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One of the new exports from Finland is Blake, who stunned the finish media with signing an American deal with Bam Margeras record label. The guys themselves were stunned too when, reporting on the deal, the Entertainment News in Finland called them a glam rock band! So when STALKER spontaneous met up with the guys at TUSKA to discuss their past, present and future, they were very specific about what kind of music they´re playing: Honest 70´s style hard rockin´ heavy metal!
First of all, I would like you to introduce all of the band members by name and what they´re doing in the band and what their characteristics are? Sami Hassinen: Ok! My name is Sami and I play guitar. And I would like to introduce… Sami, our drummer. Sami Ojala: I´m Sami. I play drums… Blaa, blaa (drunken nonsense). Aaro Seppovaara: I´m Aaro. I´m the songwriter, singer and guitar player. For Blake the most important thing is to be an honest band and to play honest music! Honest 70´s style hard rockin´ heavy metal. That´s what we´re living for and what we´re breathing for.
Left to right: Aaro Seppovaara, Sami Ojala
How long has Blake been existing? Aaro: Since 2001. In the year 2000 I moved to Helsinki from the country-side. I was working in a studio for seven years so I just had to form a band, so when I moved to Helsinki I formed Blake, and ever since it´s been the main thing in my life and in the lives of these guys too. So we´ve been together for almost six years now. The first album came out in 2003, the second in 2004 and the latest one was released just this year. And this is the first one that will get released worldwide… U.S. and whole Europe and basically everywhere.
What do you think makes Blake stand out from the other bands coming from Finland? Aaro: The main thing with the band is bringing back the old style heavy metal and hard rock. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC… All these traditional things that started the whole thing. Nowadays bands try to do what is hot and hip right now but we believe in the traditional way and that´s why, for instance in U.S., people have shown an interest in us. We bring the traditional way of heavy metal back to life. That´s the main thing. From Finland, everyone´s expecting Nightwish or C.O.B. and that kind of music, and have been surprised to find that "Oh, there´s this kind of band´s coming from Finland also!". We´re playing the kind of music that we have grown up with! When we we´re kids we were listening to that and, of course people our age are in to that, but now we see even younger kids and a new generation finding it. And that´s great! It´s a style that never dies! There´s always a fan base for that kind of music. We don´t know ourselves why people are interested in us but that´s what people around us are telling us.
You mentioned that when people hear finish music they expect Nightwish or C.O.B. and not maybe you, but do you think those kind of bands have a good effect making Finland and finish music more known and more common around the world? Aaro: A very good effect! They have opened borders for us. Maybe some of them are doing it more in the marketing way, to reach the big markets, where as we´re doing it straight and purely from the heart, but they´re doing a great job for us also. They´re friends and they´re helping us a lot. Like for instance the HIM guys. Because of them we got the U.S. deal and so on. I can only say "Thank you" to all of them! They´re doing a great job for every band in Finland! Sami H.: No questions about Lordi, please! (Laughter)
Ah, ok, in that case let me put it like this: Let´s say there´s a finish band who would be willing to promote themselves by entering a competition like, for instance, the European Song Contest. Is there something like that, like some kind of publicity stunt, that you would do or are you more for the traditional way of promoting by doing tours and releasing albums? Sami H.: No, we don´t need to do that! Aaro: Let me put it in another way. We have been touring for six years around Finland. We have done a lot of base work to get our name known here. We don´t want to do that in every country, because that´s impossible as we would have to be 20 years on the road. So we have been waiting for the right chances and the right deals in Europe to get the right gigs and to get to the right places to do our thing there. We have to get to play the bigger clubs there to start with as most of the band members have families and we can´t be on the road for two years. So we need good promotion and the right channels to be able to play for bigger audiences to begin with. So, I think the best way for us is what we´re doing right now, which is doing videos and such, and because of that we have some good deals now.
You have done some videos for the music channels? Aaro: Yeah, most of the videos are now running on MTV in the United States because Bam Margera has signed us to his record label in America. He´s done a great job promoting us in the commercial music channels over there. And also in Finland we´re well presented on the commercial music channels. But that´s not the point for us. They´re all just bonuses because we´re doing this from the heart. The most important thing for us is to be honest and not selling out. We do what we do and if it´s ok for you we´re happy. You know what I mean? We´re not willing to sell our souls. Sami H.: If you look at us… We don´t need to put some funny clothes on. We just are who we are!
Tell us something about the video? Sami H.: It was shot in an old factory with a lot of cranes. We used a lot of fast cuts. Aaro: We did it with quite a small budget it Finland but we hope we made it look like everything we wanted it too. We had friends shooting it, as we´ve been around in the music business in Finland for so long that we know everyone. We did it with a small budget but still tried to make it look good enough to make it in the music media everywhere. And that´s what we managed to do, so I´m very happy with it! And we´re all happy with it!
