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?
Thats exactly what Im after. I know its not the best business
decision in the world to start a label and release old-school Thrash/Death Metal, but
thats the music I like to listen to most. And I know theres 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.
You 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
werent 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, wed 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
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
I tried to make everything as smooth as possible for everyone. The deals are usually
for two or three albums as I dont 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, thats the basic idea. Theres so many good bands for example here in
Finland that dont get any attention or label interest because they dont sound
gothic enough or dont 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 didnt 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 havent
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 well see what happens.
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 dont 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...
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
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?
Thats 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, youre right, with a new small label its 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
Finland and Sweden are covered and there have been some licensing interest already, but
well see what happens. We just have to get the first release out first. Ill
keep you posted!
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 Pandoras Box about this.
Lets 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. Thats
the thing Im most proud of. I´m sorry to say the other people on the label
didnt 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, Im 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
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 Ive been checking lately, but its 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.
Thats 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 its only
better! Im not complaining that we have so many new bands nowadays. Its 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 dont understand at all. I guess Im 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, Im 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 dont 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
dont 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
Sure, here we go
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 were 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.
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
Send demos to:
KSYNDICATE / POISON ARROW RECORDS
Kallisenkuja 4, 90400 Oulu, Finland