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Teräsbetoni: Eurovision and exotic bonus

Teräsbetoni lately got a international name after the performance at this years Eurovision Songcontest Finale for their home country Finland. With their song "Missä Miehet Ratsasta" ("Where are the men riding to") and their rocking performance they stole the hearts of many Metalheads around Europe. We’ve met charming guitarist Järvinen at a rainy festival day in Finland for a chat.

Please introduce the band fort he ones who don´t know you.
We are Teräsbetoni, we are a Finnish heavy metal band, who play quite simple, back to the roots 80’s Metal, in Finnish.

Like your name already says, you are Finnish, so what’s the meaning of your band name? And why did you choose this one?
Well,, betoni it means concrete, t´is construction material so the whole name would be "Ferro concrete", so it’s very hard to break. So we wanted to be the band name as powerful and mighty as the music itself, so that’s the story.

What kind of music is it?
Well, it´s very straight forward, or it has been for now at least, we bonded to stick to the basic heavy metal music: the strong simple drumming, powerful guitars and powerful bass, and I think the unique thing that we have is Mr. Ahola’s voice, it´s very pure and if needs to be aggressive, it uses to be aggressive too. So we have great simple elements that we can lay together and it comes out as very pure classic heavy metal.

You sometimes get compared to bands like Manowar, what are you thinking about this, is it a honour for you or don’t you like it?
It’s not a problem, everybody always compares one band to another, and at least it´s true that Manowar´s music is very close to ours, which have same kind of lyrics, they sing about battles and brotherhood and glory and victory and all the things you want to crush. Manowar is THE band we are compared to and I´ve been listening to Manowar for years and years, I began to listen to Manowar as I started listening to music, so its quite obvious that we’ve been compared first from there. But on the other hand Rantanen, my guitarist college, doesn’t own even one Manowar record, so he takes his influences from German Metal like Kai Hansen - mostly Gamma Ray, Helloween, that sort of music.


So they kind of inspired you for doing music?
Yes sure, there’s no denying that, well, I think actually that Joe DeMaio has the best pose on stage, so I try to copy a bit of his poses, he’s a very short man, but he looks huge when he hits the stage.

Who is writing the songs in your band?
There are three writers in the band, Ahola the singer and bass player, and both guitarists, me and Rantanen. That means that we have a lot of material coming all the time, so it won’t be a problem to write songs for us for an album. There is one thing that we succeeded in, if there are three guys writing songs, and we practice them together, then they all turn out to be Teräsbetoni songs. Well of course there is some differences between the songwriter´s songs but they turn out quite simply.

So everyone brings his own influences to the music
Definitely, we just released our third album and each album has songs from every writer, I think it just makes the album more interesting, it’s not the same old some over and over again.

You have performed on the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 and I have to say your gig was amazing. How was your experience at the Contest? And why did you attend it?
We just had the opportunity, we just released our third album and the same time it was possible to attend to the Finnish Eurovision qualifications, and it was not our idea but our record label´s. It was worth to try, not very often you get the chance to try a thing like that ... Of course we took the opportunity and had a fine trip, we reached a lot of new fans all around Europe. We have been concentrating on Finland, but now we are getting messages from all over Europe, an it’s great.


So you think even you haven’t got that many points, you got a good kind of promotion for the band
Yeah definitely, Well your goal was just to get to the final and we did and all after that was just a huge bonus, it would have been quite hard if a metal band had won the contest again, we were realistic and get our fed on the ground, we just went there and had great two weeks. And met a lot of new interesting people, and saw what huge production the Eurovision Contest is, that’s it.

It seemed on stage during the Eurovision song contest semi-final that the others where kind of ignoring you, for example you had been standing all alone on the side of the stage, like outsiders, where the people little bit like “Uh, there is again a bad metal band from Finland”?
Well, we didn’t have any contact with the audience almost at all, but in the backstage with the other performers and the bands, there where two kinds of bands: the Eurovision bands with very well … I am sorry to say but they where very plastic as people, you know like “Oh hey you guys oh I love you and your song……” (says it with a very high voice) and so on, hell, they never heard our song and I think they definitely don’t love us, that’s for sure, but there where exceptions - the Belgium and the Dutch Band, they where no metal people, but they turned out to be very good, very soulful people, and the UK’s, too. Very nice people we had our fun with them.

