It has been a while since this Finnish band has been featured as STALKER Fresh Act , and after some "time-out" they are back on the scene. They surprise with a new line up Janze - Vocals, Hooligan - Guitar, Otto - Guitar. Heikki - Bass, Dennis – Drums, new image and a new single... Drummer Dennis fills us in here on the details what has happened in the meantime ...
Hello Hellcity Punks! Can you fill us in what happened in the meantime? For example, your line-up changed, why - and who are the new guys? How did you get to know each other, and could you introduce the new guys a bit?
Well, quite a lot has been going on actually. First of all we parted with Johnny, so we needed to find a new bass player. Luckily we found Heikki who used to play bass for Parasite City, I knew he was a great bass player, so we told him we were looking for a new guy and asked him if he would be interested in auditioning for Hellcity Punks. And obviously he did and got the job. We also wanted to add a Guitar player to our new lineup, we thought that with two guitars you could do so much more interesting guitar parts and we wanted to take our music in that kind of direction. So in comes Otto who is quite a creative person and a great guitarist. I think the new guys have brought some fresh blood to this band and helped a lot to create something new and exciting.
So now that we got our new line up and our band together again, it was time to start writing new songs. We were convinced that with this new lineup we could do a lot better and we also wanted to work with a producer who could help us out and push us to the next level. We contacted Producer Ilkka Wirtanen, who has been working with e.g. Reckless Love and some other great names, and luckily he got interested and wanted to work with us. We have been to the studio and recorded a few songs for the album already and he has really been pushing us and gotten the best out of us. The first single Angelina Cries was released 29.8.2011. So yeah - it has been quite a busy year for us.
Your new single Angelina Cries just came out – how is the response so far, and who is Angelina? :D
The response has been really great, the song got prime-time airplay on radiostations such as Radio Rock, YleX and Yle X3M. And also a lot of people seem to have been downloading the song from iTunes and radiorock-store. On the gigs we have now played, it seems like a big part of the audience knows the song already and know the lyrics and stuff like that, so its been quite amazing. All I can say about Angelina at this point is that she´s a young daredevil and the leader of the Underground. This will all make a lot more sense to you when we reveal the full Hellcity-Story.
In your band info you mention that you created a fictional “Hellcity” – how much does it relate to Helsinki and real incidents, how much is fiction? And is it sort of a concept that connects all your songs as one big story?
It´s the year 2159 and Hellcity is one of the few cities still left in the world, it´s located in a cold dark and otherwise desolated part of northern Europe, so that might be Helsinki in the future....who knows;). So to answer the question - yeah it´s a fictional story. And the album will be a concept-album connecting all the songs together, and tell the whole story, that´s the idea, yes.
How did you get this slot in Berlin? How was it playing at K17? You seemed a bit nervous in the beginning, were you satisfied with the response in Germany? (Read concert report here )
Bruno from Danse Macabre records asked if we wanted to come and play at this Suomi Darkness festival in Berlin as part of PopKomm and the Berlin music week, so obviously we were interested. And we thought that what a great opportunity and what better way to return to the touring and gigging scene again after almost a 1 year long break than to kick it off in Berlin. I think we seemed a bit nervous in the beginning, because the schedule for the soundcheck got delayed and we ended up having about 10 min to do our soundcheck and that´s almost like having no soundcheck at all, and also our intro-tape for the gig, which is this epic theme about the Hellcity-Story, that was supposed to melt into the first song of the set, for some reason did not work. And we had to kick off the show in a different way that we had planned.
But it all worked out in the end anyway and at least the people seemed to like us and the response was absolutely fantastic. It was fun to see people in the front singing along to Angelina Cries, I think that shows the power of the internet and web-sites like facebook and youtube.
I had the impression that the audience liked you a lot – so could you sell some merch in Berlin, too?
We sold some singles yeah,.... People still in these days buying CD-singles, I think we must have made a pretty good song.... *laughs!*
What I saw in Berlin gives the impression that your musical direction has shifted slightly, from US-Fun-Punk to more Brit-Old-School-Punk. Also your new band photo implies “less glam, more raw+dirty” :D Would you agree?
We like to call it Apocalypse-Rock, sure there are some elements of punk-rock here and there but I also think there´s some metal / hard-rock and even pop in our music. I think what makes it so hard to define, is that we have managed to finally find our own sound. But yeah I agree that it´s a bit more raw and dirty than before. As for the band promo pics, they are supposed to take place in Hellcity in the year 2159. Again it will make more sense when the Hellcity-Story is revealed.
I heard you didn´t know any of the other Finnish bands that you played with in Berlin – so did you make some new friends?
Well, thats not completely true, actually one of the guys in Beati Mortui used to play Bass in Hellcity Punks in the early days, so it was fun to play at the same show together after all these years. And the guys from Cold Cold Ground were fun to hang with too. Both me and Kunt are endorsed by Yamaha drums Finland, so there was a lot of drum-talk with him.
You played some more club shows recently – what was the audience reception, was there a difference between Helsinki and Berlin?
The reception has been amazing so far, quite the same in Helsinki and Berlin, the audience seems to know Angelina Cries and seem to really enjoy our live performance in general. It´s been a blast!
When is the debut-CD coming out, who is doing the mixing? Did you record all the tracks already?
The Album is still in pre-production and we are constantly working on new songs, so far we have recorded 3 songs with Ilkka Wirtanen who is doing the producing, recording and mixing, and the album is gonna be out in 2012.
Do you have any record deal coming up soon?
Hopefully yeah, there has been a lot of negotiations but nothing is final and no names have been signed yet.
It wasn´t the first time in Germany for you, you played some club shows some years ago – do you recall absurd or funny incidences?
The first thing that comes in mind is that it was a lot of hard work and especially the travelling from a city to another by train and carrying all that equipment and instruments, that was something we don´t wanna do again. Also the promotion for the tour could have been done better, but in general I think it went well, especially Vienna Austria and the gig in Berlin. And it was the first time we toured outside of Finland, so there was that kind of excitement in the air.
Interesting how quickly times change – nowadays myspace is totally out, other media dominate the web – do you see it in a positive or negative way, what is your opinion about possible future trends? What would be cool to have available – from the viewpoint of a band – on the internet?
As I said earlier web-sites such as facebook and youtube are a huge help especially for new bands to promote themselves and reach potential fans all around the world, it´s amazing. So I think it´s a positive thing. The only negative thing is that there are so many sites and forums, that it can get quite overwhelming sometimes to keep up with all the trends. I think it should be more convenient and easily made to legally download music on the web and not the other way around as it seems to be now. Maybe that would be one of the things to help the music business get back on their feet again.
Your plans in the near future (more gigs, a tour)?
Plan number one is to get the album finished and out there for all of you to enjoy. And some cool music videos would be great to do too, with this Hellcity-Story the videos could be like short movies..... let´s see what we come up with. Then of course a lot of touring in Finland and abroad. (On October 14th they will play at Semifinal, Helsinki; the ed.)
Anything I forgot to ask and you just have to tell STALKER readers?
Join the Underground at www.hellcitypunks.com and stay tuned for more news and updates, we´ll be in your hometown raisin hell sooner than you know. See Ya´!