Interviews Music

Electro-pop from the Swedish countryside

{mosimage}Just a few hours before the gig, Johan T. Karlsson chats with journalists and fanswhile having a coffee in Klubi in Tampere. Within a few months, his project Familjen has taken his electronic music from his bedroom to live performances on stages around the world from Iceland to Australia. He still seems truly surprised of his success, even a bit shy about it in a very Scandinavian manner, acting like the kid from the little town going to the big city. And of course, he will not say no to a shot of vodka. "I like Finlandia vodka", Johan says. "That’s what Kent used to drink, so when we toured with them there was always a bottle of Finlandia vodka around". 


How do you prepare yourself for the show?

We don’t do anything special, really. What bands use to do, I supposed. We arehaving a party. The main thing is to get in the right mood, just listening to music, drinking and hanging around.

What do you listen to before the show?

Nowadays we are listening to quite a lot of early nineties acid house music.

How do you feel about touring and travelling to different parts of the world?

I am really excited about going to those places. When I was young, my parents did not have much money and we could not afford travelling abroad. Now I finally get to see the world. I don’t really like travelling much, though. You get tired all the time and there is a lot waiting. On the other hand, those are luxury problems. Being in Australia… Iceland… wow, it’s cool!

A fan comes to our table and greets Johan. They have a short conversation in Swedish. “I think the Finnish accent sounds lovely”, he tells me after the fan is gone. 

We were talking about touring, what are your favourite places?

We went to Italy. That was nice. We did some shows in Rome, Bologne, Milano…Beautiful cities, but we didn’t have the time to see much. One and a half hours to see Venice… that’s not much. We jumped into a bus and went around. Soon after that, back to the venue. It is weird. We go all the way, but we don’t have time to see much.

When did you start making music?

I got interested in music thinking about how sounds are created. When I was a kid, I did lots of different kinds of music. I played with samples, drum machines, I helped friends… Later someone would invited me to a project or a band and I would join. Since then I played in different bands and tried different sounds, pop rock, scratch-djing… many different things. But with Familjen Ithink I have found the right form and way to communicate my music. The Familjen project is me. With other bands, you have to struggle and fight for your ideas. No, no… you end up being mad. In Familjen I am the king, I get to decide.

How was the release of the album?

It was a bit unexpected. I had all the songs and a friend of mine that runs a record label in Sweden told me: “I really like the songs. Can I publish them on my label?” I agreed, so we first released an EP and then a full-length album. It went that well. I had no plans at all. People usually come to me and ask me to play. That is really cool, I don’t have to struggle and sell my ideas.

Did you have all the songs of the album ready at that time?

Not all of them. I was writing some of them when the record company decided to release a full length album. They told me: “Ok, we are doing it and we need more songs!” By that time I had done some live gigs, so I had started to understand what works well on the live set. Before that I had just played in my bedroom so most of the songs were instrumental songs and down-tempo. Playing live I realized that I needed some up-tempo songs that had an impact. A good beat, a good bass line. If you get that right, you get a good song.

Did you feel pressure when they ask you for songs?

It was a bit of pressure, but I think I made it. I had some time pressure. I finished the last song the night before we were supposed to master the recording and send it. Probably I need deadlines to make things happen.

Something slightly different about your music is that you sing in your own Swedish dialect

I thought about singing in English, but I chose Swedish in my own accent. I liked the challenge of making it sound good in my own accent. When I moved to Stockholm, sometimes when I was a bar, people would answer me in English. They didn’t understand me. My accent sounds a lot like Danish. I will continue in Swedish. Familjen will always be in Swedish.

The video of Det snurrar is min skalle got very popular and won an award in Sweden. How did it happen?

That’s funny. A guy I did not know at all did the video. He sent me a link to a video for the song. He said he had done this video just because he loved the song. Use it if you like it, he said. I saw it and it was awesome. It was mad. I loved it. That was the day before we were supposed to shoot the actual video for the song. Inmediately I rang the record label and everyone involved and I said we were not shooting the video. We already had it. I think the guy got around 2000 SEK as a reward. People love the video because it is so weird.

Do you have plans for a new album already?

I am working on it. We have been playing a lot in the last eight months and it is hard to get in the mood for writing when you are tired and don’t have much time. But now touring is starting to calm down, so I am getting excited to work on the new album. Hopefully, we will release it in spring. I need new songs because we have played the old songs so many times.


Interviews Music

Iron daughter

Not all the pretty girls sing pop in MTV. Lauren Harris, the daughter of Iron Maiden legendary bass player Steve Harris, paid a visit to Finland this summer to open the gigs for her father’s band, introducing her new album Calm Before the Storm to the Finnish audience. Before her second gig in Tampere, we had some minutes to chat with this English beauty in the backstage about the amazing experience of touring the world together with Maiden and what people can expect from her debut album.

Organization is a bit chaotic outside Tampere Ratina stadium, but we finally manage to enter the backstage area and chat with Laurent a few hours before her gig. After the interview is over, there is time to launch an attack on the free backstage beers while waiting to see if we can take a glance of Bruce Dickinson and his fellows passing by. No good luck, but at least to be able to interview and take some pictures with one of the hottest female rock singers nowadays pays off. And after the interview, the delirium with a good evening of heavy metal!

Thanks for attending us Lauren! You have released recently your new album but you have been in music business for a while. Can you explain us a bit more about your beginnings?

Yeah, I used to sing in pubs and stuff like that. Famous producer Russ Ballard happened to be in a pub during one of my shows and after he asked me if I would be interested in recording a demo for him. So of course I said yes. Later I talked to my dad about it and he asked “what was his name” and I said Russ Ballard and of course he knew him, I did not have a clue.


Coming from a family with musicians, were you listening to heavy metal and hard rock since you were a child, or which were your influences?

I was listening to more classic rock, bands like Gun, Golden Earring, and then I started listening to harder stuff like ACDC, Guns and Roses and so on.

So now with your new album, what can people expect from this Calm before the Storm?

I would kind of describe it as classic rock. Some songs talk about relationships, some about feeling good and stuff like that. I think there is quite a lot of different stuff there.

The title of the album is also kind of “classic” in English rock history, Saxon had a song with that name and also in the last album of Judas Priest there is one track titled Calm before the Storm.

Oh really? I did not even know that!

You also have a cover of UFO, Natural Thing, as extra track in your album. Who had the idea to include it?

It was my dad’s decision actually. He is a big fan of UFO. It is a band that I kind of started to listen to because of him, so he advised me that I could try that song, so we did.

You were yesterday singing at your first gig in Finland at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki. How was it?

It was really good actually, really good. Very good response from the Finnish audience so I was really glad! Finland is a metal loving country.


I suppose that maybe in this World tour you are visiting places you have never been before. Any special venue you remember?

Well, playing in the Madison Square Garden, being such a historic place where so many good bands played before, in front of thousands of people, was very special. Also when we were in South America we did a lot of outdoors shows with Maiden, with thousands of people there, so the atmosphere was incredible. South American fans are very passionate!

You have been working hard in your career as a singer for 3-4 years already but now this is your biggest world tour with Maiden. What do you think of the comments that people can make about that you are into this because you are “the daughter of” Steve Harris, etc and they do not pay attention to all what you did before?

Well, I try not to pay attention really. I have toured with Within Temptation; I have toured with The Answer, with Thunder before. With Maiden I have been given the opportunity because of my dad, I am not going to deny that to the people, it is very obvious. For the people who could criticize that I would say that well, if they would have a daughter in the same situation, they would do exactly the same thing. I have been touring now for 18 months, so I suppose that if things would have gone bad, then we had stop the tour ages ago.

I have curiosity, being touring with your father, how is the relation? Do you go to have beers together after the shows, or do you try to keep a bit independent from him?

Well, we do not have time to spend so much time together actually. I travel with my band and he travels with his band, flying everywhere and stuff like that. Well, sometimes we are in pubs together which is cool, I do not feel embarrassed like “oh god my father is here!” nothing like that, hehehe It is really cool with him.

After the tour with Maiden, what plans do you have, because you have not stopped much for 2-3 years? No time for holidays?

No, not right now. After the tour with Maiden we will have some weeks off in September and then we are going to continue on tour, headlining some smaller gigs.

