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STALKERs Fresh Act September 2010
If there is a band these days who takes the music scene of Helsinki by storm, it`s Santa Cruz. After several gigs in their hometown, especially in the last months, they are already now not an insiders` tip anymore. Despite their young age, the quartet owns more 80s Rock attitude than some originals from back then, and at the same time they have a quite realistic way of looking at things. And due to the fact that the hard rockers want to be on top also outside of Helsinki - like it`s sung in their song "We`re Aiming High" - they are currently recording their new EP with producer Joel Attila in the "Studio Bulevardi". There singer and guitar player Archie and bass player Middy took some of their valuable time to answer all of STALKERs questions...
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For the beginning, would you like to introduce yourself?
Archie: We are four young dudes from Helsinki who are playing glamorous or Glam Hard Rock with...
Middy: … style and attitude!
How about your names?
Archie: Well, basically, when I`m talking to someone in English I just say my name is "Archie", but my real name is "Arttu Kuosmanen" and I am the singer of Santa Cruz and I also play the guitar in there.
Middy: I am Middy - Mitja Toivonen - and I`m the bass player of Santa Cruz.
Archie: The other two guys are on holiday at the moment. Johnny - Joonas Parkkonen - the guitar player, and Taz - Tapani Fagerström - the drummer. Finnish names suck!
Archie: Well, you know, if you are searching for a name that sounds the least Rock`n`Roll you can just type anything Finnish.
Middy: That`s about Finnish names!
Is that the reason why you use these English pseudonyms? Or are you doing this to protect your privacy or are you afraid that people outside Finland can`t pronounce your names correctly?
Middy: It just sounds better than our own names.
Archie: Yeah, the main reason is that it`s easier. Someone from outside Finland could say "Oh, watch this band, watch the singer`s name - Archie!" They got it right away. But if you have a name like "Arttu" it takes three fucking months until people remember it.
Middy: Yeah, and you have to explain it letter by letter.
Archie: We sing in English so why the hell we can`t have English names?!?
Middy: And it`s not about privacy `cause if we would like to protect our privacy we would wear masks like Lordi. [Laughter] And if you wanna play in a band then you can forget about your privacy in general!
Archie: I don`t like privacy.
Middy: Privacy sucks! [Laughter]
Archie: That`s why we`re going out, that`s why we`re playing Rock`n`Roll. Of course, it can be a little corny in the beginning when people are like "Hahaha, he is from Helsinki... A Finnish dude, playing with cows, call himself "Archie", using an English name, hahaha..." But after a few years you do albums, you do gigs and nobody is thinking anymore that this is corny. Like it`s the case now with Michael Monroe or Andy McCoy. No-one even thinks about that anymore and I`m sure in the beginning they also had to handle it that people we`re laughing about them when they started to call themselves like "Michael Monroe" or "Andy McCoy".
How old are you?
Middy: We`re all 18!
Archie: Little kids... Teen-boys...
Middy: … with pimples!
Since when Santa Cruz are existing?
Archie: Well, originally we started this band with Johnny back in the summer of 2007 but in the first autumn nothing really happened. We had to fire our first bass player and drummer in the beginning of 2008 because they didn`t have enough time to fucking focus on the band so we had to dump them and then we got Middy to play the bass and we got this dude called Orkku to play the drums but half a year after that... or not even half a year... we had to dump Orkku.
Middy: It was like three months or so...
Archie: And then we had this other dude, he was a year in our band, played the drums and last summer - a year and a couple of months ago - we had to dump that motherfucker and get Taz instead so now we are complete.
So you had already fired three drummers so far?
Both: Yeah, Taz is the fourth one, since last summer.
Archie to Middy: Isn`t it amazing how good he fits in?
Middy: Only after one year... He`s such a badass!
Archie: It`s like he has been in the band forever.
And the other guys were fired because they were not so motivated?
Archie: Because, you know, they didn`t have the curls in the hair! [Laughter]
Both: Haha, just kidding!
Archie: Yeah, the motivation was the biggest problem, except in the case of Orkku. He is a cool dude but I don`t know... He just didn`t fit in so well... He is a cool dude and still a friend of ours. In his case it was not about motivation... He was motivated as hell!
How has everything started?
Archie: Well, me and Johnny we met at this music camp at Pori. We were teens and we both played guitar and we just noticed that we both like the same kind of music and we were both looking for a band and we were like: "Let`s form a band!". That was in summer 2007...
Middy: The golden age!
