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Some very young musicians from Finland have already raised attention abroad, and Starcrash from Kemi, formed in 2004, might just be the next band to make a mark on European (radio) charts. In spring they managed to do that already in their home country with their first (still self-made) single “Before The Tuesday´s Gone”. So STALKER decided to present this promising Fresh Act to you, with the aid of singer and band mastermind Pepe Toivainen.
Please introduce all band members with all their characteristics, spleens, age etc.
You would need a qualified psychologist to do that!! I´m sorry... We are a group of various characteristics and spleens mixed into a band called Starcrash: Pepe Toivainen (vocals), Tuomas Immonen (guitar), Aapo Immonen (drums), Lasse Launimaa (keyboards), Make Kerosalo (bass). Pepe is a nickname I got already when I was a child. I think it was given to me after this Brazilian football player Bebeto... I used to play soccer and my team mates used to call me Pepe, it has followed me ever since =) Average age of the band is somewhere around 21, I think... two are 18 and the rest are 23.
What kind of music do you play?
I find this question always very hard to answer, but I guess I would define our style as melodic, catchy and ambitious rock with some influences from pop/metal music and the rock from the eighties. Overall, I hate when people want to categorize a band. When you play versatile music it´s impossible to put you in a small box.
How did it all begin?
Well, it´s a very long story. But I´ll tell it short. The interesting detail is that we all come from same small school. Tuomas, Make and me met each other for the first time when we were only 6 years old. We started to hang around with each other and finally formed a band cause we thought it would be cool and would get us some ladies =) We grew up listening to bands such as Bon Jovi and other bands from the eighties. I think our first band was formed when we were some like 12 years old… Things got serious few years ago when Lasse and Aapo joined the band. We started to make the kind of music we really wanted to play. You could say we started to follow our hearts. Now we are just at the beginning of our story!
What is the story about the band name?
That story isn´t really that interesting. We had tried out many different names, each worse than the one before =) So we put our wise heads together and came up with Starcrash, ´cause it sounded kind of nice.
Many people abroad perceive Finland as "Metal country". Do you agree?
There are many famous and not so famous metal bands in Finland. I would say that metal is probably the most popular genre in Finland, but there´s also lots of talented acts from other genres here.
Which cliché about Finland annoys you the most?
I don´t really know any. Wait! Maybe the one that we drink a lot of booze... Wonder where that comes from ;)
What is the music scene like in your town? Are there many bands, clubs, and which kind of music?
The city we live in is so small that you could say it is a town. In Kemi there are maybe 3-4 clubs where bands can play. There is a huge amount of bands in Kemi compared to the amount of residents in Kemi. Most of the bands play metal music. This is probably due to bad weather which makes people depressed and forces them to write and play melancholic music =)
Do you think it is much more difficult in Kemi than in Helsinki for a Rock band?
It is almost impossible to grow big when living in Kemi, almost.... I think, it is a lot easier if you are trying to make a breakthrough in the Capitol rather than in small Northern city. Mostly because all the best clubs and big labels and the important people you want to know are in Helsinki or nearby.
Who do you want to reach, or what do you want to achieve with your music?
First of all I want us to make a great record which I´m sure we will. After that I´d like to reach the listeners in our home country and hopefully they will enjoy the album. Naturally I wouldn´t mind if people abroad would get their hands on our music. We already have a growing fanbase in Middle Europe, especially in Germany (via Myspace, the ed.). Step by step I would like us to reach as many listeners as possible...
Who are your musical idols, what are your most important musical influences?
It´s hard to answer this question, because every member has their own idols and source of influence. Aapo, Lasse and Make think Dream Theater is the best band in the world. On the other hand me and Tuomas prefer Bon Jovi. I´ve always admired the bands from the eighties. Their music, live shows and style.
What is the most "embarrasing" CD you have in your collection?
Hmm.... What do I dare to confess... Well one the most embarrassing must be the early Backstreet Boys album... My mom bought it for me! I swear =)
Who writes the music /lyrics, or are all in the band responsible?
