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

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)


(STUD Website) (STUD Facebook)

(Metal Revelation Website)

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