Sunday, January 25, 2015

Radio Sucks Radio Show vol20 - Ep173

After a week Down Under, we're back to a format that feels like a good ole pair of jeans.

Chris and Aaron present volume 20 of their long-running music-based Radio Sucks Radio Show format. No top-40, no corporate directives; just great rock and metal music that spans decades and borders and delivers over a full hour of ear candy. Great tracks from Poison, Gus G., D.A.D., Monte Pittman, Clutch, The Tip, and many more! Dig it!

Geeks of the Week:
Miguel Nunez, Danny Allen Clark, David Alpizar, Nick Tevelis, Devin Fox, Robert DePasqua, Joe Lascon, Joe Royland, Jason Thomas Broadrick, Scott Olinger, Shane Hebert, Kynan O’Meara, Brent Walter, Warren Money, Billy Hardaway, Derik Novak, Jeff Hogland, Marc Alden Taylor, Ian Wadley (Rock and Metal Combat Podcast), Brent Tibbetts, Mike Bount, James Brendon Dunn, Brian Knapp, JTB’s Groovy Record Room, Wayne Newburn, Chad Pollock, Rock and Roll GPS, TwittEarl, Barrisite, hoops, Daniel Chaput, DC, Raw Magazine, Hot Metal Magazine, Loudmouth, Faces Rocks Magazine

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The Tip
Queen City Kids
Monte Pittman
Faster Pussycat
Gus G.
Black Cat Moan

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Friday, January 23, 2015

The Electric Messengers Want Us To Walk In The Starlight!

The debut album came out in 1983 and their biggest hit was a Christmas song. In the 80´s they toured with AC/DC, Nazareth and a couple of other huge bands and they worked with famous producer Max Norman. They started out as a heavily NWOBHM influenced band and slowly became more melodic. They were branded as one of the prime contenders to Europe in the late 1980´s. The band was defunct for ten years but in the early 2000's the circuits slowly started to power up once more. The band name is a reference to the voltage used in many European homes.

I´m talking about Swedish veterans 220 Volt and now they are back with an all-new album – the first in 17 years. In reality, it´s 23 years since the last all-new album was recorded. 220 Volt formed in the northern Swedish town of Östersund as far back as 1979 during a round of miniature golf. During their formative years, they were heavily influenced by the then current wave in the UK with bands like Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang, Angelwitch and Iron Maiden among others. 220 Volt recorded a first 7 track demo tape in June 1982, and soon another 5 tracks were laid down. The guys then took two tracks from these sessions and financed their first single on their
Picture courtesy of Heavy
and financed their first single on their own called ”Prisoners of War” b/w ”Sauron. It was pressed in only 500 copies and released in November of 1982. It is a rare collectors item today. The single was reissued on CD as bonus tracks on the Lethal Illusion album in 1997. The lineup in 1982 was Christer ”Frille Åsell” Nääs on lead vocals, guitarists Thomas Drevin and Mats Karlsson, bass player Mike Larsson and drummer Peter Hermansson. The first single was picked up by a New Jersey radio station which put it in rotation. That caught the interest of major label CBS and soon the ink dried on the new contract.

Debut Album
When recordings started for the self-titled debut album the label insisted that Åsell's vocals was not up to par and demanded a change. Åsell left to join Empire and enter Joakim Lundholm (ex-Mugabe). The debut album was recorded in Stockholm with Thomas Witt picking up production duties. The album was a success with more than 10,000 copies shifting hands in Sweden alone. Working while the iron was still hot the band followed up with the sophomore effort, Power Games, released in February 1984 and it featured 8 tracks again produced by Thomas Witt. Strangely the label convinced the band to add two bonus tracks (”City Lights” and ”Screaming For a Riot) for the cassette edition of the album. These tracks can now be purchased digitally only. The album started off with fan favourite and concert opener ”Firefall” and picked up where the debut left off in true NWOBHM fashion.

The band also cut a separate Christmas single called ”Heavy Christmas” which was released on 7” vinyl and became a huge success. It may still be their most known song today and mandatory every Christmas in the home of The Lionsheart. CBS showed confidence in the band by putting them on tours with Nazareth and German metal band Bullet, but they soon found themselves back in the studio recording their third opus. Mind Over Muscle. Prior to the recording guitarist Thomas Drevin left to join Åsell in Empire and was replaced by newcomer Peter Olander. To further market the band in North America, a collection of the best tracks from the first three albums were released as Electric Messengers in June 1985. A tour with AC/DC followed to promote the new album.

