Interviews Music

Interview with Marko Atso of Metsatöll

If there is an Estonian metal band that has been able to break through internationally (and singing in Estonian), that is Metsatöll – an ancient Estonian word used as an euphemism for “wolf”-. And if there is an Estonian metal band linked to Finland nowadays, that is Metsatöll too, after having signed with Finnish record label Spinefarm (the most important metal label in Finland, a name behind the success of Finnish bands like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica or Chldren of Bodom) and scheduling to record their next album at the legendary Finnbox studios.

Metsatöll is probably living their most exciting time after their formation, bringing their folk metal to the masses all over Europe in a tour together with Finnish Ensiferum and Tracedawn. Their drummer, Marko Atso, had time to answer a few questions of what is going on for the most international Estonian band nowadays.

Please Marko, tell us a bit about your beginnings in the music. How and when did you start to play drums?

I started taking music lessons in 1979, at that time I was singing in choir. At the age of nine, piano and block flute lessons accessed. I started being “metalhead” at the age of 11, when I saw the Kiss´ song “Tears are falling” from the Finnish TV-show Hittimittari. I started to play drums in 1989, when I was 16 years old. The band was called Aggressor.

Jani Penttinen

When you were a child, it was still in the Soviet Union times. Did you have access to hard rock and heavy metal, or what music do you remember to listen firstly? How and with what bands did you start to listen to metal?

In the Soviet Union there were no people, who had access to hard rock and heavy metal until the year 1983 because all the recordings which had that kind of music on them were broken on the border by its workers. Photos of Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne were photographed from the magazine Suosikki and were sold with very high prices. Cassettes with bad quality, brought in illegally by Finnish friends, were handed to each other. A thick book could be written about those times. And I believe that people, who have lived only outside of the Soviet Union, would not believe the stories in it. Firstly I listened to Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, DIO and Iron Maiden, basically in 1984.

You joined Metsatöll in 2004. Did you know the other guys beforehand? How was the process and your first impressions of playing together just after joining?

I knew Kuriraivo before, because I had played with him in another project for a  year. I got in Metsatöll by accident. They were going to give a concert in two weeks at Tavastia and had no drummer, so they asked me and I had to learn all songs in two weeks and had no time to get any impression about the band. But I have to confess, that those songs seemed to be absolutely absurd at first, because I had never played or heard songs with such a structure before.

I have read that you build yourselves in the band many of the instruments you use. Do you copy old designs, or do you create new modified ones? I see that in Estonia most of the guys enjoy as hobby doing reparation and “remont” work. Are you also the kind of guy who is on Sunday morning fixing things at home?

I haven’t done any drums, but I have built myself an apartment and a house. Lauri does most of his instruments by himself. At the very moment we have electrician, builder, IT-specialist and also a teacher in the band.  I do not like fixing things, I construct them, and usually those things remain for many years.

Do you have difficulties to combine your job and other activities with playing in Metsatöll?

We have no difficulties with combining our jobs and other activities, because Metsatöll is our activity no. 1 and other things come after that. First things first!

“We have many good bands and musicians in Estonia. They just need more stimulus”

The economical crisis is hitting hard everywhere, but as far as I see, especially in Estonia, where many construction workers do not find anything, etc. Do you notice it in your everyday life?

Yes, I do. But what does not kill us, makes us stronger. People who have lived in Soviet Union are used to more awful things.

You have recently signed with Finnish record label Spinefarm. How is the cooperation so far? Do you think that this will improve the international promotion of the band?

Cooperation is very “chill” and pleasant, we feel like being children who have just reached home. It stands to reason that this contract has its influence on the international promotion.  We have done it by ourselves so far, now we can just do good music.

You are quite a well known band also in Finland. Do you notice any difference in the audience when playing there compared to Estonia?

Yes, you could see more tattoos and body piercing among Finnish audience.


What other Estonian bands (metal or other style) would you recommend to a foreign listener who wants to discover more about Estonian music?

I would recommend from the metal style Horricane and Loits, industrial No-Big-Silence and Pedigree and for those who like progressive music, Contus Firmus.

How do you see the Estonian metal scene nowadays in general? Do you think that has a good health in the number of bands and venues to play?

We have many good bands and musicians in Estonia, who need more stimulus and feeling that they are necessary to somebody. Of course, some of them are too lazy to achieve something.

I see that you have a busy summer ahead, touring around Europe (including 4 gigs at my native country Spain). Is there any particular country/city you are looking forward to visit?

No, there isn’t. I am just looking forward to the European tour. Driving around Europe in tourbus has been our dream for 10 years already.

Anything you want to add for the readers?

We will start recording our 4th album in the end of July at Finnbox. This is going to be a very interesting one. You should also check our website


“Q&A with Marko Atso

Favourite band ever?

Celtic Frost

Best memory of a concert you have played?

Warming up Metallica with band No-Big-Silence in 1999 and Motörhead in 1995, also a concert with Metsatöll in Tuska Festival in 2006

And best concert you have seen as spectator?

Celtic Frost, Tavastia club 2007

What is the craziest thing that you have seen happening backstage?

We played on Rock Summer festival in 1994 and after that, bands Korrozia Metalla and Napalm Death, who were going to play on the same stage, clashed. 15 people took part in the fight and it was quite a serious one.

Who drinks more, Estonian or Finnish bands?

In my opinion both drinks a lot, but Finnish are better musicians. I can say this, because I have been sober for seven years after being professional alcoholic. Usually all alcoholics are good persons.

What would be the first word or sentence in Estonian that you would teach to a foreigner?

It depends on how old and what kind of outlook he/she has ;)

Albums Music

Madcon – So Dark The Con Of Man

The Norwegian duo has been able to make it through the world with their newest album full of danceable tracks!

First time I head the single Beggin' , I thought I was listening to Outkast. Although they affirm that their style is totally different, it is true there is a big resemblance in some of the songs, that wisely know how to mix hip hop and funky to create perfect hits to move your hips in the disco.


But it is also true that Madcon has a big variety of registers to offer, with songs sounding different. That is pretty noticeable in the collaborations, like in the fourth track Hard To Read with Noora or in The Way We Do Thangs with Timbuktu.

Honestly, when I just watched the cover of the CD first time, I though I was going to encounter another boring album of rap with people trying to be cooler than life. But I was happily surprised by Madcon. They transmit a good vibe to put you in the right healthy party mood. A notable effort by the Norwegians, that know how to mix the good Scandinavian way of working with the relaxation and cheerfulness of their African roots.

Rating 4/5

Interviews Music

Interview with Ari Koivunen and Ben Varon of Amoral

{mosimage}If there has been a piece of news that shocked the foundations of Finnish metal scene during the last months, it was the union of Ari Koivunen, ex former winner at the Finnish TV show Idols, with Amoral. Many old fans saw this as a deception, but for many others, this is a clever step that can open many more international borders to the Finnish metal heads. FREE! Magazine had the chance to make an interview in English with Ari himself and Ben Varon, guitar player of the band. Do not miss it, because these guys do not hold their tongues with any kind of question!

Thanks for your time guys. You have a new album released this summer, Show Your Colors. What can you tell about it for a person who a virtual fan who would still not have listened to any track from it?

Ben: Hard rockin´ & fast lovin' melodic, groovy metal with a huge dose of rock n' roll, big choruses and catchy tunes. If you're a metal head, this album could get you into rock music, and vice versa.