Archie: We had the same taste in music, we were both looking for another guy or another guys with the same taste, the same attitude, the same looks... And between me and Johnny it was totally right away like: "Bang!" Nowadays I hate the motherfucker but... [Laughter]
Middy: What can you do? He formed the band, you cannot kick him out... Well, maybe we can... Haha!
You are pretty young, all 18 as you said, but you are playing a music style which was current before you even were born. How do you came in touch with that kind of music?
Archie: Well, actually that`s a question lots of people ask...
Middy: It`s the greatest era of Rock`n`Roll, I think. The first time that I got into this 80ies thing was when I found "Appetite For Destruction" from Guns`n`Roses in my dad`s record collection, by an accident, and I fell in love with it from the first second and after that all the other bands came like Mötley Crüe and so on.
Archie: For me the first time was when I was a little kid and I did skateboarding, I got into Punk music... You know, The Clash, Sex Pistols... And from there I moved into Old Heavy Metal like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden and somehow through those bands I found Mötley Crüe and all those 80ies Glam bands and I was like: "What the hell!?!" They had it all: Sex, Drugs, Rock`n`Roll. They defined Rock`n`Roll and after that... You know... Kurt Cobain and this boring parts...
So you`re not a fan of the Grunge era?
Archie: Well, actually I love many of the big Grunge bands... Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains... Sometimes it`s not so good. Nirvana is cool...
Middy: I think the coolest Grunge bands are Stone Temple Pilots and Alice In Chains but the rest of the stuff...
Archie: Alice In Chains is cool but...
Both: … it`s too dark!
Middy: That`s why we love the 80ies and that`s why we play 80ies stuff because it`s like you have a good time and it`s all about having a good time but Alice In Chains and bands like that... They are not about having a good time. They are about complaining about which big drug habits they do have. If you have a drug habit why the fuck you are making a song about it!?! Make a song of how good you are feeling and stuff! That`s why we are doing it.
Archie: Of course, there were lots of crap bands in the 80ies, too. Maybe even more than in the 90ies...
Middy: … Or in the other decades.
Archie: Yeah, but the best bands of the 80ies... They just fucking defined the word "Rock`n`Roll"! They looked good, they sounded good, they had good songs, they played the big venues... You know what I mean? And after that: Where is all the good Hardrock music? It doesn`t fucking exist anymore!
Middy: And all of those bands who were good in the 80ies they are kind of lame these days. Their last good songs were made in the beginning of the 90ies or something like that. The kids nowadays haven`t listen to Mötley Crüe or that stuff because they are so young. So we have to bring them...
Archie: [interrupts] Everybody is into Rap nowadays. If you think of kids in the age of 12, 13 or 14 and if they are listening to Rock music or to Metal music, they are listening to Slipknot...
Middy: … Or Iron Maiden or Metallica.
And what is your opinion of those bands?
Middy: I don`t like Iron Maiden.
Archie: I used to be a big fan of Iron Maiden but nowadays I don`t like it at all. But I love Metallica, at least the Black Album era and the Thrash Metallica.
Middy: I like "Master Of Puppets" and stuff, that`s cool. Slipknot have their own thing but...
Archie: …They have a couple of good songs... But you know...
Middy: … Those Pop songs! Well, since I`ve been five years old if been to parties with my mom and dad and their friends were listening to The Rolling Stones, after that my dad was introducing me to some bands and the rest I figured out by myself.
Archie: Skateboarding got me involved to this bands. I used to listen to Eminem, too, when I was at the 2nd grade but when I was starting skateboarding and I watched all those skateboarding movies...
Middy: ...There is no Eminem in there...
Archie: Yeah, they have all those Punk rockers... Tight fucking jeans, big hairs, songs by Guns`n`Roses, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Mötley Crüe... That`s why I got involved. I remember watching this skate films with songs from Guns`n`Roses, W.A.S.P., with "Kickstart My Heart"... "Kickstart My Heart" was a big fucking thing to me! There was this skate boarding film called "In Bloom", with a skateboarder in it called Toni Trujillo who has a Mötley Crüe tattoo on this back,
and his part... It was so fucking amazing... He skated so fucking good... And in his part they played "Kickstart My Heart" - and that was IT for me! That was my favourite song from the start...
Middy: Well, I was also listening to Punk because the first thing was, of course, Guns`n`Roses but when I got my first guitar in the beginning I couldn`t play Guns`n`Roses. I sucked in it and that`s why I played about a year in a Punk band, in a garage, and we played Sex Pistols, Misfits and those stuff but then I was like "Punk ain`t so much my thing... I wanna play Mötley Crüe! I wanna play Guns`n`Roses!" And after a while I found these guys so...