Problems and Breakthrough
Problems started to show their ugly head and the bands momentum stalled when all of them had to perform mandatory military service with the exception of Olander. After the military duties were out of the way, a ”best of” album with remixed songs and a couple of new ones was quickly set up
 and released as Young and Wild in 1987. The band had a hit with the power ballad ”Lorraine” in the Scandinavian countries and introduced a more melodic and commercially viable sound shrugging off most of the NWOBHM influences. To continue on that successful path CBS set the band up with famous producer Max Norman for the band's most successful and in my opinion best album to date, Eye To Eye, released in 1988. Support for the album included a co-headlining bill on the Swedish Monsters of Rock touring package, sharing headlining duties with Treat. This was one of my first concerts attending it in my small hometown as a 15-year-old. I still remember the band completely blowing me away and leaving my stunned by the performance. This particular day the band was in the headlining spot.

The End?
The album spawned the hit singles ”Beat Of A Heart”, ”Still In Love” and ”Love Is All You Need”. The album did really well and the band recorded a new album to keep the bandwagon rolling but problems started to set in. The music business was changing with the Seattle wave gaining ground and melodic hard rock on its way out. 220 Volt played their last gigs in Stockholm on May 29th and May 30th, 1992. The recorded album had been shelved for a time and there was no way forward at that point. Some of the guys continued under the name Voltergeist with new vocalist Per Englund (ex-Blacksmith).

Back In The Game
Fast forward to 1997 and melodic hard rock was starting to fight its way back with HammerFall, among others, making the genre popular again. It was time to release that long lost album and small Swedish label Empire Records put it out as Lethal Illusion and at the same time releasing that very first single on CD for the first time. The release raised the hopes and anticipation for a possible
reunion.  That had to wait until 2002 when the band reformed, but this time opting for original vocalist Christer Åsell as frontman and now axe slinger Drevin was back in the fold as well. I´m sure that there were some reasons for that, but I am convinced that it contributed to it not being as successful as it could have been. The music the fans had learned to love was the melodic hard rock guided by Joakim Lundholm's very personal voice and vocals. The band played the famous Sweden Rock Festival and issued a ”new” record called Volume 1 with some re-recorded songs from the early years, a couple of new ones and some live recordings. This was again a self-financed limited press. The 1000 copies made sold out in two weeks. A live album followed in 2005 called Made in Jämtland, named after their home county, but the band became dormant again in 2008 when Peter Hermansson left. The band made another attempt by recording an EP with some re-recorded classics including ”Heavy Christmas”   and ”Firefall” with Joakim ”Jocke” Lundholm back in the band in 2009. Unfortunately, they wanted different things and Joakim Lundholm chose to continue with his band Kraftztoff and the rest of 220 Volt started to look for a new singer. They found Anders Engberg (ex-Lion´s Share) and soon there was a record contract on the table from German label AOR heaven. Still being without a permanent bass player when Mike Larsson did not take part in the last reunion Lars Ericsson (The Summit) and Johan Niemann (Evergrey) handled the bass on the album as session musicians.

Walking in Starlight
With the entire back catalogue re-released in digital format there was a renewed interest in the band and soon recordings for a new album started. The result is the excellent comeback album Walking In Starlight. The new album was produced by the band and mixed by Max Norman och Ronnie Björnström. This album features most of the elements present in the band's repertoire except for one and very important thing – Jocke Lundholm's vocals and that is not taking anything away from Anders Engberg. He does an outstanding job and really shines on the album. I´ve been a fan of Lion's Share since 1997 so I know what a great vocalist he is, but still some of the unique identity is being lost. It is not a return to their NWOBHM roots and in that perspective it might lack some attitude and youth but is more in the vein of Lethal Illusion with its more blues infused hard rock. In that respect, it also separates itself from the more produced and polished sound of Eye To Eye.
220 Volt 2014! Picture courtesy of official facebook page
The album starts off with a real stunner and definitely the best song on the album – the title track ”Walking In Starlight”. Some really nice guitar chops from Karlsson and Drevin and a really cool riff. A heavy yet very melodic song with a superb chorus and punchline! The album is throughout very consistent with strong choruses and riffs. I really just want to crank the volume to 11 and bang my head. One of the strongest in the entire catalogue. Well done boys! The songs are mostly in mid-tempo with some nice twists and turns, always keeping your focus on the music and also keeping you interested. If there is a weakness to the album iit's that it lacks a bit in identity and except for the title track there is not really a standout track like ”Beat of a Heart” on Eye to Eye. There is however, not a bad song on the album and they all deserve their place on the album. My personal favourites include the already mentioned "Walking in Starlight", "System Overload", "Blind" and "Through the Wastelands".
All in all this is definitely the strongest effort since 1988 Eye to Eye. Where Lethal Illusion is a mixed affair and was lacking in consistency, being very much up and down with a couple of fillers, this album is strong in every part. The guys have really come up with a new classic track in the making of the title track which, in my opinion, really stands out from the rest of the songs. In that respect, I don´t think Walking in Starlight really reaches the highs of Eye to Eye which I still hold as their ”Magnum opus”.

