THUNDERSTONE's Nino Laurenne
Interviewed by Rick
in a long while a new band comes along that jumps to the top of the
metal pack right away. THUNDERSTONE is one such band. Lead by guitar
player Nino Laurenne, Thunderstone released a 5 song demo and were
quickly snapped up by Nuclear Blast Records. The band went into Sonic
Pump Studios and recorded their self titled CD which has become one of
the highlights of 2002. I recently had the opportunity to chat with
guitar player and main songwriter Nino Laurenne (you can read my first
interview with Nino here)
about everything from the new album to hockey.
lot has happened since the last time I spoke to you.
Thunderstone's new CD simply titled THUNDERSTONE was released June
24th on Nuclear Blast Records and contains all of the songs from your
demo plus 5 new ones. Why did you choose to re-record the songs from the
We only had those 10 songs when we started recording so that is it.
In my opinion there are no weak links on that album.
It seems to me that the 5 songs from the demo sound quite
different after they were re-recorded. Did you like the way that they
sounded after being re-recorded and do you feel that they lost any of
the magic from the demo?
As you know, I own a studio so when we recorded those demo songs we
had quite a lot of time to do them so they changed a little.
production on the new CD sounds slightly different. The demo already had
an excellent production sound to begin with. Do you feel that the new
production took anything away from the songs or changed them in anyway?
it's only the production that has changed because all of the
songs have no change in the structures and the vocal melodies are pretty
much the same. Of course it will sound different as we mixed it in a
very professional studio with Mikko Karmila
and not in my studio which is not as professional a studio even though
we recorded the whole CD there. When it comes to mixing you want to go
to a very professional studio if you want a big sound. We could also
take more time recording the album so there are some retakes and we push
it to the limit on vocal recordings. We really wanted to do as best as
we could. With the demos we only spent a couple of days in the studio
but usually when you listen to demos from any bands and then listen to
the album when it come, the album is usually much better because demos
are quite often quite poor with the sound quality.
How do you come up with the lyrics for your songs? For example,
The first thing that comes to mind with "Virus" is a computer
Virus. What is your inspiration when you actually sit down to write?
I don't want to fight with the dragons! That is the main point I want
to tell you! I don't wear a helmet so *laughing* I think the lyrics are
from the real world. There are a couple of songs about relationships.
Some are mine, some are my friend's. "Virus" is a song about
computer a virus, the story of how we maybe depend on computers too much
these days with all our contacts on our computers and stuff like that.
When a virus hits a disaster so I had to do a song about that cause I
remember when I was hit by a virus and lost everything. It was terrible.
There is also a song called "World's Cry" which is the story
about how we treat our world and how it is going to pay us back some
day. Maybe I write more about real life heroes and not the usual power
metal heroes. I keep my eyes open and look at what is happening
Thunderstone is kind of more unique in that regard. Many other
power metal bands are writing about Dragons and Castles while you are
writing about the real world.
I think its good and one of the reasons I probably don't do that is
because I am not 20 years old and the rest of the guys are a bit older
also. When you listen to the album you can probably hear that we have a
bit of experience living and playing heavy metal. I have been playing
metal for about 15 years so I think you can hear it from the album.
For the demo you wrote all the songs. Did you also write the 5 new
songs found on this CD or was their input from the band?
Almost. On "Virus" our keyboard player did some parts.
Another few parts hear and there, on "Will To Power" for
example. Mostly they came from my head.
In the last interview we did, I asked what your favorite song
from the demo was to which your answer was "Spread My Wings".
Is it still your favorite song and why?
No, No.. I am so bored with that one. There are 3 versions of
that song. The first one I sang the lead vocals myself plus the one from
the demo and then the new CD. Now my favorite is "Will To
Power". If we do a second album it will be heavier with heavier
guitars cause I have been playing speed and thrash metal for over 10
years. It will still be very melodic as vocal lines are the main thing
in our music I think.
