to mix metal with humor.

20.  You’ve had a lot of guests on the show. Who would you say would be your favorite guest on the show if you have any?

Ipek – Phil Anselmo was definitely my favorite guest. He is a legend and also very funny.  I usually like the artists that don’t take themselves too seriously and are having fun. Some other favorite guests that were colorful and fun with plenty of humor were: Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Johnny Plague (Winds of Plague), & Mike S. (Darkest Hour).

21.  You’ve got a lot of things going on right now and you even have your own hot sauce! Can you tell us all about that, please?

Ipek – I love hot  and spicy food. What I mean by that is, I literally eat fresh jalapenos like peanuts, so I decided to come up with my own hot sauce with my secret ingredients. Everyone can visit and order themselves a bottle.

22.  Well Ipek, I want to thank you again for giving us this opportunity to talk to you. Do you have any parting words that you want to say to the fans out there?

Ipek – Thank you for the great questions. (It’s not very often I get asked intelligent ones; rather all generic questions. I enjoyed answering them.) For fans: please buy music  rather than free downloading. Help the scene to survive especially non mainstream ones. Go to shows when you can, to support your favorite bands! Until then, metal UP yours!

L.A. Guns (By: Kim Rosner)

(Interview with Phil Lewis/Published in issue # 15)

I have been a fan of L.A. Guns since I was in high school.  I never would have imagined that one day I would get to speak with him over the phone and that we would be discussing all kinds of numerous topics…including children and of course, their latest CD Tales from the Strip. I didn’t have the  new CD at the time of this interview, however I did get it very soon thereafter. I have to say, I was very impressed. L.A. Guns hasn’t lost a step, in fact they are better than ever. So if you have ever been even sort of a fan of L.A. Guns, you should definitely check out Tales from the Strip. It was a pleasure getting to speak with Mr. Lewis after being a fan for so long. Here is the conversation we had…
Kim – How are you?
Phil – I’m fine, thanks.
K – How’s the weather there?
P – It’s lovely. Where are you calling from?
K – Ohio.
P – Oh you poor thing.
K – Yeah, it’s 19 degrees. It’s cold.
P – I just got back from Arizona and it was freezing there. It’s hard to imagine Arizona being cold but it was like, only 2 degrees.
K – Oh really? I’ve never been there, but I always imagined it being hot.
P – Yeah, I know, that’s the thing. It’s really hot in the summer and freezing in the winter.
K – Hmmm, I didn’t know that. Well, I want to tell you how excited I am to be interviewing you…
P – Oh thank you.
K – I’ve been quite a fan of yours.
P – Great.
K – I do have a confession though.
P – What’s that?
K – I don’t have your new CD yet.
P – Oh well, you’re going to love it. Have you heard about it though?
K – Yes, I’ve been reading some reviews.
P – The reviews have been fantastic.
K – I plan to get it as soon as I can.
P – Well, I want to hear back from you once you get it, to let me know what you think.
K – Okay, I’ll make sure you do. Since I haven’t heard it, I thought maybe you could just let loose and tell me all about it in your own words. Did it meet your expectations, etc?
P – Yeah. We pretty much have this dream team operation where we use the same studio where we recorded the last records and the same studio where we recorded Waking the Dead and the cover record we put out a year ago; we did a record of old covers. We wanted to put something out, but we weren’t really ready to do an original record because we were so happy with the way Waking the Dead turned out. We didn’t want to rush it. We wanted to take our time. We wanted to write songs over the period of the year and then pick the best stuff. Once we had enough songs…even before we had a deal, we were writing, and it’s so easy. Even the computer has a state-of-the-art recording studio and we recorded it and it just sounded great. Then when the album was done, we went into a proper studio and recorded it and it turned out great. Andy Johns is our producer. Andy’s been around, he’s actually old-school like Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Rod Stweart’s producer and he always makes it sound great. And he’s great fun in the studio. When you read the title (of the new CD), it’s sort of an anagram of the band’s history. It’s a fun album, it’s a neat album. It was great fun making it.
K – That’s good. I know the songs are based on life on the Sunset Strip (thus the title Tales from the Strip). What inspired you to write about that particularly?
P – We decided we were going to do a record about a subject that we really know well. Instead of having a lyrically vague record, I wanted to go for a completely different thing. It’s kind of like a concept, but not quite. It just has a central theme throughout.
K – I did get to read the lyrics. it looked like it was about a bunch of different stories, taking place in the same location.
P – Yeah, that’s right.
K – Who writes the lyrics? Is it a group thing or just one person?
P – Just one person. I write them. But I mean, I get them (the band mates)  to help me. I bring the lyrics in and I ask them what they think and if they want to make any adjustments here and there. Sometimes they do, but generally, it’s pretty much my job.
K – Was the song “Can’t Give you Anything Better than Love” written for anyone in particular?