Anything you want to add for our readers?

Thanks a lot to the Finnish audience for come to watch and support me. I hope it won’t be the last time here!

Photos by Eduardo Alonso.

Interviews Music

These dolls are on fire!!!


They are young, pretty, and spicy… and they also know how to rock! In FREE! Magazine we have always paid special attention to the hottest female rock bands, like in our previous interviews with The Donnas or Stalingrad Cowgirls. Now, straight from Hell-sinki, Kaisa, the guitarist of Barbe-Q-Barbies, kindly talks about her band and their last awesome experiences, like opening for legendary W.A.S.P. this summer.

Hello Kaisa. thanks for your answers. Can you explain a bit how did you get to know each other and started with the band?

I first got to know our drummer Niina when we worked at the same video rental store in 2000. Niina and I played in another band before Barbe-Q-Barbies but somehow that didn’t catch fire…  Niina, Ekkis and our former bassist Katriina had already formed the Barbies when I joined in 2002 (or was it 2003?).


The name of the band is quite original, who has the idea?

The idea came from Niina, it originates from the Soundgarden-video Black Hole Sun, where a little girl barbeques a Barbie-doll.

Was it planned from the beginning that you wanted to form a “girls `band”? Why not male members in the formation?

I think so, one of the main points besides playing fierce rock’n’roll is the fact that we all are women.

How is Helsinki as a place for living and playing there? Are you all originally from Helsinki, or were your born somewhere else?

Helsinki is a good place for bands, there are quite many places for gigs here and it’s easy to find people with the same enthusiasm for rock as we have. I’m originally from Oulu (in northern Finland) though.

Is there any difference in Finland to play rock being women instead of men? I mean, do you consider that it is easier, the same or more difficult to reach the audience, promoters and book gigs? 

I guess it still is – and will be for a long time- an eccentric thing for women to play rock. However, the point isn’t that we try to do things like our male counterparts do, but our aim is to add some special flavor to the soup.  Of course it sometimes may be easier to get attention as a female band, just because there aren’t those many… But the fact remains, if people don’t like your stuff, they soon lose interest and stop coming to the gigs and buying your records, no matter what sex you are.

How would you define your music style for new people who want to get to know you? Do you have any/several bands that have influenced you directly?

Something old, something new…” In my opinion our music has that raunchy vibe of the r’n’r bands of the 70’s but there also is something from this millennium. Think of The Runaways, Blondie, AC/DC and Foo Fighters getting together. Hmm, how many members would that be…?

What do you think of other female rock bands in Finland, like Stalingrad Cowgirls?{mosimage}

I think they have a good thing going on. Still, in spite of the same sex, I think we have quite different style. There definitely is, and should be, room for many female bands in Finland and outside Finland too.

You were opening the concert for legendary WASP at the beginning of August. How was the experience? Did you have chance to meet them and talk to them?

It was a great experience, opening for them and playing in a big stage like Teatria in Oulu. Somehow you suddenly feel like 3 meters tall when rocking in a huge stage like that. We actually had a chance to meet with the guys after their gig, they all seemed very nice and easy-going fellas. We didn’t meet Blackie though which was a pity!

Do you dedicate completely to music, or do you have other activities (jobs, hobbies)?

It’s a shame that we can’t pay your rent just by playing rock… yet. But who knows, maybe someday… At the moment I also work full time at the university, other than that, I like to go to gigs and movies. I like traveling too, if only I had the time and money to do that more often… 

Do men find it “sexy” when you comment that you play in a rock band?

Well, the better if it tickles your pickle… 

What are your future plans during this year?

Writing songs, doing gigs, searching for the right record label and doing a little trip in November.

Interviews Music

The white wise lion is back


Talking about White Lion is talking about one of the most influential bands during the golden era of the rock of the 80s. I remember when I was just a young teenager who listened to them compulsively, rewinding their cassette time after time. Now, the band is on tour and with a new album released, and we had the great luck to contact Mike Tramp, their singer and “alma mater”, who answered our questions between gig and gig.

Thanks for collaborating with us Mike. How is the European tour going so far?

My pleasure! The tour is going great as it is always nice to see and hear that White Lion is still alive and appreciated by the rock fans. But it is a shame that we didn't get to go to Finland as there are many White Lion fans there. We just never got an offer to play there and the fans should know that it's not us saying no.

Is there any gig or venue you specially liked or remembered?

You know, I really try not to make any country, city or venue more special than another. But of course every time we get play a new territory it is a great victory and it is special.

You have played and will play in most of the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden) and unfortunately the tour does not touch Finland. But you are these days in my native country, Spain. What can you say about your stay there?

Oh Spain has been wonderful to the return of White Lion, the fans are great and when I hear them sing along to every song, I know that they have been fans from the beginning. I love Spain very, very much.


Some Scandinavian people say that Finland is a country different to the rest of the Scandinavian ones. What do you think, being you Danish? Have you visited Finland in the past?

Well people always say silly things and most don't know shit. Every country has their special thing. I have only played Finland/Helsinki once in 1993 with Freak of nature and hope to come back next year with White Lion, we have to play there.

How does it feel to be again recording a studio album for White Lion after 16 long years?

The thing that was interesting was writing the songs as I had not written those kind of songs for many years and I truly enjoyed it, I could feel I was hungry again and not tired and bored. Going into the studio is just routine; the real fun part is the pre rehearsals when the songs are get worked out to the final detail.

I was hungry to write songs for White Lion again" -Mike Tramp-

What can you tell us about this new Return of the Pride, what can the listener expect when having the CD in their hands?

I hope that the listener will recognize the trademarks of White Lion and at the same time hear the natural progression of 16 years have added to the band and with that find something fresh without stepping away from what the band stands for.

Any special favorite track in the album?

Sangre de Cristo and Battle at little big horn, both to giant epics. It is nice to be free to just let song be as long as it needs to be and have as many parts in it as what feels right. This is not American Top 40 anymore and this is not MTV. It's just rock'n'roll with no rules.

I got the CD of Crimes of Passion, the band opening for you during this tour, and I liked it a lot. What opinion do you have of the guys?

They are my friends first of all and that is why they are with us. At the same time they are a good band who is not afraid of hard work that is also why they are with us. I wish them all the best luck and anything I can do to help them I will.

{mosimage}What activities were you doing after White Lion was dissolved in the 90s until the comeback in 2007?

I recorded 3 albums with my new band Freak of nature and toured the world. Then I did 4 solo albums and a double live album. I have children and I moved from the USA to Australia. Oh yes I have been busy!

What things have changed and what things remain the same from the 80s in your life as musician?

Back then you were part of rock'n'roll evolution, things were changing before your eyes, life were moving fast, while you were the one changing it.Today I am very aware of everything I do, I am experienced and prepared for anything that comes at me, this is a place I know well, I have been here before, I have been here many times, I am an old wise Lion.

You are the only original member left in the band. Are you afraid people can consider this like Mike Tramp´s project instead of a White Lion´s project altogether?

No. But you can ask David Coverdale or Dave Mustaine what they think. We are rock'n'rollers and that is not a job, but a life style. Why should I not carry one with something that I built way before Vito came around? If people have a problem with it they can stay home and not buy the album it is that easy. There are hundreds of bands out there; some don't even have any original members in it.

Future plans? Anything you want to add for the readers and fans?

I play rock'n'roll, it is my life! We still have more White Lion touring this year and new White Lion DVD next year, and we are also working on a new album.

Interviews Music

Take a shot of Lovex


With just a couple of albums released, Lovex is certainly fighting hard to find their own place in the heart of Finnish and foreign rock fans. Last year they were very close to represent Finland in the Eurovision finals, and now they are scoring high in the charts with their new album Pretend or Surrender. Not mentioning the sex appeal of the vocalist Theon among the young female audience

Lovex has just finished their gig at Tammerfest, and while Apulanta is getting ready to assault the stage, I head to the backstage to have a talk with the guys from Tampere. What started as a quick meeting for a short interview turned into a funny long night spending time with them; people down to earth who enjoy the same things that the rest of the young people: to sit in a park sipping a beer, a good conversation and watching the concerts of the other bands. I sit now with Theon, the vocalist, Jason, the bass player and Sammy, one of the guitarists, who kindly answered the questions, but during the next few hours I will have the chance to chat with all the members of the band.