Me and Tuomas write all material together. First we write melodies and chords, then lyrics to match the feeling of the song. Each band member have their saying when we are arranging songs. And I have to say, sometimes we argue a lot!
What is the inspiration for your lyrics?
I don´t really know. We like to write stories about people´s lives. Sometimes about hope and better tomorrow, sometimes about sorrow. We also have songs such as “No pain No gain” which is kind of a story of our lives. We try write lyrics that fit the song´s atmosphere.
What do you do if you are not in the band (studying, working)?
Some of us have “real” jobs and some of us go to school. You got to have a way out, if the band thing for some reason doesn´t work out. We also like to keep fit and go out every now and then.
Create a slogan for your band!
I leave it to someone else... Any ideas?
Would you sell your soul to the devil to become famous?
Maybe partly within some boundaries. Devil can have my little finger, but not the whole hand!
What do you think about other young bands, e. g. Finnish Sturm&Drang, or German Tokio Hotel?
It is inappropriate to say anything bad about fellow musicians so I won´t =) I know both bands, though. We played a show together with Sturm&Drang a while ago, I like what they´re doing. I heard Tokio Hotel is huge in German, this year they are making a break through in Finland also. I think they have some catchy tunes.
Imagine that in order to be successful you had to dress like Lordi. Would you do that?
No, we wouldn´t. We wanna make it our way or not at all. We definitely want to look and sound like ourselves. Lordi is doing their own thing, but dressing in costumes is not our thing.
What is your dream, where does your motivation come from?
Our dream is to one day become one of the greatest bands in the world =) Sounds a bit self assured or crazy, but what´s the use of doing anything, if you don´t believe in yourself. It is the thing that is driving us forward every day, despite the consequences.
But like I said before, one step in a time...
What will you do if you don´t get to have a career in music business?
I think we will all do our own things. Again I can only speak for myself. I think I´d like to be a music producer if Starcrash won´t bring bread to my table. I also study social sciences and I´m focusing in child welfare work. So that´s what I´m going to for work later on if I don´t manage to make my way into the music business.
What was the most exciting/the most disappointing moment in your band history?
I think we get our kicks from playing gigs. That´s where the best and the worst moments happen. And believe me when I say we´ve had some good ones and some bad ones =)
The worst gig / the best gig?
The worst gig I can remember was when absolutely nothing worked out as planned. We had the most inexperienced guy behind the mixer and he managed to give us the sounds from hell. At first there was no sound coming out from the PA systems. When something finally came out nobody wanted to hear it, it was so horrible. At some point we had to get of the stage and apologise to the audience. We were so embarrassed. Safe to say that guy hasn´t been mixing our gigs since then =)
The best gig was the first gig when the audience went truly wild and showed us what true love means. It was an unbelievable feeling. We were doing our best and the audience was giving back the same way. I´ll never forget it...
Which song are you most proud of, and why?
Again everyone has their own favourites. Mine are two lately written songs “My life” and “Forever and day”. The first one because it´s a great melodic peace and it has good hooks and atmosphere. The second because I love the lyrics. One of the best we´v ever written.
Which band would you enjoy touring with?
I don´t know, maybe Bon Jovi? =) I think at this point any major band would be a great opportunity for us. Warming up bands bigger than us gives us chance to play for bigger crowds. That is one of the best ways to enlarge our fanbase.
What do you plan in the near future?
We got this deal by sending Plastinka Records (Finnish Indie Label, the ed.) a demo and info about Starcrash. We gathered interest from various record companies and chose Plastinka. We are starting a recording session soon with a producer named Miikka Huttunen. The plan is to record four songs and pick the next single release out of them. We are very exited to work with Miikka and to see how people will like our becoming single. I hope and believe that it will lead to break through!
Naturally we are also planning to play as many shows as possible... (At Dec 11 Starcrash play live in Helsinki, at On The Rocks, the ed.) Hope to see you all there!