Interviews Music

The almighty synthesizer


What can happen when two guys meet in prison and learn to play synthesizer? Kalifornia-Keke and Stiletti-Ana formed Jesse while doing their time in Sörkka prison in Helsinki. With their first album, KAIKKI!, they are on the cover of the most important music magazines in Finland and they show off their metal-electro-AOR. From Megadeth to Toto to Kraftwerk, everything is possible with these synthesizer heroes.

What is the concept behind your music? There seems to be on it as much heavy metal attitude and electronic sounds too.

We try to put together all the stuff we dig. We don’t think, we just play. That includes AOR, Metal and electro. Our main element in the music is the almighty synthesizer, in which we trust above all.

How did you meet and start making music together?

We met back in the days in Sörkka prison. We hanged together and listened to some fusion jazz & stuff. Then our fellow inmate Jesse showed us how to play synthesizer and make songs. He’s kinda amazing dude. After we got out we formed Jesse in honor of king Jesse. We made few songs and put them to Myspace. People went nuts and now we are pretty big.

How was the recording of the album?

Ummm, ahhh, we were kinda drunk. We have a studio in Helsinki and we spent many months there playing around. We used synthesizers and sequencers to put the songs together. We’d like to buy some drum machines to get more drum sounds, but we don’t have the money yet. Basically we made the songs first and then wrote a story based on our life. And now we have it ALL on KAIKKI! Album. Please buy it.

Your image seems to represent the hillbilly side of Finland? Do you think it’s the true image of Finland?

What do you mean?!! I don’t know. I guess we are all just folks… like dudes. We are what we are, but different people come together at our gigs. Like metalheads, punks, electro guys and babes.

In a way, Jesse represents Finland in the same way Markku from Finland does. Do you know him personally? Have you worked together with him.

No we don’t know him. Though we’ve seen him on telly.

Why did you call the band Jesse?

As I mentioned before its after our hero Jesse. He’s a dude from Sörkka too. And he’s got mad skills on instruments. So our name makes honor to him.

With the release of your album, you started appearing on the cover of several magazines, like Rumba. How do you feel about that?

It’s nice to be in the magazine. We get to say things to a lot of people. We like to tell people to use more synths in their music. And sort of guide them to better behavior. We’d like to do a Jesse poster for chicks, so they could put it on their walls.

What are you all time favorite Finnish artists?

Popeda, Op:l Bastards, Imatran Voima, Stone

Jesse will be touring during this summer around Finland.


Interviews Music

It’s never too loud!

From Toronto, Canada, Danko Jones delivers a high energy hard rock spiced up with the band’s leader unbeatable character, sense of humour and rocking attitude. A few hours before the trio sold out gig at Tavastia in Helsinki FREE! Magazine spoke to bassist John Calabrese about the new album, opening for The Rolling Stones and working with former Kyuss singer John Garcia.


Although feeling Canadian, John Calabrese, or just JC, was born and grew up in a small village in Calabria in Italy. Always dreaming about playing music, soon he had the opportunity to move to Toronto, where he met Danko Jones and formed the band. Nowaday the band enjoys worldwide success, but JC is easy to approach and he behaves like a music fan rather than being an untouchable rock star. Being both from Southern Europe, before the interview we started talking about football and basketball as he is a fan of the NBA team Toronto Raptors.

How is the new tour?

We started a few days ago in Oslo. It’s always good to get the first show out of the way because it makes to all of us a little bit nervous. Now I feel more relaxed.

How did that first show go?

There were a few little mistakes, but I think one is more worried about making mistakes but then there are not so many mistakes. One thinks about stuff that it’s not really necessary. Everything is great.

What about the new album, Never Too Loud?

It’s pretty different but it’s doing quite well, especially among fans of hard rock. It’s a good record for us, and I think it’s going to have an appeal for a greater audience.

Some hardcore fans might not understand the band’s direction with new type of songs like Take Me Home. How would you explain them this change?

We have always been in a band to play live. Once the fans seen those new songs in the context of the live concert, it’s all going to make sense. For us, as musicians, we always want to make new stuff to challenge ourselves. But it’s not that different. It’s still a rock record with rock songs. We don’t want to repeat ourselves. What’s the point of doing Sleep With the Enemy Number 2? Never Too Late is a record that will grow in time. After some years people will go back to it and everything will make sense in the history of the band.

Only AC/DC are allowed to repeat themselves…

And not even them!!

How was working with Nick Raskulinecz who lately has produced very popular records from Stone Sour, Foo Fighters and Rush?

It was very good. We met him via a mutual friends of ours and kept sending him demos of the songs. With this album we had more time to write the songs and make the demos. That made a good difference. Nick told us to keep sending him demos. When we went to the studio we had 40 or 50 different songs and we all agree to cut it back to 12 or 15. We finally narrowed down to 12. We approach the recording in a solid way. We were ready to record from the beginning to the end.

Did you have any plans to make a specific type of record?

No. It just happened. If you hear the demos, those are the songs. No big changes. Nick did his role. He made us comfortable in the studio and get the best performance we could give.

How long did it take the recording?

It was about a two month process, although our drummer recorded all the drums in four days. He was very fast, but then he was bored for the rest of the recording, going nuts. He didn’t know what to do. When we went to the studio, we knew the songs very well. We did some preproduction and Nick became the fourth member of the band. He would be in the room with us playing guitar or bass or drums, showing little tricks that we didn’t think about but it sounded great. He helped shape the songs.

Tell me a little bit about working with John Garcia?

John is great. We met John for the first time while playing a gig in Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. We invited him and he showed up and it was surreal. He stood on front row and he knew every single song. Then he did the song Invisible with us. Last year we did this tour of Norway and we invited him over. We did a very special tours in all these places in Norway. We did the encore together, playing Invisible, a Unida song, a Kyuss song and some others. It was in small places, about 500 to 1000 people a night. John had a great time, although he is very scared of flying. Later when we were recording in California, we asked him again to come over so he drove his truck from the desert and we hang around. He is a great guy. After being fans of him, to meet him and work with him, it’s rewarding. We are music fans first of all.

Why do you think that the band is so popular in Scandinavia?

I think it’s because our label in Sweden has done a great job showcasing the band all around Scandinavia. Also because we are being able to tour extensively. This might our 20th tour in Europe. I think this is the 10th time we play in Finland and we come back in a couple of months. People know us and like us.

What do you think about Finland and the Finnish audience?

We always had good shows here. One strange thing is taking the ferry over here. I’m not very good with the sea.

You even opened for The Rolling Stones in the the first show of the Forty Licks tour in Toronto. How did you feel when you hear you got the gig?

They were doing some small shows in Toronto to prepare for the world tour. They had a long history in Canada and the production company is from there. I was up north in Ontario and our manager called us and said I need to know if you can come here and do a some. You can tell anyone and you can only bring one guest. I took my dad with me. When we went to the venue, The Rolling Stones had a big mixing board and our sound guy was looking at it. We saw the Stones doing soundcheck in the room with just 20 people. Then they told us that we could go and soundcheck, so they move the big mixing board and brought a small one for us… Back to reality!

Interviews Music

Heavy Metal Opera Thundering!

{mosimage}Holland: the cradle of tulips, a source of tales about crazy adventures in coffee shops… and the native country of Arjen Lucassen, a versatile artist who has been able to gather and compose music for an incredible list of the best heavy metal musicians around the world in his Ayreon´s albums . He answered (with excellent doses of good humor) the questions shot at him.


Arjen, in your biography says that when youngster, you were a trouble-maker in class. Do you have any particular anecdote of those times?

Well, for one I was always chasing (amongst other things) girls, instead of learning! I also remember I once filled a condom with 20 liters of water in the principal’s personal toilet. I also once hit a teacher, because he tried to push me down the stairs. That’s when they kicked me out of school. Hmm… I’d better stop here! 

You are always immersed in many different musical projects. Do you consider yourself a work-alcoholic or it just does not feel like work for you?

Oh yes, I’m a workaholic at heart. I feel best when I’m being creative. But you’re right; it certainly doesn’t feel like work for me. {mosimage}

Please, tell us a bit more about the new Ayreon album: 01011001. Do you give a lot of importance to the new technological era? How is it possible than living in a world so interconnected, people seem to search for an own identity more than ever?

I’m very much a recluse, so I don’t really live in this world. Luckily my profession enables me to live in another dimension. I try to make technology work for me, instead of the other way around. It’s easy to be sucked into the computer and become a part of the game. I devise the game.