Hello guys. Thanks for your time after the concert. How was the gig?

Theon: It was pretty fine. Tampere is our hometown is it is always nice to play here. There were quite a lot of people.

I made this same question to Jonne of Negative: How is to live in Tampere?

Theon: Well, I was born here and lived here ever since so, I don t know much about other places but…well, it is not the biggest city but it is not a small one in Finland. Winters are pretty much the same all around Finland, cold and sometimes even the summers are quite cold. But I think that Tampere is one of the best places in Finland, definitely.

Can you explain a bit more how was the beginnings and formation of Lovex?

Theon: Actually Sammy, Jason and Vivian were the founders of the band. It was in 2001 and then Christian, Julian and me joined the band a few years later.

Sammy: I knew Theon before and I asked him to join the band. Actually I did not know Christian before he joined the band and Julian was a friend’s friend’s little brother.

What can you tell us of your new album Pretend or Surrender, compared to your previous one Divine Insanity?

Theon: Well, I think our new album sounds a bit more confident and a bit more diverse, maybe a bit heavier than the one before. Guitar sounds are rougher. Everything has gone forward.


You have also a new video for the song Turn, which is a bit a kind of mix between Sin City and Kill Bill s concepts. How did the idea come up?

Theon: We wanted to make a different kind of video, where we do not only appear playing the instruments and the whole theme of Sin City was already present in the artwork of the CD cover so we extrapolated to the video.

In your music there is a clear influence of the rock from the 80s and you also released in a single a cover of Runaway from Bon Jovi. Why that song?

Sammy: Well, we had played that song like in 100 gigs. I think that is the one song that we all liked back there, but we have played it so many times that it does not feel the same anymore.

Jason: Yes, we had played the song so many times that we thought it would deserved to be recorded live and release it with the single.

You were in Japan a couple of months ago. How was the experience in the Asian country?

Theon: It was an amazing experience there!

Sammy: So different culture!

Jason: When we have been in Germany or Austria, you still feel identified with the European stuff, but Japan and Asia… it is a whole different.

Theon: We had 2 good gigs there, and a couple of nights out. We had a whole free day for ourselves to visit Tokyo.

Sammy: Quite different from Finland, that you do not find so many people here, and so many million inhabitants in Tokyo!

About your visits to play in Germany and Austria, do you use it as a kind of “key” to conquer other markets in Europe?

Theon: Well, we have nothing against other countries, but certainly there we have many fans and the media help to promote a lot, like Viva channel for example. There has been some discussion about playing and promoting more in other countries like Mexico or Spain


A great part of your audience is young female teenagers. Are you afraid that you can get this label of “rock band for teenagers”?

Theon: Not really. We do the kind of music we like. Of course we have many young girls in the audience but also more adult people. We basically do music for whoever wants to listen to it.

Sammy: For example in the concerts in Germany audience was a bit older than here in Finland.

Last year you were very close to represent Finland in the Eurovision contest. At the end you ended up in third position after Hanna Pakarinen and Thunderstorm. Now, 1 year after that happened, how do you feel about it?

Jason: Well, we are still angry at it…hehehe. Well, honestly, it was disappointing. Of course it would have been very good for promotion that is what we were looking for. But well, even though things worked well, and some minutes after we knew we had not won we just thought “well, we have not won, so what the fuck!!!” So we just grabbed some bottles and drank and had a good time and forgot about it.

Anything you want to add for our readers?

Jason: Well, the first single Take a Shot was the most played song in Finland for several weeks. We are quite proud of that.

And the “official interview” ended up, but not the night with the guys. One invitation to one beer leads to another… and well. The story continues as many Finnish stories go on: with a hangover next day. But I want to thank the guys for a good evening of music and fun, and especially to Jason who was very friendly with Finnish and foreign fans whenever they approached to talk to him and to Mika (the official mobile phones and booze provider of the band). Lovex have got one more Spanish fan from now on!

For more information visit:


Interviews Music

Get on board and run wild

All the way from the land of Rose Tattoo and AC/DC, Airbourne is a very young band that will carry the tradition of Australian hard rock in the years to come. Earlier this year, Airbourne published its first album, Runnin’ Wild, but the band has toured extensively in the past few years, opening for The Rolling Stones, Motörhead and Mötley Crüe, which its music is feature in the soundtrack of many hit videogames. Airbourne was the band that opened this year’s Sauna Open Air festival in Tampere. A few hours before its afternoon set, FREE! met drummer Ryan O'Keeffe at the lobby of the hotel near the festival. Still a bit sleepy and with the need of morning coffee (or beer), Ryan professionally replied to a few questions.


Things are happening very fast for Airbourne, how do you feel about this success?

This is what we always wanted to do since my brother Joel [vocals and guitar] and I were kids. We wanted to tour the world. At the moment we are touring Europe and the UK.

You are young, but experienced, when did you start playing?

I was 11 or 12 when I started playing. Now I’m 22.

Why dd you choose to play drums?

My brother got the guitar and my parents  to get me entertain they got me the drums.

There is a tradition in rock that tells that the brother that form a band are always fighting. How is your relation with your brother? Do you fight a lot?

Not really. I guess we do resolve issues quicker. Our relation is ok. Also with the rest of the band. We al four get along very well. We’ve spent a lot of time together rehearsing and recording the album. Now we all live together in a house in New Jersey.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was usual that bands live together for some time. Now it does not seem to happen so much.

Yeah, it’s true, but I’m glad we are one of those bands.

How was the recording of Runnin’ Wild?

We recorded the album with Capitol Records in LA. They merged with Virgin and suddenly there were two catalogues that they needed to support. They were already struggling financially, so they had to dropped some bands. 70% of the catalogue had to go, including big artists. So we got the album back to us and they said good luck. We found this new deal with Roadrunner Records.

Did you feel very disappointed with this change?

No we just kept going. If this is what you feel doing, you don’t give up.

The album came out internationally this year, but you recorded much earlier, in 2006.

It took a while to finish with previous label and it took a while to organize deals with the new record label It was another little downer, but we could continue touring, so it was not that bad.

How was the recording process?

We pretty much had all the songs when we went to the studio. When we were in America for recording, we decide if we could go jumble through the songs that we had (Heartbreaker, etc). We just wanted to make a jumble of different things to make sure that we would make the best album possible.

How do you feel about playing festivals, when sometimes you need to pay as early as 3pm, like today?

We’ve been playing for a long time, so I guess we played already at any time possible and different kind of shows. We played gigs at 7am. We did some morning radio shows. You just do it. Nothing is never perfect.

Do you do anything special before the gig? Do you have any rituals?

We just hang around, have a couple of beers, even if it’s 7am.. to get in the mood.

How is life on the road for you?

Basically, we don’t really have much time. If we have, we usually spend it drinking. But we love working and taking care of the band.

Do you have many groupies?

In the last year and a half, there have been a few women, yes. It is good to meet some girls, from different places. It goes with the profession.

You opened for The Rolling Stones, how was it?

We met some of them, like The Rolling Stones. They are very good boys, really down to earth. We had a drink and that was all. We met Lemmy and the other guys of Motörhead. Also Rose Tattoo. It’s great to meet the royalty of rock and roll.

Your music has been featured on many videogames, how do you like it?

Yes, they have managed to fit our songs in everything from football to car racing.

Do you like playing?

We get the chance to play them, but we don’t have that much time as we woud like to.

Are you already preparing new songs?

Yes, al the time. Charles has a notepad with him al the time. We jam new songs at soundcheck.

Do you have any special music you like travelling with?

We carry the usual stuff: Rose Tattoo, Mötorhead…

Name one of your favourite drummers?

Phil Rudd.

Interviews Music

Positively negative


Jonne Aaron is one of the most famous rock singers in Finland, apart from a notorious sex symbol. Girls dream about him, guys imitate his style and press follows his steps. But the person I find sitting in front of me at Klubi in Tampere is just a normal young talkative guy, a person quite down to earth who enjoys also doing housework, not ashamed of his past and looking at the future with the illusion of a child in a candy shop.

