Heart of Steel: Interviews

poison arrow

Jukka Kyrö of Poison Arrow Records
Interview By Luxi Lahtinen

First off, it´s always good to see a new metal oriented label popping up from amongst the Finnish record companies, especially when a label´s main focus is on my favorite genre of metal, old-school Thrash and Death Metal.

Poison Arrow Records, located in the north of Finland, Oulu, is a recently formed record label in Finland, founded by Jukka Kyrö (also in Burning Point and National Napalm Syndicate) who isn´t just an experienced musician, but has also been in the label business before (Mastervox Records). The first three signings on Poison Arrow Records; Sacred Crucifix, Perfect Chaos and N.N.S are just perfect examples of the label´s dedication to the old-school Thrash and Death Metal bands. I really do hope  their releases will be available everywhere for every old-school death-thrasher in the future.

I had a pleasure to talk with Jukka Kyrö, and he reveals more about his thoughts and ideas toward the label and the music business. So, brothers and sisters of old-school metal, please keep on reading...


 

What the main reasons for starting your own label? Did you think there isn't a label in Finland at the moment that could hold the candle for some real Thrash/Death Metal bands - the kind of bands that differ from the current mass of a mainstream sound?

That’s exactly what I’m after. I know it’s not the best business decision in the world to start a label and release old-school Thrash/Death Metal, but that’s the music I like to listen to most. And I know there’s quite a lot of metalheads who think and feel the same! And I have had this idea for a long, long time. The Finnish label situation is actually better than ever at the moment. Things are definitely looking good nowadays.

 

 

National Napalm SyndicateYou have already signed three bands for Poison Arrow; Perfect Chaos, Sacred Crucifix and last but not least, National Napalm Syndicate, which is the first serious metal band you started as a band member. How did you end up signing  the three aforementioned bands for the label?

Well, I was working already with both Perfect Chaos and Sacred Crucifix, helping out with promotion and trying to get the bands signed. Both received offers, but the deals weren’t that great. It was pretty much clear from the start that we would start to work with both Sacred Crucifix and Perfect Chaos when the label was formed. With National Napalm Syndicate I wanted to keep the total control on everything, we’d been fucked so many times in the past that it seemed to be best to do everything ourselves, so we decided to make the album with Poison Arrow. If we fuck up this time at least we know who did it!

Poisonarrow_NNS.jpg (40750 bytes)

 

 

What kind of contacts do you mainly offer to your bands? Are they all one or two album contracts, or do you work out different contracts depending on which bands you are talking with?

I tried to make everything as smooth as possible for everyone. The deals are usually for two or three albums as I don’t want to be with one of those labels that sign a band for 7 albums and fuck up the possibilities for a band that eventually could have a possibility to go forward with a bigger label. Of course if a band is happy and we are working great together we can extend the contract.

 

 

Is there any kind of specific label profile you kind of want to build up with Poison Arrow Records? Could it be similar to what French Listenable Records is doing; signing bands that basically differ from the mainstream sound? Musically, bands that are not that well-known in the extreme metal scene at the moment (except Immolation), but still are damn talented at what they do

Yeah, that’s the basic idea. There’s so many good bands for example here in Finland that don’t get any attention or label interest because they don’t sound “gothic enough” or don’t fit into a flavor of the month category. In the past I have worked with one other Finnish label and the whole thing sucked. The reason was that they didn’t want to listen to what the bands had to say and they were after to become “the next Limp Bizkit” or whatever…

 

 

Do you try to focus on specific metal genres, or do you want to keep your mind open for any potential groups that grab your attention, no matter what genre they come from or what style they represent musically?

I will stick with music I know the best, Thrash/Death - and classic Heavy Metal. I believe that I can do better job with the bands if I love the music they are playing. Of course I will keep my eyes open for new things, but at the moment Poison Arrow is a real metal label, no rapping or scratching…

 

 

Your label has been around less than two months. How do you find bands for Poison Arrow Records? Has your label been getting recognized by bands already?