How is the normal process of recording an Ayreon album? Do all the musicians record their parts separately?

Yes, I fly them all in separately. 

Do you meet them all personally before recording to discuss about their performances?

No, we start recording very spontaneously in the studio.

We publish from Finland, a land with many talented heavy metal bands. Are there any Finnish singers that you would like to see participating in future Ayreon´s projects?

Oh yes. Marco Hietala, for instance, is a great singer.

Do you like the voice of Tarja Turunen, ex-singer of Nightwish?

Who doesn’t? I approached her once, but her husband/record company director didn’t want her to do it.  He was doing a project with her at the time. So maybe one day…


"Marco Hietala is a great singer" -Arjen Lucassen, musician and composer-.


Any dreamt names of musicians that you would like to see in your projects and still not had the chance?

The list is endless. Obviously the musicians I grew up listening to, but also new talents.

I have recently interviewed Johan  Edlund of Tiamat, who collaborated in previous Ayreon´s album, but he is not included this time. What was the reason?

I like to work with new musicians every album to keep things spontaneously.  I’ve worked with over a hundred singers now. Johan is great by the way; I love his voice and music.

What do you think of other metal-opera projects like Avantasia , and his creator Tobias Sammet (both latest albums from him and yours were released with a few days of difference and as appears in your website, there was some crossing of declarations between both of you) 

Although we both do rock operas our music is very different from each other. I think he’s doing a great job.

Now it is recently announced that you are releasing an EP together Avantasia and Ayreon. Could you tell us more about it? So it was that “hate” between you two a creation of the press more than reality, or you really have something against Tobias…?


Of course not, we are just fooling around! We have become the best of friends and I’m glad we’ve been able to record this track together. I’m sure we will make people laugh when they hear it!

Are you afraid that people could pay more attention to the album just because of the list of participants than because of the quality of the music itself?

No. I hope people enjoy the album, for whatever reason. My sales are still increasing and the last album has charted in 13 countries, so I must be doing something right!

What are your future plans? Would there be any chance to see Ayreon´s compositions ever played on live?

Ayreon is not a live project, it would be impossible with (or without) the many guest musicians.

Anything else you want to add or say to our readers? 

If you are in for an adventure and you have an open mind for different musical styles, check out my music! But you are warned …  


For more information, check out:


Interviews Music

27 Years at the forefront of industrial music

Einstürzende Neubauten
(translated from German means something like “Collapsing New Buildings”) is a legendary industrial music German band that has always been able to renew themselves in these almost 3 decades of existence. They are currently on tour and will visit Helsinki pretty soon at the end of April. A piece of European music history still alive and kicking!


Berlin now and then

In fact, the historical changes have played an important role when shaping the career of the band: The fall of the Berlin wall was a turning point in the member´s lives. Alex Hacke, who joined to the 3 original band members, Blixa Bargeld, N.U. Unruh and FM Einheit, some few years after their appearance, tells us more about his personal vision of what is going on in the German capital nowadays:

“I am still based in Berlin, but it turns out, that I spend the main part of the year everywhere else, which is good because obviously the place has changed to the extent where it is fair to say that the spirit, which once possessed this city has forever departed, to put it mildly. Certainly, West-Berlin was a special place, but it doesn’t exist anymore. Where there was room and artistic headroom resides now the government of this country and where there was intuition and rebellion rules now the struggle of survival and competition”.

But if a great part of the bohemian spirit is getting lost, is music still able to inspire and excite the minds of the listeners?

“Of course! I like all kinds of styles and genres and better still it is to combine a choice of them. To me it is all about friction. 1 + 1 = 3. It’s that third kind of music I’d like to create” affirms Alex.

A straight relation band-supporters

The band has recently released his new album Alles Wieder Offen (“All Open Again”), and once more, there is space for a committed and risky tone in tunes like Nagorny Karabach, a line that is not new at all, since the Germans have always been very politically active in their lyrics, like in their previous work Armenia (1983). Innovation is their way of life. Years ago they recorded albums just using pieces of garbage picked from the streets, but this time the change comes when we talk about producing the album. There is no record company behind the creative process, and the album is just founded by the fans themselves, who paid even before the album is completed. On exchange, they have a much more active role giving feedback and advice to the band members via Internet. 

“To have an immediate response to the music we create is the most stimulating aspect of working in this set-up. It’s very much like playing a show with an audience in attendance. Besides that we just do what we choose to do, but we are able to tell when we are going astray, because at that point the attention of the supporters will quickly fade. What I like about this album is that for the first time it seems to deal with us, as a group of individuals, who spent the major part of their lives together. And it does that in a very intimate and loving manner. If you open yourself to that extend and let your guard down all the way, you certainly put yourself in a rather fragile position” explains Alex.

There is also time for a more relaxed and lascivious tone in their music, like in the new track “Let´s do it dada”. Simply love for Marinetti´s artistic movement? Hacke discovers the meaning behind it:“DADA is a French slang- or children-word, which means rocking-horse. It is also position in sexual intercourse, where one person is lying on its back, while another is straddling the former and therefore riding him like a horse…”

Einstürzende Neubauten will visit Finland on April 24th, playing at Tavastia club in the capital, Helsinki. If you want to listen to one of the bands that have defined the industrial music in the European scene, do not miss them!

Cinema Interviews

Exploring the female’s strength from behind the camera


Assisting to the recent Tampere Film Festival was director Petri Kotwica. Do not get mistaken by the Polish surname; Kotwica is 100% Finnish, and he happens to be the great winner in the past Jussi awards ceremony (the Oscars of the Finnish Film Industry). He got the awards for best director, best script and best film and his film Musta Jää (Black Ice) was also awarded for having the best soundtrack. Before going back to gather with the rest of the jury members for choosing the festival winners, he had time for a nice talk with FREE! Magazine. 

Musta Jää was the huge winner in the last Jussi Awards, so I suppose you must feel really satisfied with it. How long did it take to put all the film together?

Well, of course when you receive a prize, you cannot less than be very happy. The film took me about six years. I was not working on it all the time. In the middle I made another movie.

What was your motivation for creating such a script?

Well, I think that at some point I had messed my own personal life. Well of course nothing that happened in the film really happened to me but I started to think about what would happen if I changed the perspective of it and would take the point of view of the women.

And certainly in the film the women´s characters are the strongest ones. Was it difficult for you to direct women in such strong leading roles?

Yes, that took extra time… to create the emotional aspects, you know. I had to spend time on discussions with women. There is a long tradition in having female characters in the leading roles, but usually the scripts are written from the male point of view. So those films are done by men, directed by men, etc. I think that I would be happy to see more films from the female´s point of view


I heard that your next film will feature also women as main characters. Is that true?

Actually it will change order a bit and won´t be my next one. My next one will be about young people who are playing too much computer games…  We will start shooting it in February-March.

In Musta Jää, you counted for the soundtrack with the collaboration of Eicca Toppinen, one of the members of Apocalyptica. Are you a fan of the band?

Yes, I got in contact with him because my motivation was to have very contradictory music: I wanted very traditional music but at the same time containing some disturbing elements and I had always found those features in Apocalyptica. I follow a lot of rock music.

In Musta Jää appears a German character in a small role. What is your general opinion about the integration of foreigners in Finland?

Well, that was requested by the German co-producers when signing the contract. In any case, I love that part about integration. I think the more the relation we have with foreigners, the more we learn. I am a very peaceful person, and you know that you do not want to have a fight with people you know. That is the aspect I like in globalization. Economical aspects are more complicated…

In my native country, Spain, we have had for many years this “Almodovar´s effect” in cinema industry, so seemed like there was no life after him. Is something like that happening in Finland with Kaurismäki´s fame?

Well, I was just in Berlin Film Festival and the first question everybody made was always “what do you think about Kaurismäki” but well, it is ok. It is important that now other films start to be known outside Finland.



"It is the first time that Hollywood shows interest in making a remake of a Finnish movie"

Petri Kotwica – Film Director {mosimage}


I can see some common features in recent Finnish movies like the mentioned Musta Jää, Valkoinen Kaupunki or Suden Vuosi.: Helsinki portrayed as a cold dark city, twisted love triangles, relations of young girls with older men who belong to academic world… Do you think that the same than in music, people talk about “Finnish melancholia”, is there a Finnish style in making movies?

I think so, yeah. Well I must say I have not seen Suden Vuosi although I know there is an older professor also there. In any case, I tried with my drama to show something a little bit different.

Is there anything you want to share with our readers?