Hello Jonne. Negative has recently released a new album, Karma Killer. What can the new and old fans expect about it?

I think the album itself is really positive. If you compare it to the previous one, Anorectic, it was really depressive, to me at least personally. It was made through very difficult times. In Karma Killer otherwise I just concentrated on what is going on now and the future. When we started many people were putting us in the same group with other bands like H.I.M, but I think that now with Karma Killer we have achieved the kind of sound we wanted. It shows the direction to follow in the future.

The album is positive but there is also quite an angry track: Motherfucker (just like you). Do you meet many motherfuckers in everyday life?

Hehehe… Of course!  Sometimes…  It is about anger, it has a lot of hate but it is also about not giving up. I have worked hard to make this band to be one of the best known all over the crowd, so if I would give up, this song would be for me! It would be the “easy escape” to leave everything and just take drugs or shit like that. You know what I mean.


You have lived all your life in Tampere. Do you like it here?

It is really nice. People have been asking for many years the same question, why I do not move to Helsinki where there is more promotion. But I have rally strong roots over here, I like it here! People are quite down to earth. In Helsinki it seems to be important what you are doing, where do you come from…

I was assisting to the contest for choosing the Festbabe in Tammerfest and one question asked to the girls is how they would react if they would meet you. How do you deal with this image of sex symbol in Finland? Is your life keeping up with the rock stereotype of sex, drugs and rock, or how is a normal day in your life?

Well, sometimes it can be glamorous. It depends; I have a lot of friends who can organize parties wherever I am, but usually my life is quite boring, hehehe. I like to wash dishes myself; I like to clean my house…. Every time I came back from the road first things first, I need to clean my place and then it is time to relax. I like watching movies, listening to music, playing guitar, writing songs at home. I avoid a bit crowded places. At the beginning I liked it, I was driven by people´s attention, but now I prefer to stay at home.

And we cannot forget that you are just 24 now. When Negative started you were very young!

Yeah, I was just 18. I must confess at the beginning I lost a bit myself. Who wouldn´t? When your albums are selling gold, platinum… And you have even more shows to do than days in the week and good looking girls are all the time around. But it was just for a while. I allowed that for myself, because there were so many years that I was dreaming with these kind of things… like for example to get a record deal, to get a record company behind Negative it was one of the main things that happened in our career.

When I come home from the road, the first thing I like to do is cleaning everything and washing the dishes -Jonne Aaron; singer of Negative-

And actually the promotion of your last album is huge inside Finland, with ads everywhere. Do you have any specific target in the international market?

The whole Europe. We are going to concentrate on that and I think for the next one there is going to be a lot of worldwide promotion. Let´s see. Now we are going to make a wide tour in Europe with 45 shows. So step by step, album by album.

You have many fans in Spain and South America from the beginning!

Yeah, we have played in Mexico and Argentina. And I think Spain is also included in our tour. As I said, step by step. I am still very young so we have time to become bigger. Actually next week I am going to start with Larry working in the next album. We have a working title that is something like “super trooper”! hehehe. We want to make that kind of album that make people fall of their chairs!

I want to ask you also about the problems of the band in the past, and the recently leave of Sir Christus from the band.

Well, we have been so many years together in the band, but then sometimes people start to go in different ways. I would compare him and this situation to Brian Jones and the Rolling Stones. But well, of course I hope he won´t die. It came from our side, since he was not able to keep up together. He had some personal problems and complicated things and it was really difficult for all of us. We gave him a last chance but nothing happened, no improvement, things kept just going down and down. We started to rehearse for Karma Killer and he did not show up! So in some ways I think the decision was kind of relieving for everybody.

I heard that you are going to the studio today in Tampere after this interview.


Yeah, we are going to make a cover of a Dingo´s album: Sinä ja Minä. It is going to be interesting!

How was to record the DVD In the Eye of the Hurricane here in Pakkahuone?

Oh, it was all crowded. There were people actually in the show from all over Europe. Of course it is special. The concert from my side is not the best one; I was pushing the voices too high. I was a bit nervous for the recording of the DVD. Actually I am already nervous for the concert tomorrow (Negative was playing next day in Tammerfest at 15:00 and Jonne did not like much to have to play so early).

You were playing in Sweden Rock this summer that counts with an amazing band list. How was there?

Yeah, we played between Deff Leppard and Whitesnake! I was even barely born when these two bands were popular! The audience was very nice, it was the first gig for Negative in Sweden, and we saw a lot of Swedish tits! (Jonne lifts up his t-shirt imitating the ladies in the Swedish audience who showed their charms)

So what are your future plans?

We have a few festivals here, and then we will continue to Europe and then let´s see. We are living quite interesting times; a big record company is coming behind Negative so promotion is going to be even better!

And  the interview was over with me in a hurry to take the train to Helsinki to see “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen, and Jonne heading to the studio to record the Dingo´s cover and feeling in his own words “jealous” because he could not go to see Springsteen too. Well, as he said, he is still very young and will have many chances to see and give amazing performances on stage. 

Negative´s discography commented by Jonne Aaron

{mosimage}War of Love (2003): It is a collection of war love, demo tapes. All songs were written in many years, from 1997 to 2003. It is our first official album.

{mosimage}Sweet and Deceitful (2004): It is really beautiful, high sensitive, probably one of the most beautiful albums we have released.

{mosimage}Anorectic: It was quite dark, a little bit too depressing. I see that we decided as a band to take a big step and not to do the same kind of album than the previous ones, so we decided to go in a new direction. It would be even better album, deeper musically, but still it is quite good, it has a lot of stuff and information inside.

{mosimage}Karma Killer: It is very positive. There are the elements we represent, you take all what we want in rock and you put it together and here it is. I take it also as a new step for the band, we have to climb higher and higher and the development as a band has been huge. this is the album I am most satisfied with 

Interviews Music

Where the hammer lies bleeding.

{mosimage}Swedish Hammerfall have been on top of heavy metal scene for more than one decade. We had a great chat with Oscar Dronjack, their guitar player, with time to talk a bit about everything: their new DVD and cover album, their little actions of mischief on tour, the leave of Stefan Elmgren from the band or how a motorbike accident affected him, having to rehabilitate his broken arm. A complete exclusive interview for the readers of FREE! 

I must confess I have had a weakness for Hammerfall since I saw them first time 11 years ago during their first European tour, opening for Gamma Ray and Jag Panzer in Madrid. A young Oscar looked astonishing on stage, all wrapped on leather. Now, more than 1 decade later, have the things changed a lot?

Well, everything has changed in a way, but in another way everything is pretty much the same. We are still recording albums, going on tour, making promotion. So it is a kind of cycle, but the way we think has not changed over the years; the way we write songs… The way we record has changed of course, before we had an idea in the middle of the night and we set the tape recorders, now we have Pro Tools and all that stuff to solve these things.


You have just recently released a new DVD: Rebels with a cause plus the covers album Masterpieces. Why the release of this material just now?

Both releases were planned for last year, and for several reasons were postponed. Masterpieces is a good opportunity, we had done so many covers and we wanted to gather them together and add a couple of new ones, so the people do not need to go online and download them. Also the next studio album is not coming until 2009, so this time on summer was a good one.

The collection of covers there mix very famous bands with some others pretty unknown like Stormwitch or Roger Pontare. Is this mix made consciously?

Well, when we choose a song for a cover we choose it very carefully, something that we really like and we feel we can do “well” somehow. One of the reasons we choose unknown bands is that, for example, if we do an Iron Maiden´s cover, it would still always be compared to their original. It would be very hard to make it better even if you can make it different. Then we have other famous covers that we did for tribute albums. They come from many different eras of Hammerfall and many different times.

I was really surprised you include an Europe´s cover, taking into account you come from a black metal background. It gives a nice “glam touch”.

Well, if you were a Swede, it was impossible not to hear them in the 80s. Actually people gave them a lot of crap at that time, me included, not realizing how good they really are until the end of the 80s. The same kind of crap we got when Renegade came out and we became a little bit more famous. When I listen to Europe´s albums, especially the first two ones, they are really cool, pretty heavy metal. Then they added keyboards more.