Sure, bands hear about these things pretty soon from somewhere, but I haven’t received a lot of demos yet. The bands that I have now signed are all old favorites of mine, our roads have crossed many times over the years. I called the guys of Perfect Chaos and the guys of Sacred Crucifix and told them that I wanted put out albums with them and that was it basically. I also have a couple of other potential label candidates in my mind right now, but we’ll see what happens.

poisonarrow_PClogo.jpg (9128 bytes)

 

Both Burning Point and N.N.S. are keeping busy all the time. How do you find enough time to run this label properly?

The label and merchandise company that I have are my “day job”. From the bands Burning Point is the priority number one and closely behind is National Napalm Syndicate. I have the time as this is the thing I live for. N.N.S. is easy to handle because we don’t do any gigs or anything like that, Burning Point takes time, but it´s the stuff that I really enjoy doing.

 

 

What are your daily routines concerning the label?

Paying the bills, getting the photo sessions together, making the advertisements, distribution, videos and paying more invoices. The normal stuff...

 

National Napalm Syndicate

 

You still haven´t launched a website for Poison Arrow Records yet, but obviously you are working hard with it all the time. So when is it gonna be functional?

I hope to get something up during this February. The former N.N.S. drummer Pasi Pauanne is working on the website at the moment.

 

 

Are there some other people working for the label? What´s their role in this particular label business?

There is a couple of other guys as well working for the label. One is taking care of the money issues and one is helping out with the promotion, etc. My role is to keep this label running. In the future we might get someone to help out with the merchandise company.

 

 

What kind of marketing strategy have you created for Poison Arrow Records? Do firmly you believe that a new and small label like Poison Arrow Records can survive in the hard music business world?

That’s a good question. We will promote and advertise our releases as much as it´s financially possible, but at the same time we have to remember that the music that we put out is not ´TOP 40´ stuff. Thrash and Death Metal is definitely more or less an underground music. We have quite good connections to metal press & different media, so we will try to make an impact. I´m positive you can survive in this business if you keep your feet firmly on the ground.

 

 

I bet one of your most important cornerstones in this label is to get your releases out to as many countries as possible.

Yeah, you’re right, with a new small label it’s impossible to get a good distribution for example for Germany without big advertising budgets, etc. We are working on the licensing matters and hopefully we will get the albums out all over the world. I believe in our releases and I know that people will be surprised when they get a chance to hear our releases.

 

 

Have you already managed to sort out some distribution deals for your releases in advance?

Finland and Sweden are covered and there have been some licensing interest already, but we’ll see what happens. We just have to get the first release out first. I’ll keep you posted!

 

National Napalm Syndicate

 

You also have some experience in the record company business. You were working for both Mastervox Records and Alasin Records previously. What have you learned from some of those strictly business-related mistakes that you probably had to face when working for them back in the day?

I learned a lot, mostly I saw what not to do in this business… I wish I could tell you more, but I will get legal problems if I open my Pandora’s Box about this. Let’s just say that be careful what you sign and keep your eyes on the money…

 

 

What could have you done differently if you had got a chance to turn the history pages backwards a little bit concerning your previous efforts with those ex-labels you have been working for?

The only positive thing about the past is the first Reverend Bizarre CD. That’s the thing I’m most proud of. I´m sorry to say the other people on the label didn’t share my views. I know that if the label would have given the album at least a small advertising budget or funds for the promotion, things had have been hell of a lot better and the label would still exist. But shit happens, I’m just glad that the Reverend Bizarre -guys got a new deal and everything is going well with them. If I turned some history pages backwards, I would start my own label like I have now and sign Reverend Bizarre.

 

 

How many releases do you think is realistic to put out in a year?

We are planning to put out three albums and one CD-single this year. More than that would not work for us right at the very moment. We have to be able to give our releases the support they deserve and we already have three albums coming out on Poison Arrow this year, so I think it is a good start for us really.

 

 

I assume you already have some connections to reliable and trustworthy people in this business. Have some of them already helped you out with some label business related matters, offering advice or tips?

I think that it is very important to have good friends in this business and good connections to the right people. Those are the essential keywords. I have a couple of old friends of mine giving me some good advices about the label business and I usually call someone if I run into problems. Here in Finland Teosto and Muusikkojen Liitto are very helpful and you can always rely on their help.