P – Umm…maybe. (Laughs.) So, you have the lyrics, but you haven’t heard the record?
K – I made sure I had the lyrics before I spoke with you. I looked on your website.
P – Oh okay, that makes sense. On Cool. There’s also a really good Myspace page on L.A. Guns as well. Have you checked that out?

K – Yes, I did. And I’m trying not to ask you all the same questions that others have covered, but I probably will anyway. (Laughs)
P – That’s okay. But for the website, I check it out daily, to see what people are saying about it. Right now the whole thing is lit up like a Christmas tree about Traci (Guns) joining Quiet Riot, which I think is hysterical.
K – Oh, Quiet Riot. I didn’t even know they were doing anything anymore.
P – Those guys have been touring non-stop. They’re great. They put on a good show every night. But I think it’s really rotten that Traci is gone from his own band though. I think that’s terrible, I really do.
K – Yes, it is. I have another song question if you don’t mind. In “Don’t Mean Nothing,” is the character of Jimmy/Jenny based on a real person?
P – (Laughs) Not really, but it could be. There are hundreds like…that. (laughs)
K – But no one in particular that you know?
P – No. (Laughs) No lack of imagination here.
K – And one more…I want to know what makes your motorcycle crazy? (There is a song titled “Crazy Motorcycle.” on the new album.)
P – You know, you have to hear it…
K – (Laughing) I just like that title.
P – You like that title? Cool. That song is based on a true event. I don’t know how to explain it here though.

K – I’ll just wait until I get the album. I know you recently finished touring with W.A.S.P and Metal Church. How did that go?
P – Yeah, it was great. They were all great guys. Metal Church was excellent and it was good to see W.A.S.P every night as well. They put on such a great show. It was great playing this record; going out and having the opportunity to play to the metal people who haven’t seen us before. So that was a really good aspect of that tour. The downside of the tour was: there were days that when the tour was taking a day off, we would do a club gig and do our own show. Without realizing it, we did 38 shows in 40 days, and I kind of felt like I was going to have a break down by the end of it. It was the only time ever that we had to cancel a couple of shows.
K – Well, that was a lot, that would wear you out.
P – Yeah, I was completely worn out. But we took a few days off at the last leg of the tour, but overall we had a great time. I just got back from a great weekend with my new band.
K – Oh, what’s your new band?
P – It’s called the Angels and Outlaws. It consists of myself, Terry Kelly, Bobby Blotzer and Robby Crane. It’s a cover band at the moment. We played a couple shows in Arizona over the weekend and it was really, really great. I’m looking forward to more shows. It was kind of challenging though because we only had a 3 hour practice the day before we left to do these shows. I wasn’t quite sure why I was doing it at the time, but I got to learn a lot of new songs that I had never done before. There’s a lot of difference between hearing a song a thousand times and thinking you know it and then actually getting up and performing it. It’s not karaoke! (Laughs) It’s different. There’s a lot of work involved, but we had a great time.
K – That sounds cool. Next time you tour again, I’ll try to catch you, so I hope you come to Cleveland.

P – Oh, we always come to Cleveland, we always do. We’ve been to Peabody’s a bunch of times. It’s good and loud in there.
K – Yes it is. I have been there. Most recently was to see Manowar. I’m afraid I don’t get to go to shows as often as I used to, but I try to when I can. I have kids, so it’s harder now.
P – Well, next time we’re there, hopefully you can come.
K – I hope so too. Now I would like to ask a couple questions about you, if that’s all right. When you weren’t with L.A. Guns for awhile, what were you busy doing?
P – Being a dad.
K – Oh, how many children do you have?
P – Two. I have two girls. I never had any kind of  family life while growing up. So, they have really changed my life a lot.
K – I heard somewhere that, for awhile, you went to kids’ birthday parties to entertain as ‘Batman.’ Is that true?
P – No…well…I have a friend who is a performance artist and he has a company and he has clowns and characters and all. I asked him if I could have Batman for my daughter’s birthday. It was her 3rd birthday (she’s now 13). So, he let me borrow the suit.
K – Oh, that would have been cool.