Actually I wanted to comment you that there are some offers to make a remake film of Musta Jää in English language. It has never happened to a Finnish film before. The offers came from Hollywood. They contacted the production company, but well, for the moment it is only a speculation, not confirmed at all.

If you could choose, what English speaking actresses would you like to see in that version?

Well, I would like to see some strong female characters like Susan Sarandon or Sigourney Weaver. Before that they contacted us also from Russia and South Korea. Actually South Koreans producers were offering straight away to buy the rights and make a remake during last Berlin festival, of course in Korean language. I was thinking… “whaaaaat!!!???".

Photos: Eduardo Alonso.

Interviews Music

Hellslaughter prefers to look onwards

More than one metal fan can think that Johan Edlund is a kind of “enfant terrible” in the death metal music scene; a musician with a reputation of being able to change the sound, the band members or even his own vocal registers with every new Tiamat´s album in the search of new musical achievements. However, the person who salutes me on the phone from Greece sounds relaxed, friendly and pretty talkative (for being Swedish…). Tiamat is releasing pretty soon their new studio album Amanethes and there is a lot of curiosity surrounding every Edlund´s new project. I talk to him from Finland during half an hour, and the feeling is that we could go on chatting for a whole night if we would be sitting in a bar with some booze in the middle. 


How long have you lived in Greece, Johan?

I have lived for 3 years. My girlfriend is from here, and I like it pretty much. I live in Thessaloniki.

The hot topic surrounding Tiamat nowadays is the incoming release of your new studio album Amanethes. Can you tell us a bit more about the recording process?

It has been very relaxed, quite straightforward album. We are not so connected with the music scene nowadays or with the new bands, so we just try to make the music that we like, out of what others want us to do or what the record companies want us to do.

Usually Tiamat was a band that had no problem in releasing a new album every 2-3 years maximum, but it has been 5 years since the release of your last one: Prey (2003). Why such a long waiting?

Well, there were many things going on with the band. I moved several times, I was living in Germany and then I moved to Greece, and we had other family issues. As well, it seems that when we are not teenagers anymore, when we grow up, the time is passing by faster!

Do you have any favorite track from the new album or do you love all your new babies equally?

I do not really can pinpoint just one. After mixing it and finishing I listened to the whole album a lot of times, in different environments and music equipments, to check how it sounds. But for me, now it is kind of “old material” since the songs were made some time ago, even when it is not yet released. I am already thinking about new songs…

So it is kind of “when it is done, it is done, and better to look at the future”?

Yes, exactly. It is like when you pay taxes, for example. You pay every year different ones so you cannot keep looking back at what you paid in the past.

Uhhh…  Taxes are a sticky topic here in Finland… hehehe

Yes, well of course creating songs is a much nicer activity than paying taxes!

You released in 2005 the excellent DVD The Church of Tiamat, which was recorded in Poland. Why the decision to do it just in that country?

Well, we always had a special relation with Poland. For example, it was the first country where Tiamat went to play outside Sweden. So it was kind of normal for us to continue the relation with the country.

I see that you used Greek language in the title of the song Katarraktis Apo Aima (literally translated as A Waterfall of Blood) Can you speak Greek?

No, only some few words. It is a very difficult language! Same than Finnish. And you, can you speak Finnish? 

Well, I have lived here for 5 years, so more or less I can communicate, but it is very difficult too. I am far from speaking it perfectly. Do you speak Finnish? Because there is a big Finnish speaking population in Sweden, and many Swedish have Finnish ancestors.

No, but I have been in Finland many times. And I know that in Finland a lot of people speak Swedish

Yeah, they have a Swedish speaking minority and it is compulsory to study it at schools. I knew that during the recording of Prey you were working with it in Finnvox studios here in Finland

Yes, I spent 3 weeks there. I also visited a city called Oulu, but most of the time I was in Helsinki. It is a city that I like very much!

I have also heard that you are a great football fan, so I suppose it must be something special to live the atmosphere of football in Greece, where they are so passionate!

Yeah, actually I was last Saturday in a match. They really live it with passion! It is a bit crazy. This summer Sweden is playing against Greece, and I am used to display the Swedish flag on my balcony and shout a lot during the matches. But let´s see… I think my neighbors are going to hate me…

This time maybe you will have to keep a low profile there…

Yeah, well, fortunately maybe I will be in Sweden at the time of the match! hehehe

Many fans of the band, no matters in what way you innovate in the following albums, always compare every new  Tiamat´s release to Wildhoney (1994), that has been kind of the most successful album for the group so far. Do you feel any kind of pressure with these comparisons?

No, not really.  I mean, I am very happy that we did Wildhoney. I think that it is a great album, and I certainly know that has influenced many bands later. But we just do what we feel that it is ok to do. I do not have any problem feeling pressure.

You have your parallel project, a band called Lucyfire. Will there be anything coming up for 2008?

There were rumors about a second album being released soon…I worked a bit on it during 2007, but then we were busy with Tiamat´s projects. So I don´t know, we will have to see about it. It depends on the time.



"I would love to go to play to Finland on summer, if we would be invited!" Johan Edlund – Tiamat



The title of the first (and so far unique) Lucyfire´s album is This Dolllar Saved My Life at Whitehorse.  Do you have any kind of item that you carry always with you to give you good luck?

Yes, actually I have my own silver dollar. After the release of the album, with the first money we earned from it, I went to this kind of shop where they sell coins and stamps and I got one. I always have it with me in my pocket since then.

And you have managed not to spend it in booze!

No, no! I am quite a superstitious person actually when it comes to these kinds of things…

And you have also collaborated in one album with Arjen Lucassen´s and his Ayreon projects. He has released a new one a few weeks ago, but you are not in this new one.

Yes, it was nice to collaborate with him. He wanted other members of Tiamat playing also in the project, but at the end we could not make it happen.

By the way, maybe many of your fans who are searching for Tiamat information can feel a bit surprised because of your official website is not currently working. What happened with it?

We have had some problems with the domain, but hopefully it will be running again pretty soon, with the same name that had before.

Do you have any kind of idea of how the touring season will be for summer?

We have only 3 gigs confirmed so far. We are not even sure yet what are the places where the album is going to be released, so once that it is in the market I think that it will be easy to plan where to go.

Do you have anything confirmed in Finland?

No, actually we have never been invited to summer festivals in Finland, and it is a pity because I have heard that they are pretty good. I actually would love to go there to play with Tiamat, if we would be invited! 

Yes, actually there are many and with a great quality for such a relatively small country. We will try to spread the word because I am sure the audience here would love to have you coming. There is a wide musical culture in Finland. It would be nice to see you playing here this summer! So if any Finnish promoter is reading these lines, you already know! Tiamat has a new album and its leader, Johan Edlund, is more than willing to come to Finland, so this would be an excellent chance to see one of best kicking ass Swedish bands playing here after the snow melts! 

Interviews Music

Drunken lullabies

In the early nineties, guitar player Dennis Casey moved from his hometown Rochester, NY to Los Angeles. Inspired by classic punk rock bands like The Clash, Dead Kennedys and Sex Pistols, and impressed with newcomers like Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Casey searched for bands and gigs to make a professional career playing guitar. What he could not guess then is that 15 years later he would get involved with Irish music and tour the world with the most successful Irish punk band of the moment: Flogging Molly. To celebrate the release of the band’s latest album, Float, FREE! Magazine called Dennis Casey while on tour in Florida.


How is the tour going so far?
Great! Every show has been sold out so far. We have some new songs and the audience is getting to know these songs. The album is also getting some radio airplay already. So far so good!

Dubliner Dave King formed Flogging Molly in Los Angeles in 1997, when he gathered a bunch of musicians and start playing every week at the Molly Malone’s pub. The seven-piece band evolve a characteristic sound that blends sharp punk guitars with accordions, fiddles, mandolins and banjos. It’s The Dubliners meet Johnny Cash. The live shows of Flogging Molly are intense and festive. Every member of the audience cannot help dancing to the band’s “drunken lullabies”. The Finnish audience knows it well. Flogging Molly have played in Finland very often in the last couple of years. In May the band is playing at Tavastia in Helsinki twice. The tickets for the first show were sold in just a few hours and a new date was added. A couple of months later, Flogging Molly will return to play at the Ruisrock festival in Turku.

Some reviews speak of Float, like it is a mature album for the band. Are you getting softer and old?
No, not at all. The album is as hard as the others. It’s been four years since our previous studio album and the band grew, but Float rocks as the others.