220 Volt has always been one of my favourite Swedish bands and they have really been missed. When Jocke Lundholm does not want to do this anymore this is as good as it can be. I would give this album a high rating of 7 out of 10 and I´m really looking forward to seeing the band live somewhere in the near future. It's only been 27 years since I saw them last time. Welcome back and hope it's for real this time!

The Lionsheart

BUY: 220 Volt - Walking In The Starlight

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

But I Don't Wanna Hear KISS ALIVE!


KISS just recently announced that for their upcoming KISS Kruise, the fifth of its kind, they will be performing they're 1975 live album KISS Alive! in its entirety.  Proving once again... they can't get anything right.  How out of touch are these guys to think that their fans, the level of such that would plunk down a couple thousand dollars to float around the ocean with them, would look at this as good news.  Much less as a big announcement.

Are you fucking high?  What die hard fan hears that and gets excited?  I think the only record I’d want them to play less would be Double Platinum.  You want to give the fans something special?  Play the fucking Elder in its entirety.  Makes more sense.  It’s at least a fucking concept album.  Does it really matter if you play 100,000 Years right after Watchin’ You?   


Paul can get away with that bullshit excuse for why KISS NEVER plays any deep tracks during a tour with Def Leppard or some other past their prime hit machine added to the bill to sell a few tickets.  As weak as it is, an argument can be that many people at a show like that aren’t going to be too into KISS running a couple tracks off of Unmasked.  But  on the KK, the opposite is true.  To my point here’s the ships passenger manifest for the upcoming KISS Kruise.

Boat crew.


People who know every KISS song who if they were being honest would admit they don’t need to hear Rock N Roll All Nite again.  Ever. 

The announcement that they are going to play a record filled with half of their setlist from the last 20 years is the band giving us a wedgie.  In a recent podcast with Chris Jericho, Paul complained that touring with Ace and Peter meant being held hostage to a limited number songs because those two can't play anything else.  Later in the same interview he defensively stated that just because someone like me might enjoy hearing a song like All The Way, NOBODY, (his words) nobody else would.  And he wonders why people think he comes off as bashing Ace and Peter.  They would play a more diverse set if Ace and Peter could play it.  And now that they aren't in the band to blame it's because nobody wants to hear it?  Well fuck that.  That's pretty convenient and frankly a lazy cop out and it’s time someone shoved Paul's head in a toilet. 


From the set list’s I’ve seen they’ve done a decent job of digging deeper in to their repertoire on the previous Kruises.  But still shoved Detroit Rock City, Cold Gin and of course, Rock N Roll All Nite into the buttholes of those attending.  I'm not suggesting those songs are bad songs.  I'm saying damn near everyone buying a ticket for the KISS Kruise has heard and can hear those songs anytime.  This is a very unique gathering of the diehard KISS fan and KISS.  Take this rare opportunity and give them performances they won't get anywhere else.  Deep tracks from some of your less celebrated records.  Rather than belabor a point that has zero chance of being taken seriously, I've compiled a list of Bakko approved songs KISS should choose from for this and any future KISS Kruises.  There is no reason to perform any song not on this list. 


