The Master of the Thunderstone
Interview by Rick
When I first heard of Thunderstone I pictured a band of teenagers
making music in their parents basement. Little did I know that
Thunderstone would emerge as one of the strongest of a new crop of
melodic metal bands. With the release of their latest CD THE
BURNING, Thunderstone have shrugged off past comparisons to
fellow countrymen Stratovarius and created one of the strongest albums
of the year.
just finished a tour with Axel Rudi Pell. How did it go?
It was great. There were a couple of sold out gigs and a lot of
places that were close to full.
Thunderstone was supposed to be touring with Iced Earth in support
of THE BURNING. Have there been any new tour plans?
At the moment we are doing some touring here in Finland. We did a
show where we played some acoustic songs and some cover songs. We are
had some accordion and some other surprises.
Who's idea was it to do the acoustic show?
We wanted to play something a little different after playing some big
gigs. This would be something different and special.
Now that you are off the Iced Earth tour do you think that that
will hurt Thunderstone in terms of exposure for THE BURNING?
Hopefully not. The tour was perfect for us and the timing was perfect
as we had just released our album. They are a big band and it was a big
tour. Hopefully we will get on another big tour. Iced Earth was one of
the biggest tours in Europe and hopefully we can get on another tour
that will be good for us. When we first got the tour I told the guys to
not get too excited till we are really on the tour bus and look what
happened. The tour didn't happen.
Do you think you will play anymore dates with Iced Earth.
I don't know because they are doing a European tour. I would love to
play with them again and I can wait over the summer but on the other
hand we really have to do the touring now while the album is fresh.
THE BURNING Pasi Rantanen delivers a much grittier performance than on
the debut CD. Was this planned or was it a natural progression of his
voice and the bands sound.
I think that the songs are heavier so the vocals have to be heavier.
After the tour we realized that his voice changed a lot because of the
constant touring and the amount of singing he was doing. His history is
that he hasn't sang in a lot of metal bands. He has been in a number of
cover bands so I think its a natural progress. I really kicked his ass
all the time when we were recording vocals on this record.
You have done a video. For what song?
It was for "When We Touch the Burning Sun".
Why was this song chosen?
I think this song is the best representation of our music today. Much
heavier, more riffs, lots of double bass and a really catchy big chorus.
Great guitar solo and keyboard solo so it covers everything we have in
our music. The original was almost 6 minutes long so for the video I cut
almost 1 and a half minutes.
Who directed the video?
It was directed by one of the famous new generation video directors
here in Finland named Jappe Paivinen. When we started to shoot the video
the budget was small so we wanted to do a stylish video. There are 3
elements: Dobermans running around, a bitchy looking girl and the 5 ugly
guys (laughing). We didn't want to do any kind of a movie story. Most
metal videos with movie type stories don't work too well. We just wanted
it to look cool. The fans can download the video from out website.
the digipak version of THE BURNING you added some cover tunes and bonus
tracks. What were they and how did you choose those particular songs?
We did Metallica, Judas Priest and Manowar. We didn't record them for
this album. They ah already been done for other Nuclear Blast tribute
album. It was the labels idea to add them to the digipak. It is like 30
minutes bonus material. The video is unfortunately not included.
How have the reviews been for the THE BURNING? I have read some
reviews that say that you have found your own sound on this CD and that
you are not a Stratovarius clone anymore. Do you agree with this
Yeah sure. This whole thing in the beginning was my project. On the
second album you can tell that it's more of a band effort. On THE
BURNING I didn't really change my style of composing. I think that on
THUNDERSTONE I just wanted to do some songs that sound very melodic and
big and probably didn't think of anything too original. On the second
disc I wanted the band to be heavier so maybe that's the reason we have
moved away from the sound of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius. Of course
Pasi's singing is totally different. I just read one review from the
United States that said that Pasi sounds like Kotipelto and I don't
really understand that. There are still comparisons with Stratovarius
but I don't care anymore. If you really get close to THE BURNING you can
definitely hear the difference. Stratovarius weren't the first band who
THE BURNING has been in the Finnsh charts for weeks. How high did
it chart and how do you feel about success in your native country?
Well here it's a top 40 chart so we figured it might get in there at
40 maybe but it went to 13 which is great. Because we have a mall
population here you don't have to sell tens of thousands of albums to
get in the charts. But hey.. It's a heavy metal album in the charts so
it is great. I just heard that the last Children of Bodom album was 3
weeks at #1. This is probably the only country in the world where bands
like Childrn of Bodom can hit #1 and stay there. We always have heavy
metal bands in the charts. Its great!!
Finland must have a big metal scene because metal makes the
charts. There must be lots of young bands playing metal?