How different is Float from the previous albums?
The main difference is that it was completely recorded in Ireland. We stayed there around one year in three different periods of time. We got together, close to each other. We lived in the same house, then went to the studio and the pub to have some pints. Four years since Within a Mile from Home seems like a long time. Why did the new album take so long?
We wanted to have some time to release the live album / dvd Whiskey on a Sunday. Besides that, we kept on touring. We were busy.

In Within a Mile from Home, you recorded a great duet with Lucinda Williams (Factory Girls). How did this collaboration happen?
Dave wrote that song and it is very biographical, about his mother. He thought that it would be great to have a female singer on it. He believed it would relate very well to the theme of the song. We dropped some names and Lucinda Williams came up. We got in contact with her, but we had no hopes that she would accept. But surprisingly she liked the idea and the song. We did it and it was great.

Who was your first guitar hero and how did you decide to start playing guitar?
My parents were always playing Elvis stuff and Sun records artists. Then I got a guitar and that became my only hobby. I just wanted to play guitar and that’s the only thing I wanted to do.

When you arrived in LA, did you get into the sleazy hard rock scene?
Not really. I first liked all the classic punk rock bands, but when I arrived in LA , I listened to the Chili Peppers and Nirvana and I thought “wow, this is the shit”. But I tried to play whenever I could, whatever I could.

I bet you didn’t imagine that you would play in a band like Flogging Molly.
No way! I would never have said that I would play Irish music. That comes from Dave, he’s originally from Dublin. I have never thought I would play something like this or get this popular. This is no other band doing this.

Flogging Molly is really popular in Finland. What memories do you have of the country?

Finns are the craziest people I’ve seen. Very energetic people. I remember the first night we were there, we went out to some pubs and everybody was crazy. People were drunk all around. And there were many pretty girls too. Great memories.

What can we expect of the upcoming shows?
We have a new set of songs and we’ll be just as hard and as energetic as usual. We’ll give it all on stage. We are playing two nights there, so we’ll play some different songs.

Interviews Music

A hardcore St Valentine´s Day

FREE! Magazine had the chance to make an exclusive interview with Jocke and “Adde”, singer and drummer of the Swedish rock band Hardcore Superstar, a few hours before their gig at Klubi in Tampere.


There are many things going on around Hardcore Superstar during the last months.  Embarked nowadays in a World Tour, they released their new and fifth studio album at the end of 2007: Dreaming ´in a Casket and have suffered some drastic changes in the band formation but it seems that they do not lose the positive energy to show the world that they still believe in the greatness of their project.

We met Jocke Berg and Magnus “Adde” Andersson, singer and drummer of the band, just some minutes before their lunch. They certainly have an outstanding presence: tall, fit and with a distinctive Swedish touch of elegance. It is 14th of February, Valentine´s Day, and I wonder if they expect to find love in the air during their visit in Tampere. “Hehehe… it is a question I will have to make to the audience later! But we have already seen a lot of beautiful girls walking around…!” the guys affirm maliciously.

They look positive, friendly and full of energy, although also hungry (it is lunch time); a hunger that goes farther than just getting the taste of food, since these guys seem to be hungry for success. Nevertheless, as Jocke explains, the name of the band (far from any porno reference) is about getting as big as possible and breaking the limits.

And all in all, how is the present world tour going on?

Jocke: It is going very well. We are very happy so far! We were before coming to Finland in Japan, Australia, England…
Adde: It was the first time for us in Australia, and that was great. Although we did not have much time for tourism or watch kangaroos.

Hardcore Superstar has always had a special relation and tight bonds with the neighboring country Finland. Apart from coming to play quite often in Finnish land, their previous drummer at the beginning was Finnish, Mika Vaino, and they counted with the collaboration of Michael Monroe in a song some years ago.

Jocke: Yeah, Hanoi Rocks are good friends. I have not listened to the new album completely. Only to some songs, and I watched the new video clip. I am happy because they sound like the old Hanoi Rocks from the eighties, and they look full of illusion again.
Adde: Yeah, I am a great fan too. I have listened to a lot of their old stuff.

The tour has been baptized as Mentally Damaged World tour 07/08, so I wonder in what state they can keep their mental health after so much traveling and all the things involving band in the recent days:

Adde: Well, every tour has its up and downs. For example, we recently had to face the loss of our guitar player, Thomas Solver.

Yeah, that has been the hottest topic around the band in the recent days. Can you explain a bit more about what happened?

Jocke: Well, he basically got tired of touring, making albums and playing gigs.
Adde: It was after our concert in London, in the tour bus. He said that he could not continue anymore.
Jocke: It is sad because we have known each other for so many years. I noticed since a couple of years that something was wrong with him, something in his eyes. I was asking him “Is everything ok, Thomas” and he always answered that “yeah, no problem”, but finally the situation exploded. But well, he has always been a kind of special guy… (As an example, Thomas had a famous fight with a Swedish journalist from Aftonbladet in New York some years ago that was hugely covered in all the Swedish press)

The band was lucky to find a quick replacement on the guitar: Vic Zino from the band Crazy Lixx, who later in the concert seemed perfectly adapted, apart from showing great skills. Just while asking about him, Vic passed by and shyly greeted us.

Jocke: It was Thomas himself who recommended us the guy. Vic was playing with his band, and Thomas said “You have to check out this guy, he is even much better than me”. So we offered Vic to join the tour and he luckily accepted. But we don´t know what will happen in the future with the guitarist position. We will have to see about it.

Adde: “People in Bilbao almost destroyed the club when they discovered that our gig was cancelled”


And certainly, as Adde explained, they always have some curious situations on their tours. Actually they recently had to cancel the scheduled Spanish gigs due to the illness of the singer:

Jocke: Yeah, I fell very ill, with a big pain in my throat, and I could not sing. It was very bad.
Adde: We had a lot of bad luck. The tour bus was also broken in our way to Bilbao and the air conditioning did not work properly, so it was frozen there. Jocke got very ill and we had to cancel the 3 gigs. And the people in Bilbao got crazy! They could listen to us in the venue, on the other side of a thin wall, and they thought that the reasons to cancel were others, that we were high on drugs or something like that, so they almost destroyed the place! We got scared!

Hopefully, the band will have a quick chance to compensate the Spanish fans, since they will repeat the visit to Spain pretty soon in a couple of months, adding also a fourth gig in Madrid. The expectation about their visit in the Spanish music forums is high:

Jocke:  It is something we had to do. I mean, we owe those concerts to our Spanish fans!



The band released on November 7th their new studio album: Dreamin´in a Casket, which has been greatly welcomed by the audience. All the spirit of previous Hardcore Superstar´s albums is present there, but the sound sounds this time a bit heavier and thrasher. Although the band enjoys good popularity around the world (especially in their native Sweden), they still need to go one step farther and break the border of playing in bigger arenas.

Adde: Well, there are many bands that release only a first good album and then they get fucked up. We are more constant.
Jocke: Look at bands like Metallica, for example:  They got success step by step, releasing a chain of great albums. At the beginning not many people knew them. We aimed at something like that. But of course we try to reach at the maximum level.

Jocke:  “We are brave in all what we do”


And actually, one great feature is that overall; they are honest in what they do. As an example, they released the single Bastards, that got a huge success in Sweden, but they decided not to include it in the final album. A brave decision:

Adde: Yeah, it sold a lot in Sweden. But then we had more songs that were fitting better in the record, and we preferred to have those in the album and left Bastards just as a single.
Jocke: Well, we are brave in all what we do!

While waiting for the bigger international recognition, 2007 was a great year for Hardcore Superstar, at least in Swedish territory: they were voted the best rock band of the year, and they opened the show for Aerosmith at Sweden Rock Festival.

Jocke: That was an amazing experience! We are big fans of Aerosmith. And we were sharing the backstage area: just Aerosmith and Hardcore Superstar there!
Adde: Yeah, they transformed the area into their lounge. They had a lot of stuff, but we had our own masseur there. While I was relaxed, having a massage, Tom Hamilton passed by and exclaimed “Why have we not thought about this!” I was talking to him for a while. They knew our work and there were even rumors that we could continue opening for them during the rest of the tour, but then unfortunately it did not happen in the end. A real pity because it would have been an excellent promotion for us. I think it was Got and Mule who did it.

And after this intensive winter tour, what are your plans for the future. Do you already have scheduled any summer festival?

Jocke: Yes, sure. We are going to do summer festivals. We will even go to China for a couple of festivals there. It will be obviously our first time there.