Ari: Ben said just about all. I think it's a good mixture of technical metal riffs and hard rock vibes with a huge melodic edge.

Jani Penttinen

Niko leaving the band has been an important turning point. Was it a shared decision between him and the band, or what were the reasons behind it?

B: It was 100% Niko's decision, and the news was as much of a surprise to us as it was for our fans. Apparently he just wasn't feeling the burn anymore, wasn't willing to commit to the band as much as necessary and didn't like the hectic pace we were used to. So we think he did the right thing by stepping out and letting us continue with full force.

Everybody in Finland knew Ari from Idols, but how the idea of joining forces took place? Did the members of Amoral and Ari know each other beforehand?

B: we knew each other a little bit, Ari had been to some of our shows, and we'd end up at some after parties together. So we knew he was a cool guy. Ari had heard about Niko's leaving, and offered to try out for the job. We didn't think he was serious first, but he kept reminding me to give him the audition. So we did. And it went good!

A: Yeah, I've been a fan of Amoral for several years so even to go and auditioning with the guys was cool. I've been a fan of death/thrash metal since I was about 7 years old so that is always close to my heart even I enjoy older hard rock and melodic metal as well.

It has been a challenging and risky decision. I suppose from one hand, for many old fans of Amoral, this change could have been too drastic. And Ari had already 2 albums in his solo career. What were the main positive points you saw for starting this new period together in Amoral?

B: Well, the minute we understood that our time with Niko was over, we decided we'll switch the vocal style to clean, at least for the most part. We found just growling to be restricting, especially as the whole band is big fan of melodic rock and metal. So after the shock and sadness of Niko leaving had passed, we were more than excited to start a whole new chapter in our book. We knew for sure that the new style – and especially getting Ari in the band – will piss off a lot of old fans, but then again, we've never planned our moves according to other people before, and weren't about to start now. We're just glad to see a lot of the old fans appreciating this new direction too, and respecting us for doing things our way.

A: I guess the talent of song writing in this band is just getting better and better when Ben and Silver doesn't have to do all the melodic parts with guitars, but focus on the brilliant riffs they do. With growling vocals only good riffs just aren't enough and you need to fill the whole song with guitar melodies to make it interesting and get it to carry till the end. With melodic singing there are three melodic instruments in the band and I guess it also gives a new kick to compose new stuff.

Pekka Johansson on the bass is also a new face in the band. How has the work together and the adaption for him gone so far?

B: It's been smooth sailing with Pexi, all the way. We knew we had our guy when he showed up for the audition. He had just the right rock n roll attitude we were looking for, as well as being a good player and having an awesome stage presence. It feels like he was with us from the beginning.

With so many new and veteran metal bands in Finland, what does a band need to head up, outside of the general bunch of bands? Is having talent the only key? Good contacts? Good record company and managers?

B: It's a combination of talent, song writing, good contacts and a lot of luck. If you have killer songs, play stellar gigs around town and are active with your webpage etc, you just might to get noticed by the right people. No-one's going to come asking for you from your basement…

A: One big thing is to be original and have a sound of your own. In my opinion the biggest thing in common with big metal bands is knowable singing sound or guitar sound. I mean, think about Metallica without James Hetfield's sound or Megadeth without Mustaine's and this list is at least as long as Meshuggah's


Finns have (a well deserved) fame of being shy. For Ari, getting to be known publicly so quickly in the last years, how has affected your life? Do you enjoy being recognized in the streets, or you prefer to disguise yourself in the crowds?

A: Well, I like to be just a human being like I am so disguise in crowd for sure. I've actually never been a fan of being a "celebrity" and I really don't want to be one. I just love doing and performing music but in my personal life I enjoy peace and all kinds of hobbies…

“The songwriting in this band is getting better” (Ari)

And now, for the other members of Amoral, does it suppose any kind of problem that maybe the media and fan attention is more diverted to the vocalist, or is something you do not give importance?

B: well, we do get the occasional mention in some yellow press that we could happily live without, but other than that it's no biggie. The frontman is supposed to get the lion’s share of the attention anyway, as the voice and the face of the group. As long as there's no Lead Singer Disease noticeable, we're all good, hahaha.

You seem to have a busy schedule for the rest of 2009 with the European Tour. Is there any country or venue that you are especially looking forward to playing in?

B: Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland is always a treat, with its huge stage, amazing food and, most importantly, a washing machine! Country wise, I'm really looking forward to Greece and Bulgaria, as we've never been to those countries before.

A: This is my first European tour so I'm looking forward to see every venue and every country! There's over 10 countries I've never been to.

Anything else you want to add for the readers?

B: Check out the CD, it'll blow you away! Also, if we happen to come through a town near you, make sure to be there to witness the rock n' roll madness that is Amoral's live show!

A: Be there or be a complete pussy!


Q&A for Ben & Ari

Musician you admire the most?

B: Probably Slash, as he's the one who got me into playing in the first place. His sense of melody is incredible.

A: God this is hard… I would have to say Jaska Vitikainen, because he got me singing and helped me with my life big time when he was still alive. Miss U Jack!

Favorite drink?

B: In all honesty, there's nothing better than a cold bottle of Coke when thirsty!

A: Gin Long Drink

Craziest thing that has happened on or off the stage in a gig?

B: Onstage, probably when Niko was spinning his mike around and hit my guitar really damn hard, breaking a huge piece of it off. The hit was so hard that I actually though he had run into me, instead of it being just the mike… Offstage, cutting my finger really bad with a shaving razor just a few minutes before show time. It wouldn’t stop bleeding, so our drum tech put some superglue on it so I could do the show. It still hurt like hell!

A: I will never forget the gig with my solo band when I got food poisoning just before the gig started… That was nasty and the worst feeling ever!

Is there any band you always dreamt to see live but never had the chance?

B: This is easy, Guns N' Roses with the original line-up, or around 91-92, on the "Use Your Illusion" tour.

A: Pantera.

What has been the best band/artist to share tour or stage with so far?

B: I'd have to say Finntroll, who took us out in 2005 for our first European tour. They were so cool to us, and treated us like true equals. Love you guys!

A: Joe Lynn Turner took me up to the stage to sing Burn with him 2008 at Myötätuulirock festival

What is the Finnish sentence that every foreigner should learn first when coming to Finland?

B: "miksi täällä on näin hemmetin kylmä?" , meaning "why is it so damn cold here?"

A: "Kierros koko baarille!" meaning "A round for the whole bar on me

Do you have any secret “musical pleasures”, artists you love listening but feel embarrassed to recognize that you like them?

B: I'm not embarrassed in the least by anything I listen to, be it Seal, Prince or Salt N' Pepa!

A: No way! I'm not embarrassed about anything.

Photos by Valtteri Hirvonen extracted from band´s official MySpace

Related articles:

Review of the album Show Your Colors

Albums Music

Enochian Theory – Evolution: Creatio Ex Nihilio

New album of the British trio; from my point of view, one of the best thing I have heard so far in 2009!

Sam Street on the drums, Ben Harris-Hayes on the vocals and Shaun Rayment on the bass are the components of this relatively unknown British metal band featured here. Evolution: Creatio Ex Nihilo is not maybe the catchiest title for an album, unless you are studying a doctorate in dead languages, but nevertheless the quality here is overwhelming.