Archie: I was playing in this Old School Heavy Metal band which played kinda Iron Maiden stuff. At first I tried but after a while I get stucked with it. I tried to make the band more rockier but at this one rehearsal... The drummer of the band only liked Bon Jovi from the Hardrock bands. I don`t know why but he did. And I realised "Fuck, I can`t transform them into my kind of stuff!" so I had to leave...
How does the process of songwriting work?
Archie: Usually me or Johnny have an idea or sometimes a full song or a chorus... We make the song up and then we bring it to the rehearsal space and it all comes together in there but sometimes Johnny does his own demos...
Middy: He has this home studio so he can record all the instruments and then he brings the song to us and then we can change something if we want to and usually we do.
Archie: Me or Johnny compose it and then we figure it out all together.
Middy: But Archie writes all the lyrics!
And were do you get the inspirations for the lyrics?
Middy: Making sweet love and party!
Archie: I could say that but that`s kind of boring, isn`t it? Actually I just write. I never think of something I`ve done or I wanna do. I always just start to write and make some kind of good rimes.
Middy: And there ain`t any politics in our lyrics. We`re not Rage Against The Machine. It`s just about having a good time.
Nowadays it`s hard to live by music. People don`t buy records anymore, they download the music. What do you think about that?
Middy: I just bought a CD of Iggy Pop & The Stooges but before that... When do we bought our last CDs? A few weeks ago?
Archie: Yeah, a few weeks ago but before that I can`t remember the last time I bought a record because of the lack of money. You wanna do so many things and you don`t have so much money and the priorities are to do the other things first before you are buying a record but, of course, if I would have more money I would buy records everyday...
Middy: But if you don`t have money, you can use "spotify". You don`t have to download it. I think "spotify" is a great thing!
Archie: Nowadays only the kids and the Die-Hard fans are buying records.
So you you appreciate "spotify"? Doesn`t it ruin the musicians because they hardly earn anything from that?
Archie: Well, as a matter of fact people don`t buy any records anymore. Musicians get their money through gigs, through the t-shirts they sell at their gigs... And basically it sucks but... I think "spotify" is a great way to promote your band. You can listen immediately to a band`s music and figure out if it`s something for you or not.
Do you think it makes sense to have a record deal nowadays if people don`t buy that much records anymore? Do you want to have a record deal?
Both: Of course!
Archie: Well, a band without a record deal is more original. The business thing can ruin something but... Fuck, yeah, we want to have a record deal because a record company is not only about getting your record into the stores. It`s also about promotion, advertising, gig saleries and stuff. If you do everything by yourself you have to care about a hell lot of things but if you have a record deal you can...
Both: ...concentrate on the music!
Archie: You can concentrate on the band. You don`t have to concentrate on the business things.
Middy: And the music is more important to us than the business sides.
Archie: Yeah, of course!
So at the moment you book your shows by yourselves?
Archie: Yes, we book the shows by ourselves.
Middy: So far.
Archie: Sometimes we send emails to the clubs or the clubs ask us. Of course, in the beginning we were asking the clubs but meanwhile it turns back and more and more the clubs ask us. And sometimes bands are asking, like for the Sonic Roots gig then in "Manala".
Do you want to play more shows outside Helsinki or even outside Finland? What about a tour with your friends Reckless Love?
Archie: Fuck, yeah! As many as we can!
Middy: It has been our only show outside Helsinki so far but we would come to any little town if it`s possible, of course. And about touring with Reckless Love: Yeah, of course, if they ask us! Actually we asked those guys and they offered us as well but nothing happened so far which is not their fault. They have this big record deal and with it all this business people behind them and they are the ones who are booking the shows and stuff and they decide, not the band. Of course, when you are Mick Jagger you can decide who`s opening the shows for you but... Of course, it would be a good package, and if Reckless Love would call us to go on tour with them: We would immediately do that!
Archie: That would be fucking cool because Reckless Love are quite big already and we have the same 80ies thing and probably we would appeal to their fans. So far we had only one gig with them, a couple of days before last Christmas in "Gloria".
Do you know other bands you can imagine a tour with?
Archie: Yeah, with Ace Up The Sleeve! As already mentioned it would be so cool to open up for Reckless Love... And to do some gigs with Pyhät Tepot, a Finnish Punk band. They are like friends of ours. They are good guys and they like us and we like them and... They`re not the same genre but that would be cool. Very nice dudes!