While waiting for future visits of the Swedish when the sun is shining in Finland (they probably will come back soon to a couple of summer festivals here), we enjoy their gig at Klubi later that night. Good vibes, with Jocke acting as a solid front man and Vic perfectly integrated on the guitar. A lot of young female audience in the first rows that knew the lyrics of every one of the songs, and as the final gift for the audience to end the show, their killing hit: We do not Celebrate Sundays. Fortunately, they celebrate St. Valentine´s, and they showed once more their love for Finland with huge doses of great sleazy rock.


Interviews Music

Satan goes techno

Forget the metal and hard rock for a while, the indie and electronic scene in Finland is getting popular. I Was A Teenage Satan Worshipper is one of its representative best. Behind that twisted name hides the project of Pasi Viitanen, who drifted from a heavy metal adolescence to noisy electronic indie songs. This Friday the band presents live its new album in Tampere and Pasi tells about it in FREE!


What is your approach to music? How did you start making music together?

In the beginning IWATSW was an imaginary band, a one man project. I made up two characters who were in the band and put some songs in the internet for the people to download, and they liked it! I guess at that point only few knew it was a fake band. It was supposed to be a some kind of an art project but  then there turned up to be some offers for gigs. I thought: damn it – why not,  and asked two of my pals with me. First there were three of us, later also a drummer came in.

You have a very original band name, so i cannot help this question. How did you come up with IWATSW?

It refers to the 50’s B-movie names like I Was a Teenage Werewolf etc. It is also a tribute to my own heavy metal past, the time when I was 15 and my parents were slightly concerned when I decorated my room with black bin bags. My band mates do have very similar memoirs of their own teenage time.

Could you tell our readers a little bit about the new album?

It is called The Lemonade Ocean. It is very noisy and melodic and it has various of different styles in it. There is guitar oriented indie pop songs as well as very electronic songs. While it's a mad mixture of different genres, it's still sounding the same band all the time. I’m quite excited of it.

How is it different from your previous albums?

The former record, called Whatevernights, was very focused on a one particular concept and the first EP, called Bees & Honey, were bit more like a single collection. The new record is somewhere between these two. This time I wanted the concept to be much more loose and I wanted to let my imagination explore freely.

The first single, OMG Techno Chicks, sounds very oriented to electronic? How will these sounds be reflected in your concerts?

We have a sampler and synths on stage and our drummer is playing with a click. Playing with the machine is fun, it feels like there is a movie going on and we are playing on it. It has a certain irreversibility in it.

What is / Where is The Lemonade Ocean?

It is a mental place which turns up when you’re drunk on afternoon and you’re head is full of great ideas you will regret the day after. It’s that when it’s 33•C and you’re drifting around with people you don’t know.

The stereotype says that Finland is a heavy metal country, how do you think your music fits in Finland?

We fit in fine. We have a song called ”Heavy Metal Nation”, by the way,  and it’s of the subject. Metal music reflects the Finnish mentality. Though I do not like it, It does not disturb me, it is just an eurodance of the decade.

I Was A Teenage Satan Worshipper

Friday 29.2
Album release party – Klubi, Tampere


7.03. Gloria, Helsinki15.03. Bar 68, Jyväskylä
22.03. Semifinal, Helsinki
28.03. Dynamo, Turku
03.04. Klubi, Tampere
04.04. Klubi, Turku
05.04. Virgin Oil, Helsinki
10.04. Bar Kino, Pori
11.04. Amarillo, Vaasa
12.04. Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki
16.04. Henry´s Pub, Kuopio
17.04. 45 Special, Oulu
18.04. Seurahuone, Kokkola

Interviews Music

A touch of sexy death metal

FREE! Magazine has access to all areas! This time, we entered the backstage at Jäähalli in Tampere to meet Andreas “Whiplasher” Bernardotte, singer of Swedish metal sensation Deathstars.

I have an appointment with the singer of the new Swedish sensation in death metal scene: Deathstars. An interview scheduled early in the evening, since the band is the first of the three that will appear on stage at Jäähalli. The heading band is legendary American Nu Metal Korn. Actually, it is so early that I find difficulties even in getting inside the venue. Finally, I am able to contact the tour manager, and meet “Whiplasher” in a tiny room close to the showers of the Sport Hall. The singer looks tired, probably consequences of a hangover after a party night in Helsinki. Deathstars played in the mythical club Tavastia the previous day, heading the show there. Quite different from what we can enjoy in Tampere, since the tight schedule let them time to play hardly six or seven songs. In any case, Andreas is a very interesting character, who has traveled and worked all around the world, and conversation turns to interest him specially when focused on topics not directly related to music business



You were playing yesterday at Tavastia in Helsinki. How was the gig there?
It was great! It was really fun!

In most of the tour dates you are playing with Korn. But there at Tavastia yesterday you were heading, so I suppose that it was a great feeling. Were you playing much longer there?

Yeah, with Korn we play 7 songs and with our gigs we play 15 or 16. It is a bit different, but you get the best from both of it. You get club gigs and also the arenas, so it is a good variation.

How has been the tour so far in general?
Very, very, good! Absolutely fantastic! It is very surprising the reaction of Korn´s fans, that we get the response that we do.  It has been good like hell!

How did it happen that you got involved in this tour with them? Did they choose you?
Yeah, Jonathan Davids really likes Deathstars, so he called and invited us to come and join them on tour.

Any special venue that you remember during the tour?
Together with Korn we had a gig somewhere in England, I think it was in Plymouth, with 4000 people and they pretty much knew every song, because we are quite big in the UK. There were a lot of people; we had never played there before, and it was really nice.

And in Finland, had you played before here?
Yes, we played before in Tuska and Ruisrock summer festivals last summer.

 “As long as in Deathstars we don´t know what the fuck is going on, it is perfect!”

You are pretty big in Sweden, but looks like your previous company, Universal, did not promote you well enough in the international scene. Do you feel that things are getting balanced now with international promotion in this tour?

Yes, of course!  This is perfect for us! It is a big promotion. We were in a mainstream label and they really did not know where we came from, so they did not know how to promote it. Nuclear Blast is maybe better in that way. But still, we have just started. Termination Bliss is just the second album, it feels like the first album for us, and the band is starting to “increase”.

You come from underground Swedish metal, being former members of bands like Swordmaster or Dissection. And your sound evolved to what you call “Death glam”. How did this change of style come up?

I don´t know really… We never really said that “this is how we should do it”. As long as we feel stimulated by it, and we feel entertained by it. As long as we don´t know what the fuck is going on, it is perfect! We are just idiots! It is all about ourselves, about “us” in the band. We don´t keep updated with new bands, it is very internal matter. It is more like a rollercoaster ride. It is just crash, bum, and bang!. Darkness, chaos, party… and then let´s see what happens. That´s it.

Your second album Termination Bliss was darker and with topics like pain and death much more present than in the first one Synthetic Generation. I know that your guitar player went through a lot of personal problems. Do you use music as a catharsis?

I think that sounds so pretentious to say that, but yes. It is of course what you reflect upon. You write music to understand yourself, and you write music to understand others. You reflect about things, but in the end you do not get any answers, but well, it helps.

During that album, so many people died around us and a lot of break ups. It was tough, that it reflects that time. It has been a couple of years since we did that album, and now I can really look back and see it better.

I heard that you have been working on the new album during last months.

Yeah, we have been recording in New York, but I think we will continue recording after the tour. I don´t know if it will be in Sweden or anywhere else. Nightmare (their guitar player) has been living in NY for quite a while and he is producing all the stuff, so it was practical for us to go there and work in the studio there.

Is the new album going to be “lighter” than the previous one?

No, no. It is going to be very dark. This band takes care of your dark side! So I guess that it is a bit more outgoing, straightforward, but also more “Deathstars”, feeling the progress we have done. It is difficult to talk about something that is not completely finished.

Why is Bone, the drummer, not coming with you on this tour?

Because he had to take care of his kid, his son. He said 1 year ago that he could not follow us during January-February, whatever we would be doing. It is nothing bigger than that, it is just for this tour. It is nice to have Adrian stepping in. He is a great drummer.

Your music, although being death metal, has a “sexy touch” that attracts to a lot of female fans. It comes to my mind, now here in Finland, the reference to H.I.M. that also uses a strong link between death, pain and love. What is your opinion about them?

I can´t really say that I have, because I never listened to HIM. It would be stupid to say something about it, but it seems to be very successful. Maybe a bit too soft music for me to listen to, but I respect them, of course. We played with them in a festival, but I did not get to see them. It was EXIT festival in Serbia, a huge commercial festival there with people like Pet Shop Boys and Billy Idol, not a metal festival.