Enochian Theory

The band is able to display a wide amount of musical registers without losing the face. Great orchestration like in Waves of Ascension and great vocal skills by the hypnotic Harris-Hayes makes them a good catch if you want to discover a bit more of the underground side of British metal. Even the artwork rocks! 

fF you like metal bands with a personal twist like Tool or A Perfect Circle, you are going to love these ones. 

Rating 4/5

Interviews Music

A new dimension of sound – Interview with Dope Stars

Fabrice la Nuit, Victor Love and Darin Yevonde are the components of Dope Stars, an Italian band that brings an amazing and powerful sound into this decadent world. We had the chance to interview the 3 of them and get to know more about their new album, their projects, their opinion about Finland and the (almost nonexistent) scene in their native Italy and their views of how technology around has is affecting us and has affected their lives for good or bad. Do not miss it, because these guys have a voice on and offstage!

Thanks a lot for your time guys! Just in July your new album 21st Century Slave was released. What can you tell to the new listeners about it, and what are the similarities or differences with your previous albums Neuromance and Gigahearts?

Victor: I think the new album is a good starter for all the new fans of Dope Stars Inc. because it keeps at the same time the sound concept of our previous release but improved with a more experienced attitude and a 360 degrees production which involve not only music, but lyrics and the visual side too. Also the album does not lack of new experiments in other fields so this makes it a more complete and representative release compared to the other ones. What is good is that most of the new fans we are getting now also get into our previous production and this album is also succeeding to interest people from different scenes apart from the industrial/gothic one. This is cool thing for us because we basically never felt only an industrial band but our main research has always been about merging together the industrial and electronics world to the rock and metal one. This is also something that connects to the cyberpunk concept behind our music. So making a summary while Neuromance and Gigahearts where more directed toward a precise sound research the new album “21st Century Slave” is the result of both the experiences we had thanks to our past albums.

La Nuit: 21st Century Slave will represent the latest improvement of the band in song writing and visual expressions. It’ll drive you deeply into the “visionary” cyberpunk world that lives so close to our contemporary reality. Added to this you will notice the perfect mix of sounds coming from both the previous releases: Gigahearts (guitars and rockside) and Neuromance (synths & electronic atmosphere) in order to create something new using the most popular properties of our already know production.  One big news will be the real drums recorded by our friend Fabrizio D’Amore (brother of Victor) and a stronger concept that will allow people to enter deeper into the world of DSI.

Darin: Moi & Ole hyvaa! Our new album Is a new dimension of our sound, mixing experience and experimentation we had with Neuromance and Gigahearts. The new album can put the listeners in a decadent representation of the world right now, with a cinematographic mood. It’s a new Chapter of our life, our past, our present, our future.

Dope Stars

In your album, you touch very intensively the new technologies and its impact in the world. What do you think of it, do you see it as a healthy way of development, or is not healthy that the youngsters spend so much time today in front of the computers?

Victor: Technology had an impact on society since many years but today the situation is much more evident and has immediate effects. We are now living in a world that does not look so much different from the visions of cyberpunk novels. It looks like art inspired or predicted the future in some way.  If they’ve been right on that side also the consequences, especially the negative ones, deriving from these premises are well known. There are things moving in the background these very years we are living to make the instruments of new technologies a way to control the people, thoughts and information. Our personal data is being stored everyday and this most of the times happen because it’s the people that do it by voluntarily just to follow a trend. The whole social revolution has got indeed his negative sides but also have enough positive ones such as giving the way to people from all over the world to exchange opinions, culture, information and whatever is a matter of thought. This is making possible for a lot of people also to start getting interested on topics that would have never been known otherwise. Also it expands a lot the range of connections with other people from any country which makes all of us citizens of the world above any nation imposed differences. This also gives to the information the power to be an unstoppable thing. For most of the young people it is absolutely normal they take it more like a tool for having fun with their friends but it’s always good if they protect themselves and get informed about the risks of a too easy use of such websites, applications and network tools in general. That’s cause basically the connection and impact between the cyberspace and reality is becoming everyday stronger. This makes the internet a place which is not about fun only. It is instead the place for everything. The message we want to send with our album is to master technology and start getting every information about all the instruments of technology you are using. Especially the ones you’ll be seeing coming out in the future. Thanks to the internet also this is possible.

La Nuit: As I see it depends on the right use we make of technology. We love informatics and part of our growing career is coming from the endless power of internet about connecting people. 21st Century Slave will investigate on the exploitation of technologies done by few mega-powered lords who really want to rule the entire world hiding themselves behind the shadows of well known corporations. So the keyword for every one of us will be “MASTER TECHNOLOGY” and not be slave of it. Open your eyes and take part to the digital war.

Darin: The influence of technology in our society is becoming day after day bigger and bigger and the power it has on young people is huge! Most of the teenagers right now are living their life in virtual world loosing what real life means. The control these tools have on young brain is really powerful.

And you, as users, are your lyrics based on personal experiences feeling a bit like “slaves of the technology” and running for freedom?

Dope Stars

Victor: Technology is about advancement. I’ve been into technologies since I was very young. I started working with computers since vic-20 and c-64, amiga, x-86 and so on till the current days and have been always working with technologies. I was into that since even before internet existed and then first modems come out. I’ve actually been living all the evolution of informatics, the internet and home computing in general till today and yeah I’ve seen and experienced many things changing fast. However this has always been like a passion for me together with the music and of course also has influenced by my personal life. But this also helped us a lot in the band because without that technology Dope Stars Inc. probably would have never existed or anyway would have never sounded this way. Besides we started from the internet and we’ve been growing thanks to our fans and communities that helped us spreading the word on the network. We’ve been always trying to make a good use of technologies and it is great that actually everyone can do the same with a computer. Slaves are those who believe a computer is just a nice handy machine. 

La Nuit: Well for sure I’m a big fan of technology since I was just a little kid, but I never felt like a slave. It helped me to learn a lot of things (first of all foreign languages), helped us as a band to record new brilliant material and gave us the possibility to be known all around the globe with few mouse clicks. Certainly you must be warned, there are not only positive sides of technology. As said before, someone is exploiting technologies to control your life, ordering you what to do, what to buy, what to eat simply through your laptop. So be smart guys and discover the dirty games hidden behind those dazzling banners, it’s up to you now!

By the way, I noticed in your promotional paper that you name “Snow Crash” as one of your influences. I don´t know if you have realized that in the TV series Heroes there is a character, Hiro, very similar to a character in the book…

Victor:What a strange coincidence! I am just getting into the 3rd series of heroes as I missed that.  I like heroes and yes the character thing is weird but Heroes is more like science fiction with the feel of a DC comics.  In Snow Crash it’s the cyberspace or metaverse that plays an important key role. However our biggest influence comes from Neuromancer of William Gibson which is the actual cyberpunk bible.

For those who do not know your band yet, can you briefly explain your beginnings and how did you get to know each other?