You also sing in the cover of Breaking the Law

Yeah, that one is included because we used to do the same at the end of every show, we were switching our instruments and I was singing, a kind of telling the audience “thanks for a great night”.

So following the title of the DVD, what causes make you feel like a rebel?

Hehehe… well, we play a bit with the words. As you can see, big part of the DVD is us breaking things…

Yeah, I was surprised when I watched it. Do you really break so many things when touring?

Well, not now. Back then it was like that. Well actually we never destroy something “major”. We never destroy back stages or mirrors or whatever. It is just little things.

Well, when bands like Manowar release a DVD, half of the time you see naked women. Here half of the time you can see the band stripping themselves!

Hehehe, maybe we are a bit of exhibitionists! The stripping part was quite funny. Anders had the audience just downstairs, and we were shouting:  do it do it! And then he finally did it. It was totally unexpected for us. I was there with the camera. So since we do not have pictures or videos or naked groupies, there we are ourselves! 

Stefan lived his dream for 11 years in Hammerfall, and now he goes to live his another dream” –Oscar commenting on the leave of Stefan Elmgren from the band-

Stefan Elmgren has left Hammerfall to become a pilot. What is your opinion about his reasons to leave?

Well, it was kind of sad and surprise, because I did not think that it happened at this point, but then we started to talk about it. All in the band knew that was his passion, he was already flying for a couple of years, very into that stuff. When he got the offer to become a full time pilot, we knew that it was quite fair that was what he wanted to do, so we had to take it and move on. He is still a good friend; we have played together for 11 years, so not bad blood there. He lived his dream for 11 years in Hammerfall and now he goes to live another dream, so I admire him for that.

Maybe then you can get free tickets when you have to go on tour…

Actually we said that if we would have a show or a festival close to an airport, it would be nice to fly all together, so we could rent a plane and he could fly us there and back.

But this time you cannot throw or break anything in the plane…

Hehehe, we have to behave! I do not want to get the captain angry at us!


Oscar, you had an important motorbike accident few years ago, where you broke your arm. Were you worried about the consequences, if you would be able to perform the same than before after it?

Absolutely! I was very worried. 10 years earlier I broke my elbow too. Now this is my profession, so my job was compromised. My mother was pointing out to the doctors that I was a guitarist… I took very careful rehabilitation at the beginning. I have a bit of dissolute mind sometimes, but this took a lot of will power. It made me feel stronger to go through that, in a way. Sometimes I still feel my elbow stiff. I train a lot, for example I do taekwondo, to keep my muscles in good shape.

Being Finland so close to your country Sweden, what is your opinion when you come to play here?

Well, interestingly enough we have not played so many times there. I think we have been only 3 times in Finland. I think it has to do because when you go there you lose a day in the ferry going there and one day coming back. But being in Finland playing has always been great. First time was in 2003. There is a strong metal scene there. I don´t really know why we cannot go there more often than we do.

What plans do you have for 2008?

No touring, no shows except for one in Canada. Apart from that we are going to focus on working in the songs for the new album that will come out on February 2009. We will start to record it at the end of the summer.

Hammerfall´s discography commented by Oscar Dronjak

{mosimage}Glory to the Brave (1997): We did everything with best intentions, but I think nobody realized how professionally sounded until we went on tour. We did not have many expectations; it was the first album we recorded together and that tour opened the eyes of many people towards the band.

{mosimage}Legacy of the Kings (1998): Also very important. We wrote everything for it in a couple of months, working with the same producer and recording at the same studio. When you try to establish your style, it is important to have a couple of very good first two albums.

{mosimage}Renegade (2000): It is probably the most important album of our entire career in some ways, overall the coverage we got from the media.  We reached number 1 in the Swedish charts, so we got interviews from the general press, not only from the music media. 

{mosimage}Crimson Thunder (2002): Very exciting to record with Charlie. He is a very good producer and knows how to get the best from us. He is like one more of the family It features Wheels on Fire, probably our most famous song.

{mosimage}Chapter V (2005): I think this album is more important for me than for any other member, because it was the first one after I broke my arm. So for me it was a big step in my musical career.

{mosimage}Threshold (2006): I think that the most complete album we have done so far. All the songs are different, but still work together as an album.

{mosimage}Masterpierces (2008): It is a handful of other people´s songs played in a “Hammerfall way”, collected all over 12 years.

Interviews Music

Honest music in a selfish world


Kinetik Control has been one of the nicest new surprises in the Finnish music scene during the past months; a band with a very personal style not afraid of provoking the audience with risky covers from old dance classics. Their first album has scored top high in the charts, and Tweak, one of the founders of the band, explains everything you need to know exclusively for the readers of FREE! Magazine.

Hello Tweak. Can you please explain a bit more about the formation of the band, Kinetik Control, and your personal past story in the music business?

I formed Kinetik Control in the beginning of the century with the aim of making music that would be totally honest and largely varied. The idea was to combine all kinds of music styles that have been important for me and not set any limits to what we could do. I've played in some extreme metal and rock bands in the past and done all kinds of music business related odd jobs, but now I'm 100% focused on Kinetik Control.


There are tones of hard rock and metal bands in Finland nowadays, but when listening to Kinetik Control, I have the impression you have achieved quite a personal style, a bit more electronic and "dark" oriented. Which are your influences when creating your music (if we put aside the lack of divine inspiration…), and what do you think of the "boom" of heavy metal music in Finland nowadays?

I cannot hear darkness in our music, just light. The album title reflects the current state of the humankind; selfishness, materialism and superficiality, when it seems that people have abandoned their spiritual values. My influences vary; when I write the songs, I aim to tell a story. I do not write about my personal experiences but rather about things that I see and observe. I am merely an observer, not a judge. The boom of course helps in the sense that no one is scared for heavy guitars these days. I consider our music to be indie pop, the distorted guitar sound is the only thing we have in common with traditional metal bands. I do not either listen to metal that much anymore these days even if I did when I was younger. Frankly speaking, I am getting a bit tired of the metal boom. A lot of people get away writing uninteresting music simply by hanging on to the metal anthems. Freak singers can win the Idols because they say they are metal… I think it will all harm itself in the end.

Your second singles has as a title No one knows about us, but certainly that is not the case with the band, since although you are pretty new in the scene, your singles are hitting very high in the Finnish charts. Which are the reasons of this early success?

I don't know. We aim to make honest music with a lot of heart behind it, and I hope people can see that in today's impatient world.

Are the new members Medusa and Shades going to remain as permanent musicians in the band, or are more changes expected in the near future?

Shades has been clearly imprinted in the band and will remain as a permanent member. We also have a new guitarist to help me out: L-G, who used to play for a Swedish Spinefarm death metal act Arise.


If I am not mistaken, you have worked with the recording of the album in the famous Finnvox studios, a place of reference for many well known Finnish and international bands. How was the experience there?

It was really learningful and the people there were friendly. I couldn't imagine us working anywhere else.

There is an interesting and curious cover in the album from Haddaway´s: What is Love. Who had the idea to cover this song?

Provocation. We chose a song that was a bit disgusting, and wanted to try the sense of humor of the listener. How low can you go? Do the limbo dance!

Are you able to focus your life just on your music now, or do you have other jobs/activities apart from Kinetik Control?<

We have no obligatory desire to focus solely on music. I love my day job and as long as it is possible to combine both, I will most surely do it. The other members have quite similar situations, but when the time comes, we are not afraid to put emphasis on the music.

I am getting a bit tired of the metal boom in Finland" -Tweak. Kinetik Control-

Is Helsinki the best place on earth to write depressing music?

Helsinki is a bit depressing in its own way, but I am originally from the north of Finland, Oulu, the most beautiful city of Finland. Oulu is a perfect setting for a melancholic frame of mind, but I tend to travel to various places inside my mind, and writing songs does not demand any certain type of feeling, atmosphere or place to happen.

In your official website we can still not find information about incoming gigs and tours. Is there anything already planned that you could share with us? Surely fans would like to know where to see you on live.

We are currently making rehearsal shows under secret name(s). The official tour will be published late this summer and performed during the autumn.

What are your future plans? Are you going to take advantage of the good welcoming of your first album to release soon a second one?

