The Finnish classic hard rockers MoonMadness (Heidi Bergbacka - vocals, Otto Hallamaa - guitars, Juha Leppäharju - bass, Antto Nikolai - drums, Turkka Vuorinen - keyboards) supported Yngwie Malmsteen in Tampere, Finland, in December, and RockUnited caught a few members before the show for an interview. The members present enlightening their fans with answers were Otto, Heidi and Turkka, and being in a humourous mood the interview took some lighter turns.
MoonMadness started forming in early nineties, and the members have musical background even before this. The band formed through friends and music circles, and Otto and Juha had been playing together for years already. Turkka joined MM after leaving Dreamtale and Heidi filled the space left by former singer Satu quite soon in the end of year 2006. A new drummer also joined the band earlier. Antto was familiar already from the music circles. MM has a sound that could easily be compared to the classic rock bands such as Rainbow, Malmsteen and the likes, and while being fans of those bands, the members listen to other styles as well.
Otto - Deep Purple and Sonata Arctica are good. I like all those melodic bands, and anything good.
Turkka - I like movie soundtracks, Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, the classical eighties, and of course similar stuff to Deep Purple.
Heidi - I don't have any particular bands. I must give credit to Malmsteen though for having such a long career, but his music doesn't touch me personally.
ROLLS ROYCE BABIES
MoonMadness aims to play music, that has an old sound and is played and composed well. Eventhough one could position Otto as the leader of the band, he doesn't think of it much that way. When asked about the age gap between the band members (Otto has been playing since '80's and Turkka is the youngest member), Otto thought "some have gained more miles". So, Otto must be a Rolls Royce and the rest are Ladas?
Otto - These guys are still Rolls Royce babies (referring to Heidi and Turkka). And Turkka just turned seventeen...(laughs).
Although using the moon-title, which is quite used in many contexts, it is still a catchy word.
Otto - Yes, and the moon effects every person in some level, it addresses everyone.
The members of the band aren't mad in real life, though maybe just a little moon mad in a healthy way. The good thing about the name is you can shorten it to MM, meaning of course "Mmm...Marabou"...the band laughs hard to the joke.
Heidi - We're "so good it can't be said".
And that slogan, readers, is taken straight from a Finnish commercial. But we're not getting paid from advertising sweets, so let's continue with the interview. MoonMadness doesn't have much gigs in their sleeves, and Heidi was in the hottest spot for joining the band so late.
Otto - She had to start gigging immediately.
Drummer Antto joined the band before her.
Otto - He's a professional, who joined the band in the end of 2005, when we already had our songs together. Our earlier drummer joined the band when he heard our songs, and earlier, while we were doing our photoshoot, he asked what the band's called.
A funny case, as they didn't have the name thought out at that point. Although Antto is a professional, who's studied in music university, works in studios and being musical otherwise, he still has quite the same taste in music as the other members.
Otto - Pretty much the same bands. He likes Kiss a lot, and you can hear those influences from his playing, but we can live with that (laughs).
A DEBUT OUT THIS SPRING
The band has gained positive feedback to their releases from various medias, and it was great to receive it.
Otto - I was kind of afraid to get reviews saying we're ok, which is worse than having someone telling you straight that you suck. Someone who's been listening to say power metal might categorize us to the same genre as Stratovarius, and those who've been listening to older material of course think we sound older. There was this Japanese magazine that had it's good points, and they referred us to Stratovarius and Rainbow. We've heard stories, that female-fronted bands don't do well in Japan. Nightwish for example hasn't gained much success there, but if it was an all-female band, it would do well there.
MM is about to release their first full-length this spring, but are still shopping for a record deal abroad.
Otto - This release is completely our work, but we're aiming for a deal abroad.
MM has been working in the studio since August last year. The band works with a firm touch and slowly, just like Def Leppard, except that they run out of money sooner.
Otto - And then there's the schedules. That's why our promo also featured only one own song.
Turkka - While waiting to win the lottery...the artist pays! (more Finnish humour)
And what might the album offer then?
Turkka - We've got this live attitude, but of course some things are fixed. There's something for everybody, but of course nothing too heavy. We might have some guests as background singers and stuff, but nothing spectacular, like solos and so on. It's all quite basic rock attitude.
The album will feature ten songs. MM is a band that forms their songs through experiments, and this band has a lot of ideas coming from anywhere. They also count on the entertaining side, so their lyrics don't rely on any specific important messages to the listener.
Turkka - This isn't like some oppressed metal, it's based on entertaining and relaxed atmosphere.
Heidi - The lyrics have a different meaning to everyone.
Turkka - The album will be about 45 minutes in length.
Otto - The quality isn't replaced by quantity.
MM comes from Tampere, and since Helsinki has been the hotbed for metal bands for years now, it might be easy to think that bands coming from outside that area have difficulties getting a record deal.
Turkka - I never even thought about that.
Otto - I never thought about it like that either.
Some of you might not know, but Tampere does offer strong bands just like Helsinki. MoonMadness has a favourite also.
Heidi - Masterstroke.
Turkka - Of course, we're friends with them. Another good band is Mess.
That's the band featuring members from Stratovarius, Tarot and other professionals.
SUPPORTING YNGWIE MALMSTEEN
Tonight the spotlight was on the support slot for guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen, which felt great for such a new band as MoonMadness.
Otto - Yes, it's really great.
Turkka - And playing to a full house.
Otto actually has the same guitar as Malmsteen. There's been jokes flying around about it.
Turkka - And just how much?! Otto has to take a battle of the axes with Yngwie.
Otto - I wouldn't go trying that.
He wasn't yet sure, whether he went on stage with the same model or his black guitar, but both were seen on stage. But what other similarities do the guitarists share?
Otto - Probably the same idols. But everyone has an own sound, although certain similarities can be found.
MoonMadness doesn't play coversongs at their own shows. If they desire to do that, they'll just go and play in a cover band. The band is now waiting to get a lot of shows. Here's their advices to beginning bands;
Otto - You have to be persistent.
Turkka - Don't give up, if you don't get response immediately. The most important thing is you get a chance to play. It's ok to just play for fun in a basement. The amount of work in this business is huge compared to the benefits.
Heidi - You have to set goals for yourself.
Finally, the band wants our readers to take care of their friends. Read more about their show with Malmsteen from Live On Stage; More Xmas Rocking! and stay tuned for the debut.
Interview by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com
22 February 2007