Interview with Coronary
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: April 30, 2018
Finnish Heavy Metal band, Coronary, may be a new name for many but the band consists of seasoned musicians who all know a thing or two about the past glories of eighties Heavy Metal music. Bands like W.A.S.P., Priest, Accept, Maiden, Motörhead, Thin Lizzy are no strangers to them.
This very motivated, old-school Finnish Heavy Metal bunch recorded their self-titled 3-song demo in February 2018 and it generated more of a fuss than they expected. The band inked a deal with Italy's Cruz Del Sur Music for their self-titled demo, which will be released this June as a split LP with Canadian Heavy Metal soldiers, Traveler.
There's more cooking in the band's kitchen and some of those things are revealed in this conversation that yours truly had with the whole band. Just keep reading...!
Luxi: First off, as Coronary is a completely new outfit, would you tell us where you got the idea to put this band together and how you hooked up with each other in the first place?
Aku: Well, Pate and I had met years ago when our bands Prestige and Rytmihäiriö played the same venues. Then I met him by accident at a local flea market a few years later. We share the same interest in old vinyl, so one day we were standing side by side in front of the same table, going through some collector's boxes, and I looked up (he is tall!) and said, "You're Pate, aren't you?" And that's how things basically got started...
We talked about music over a beer every now and then, then via Facebook (you know how it goes in the modern world), and finally we decided to try play something together because we pretty much seemed to listen to same variety of music. Neither of us knew what kind of band we were going to have, but after a few tryouts with some local musicians, we finally found the solution; 70s-80s Heavy Metal, something neither of us had actually played seriously before. Then it took only one phone call and my old friend Jarkko from Korpiklaani joined the forces. We two had been talking about forming a country band, but old-school Metal was close enough, I guess?
Luxi: Was it easy to find like-minded musicians to complete the band's lineup?
Aku: Pate and Jukka also have a project called Mind So Fragile, so it was Pate's idea to ask Jukka to be our lead guitarist. After a month of consideration, he decided to give this band a chance. And we're glad he did, because things clicked together nicely! Within a couple of months, we had put together lots of good ideas and written a bunch of songs, but it took a surprisingly long time to find the best front man ever, probably because adult life is not just about fun and games but pretty much the opposite. Who knows, but from what I remember, things were lot easier back in the almighty 80s...
Anyway, we went through all the guys we knew, but none of them had enough spare time to join yet another band, or they just didn't have the right style. I think I must have called or e-mailed at least 30 different Metal singers.
After quite a list, Jukka came up with Olli's name. He had seen him performing some Led Zeppelin songs years ago and remembered being very impressed. Jukka called Olli and asked him to visit our rehearsal place without sending him any demo songs beforehand. Olli just popped in, improvised some melodies and lyrics while we played, and things just clicked immediately! You should have seen the look on Pate's face! And now we finally had a singer, it was time to start to go through all the material we had been working with. Still on that bumpy road, but we're getting there, almost enough songs for an album are now ready!
Luxi: When you first gathered together for a rehearsal, did you feel right off the bat that you were all on the same page with how you wanted the band to sound?
Jukka: Well, I don't remember having any fights over the style we were going to take. As we all love 80s Heavy Metal, things just seemed to happen naturally. After playing for so many years in different types of bands, we immediately knew what we wanted to achieve with Coronary.
Luxi: Who is the band's real dynamo as far as songwriting is concerned? Would you say that you are in that happy situation where each of you are creative enough to contribute?
Jukka: So far Aku has been the main songwriter, but lately Jarkko and I have brought some new riffs and songs to our rehearsals. Olli writes most of the melodies and the lyrics, and then we arrange the songs together. Nobody knows how it's going to evolve in the future, but at least we're not going to run out of killer riffs!
Luxi: There's very little background information available for Coronary, so would you enlighten us about the past musical experiences that all of you guys have. I am just too lazy to do some googling and stuff about each of your backgrounds...
Jukka: Like all of us, I started with 80s Metal, and my favorite bands included Kiss, W.A.S.P., Ozzy Osbourne, and Accept. Then in the beginning of the 90s, I had my short jazz fusion period, which got me interested in all types of music. I've now played almost every musical style you can imagine: Jazz, Blues, African, Classical, Bluegrass, Folk and even Drum 'n' Bass... you name it, I've done it. But 80s Metal has always been number one for me. And now I'm finally back where it all started, and it feels sooooo good! Some of the bands I've played with include Ismaila Sane's Saisba, Steep, Shades of Grave, Scandinavian Hanks, and The Blue Testicles.