What can people expect when they go to your show? Aaro: They can expect honest traditional 70´s heavy metal that will kick your ass! That´s it! We play the good old way. The live shows are just as important as the albums. We´ve been rehearsing a lot! Nowadays band sound good on the albums because of Pro Tools and computers but we feel you have to sound and play just as good also live! You have to give something to the audience that comes and sees your shows too. It´s a very important thing for us!
Are you planning some tours abroad, like for instance Germany or Britain? Aaro: We come to Germany in September to have a couple of gigs in Berlin but in winter we have a full European tour. And in October we´re going to the United States. The European tour will be next year because we´re going to be busy on the road until December. We´ve been offered tours in Europe for the last three years but we wanted to be ready and get some good contacts there. Like I said earlier, we don´t want to burn ourselves out by playing small clubs everywhere. We wanted to wait to get the right contacts.
Are you already working on some new material? Aaro: Yes. The next album will come out next spring in Finland, so we have to be.
Tell me a little about your lyrics? What are they about? Are they more about private stuff, like depression, that influence you or is it just completely fictional or…? Aaro: Again, most of the lyrics come from the traditional stuff like the old blues. It´s the old blues way of saying things. Each one of the three albums is a sort of a theme album where the lyrics are about the same thing. They´re not one story but still each Blake album tells stories about a specific subject. The latest one, Planetizer, is the first one that´s more about heart and soul. The first two were just about someone. The longer you play, the harder it get´s to give your soul to the listener.
Could you give me one example of the lyrics? One song and what it´s about? Aaro: I´ll tell you about the whole album, because there are for instance songs called 12 Steps To Hell and Bad Luck Ladder. The album is about bad luck. Number 13. Bad luck number! I guess one question is "why do you dress in black? Why do you like heavy metal?". The whole thing is about that. Why we are who we are! I have #13 tattooed on my neck… It´s all about that. Can´t give just one example.
Bad luck in general… Aaro: Yeah, and about why we are who we are.
Probably our readers would like to know some more personal stuff about you, like, who is the person behind the music, so could you tell us something about yourself? Aaro: Well, I try to be as good a father to my kids as I can but music is consuming all my time. So, basically, without music there isn´t really anything to say about me, because I haven´t done anything else in my whole life! It´s 21 years since I did my first gig so…
So the only time you´re not doing music is when you´re taking care of your kids? Aaro: Yes. But unfortunately that´s not so often, which is not a good thing!
What about you, Sami? Sami H: I´m a live technician for bands so music is my life also.
Yeah, but you´re not doing music all the time, right? Sami H.: Actually I am! (Laughter) Aaro: We live and we breath music! It´s not always you get your bread from your band. I´m also working as a producer in the studio I work in. I produce other finish heavy metal bands like for instance The Scourger, who are the latest ones, who will be playing here (Tuska) tomorrow. It´s a trash metal band. When I produce some other band it has to be completely different from Blake, because I produce our own albums also and I don´t want to give my "ID" to other bands. I want to make sure they are from completely different areas of music.
Could you produce also bands that are not doing metal like for instance some folk music? Aaro: I have done that. For quite a long time actually! Like I said, before Blake I was only working in a studio for several years. I produced many different kind of bands before I moved and decided "what the hell! I need to form my own band!". All those different kinds of bands and music styles are giving something to your own music too! They´re giving new ideas and different flavours to your own thing. So, you´re giving them something but at the same time you´re actually receiving even more.
If you had a wish, any wish, for the band or private, what would it be? Aaro: Nowadays people need to be honest. That´s my wish: Honesty from people! Don´t follow the marketing way! Listen to your heart and follow that road! That´s the important thing. For people to wake up and see what the honest way of living is! You don´t see that too often today. It´s very easy to go the marketing way and just go with the flow. But if you work hard you will get what you want if you do it from your heart.
And you? Sami H.: One wish? Freedom for everyone! Freedom to do what you want to do.
Besides touring and stuff, what is the biggest goal for Blake? Aaro: Our goal is just to get everyone of us, the band and crew, the basic needs for living with our music. We´re a big family and we´ve been doing this for five years and that´s always been the main goal for us. We´re not asking for too much.
Can you imagine yourselves being on stage when you´re old and doing music at an age when it´s not that usual anymore? Like say when you´re over 60? Sami H.: Yeah, of course! Of course! Aaro: Ronnie James Dio is 67 so we´re in no hurry! (Laughter) We still have 30 years to go…
Any final words for our readers? Sami: Come and see Blake to hear and experience the old fashion heavy rock! Aaro: I´m repeating myself like an old record. Listen to Blake! Listen to Black Sabbath! If you´re a young heavy metal fan you have to know where it all started from! Listen to Black Sabbath and you know what Blake is all about! Author: Samira Alinto Date: 2006-08-01