The only thing we are going to take advantage is the fact that I already have so many songs ready for the next album that we are kind of forced to do it so that we can move on, and I don't think you have to wait for a new album that long.

Anything else you want to add for the readers of FREE! Magazine?

Have a warm, music-filled summer and remember to lotion yourselves!

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Interviews Music

That band from Pori

Disco Ensemble is the band that dominates the indie rock scene in Finland. Their latest album is selling really well and soon they will start a tour in the United States after playing at the Ruisrock festival this weekend. Right before the start of their tour Finland, FREE! met Lasse Lindfors (bass) and Miikka Koivisto (vocals and keys) in the backstage at Klubi in Tampere. Their music edgy, with hardcore and punk roots, but Lasse and Mikko speak calmly, almost shy of their success. They are just some normal guys from Pori.


You just played in Germany

Miikka: Yeah, we came a couple of days ago. We just had the time to make the laundry at home. It was good there.

Who does it feel to play the first gig of the tour in Finland?

Miikka: We are a bit more nervous. In Germany we were the supporting act and here we are the headliners. The audience know us better, so it feels like they expect more from us.

Lasse: It’s a different feeling. We have a history here. It’s easier to make an impression when nobody knows you and doesn’t know what to expect. Here it feels that we have to push it even further.

How do you think the audience will react to the new songs?

Lasse: We have to see. We don’t know.

Miikka: We are happy with the album, of course. But we haven’t played any shows with the album being released. The reaction is different when people don’t know the songs, like it happened in Germany.

Lasse: In a way we don’t want to think about the audience too much. We are happy about the record is out.

You kept a video blog while recording the album, how was the experience?

Lasse: We didn’t plan it much. We just kept the camera there and try to capture something so we could give people a taste of how working in the studio is. But it came pretty weird.

Miikka: We speak Finnish to each other, so it feels weird to change to English in front of the camera. That’s why the videos were weird. We didn’t say much.

Lasse: We just don’t have the genes to be in front of the camera.

Will you repeat with the next recording?

Both: Probably

The artwork of Magic Recoveries is pretty special. It even includes a poster. How did it come up?

Miikka: It’s made by a designer we met some time ago, Inka Järvinen. We had some discussions about the meaning of our music and the lyrics and he designed some ideas.

What is that meaning?

Miikka: Nothing really specific. We wanted to reflect the attitude.

Your schedule for the next months looks pretty busy.

Lasse:That’s what we do. We’re excited. We don’t get shows for granted. We are excited and grateful.

What about playing in the United States?

Lasse: We’ve played in a couple of showcases, but this are going to be the first real tour there.

Do you prefer playing festivals or clubs?

Miikka: Both have good and bad things.

How is playing early in a festival?

Miikka: It’s strange to set your mind to play that early. It’s difficult to get in the mood in the daytime.

Could you tell me a little bit about the early days of the band?

Miikka: I joined the band in 2000 and Lasse in 2002. The other two guys (Mikko Hakila, drums, and Jussi Ylikoski, guitar) have played together longer. It seems like it’s a long time, but it’s not that much. In the early days, the music was hardcore punk, with shouting lyrics. As a hardcore punk band from Pori , we just played, we didn’t expect instant success. It has evolved pretty slowly, very naturally.

What is your favourite venue in Finland?

Miikka: The obvious answer is Tavastia. Lutakko in Jyväskylä is good too. Both Klubis in Tampere and Turku.

Lasse: It’s different if I’m going to see a show. I prefer smaller places like Semifinal or Kuudes Linja

What is the funniest festival you have played?

Miikka: It was up North, in Tornio. The stage was high up on a hill, the sun didn’t set at all. Really surreal.

What is the craziest band you have toured with?

Lasse: Gogol Bordello. No doubt about it. It was fun to see them every night and mess around.

Did you get to meet groupies while being on the road?

Both: We don’t have any groupies! But there are beautiful girls in every country.

If you would have to pick up only one record…

Miikka: On the band’s behalf that would be The Shape of Punk to Come by Refused.

What band would you like to see in concert nowadays?

Both: Radiohead.

Interviews Music

Alec Eating his Heart Out


Alec Empire, former member of Atari Teenage Riot, is a versatile artist: musician, producer (with his label Eat Your Heart Out Records), remixer, DJ… He has played and collaborated with an astonishing list of great bands and musicians and shook many consciences with the charged political statements of his previous band. Now, after having released his new album The Golden Foretaste of Heaven and toured all over Europe, he kindly had time to answer the questions that I shot at him.

Hello Alec. How was the recent European Tour?

It was great… this band is really what I want to do now. It feels so right. The energy, the crowd reception…everything. I wish I had thought of this much earlier. We have found a way to bring all the different elements of my music together. 

Is there any gig or venue that you specially liked? 

I never look at shows like this. We control the atmosphere with the crowd together. So we can go into any venue in the world and do it! I really liked Manchester.

I have seen that you re-scheduled more shows in Germany and France. You played in Helsinki on February. What is your opinion about Finland and the Finnish audience?  

We try to play there again. The routing didn’t make any sense this time round. But of course we kept it on our plan for this year. There is no other country which can be compared to Finland. Finland is dark, nobody is laughing…everybody is drinking haha…I love it….but there all have a strong sense of design, architecture and a certain kind of music.


What has changed for Alex Empire´s attitude when going on stage from the times of Atari Teenage Riot?

Not that much actually. I am still me….I don’t compromise. I always do what I feel is right.

I interviewed recently Alex from Einstürzende Neubauten, and he commented that the spirit of creativity in Berlin is getting lost and it is not what used to be. Do you agree with that, or how do you see the artistic scene in Berlin nowadays?  

No I disagree with him. He belongs to another generation. And for that generation it is perhaps true, but there is so much energy where I am at…Berlin is the future capitol of music in Europe. There is no doubt about that. In Berlin artists always think towards the future. In no other city in the world there is that creative power right now.

There is no other country which can be compared to Finland" -Alec Empire-

What got you inspired for creating this new album?

Berlin. I wanted to build a bridge between the past and the present. I pushed a new side of my music, combined with my ideas about electronic music this has created a new mixture. It is funny, everybody says it sounds familiar but nobody knows what to compare it to…

You have very different roles: musician, promoter, booking agent, DJ…  How do you find time to cope with everything?


I am not a booking agent. I also don’t promote in the traditional sense. I put nights together. But I always did that. I feel I always have to come in when other people lack the imagination. I think it’s easy. Someone once said to me it’s how my brain is wired haha…. it’s just different.

If you would have the chance to choose a perfect place, time and musicians colleagues to play with you the last concert of your life, what would your decisions be?

I would play for myself alone in my place. This sounds strange to other people, but I would love the chance to play and really remember my life and the situations I played these songs in…

Do you have any concert or venue confirmed for the summer festivals?

There are talks right now, but I got offered two film soundtracks, so I might have to do those (It was just confirmed that Alec Empire has composed the soundtrack for Japanese director Tadanobu Asano´s new film). I could play some festivals but somehow the line ups have become so boring… I don’t know… I am looking for new challenges in my life. Every time I go to a festival it feels like a graveyard….Festivals used to be adventurous and exciting. Now I just see sponsorship and bands on many stages… it doesn’t feel like one big party…more like watching little adverts on TV…. When I go to a concert I want to come out as a different person on the other end…

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Interviews Misc

The Finnish Photographer of Rock


Ville Akseli Juurikkala is the most important rock photographer in Finland nowadays. His work can be seen in recent albums and official promotion material of top Finnish bands such as H.I.M. Nightwish, Hanoi Rocks, Apocalyptica, The Rasmus or 69 Eyes. International stars such as American actress and musician Juliette Lewis or Colombian singer Juanes had been also targets for Ville´s shootings. Discover with us a bit more about this fan of rock music who decided one day to exchange the electric guitar for the camera. 

Ville,you are mostly known for your work with rock bands. Are you a rock music fan yourself?

I used to play guitar and sing in various rock bands since I was 10. I was very serious about it. One of my bands even played in Tavastia. Then I got into photography about 10 years ago. And I liked more than playing. The band had to go. And I’ve never regretted that I did it.