Aku: Back in the 70s, I used to listen to basically whatever my father liked. There was never a silent moment in his car, and we drove around a lot, just for fun. Mostly Rockabilly, Country and similar stuff, like The Rolling Stones for example.
During the 80s, I realized that there was much stronger, powerful music out there, and along came Punk Rock and Heavy Metal in all their varieties. My main influences were probably all English, bands like Pistols, The Exploited, Motörhead, and Venom. However, I also used to listen to more melodic bands like Thin Lizzy or Blue Öyster Cult. I have to mention Stray Cats, because they made my teenage years much easier with their first album. And then AC/DC too, and the one and only Heavy Metal band I never get bored of, and that is - maybe not that surprisingly - Accept. We even used to have an Accept cover band called Udo Armeijan Leivissä (translated freely, "Udo in the Army Now"), which played live all the songs from Accept's Staying a Life album.
But let's get back on the track. Hardcore and Speed/Thrash Metal and other real rough stuff blew my mind somewhere around the mid 80s. Slayer made Reign in Blood, and that was the soundtrack of the 14-year-old Aku! At that moment, I realized I'm gonna do that kinda stuff too. A few minor bands later, Prestige got signed, and suddenly I was where I thought I would end up being: On the stage playing loud music for the crowds! Well, of course, it didn't last, but that's just how things go.
Since our last show at Ruisrock 1992, I've been playing in quite a variety of different bands, everything from Shlagers to satanic rumble, but nothing permanent seemed to form – no matter how I tried - before I found time to fulfill my old dream of playing guitar in a Psychobilly band. That's also one form of roots related Rock I've always been into. And once again, an English band was to blame. So, Vulture Club was formed 2005, and it is still running fine.
But as you get older, you seem to get strange desires to try something new before it's too late. And then with Pate came the ultimate idea to form this 80s Heavy Metal band, something I had never tried to play, though that's pretty much all I used to listen to through those pimple-pushing years. And that's where we are now, history still unwritten, but I'm quite sure Coronary will add a chapter to it!
Olli: Well, I started as a drummer, but I liked singing and playing the guitar more. Lots of bands and projects behind me. I've done my music career mostly in cover bands, because we did not get any serious success with music of our own. But it's always been Hard Rock, Heavy Rock, Thrash Metal, Blues and stuff like that. Being a little bit of a loudmouth (as a singer) I think it's very natural for me to be in a band like Coronary. I think we have a great energetic group that can work out some fine Rock music! I'd say the spirit is high.
Jarkko: Discovering Motörhead in the early 80s was a real eye-opener for me. That was to me at the time the most Rock and Roll thing ever. Attitude, looks, leather jackets and bullet belts and the music to match. But of course, soon came the actual 80s stuff with Maiden, Accept, W.A.S.P. and such. All of them basically. We weren't too picky at the time. First proper band that I was in tried to be something close to Maiden, but sadly the main songwriter was leaning more towards Scorpions. At least we played at the classic Puntala Punk festival! Anyway, after being in and out of music for the most of the 90's I got sucked into a Hard Rock / Prog cover band, and then an old childhood friend called and asked me if I still play, "Wanna join my band?", so I've now been 12 years with the Folk Metal outfit Korpiklaani.
Pate: I started as a drummer and Hardcore shouter in the 80sand nothing has changed since then.
Luxi: You just visited the studio and recorded three songs that truly seem to take a time machine ride back to the 80s when bands like Priest, Saxon, Accept, etc. were in their prime. I guess this is the kind of stuff most you in the band have also grown up with when you were just kids, right?
Jarkko: We were all teenagers in the 80s when you basically only had two musical options. Heavy metal and the rest. It is quite clear which one was our choice. Of course, not all listened to the exactly same bands, but there was no way to avoid hearing some of those bands even if they really weren't your cup of tea. One was a Kiss fan, the other was a Dio fan, but still it was all the same tribe.
Luxi: Having heard all the songs from your fresh demo (much thanks Pate!), I must say you really don't hide your influences, but then again why should you? There's always room for another 80s inspired Heavy Metal band in this world - and that's what you want to be, first and foremost. No bullshit, no gimmicks, just a band that oozes the true spirit and feeling of real Heavy Metal. Sorry for all this metaphorical word wankery, but I assume I somehow managed to hit the bull's eye with all this, didn't I?
Jarkko: The world of Metal and music in general is full of excellent bands, who still don't really get much attention, because it is really hard to come up with something so original that it gets people to pick that band out of a thousand similar bands. Therefore, all new bands seem to invent a genre themselves just to get that first little push, like "Technical Post-Apocalyptic Reindeer-Grinding Christ-abusing Extreme War Pagan Death Metal".