Victor: We were just a group of friends and friends of friends that hooked up together to make something new. By the times I was doing the first steps in producing music myself but in a short time I had ready 5 songs and a cover version of Billy Idol (Shock to the system).  When the first EP was released we’ve got a great feedback that helped us to get signed. We did 2 albums, Neuromance and Gigahearts and in the meantime we had some experiences that lead us to reduce the line up to the essential which is me, Darin and La Nuit. So we started to perform several shows and a couple of years ago we also met Ash Rexy who started to perform the electronic parts live with us.  In July we have released the new album “21st Century Slave”. What about me and La Nuit we are long time friends and we played together already years before DSI as in another band called “My Sixth Shadow”. Darin was introduced to me by one of our former members in 2003 and since then we become great friends. What makes everything perfect is that we like to do, watch, listen or experience basically the same exact things regarding music and art in general and together we are doing what we love to do above everything.

How is the actual industrial metal scene in Italy? Do bands like yours get recognition, or is it easier to break through in other countries like USA or Japan?

Victor: There is no scene in Italy of any kind actually, apart from pop music. A scene is something about a good amount of clubs arranging live shows and people attending to it, a good amount of magazines and radios promoting a certain kind of local music and people listening to it. This creates a scene and also helps bands to get known from the underground. Today instead the only  way is the world wide web and most of the times the feedback comes from outside of Italy like USA or UK/Germany/Finland and even more from countries such as Russia and the whole South America, Asia and Africa.

La Nuit: Recognition in Italy??? MMM….. not at all. It’s easier to find a double-headed living cat than obtain something from Italy… and believe me it’s a shame, cause we’ve got a lot of very interesting bands over here. First of all, it’s about Italian people, they don’t support the national scene at all and that’s too bad. The clubs???? Oh yes, they can organize a poor show for your band, but clearly you can immediately forget to either cover the expenses. Welcome to Italy!

Darin: For us is easier to be popular outside of our country, Italy is definitely the wrong country for any kind of alternative music proposal. Suomi knows Dope Stars Inc. much better than Italians ;) We don’t have any kind of support in our country but just Jealous shitheads are always ready to throw shit on us.

How is the European tour going so far this summer? Any venue you especially liked, or any place you are looking forward to playing in?

Victor: I look forward to almost all the shows in the future because they are all cool for different reasons. In October we’ll be together with Deathstars, Diary of dreams and The Birthday Massacre which are all great bands and we are sure it will be a great experience. Also in USA we are going to make our first show and I’ve personally never been in the US before. Also on 23 October in Helsinki we’ll take part at this Cyberpunk festival, Alternative Party, which will be interesting to me not only because we are going to play there. We are also going to play in the UK soon for the 2nd time and considering the past experience and the big feedback we received always from that country I really can’t wait to hit the stages there too. At the moment we are not touring because we focused on the album that has been released just now and we’ll have our summer touring the next year.

La Nuit: During the spring/summer time we had few gigs because we were really busy in the recordings of the new album and EP and didn’t have enough time to fix live shows. So people, everything will start from next October touring Europe and finally reaching USA! Talking about latest gigs, they were really cool (Jesus, I really love to do concerts J ) and we’re talking about the Mama Trash Festival in Helsinki (great bands/people and exciting party atmosphere) and our annual gig in Moscow (hey you Russian people, you shock me all year long!!!! You’re the best!). Finally in June we had the possibility to show our ugly asses in Germany thank to the Blackfield Festival and it made so happy, because it was a long time that we didn’t play in Germany, where everything began for us.  … Going back to our upcoming tour, can’t wait to play one more time at La Loco Paris (mais oui La Nuit arrive tout de suite!!!) and feeling very excited about the London gig, the Festival (Alternative Party 2009) in Helsinki and about our Halloween Night in Philadelphia!!!

Darin: We love to play a lot but not always is possible have long tours. We are waiting for Tour in October with Deathstars, The Birthday Massacre and Diary of Dreams, will a huge fun touring with them! We already played together in a festivals with Deathstars and The Birthday Massacre, will be cool rockin again ;) Will be cool play to some Finnish rock festival like Ankkarock, Provinssirock, Ruisrock! I love play in festivals when bands in the bill are playing totally different kind of music.

“Suomi knows Dope Stars Inc. much better than the Italians!”

You have previous experience playing in Finland, if I am not mistaken. How do you like the audience and the country? Are there any differences there than when you play somewhere else?

Victor: Finnish audience has always been one of the best ever; probably it was also because we have been playing at some very cool events too. We’ll be also going to play more in spring but at the moment I really look forward for the Alternative Party. It will be a great day. Too bad we’ve to flight back to continue touring just straight after because I really wanted to check both the days of the festival.

La Nuit: We mainly took part at this incredible festival called Mama Trash Fest, so well organized by our Mama. Believe me, it’s something so different because there’s a special friendship atmosphere there that is so unusual. Bands and people, they are all together, just like old friends getting drunk during a special party. All the Finnish fans and bands were really cool with us and we had this unbelievable feedback and support from them, we really didn’t expect. We’ll be there once again to do it again for sure my friends.

Darin: We played in Finland 3 times: A couple of time on Mama Trash Fest in Helsinki and once in Tampere with Jann Wilde and the Neon Comets. Finnish people are totally crazy and passionate! I never expected something like that before we did it the first time! Suomalainen hullu rockers! One of the best audiences we ever had ;)

When I saw the concert of Deathstars years ago before interviewing Whiplash, I noticed that they were very popular among female fans. Is it the same for Dope Stars? Do you consider that your style can be a bit more “sexy” for the female fans that the pure and more classic metal?

Victor: What I can tell you about it from the experiences is that we started to have a lot of female fans but then gradually also the interest of male fans has been growing and today we actually have a quite balanced fan base. We have songs that are very different and catch the interest and taste of different kind of people. Sometimes some male defenders tend to have some prejudices at the start cause of our image, which is instead not an issue for females and this causes to bands like DSI to have a female wing which is in first place supporting. And that’s great because girls are smart! J. What is good is that after some years we are also getting a good feedback from people coming from the harder scene. We’ve been always fans and been part of very different scenes and this reflects also in the music and visual concept we follow.

Darin: We have lots of female fans, I think it is quite the same between Deathstars and Dope Stars. In our music we have songs that make happy female’s tastes, I think, especially in slow/mid tempo songs. But we also have a harder, rough and violent sound in many other songs. They belong each other in some way and those components living together create a unique mix of feelings and emotion.

La Nuit:  Our music is so wide open-minded that can embrace all kind of fans, starting from dsi-addicted little fans (also attracted by the musicians), to music lovers who really adore our mixture of synth-rock electrocyberpunk. For sure, during our concerts, you’ll see mainly the first rows completely full of girls ;) but i think it’s something normal, in the end they’re always more emotionally involved during the live shows. But if you take a glimpse more deeply, you’ll see also real pure rockers with our star on their t-shirts banging their heads to our heavy guitars!!! I love you all, my friends!

Actually, talking about bands you share tour with, what is the one you have enjoyed more touring together? And what is the one you would love to tour with in the future?

Dope Stars

Victor: I personally enjoyed any tour with any band so far. While touring you experience a lot of things together and it has been always a beautiful thing. The longest and more remarkable one has been with Asp, London After Midnight and Kirlian camera but also in single dates we got in touch with many other artists and we had a great time together.

La Nuit:  May i say 2 bands instead just one: London After Midnight and Kirlian Camera. People, you’re great and i will always remember out tour together as the happiest tour with friends.  On the other hand i have to admit, that everyone who shared a tour or simply a single gig with us was really cool and I’m talking about you : Gemini Five, Violent Divine, Entwine, SKD, Jesus on Extasy, Richard Christ, etc…. and clearly my other band Latexxx Teens (coolest guys on earth).