Yeah. I have the studio (Sonic Pump Studio) so I have been recording
only metal for last 2 year almost every day and usually different bands
so it's bubbling under all the time. We only have 5 and ½ million and
so many good metal bands so the situation is good. I don't know why we
have it this good but I am proud that Finland has such a good scene.
Nino, you produced THE BURNING. Did you think about bringing in an
outside producer to give you some fresh perspective?
No and for 2 reasons. The first is that I know what I am doing. The
second is that our budget is small. If it was 10 times bigger I would
think about getting in a big producer. Maybe Bob Rock!! (laughing) You
would need a lot of cash to pay a guy like that. It was very natural for
me to produce this album. It was my studio so we could record when we
wanted and for however long we wanted. There wasn't a real schedule.
Maybe in the future we will think about an outside producer.
You actually produced a number of bands. You actually produced a
Cd by the band Dreamaker that is made up of former members of Dark Moor.
How did you get in hooked up with them?
I actually asked the band how they came all the way to Finland from
Spain. They said they wanted to do something different and they wanted
to start with a totally different atmosphere and producer. They saw my
name here and there and contacted me to produce their CD. We spent a
month in Sonic Pump Studio and the sessions went well. Spanish people
have a temper and it was different way to work for me but they were
great to work with and I wish the best for them. I really like the
album. I usually don't listen to many of the albums that I produce
because I have heard enough of them when we are recording and mixing but
this I listen to and think its very good.
At Sonic Pump do you use Pro Tools and do you think Pro Tools has
allowed some bands that aren't really great musicians or songwriters
"cheat" in helping them record a CD?
Yes and No. The good point is that the performance is still
everything. You can't fool anyone. You can't do magic with pro tools.
You can do a lot of things but once a band goes on stage you can see
really what's going on. On stage you see what's going on. You can't fool
anyone. In the studio with Pro Tools I can fix the drums but I can't
help the drummer sound groovy. I can't make a drummers touch better but
I can move a snare hit to the right place etc. With the vocals we have
auto tune, which corrects the singers tune, but you can't make a bad
singer good. Working with Pro Tools is heaven. We paid a lot of money
for it but it's worth it. Every single cent. I'm happy with it.
did you learn about the producing field?
I haven't read any books or taken any classes. Actually I have one
book that Timo Tolkki gave me me. But no schools. I remember when we
bought our first mixing desk and echo and reverb stuff. We had an old
analog tape recorder. When I started this I didn't understand anything.
I had recorded 3 albums with my old band Antidote an even then I didn't
understand anything about the technical side of recording. I totally
started from scratch but in the last 5 years I have recorded over 100
bands so that's the best way to learn. Plus I also asked a lot of
question of people like Miko Karmila and Timo Tolkki. I think that's the
best way to learn, just by doing real work with the bands and the
Getting back to your former band Antidote. You were in that band
along with members of Impaled Nazarene. Have you ever thought of
reissuing any of the CDs that Antidote recorded?
Umm No!! Definitely No!! I hate my vocals with that band..
You were lead vocalist?
Yes I was and I wonder why!! (laughing) It's the typical story. 3
guys start a band and 2 guys really don't want to sing and the third guy
doesn't really want to but he gives it a try. There you are. After 10
years you look back and think "I Really Sucked!!" (laughing) I
should stop singing! (laughing). Its funny because every time we do
souncheck and have to do the backing vocals check Titus and I have to
sing. Titus has a terrible voice and I'm worse. (laughing) So we are
laughing the whole time. For example in Paris during the Stratovarius
tour we had to sound check in this huge 6000 seat hall. We were singing
very ugly porno songs in Finnish so no one would know what we were
singing in this huge hall! (laughing).
I heard that you are a big Pantera fan?
Maybe fan isn't the word. I have the albums up to FAR BEYOND DRIVEN
and after that album I lost interest. They are one of my big influences.
What are some of your other influences? Is there one guitar player
you can point to as a big influence?
Actually no. I remember when I first started playing I heard Yngwie
Malmsteen. He is the guy who almost stopped me from playing. I would
listen and say to myself "How does he do that?". "I could
never do that". I have some guitar players I appreciate. Steve Vai
for sure. If there was one guy who I would say is my guitar hero it
would be Steve Vai.
You showed me a picture of a movie that you were in. Are you
interested in acting and would you like to do more?
(laughing) You want to see some stolen home videos?! That's the only
movies I'm in today. To be honest it was just a friend needed some guys
who looked like musicians to be in the movie. Today the only acting I do
is in music videos and home movies.
Is there anything else you wanted to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
Sonic Pump Studios