P – Yeah, her dad was Batman. (Laughs)
K – Not many people can say that.
P – (Laughs) Yeah, I know.

K – So, what else do you do to occupy your time outside of the music business?
P – I’m a photographer actually. There’s a new thing on Yahoo with photo sharing. It’s a part of Yahoo. There’s hundreds of great photos. You can go to each photographer and great images come up.
K – Do you mess with the pictures on the computer, to alter them at all?
P – Not much. I’ll crop them a little bit, but that’s all. I love it though. I love Photo Shop. I’ve always loved Graphic Arts.
K – Now, I saw that you were in a band for awhile called the Spice Boys. (Phil starts laughing.) So, what was your Spice name?
P – I was…I think it was ‘Spice and Chips.’
K – That’s a good name. (Laughs) Okay, my kids who are ages 8 and 9 had a couple questions they wanted me to ask you. Is that okay?
P – Yeah, sure.
K – My daughter wondered if you have any pets.
P – I do. I have a kitty cat that I rescued from outside. It was a stray cat that had been outside. It was really friendly, really sweet. I went on tour for about 3 weeks and when I came back, the cat was still being nice, but homeless. I couldn’t stand it. So,  I let it come in and stay in my home.
K – That’s very good of you. We have three cats and a rabbit ourselves. My daughter’s other question was: what is your favorite color?
P – Well, I suppose black doesn’t count, does it? Yeah, it really doesn’t.  (Laughs) My favorite color at the moment is crimson red. There are so many different reds and that is kind of like a pomegranate red. That’s my favorite at the moment. I’m a big fan of green as well. So, I love it around Christmas. I love all the red and green.
K – My son wanted to know if you’ve ever been roller-skating and if you have ever seen the Pyramids. (We laugh.)
P – No, I’ve never seen the Pyramids. I’d love to. I haven’t been to Egypt. I’ve been to Africa (North Africa.) Morocco is as close as I’ve got. As for roller skating, yes actually. When I was a kid , I had those skates that you put on over your shoes, you know the ones I mean? They go over your toes and they buckle up around your ankle. I had those and I loved them. I used to skate around the neighborhood and all over the place. Then when I came over here (to America from Britain) I got into roller blading and I loved it. But I haven’t done that in awhile.
K – My kids really like to roller skate and that’s why they wanted to know.
P – Do they go to a rink?
K – Yes they do, almost every week.
P – Do they have to not use roller blades…in line skating?
K – They can. They usually do just regular roller skates but they can have roller blades at the rink too. They also like to go ice skating a lot. Now, my son also wanted to know what kind of music you listen to. I kind of laughed at that at first, but then I realized, you can listen to other music than what you play, so…
P – Yeah. To be honest, back in the day I didn’t listen to my own music recreationally.   I enjoyed doing it and I got into it and everything but I never, when I got home, just put it in because I wanted to listen to it.  But  that’s all changed with the last 3 records that we’ve done. I listen to them recreationally. I really like them. Every few days or so, I will listen to them. At first when we recorded the new album, I listened to it non-stop and…well, you’ll just have to find out won’t you? (Laughs) My favorite band at the moment is Rammstein. They are very bombastic and operatic sort of and all of their songs are in German. So, I can’t understand a word of it, but it sounds great and I love it. I also love Fiona Apple, her latest CD is fantastic. If Christina Aguilera could write songs like Fiona Apple, she wouldn’t have to spend so much time in the gym. (Laughs)
K – Do you have any closing comments then?
P – Just it was very nice talking to you, they were good questions. And I enjoyed the kids’ questions a lot. Thank you very much and hopefully see you on our next tour.

