Tomi Julkunen – The Ragged Saints

MAtW – Hello, Saints! Welcome to Metal Around The World! It is a pleasure having you guys here!

Hi Cristina, and thanks, happy to be doing this. I believe lot of Romanians like old school hard rock music, am I right?

MAtW – You sure are! How is Camp Ragged Saints? Bring us up to speed on your second album?

We’re good, have been waiting for debut album release. Promotion for “The Sound Of Breaking Free” has just started so there’s all kinds of stuff going on.

All I can say about the second album at this stage is that we’ve started making demos of the new songs. Can’t say anything about the release date or even a year. It’s gonna be another great album, I’m sure about that.

MAtW – Congrats, the site / looks great… Any exclusive details regarding your second album that could be imparted?

Thanks, it’s designed by our singer Markku Kuikka with help of the guitarist Toni Bite. Guys did a great job, Markku actually set the whole thing up.

Like I said, not any real details about the second album yet. Well, I can say that one of the songs remind me of something out of Judas Priest Turbo album, another one reminds me of The Cult around Sonic Temple era and yet another song sound bit like Def Leppard. In the end it will all sound like The Ragged Saints though.

MAtW – Why ragged… Yet saints… What’s the story behind the band name?

It just seemed like a good name. We’re all a bit worse for wear I’d say haha I actually came up with the name. I really liked the word Saints and the word Ragged just came out of blue. I went to check out straight away in the internet if there’s a band by that name. Luckily enough, no one had that name yet. I also found out that there used to be a guy called Ragged Saint a long time ago, he was a saint for hobos, drifters and so on. What a great story I though, and how appropriate for us.

MAtW – Could you share some technical details regarding “The Sound Of Breaking Free”, your debut album.

All the gear we were using are the same gear we’re using live, simple meat and potatos kind of stuff. Nothing too fancy or complicated.

We recorded in two different studios; D-Studio and Hook UG Studios, both are near Helsinki. Record was mixed at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki.

MAtW – Any high points / low ones you would like to disclose?

None of the low points so far. Highest points would be the first show which went really well and the fact that we got the album done fairly quickly. I’m sure there will be many many great things ahead of us in the future.

MAtW – How did the collab with Nino Laurene go? Why Sonic Pump – for foreigner’s understanding?

Nino’s an old friend of mine so I knew that he’s overall great guy. He was our first choice for mixing as he’s fan of this type of melodic hard rock and of course he’re a real pro with impressive CV. He did an excellent job and made the album sound great. He also did some arranging while mixing the album. Sonic Pump is Nino’s own studio and definitely the best for hard rock and heavy music in Finland. Highly recommend it to anyone who’s planning on recording in Helsinki. And best of all, it’s only five minutes walk from my apartment hah!

MAtW – Any other credits you would like to add? (Artwork, mix, other credits)

The album artwork was painted by Mario E. López, and layout done by Esa Mark. Like stated in the previous question the album was mixed by Nino Laurenne, and mastered by Svante Forsbäck at Charmakers. That’s a great bunch of guys and I can’t thank them enough. Probably going to do the second album with the same team.

MAtW – How was your live show debut like? Knowing that a first marks for good?

Much more people in the audience than I though there would be. I was quite nervous before hand but the whole show went really smoothly and well. We we’re well rehearsed so there wasn’t too many bum notes. After the show I was convinced that we have a really good thing going with The Ragged Saints.

MAtW – What was the atmosphere while writing the album?

Music was written by me and Toni. It all came together very fast, it took about 2 months to get together 16 songs. Markku came up with melodies and me and Markku wrote all the lyrics in about a month or two. So I’d say it was relaxed and stress free. Just like it always should be, music should be fun not something stressfull.

MAtW – Just how much freedom is there when it comes to writing a song? Each member’s input, spin, interpretation, etc.?

As long it’s hard rock anything goes. Good song is a good song no matter who writes it. But it has to be within hard rock genre. Each member have input in the studio and with the second album I’m sure everyone will be even more involved. I think we’re using the same method as with first album, me and Toni write the music first, then Markku can start with melodies. It seemed to work well so I don’t see any reasons why we should change the formula. Too much overproduced music floating around anyway, so we try not to analyze too much what we’re doing.

MAtW – Did the overall excitement surpass the expectations? Or the otherway around?

Definitely surpassed the expectation, we didn’t really know what to expect so every good thing that happens is an added bonus. We do what we like and when other people like it too its great.

MAtW – Would you say that the band formed rather as a well thought decision or was it more of an impulse / fun oriented project turned serious?

It was an impulse. I was complaining on Facebook that I don’t have enough things to do music wise so Toni send me a message and asked if I wanted to write and record couple of songs with him just for fun. We didn’t think about forming a new band or even making a full album. So it wasn’t really planned at all. The whole thing just happened and all of a sudden we had a band. Which of course is great!

MAtW – Any other side projects you guys are involved in?

Everybody is involved at least with one other project. I’m in a band called The Milestones, Toni has a band called Valo who sing in Finnish, Miikki is with V for Violence, Markku has few projects; for example Status Minor and Kenziner and Jukka has Adamantra and Epicrenel.