Darin: We had a lots of fun touring  with band like London After Midnight, Entwine, ASP, personally will be really cool have someday tour with  Turbonegro! Finnish bands like American bands love to party hard , party animals creatures!

What are your future plans when the current tour is over?

Victor: When the tour this autumn will be over we are going to arrange more touring for the next spring. We’ll be visiting most of central Europe + UK and Finland this autumn and we’ll also do our first show in the US, in Philadelphia. So after these dates we are already planning more shows in Europe, the US and we are evaluating possible shows in Asia and Australia. We’ll be also attending to summer festivals in Europe and we will probably announce some of them already in the next weeks.

Darin: Find and find again new place where play! I wanna play as much as possible, my life is on tour. My favourite hobbies: restaurants, shopping, films, call of duty series and my motorbike. Recently I discovered my insane passion for every kind of extreme sports…. one day you’ll see some pictures online ;)

La Nuit:More and more gigs, I hope…. as said before, my first reason to be in a band is getting on my knees with my guitar on in front of all of you during a fuckin ultra-loud DSI concert. Ok?

Albums Music

Ufo Mustonen – Kuudes Aisti

Mustonen is a Finnish violinist who has collaborated with some top Finnish orchestras and artists like Kauko Röyhkä. Here he introduce us his solo album.

Ufo Mustonen

If you like nice melodies to chill out in the relaxed environment of a small club or café, you are going to dig the songs of Ufo Mustonen. With a music of great quality, and accompanied by other 6 talented musicians,  Mustonen offers a collection of 11 tracks with great lyrics. For fans of introspective Finnish music, like for example the last work of  Samuli Putro of Zen Café, this is an excellent way of discovering the lights and darks of the Finnish soul. Great tracks like Hopeakylkinen or Villiä Lempeä will hit you instantly. For others, especially if you do not understand Finnish language or prefer more danceable or stronger rhythms, this can make you bored.

At least give it a try. It can be the perfect soundtrack for a first date in a dark café, or enjoying a glass of wine at home while talking about the goals in life.

Rating 4/5

Albums Music

Järjestyshäiriö: Lopullinen Ratkaisu

Third studio album for the Finnish band from Jyväskyla.

If there is something that Finland does not lack of, it is young rock bands. It seems that every time you kick one stone in any Finnish city or town, twenty new bands show off.  That has its good and bad sides: the circuit is big, the people have great appreciation for rock and metal and there are always musicians to jam with. But on the other hand, if a band wants to break through, it has to show “something” extra than the others.

band promo

I do not find that extra in Järjestyshäiriö. Certainly they sound compact and professional, but basically like many other dozens of rock bands that sing in Finnish with softer rhythms easier to like also for the female audience. When the band goes a bit more experimental, like in the third track Koneet, the quality boost up. But for most of the album, it just sounds like another average Finnish pop-rock band. If you like bands like Liekki, you can enjoy this one. But for an over saturated Finnish market, being a third album, I would say that this is not enough.

Rating 2/5

Albums Music

Amoral – Show your colors

With Ari Koivunen, the young former winner of Finnish Idols replacing Niko Kalliojärvi, no doubt this is one of the most awaited and polemic Finnish metal albums of the year.


After the introductory instrumental track Random Words, the first sentence that comes out of Ari´s mouth in the album is “There is going to be some changes” in the second track Release. Certainly if there is something you can say about this Show your Colors, is that it is an album full of changes. Starting from the change of vocalist and basically continuing with the change in the style of the band. Because if Amoral was before well known as one of the most promising Finnish bands in death metal, here they approach closely power metal.  Basically, they have adapted their style to Koivunen´s vocal skills (and he really has them, Idols or not Idols in the middle). Is the result bad? Well, that depends on your point of view. I understand that for many fans of the “old” Amoral, this can be a change that they did not deserve. They could have basically ended up with Amoral´s name and started a new and fresh band. On the other hand, for fans of power metal and for those open minded metal followers, this album is good. The orchestration is great and some tracks like Year of the Suckerpunch sound like instant classics.

If you want to forget about Amoral´s previous works and welcome a new great metal band, you will enjoy this. If you are a hardcore Amoral´s fan, probably you can feel betrayed with the turn of style. My advice:  be open minded and enjoy with the great quality of the new album. The old Amoral´s works will be always there for you if you feel nostalgic.

Rating 4/5

Interviews Music

Interview with Ginger of The Wildhearts

The Wildhearts are usual visitors in Finland. The band from Newcastle has gone through good and tough times during their career, but after two decades, they are still on the road, more alive than ever. They recently visited Estonia for first time to play at Rabarock, the biggest summer festival of the Baltic state, and we had a long and very interesting talk with Ginger, their leader and founder, after they performed an amazing gig. Without doubt, this must be one of the most interesting interviews ever published at FREE! Magazine, so do not miss it!

The Wildhearts

The Estonian audience was not very big during the concert, but The Wildhearts did not seem to mind. You could notice how they were having fun on stage and feeling at ease (maybe helped by the view of some Estonian beauties around). But honestly, I did not know what to expect when accessing the backstage of the festival to meet Ginger. Organization’s rules were so strict that my photographer could not even step with me inside. But same than Ginger defined during the interview Lemmy from Motörhead as a real gentleman, I could say the same about him. He was funny, friendly, polite and intelligent in his comments; A man who has seen the dark side of rock & roll, and was able to go through it and be reborn stronger than ever.  I think this must be one of the best interviews I have ever had so far while doing FREE! Magazine. It was easy and natural to talk to Ginger while smoking cigarettes and having a beer, sitting at the sofa of the backstage, and if it would have not been for the hurry of the organizers, we could have continued talking long after the recorder was turned off. Apart from a great interview, I came back home with a set list signed by the entire band, a guitar pick, and a great hug goodbye from Ginger. You cannot ask for more from one guy who is a true legend of the dirtiest and more mischievous side of hard rock!


Thanks a lot for attending us Ginger! What do you think of Rabarock festival, here in Estonia, after your performance?

This festival? I loved it! It is so cool; there are so many pretty girls! My mind is blowing! They are so beautiful. For me, and for the rest of the band, coming from England, it is a bit of a shock!

When did you arrive?

Just last night

Is your first time in Estonia?

Yes. And I want to come back! I liked the atmosphere; they know how to have a good time. So I am very happy with the experience.

You are also usual visitors in Finland. How the atmosphere is when you play there, compared to Estonia?

Kind of the same, it is very open. A lot of countries are very dedicated to what they listen to, and some other countries are very open. If it sounds good, it is good. And I like that about Finland, I like that about Estonia. Some countries you go to, and it is hard to get through them.

Some other foreign bands I have interviewed said that audience can be a bit cold in these countries, but they know how to appreciate the music. Do you have that same feeling?

Yes, as long as the music provokes something in the people, then there is a relationship. The music is not just what is going onstage and selling something. It has never been like that. We go onstage and people want to have some fun and you know, as many other bands, we have had hard times, we have had drug problems, we have had things going really wrong, but the heart of the band is still to have fun; to enjoy life, to be positive.

How do you feel about those tough and hard times, if you look back into the past now? Do you see life with a different perspective?