I know you have worked as a journalist also. What did you exactly do?

I was working in the Middle East. Writing about every day situation, writing chronicles for TV4 in Sweden and filming for the news.  I am still a TV producer, but now it is getting harder and harder to fit that in, because of the band. But it is interesting, I love telling stories. I happened to work in Kosovo, in Albania, in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey…I have also worked in documentaries about the Maoris, been in Tonga, and also in the Atlas mountains. I was in Moscow doing a documentary about new rich people 3 months ago.

How do you feel about that? 

You have seen a lot of hard situations happening in the world, and you are also in this rock world that can become sometimes very superficial.

Do you have a different perspective?

Yeah, I think we are spoiled, to have it like this. It is not something in the band, it is nothing really, and you do not challenge yourself that much. I have a lot of respect for people who do not have it so easy. But walking on the stage… I think that maybe people have too much respect for musicians. Then again, music is an international phenomena, it helps. What I mean is that waking up on stage every night is not like working in a grocery´s shop in Jerusalem. You do not have to put so much effort in it. Music is very important, so as long as people gain something from it, it is important. Hopefully we do something right in the end… For me it would be nice to combine those jobs more, but for now it is tough.

-We get lost for some minutes talking about Russia, the censorship in Scandinavian countries, the double moral here, and our love for Estonia and Estonian women (Andreas´s girlfriend happens to be Swedish from Estonian family)- Russia and particularly its capital Moscow seems to hypnotize him:

There is a lot of about Moscow and Russia in the new album; a lot of about conflict. The place symbolizes very well the state of mind of the band, the scenarios there. Russia is portrayed as “the bad boy of the world”, but that makes it interesting. It is so complex…I was hanging out with this young girl. She was 16 years old and she had 2 limo cars, her own driver, her own hummer vehicle, you could not see the road from the back seat because there was a huge flat screen there all over, and her name in diamonds and pink leather seats. Just going from one saloon to the other and partying… It was very weird. It is another world!

Sounds totally crazy!

Moscow is fantastic. I would love to live there, but my girlfriend does not want too. Maybe I should break up with her and start a relation with a Russian…

But your home city Stockholm is quite nice too. I have been there several times and I love it!

Yeah, it is very nice. I just moved back there from London. I have been living in London. But I think I will move back to London in the future.  Stockholm is very beautiful. I have a lot of friends in London. When being on tour is not so important where I live, as far as my girlfriend is ok with it. I am away for 2 months and then coming back and then leaving again…

“My future project after the tour is to practice sex as much as I can”

I know that you are a great Kiss fan. Actually your nickname: “Whiplasher” comes from a Kiss ´song, doesn´t it?

Yes, it is true. Kiss is the best!  They are so big! They represent so much! I think I worked extra when I was 6 years old to buy Kiss albums. I had everything when I was 7. They are the reason also why we started to use make-up on stage.

What are your future projects when the tour is over?

I am going to practice sex as much as I can. I want to get as possibly can get. That is the main thing. And then we have to focus on the album and trying to get that just perfect as soon as possible.

Do you have any confirmed release date?

It was supposed to be released on May but we don´t know now. We will see. I don´t know how the summer festivals and the next tour will look like.

For more information visit:

Interviews Misc

Rock the world from your room!

Guitar Hero series has become more than just a videogame: for millions of fans all over the world it is a total addiction and a way of life, spending uncounted hours in front of the screen imitating their idols. FREE! Magazine´s questions entered the heart of RedOctane’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, to meet Kai Huang, CEO and co-founder of the company responsible of creating the phenomenon.

How many times did you dream of becoming your favourite rock guitar players? Slash, Joe Perry, Dave Mustaine, Angus Young… you name it! Unfortunately, only a few privileged and extremely skills musicians are given the opportunity to go on stage and perform their skills in front of a mass of thousands of faithful fans. For the rest of us, simple human beings, the solution came on November 2005 with the release of the first videogame of the Guitar Hero series. A huge hit that was followed by Guitar hero II, Guitar Hero encore: Rock the 80s and the most recent Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Nevertheless, the idea was not new. The creation of the game had a direct precedent with Konami’s game GuitarFreaks. But the good taste in choosing the song list, a catchy design of the devices and a very attractive and easy way of playing made the videogame outstand and created a real worldwide phenomenon. If you do not believe it, just check out the curious video links in websites like YouTube, where the fans are able to play the notes in the most surrealistic positions after never ending hours of training, and some fingers numbness…


RedOctane is the company that has developed and published Guitar Hero, and we had the extremely good luck of contact their co-founder and CEO from 1999: Kai Huang. Nobody better than him to tell us all those little secrets and questions that you always wanted to know behind the (already) legendary videogames series.

How many people altogether are involved when developing a Guitar Hero videogame?

The creation of a Guitar Hero videogame is truly a collaborative effort.  While Neversoft is primarily responsible for the development, there are countless individuals that are relied upon from RedOctane and Activision. We have hardware, marketing and PR, creative services, licensing and business development teams all working in tandem with production to ensure fans receive the best experience possible.

From what city or cities in the world is Guitar Hero concept created?

Activision, Neversoft and RedOctane are all California-based companies.  Activision is located in Santa Monica, Neversoft in Woodland Hills and RedOctane is in Mountain View.

Who is the person/s who had the original idea of creating the first part of the game?

The concepts behind the original Guitar Hero idea came from a team at RedOctane. Prior to approaching Harmonix, the company was very successful at creating Dance Pads for rhythm-based games and felt very comfortable with our abilities to create a great guitar controller peripheral for a rock music game. Guitar Hero was a project that was built around the hardware.

Does it help to have any musical background for playing the game better?

The Guitar Hero franchise is built on the uniquely successful formula of easy to play yet challenging and rewarding to master meaning that a music background is not necessary to play the game.  This pick-up-and-play formula allows all audiences to enjoy the game. That being said, understanding the basic fundamentals of playing the guitar can help with moving up the ladder in terms of difficulty level. 

What criteria do you follow for choosing the song list in every game? Do you choose the songs according to the taste of the people there in RedOctane, or how do you decide it?

There are a few factors that go into song selection for any Guitar Hero game.  We start with a very lengthy wish list that includes hundreds of songs spanning decade’s worth of music history.  From there the lists are shortened based on what makes sense for the game, which tracks fans are requesting, which music licenses we can get, as well as song and artist notoriety.  Part of the success for Guitar Hero is due to its ability to offer players the experience of becoming their favorite rock star and we want to ensure that we include memorable songs from legendary artists.

“The music industry now sees the benefits of having a song included in our game” (Kai Huang. RedOctane’s CEO)

Is it easy to deal with the licenses and get all the songs that you want? Is there any particular song that you wanted to include and was not possible?

Activision and RedOctane have great relationships with all of the major record labels, music publisher and band, which allows us to give Guitar Hero fans unrivaled access to music catalogues. The music industry now sees the benefits of having a song included in our game, so the process isn’t as difficult as it was for the original Guitar Hero title. With the phenomenal growth in music sales that mirror a song being included in the Guitar Hero franchise, record companies along with labels and artists are now viewing Guitar Hero as a medium to reach new audiences.  There are still some highly sought after artists we’re trying to get though.

Do you have testers there playing with the guitars? How many hours do they play in a normal day?

We have quality assurance teams at Neversoft and at Activision that play the game 8 hours a day. Of course there are breaks involved, but who wouldn’t want to play Guitar Hero for 8 hours a day?-How is Guitar Hero III been taken by the fans?

Is it receiving the response you were expecting?

I couldn’t be happier with how Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock has been received by the community. Guitar Hero has become a cultural phenomenon and it’s great to see people who aren’t gamers become obsessed with playing. And I’m still in awe that in the U.S., Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was the #1 best selling video game of all time in a single year.  

Can you tell us a bit more about the project you signed with NAMN, so people could learn to play guitar virtually?

We are very excited to have partnered with NAMM on their “Wanna Play Guitar” campaign, which encourages the playing of musical instruments and educating people about its benefits. The new collaboration is aimed at strengthening the connection between virtual and real-world guitar playing, along with encouraging more people to experience and enjoy both pastimes. There are a number of stories about kids playing Guitar Hero and then wanting to learn how to play the songs they hear in the game on a real guitar.

Why the release of Guitar Hero Rock the 80s before Guitar Hero III? Did not the fans want to wait so long?