Real Steel (By: Missy Swinderman)

(Interview with Bobby Stocker/published in issue # 16)

Well, like it or not, it seems that the 80’s are back. Maybe not the 10-inches tall, pink Aqua Net sprayed hair or the leopard print spandex pants (complete with sock bulge). And maybe not even the  plastic Barbie-like cookie-cutter chicks in micro mini-skirts, rubber bracelets and stiletto heeled boots.  For those of you lucky enough to miss all of that, thank your lucky stars! That part wasn’t so pretty! BUT…the music was another matter!
The metal music of the 1980’s was trendsetting, new and exciting! It was loud, obnoxious and in-your-face! Bands like Ratt, Cinderella, Dokken, Twisted Sister, Poison, Guns N’ Roses, LA Guns, Warrant, Extreme, Motley Crue, Kix, Lita Ford, Kingdom Come, Triumph, Tesla and many, many more threw their hats in the ring and hit it big in the 80’s! -REALLY BIG!      Then, as fast as it began, it was over. In steps Kurt Cobain and it was bye-bye hair metal and hello alternative/grunge/pseudo punk!  Who knows what would have happened if Cobain hadn’t died, but he did, and those of us in my generation turned back to our first true music love: Hair/glam metal! Then, a great thing happened. Kids from all over the place were re-discovering 80’s metal and soon it was nearly as popular as it had been back then.

One great example of this was the ROCKLAHOMA concert, held in Pryor, Oklahoma. The line-up of 80’s metal bands was phenomenal. 30,000 + fans showed up from all  over the US and as far away as Germany and France.  Despite the pesky storm which turned the crowd into mud people, the show went on..
One of the secondary acts that was there to support  the main acts was a special band called Real Steel, from the Cleveland/New Philadelphia Ohio area.
Recently, I had the opportunity to quickly speak with Bobby Stocker, drummer for Real Steel, about what the band has been up to and where they are headed..
Missy- Hey Bobby, how are you doing?
Bobby – Great, great.
M – Real Steel has been back together for awhile now. How is it working with you and Scott here in Ohio and then Dave and Paul in Florida?
B – Really, it’s not too bad. We’ve been playing these songs together for so long, it’s just second nature to us basically.
M – Are you working on any new material or just re-releasing  the old stuff?
B – Both, actually. But working on new material long distance is a little harder than  just stepping up and playing stuff you’ve played for years.

M – Per WMMS radio station and SCENE Magazine, Real Steel were the metal gods of the 1990’s. You had a #1 hit on Cleveland radio, knocking Extreme out of that spot for  a few weeks. But you were also local heroes..not as well known outside of Ohio. How did the Rocklahoma crowd respond to music they had probably never heard before?
B – The crowd was great!  We fed off their energy and they fed off ours. The whole set came off without a hitch.
M – So, any plans for another Rocklahoma?
B – That’s pretty much up to our record company and PR people, but yes, we would love to do it again. It was a lot of fun and we got to meet a lot of the headlining acts that are heroes to us.
M – What do you think of this 80’s metal music resurgence? (More like pandemic!)
B – I think it’s great. Because people who weren’t here to enjoy it the first time are now getting to hear it..and they like it!
M – You guys are all keeping busy with side projects as well, is that correct?
B – Oh yeah. I’m in the bands Truth and Shapes. Scott Smalley (vocals and bass) has Electric Mud. Paul Anthony (dual rhythm & lead guitar) has the Paul Anthony Band in St. Petersburg, Florida. David (lead guitars) tours  with the Jimmy Van Zandt Band.,
M – Well, Bobby, maybe one day Real Steel will be the headliner at Rocklahoma and another local band will be there to support you!
Thank you for taking the time to give me an interview. Keep Rocking!

Troy Seele (By: Diana M. Marsh)

(Published in issue # 17)