What about a tour with Mötley Crüe?
Archie: Well, that would be like a dream come true but I think we would be pretty disappointed because they might be major assholes - nowadays. You know, we are young kids, hungry, we want to party and Rock`n`Roll and then these old rich farts...
Middy: One band which are not old farts are Hardcore Superstar. They are young dudes and they are not assholes, at least I hope so.
Archie: It would be cool to tour with a young rising band like Hardcore Superstar or Reckless Love than with a big old name. Of course, it would be cool to play the big venues but, you know, at a Mötley Crüe show at "Jäähalli" no-one comes to see the opening act.
Talking about Reckless Love: I was quite surprised when I saw you in the "Romance" video. How come? There was a huge casting for it: Did you apply or did they ask you?
Archie: As mentioned before, we had this one gig with them last December in "Gloria" and when the video shoot for "Romance" were planned Olli [Herman, the singer of Reckless Love, the ed.] asked us via facebook if we would like to appear in it.
Middy: It was fun! The whole day "waiting and whiskey", haha!
Archie: Yeah, we are quite wasted in that video! [Laughter]
Are you planning a video shoot, too?
Archie: Well, actually we already have one video, for "We`re Aiming High". You can find it on youtube. It`s made of Live footage, by a woman called Minna. She helped us with the editing and stuff at "Nuorten Toimintakeskus", the youth center of Helsinki.
And are you planning a video with a storyline?
Archie: Well, for that we would need 10 000 E or something like this. If you want to do a real video with a storyline and so on it must be great, like Guns`n`Roses` "November Rain". Otherwise you can leave it.
It`s hard to figure out anything from you in the net because "Santa Cruz" is a popular name. Why did you choose this name?
Archie: It sounds cool and it`s out of cliché, like "Mötley Crüe". Not like "Steel Panther". [Laughter]
We already talked about some popular internet platforms like spotify and youtube. What do you think about social networks like myspace, facebook, twitter and so on?
Archie: Yeah, I love facebook!
Middy: I don`t like it to waste my time at the computer, I`m generally not that familiar with this whole internet stuff, although it`s a good way to promote your band.
Archie: We more take care of it when there is an upcoming show or something like that. For this we also use twitter (http://twitter.com/SantaCruzBand) now, next to our facebook and myspace profiles.
Middy: Yeah, it`s ok to post your shows and promote them but who the hell cares when I eat a sausage, take a piss or drink a coffee!?!
You plan your own webpage?
Archie: Actually, we already have the domains for that and stuff but, you know, we don`t have that much time at the moment to take care also of that. We also plan to change our artworks, also for our merchandising stuff so: There are still a lot of things to do for us. But at the moment we are here in the "Studio Bulevardi" with our producer Joel Attila to record the new EP which will contain amongst others a new song called "Over The Limits".
Talking about artworks and your appearance in general: You don`t wear the typical clothes of the genre like spandex trousers, headbands / bandanas and so on - Why? Is it too poncy in your eyes or don`t you care about image in general?
Archie: My ass is too big for spandex trousers, haha.
Middy: And I prefer leather pants. And our hairs are so nice - Why we should cover them up?!? We are looking cool enough in civil so we don`t need these things.
With Alexi Laiho from Children Of Bodom you have a quite famous fan. He says amongst others that your ages doesn`t matter `cause Santa Cruz sticks out from all the other bands of your genre...
Archie: Yeah, he came to one of our shows and he liked it and we gave him one of our EPs and he had fucking dig it and he had start to dig our band and so came the comment.
Everything seems to work out very well but do you have an alternative, just in case that something go wrong with the music career?
Archie: Well, we all are still in the high school and will graduate next summer. Except Taz who is visiting a vocational school to become an electrician. We all will finish our schools and after that we will be fully concentrate on our music career.
So you are good role models, but don`t you have any plans like visiting the university beside the music?
Middy: I don`t have any plans `cause I have my faith in this band...
Archie: We have so much faith in this band so... Maybe just get some jobs to get some money to life and we can invest in the band... But no studies or something like this. Maybe Sibelius Academy, that`s the second choice but... I have to see... I still have one year left...
Middy: Maybe we are already millionaires then next year... Haha... No, just kidding!
Anyway, it would just be nice if you would still talk with us then. So finally: famous last words to our readers out there?
Archie: Uhm... [thinks] Peace and love!
Middy: Girls, brush your teeth! You will figure out why - after our shows!
Author: + photos Stefanie Singh / Promotional picture by Emmi Kähkönen
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