It looks lately that every top Finnish music artist must be photographed by you. Is this the best moment of your career?

This is the best moment on my career by far, of course.  Five years ago this was my goal, what I wanted to achieve on my life. But then everything went just faster than I thought. And now I think that this all was just the start.


Who takes the decisions before planning a photo session? It is done what you want, what the artists want, or you try to find a middle point?

All mentioned above, but I’d like add the client (record company A&R) on the list as well. But this all it depends so much about the band and the record company and all. There’s no one way.

Do you need a lot of preparation before a session, or do you enjoy more to take pictures on the spur of the moment?

I enjoy taking pictures on the field but sometimes it’s really nice to create ideas beforehand with the band.

Is there any particular picture you have taken that you feel especially proud of?

There are many, you should always be proud of your work, what ever you do. But it’s really impossible to raise some of them above others. One really good is that where Jussi 69 has collapsed on the floor of Tavastia after the show. It is “very rock’n’roll”… and very real.

You published during last year Route 69, the book you did with pictures of 69 Eyes during their American Tour. How was the experience to be on the road with them? Are you a friend of the band?

It was great to tour with them. We had a lot of fun, maybe even too much some may think. It was crazier than with Nightwish. I’m still good friends with those guys, especially with Jussi.

Do you do other projects apart from your photography side?

I’ve done 2 music videos. Hanna Pakarinen: Black Ice and 51koodia: Mustat sydämet.

You have been on tour with Nightwish. Can you tell us a bit more about the project?

It’s going to be a somewhat like the Route69 but this will concentrate not only on the band but also on the things behind, the roadies etc. On their Europe tour they had 56 people working for them, 3 busses and 4 trucks. It’s interesting to show some of that side as well.

Usually Finnish artists are quite down to earth, but has there been any artist or band that turned difficult to work with? And the easiest one?{mosimage}

Actually I was surprised the way that this one American rock band treated me when I was touring with them. People might think that they are some kind of big divas since their albums are selling millions. But then actually they treated me a lot better than any Finnish bands I’ve worked with.

What are your challenges for the future?

As I told I was working with this one American band right now. I’m sorry I don’t want to tell you the name before everything is sure. And we still have negations going on. I had one week trip with them on their UK tour and all went great. They asked me on their US tour later this year but I don’t want to tell too much before it’s all certain.

Do you have any advice for those young photographers who are starting now and could read this?

Use your soul. Let it help your eyes in your work. Don’t pay too much attention on how to use photo shop or things like that. That’s not what great photography is about.  

All Photos taken by Ville Akseli Juurikkala and extracted from his personal website.

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Interviews Music

The Damned Are Ready to Thrash!


Veteran American Thrash metal band Testament is back stronger than ever with a new powerful studio album: The Formation of Damnation, which during these initial weeks is selling a real bunch of copies. 25 years of existence in the metal scene is not anything many achieve. Chuck Billy, his vocalist, is a clear example of this spirit of survival: a man who was able to go through cancer and come back to the music business reborn and still kicking ass. FREE! Magazine talked to him and he kindly explained all what has been going around Testament during the past years.

Finally, after the last studio album for Testament in 1999, The Gathering, here comes the release in 2008 of this new The Formation of Damnation. Chuck, please, could you tell us a bit more about what circumstances were around the band for such a long time waiting?

In 2001 I discovered I had cancer, and then I did not play music in 2 years.  In 2003 we came back again and in 2004 we started working again playing music doing some songs. We knew we had to make a better record than The Gathering and I did not think they were up this good yet so we just kept touring. And we were not very happy with what Spitfire, the record company, was doing.


And what were they doing?

Nothing, they did just nothing. That is the problem. They never set interviews; they never claimed we were their artists. We were recording a DVD in London and nobody showed up from the company…

So basically lack of interest from them…

Yeah, lack of interest! We were not too excited, working so hard, with a record company that was going to do nothing worthy. Then they were sold to a company called Sheraton Squares, so when we call to Sheraton Squares it was like “hello, good afternoon, so what is the plan?” and they said “well, we are not signing any new bands, we are only going to release gospel music”. So we had to go for the next step, and the next step was the “bye bye step”.

Are you happy now with Nuclear Blast?

Oh yeah! Nuclear Blast had been talking for us for 10 years. They were like “we can be your label, we can do things for you guys” So we signed the papers and released the contract with the old company and we said “hey, we are free”. Nuclear Blast came to the table with the best offer, much better than everybody by the way. We knew we wanted to be with Nuclear Blast so it made sense. They were the best company and they made the best offer so we went for it, and it has been great! We started right away working on the new record after signing with them.

Chuck, having gone through such a traumatic experience as having cancer, how do you see life nowadays? Do you see things with a different perspective?

Well, of course I go through life with a different perspective. I mean, when I was sick, I was not playing music for over a year. I thought “ok, it is done with music. My career is over.” I did not think about music that much, I was making efforts to feeling better and being with my family, so music was not so important for me at that time.

Spitfire, our old record company, did nothing for us!" -Chuck Billy. Vocalist of Testament-

So now, when you are on stage, do you enjoy the same or more than before, having this “second chance” to play?

Well, I enjoy it more than then. When I started playing again with the group it was such a good feeling!  We were on tour again playing in places we had not been before, and that made it so exciting again! We are playing better than ever, we are better musicians than we ever were, we enjoy the company out there and a lot of things look better than it used to be.

How does it feel to have Alex (Skolnick) in the guitar again?

Oh, it is a great feeling, to have Alex and Eric. They have a special unique style together. They always have a special formula when they play together.

And in Testament you have also had along your career great drummers, which have been good luck and bad luck at the same time, since you changed them quite often. Now, you have Paul Bostaph. Why is not Nick Barker playing with you?

Well, Nick Barker wanted to be in this record, but he had different issues in America. We could not wait for Nick. so we actually had to make a decision about what we wanted to do, so at first we thought to invite Paul just to play with us, and he did a great job, so we decided that he did such a good job and worked so hard and we asked him if he was interested to do the record with us. We needed him because Nick was not going to come back for about six months, so at that point it made sense. Paul was close and he used to be in the band.

About the new album, is there any song you would have any favorite song to recommend to our readers?


I like all of them. I would not be able to recommend just some.  I think all the record is very strong, all the songs stand on their own.

Last year you also created other project called Dublin Death Patrol, playing together with your brothers and with Zetro Sousa collaborating there too. Are there going to be more DDP´s albums in the future?

For the time being, it is just done for it. With the record just done, I have to focus a bit more about Testament. Maybe next year, you know, or in the end of the year, Dublin Death Patrol could come with something. Dublin Death Patrol is not such a big project, we sell the record through our own website, and… that is really.

Was it fun to play all in family, with your brothers?

Last year we had the chance to go to play some gigs to Holland and England, and the other guys of the band had not been there before. We had the lucky chance in one festival to play in the main stage after Heaven and Hell, we were the last band on the main stage, and I was so glad to be there with my brothers and friends! It was a real great feeling!

How do you see the thrash metal scene lately?

I have heard many new bands that I think are better than the last Exodus album. It is a good album but I enjoy more new thrash metal.

Selected Testament Discography commented by Chuck Billy

{mosimage}-The Legacy (1987) It is a classic thrash metal record. I was starting to be fascinated really by what thrash really was, it was very influential to me to be bound as thrash metal singer.

{mosimage}-The New Order (1988). It was when I really started finding my own voice with my own style. ; learning a more natural style, singing the high speeded songs, feeling very comfortable playing thrash,  bringing my style and my songs to Testament. That is where we started crossing to lyrics about the environment, politics…  getting more involved with the environment around.

{mosimage}-The Ritual (1992). It wasn´t a good time for us.  It ended our career together for a time. We had different opinions on music and different music taste at that time. That affected when doing the music It was also the time of new styles, of grunge music, with better companies, radio stations, MTV, so that album did not come at a very good time.

{mosimage}-The Gathering (1999) It was totally a revival. It exploded with energy.  We had Steve DiGiorgio, James Murphy and Dave Lombardo; an outstanding band, a great band! We were inspired by our feelings. Andy Smith did a good job with that record. Testament started to get popular again. I was reborn. It was one of the best Testament records.