We started with "Let's go play some Heavy Metal", went to the basement and started playing and what you hear now is what came out. Very natural writing process, little arranging and quite soon we always get that "yeah, this is good now" feeling. I guess that is the true spirit of Heavy Metal as you put it.
Aku: Yeah, the modern way to write Metal is something that doesn't really get my engine running. Old-fashioned "two good riffs and an awesome chorus" is something I'm more familiar with, and what we've now been doing is exactly like that. We all know how our instruments work, no need to play Guitar Hero. There's no need to re-re-re-reinvent the wheel, I'd say it's time to play some serious Rock 'n' Roll and that's what this band is all about.
Luxi: I am curious to know what are the most important and influential 80s Metal albums for each of you?
Jukka: There are so many but Balls to the Wall, Piece of Mind, Shout at the Devil, Eat 'em and Smile, Lick It Up, Randy Rhoads Tribute, Stay Hungry, W.A.S.P., Surfing with the Alien, and the first album from Badlands all have a special meaning to me.
Aku: There are so many important albums, but if we shorten the list to only Heavy Rock, let's put the most important person first: Lemmy and his band Motörhead with two albums, Iron Fist and Another Perfect Day, two totally different albums from the best band ever! Those really made a difference back then. Early Black Sabbath also hit me real hard, Accept - Restless and Wild, Iron Maiden - Number of the Beast, Scorpions - World Wide Live, AC/DC - Highway to Hell, first W.A.S.P., that album is still one of the best, plus extra points for the raw meat and sawblades, that stuff was so cool then (and still is, who can resist?), Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry, Mötley Crüe - Too Fast for Love, Venom - Welcome to Hell, Metallica - Ride the Lightning, Slayer - Reign in Blood, S.O.D. - Speak English or Die, Exodus - Bonded by Blood, Possessed - Seven Churches, Helloween - Walls of Jericho, etc. -oh hell, this list will be endless, and therefore end up pointless, so I guess it's better to end this here and now. Oh, one more: Voïvod, they rule! =)
Olli: Here's my list: 5150 (Van Halen), Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath), Ace of Spades (Motörhead), Back in Black (AC/DC), Marauder (Blackfoot), and High´n Dry (Def Leppard).
Jarkko: There was a point when I was only listening to either Metal Heart or Powerslave. The next two Maiden albums were also very influential, but then again the 80s were full of important albums that all had some sort of meaning to you. W.A.S.P.'s debut for example showed me a whole new type of image that I didn't even know was possible.
Pate: Ok, here's my list of bands that have been influential for me personally (and not albums as the question was): Dio, Accept, Black Sabbath, Discharge, Thor, Pretty Maids, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, The Accüsed, Varukers, Anti-cimex, Doom, W.A.S.P., Lynyrd Skynyrd, Voïvod, Anthrax, etc., etc.
Luxi: Apparently you also have some new stuff in the works, so would you tell something about this new stuff that you currently have baking in the oven?
Aku: Everything we've been writing so far is quite similar to those demo songs. There was no bigger plan behind these three songs; they just happened to be the first three outta the oven and pushed into the cruel, cruel world, and we hope they will be around for a long, long time! People seem to like them, and I'm really glad about that, 'cos they were written on an acoustic guitar while watching Netflix. From now on we are - and already have been - doing songs more as a band, but when I wrote the first versions of those three songs, there was only me and Pate jamming on Mondays.
Luxi: What are some of those long-term plans of the band anyway? To land a recording deal with some decent label, get a club tour arranged across Finland, or modestly said just get famous and sick-rich?
Jukka: Of course, the first two, and some gigs outside Finland would also be great! Nowadays it's so hard to make money with music, but it would be nice to have somebody to carry all my gear.
Aku: Jukka's words exactly, it would be awesome to just lay down, eat pizza and have beer on a comfy hotel bed and watch telly before the show, not to move a muscle.
Luxi: I also happen to know there's been a fair amount of label interest towards this band already... What kind of offers have label owners approached you thus far?
Jukka: Due to the state of the music business nowadays, many of them have been in the spirit of "first pay everything yourself, then we'll release your album without any marketing, and maybe you'll also get a couple of copies for yourself." While it's always nice to get positive feedback, we are targeting something better. We don't need somebody to just put our songs to Spotify; that's something that we can also do ourselves! That said, there have also been some more interesting offers, so let's see...
Aku: There's no rush. Things seem to happen too fast nowadays, but I have a good feeling about how slow we've been building up this band. I think it's been two years already, and now we are about to publish a C-cassette, just like back then when we were still young and everything was new. Of course, all of us have seen every aspect of a musician's career, so now we know what to expect, when and where. We are doing this for the sake of music, not to become anything bigger than life itself.