Wait, Troy Seele just agreed to an interview, for a metal magazine he’s never heard of, and I get to interview him. My first interview ever!  “Don’t be nervous,” everyone tells me… “You’ll do fine“… “You got this one“… “If anyone can do it, you can…”  Right.
So I start off like any good writer should and did my research. I wanted to track down a few interviews other folks have done with this guy, just so I can avoid asking the same questions. Now granted, Seele has a lot of interviews out there from his involvement with previous bands, but not much since he’s been with Iced Earth.  My results? Two interviews, one from a tour stop in Portugal back in 2008 and one with their publicist Bill Murphy on Facebook.  Both interviews were great, but not that helpful. So I wrote up my questions, hoped the gods were feeling favorable, and contacted Troy Seele.
“Hey Troy, thanks for doing this interview. I know how busy you are”  Of course he responds with “Sure, no problem!”   Nice to hear….
Every guitarist has a story about how and why they started playing, so of course my first couple of questions were all about beginnings.  I asked him when he began playing, and who or what inspired him on guitar. He kicked into a story that is just so ‘cool‘…and just so Troy Seele.
Around the time he was 13 years old, his parents (Joe and Sandra Seele) were building a new home. They decided one afternoon they wanted to do some furniture shopping. Not wanting to leave Troy out of the family fun, his parents brought him along for the ride. To kill time in the store, he found a chair to crash in until it was over. It was at that moment that he decided he wanted to play guitar for the rest of his life. No, really, that’s how it happened! Furniture store + bored teenager = career decision. As they left the store he brought the subject up to his mom, who of course said “no.”  Undeterred, Seele shoveled snow all winter long, and earned enough money for his first guitar.   When his parents saw his commitment, they surprised him with a Les Paul for Christmas.  That’s my kind of Christmas!
Seele set off to teach himself how to play, and that involved sitting down with a Van Halen album. Many an hour was spent slaving over his copy of Van Halen 1, playing it over and over and  trying to emulate the enormous riff work of Eddie Van Halen. Not that Seele wanted to be or play just like Eddie Van Halen. In fact, he didn’t even have a true guitar hero, the closest thing he had was a local guy whom he would harass into showing him something on the guitar on occasion.  I wonder if that poor guy knows what ever happened to Troy Seele, that skinny kid who’d show up on his door step for nothing more than a guitar trick back then.
All the hard work paid off, and Seele had his first bar gig at age 15. Back then, as long as you were a paid performer, you could be a minor in the bar after 9:00.  (But between breaks, Seele would have to be out of sight of where alcohol was being served.) From the age of 15 to 21 Troy spent some serious down time in bar kitchens and break rooms between sets. Not a lot of fun, but it’s better than the alternative.
There were several bands in the early years, but the first official band that he found himself in was Ground Zero, a metal cover band. After Ground Zero fell by the wayside, he and a few others formed Criminals, another metal band that focused on original songs rather than covers. Out of that incarnation came the now infamous Ma Kelley, an explosive band in the late 80’s that toured with such greats as Journey, Blue Oyster Cult, Foreigner, and Van Halen. (God, where the hell was I in the 80’s? How did I miss this?)
Ma Kelly toured and toured, put out 5 albums, and even had a record deal with London’s Revolver Records.  After eight years, due to a variety of reasons, the band went their separate ways. That separation took Seele in a completely different direction: Bluegrass music.

The Bluegrass Years…

After Ma Kelley, Troy started doing some acoustic work with artist/musician Kara Barnard out of Nashville, IN.  Seele and Barnard collaborated on a couple of albums. He also worked with Sindicato and Rhythm Creatures, continuing his work ln bluegrass music. Opportunities for bluegrass guitar flat-picking competitions came about, and the preparation was intense.  Seele would eat, sleep, and live flat-picking for months before the competition. It all came down to “six months of non stop work for a four minute song.  If you were really good, you made it to round 2… for another four minute song. The amount of preparation it takes is incredible.”  The competitions took him to Virginia, Tennessee, and even out to Winnfield, Kansas.
Seele also had another band that he played with on and off called The Why Store, founded by Chris Schaffer. It started out as a part time gig, and eventually turned full time. The band was well received and did some touring stateside.  After a year or so, Seele and The Why  Store  went  their separate ways and  he started managing a guitar store in Indianapolis, IN. One of his clients happened to be Jon Schaffer (Iced Earth and Sons of Liberty founder).  After hearing his music, Schaffer invited Seele to do some studio work and things just started falling into place.  Tim Mills was the guitarist for Iced Earth at that time but soon had to leave and handle business matters for his company in Europe. That left a vacancy for Iced Earth, but Schaffer had just the man in mind, and in May of 2007 Troy Seele made history as the latest guitarist for Iced Earth. I, for one, am pretty damn glad he did.

(Photo by: Shirley Alexander Morgan)

Before committing to an intense touring schedule, a few issues had to be taken care of at home. Van, Seele’s youngest son, was suffering health issues, and was in and out of the hospital on a regular basis. However, between the boy’s mother (Nicole) and Seele’s parents, an amazing schedule was worked out so that he could go on tour while his sons’ needs were met at every step of the way.  Van has since recovered, and Seele was able to finish off the European tour. My kind of an ending…
So now we have an idea of how Troy Seele quietly worked his way into the present metal scene, and it’s a pretty damn cool story. I took the liberty of asking him a few Iced Earth questions and he was more than happy to answer them.