 

 

Are there some bands right now that you hope could land a deal with Poison Arrow Records? Like the legendary thrashers Necromancer from our country, for example? (*wink*)

Sure why not, Necromancer is a cool band. Hey guys! If some of you are reading this send me some new music from your band!! A.R.G. would be a cool band to sign. I have a long history with those guys and they were one of the best Thrash/Death bands out there ever!! We have destroyed so many brain cells together with alcohol that you would not believe! There are some other bands, too that I’ve been checking lately, but it’s too early to say anything yet!


The metal scene has been changing quite drastically since the ´80s. Overall there are many very talented players in metal bands nowadays. Do you find this as an advantage or disadvantage from your point of view? How do you choose two or three bands from the hundreds of talented bands available.

That’s why our label´s main focus is on Thrash/Death Metal bands. I have a clear vision what kind of bands we will sign. And if the musicianship is there it’s only better! I’m not complaining that we have so many new bands nowadays. It’s a very good thing, I think. Metal is back with a vengeance.

 

 

Do you prefer the ´80s metal scene to any other era in metal? It seems to be that ultimate era for some classic metal releases, especially many metalheads in their thirties (and over, heh).

Yes I do, most of the ‘90s sucked and now we have this pathetic ´Mallcore´ -thing going on which I really don’t understand at all. I guess I’m still living the summer of ’89, heh! Now also the old gods are coming back; the new Exodus fucking rules!! Death Angel have been reformed and Dark Angel is in the studio right now!! The younger metalheads will see and learn what the fuss was all about!

 

 

What´s your honest opinion about the following Finnish metal labels:

1) Spine/Spikefarm Records

The true Pioneers of Finnish metal; Sami Tenetz (the label manager for Spikefarm) is a really cool guy and they have great stuff coming out all the time. I think that I prefer the Spikefarm label as it has a more “aggressive” catalogue of releases…

 

 

2) Low Frequency Records

I guess these guys are doing alright, I’m not that familiar with the releases. They at least put out the Reverend Bizarre CD, so they are O.K.

 

 

3) Rising Realm Records

This label seems to have the same idea as we do. ChaosBreed kicks ass!!

 

 

4) Woodcut Records

Very much respected, mostly Black Metal label. I like their stuff.

 

 

5) Dynamic Arts Records

These guys have a good attitude and they released one of my favorite albums of 2003: Deathchain´s DEADMEAT DISCIPLES!!

 

 

6) Severe Music

Sorry, but I don’t know their releases at all…

 

 

Do you think you can be competitive enough with all those other Finnish metal labels in the future, providing bands decent contracts and promotion?

Why not... We let the bands know right from the start what they are going to get. We don’t lie or try to make things look better than they actually are.

 

 

Could you name 5 new Finnish metal bands that have made you the hugest impression last year?

Sure, here we go…

1. Deathchain

2. Swallow the Sun

3. Children Of Bodom

4. Chaos Breed

5. Perfect Chaos

 

 

What do you hope, in your most secret dreams, to achieve with Poison Arrow Records within the next five years?

The main thing is to keep releasing good metal. Of course it would be a dream-come-true if we got some serious sales for our stuff, but at this point we’re just happy to put these CDs out on the label. It would be cool to see for example Sacred Crucifix getting the recognition they deserve. Those guys have been doing their thing so long and they have always stayed true to their music.

Sacred Crucifix

 

Thank you Jukka for your time with this! I hope you found this lil´ chat between two of us worth your time. If you still have anything on your mind you´d like to share with the readers of Metal-Rules.com, then here´s your opportunity for that.

Thanx Luxi for this interview!! If someone has a great Death/Thrash Metal band out there, send me a demo, we are always open for some good metal!!

Go and check the Sacred Crucifix & Perfect Chaos websites at www.sacredcrucifix.com and www.perfect-chaos.cjb.net 

Stay Heavy!

Send demos to: 
KSYNDICATE / POISON ARROW RECORDS
Kallisenkuja 4, 90400 Oulu, Finland