Well, I think that when you get older, your perspective improves. And you always have hard times; everyone has hard times, now there is a recession going on around the whole world, so your perspective changes and you find also some good and positive sides in everything. Back in the days, back in the 90s, we didn´t find anything positive, we would always have a very negative vibe.


Because we were all… drug addicts… hehehe So everything was bad, and then you got the drugs and everything was good, and then everything went bad again.

Actually I just read the book by Nikki Sixxx

Ah the Heroin Diaries!

Yeah, it was amazing how he describes so well that you could have everything, fame, money, women, but still feeling so bad and empty.

That is why I tried to remember all the time, just because you have no money, just because you have problems in your relationships, etc do not feel that you are alone, because that is happening all over, you know, you can have good times and bad times, but it is all about how you make it. There is a great Chinese proverb that says that it is not about how a man falls, it is about how a man gets over it, and I always believe that. Things can go wrong, but it is about how you find something positive in that. That is what my attitude is all about these days.


Yeah, people from outside can think “oh people in rock bands have everything we dream of”! But in the end everybody has the same kind of problems, isn’t it?

Look, relationships problems are always the same, either if you are broke or if you have money. Problems with your confidence… etc. It is all about finding something good, remembering something that you love, little tricks like that. This morning I woke up and I was in a terrible mood, and my girlfriend told me “remember the things that you love”. Tell somebody that you love them!, and that will make you feel better.

So do you believe in karma?

Well, I understand karma as meaning “action”. Karma is not something that comes back to you; karma is about something that you do. And that why people get it wrong, so I think that karma is how you behave. If you are being negative, and things keep going wrong, it is awful, but when you are positive, things start to improve, it really is the truth.

I am going to make a long jump in time to the 80s, when The Quireboys, your former band, got started. You were sacked from the band. What do you remember of it?

Well, I was a fucking crazy bastard! I was drinking, I was taking so many drugs, I mean, I would have sacked myself from the band!

Were you pissed off with the decision at that time?

Ohh, yeah, I was pissed off at that time, but because I thought the entire whole world was against me. Then I just realized that I was being unprofessional while they were trying to go to the next level. And they did go to the next level! The band became very successful; it could have not made that step with me at that time. And The Wildhearts screwed it so bad many times because of me in the past.

Ginger: I would have sacked myself from The Quireboys!

Have you been in the situation of taking the phone and telling the guys “sorry guys, I was behaving like an asshole”?

Oh yeah, I have seen the guys of The Quireboys since, I have seen Spike and he understands that we were too young and crazy. Let’s face it, if in your life you are going to have a period acting crazy, you better do it when you are young! Because then you can possibly get over it. I had all my crazy acts at the time when I should have been crazy. In my 20s and my early 30s. Now I am in my 40s and I cannot be crazy no more. I have got babies, I have go responsibilities! But you know, I have no regrets, I have had a fantastic time and one day I will write a book and the “crazy times” will be the “good chapters” in the book, where people go like “oh my god, oh my god”!

Now you have a new album, Chutzpah! What can we expect form it?

Oh, it sounds so great! We worked with a producer called Jacob Hansen, who has produced Volbeat, and we are all very big fans of Volbeat, and he is just an incredible producer, so talented! It sounds like a very expensive record.

You recorded 19 songs for it, didn’t you?

Yes, we recorded 19 songs but the album has just 10 songs. But what we are going to do is, and we talked about this just yesterday, is that we hope that we are going to have a limited edition where everyone in the band makes their own cover and everyone in the band has their personal bonus track. So for the first thousand copies of the album we would have that bonus track and a band cover.

Years ago, when I was basically a child, albums used to have 15-16 songs. Now all the new albums have 10-11. Is that trend ok for u or would you like the albums released to be longer?

Well, like I said, I like to keep up with the times. And now there is so much music out there that people do not have time to pay attention. Doing a longer album now is expecting too much. You have to make them short but make the people really listen to the band. Then maybe they will listen to the whole album. I still love albums, I still buy albums. I do not download songs. I still need real albums. But I also understand that people do not need albums anymore. They need a kind of “soundtrack to their busy lives”. But they still need the live experience, they still need to go to the concerts; they still need to meet people, they still need to meet partners. And the music and the concerts make possible more people meet and have sex and socialize. That is actually the main thing! It always was and it always will be, and not marketing things or selling albums or whatever.

The Wildhearts band

I know that you are a very active blogger in the official site of The Wildhearts. How do you see the impact of the new technologies and the possibilities of keeping closer contact with the fans?

Oh yeah! I use Twitter all the time as well, keeping it as part of the fun. I think now it is the most important time in music ever because I came into this as a punk, and punk was all about sharing, talking to the people and then the 80s turned out and it was all about glam rock and not talking to the people, it was about being mysterious. I am not very good at being mysterious, I like talking to the people. I love to talk and find that we are all the same, that we all love music, that we have the same spirit.

You shared tour with The Darkness and you have always spoken very well of them. They were advertised as “the next big band”, but then we all know the problems they had gone through. Why is so difficult for new bands to break through, is it really so difficult to be original nowadays?

Well, to go from being a small band to headlining in festivals should take around 10 years. There is a theory about 10000 hours so well, you go to work 10000 hours to be good, to consider yourself good at what you do. Some people can get confident and success really quickly, but it is not natural. With The Darkness, it just happened too quickly. If the people just allow them to be a small band, or at least a big band playing small venues, but when we toured with them in America, the first half was in small venues and they were sold out completely. They got to play for a complete week at a venue and it was always sold out. So the second half of the tour were big venues and was not sold out. That hit the band’s confidence. The band was not the same band after that. And that is what I meant, people pushed them too quick. People do not remember that Led Zeppelin or The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, they did not make it in a year or in two years. 10 years is a nice period to make it.

Ginger: I am not very good at being mysterious. I like talking to the people

It just seems that people are a bit too desperate to find the “next big thing”. Since Guns & Roses, people do not see big new hard rock bands.

Well, everyone gets a change now. It is all about how good you are. It is not about how good your record company is, or how good your marketing team is or your management. It is about how good you are on stage in front of people. I am talking about something that has been since music first began. It is about communication. When a band understands communication, which is where the bands are making the money now. Bands just go onstage and it is like watching a movie, people do not feel anything for that. And people do not have so much money now, so they are going to be selective about what they spend money on. When recession is over, people will be confident again to spend money, but when that takes place, you better know how to speak to the audience instead of trying to sell something. A good show is not selling anything apart from a good time.

Well, it is interesting now that you talk about the audience that you released not so long time ago the DVD Live in the Studio, where The Wildhearts are just there playing alone with no audience. Where the ideas come from? Was just a kind of “fuck you and we do what we want” to everybody?

Well, that was actually from our good friend Tim Smith, he directed that, and he wanted to have a very close and personal DVD, about us playing in the studio, just showing the band being able to play. And I must admit that I did not like the idea at first. But I think it has a charm, it has a beauty in it. It is a bit strange, and I like things that are strange, because they make you think. Any art should make people think. Maybe people in 100 or 200 years will look back at it and will say “That was such a crazy and brave thing to do!”

And the sense of humor around the DVD was great, with a lot of edgy comments

Yeah, it was strange but I liked it. The same, we had an album called Endless Nameless, which is my favorite Wildhearts’ album, and it is such a strange one, because it is so noisy, but I love it! The fans hate it! But I think it still works well as an artistic statement. It makes people think.