Kissin’ Time

Love Theme From KISS

All The Way



Room Service

Two Timer


Ladies In Waiting

Lover Her All I Can

Anything For My Baby

Great Expectations

Flaming Youth

Sweet Pain

Do You Love Me

Take Me

Baby Driver

Love Em Leave Em

Mr. Speed

See You In Your Dreams

Got Love For Sale

Almost Human


Then She Kissed Me

Plaster Caster

Anything off of side 4 of ALIVE II

Anything from any of the solo albums

Dirty Livin


Magic Touch

Xray Eyes

Save Your Love

Hard Times

Anything on Unmasked

Anything on the Elder

I’m A Legend Tonight

Down On Your Knees

Nowhere To Run

Partners In Crime


Rock N Roll Hell


Saint and Sinner

Keep Me Coming


Not For The Innocent

Gimme More

All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose

A Million To One

Dance All Over Your Face

And On The Eight Day

I’ve Had Enough

Burn Bitch Burn

Get All You Can Take

Lonely Is The Hunter

While The City Sleeps

Murder In High Heels

King Of The Mountain

Anyway You Slice It

Trial By Fire

I’m Alive

Loves A Deadly Weapon

Secretly Cruel

Radar For Love

Uh! All Night

I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You

Hell Or Highwater

My Way

When Your Walls Come Down

Good Girl Gone Bad

Thief In The Night

Turn On The Night

Let's Put The X In Sex

(You Make Me) Rock Hard


Prisoner Of Love

Read My Body

Love’s A Slap In Face

Silver Spoon

Cadillac Dream

King Of Hearts

The Street Giveth

You Love Me To Hate You

Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell

Little Ceaser


Tough Love


Heart Of Chrome

Thou Shalt Not


I Just Wanna

Anything off of Carnival Of Souls

I Pledge Allegiance To The State Of Rock N Roll

We Are One

Raise Your Glasses

I Finally Found My Way


Journey Of 1,000 Years

I’m starting think it would’ve been easier to make a list of songs they shouldn't play.  Gene.  Paul.  Look at all that material you have ignored your entire career.  How can you have so many songs that aren’t worthy of you?  You wrote them.  Recorded them.  Released them.  Why not play them?  There’s a lot of great music there.  You should play it.  KISS fans won’t revolt.  Quite the opposite.  Think how cool it would be to dedicate Little Caesar to Eric Carr.  Imagine how blown away they’d be if you played one of the new tracks off of Killers for fucks sake.  You could even drop some Wicked Lester on their unsuspecting asses.  They would NEVER forget that.  And wouldn’t you as musicians like to mix it up?  Don’t you get sick of some of the songs you play?  The KISS Kruise is the perfect opportunity to play only obscure songs.

KISS shows are legendary.  It may be their biggest contribution to music.  From Lady Gaga, to Garth Brooks to U2.  Much of what constitutes a live show started with KISS.  I get why they might be protective of it.  But KISS isn’t just the show.  KISS isn’t just 20 songs.  One of the things that makes being a fan so enjoyable is their colorful history.  They would be well served by not looking at so much of it as mistakes and start embracing them as artistic decisions.  Paul made a compelling argument that the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame should recognize the groups entire history.  If so then KISS should do the same with the live performances.  And if by chance you are a KISS fan who only likes to hear them play the 20 - 25 songs they've been playing from since 1996, well go fuck yourself.  They play those songs all the time.  Give us this.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aussie Rock - Ep172


Chris and Aaron return this week to bring you Aussie Rock volume 1! In this hour-plus episode the guys spin some of their favorite music from Down Under. You'll hear some familiar names but some not-so-familiar ones as well to give you a taste of some awesome Australian talent.

This week you get great tracks from well-known Aussie bands such as AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and Airbourne. You'll also get some cool tracks from great artists such as Skyhooks, Electric Mary, White Widdow, Chinatown Angels and much more. A lot of great hard rock to fill your head holes. Dig it!

