An Interview with
Frontman of Helsinki Rock band, Stala & So & previously the drummer of those Hard Rockin' Monsters, Lordi that took place at Corporation, Sheffield on Friday, 16th March 2012.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan
Glenn: What influenced you to become a singer?
Stala: As a singer, my 1st choice would obviously be Paul Stanley - I am huge Kiss fan. Then also David Coverdale, Sebastian Bach, Robert Plant - those are the singers that I am looking up to and learn so much just listening to their albums. I pretty much like every singer that has a unique voice. But let's Davy Vain for example - immediately in a record you can hear.. you go 'Ah - this is Davy Vain who's singing. That's always a good thing.
Glenn: It's not just the sound - it's the style as well.
Stala: Yeah. Definately - so that's always what I've tried to achieve is having my own sound so everyone can recognise. Now it's really kinda like funny when I've been doing band like a solo kinda like.. like now I'm the singer and now people are like hearing my backing vocals when I was in Lordi. I sang all the backing vocals for their albums. A lot of people went, "Oh it's you! Now we can hear the sound", because it has been there already but it was kinda like I was like a kind of hidden secret when I was in Lordi because nobody really knew who was singing those.
Glenn: You mean the really high ones?
Glenn: I always thought it was the female - the keyboard player who was doing all the high ones and it was you.
Stala: Yeah. Many thought that. I did it all studio-wise - I sang all the backing vocals.
Glenn: So do you actually keep in contact with those guys?
Stala: Yeah - Mr. Lordi and me - we are still calling each other. Here and then - Yep.
Glenn: Were you on stage for a lot of the gigs or were you just the guy in the studio? When they toured were you one of the guys in the costumes?
Stala: Yeah, yeah.
Glenn: Which Monster were you?
Stala: I was the drummer. The guy who came after me - he just died.
Glenn: Yeah because I was saying to a mate that it can't be the drummer because he passed away.
Stala: Yeah - I was the original. I was there 10 years. I left a year and a half ago.
Glenn: How did you become a member of Lordi? Were you all friends (previously)?
Stala: Well obviously I was and I still am a huge Kiss fan and then Mr. Lordi also - he's a huge Kiss fan, so we got to know (each other). It was this Kiss Expo, coming from Helsinki to Stockholm. It was '96 and we were going to see Kiss there on the reunion tour and then we became friends and he had his own band. I had called 'So' and and still the same guys are playing with me tonight. So we were telling stories and at one point he was looking for a drummer because they never had a drummer - it was just kinda like a studio projects only. I thought, 'Great I'm an ex-drummer', I used to play drums and I was like, "Great, let's try this", and the rest was history.
Glenn: That must have been amazing when you won the Eurovision Song Contest?
Stala: Yeah it was fun times and obviously when you're inside in that hurricane you can't realise. You just live day after day of your life. But of course it was like so much fun - it's a lot of fond memories but it's already like seven years ago.
Glenn: It's a long time.
Glenn: What was it like when you were encased in that costume? That must have been so hot. Were you just engulfed in fans?
Stala: Yeah it was and the fans didn't really help that much because it was full of like rubber. But that was the name of the game. It's no need to complain. It was hell - it wasn't nice to wear it but that was the whole thing. Of course being a drummer and looking like that, I can't play like a jazz drummer. I need to play like a f*ck*ng monster and my hands should be like windmills you know?
Stala: So of course that was really hard but you get used to it so it's no problem.
Glenn: I guess you prefer being a frontman then?
Stala: Yeah but I've always been a singer..
Stala: And a songwriter and in Lordi, the only places I could sing was (in) the studio and then after a couple of my songs in Lordi albums as a a songwriter, it's kinda like this band (Stala & So) is my baby. I was in Lordi ten years already so it's kinda like done and been there. It was kinda like last chance for me to try this on my own otherwise I would be sorry. So of course I have an amazing band. All these guys are my best buddies and we've been doing this band with Nick, who also used to play in Lordi - he was bass player. He actually plays the bass on 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' if you listen to the album. But we've had this band since the late 90's already so it was just an obvious choice to.. okay now is the time to try to do this band, now we have that because when we are 50 or 60 years old then it's too late.
Glenn: Yeah - well when you can tell your Grandkids that you actually won Eurovision and done stuff like that it's pretty intense.
