The Ragged Saints seem to be the new Hard Rock Sensation Finland has to offer these days. Their debut album is not even released yet, they already climb to Nr. 3 of the Heavy Best Sellers of Finland´s biggest record store Levykauppa Äx. Five guys gifted with awesome musical talent and songwriting skills. They seem to have it all to get lots of exposure. We talked with the very likeable band founder Tomi Jalkunen about the band, himself and – his mom…
Hey Tomi, how is it going? You are preparing for a show on a cruise ship at Merirock Vol.2. Is this something special compared to playing on a normal club stage or the same? You shouldn’t suffer from sea sickness, I guess?
Hey there, I´m very good, thanks, album is out in a few days so I couldn’t be happier. Thank fuck I don´t suffer from sea sickness, don´t know about the other guys though. That could make the gig pretty interesting if one or two of us couldn´t stand being on the boat. Puke flying everywhere. Merirock show will be a bit shorter than our usual set. This time we´ll be playing only 30 minutes. But that´s ok, we will have enough time to play 7 songs. No banter or fooling around between songs, just playing.
When did the idea came up to form The Ragged Saints? Was it your idea to form the band? And how did the members come into the band?
The idea came up after I complained in Facebook that I don´t have enough things to do and I´m bored. That was in November 2011. Toni send me a message that maybe we could write a couple of hard rock songs just for fun and put them to the internet without any record company or anything like that. We met up to talk about songs, who could be involved and so on. If I remember right, Toni basically booked the studio the next day just to make sure that the whole thing goes forward.
Toni knew Jukka and suggested that he could play the bass for the songs. Toni was also friends with Tonmi Lillman and he was supposed to play the drums. Unfortunately he passed away only few days before we were going to studio. The guys who owned the studio knew Miikki and that´s how he ended up playing the drums. He only had a day or two to learn 16 songs. I also knew about Miikki but hadn´t met him in person. Markku had done a vocal session for one of Jukka´s projects, so that´s how we found out about Markku. So as it goes, someone knew someone who knew someone.
So on Facebook you said you had lot of free time, are you those kind of musicians who are blessed to live from the music you are doing? Or was it more like a excuse to escape from home after work to have a couple of beers with friends?
Unfortunately we have to have day jobs to pay the bills. Don´t get me wrong, I´m grateful to have a job as lot of people are unemployed at the moment. But if I had a chance to earn a living just playing the music I love, I would quit in a heartbeat. Playing guitar is what I enjoy the most.
As an excuse for drinking beer this is completely opposite. I quit drinking a few months before we formed the band. That´s why I had so much spare time and fuck all to do and wanted to play more. If I was still boozing like I used to, there would be no The Ragged Saints, that´s for sure. Partying wise I’m a very boring guy to hang around with these days heh!
You all have been working in different kind of bands and projects before, can you tell us a bit more where the members have been involved before, for the people who are not familiar with you guys?
My other band is called The Milestones. We´ve been together for 19 years and are just about to release another album. Toni has been in a band called Million Dollar Beggars and Twilight Ophera, and now he´s in band called VALO who sing in Finnish. Miikki plays in a band called V for Violence. He also did gigs with Cold Cold Ground as a percussionist. Jukka has Adamantra and Epicrenel and Markku has Kenziner and Status Minor.All the other bands are very different from The Ragged Saints
Your record “The Sound of Breaking Free” already is Nr.3 on Heavy Best Sellers list of Levykauppa Äx even before the release, what do you think about it? Looks quite promising, I’d say!
That was big fucking surprise I have to say. None of mine or other guys´ bands have ever been in any sort of sales charts. It made me really happy and thankful, at least someone else has ordered it besides me hah! It would be cool to get the record on official top 40 or whatever chart in Finland. That would be totally unexpected.
Let’s talk a bit about the upcoming debut-album “The Sound of Breaking Free”, who was responsible for the songwriting? Is that something you do together or just one of you?