Geeks of the Week:
Danny Allen Clark, Devin Fox, Brian Bates, Miguel Nunez, Todd Cunningham, Sid Menon, Brian Bates, Miguel Nunez, David Alpizar, Derik Novak, Bakko, Crash Crafton, Justin Ace Sixx, Matt Ashcraft, Kal Hinz, Rich Dillon, Robert de Pasqua, Joe Royland, Gino Ames, Jeff Hogland, Marc Bullard, Shane Hebert, Joe Lascon, Matt Syverson (Paperback Rocker podcast), James Brendon Dunn, Ian Wadley (Rock and Metal Combat Podcast), Howard Tate, Scott Olinger, Brent Walter, Warren Money, Brian Knapp, David Green, John Morton, Orm Arnarson, Brad Kanott, Sit and Spin with Joe, Darren Parkin, Robin Bennett, Lee Schembri, Chad Pollock, Rodney Dickson, Faces Rocks Magazine, Loudmouth, Raw Magazine, Hot Metal Magazine, Billy Hardaway, John Sturm, Hoops, Lisa Gillis Books, Jack Broad, Mando Serna, The Mooger Fooger, Metalfavs, MusicMagsAndWax, Creatures of the Net, The Cassius Morris Show, Barrisite, Steve, Rob Lane, TwitEarl, Sven Isaksson, Hard Rocking Trivia Show, Rock and Roll GPS, Cesar Neyra

Buy Music!

Opening Theme Song:

Psychonaut - False Metal (from the album Shock 'em Dead)

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Liars or Bastards? Nah. Just Hateful Abandon

This review marks a first for me.  Reviewing a band as I hear them for the first time.  Hateful abandon comes to us from Candlelight Records and the United Kingdom.  What can you say about Hateful Abandon that hasn't already been said.  Well almost anything actually.  My efforts to educate myself on this duo were largely for naught as there isn't much to find about them on the world wide web.  And that seems almost intentional as their website just redirects you to their facebook page where you can buy their T Shirts.  I guess that means the music will have to do the talking.
Refreshingly Hateful Abandon are more than happy to acknowledge their influences.  And with brazen use of adjectives like "Old" Skinny Puppy and "Old" Killing Joke.  Too often bands shy away from obvious influences for fear of comparison.  Which for me is ridiculous.  CVLT Nation included this release as one of their six best post-pink releases of 2014.  While I am familiar with post-punk I feel I should be clear that it's not a genre' I'm particularly into.  I don't mean that as a judgments.  Just a fact.  That said let's get into this. 
The cover I love.  Simple yet bold.  It's the Union Jack with cops primed in riot gear.  I love this look.  Black and white.  Bold aggression.  You can almost smell the tear gas as your eyes water from the pepper spray you know is coming.  I  believe album art should match the music contained.  Time to put my headphones on and find out.  What will I think about what really matters.
Maze Of Bastards - The word Gloomy comes to mind.  For two guys with a Black Metal background that's not surprising but I was expecting a little more guitar present.  There is much to like about this song.  An apocalyptic funeral anthem if such a thing exists.
Culprit - The beginning actually reminds me a bit of late 80's band Sigue Sigue Sputnik.  This sounds like what Danzig should have been going for with Blackaciddevil but fell short of.  This song is so dusty I am thirsty listening to it.  I really like Vice's vocal on this.  (I just did a web search of Sigue Sigue Sputnik to check my spelling and to my surprise... they are still a thing.)
High Rise - Definitely a hint of Rammstein here.  I imagine this is what Ed Gein heard in his head as he was making lamp shades of the tanned hides of his victims.  
The Test - If my horror movies ever get made I know who will be doing the soundtrack.  This song conjures images of someone slowly walking away from the horrible acts they have just done.  Something burns in the background as people scream.  It's a beautiful thing.
The Walker - Bells of doom.  Chains of death.  Sounds like a party... at a Hostel!  Here I am the American rube who finds your accent funny and have no idea when you speak in your native tongue you are plotting to separate me from my limbs.  They did a video for this song.  Watch it HERE 
There Will Never Be Peace - Why would there be.  We live in a world of chaos and hurt.  Maybe the most drum machine sounding the drum machine has sounded thus far.  The haunting tones insist in such a way the vocals seem like an accompaniment. 
December - The last song might as well be called December.  Something about this song reminds me of Soundgarden's With My Good Eye Closed.  This is the epic song would expect to be ending to this album.  This is the most Sabbath sounding track as well.  Dark. Foreboding.  Heavy.  This is my favorite.   
At times they are somewhat derivative, Hateful Abandon still deliver what they promise.  While much of what you hear is fabricated there is something very real about this record.  I hear bits of Janes Addiction, Rammstein, Misfits, Kraftwerk, and Sisters of Mercy throughout.  At times haunting, at times threatening.  This isn't music for Thanksgiving Dinner with the family.  Unless you're a relative of Rufus Firefly.  It captures the best elements of electronica (the mood) and ditches the worst (the dance beats.) I would've preferred more guitar but apparently Hateful Abandon didn't.  The end result is a very aura heavy soundscape perfect for a murder room... or a workout.  This ain't for everyone so the only question is this for you. 

