Santa Cruz – “You Can Make Life on the Road Dull, or You Can Make it Fun as Hell”Wednesday, 3rd June 2015
Dead Rhetoric: You recently completed a European tour with Amaranthe before hitting North America. Are the two bands pretty friendly with each other at this point? Any tour hijinks?
Parkkonen: During the last date of the European tour, we didn’t give them a break during their whole show.
Kuosmanen: We went on stage when they played. I wrapped myself up like a mummy with toilet paper. We also went on stage to have a picnic at one point.
Parkkonen: We were opening wine bottles and throwing fruit around.
Kuosmanen: Then I played Olof’s solo when I was wrapped in toilet paper.
Parkkonen: I also shaved Johan’s beard! The people in Poland must have thought, “What the fuck is this tour about?”
Dead Rhetoric: Are you worried about the possible revenge they could enact here in the United States?
Both: Bring it on!
Dead Rhetoric: So what are some of the hardest things that people need to understand about a band trying to build themselves up in today’s scene. It just seems like with social media and the fact that there are thousands of bands that are out there – it’s a little bit more difficult for a band to establish themselves. Do you find that is the case today in comparison to the bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s?
Kuosmanen: No, I think it’s easier if you know what to do. In the ‘80s you had a certain pattern: you had to get a record deal, then the record label had to put out a lot of money to get you in the magazines and on tour, then they had to promote the tour. Nowadays, you can do all of that by yourself. Everyone has a chance.
Parkkonen: I think that’s a good thing. But when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what you write on Facebook, it’s the songs that matter.
Kuosmanen: You have to have a quality product, then you have to know how to spread the word. You have a lot of tools nowadays, which is good.
Parkkonen: We have more tools now than other bands had 20 years ago. It was just flyers and posters, and word of mouth. If we were a band in Finland back in ’85, it would have been fucking hard to get out of the country. None of the bands did, except Hanoi Rocks. And they moved out of the country. It was a ballsy move though.
Kuosmanen: Even back when we started in 2007, there was just Myspace. Now there’s Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, or whatever. You have all kinds of tools. There’s a lot of artists that made it through those tools, without a record deal. That’s the coolest part for me.
Parkkonen: You can keep fans more updated than back in the days. They know what you are doing. Back in the days you had to buy a magazine and read about it, and it was already a couple months old. So nothing bad to say about Facebook.
Dead Rhetoric: I’m trying to figure this out by looking around the bus. Are you guys more beer drinkers or wine drinkers or whatever?
Parkkonen: Beer drinkers, but anything goes.
Kuosmanen: Anything goes, what the opportunity provides or what the venue gives us.
Parkkonen: That wine [gestures to a bottle] must have been bad, because it’s only half empty now. Amaranthe – they are the wine drinkers. We are the ones going “Yeah!” Drinking beer!
Dead Rhetoric: Have you checked out any of the US craft breweries or do you plan to?
Parkkonen: Last night we had the venue’s own IPAs.
Kuosmanen: Ram’s Head was the venue, and they had their own beer. The other one was Double IPA and it was really good, and it was 9%.
Parkkonen: We have already drank enough Bud Light so we wanted to explore new grounds.
Dead Rhetoric: I’m sure you were looking at the US alcohol and thinking it was weak compared to the alcohol content in Europe…
Parkkonen: Finnish beer is not that good really.
Kuosmanen: Finnish beer is fucking bad. We like American beer. Even Bud Light, it’s a party beer. You can drink 12 of them without getting bloated.
Parkkonen: Finland is more of a hard liquor country. Though the hard liquors are awful and taste like shit but we have to drink it. That’s what we have.
Kuosmanen: Finland is not an alcohol consumer’s paradise. If you do it for the taste, it’s not good. But if you do it to get drunk….
Parkkonen: You are in heaven.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve done a few videos for the new album. Do you have one that you particularly enjoy more than the rest?
Kuosmanen: I like “Wasted & Wounded.”
Parkkonen: It was the only video that was fun to make.
Kuosmanen: We had a bunch of hot chicks come in and throw a party. It was like having a good party and filming it.
Parkkonen: On the other hand, we did the “We Are the Ones to Fall” music video in an abandoned building. It was freezing cold and it took like 16 hours to do it. I was in my t-shirt and was like “is this over yet?”
Dead Rhetoric: You mention that when it comes to recording albums that you prefer the old-school analog method as opposed to the digital tools that are available today. How do you balance things out when it comes to a recording?
Kuosmanen: It’s not really up to me, because Johnny is the engineer dude in the band. He pretty much takes care of the tools.
Parkkonen: The last album was full of digital stuff. All of the old-school machines cost shitloads of money and they are really hard to get in Finland. There is probably like one recorder in all of Finland that works anymore.
Kuosmanen: I really hate the way that a lot of people make albums nowadays. Someone records the guitar track and it’s straight to Pro Tools in Zimbabwe. Then the vocals are recorded in Finland. That’s not how rock and roll should be made. A band should go to the studio, drink beer, and be creative together. That’s how classics are born.
Parkkonen: Not by cutting tracks with Pro Tools. You just hit every drum once and then you just pile up a beat. You can’t fucking do it that way.
Kuosmanen: Making music is too easy nowadays.
Dead Rhetoric: I think people forget about the human element that happens when you are recording together. How the different mistakes that end up happening that make a part of the song.
Parkkonen: Exactly. I think the songs need to have some sort of dirt on them, not a flawless product.
Kuosmanen: It lacks the “soul” if it’s too perfect.
Parkkonen: That’s why they have me in the band [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: So what’s the next step for Santa Cruz; where do you head from here?
Kuosmanen: We head back to our beautiful country of Finland and play a record release show in June. Then we are doing the summer festivals, which are really cool. You get to play your show, then you just enjoy the sunshine and party up – watch the other bands. Probably make some new songs here and there.
Parkkonen: Hopefully we’ll be touring until the end of the year and maybe even next year, start making the album. Somewhere in the summer?
Kuosmanen: I don’t want to be too hasty about it, I want to keep things stress free.
Parkkonen: Lots of gigs, because life on the road is good. It’s really easy – you wake up, you go eat a bagel, do some interviews and do the show.
Kuosmanen: Open up a beer, talk to some hot chicks. Go to the bus, drink some more beers and pass out in the bunk. Wake up and do it all again.
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