(Troy Seele with Iced Earth)

Now for a generic question:  What is your favorite Iced Earth Album?
Troy Seele: “Dark Saga”
Any particular reason?
Troy Seele: “No, I just love that album.”
Fair enough. What are some of your favorite moments being on tour with Iced Earth?
Troy Seele:  “You know every Iced Earth crowd is intense. But it’s those crowds in countries that we have not been able to play, for one reason or another, that the fans are so incredibly intense. They’re louder than the band sometimes! Crazy energy. It just takes your breath away.”
Most recently they played South America for the first time. It was another round of mind blowing intensity from a grateful and exited crowd that Seele will never forget and I can only imagine.
I asked about favorite musical moments outside of Iced Earth, and his answer was simple.  For him, there doesn’t seem to be a defined moment, but rather a series of moments. The kind of moments that you will always remember, but have trouble articulating.
Troy Seele: “It’s those moments when it’s just you and the guitar. Those moments when you don’t have to think about anything; you can just play. It’s like the time when you first start out in music, before you get smacked in the face by the business … when you’re young, unstoppable, and still doing it for the love. That is a high that nothing comes close to.”
Other moments may come close, but never equal.

Troy Seele: “The competitions were also cool, even if I just placed. It was still a lot of fun. A lot of work, but a lot of fun also.”
All of us want to know what our heroes do when they are not onstage, and their answers never cease to amaze me.  It’s kind of crazy how normal their lives really are when the band isn’t touring. So my next question was: When the lights go down, and the crowd is gone, what does Seele do in his “spare time”? (anyone who is a parent knows there is no such thing as “spare time” but it’s a fun question none the less) It’s all kids, guitars, and music. Take care of the kids, pull a shift at Guitar Center, come home, take care of the kids, get them to bed, possibly play a gig, write more music, record some bad ass lick.. Possibly do a lesson with some lucky kid… fall asleep.. Wake up, do it all over again…. Somewhere in the middle I’m sure he gets to eat…

‘Any Hobbies?” I ask. He laughs and says “No hobbies”.  Somehow that just seems to be the right answer.
Alright, no hobbies, but how about a list of bands that you’re into right now?  He answers with a few I didn’t expect: “Iron Maiden, Dio (old Dio), Black Country Communion, 5 Finger Death Punch, and Daath… that’s about it.”  No, I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect Daath.  Very cool.
With so much going on for this guy, it’s hard to imagine trying to fit anything else into an already full life. But it looks like fans are in for a real treat…
“Ok, so are you working on any side projects that you can talk about?,” I ask.

Troy Seele: “I have plans on doing a solo album. Probably not for another 3 to 4 months. Most of what I have done is just cool things I played then recorded so I wouldn’t forget them. Stuff that really needs a beginning or an end before it’s a song. But like I said, it’s still a few months away. ”
Seele also volunteered his talent for Jon Schaffer’s side project, Sons of Liberty.
Troy Seele: “I think Sons of Liberty has an important message that needs to be spread, and I am very happy to be a part of it.”
I did want to make mention that one of Seele’s solos was used on a Methods of Mayhem album recently.  The song is called “Only One”, and it was actually part of a Guitar Center contest that Tommy Lee was hosting online. Basically Lee was looking for a guitarist to play on his next album (just a song) and Seele caught the contest online while at work. He entered a few samples, and out of the thousands that entered, Seele’s solo was picked. Check it out online. Methods of Mayhem. Fan or not, the solo is awesome.
Out of everything Seele does, he also gives guitar lessons, and is pretty damn good at it. Seele sat down with Devon Yeider, from Battle Creek, MI. He worked this kid over for an hour and a half, showing him basic lead, rhythm, and slide techniques.  (Cheap plug for the kid… Yeider is the guitarist for an up and coming southern rock/thrash band Down Fall) It’s all on DVD and small excerpts of the lesson are going to wind up on Seele’s Myspace page.  He’s been teaching on and off for years, but just recently started teaching via Skype.
So, to sum things up, it’s been quite a journey for Mr.Troy Seele. Seeing his success today is awesome, but it’s truly been a long road. Being a musician is not for the faint of heart. It’s a hard life, full of unbelievable highs and agonizing lows. It’s feast or famine financially. There are times you look at the calendar, and there is not a single day marked off for a show. You live by faith. As a parent, it’s not a career you’d pick for your child. But you don’t really choose to be a musician, the music chooses you, and Troy Seele is no exception. He’s had the highs and lows, just like us mortals. He kept on pushing, no matter where music or life took him. Now he’s sharing the stage with one of the most influential and iconic bands in metal, Iced Earth. Not everyone makes it, and not everyone who does is worthy. But after my time with Seele I can definitely say, this man deserves it.