Stala: Yeah - I don't think about it much you know?
Glenn: I guess it's people get it from an outide point of view.
Stala: Yeah that's basically everytime because of all the, "How was that?". It was a gig.
Glenn: It's just another gig.
Stala: And I remember when everyone was kinda like texting me and going, "Hey there's a huge party in Finland and everyone is so happy", and I was like, "Oh god-damn I missed the party because I'm working", because I couldn't be at the party in Finland because I was working at the same time because I was playing so.. but yeah, but like I said it's over 7 years ago that happened..
Glenn: And a lot has happened since then.
Stala: Yeah. After that we toured the world a couple of times and we went to New Zealand. We toured with Ozzy Osbourne in America and took a lot. But now it's time for me have some new challenges here and this has been a dream come true to tour europe with my own band and so far we've had so much fun.
Glenn: What highlights have you had so far on this tour?
Stala: Well we are pretty early - this was the fourth show. We started... it was in this festival in Germany called 'Shout It Out Loud' and we were there with Vain as well but Hardcore Superstar was the headliner and then there was Tuff/Shameless and Dangerous Toys. That was fun because that was a big arena. That was like this bands 1st arena show. it was really much, so much fun. Of course being in England because obviously I'm a big Hanoi Rocks fan as well and I remember watching those old videos when they started their career in England and when they started to tour clubs like these and there were maybe like 7 people and a dog in the audience and they started from nothing and (look) what they've become. Actually, funny thing is, is that I know the ex-drummer from Hanoi Rocks, Lacu and his wife's just text me that they met actually at this very same club.
Glenn: I was there that night.
Stala: So that means lots as well. We are kinda like following Hanoi Rocks footsteps in our own humble way.
Glenn: So you've got your new album out. What have been the hightlights recording the new album? What are your favourite songs on it and why?
Stala: You mean our debut album? Well obviously this band has been there for so long so we had lots of songs from there to pick.
Stala: But over the years we find the ones that we like and the fans like. But you know, 'Pamela' is one of those because it's one of the newests that we wrote like a couple of years ago. I know its like many people say, that it's like choosing which one of your children is your best.
Glenn: That's the one.
Stala: But I prety much like all those songs. Some of them are like nicer to listen to and some of them are nice to play live. It depends on the energy. But maybe you know, 'Pamela', 'Everything For Money' - they are really nice to play live.
Stala: But then of course you know, 'Spring Romance' I still like. They are really kind of emotional. There's a little bit like lyric-wise, there is maybe more like me in those lyrics.
Glenn: I understand from Davy that you did a little promotional tour with him.
Glenn: How was that?
Stala: That was fun. We had some record shops. We went there with acoustic guitars and just played a couple of songs for the fans so that was very much fun. We basically, we drove Germany, here and there and back and me, our guitar player Sami and Davy. It was fun and actually that was nice because we got to know Davy and that was when we had this idea ok. We should do this European Tour together and here we are.
Glenn: Yeah because both bands are different but you both compliment each other as well. It works.
Stala: Yeah but basically we have the same audience so for us it's kinda like a dream come true because we have exactly the right audience for us for example, the music the DJ's are playing for eample.. yesterday we played in Cardiff, so the whole night the DJ was playing the songs of Poison, Motley Crue, Kiss, WASP, Twisted Sister and again I went to my band members and I was like, "I have every song that you hear this evening - I have this on my 'load - this album or whatever", and the audience was in this city right here - they were melodic hard rock so that's a match made in heaven.
Glenn: Who is Pamela and where did the influence come from to write a song called 'Pamela'?
Stala: Well lots of people have asked me and I've always given a different answer. (We laugh) It's just a name that sounds good for the song. At first when I started to do that song the work name was actually 'Panama' just like the Van Halen song (sings the riff of 'Pamela) and then I was like, "I can't do a song called Panama because.. you know..", even though Toto has a song called 'Pamela' but I though that songs kinda cool and of course there's like Pamela Anderson for example so you can always imagine or whatever. We just have the name that sounds kinda cool for the song.
Glenn: Yeah. How long did it take to record the album and where did you record it?
Stala: Well basically I did it by myself pretty much. I have my own studio and we were gonna leave it like over a year. We started like... at first I started to do it as like a solo album but then when the guys came it turned into this band album. So basically we just started to do it with two songs at first and check to how things were going on and little by little.