Do you think it has any affect to your career that you didn’t get so many points at the contest? For example, Lordi even they won the contest, you don’t here anything of them anymore at the moment.
Yeah, that’s too bad. I don’t think that the results we had affects our career in any way here in Finland. It´s quite the same we had a long run here we started our career here with hundreds and hundreds of gigs and our Finnish audience knows we are not a Eurovision Band, we are a band who went to Eurovision. I don’t think that it has any effect to our career here in Finland. If we would have won, our popularity had spiked, that’s for sure, but now things are quite normal, and I think it´s even better that way we don’t have to drag ourselves to some strange parties we don’t want to go, we can do the gigs we have booked already and we will get it on our own path.


So you prefer the way it turned out?
Definitely, it would have been great to win, but if you look at the big picture, we wouldn’t have the energy or the interest to tour around Europe playing nothing as one song. Our place is on the stage and playing whole sets of Rock music, that’s our thing.

How are your plans for the future?
Well for now the whole summer has been booked, so we are concentrating for the shows in Finland for this summer, and then after that in winter time I guess we just start playing a new album. The last album had in our opinion great songs, as well as great production and so on and we where kind of enjoying it. It´s kind of the same circle a Metal band does have, you release an album and then you tour for some time and then you release the next album. And now we will enjoy the Finnish summer (laughs) (while the interview was taken, it was raining like hell, the ed.)

If you think about touring in Europe, do you think that’s possible?
Of course if somebody invites us somewhere, we will definitely consider it, and if it is possible that we don’t have to pay anything ourselves to get us there and back home, we will do it. There were some plans to go to Russia, UK, Sweden and Latvia, but they all kind of dried up when we did the Eurovision Song contest. But it´s not an impossible thing, we were once abroad in Wacken in 2005 and it was a great trip, but it was only one show.

What would you like to achieve with you music?
Well, hopefully we will do the same thing as we do now, the whole band enjoys the situation, our albums sell well and we have very dedicated audience and very dedicated fans, we love playing for them, and we love writing this kind of music and performing. If it gets bigger and we can play outside of Finland, that would be nice, but we can´t forget Finland. We have to be here, because the Finnish audience they are our people. Quite like a family.

Do you think that you can have success in the rest of Europe, even with your Finnish lyrics?
Well, I have heard about this German band Rammstein, who are performing most of the time outside their county. German language sounds very exotic and powerful, and I believe that our language wouldn’t be a problem either. The feedback we get from Europe is that they don’t want know what we are singing about, but the sound is great. So I don’t think the language will be anything of a barrier, and if you look at it closely, it is even an exotic bonus to the music, because there are hundreds and thousands of Metal bands who sing in English. So I think for Europeans it would be nice to hear another band who sings in their mother tongue.


I have seen that you have a game on your website. With a sheep and a warrior on a horse - how did you got this Idea?
Well, basically it’s via our record company, they wanted something interactive during the single release and the Eurovision thing. They asked us if it would be ok yo put some kind of game on the website and we said “Sure” (rolls his eyes) we didn’t had any idea what kind of a game it will be. It’s funny because it’s so simple and stupid. But one thing I would have longed for was when the Barbarian rides into the sheep, the sheep exploded in a puddle of blood, but it´s also for children, so ... well.

What do you think is cool/totally sucks about being a musician?
Ah well, it doesn´t suck … well, I am trying to find the right words. You know the whole music thing turned out to be a career, like a job, we started playing because of our love towards music, and it was a hobby then, and now we have a huge machinery behind us, which does stuff we don’t do ourselves, like promoting or booking gigs. I don’t think that we would have energy or talent to do this ourselves, we are pleased that we have a machinery like that. We can be lucky we have a great team behind us, and they made our hobby to business. That´s how we see it. Well, it is a bit old way to think that when music turns to be commercial it’s a bad thing. I mean, it might be true for Black Metal who are really underground, but for us metal music is so popular in Finland these days. So nobody thinks that Manowar is a bad thing because they have a record label behind them.

Do you have some final words for the STALKER readers?
Yes, my friends of metal, stay true to yourselves, break down every barrier in your lives and stay on the top.

Thanks a lot for your time!


Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos by Teräsbetoni/ Jere Hietala
Date: 2008-08-27

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