Insightful Minds At Ease: A Review of the Abandoned Souls Album

Abandoned Souls are a band from London, Ontario, Canada currently consisting of vocalist/bassist James Todd, drummer Steve Thomas and guitarists Derek De Kort and Tim Thompson.  I must admit that I was unfamiliar with them until they reached out to me after seeing The Meister's Decibel Geek review of Lee Aaron's concert on December 6, 2014 in Whitby, Ontario.  The evening previous, (attended by DBG photographer Brian Ronald) in London, Ontario saw Abandoned Souls setting the stage for the Canadian Metal Queen.  The band has also opened for Skid Row, Red
Dragon Cartel, and Kings X among others in their Southern Ontario stomping grounds.  In 2006, they issued their debut record, Circles of Shadows, trailed with Some Never Will, both of which assisted in garnering the band nominations for two London area music awards and appearances on many music shows and programs according to what I can find about them on the internet information highway.  Damned If You Don't dropped in 2012 and their latest offering, released October, 2014, is called Insightful Minds At Ease.  Insightful Minds At Ease is actually the first part of a two-disc collection that was the "result of some blistering songwriting and recording sessions throughout 2013 and 2014".  The second CD is set for a mid-2015 release.  The album was self-produced by James Todd/Abandoned Souls and recorded at Foundation Studios in London, Ontario.  The album features photography and digital mastery skills from Darkophoto.  Citing interests like Three Days Grace, Godsmack, AX7, Alter Bridge, BLS, Ozzy, Pantera, AIC, Shinedown and Disturbed I fear that this one may have a little too modern of a flavour for my particular tastes, but with Helix's Brian Vollmer supplying guest vocals on one track my mind is definitely open.

Insightful Minds At Ease opens up with the lead single, "Leave It Behind", and it's familiar (to those of us old enough to remember) sound of a phonograph needle hitting the vinyl.  The track quickly blossoms into a powerful up-tempo rocker and excellent choice for the album's representation.  "Want And Need" is next in the roster and holds up the qualities of the opener, having great harmonic melodies to the chorus, somehow reminding me a little of Alice In Chains.  We then have "Black", ripping off at a fast pace after the more melodic predecessor and in the fourth position, we find "Save It All", the track featuring the assistance of guest vocalist Brian Vollmer of Helix fame.  Now at the halfway point, only being eight tracks contained on Insightful Minds At Ease, "Take Yourself Away" begins the second half and doesn't seem to offer me anything different than we've already received from the collection.  To be totally honest I was beginning to lose interest by the time we hit "Anybody" as this more modern, grungy-flavoured style of rock is not particularly my preference, but that certainly doesn't mean that these are poor quality tunes.  "Sad Eyes" was more memorable with a chorus that seemed to stand out a little more to me, but I wasn't keen on the I Mother Earth reminiscent title track, "Insightful Minds At Ease" that serves as album's final inclusion.
Overall I found Insightful Minds At Ease to be a little thick sounding and modern for me to spin this on a regular basis, but for fans of that style, this album is definitely right up your alley!  I did find that separating the tracks and listening to them one on one while mixed into a playlist of other music caused them to fare much better than the whole package from start to finish.  Just my personal opinion, but certainly these Canadians are worth checking out, especially if you're into this sub-genre.  A Meister score of 7/10.

The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

(Abandoned Souls Website) (Abandoned Souls Facebook)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Interviewing A Stud: The Meister interviews Mika Kansikas of Finland's STUD

Remember those albums that you saved up your hard earned paper route money to buy way back when you were just a kid?  You brought them home, tore into the cellophane wrappers and played them over and over again with an indescribable excitement each and every time.  You knew the words to every single song, often belting them out along to the spinning record.  When together with friends, you couldn't wait to introduce them to your new discovery.  Well, I've found something recently released that gives me just that very same feeling.....Rust On The Rose from Finnish-born band Stud.
I was able to catch up with guitarist Mika Kansikas via email for a brief interview concerning the album and history of this band I've just recently discovered!