You will play in Finland, England… what is next for 2009?

Japan. Then I have a solo album to record on Christmas and a solo tour. I am very busy and I am happy that I am busy.


Q&A with Ginger

Favorite drink?

Irish Whisky. Jameson or Black Bush or Bushmills. Anything from that family.

Favorite city in the world?

New York.

Craziest thing that has happened on or offstage through the years?

The last time we played at Bulldog Bash I was attacked by one of the Hells Angels, who was doing security, because he misheard something I said. He put his hand on my neck and that was pretty crazy, I thought I was going to die! Luckily the rest of the Hells Angels came and were like “hey, he did not say that!”

Is it true that you saw ghosts at Tutbury Castle during your stay there?

We saw some strange things. We were filming in the room one day and we saw little white lights glowing around. It was really strange. But I must say it was not so paranormal. I have had a lot of paranormal experiences, me and Scott were in a ranch in Malibu in 2005 and that was very paranormal! There was a lot of weird shit going on! A lot of crazy noises coming from anywhere. There are things we don´t know, and it is nothing sinister, it is just… something.

You said about the song “Yoni” and you have had a very promiscuous life. You have traveled and being around, so where do you think that are the hottest girls in the world?

Well, I must say that some of the girls here in Estonia are fucking hot, but I must say that the hottest girls in the world are in New York City, because they are from all over the world

Do you remember the last album you bought?

Yes, the last CD I bought was… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Death by the homonymous band. Wonderful, wonderful album!

Best band to tour with?

AC/DC and Motörhead, especially with Lemmy. He represents all the good sides of a rock musician: he is intelligent, funny and a gentleman.

Photos of Rabarock gig by Tarvet Kullman

Related articles:

The Wildhearts – 3 gigs in Finland
The Wildhearts – Live in the Studio

Interviews Music

Interview with Vanilla Ninja

Having access to the backstage of a festival has its good and bad sides. The bad ones is that you pay for a coffee or a beer more than outside, the good one is that you never know whom you can find sitting close to you. During last Rabarock festival in Estonia, I unexpectedly crossed my way with Lenna and Piret of Vanilla Ninja, one of the most international Estonian bands and did not waste the chance to shoot a few questions at them!
It is not common to catalogue girls who hardly reach 25 years of age as “veteran musicians”, but the young and beautiful girls of Vanilla Ninja can certainly say that they have been around, starting their career at a very tender age. Now, with more clear ideas about the business, but still having fun, they seem to be sure about what they want for their present and their future. I met them just minutes before they went onstage to participate in the project B.D.Ö., the biggest metal band in the world, that condensed many famous Estonian singers gathered together. Full of sympathy and energy, they were eager to answer a few questions about their band and their views on Estonian music scene.

I suppose the weather is not the best one to play today. Have you played before at Rabarock?

Piret and Lenna: No, actually I think that it is a good experience because the rock fans get a bit scared if they invite us, so now we got invited.

Vanilla Ninja

Do you still go by the name Vanilla Ninja?

Piret: We had some legal issues with the name.
Lenna: we were 1 year in court but now everything is back to normal.

You are one of the few Estonian bands that broke through internationally. Why does not happen more often?

Both: I don´t know, there is no answer.

Piret: You need to have good connections and we were very very lucky as we had one guy who was working with one Estonian band and we started talking and then we had the chance to go to Germany, but it does not happen really often, like never…

Lenna: I think it happens everywhere, like for example in Germany also, you have many good bands but they are on their own, so the question mark “why” not to go to other country and take competition from there, there is a tough competition.

Piret: Now there are a few bands that have played abroad like Bedwetters, they made an album in Sweden, and Kerli. She has bigger plans.

Vanilla Ninja

But at the beginning she was much criticized for going to USA, people telling that she would never achieve anything important…

Both: Well, it is always like this. At the beginning everybody is like “ohh buhh”, and then after when they get a number 1 the same people are like “oh my god, you were so big in the beginning”

I know you do other projects apart from your musical careers, for example Piret was working for MTV…

Piret: Yes, I was working with them. Yeah, we are doing other projects, we have been doing Vanilla Ninja for 7 years, when we started we were very young, and now we all have the feeling that we would like to have a little rest from music and try different things and then come back to it after a few years or something.

How old were you when you started?

Piret: I was 17.

Lenna: Yeah I was 16

“We want to take a little break from the band to keep it fresh”

How was when you were teenagers and people recognized you in the streets?

Piret: It was crazy of course!

Lenna: But it was also fun!

Piret: It was fun most of the time, but the longer we do the more we see how hard it is.

Lenna: But actually that is also one reason why we are so grateful because we were so young that we were willing to take all the risks and then when somebody offers to do those things, we say “no way”. At the beginning we were “yeah yeah, let´s do it!”

Piret: I think it was good that we started so young and so naïve.

Now you are young but with a lot of experience!

Both: Yeah, for sure!

What Estonian bands that you would recommend to foreign listeners?

Piret: I really like Kosmikud.

Lenna: I am fond of PopIdiot and Stella.

Piret: Popidiot is really good and I really liked their last album.

Vanilla Ninja

What are the future projects for you?

Lenna: As Piret said, we want to take a little break. We do not want to break up with the band, we are making concerts but we are not making any new album at the moment, we are not planning it. We are gonna take it easy and have some fun and try new projects.

Piret: Just to keep ourselves fresh and experience different stuff. For the last seven years we have done the same kind of music and we cannot change it in Vanilla Ninja, the style has to stay the same, because the fans expect that and otherwise do not like it.

But it is always the change, isn´t it? If you change, people criticize and if you keep the same they also criticize.

Piret: But you know, for ourselves we decided that we do not want to do the same thing right now. We need some change, but I think that after 3 or 5 years or so it would be nice to come back to the roots of the band.

Photo 3: Tarvet Kullman

Albums Music

Stereochemistry – Märka!

Stereochemistry is a young new band from Tartu that has just released their debut studio album Märka! after having played together for about 4 years.

Following their musical dream and taking advantage of having reached the finals of Eesti Laul 2009, the Estonian foursome formed by  Holger and Siim on the vocals/guitar, Indrek on the bass and Keio on the drums deliver 11 shots of good rock in a notable first effort to break through the Estonian music scene.


The first couple of tracks, Ainult armastus on ju päriselt meie and Öösiti kõndides, give a good sample of what you are going to find in the rest of the CD: smart lyrics, edgy riffs and pop-rock rhythms easy to follow and dance to. Holger vocal skills suit perfectly on the songs, although maybe it would be nice to notice a bit more of experimentation on his notes, because most of the songs are sung at the same vocal levels, not putting his throat at risk. The orchestration sounds fluent and compact, highlighting the excellent skills of Keio, the drummer, who really pushes the songs higher and higher with his effort, something you can really notice when the band plays on live. I had the chance to see them during the presentation of their album at PlinkPlonk Club in Tartu, where you could really notice that the tracks work perfectly well on stage, with the audience having a good time and getting warmer and warmer song after song.  The fourth  track Märka!, homonymous of the album title, marks a perfect inflection in the album, sounding slower and a bit sadder at the beginning to explode later in a hooky chorus, being impossible not to feel moved by it.