MAtW – Any new shows lined up so far?

We haven’t booked many gigs yet but hope we will as soon as the album is out in the shops. We have one at Merirock on October 19 with couple of other bands, and record release show on October 25. Both shows are in Finland. I’m looking forward to our first shows outside Finland some time next year

MAtW – Describe each Raggedy Five. As a band colleague and friend.

Miikki – he’s a solid player, loves to take care of his body and lift weights. Youngest of the band. Probably the sickest sense of humor out of all of us.

Markku – he’s a bit of a computer geek, absolutely loves singing and is involved in many different musical projects. I’d say he’s the most sensible and reasonable one in the band.

Jukka – always has chocolate at rehearsals, laught a lot and tells funny stories. He’s involved in many different musical projects as well.

Toni – my songwriting partner and closest one in the band. He’s always having small accidents for some reason, hard luck man in that sense. Sometimes I have to jokingly remind him to take it easy so he won’t injure himself.

MAtW – Just how fun was recording the album?

It was great fun, pretty much stress free as we were not in the studio all the time. We did recording here and there whenever we had time. So it wasn’t the case where we had to keep checking the watch and panic about running out of time. Atmosphere was relaxed.

MAtW – Name some musical extremes within the band.

Do you mean in musical tastes? I’d say Miikki loves the heaviest music and keeps up with new bands and music. I’m more into old school classic rock and hard rock and even soft rock bands like Fleetwood Mac. Some of the guys like powermetal and more progressive stuff. Nothing too extreme like Norwegian black metal or anything like that.

MAtW – What is your claim to fame?

I think our claim to fame is the honesty and the-guys-next-door feel in our music. We really don’t think about writing hits and what sells. As long as we like the songs it’s all good. First of all we do music for ourselves, and it’s great to see that lot of people like what we’re doing. No gimmicks, just five guys who love the 80’s hard rock.

MAtW – Could we expect an official video?

Yes, we will shoot our first official music video later this month so it will be good to go before the album release on October 25th.

MAtW – How did the album title come about?

The album is named after one of the faster songs. No one else has the same title which is really cool. Hard to come up with anything original these days. It just seemed really cool name, this is our sound, our sound of breaking free kind of thing.

MAtW – What are the challenges of taking this particular musical approach?

The biggest challenge is not to copy older/original bands from this genre too much. There has to be at least some originality, otherwise there’s no really point doing this. I don’t want to name any names but most of the bands in this particular hard rock genre sound like a cheap copy of the 80’s bands.

MAtW – What should we expect on your next album music wise? Planning on changing the clean, melodic, classic rock approach?

Can’t really tell yet but we won’t steer too much from our classic hard rock sound. This is what we do, and this is how it’s gonna be. I don’t personally like it if my favourite bands try too hard to follow trends. That’s what happended a lot in the 90’s and most of the bands just lost their identity. I like bands that stick to their own style. Like AC/DC or Motorhead, I’m sure they don’t think about changing their musical style from album to album.

MAtW – Are you ready to keep up with your ideas as they emerge? Record or memorize each idea?

I’m coming up with new ideas all the time so I try to put all the ideas down on a small hand held recorder. I just recently started doing demos at home using Garage band. I’m glad I did as it makes everything much more easier and it’s easier to come up with lot of ideas with as many track as you like.

MAtW – What are your musical priorities both as a band and as individuals? Just how much they coincide?

We’re all on the same page musically in a sense that we know what The Ragged Saints should sound like and what works for this particular band. We all have our own personal tastes but we all agree on what this band is all about. All the other musical stuff can be done in various other projects.

MAtW – How did the Rockstone collab come about?

I guess they heard our three song promo CD and got in touch with us. Samu, the owner wanted to book us shows straight away but we had to decline as we didn’t have enough time to rehearse our live set at first. Now we’re officially one of the Rockstone Agency band and I’m really looking forward to working with them. They are as excited about The Ragged Saints as we are and that usually helps the working relationship.

MAtW – Please tell us how you started working with Power Prog and ended releasing “The Sound Of Breaking Free”?

We sent them our promo CD last spring. They send us a message asking is it possible to hear the whole album as they like the songs on the promo. The owner Götz Morgenschweis said that he really liked what he heard but wasn’t sure about all of the songs. So he declined at that time. Couple of months later he sent me email and asked how’t things with the band and stuff. I told him about the offers we had got so far. I’m sure it took less than ten minutes and he send us his offer. He told me that our album was the one he kept going back to and it kind of kept coming back to his mind. We though pretty much straigth away that Power Prog had the best deal for us and most of all, Götz seemed to be a proper guy as well and a great person to work with. So, that’s the story and here we are now, only a few weeks away from the release.

MAtW – Quote: “What would you do if you had lots of spare time and great musician friends around you”. Does / did this statement have any down sides? (do you feel sorry about any decisions you have taken?)

Nope, I don’t think it has any downsides. It’s opposite, it’s easier to work as a group when you know people around you. No regrets about it at all.

MAtW – Thank you so much for this conversation! Looking forward to a live actual dialogue!

Thank you, I hope that you get to hear us live some time soon in Romania and please do buy the album once it’s released on October 25th!

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