Mika Kansikas of STUD
Meister: Hello Mika, I have to say that I love Rust On The Rose and am so glad that I discovered your band!  Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and expand our knowledge of Stud.  Hopefully, through this we can turn a few more folks on to the fantastic work you’ve created here.

Mika: Hi, I'm Mika Kansikas, the guitar player, and the songwriter of STUD.  Thanks a lot for the opportunity to do this interview, and talk about our new album Rust On The Rose as well as some details about our past activities.

Meister: To my understanding, STUD first formed way back in 1986, is that correct?

Mika: Yes.  STUD was formed back in 1986.  We started by singing in English but made some demos in Finnish, and got record companies interested.  We ended up with doing a single with Finland's biggest record company.

Meister: How did the band originally come to be and who were the players in those days, the same as we find on Rust On The Rose?

Mika: Most of the guys were already friends before the band was formed.  Actually, me and Pasi Hietanen, the original bass player, were playing in the same band called Distance.  Tero Kukkonen, our drummer, was a friend and was playing in a local band.  He joined the band and has been in STUD from day one.  Ari Toivanen, our singer, was found from another band we saw playing.  His singing style with high screams was something that got us interested.  When STUD reformed in 2012, we started off with the original lineup.  After the Out Of The Darkness album was ready, Pasi Hietanen told us that he couldn't continue with the band due to his day job.  That's when Matti Jalonen came in as our bass player.  Pasi is still playing on two songs on Rust On The Rose while Matti is doing most of the songs.

Meister: Why did you call yourselves STUD?

Mika: STUD just sounded good.  We had a long list of possible band names but wanted the name to be short and punchy.  STUD just came up and everyone thought it was the best one.

Meister: What happened to the band back then?

Mika: We raised some interest in Finland by appearing on Finnish television and media to support the single.  We also played lots of gigs.  Soon enough the singing language was switched back to English.  At that point, we already had another singer.    By the end of the decade, the music scene was changing and we failed to nail a contract for a full-length album.  In 1989, we played our last gigs before the band was put on hold.

Meister: What saw STUD decide to regroup and issue an album in this present time, followed so quickly by a second one?

Mika: Me and Tero were involved in the same music project and started to talk about the reunion.  The main point was to have the original lineup together.  As we found Ari, after not seeing him for years, we decided to give it a try.  The idea was to do some gigs together, but we turned out to do some demos from some of our original songs.  It just grew from there.  Pretty soon we booked a studio and made plans to publish our first album, Out Of The Darkness.  The process of making Rust On The Rose was quite similar as on the debut, the difference being that the album was released through the Cranksonic label (authors note: their own label).

Meister: How has the reaction been to STUD's reappearance and two back to back albums, both in Finland and around the world?

Mika: It's been surprising how many people actually remember the band from the 80's.  What's cool today is that you can actually reach people from all over the world.  That's been the plan since the reunion, to try to expose our music to fans of hard rock and metal around the world.

Meister: What do you feel are some of the major differences now verses then with regards to both STUD and the music scene itself?

Mika: It's very different.  There are so many genres today and lots of bands and artists.  On the other hand, it's easy to make a record with technology available for everyone.  Lots of music you hear on the radio is made in someone's laptop.  The downside is to have the music found by people from the millions of songs out there.  The way the music is distributed, digitally, is different too.  However, good music is always good.

Meister: Are the songs on Rust On The Rose (or Out Of The Darkness, which I myself haven't explored as yet) new compositions or old material from the STUD archives?

Mika: Lots of the material is old which could have been published earlier.  I'm glad they were not, because today we have total control on the end result.  We're better players now as well.  Many songs, even they were old ones, were revised and even new parts and lyrics were added.  Songs like "Raise Your Fist", "Rust On The Rose" and "Freedom Call" are new material.

Meister: Tell us about Rust On The Rose.  The differences and similarities between this album and Out Of The Darkness, released only a year prior?  The writing processes that go into crafting a STUD song (such as my favorite, "Freedom Call") and an album?