The demand for new content was the driving force behind Guitar Hero Encore: Rock the 80s. Fans just couldn’t get enough of the game and the only way of distributing new content at the time was by delivering a new game. We were able to support the launch of Guitar Hero II on Xbox 360 with downloadable content.  PlayStation 2 owners were not as fortunate as the infrastructure is not available to offer DLC on that platform. As such, we wanted to ensure that the very strong and loyal fan base received new content since that is what fans are always clamoring for.

What is the future for your company? Will there be more Guitar Hero games? Do you focus on different kind of games apart from this saga?

We’re continuing to innovate the rhythm-based music genre and deliver compelling content, such as the newly announced Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. We’re excited to be the first company to build a game around the music of a specific band and guest bands that are related to them in some fashion, and we look forward to bringing to our fans new ways of experiencing Guitar Hero, so stay tuned! There’s more to come.


Not only is song writing a bitch, but then it goes and has puppies
(Steven Tyler, vocalist of Aerosmith, on the recent news of the release of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith)       
Indeed just a few days ago RedOctane delivered a press note in their official website where announced the launching of the new project that will put players on the shoes of the legendary American rock band. Scheduled for June 2008, having a music videogame built on Aerosmith´s musical history will be a hugely exciting experience. Vocalist Steven Tyler could not resume it any better in his declarations: Any band that can go from I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing to the ass-kicking Sweet Emotion to the cheekiness of Love in an Elevator, to the classic ballad Dream On shows why Activision chose us to headline this game based on the diversity of the Aerosmith catalog. Not only is songwriting a bitch, but then it goes and has puppies.With such an interesting future with exciting projects like this, now wonder that Kai Huang can feel satisfied of the success achieved. Before the end, he personally wanted to send also a message to all our readers and fans of the Guitar Hero series:Thanks for supporting Guitar Hero!  We look forward to and are very excited about the products we will be able to offer in the near future!

Interviews Music

Raw from the start and Fullsteam ahead

“The Beatles!” This is what Asmo (singer & organ)
and Topi (guitar & keyboards) of Downstairs first tell me when I ask them
about their influences. Listening to their raw and edgy music, it might be hard
to imagine such an answer. Indeed the band defines its music as “fat drumbeats
and cactus-like vocals up your bleeding ass”. Not really all-you-need-is-love
type of music.

Downstairs is the latest product of the Fullsteam
Records factory. They just released their first album, Oh Father and they start
appearing in most of the music magazines. Their indie punk rock might not be
suitable for everyone. Even their live act can be a weird unpleasant pleasure
with Asmo singing his guts and redeeming the darkest demons of the fun house.

But don’t be afraid, Downstairs also presents one
catchy first single (Peephole City), which should be part of the next Suomirock


is going fast for you lately: a deal with Fullsteam Records, last year and now
a lot of hype around the album release. How do you feel about it?

Asmo: We feel happy obviously. We want to get noticed.
We want people to know who we are and what we do.

Topi: The whole media seems to be quite interested on
Fullsteam Records as a label and its bands. They have so many bands that have
grown from there, new bands that they signed and went big. This is interesting
for the media.

Were you
expecting a call from Fullsteam?

Topi: I think we were a bit surprised. The other bands
there are a bit more mainstream. But we’ve known a few of the guys that work
there for a long time. Anyway, I guess you can say that we were surprised.

"They were afraid we were going to screw up the album and make a very clean sound"

Tell me a
little bit about the recording process of the album.

Asmo: We were writing for the record when we got
signed. We were about to release it ourselves, but as we got signed we kept on
writing the record. It happened naturally.

Topi: We agreed doing the contract a long time ago,
but it wasn’t made public until October. So, we officially put our names on
paper in October but the album was recorded in September at Finnvox Studios.

Did you have
any pressure from the label to make the record like they wanted?

Topi: No. We did some demos of the album. When they
heard we were going into Finnvox Studios, which are one of the best in Finland,
they were scared that we were going to screw it up and make a very clean sound.
So they wanted us to record more stuff sounding like the demos: garage,
distorted and other things like that. There was no pressure for us.

It looks
like it was the opposite you would expect from a record company?

Asmo: On Fullsteam, the bands do whatever they want.
They might come to the studio to check, but they don’t interfere.

What is the
meaning behind the album title, Oh Father?

Asmo: There are tons of meanings. Whatever you want to
make of it. Obviously father is father, but it can also be god or just our way
of saying what the hell is going on. It is just a phrase. It has an open
meaning. It fits differently to every song individually, but it fits to all of
them as a whole too.

What about
the songwriting? You have pretty interesting song titles and lyrics. Where all
these ideas come from?

Asmo: All the ideas come from everyday life. I might
see something in the news that I don’t like or I might write about my personal
life. Lyrics are pretty obscure. They are not meant to be understood
completely. Just make up whatever you want from them.

Where is
Peephole City? What is it?

Asmo: It is a classic escape song. It means that you
want to go somewhere else.

Topi: It is like Gotham City!

Some of the
bands you mention as your influences are not so old (At The Drive-In, Fugazi,
…Trail of Dead). But do you also listen to the “classics”?

Both: Beatles!

Topi:Also Black Sabbath, 70s Alice Cooper: Billion Dollar
Babies, School’s Out.

Asmo: I like Rolling Stones, The Clash, MC5, Iggy Pop
& The Stooges, Led Zeppelin… the first bands that I got into. You might
not hear them in our music, but they are there. We listen to all kinds of

There's a
pretty interesting indie / alternative scene in Finland at the moment with
bands like Rubik, Lapko, Sweatmaster… Many of them are your label mates, what
do you think about this situation?

Asmo: It’s great. Most of those bands are in
Fullsteam, which is kind of a phenomenon in Finland. They release good music.

Topi: All the people at Fullsteam they operate kind of
underground. They go to see gigs. If we are on tour with a good band, we’ll
tell them check out this band. Finding new bands that have potential before
major or other record labels find them. That’s one part of the reason why so
many promising and talented bands come from Fullsteam Records.

Asmo: They don’t sign a band that they think will sell
millions of records. They sign a band they like.

Topi: They let the band grow. They don’t say that if
you don’t sell 200,000 records with your first album, you will be kicked out of
the label. They give their chance to grow. For a long time all the successful
bands were heavy metal bands. There were no indie bands known. But Fullsteam is
doing a good word spreading the word.


Interviews Music

Blues in the name, Rock in the veins

Jack Knight, Mike Henry Leak and Z Rivers are the members of The Bluestation. No, even with those artistic names, they do not come from Mississippi Delta, but just from our old beloved Finland.

Not only are their names typical “made in USA”. If you take a look at the biography of the band in their official site, you can find an incredible story full of humour. You cannot deny that these guys have a certain doses of originality in all what they do:

“We decided not to come up with some traditional type of bio where all favourite colours and foods are listed. Furthermore, we are quite boring guys in real life so we decided to put little extra into story. Of course there are bits and pieces of truth in there but I not going to reveal which parts of the story are true. I leave you guessing…”



How did the three of you agreed to start with this project?

Well it all started on friends having fun together. We were basically jamming and having good time until things got serious. That happened somewhere around 2004 when we played our first gigs and started to work with our début album First Blood.

Why the name: The Bluestation? Can’t be misleading, so people think that you are a Blues band?

Yeah we have run into this name issue many times and maybe it’s good. We have got feedback after playing gigs for audience who doesn’t know us that “Hell Yeah, I was expecting some crappy blues band but this is a good shit”. The name kind of surprises people and hopefully makes us bit more interesting.

What can you tell us about the new album: Over the Top?

Over The Top album was recorded during 2006/2007 and it was mixed and mastered on 2007 so all in all it was quite long and painful process to get this album ready. Nevertheless, we are very satisfied with the album and it is very difficult to choose favourite song from album. Basically we love them all

How is the response of the Finnish audience to the album? Do you have also people who follow the band abroad?

I have had good response from audience and also from media. The album was reviewed by all major Finnish music media and webzines and almost every review have been positive so far. Currently we don’t tour abroad so we don’t know yet how album is going to go abroad. Anyway, there is a plan to release this album abroad as well so let’s hope this issue about touring abroad will improve very soon.

"In small towns people are more open minded for music than in Helsinki"

 Is it in small pubs where you feel more comfortable for playing, or you just do not mind?

We don’t really mind where we play: pub’s, clubs, stadiums anything goes. Of course playing in small pubs and clubs somewhat enjoyable as atmosphere in those venues is more intimate.

Your style is very American, at least in the way you dress, and in the music, with that southern touch. Why that influence?