Then I had lots of like guest musicians on that 1st album like the ex-member from Hanoi Rocks for example plays there and it was kinda like a set up for me to see if I could do it. I'm really happy that we did it. Then also when we released the 'Gimme 5' E.P. - that's then more like a band but those were also like old songs that couldn't fit the album but we wanted to do those because a couple of those I liked.
Now we have of course new challenges - when we are going back from this tour we start to write the material for the new album and actually we have this big Producer, Beau Hill who did Warrant and Ratt. So actually he just just sent me.. he remixed 'Pamela' and I just got it. When he heard the song he e-mailed me and he was like, "Okay, I really want to remix this for a modern market", so let's see what will happen. So we are living in interesting times here so I hope that we can do some work together.
Glenn: So I might see you at a gig in LA some time?
Stala: Yeah. Well of course, you know?
Stala: That's the goal.
Glenn: Awesome. So how did he get to hear it?
Stala: He heard our song 'Pamela' on a radio station or whatever and then he e-mailed us. Like, "I really want to work with you guys - this is awesome", and that's pretty fine because in the 1st riff, the opening riff, there's lots of influences of Ratt for example and now it is funny that he picked that song. Maybe he found some old stuff so.. That's cool. When I read the mail, I was like, "What the hell!' because obviously I read it almost immediately (thinking), 'Who is this guy?', because like Warrant's 'Cherry Pie' is one of the greatest hard rock albums and I'm a huge Ratt fan and also the 1st two Winger albums as well so that's a great opportunity for us.
Glenn: Nice one. Have you got many songs that you have got together yet for the new album?
Stala: We released the first song already in Finland like 2 weeks ago called 'Life Goes On' and that's all that's finished so far. The rest of the songs are only like demoed but we wanted to do one song and see what'll happen with that and I guess Beau is gonna bring me stuff as well for the album at least. We will just have to see but we hope it will be out at the end of this year so of course we will have to so. Also, one thing , we would like to release like everywhere at the world at the same time because right now we don't have a record deal in America at all. We have like Europe and Japan. So that depends. So there's many question marks still but...
Glenn: I guess Beau could probably like put in a word?
Stala: Yeah I wish. I think there might be some help from that direction - so hopefully.
Glenn: Yeah that's pretty good.
Glenn: So your aspirations are to make it as a big band?
Stala: Of course. The sky is the limit but then of course you have to be realistic. I mean like nowadays the album doesn't sell that way anymore and the only thing that I would like to do... I would like to do this and get enough money so I could do this.
Glenn: Yeah - just keep going?
Stala: Yeah because it's really expensive to work for example so that you will get that much money so you can afford to do it - so that's basically the only thing that I hope for. Anything else is just trust.
Glenn: What do you like doing outside music? Do you have certain hobbies that you enjoy as well?
Stala: Well this is basically music like 24/7. Sometimes drinking beer with my buddies or playing on my playstation and that's all. (We laugh) Yeah basically I live and breath music.
Glenn: We all do really.
Stala: Yeah that was something that I wanted to do as a kid and that became an obsession for me and now I'm finally here so I can't complain.
Glenn: Nice one and if you can do that you'll be happy.
Stala: Of course.
Glenn: Are there certian things you are proud of so far in your musical career?
Stala: Ah well there's lots of moments - lots of moments of course. Having the 1st Gold Record with Lordi. Obviously winning the Eurovision, you know touring with Ozzy, touring with Type O Negative, playing at the same festival with Kiss and Alice Cooper - stuff liike that. Meeting my heros, having a beer with Sebastian Bach.
Glenn: Yeah Seb's a nice guy.
Stala: Yeah he's a great guy and hanging out with guys in Twisted Sister. Those moments - they're like just f*ck*n' awesome. I never even dare to imagine stuff like that and hopefully there's more to come.
Glenn: Sounds good. That's a wrap. We've talked about plenty of things there Sir!
Stala: It's a wrap. That's cool.
A big thankyou to Stala for a brilliant show and Interview, Pate Vaughn from Stala & So for taking the photos of me and Stala, Davy Vain for having the band on tour with Vain, DJ Mutley & the staff @ Corporation, Sheffield