Mika: We're very happy about both of them. They both have great songs and good playing as well.  What's great is that we've seen that many people have a different song as their favorite from our albums.  Almost all the songs have been played on radio stations as well.  There are no filler songs on our albums, and that's what we want to keep doing.  Each song is important.  Even though our songs are quite different from each other, we've been able to build our own recognizable sound and style.  The writing process usually starts with a guitar riff or several of them.  If you listen to our songs, there's almost always a guitar riff behind the songs.  The melody builds on top of the riffs or the chord structure, the lyrics come usually last. In some cases, the chorus and some cool lyric phrases may even come first, and the rest of the song follows.  In some cases, a song is put together from two separate song ideas.  What we've heard is that the new album is sound wise a bit more modern compared to the debut.

Meister: Who are some of the major influences for the band and what drives you to continue making music?

Mika: So many influences during the years, from lots of different genres too.  If we go back in time to when the band was originally started, bands like Rainbow, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and Dio were all favorites of ours.  Matti would add Sabbath and Priest to the list.  But like I said there are many others.  What drives us to make music is the fact that we're all music loving guys, it's been with us a long time.  It's also a great feeling to play in front of a live audience.  It really gives you energy.  It's been amazing to put together our two albums and have them presented to people worldwide.  We feel that we still have lots of ideas and we want to offer them to our fans in the form of new songs.

Meister: Were you able to play many live gigs back in the 80's?  Does any one gig from then to now stand out as more memorable over the rest?

Mika: Sure.  We played a lot of gigs back then.  The most memorable gigs were in Estonia where we had a tour.  Estonia wasn't independent back then.  It was a culture shock for us, but the people were amazing.  Many fond memories of the live scene in the 80's.

Meister: What does the future hold for STUD?  Will there be some touring in support of these albums?  Should we expect another album release next year as well?

Mika: In 2015, we'll continue to push the band forward.  There won't be a new album this year however.  The reason there was only one year between the two albums was that the debut was ready long ago before it was released.  We waited for a proper time before releasing.  With the new one, there was no waiting.  We are building a schedule for live shows for this year, first gigs starting in March.  Festivals and live shows outside of Finland are something we'd like to do in the future.

Meister: If you had the power to put a band together with any musician you chose (past or present) who would they be, why, and what would the band be called?

Mika: It's the current lineup, with the looks from the 80's :), the hair and all....The band would be called Stupid.  Let's add Elvis and Roy Orbison for background vocals.

Meister: What song do you wish you'd written? (question borrowed from Decibel Geek writer Wallygator)

Mika: "White Christmas" :).  I'd be a millionaire.  Seriously, it's the next STUD song that's not been written yet.  The writing process in many cases is hard, so many options.  I have lots of riffs ready, but a song must always have a point and a unique idea.  The ingredients of our songs are melody and energy, and the song should be heartfelt too.

Meister: Please feel free to share anything else that you'd like mentioned in this article.

Mika: Thanks to Rich "The Meister" Dillon for the opportunity to do this interview.  For the people who have not had a chance to check out STUD's music, please visit our website at (STUD) as well as our Facebook page (STUD Facebook).  You can find the latest news from the band and listen to our music from there too.  If you're a fan of hard rock and melodic metal you might like what you hear.  Keep rocking!

Stud’s Rust on the Rose album starts off at full throttle with "Raise Your Fist" beginning with a charging riff before a wicked guitar solo enters the picture.  I’m sold already and the vocals haven’t even hit the speakers as yet.  The song is exactly what you might expect from an 80’s glam/sleaze band, loaded with hooks and an anthem chorus.  I’ve raised my fist!  "Rock n' Roll World" exhibits a slightly slower pace, grinding along into a gang vocal, sing-along chorus of "I want to live in a rock and roll world".  I already live in a rock and roll world and thank God for that, but I’m still singing along!  The album's title track and second single release keeps things moving forward in much the same fashion and other standouts include the catchiness of "We’re Gonna Strike", the commercial radio-friendly sounding "Promised to Be Mine", the blistering pace of "Break the Chains" and the lead single "I Don’t Know".  Stud have issued a solid collection of 11 songs holding true to the sound of the 80’s guitar driven heavy rock,  marvelous for fans of the glam/sleaze sub-genre.  I wish I'd come across this closer to the release time, as had I given it just a little more attention, it would most definitely have ended up in my top ten albums of 2014!

It’s off to add Out of the Darkness to my collection, rock on you stud!  \m/

***Many thanks to Marjo from Metal Revelation for putting me in touch with Mika for this interview!***

The Meister

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