The music was written by me and Toni. Some songs were written by me and some by Toni and couple of songs we wrote together. Markku pretty much came up with all the vocal melodies. For the first time I wrote lyrics too, I´ve never done that before. Half of the lyrics were written by Markku. Our producer Harri Petjakko helped us a lot with arrangements
People seem to expect a lot from that record, are you nervous about the fact that you might not fulfill all expectations?
Not at all, as I´ve said before we did this album for ourselves. It´s great if other people like it too, but in the end of the day we´re pleased with what we´ve done. I have a hunch though that if this album sells well and we get lot of fans, it will put on a pressure for album number two. But it´s ok, I don´t mind working under bit of a pressure.
Did you record the whole record at Sonic Pump Studios or was only the mixing done there and the rest recorded by yourselves?
Only mixing was done in Sonic Pump. All the drums and some of the guitars and bass were recorded in D-Studio which is cool studio on a country side. Rest of the guitars and all the vocals were recorded in a smaller rehearsal studio. I would love to make a whole record in Sonic Pump though. It´s only 5 minutes walk from my apartment so that would be handy.
“The Sound of Breaking Free” contains 11 tracks which one of those would you say represents the band best?
The Sound Of Breaking Free, Don´t Let Me Go and I’ll Never Give Up On Love. Even though all three are different from each other I’d say they contain all the elements that make up The Ragged Saints sound.
Do you have plans for a video for any of the songs?
Yes, we were supposed to shoot a video last weekend, but the place where we wanted to shoot it was booked. We’re still trying to get to shoot in that place, so we have to wait a bit. It´s quite challenging to come up with a schedule that is ok for everyone involved; guys in a band, video crew and so on. But yeah, video is coming in the near future. It´s still the best way to promote the band to wider audience, especially in the age of youtube.
Who came up with the idea of the front cover? And who is responsible for that painting?
I´m not even sure who came up with the idea. As you probably remember there was a tiger on the cover of our promo CD. That was pretty cool idea so we wanted to have something similar on the album cover, like “a roaring tiger is the sound of breaking free” kind of thing. It was probably Toni who came up with the rock chick idea. The cover was especially painted for us by Mario E. Lopez. He´s a great artist from South America and has done lot of album covers and portraits.
Finland has a huge amount of new bands that come up every day, so that it is hard to keep the overview, but it seems you guys got already a lot of interest from people, what do you think distinguishes you guys from other bands in Finland?
It’s kind of difficult to tell what makes us stand out but I don´t think there´s any other band in Finland that sound like us. There´s something in our songs that makes us sound different from every other Finnish hard rock band. We all have been around for so long with our other bands, so it’s easier to get recognition. There are already at least some people who are interested in what we’re doing and they’re telling their friends about us.
So the new record will be released in the end of October, what are the plans for the rest of the year?
The plan is to shoot the before mentioned video, book more shows and start planning gigs abroad for next year. We will also prepare the songs for the second album. There’s lot of song writing going on already. We don´t wanna make just one great album and then release one or two half decent ones and just disappear.
So then last but not least: What question would you like to be asked in an interview you have never been asked before?
Hmm, I think this is quite amusing: Who was your biggest celebrity crush when you were a teenager and how did it affect you? The answer: Bass player from Vixen. I saw them on Finnish television back in 1988 and because she was so hot, from that day on I was determined to become a better song writer, huge rock and roll star and learn English language properly. Mind you, I was 14 years old. Well, I´m better song writer now I think and can form few sentences in English. About becoming a rockstar; I guess to my mom I´ll always be the biggest rockstar there ever was. That´s good enough for me.
Thanks a lot for your time and all the best
More information : https://www.facebook.com/theraggedsaints?fref=ts
“The Sound of Breaking Free” is available at http://www.levykauppax.fi/artist/ragged_saints/sound_of_breaking_free/#cd
Photos by Petri Vilén