Luxi: Making videos is also a great promotional tool to get some visibility for your band. Do you have any plans to make one or two, to help the band to get noticed?
Jukka: I'd love to do a 360 video where we are just eating "pulla" in a friend's living room, but for some reason the other guys are not that interested. Hahaha, can't see why! I even proposed having some women in that video, but still no luck. Are people getting old, or what? Maybe I should have proposed 80s vinyl instead? Or cassettes? A video of a TDK AD90 running?
Aku: To be honest, we all have met the age when having cup of coffee with good bun means more than any of us could have imagined. But after that middle-aged moment of ultimate pleasure, there's still a mild stallion deep down in all of us, ready to conquer another cafeteria.
Jukka: In English, that means "yes, there's going to be a video or two as well", but for now we'll concentrate on finalizing the rest of the songs.
Luxi: Perhaps in the coming months, you also have some plans to make some band merchandise available - like T-shirts, caps and such things I assume?
Jukka: Yeah, at least t-shirts for the starters, but so far Aku has been too busy jogging and eating his vegetables. But the merchandise is coming, sooner or later!
Aku: I would very much appreciate being described as "burgerally challenged" instead of fat, but at 20" waist, Jukka is right, I had to lose some weight. So instead of putting all I've got into this new band, I've been eating veggies and going to the gym. Doctor a day keeps apples away, or something. T-shirts are on their way, almost, and maybe something else a bit eerier, not that ordinary, fan stuff too, let's see, lotsa empty promises for sure!
Luxi: When do you believe it'll be realistic to see Coronary playing live for the first time? I guess that's something you are aiming at with your short-term plans, correct?
Jukka: I'd like to say next summer when we have finished the songs for the first album, but unfortunately most festivals seem to be booked by now. So, maybe in the corner of some pizzeria then? To be honest, I don't really care where, because I'm looking forward to performing with this band!
Aku: Yeah, we're almost there, and I can promise you, it's gonna be awesome when we hit the stage!
Luxi: Tampere, your home town, has quite a few venues where one is able to experience Metal events from time to time. Do you know the owners of those places personally, which would increase your chances to get some gig opportunities? I guess it's essential to have some contacts...
Aku: Well, of course, we have connections, as we've been doing music a long time now. But to be honest, there are so many great bands in this city that it's still gonna be all about how good and interesting you are. No use begging for the best spots if people are used to expecting nothing but the real deal. Although, of course, we are the real deal, sadly just nobody knows that yet! But that's gonna change. Slow start, lotsa rabbits and turtles, let's see who's gonna cross the finish line first!
Luxi: Do you have a booking agency behind the band yet?
Aku: We're gonna have to do couple of good shows first on our own, just to prove we can do it, but yes, we're definitely gonna need an agency to stand behind us. That would be a dream come true to be able to make a living by doing nothing else but music, so let's just hope for the best. We aren't in this for the money, but it would, of course, be a real nice bonus.
Luxi: You may have some other band projects going on but is Coronary going to be your 1st priority from now on?
Aku: I am also the lead guitarist of Vulture Club, but music-wise there's such a huge gap between these two bands that I don't need to worry about these two ever clashing. When I wanna write more jazzy and weird stuff, I write Vulture songs - our genre, Neo/Psychobilly is awesome because there really are no barriers at all, as long as the upright bass slaps your ass red! Check us out, Nummirock 2017 proved metalheads love that stuff too. Spanking, I mean, of course, not that awful mutilated Rockabilly for tone-deaf greasers. And when it's time to get heavy, and stick to the basics, it's Coronary time! All of us have other bands as well, so I suppose it's just the same for all of us: priorities lie where and when they are needed. And if I happen to write too brutal stuff, then it's time to have rehearsals with Prestige. When it comes to gigs, we need to get there first!
Jukka: At the moment, all my other bands are playing mostly cover songs or the songs have already been composed... So, Coronary is definitely THE BAND where I can unleash my creativity! When it comes to gigs, at least for now it works on the first-come-first-served basis, but let's see how things are going to evolve in the future.
Luxi: Thanks for your time guys, and best of luck with the band. Feel free to throw some last words to conclude this chat if you have any...
Jukka: Stay heavy? Metal up your a**? Aku, help me with this one!
Aku: Help? I need a younger body? Cocoon, cocoon! We love you all, ready or not!
|Other information about Coronary on this site|
|Review: Demo 2018|
|Review: Traveler / Coronary|
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