{mosimage}-The Formation of Damnation (2008). The best is that we have Alex and Eric playing together again. The structure of the songs is like the old days, what we used to do. It is really a combination of all the music we have created all over our career.    

Testament will be playing in Finland the 6 of June at Sauna Open Air metal festival in the city of Tampere.

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Interviews Music

Peter has a sense of purpose

{mosimage}Swedish metal heads In Flames has been one of the few European bands able to jump the Atlantic Ocean and get also a recognition and big success in America, where they are currently touring. They recently released a new studio album: A Sense of Purpose, and FREE! Magazine had an interesting talk to the bass player, Peter Iwers, who called us from Gothenburg. 



Peter, the previous album Come Clarity was a big hit even in USA. Were you feeling pressure when facing the release of this new record: A sense of Purpose?

No, no pressure. We have been very lucky that every time we do a new record the record company leave it into our hands, because they know they cannot change the kind of music we are going to make. The only pressure there can be could come from ourselves, that we think we have to be better than last time. We do not want to make a record that we could think “well it is good, but not as good as the last one”.

How was the process of recording the album?

We recorded here in Gothenburg. We were making demos for 2.5-3 months and it was nice because we could take the time we needed and then go home to our families.


Roberto Laghi also collaborated in the production with you, didn´t he?

Yes. He is an amazing producer. He made me play extremely well together with Daniel and I think he found our energy in the way we had had before so we were very satisfied with working with him.


"Finnish people have an excellent taste in music!" -Peter Iwers. Bass player of In Flames-


In the official In Flames website you are the only guy who has his own blog: “Peter´s corner”. Did you want to strengthen the relation with the fans or why you are the only member doing that?

I don´t know why. I love doing it. I just felt I wanted to communicate a little bit more.

I noticed reading there that seem like one of your passions is gambling and playing poker… {mosimage}

Yeah, I like it very much!

Do you usually win or lose?

A little bit of both I guess… I try to have fun anyway. I do not play for winning or losing money. I just meet sometimes with some friends, have a few drinks and play a bit, not big sums, like 50 euro an evening and we can play a long time with that.

We have talked to many different Swedish bands in the last months, and they all happen to be very good in their genres. What is the key for this success of Swedish rock and metal? Years ago we used to have these Youth centers where you could go and practice. You could meet a lot of people and play a lot of instruments.  Everybody played and everybody worked and everybody enjoyed the shows. We had a good system back then where they were helping kids who wanted to be creative. But they took away all the funds. It is a shame!

Years ago you released a DVD whose title was Used and Abused. I was wondering of what have you used and abused more in your life?

I would say I used my family and my friends. I used everybody in a way not to feel lonely, because I need people around me. I have not abused that many, because I like to consider myself a “good person” and treat everybody with respect.

You are going to play on summer in a couple of festivals in Finland, apart from other big ones like rock Am Ring and Rock im Park in Germany. What is your feeling when you play here in Finland?

I like Finland. It is a bit darker than Sweden and people with a little bit more of coldness but people seem to have a very good taste in music. Finland seems to be more “metal country” than Sweden. 

Selected In Flames discography commented by Peter Iwers: 


{mosimage}-The Jester Race (1995). It was before my time but I was a good friend of the people in the band. I was not still in the band but they needed rehearsal space and they used my space, and that was basically the contact we started to have for when I joined the band later.


{mosimage}-Whoracle (1997) When it was recorded, just after their bass player left and I was recruited into the band. I started doing the touring with them and it was really a weird thing because I was waiting for the record to come out!



{mosimage}-Clayman (2000): It was the second record I was with the band. I am very proud of that record. We connected very well all of us and musicians and were able to bring it on in the performances. 



{mosimage}-Reroute to Remain (2002): We switched the studio and producer to Daniel Bergstrand.  He pushed us all to the limit. Peter made us do a good album. It was a very good time. It was the first time we were away from home recording. It was the time when we started touring with American bands. Some people were criticizing that we were going to sound like American bands, so it did not matter what kind of music we did, because some people were going to hate it anyway. It is the way it is, we are musicians and we do the music we feel to do. Some people like it, some don´t.


{mosimage}-Come Clarity (2006). It was a bit differently recorded.  Jesper and me recorded it in Gothenburg and then Daniel worked with it. Vocals were then added so we really did not hear anything until it came out. The result was really good.


{mosimage}-A Sense of Purpose (2008). I love all the tracks. It is a record that shows us together being in the studio at the same time again; everybody having a good time playing better than ever. I think that shows in the music also, that the songs are really “wide”, the influence of something that is recorded united and songs have something in common. 


In Flames will be playing in Finland on summer in Nummi Rock the 21 of June and in Rockperry Festival the 18 of July.

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Interviews Misc

StSanders shreds it!


Have Steve Vai, Clapton or Gary Moore forgotten how to play guitar? Many people asked themselves the same question after watching some videos in YouTube with awful performances by top rock guitarists, and the answer is: Santeri Ojala aka StSanders, the master of shredding the best solos of our guitar heroes. 

I meet Santeri in a cafeteria in the centre of Tampere. He makes a short escape from his work as multimedia artist to attend the questions of FREE! Magazine. What started as a hobby became a question of discussion in music and guitarists forums all over the world. Was it right to spoof the original work of artists like Steve Vai, Slash, Van Halen, Metallica…? Well, the person himself behind the nick of StSanders, Santeri Ojala, can give his own opinions about the videos circulating in YouTube: 

Santeri, tell us a bit about this phenomena, you started to shred the famous guitarists. How the idea did the idea come up?

It has something to do with the particular faces that the musicians do when they play. So I thought it would be interesting because they really seem to put a lot of effort into their playing, so make it appear badly would turn into very funny.

So this started like a hobby, totally different from your normal everyday work?

Yeah. Well, I do play guitar although my work is as visual artists. I work with pictures, music, visual effects and I also worked in the multimedia installation you can see in the main square here in Tampere. But I am happy with this, and it is fun, when I have free time to do it. I have to record every part of the video once and again, so in the end I spend many hours in the making of every video. And lately I was also very busy with interviews, etc, so I had a bunch of work accumulated.


Were you expecting the huge response to the videos featured in pages like YouTube?

Well, not at the beginning but I thought that it could become something big very soon.

YouTube has banned your personal account under the nick StSanders, thing that obviously does not make you happy. Did they give you any reason?

Well, they said that they had received emails from 3 different artists and record companies giving complaints about what I do. So when your account receives 3 different complaints, it is automatically shut down. I have sent them many messages, but well, it seems there is nothing to do, so I cannot publish more videos there with that account.

When you choose the artists that are going to suffer this “Shredding experience”, do you follow any kind of procedure; are there artists you especially like or dislike?

Well, I try to pick the famous artists, and also the ones who “make faces”.  Those are the 2 main requisites. 

YouTube has banned my account after receiving complaints about my videos from 3 different artists and record companies” – Santeri Ojala aka StSanders-

So you say you play guitar yourself for quite many years. Do you have to concentrate yourself for playing the songs “convincingly bad”?

Well, if you try to do something like this with singing, it is impossible. For making these videos, it takes in the end as much effort as good playing, because in a way it is good playing, it is intentionally bad. I try to make it sound convincingly bad.

Do you consider yourself a good guitar player when you play normally?

Yeah, I think I can manage.


Steve Vai took with good sense of humor your spoof. He said something like if he would be able to play like that, he would appear more often on MTV. Are there more artists that contacted you personally to give you feedback?

Not the ones I made the videos about, but other artists contacted me and gave me good feedback, people like Scott Thunes who was bass player with Frank Zappa (and he believed the videos were real) or Mike Patton and some others.

You were invited to Jimmy Kimmel´s TV show in USA. How was the experience there, sharing stage with Slash?

Actually turns that Jimmy himself is a great fan of my videos, so he wanted me to be in his show. They called me to fly there very fast because Slash was coming to the show too and I arrived so tired that I almost did not have time to feel excited. We chatted a bit after the show and yeah, he liked the video, he had no problem with it.

And you even had the chance to share stage with him!

Yeah, we played together a bit at the end. I was not even sure if I had to play good or bad or how…

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