Well all of us three have listened to American music from very beginning when we started to understand something about music. In other words, music that we are doing comes naturally and each band member brings in own ideas and own background to the music.

Where in Finland is the best audience?

Definitely in small towns. It looks like people there are more open minded than in Helsinki, for example.

Is there any Finnish or international band that you admire, or you would like to play with?

As mentioned earlier, we don’t listen to Finnish music much but there are few bands that we admire. Bands like Free, Mountain, Kyuss, Unida or Fu Manchu can be brought up as those are the bands that most probably have influenced us most. Of course there are more but just to mention few.

What are your future plans?

In a near future we are going to tour as much as possible and then of course we start to work with new album at some point. There isn’t any fixed date when new album is going to be released but we already have some “killer” ideas for the next album.

Any message for the FREE! Magazine readers?

Nothing much except that come to see us on our gigs on buy some records, you won’t be disappointed!

For more information about the band:

Photos: Juho Juntto

Interviews Music

Masterstroke takes a good sleep

{mosimage}Masterstroke is one of the new Finnish metal bands deserved to be highlighted. These guys from Tampere bring good melodies and a classy style with their new album: Sleep. Jussi, the keyboard player, tells us more about them.

Tell us a bit about the origins and foundation of the band.

Masterstroke was formed in 2002 when Janne Juutinen and Niko Rauhala wanted to do something of their own, after having been in different bands for few years. The band started out as more "traditional" power metal band (same line that Gamma Ray or Stratovarius) but our style has been moving towards more aggressive styles. We've gone through some line-up changes over the years, but now we have a band that just works.

You are from Tampere, aren’t you?

Yes, we're from Tampere! We've done shows in Hellä and Rusty Angel is a sort of regular haunt for us (and especially Marko…).

What are your main musical influences?

My background is in electronic music, Vangelis, Kraftwerk, Jarre, Tangerine Dream, etc., but now I've been listening to Evergrey, Katatonia, Symphony X, Ayreon, In Flames… I like metal that has a lot of feeling to it and strong melodies, harmonies etc.

What was the reason for Niko leaving the vocals, and coming back later again in substitution of Jani Tiura?

Niko never left the band, he just concentrated on playing the guitar while Jari was singing. When Jari left, it was obvious pretty soon that Niko should start singing again. We did try a few other singers, but they just didn't seem to feel right for us.

Tell us a bit more about that experience of having your debut album only published in places like Russia and Japan. Was it frustrating?

It was really frustrating, because we had no way of knowing what was going on. It was doubly frustrating for me, since I had planned to use it as a sort of calling card for more recording and mixing work… We've been talking about releasing the album again at some point, but so far it's just been talk, nothing concrete. It's pretty hard for any band from Finland to go and play in, say, Japan, much more so for a relatively new and unknown band like us. So we didn't get the chance to play there… yet.

Is it too hard the competence in the Finnish metal market? It seems that nowadays 1 out of 2 Finnish young guys plays in a metal band. Do you have other activities apart from music?

I think it is since there are a lot of bands. But I feel that since competition is hard, only the best and those who are willing and able to work for what they believe in will succeed. I've pretty much dedicated my life to music, but I try to find time for books, movies and friends.

Any favourite tracks in the new album.

At the moment I like Final Journey, for the feeling it gives while playing it. That might change tomorrow however…

I see that you into the voting process to be selected for playing at the Sweden Rock Festival. Are you excited about it? It must be the best metal festival in Europe (if not in the world) and an excellent promotion for you.

I have to admit being totally oblivious to the whole European festival "scene" so, sure, I'm excited if that comes true, but only because it would be great to get out and play in festivals.-How has been the popular response to Sleep?

Are you happy with the results so far since November?

It's still too early to tell any numbers and all that and I haven't even asked. So far the response and reviews have been positive, a bit reserved. That's natural for a beginning band such as us.

What can the people expect in your incoming live shows?

Good music and a kick-ass show!

Any plans in the long run?

Gigging, making new songs and a new album somewhere in the horizon. Oh, and world domination in 2014, of course!  So Support your local metal-scene! Come to the shows and buy the records! Check out our website and write to our guestbook!

Interviews Music

Tarja strikes back

{mosimage}Tarja Turunen happens to be one of most important female singers in Europe, apart from a super famous public figure in Finland. FREE! Magazine had access to an exclusive interview with the owner of such a divine voice!

Singing for the children

The venue is in Jäähalli and the gathering of artists is aimed at a very good purpose: to help ill children to receive better treatments at hospitals. A Christmas concert organized by Kummit that will be broadcast in the national Finnish TV, with very special guests such as Anna Abreu, Jenni Vartiainen, Katri Ylander or Antti Tuisku. But our main goal is to get Tarja Turunen to comment how her situation and plans are after the recent release of her new CD: My Winter Storm. Just a couple of months ago Nightwish released their new album featuring the Swedish Annete Olzon as their new vocalist, so comparisons are up to you… If you purchase the new Tarja´s CD, do not expect to find the same kind of songs that in her period with Nightwish. Amazingly, a great balance between opera and metal has been achieved all along the album, but the style is more personal and far from the classical Nightwish´s compositions.

With not big effort, we get some minutes alone with the ex-singer of Nightwish, who looks extremely smart and beautiful in a black Marimekko dress. A few words in Spanish help to break the ice (she is married with the Argentinean Marcelo Cabuli, and spends long periods of time in her husband’s native country) and Tarja answers friendly the questions that FREE! Magazine has for her, just some minutes before leaving the backstage to perform on stage. You can notice that she feels happy and satisfied taking control of her solo career, and the good vibes are transmitted all over the chat.

Enjoy the chance that our publication offers, since it is not easy task to find English interviews with Tarja Turunen online!

New album, total control

Tarja, please tell us a bit more about your new album. How was the recording process?
It was a long process. It took me 1 year to have everything ready. We started in June and we ended at the beginning of September

And you worked among others with famous producer Daniel Presley.

Yeah, with Daniel Presley and with many new people for me. I was choosing musicians to play with me, one by one because of their background or their personality, and the whole orchestra, everything… the whole production! I had a very clear picture of what I wanted and how I wanted the album to sound like.

Is there any special track that you like from My Winter Storm?
They are all my babies. It depends on. If I am tired, maybe I like listening to The Reign or Our Great Divide but then when I need some energy I like My little Phoenix or Lost Northern Star.

Are you spending now most of your time in Argentina?
Well, as much time as in Finland. I have been always on the road for the last couple of years. It changes that when I am in Finland I am never at home. That is the point… I feel like just being “somewhere”. But when I am in Argentina, it feels like being at home, and it is a nice feeling indeed. I like people there, because they are nice and open, but also very calm, far from the stereotype that Finnish could have about them.

I saw you recently singing a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit during the presentation of new Marimekko´s collection in the centre of Helsinki. How did the idea of covering that particular song come up?
Actually I had the pleasure to sing this song before in a church, in Lahti, Finland, with an electric organ. And I really liked it. The song brings me very good memories from my teenage years. Of course it was a big surprise for the audience to hear Smells Like Teen Spirit from Nirvana sang by me!

Everybody pays attention to what you are wearing on stage. Do you work actively in the design of your clothes?
I have a tailor in Helsinki that is working with me. I only wear what is designed for my performances. The tailor is a very good friend of mine. I have a lot of freedom to use my head, my imagination and give him advice. The design that I use in the cover of My Winter Storm is from him. I am also working closer with Marimekko, as you can see with this dress that I am wearing now.

Not looking back in anger

And you also work very close with your family. For example, you collaborated in the album of your brother Timo. How is the experience of working with your relatives?
Yes, he is coming with a new album at the beginning of New Year. It is very exciting. He is playing kind of traditional Finnish folk pop, singing in Finnish. The whole family is in music business in one way or another. My other brother is playing with me on tour. Actually he is playing with me tonight in the drums (on other tour dates Tarja counts with Mike Terrana, who is considered to be one of the best metal drummers in the world)

I suppose that you must feel bored of everybody asking you about Nightwish, but well, since they released their new album just so recently, I wanted to ask your opinion about it, in case you have heard it.
Of course I have heard it! I have not heard the complete album, but some songs from the radio so far, and I like it. It is Nightwish and the spirit is there in their music.

Do you ever feel like you would like to sing those compositions with them?
I don’t really have that kind of thoughts in my mind. I have many other things going on in my head. I am full with my own career, honestly.

And what plans does Tarja Turunen have for the future?
There will be a world tour starting in April 2008. The plan is to relax, try first in small places and see how it goes. I am not in a hurry!