To Troy Seele, I want to say: Thank you for your time and I can not wait to see you on stage again!

Korpiklaani (By: Robert Leopold)

(Published in issue # 18)

Korpiklaani is one of my favorite bands. No other band can lift my spirits and bring me such giddy joy as these Finns do. Originally,  I was excited to be able to  interview the bassist Jarkko Aaltonen for the zine. However, due to technical difficulties with the phone line I was unable to speak with him. This was a downer. All hope was not lost though. I found out I would be able to e-mail the interview to Jonne Järvelä, the main songwriter, guitarist and vocalist. Although, an e-mail interview was disappointing, (I was secretly hoping for some fun off the cuff conversation.) I am exceedingly happy Järvelä got my basic questions and answered them rather thoroughly. My main regret is that this interview is so short due to my poor planning. As I mentioned, I was hoping to ask real time questions. Järvelä’s  answers made me more than happy and made the interview, albeit short, both enlightening and entertaining. I cannot wait to see them live again. Perhaps, I’ll get to ask some of the more left-of-center questions I had in my head.

1.) Tell me a bit about yourself. What started you in music? Who are your favorite bands?
Jonne Järvelä – Hello, everything started in the early 90’s when I started to play and perform folk music in Lapland, northern Finland. We got a house band job from the ski resort and we played for the tourists daily. At first, mostly traditional folk music but soon also my own rockier folk and world music kind of songs. Then in 1998 I gathered some metal musicians around and the style changed to more like folk metal.  We released two albums as Shaman. In 2002 we changed our name to Korpiklaani because there came another same named band from Brazil. We decided to call ourselves Korpiklaani and here we are with the 7th Korpiklaani album, Ukon Wacka, with you making this interview.
2.) Tell me a little about the new album. What are some of the lyrical themes?
J – This is THE Korpiklaani album of all Korpiklaani albums. I really feel like that. I have a very good feeling about this album. Normally we take maybe a few songs to the live set list from the newest album but this time we took nine new songs for the set list. This tells you something about the strength of the new album in our eyes. Lyrical themes are what’s important and close to our hearts like drinking alcohol, partying and a savage way of life. There are some drinking songs like “Tuoppi oltta“, which is about two important manly needs: cold beer and hot women. On the other hand there are lots more songs, which are dealing with themes totally different than just drinking and partying.  Ukko, the most important ancient pagan god for Finnish people is popping up there in some of the songs. Ukko was worshipped especially by farmers, who believed that he, as the ruler of lightning, thunder and rain, could help produce good crops. He was worshipped by a ceremonial gathering called “Ukon Wacka” where beer drinks were consumed in his honor. It is certain that drinks were raised for many other occasions too, especially at the spring time planting season. Ukko was worshipped for a very long time. As late as 1545, the peasants in Finland complained to the King of Sweden Gustav Wasa, because they had been fined for worshipping Ukko. In 1662, drinks were raised to Ukko because of a drought in Hauho. In the spring of 1679, drinks were raised to Ukko when cattle were let out to pasture in Sulkava. At the change of 1800-1900 there still prevailed the worship of Ukko. People today are horrified by the cults that were associated with these rites of fertility: “when all the beer intoxicated young and old women, many shameful acts were committed that could be both heard and seen.”
3.)  What sets Korpiklaani apart from other folk metal bands?

J – Our instrumentation gives us our very own sound. This is a combination of the sounds of fiddle, accordion, electric guitars and typical metal instruments. We are all playing almost all the time when many other bands are using folk instruments only as a little spice. Unfortunately, even that is many times implemented by synthesizer and background tapes. We think, that it is just underestimating the people. We have real instruments, playing the real men way and that’s why we are one of the most true folk metal bands in the world. Then I think this band rocks more than other folk metal bands. We have influences from the bands like Motörhead and other good old bands when most of the other folk metal bands are keener to black metal. We are not.