On the other hand, the most melancholic moment of the album comes maybe by Eile, although the band never let themselves fall into the dark and more twisted side of pop, and add in every song a colorful note of hope and fun. Different to the style of many similar styled Finnish pop-rock bands that choose a darker and more melancholic style, Stereochemistry bets for the lighter side of rock, songs to enjoy at a gig or a party with good friends and a beer in a hand, while moving your feet.

If I have to put a “but” to the album, I would say that the artwork of the CD and booklet feel a little bit too amateurish, but being this the debut work, is a detail totally forgivable. The question to decide is if the band will be able to break through from playing in small venues and pubs to bigger audiences. Their style, a bit similar to other Estonian bands that were able to become mainstream like The Smilers, is perfect to catch the attention of the masses wherever they play, and luckily there are venues enough in Estonia to welcome them on stage around the country, but if they just do not want to be labeled as just one more Estonian pop-rock band, maybe they would need to go a bit more experimental and risky in follow-up works. For the moment, Märka! represents a very good promising debut for the young guys!

Rating 4/5

Albums Music

Agent Kooper – Head + Heart

After their debut album in 2007 and a few changes, AK is back with a follow up album that seems to kick ass!

Agent Kooper

The Turku based trio is back after a couple of years, with a new drummer from Florida, Jake McMullen; the new addition of the band maybe has a lot to do with the American essence that this Head + Heart exhales. Far from typical Finnish rock or metal albums with always the same riffs and the same melancholic lyrics, Agent Kooper does really sound fresh and full of experimentation, it can sound like a military whining march like in Let It Slide or it can sound closer to bands like Kings of Lion in the track Alive & New.

Dirty guitars, good background vocals and a mischievous attitude that can put them close to some dessert rock bands like their beloved Queens of the Stone Age. The album is a little jewel that you need to listen to for several times to fully appreciate all its layers. Good one!

Rating 4/5

Albums Music

Katie Melua – Live at the o2 Arena

Recorded in November 2008 during Pictures World Tour, here you can find a good collection of the best Melua´s tracks since she released her first work in 2003.

Katie Melua

19 songs composed this live album that gives a good sample of what you can expect in a Katie Melua´s performance.  The quality of her voice and the sound in general is excellent, starting with the moving Piece by Piece and flourishing it with the cover of Janis Joplin’s Kosmic Blues. An outstanding female voice, as she shows singing alone in tracks like Lilac Wine or I Cried For You.

If you want an album to enjoy some intimate moments surrounded by the fading light of some candles, this album is for you; Sweet and touching.

Rating 4/5

Interviews Music

Interview with Hendrik of Popidiot

Popidiot is a Estonian-Finnish band that maybe turned to be the biggest surprise in Estonian music scene in the last months. Using a light electro-pop with catchy lyrics, the band has gained the heart of thousands of fans in Estonia and is receiving excellent critics from Finland. We had a nice talk with Hendrik Luuk, one of the core members of the band, sitting in a bar terrace in Tartu, city where he lives and works, and trying not to be devoured by the hordes of mosquitoes around us!

Hello Hendrik and thanks for meeting us! How did you start with the band?

I think we started 6 or 7 years ago. I am doing the band with a Finnish guy. We met at the medical building where Matti (Juhani Peura) was studying medicine, and I was doing my Master´s Degree. I met him there and I found out that he is fond of doing electro music and then I told him that let´s try to do something together and that is where it started.

Is he still studying medicine?

He finished, he is not working in Finland for 2 years.

So how do you manage to work on the band at distance?

Well, we write the songs and then we send demos to each other, so one write and the other make music or the opposite way and then for live performances we have a few rehearsals before the concerts, and then we also have for live performances a guitar player who is now also a member of the band.


Is Rein Fucks, the guitar player, living also in Tartu?

The guitar player is in Tallinn, Matti is in Helsinki and I am here in Tartu. So we all 3 are in separated cities!

Who came up with the name of the band?

Matti came up with this, and it was that we were trying to think what kind of music we should make and then the idea was that it should be like pop music but with some kind of an edge, so to stand out from the “boring” pop, so there came “PopIdiot”.

So you and Matti are writing the lyrics and making the music and then you joined forces with Rein Fucks that has Sekssound records.

Yes, he is actually the songwriter for Villafrogs that it is the band he started, and then when we released our first albums, Rein took care of distribution.

For you, being quite a young band, how do you see the general scene in Estonia. Is it difficult for new bands to play?

It is actually very easy for new bands to play, at least for finding gigs. We are not competing with those very big top bands which play the summer tours, but yeah, it is very easy, there are not many people, there are not many bands and the kind of music we make, you could say that there is no other band like this in Estonia.

So apart from playing you have other side jobs.

Well, I am mostly working in the lab at Univesity, doing Biology research, and then I work sometimes in the studio and now my friend Mart and other people have started Pling Plonk Club.

Our second album is more mature- Hendrik of Popidiot –

What other bands in Tartu or in Estonia would you recommend to the foreign listener?

Junging and the Stratforw Faggots, Micromac.. and Tartu Poppia Institute and some others in Tallinn.

Your debut album was 111 and now you have recently released your follow-up album, Antenna of Love. How would you define them, are both albums similar or different?

I think the second album is more mature, the first was more about exploring different sounds, different styles, and the second one is more “one piece”.

It was released the Independence Day 24th. Did that have any special meaning?

Well, it was planned to be released, because in Estonia is a big day, and we thought “why not”, because of course the release of our second album was a big thing for us too.


You played some months ago in Tallinn Music Festival and I read good reviews from Finnish journalists. Have you had in mind to go there to play more often, in Finland?

We are trying to get some contacts, but at the moment we do not have any specific deal, hopefully something in the autumn, because this company, Stupido Records, released our album there, and something could come with them.

Do you think that in the future you could live on only with your music?

I think it would be very tough, at least at the moment, our band is not at the level to enable us to live from it. And we have invested a lot of time and effort in our other careers, Matti is a doctor and I am a scientist, so I think it would be better if we could keep these both things growing.

Do you see any differences between the music business in Finland and here?

I guess there is more competition in Finland. The bands are better produced there, the songwriting is also better but in Estonia the whole thing is pop music, it started in the 90s with the new generation, in the Soviet times there was not much going on.

You compose in English and 1 song in Estonian. Have you though to compose in Finnish?

English is the easiest language, we both managed for singing and writing, Matti does not feel very comfortable in Estonian although he can speak it very well, so English and Estonian is our common ground. We made this Estonian song to make collaboration for Eurovision Song Contest and it turned out that singing in Estonian works pretty well, people like it and connects more directly.

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Albums Music

Gringos Locos – Second Coming of Age

The veteran Finnish rockers are back on the road with a superb new album!

Gringos Locos

It seems that there is something that boost up the quality of Finnish bands when they take Spanish names. We saw it with the amazing Los Bastardos Finlandeses, and here once more with Gringos Locos. These crazy Finnish are veteran musicians who have been around for more than 2 decades, also in bands like the legendary Leningrad Cowboys. After a period of separation, they gathered again in 2007, and what you have here is the result of their new incoming: a collection of superb rock songs with attitude! Titles like I ´m a mover, the slow Plane to Eden and Dreamer or Don´t Cry For me give a good sample of what you will find here: rock of many good degrees, but also great mid-tempo ballads.

Finnish music scene must be glad to see Gringos back again. The long awaiting was worthy if they continue releasing albums of such a great quality like this one! Long life to Gringos! 

Rating 4/5