4.) How would you describe the new album in comparison to previous efforts?
J – We have better songs now. Song writing itself is pretty much the same through the years. I play the guitar just for fun and sometimes it catches some melody or the riff and then I start to develop with it. Then when I have a song structure finished, I record a demo out of it and send it to other guys of the band and producers. There are again lyrics written by Juha Jyrkäs, who had written the lyrics for us already on the last four albums. Then there is again some of my own lyrics and two cover songs if we count the bonus track, which is Motörhead’s “Iron Fist“. I composed the rest of the songs. Main difference was, that we used a producer also for the folk instruments now at the first time. Tero Hyväluoma made arrangements and produced fiddle and accordion parts before the recordings. It helped a lot later at the album recordings in the studio. Before this work was more or less also on my shoulders, so it felt good when someone else did it now.
5.) What has the general response been for the new album?
J – Response has been very positive and good on the album release and at gigs when we are speaking with the fans. Then, we can read very good but some not so good things about the album from the Internet, but it is always like that when speaking about this band. People like or do not like this Korpiklaani. This band divides opinions and it is just a good thing.

6.) Any US tour plans?
J – We are working on it all the time. If everything goes as planned, we will be there at September touring around U.S.A. I’m looking forward to it so much, because last time it was so great to be there!
7.) Korpiklaani has been releasing a CD almost every year and doing a lot of touring. Has this been stressful for the band?
J – I don’t see it in that way. We like what we are doing and we are made to play in  front of   the people. It is our part in this world. This is a fun thing to do and I like also song writing. I’ve done it so many years that it became like a “need” to me. Playing, recording and writing this music make and keep me happy. Actually the music itself gives the energy and inspiration, so because of that, writing the music is very easy and that’s why we can release the albums this often. Sometimes it feels like the songs write themselves. Feels like I’m just some kind of connector.
8.) What has been the most memorable tour moment for you?
J – It was the first U.S. tour because touring in America was my childhood dream. Then the first tour, which we played in 2005, was also the tour, I always will remember.

9.) Are Finnish/European audiences different from American audiences when you play live? How are they different?
J – Actually Korpiklaani people aren’t different wherever we are. Japan and South America they are wilder, but the rest of the countries they are pretty the same. Great people, all of them, and we are connected very well in our lively Korpiklaani Facebook site.
10.) Have you given any thought to how much you have taught American fans about your culture? Many of us knew little about Finnish folklore, Humppa, etc, until becoming fans.
J – I think we taught very much about Finnish folklore because most of our songs are based on the Finnish folklore. In our album booklet is the translations about the lyrics but many times also a little story about the inspiration or some background information about the lyrics. Then people are interested about it and come to us and ask about the things. It is totally ok for us. When we were on the North American tour there were people whose roots are in Finland. Their great grandparents were from Finland and things like that. They were very interested about Finland and asked many kinds of questions because they’d never been in Finland, but some of them even spoke a little Finnish. It was cool to meet them and we had good conversations.
11.) Have you ever considered making a concept album based on any of the works of Jean Sibelius such as Finlandia or Kalevala?
J – Sometimes I had in my mind to make a concept album. It is difficult to connect the story and the songs because then you must do the whole composing work also keeping in mind the story.  Maybe someday. You never know.
12.) Does the shaman who always graces your album covers have a name? Or is he just “The Shaman?”
J – Yes, he has a name “Vaari”
13.) Are there any plans for a live DVD?
J – It’s been under the plan for a few years already and it still is under the plan. I think we really should start to work on it as well.
14.) What kind of vodka do you like? How often do you drink it?
J – At home I don’t drink so much. Only when we have guests in the house and they want to drink some. Then I might get some, but normally I don’t drink. The tours are a different thing and I drink vodka almost everyday. The best vodka is Finlandia Vodka. It used to be Finnish but it is nowadays actually American because the Brown-Forman Group bought it from Finland some years ago. If you are reading this Mr. Brown or Forman, could I get a sponsor deal?
15.) Anything you would like to add?
J – See you around soon on the gigs there.  Let’s take some vodka and have fun. Thank you about the interview! Cheers!