You mentioned that you sang early on. Do you plan on doing any
vocals for Thunderstone?
I do backing vocals but that is all. Who knows. Timo Tolkki
just did his solo album. If you listen to some of my old band Antidote's
songs you will know how I sing.
produced your last demo. Did you also produce this CD and why did you
choose to do it yourself over getting an outside producer?
I can imagine this music, though it might be a little cliché, like a
painting and I am the only person who knows what the band should sound
like. At the moment anyway. Maybe in the future we will work with a
bigger producer, like Bob Rock or something *laughs*. I couldn't imagine
anyone sitting with me in my studio telling me what to do with my songs
so producing was a very natural decision for me. I have been working in
the studio for over 2 years now so I couldn't think anything else but to
do it by myself.
Have you produced any other bands besides Thunderstone?
Nothing bigger yet, mostly demos. I have been recording Timo
Kotipelto's solo album. I recorded some parts like bass and drums.
Stratovarius were recently in my studio working on their new CD. Vocals
and bass so it's a good promotion for our studio.
What is the name of your studio?
Sonic Pump Studios. It's a small studio but we a lot of customers
coming in because of Thunderstone and wanting to work with me. Names
like Stratovarius etc. It looks good. I think I will do my work in the
future with both Thunderstone and the studio.
seems like there are more and more bands and there is a place now for
people to make a living recording and producing albums.
Yeah, here in Finland sometimes it crazy. There are several heavy
metal bands on the charts all the time. Nightwish was on the singles
chart for 5 weeks in the #1 position. People are listening more and more
to metal. Its great!
For the track "Virus" Thunderstone produced a video. Why
was that particular track chosen?
It's also a single so we thought that it would be something cool to
do. I think "Virus" is a song that describes our music very
well. Its not very fast still its not slow. Its in the middle. It's a
quite catchy song. It was the easiest decision for a single and video.
Who directed the video and can you tell us a little about where
and when it was filmed?
It was directed by a guy named Timo Hallonen and we shot the video in
a theater. It is basically on stage with flashes of an alien. There is
this one alien and it is actually an unborn, 1 eyed pig! *laughs*
One eyed Heavy metal pig!! *laughs*
Yeah! Heavy metal pig! *more laughing*
Did the band have any input with this alien concept or was it
totally left up to the director?
The idea came from the director. I don't know what is going on in his
head but it was a good idea so I said what the hell lets do it.
Has the video been getting any airplay on any of the major video
stations in Europe?
To be honest, I don't know about the rest of Europe but here in
Finland it has been played about 5 or 7 times on a local TV station.
There was also a special program with us that was 15 minutes long about
the making of the video so it was good promotion for us. It was shown 3
or 4 times during one week.
Any plans for another video?
No I don't think so. Maybe the next album.
that the CD is released will the band be doing any touring? And if yes
will you be touring with any other bands?
Nothing confirmed yet. We have a festival in Helsinki. We are also
playing at Wacken Open Air in Germany (*ed. note interview before
In September we will play 2 gigs in France supporting Freedom Call and
not much more yet. We have same booking agent with Stratovarius and
Children of Bodom. But nothing confirmed yet. You will be the first to
know when tour dates are confirmed!
If you could have the choice for a "Dream Tour", what
bands would you like to tour with?
It would be great to tour with Pantera with Queensryche warming up
the crowd for us! *laughing*. 2 of my favourite bands. I listen to many
bands in my studio so when I come home I don't listen to much music.
The cover for the CD is very interesting. Can you tell me a bit
about the artist and what significance , if any, that the artwork has?
It was a guy called Thomas Ewerhard. It was our idea. A friend of
ours sent him a pencil drawing and he did a great job. Its exactly what
we wanted with an old man screaming and demons coming out so we are very
satisfied. The first song is called "Let The Demons Free" so
the cover fits.
How long have you been playing guitar and is it true that you took
lessons from Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki?
That is a very good question because I took 1 lesson in my life and
Timo gave it to me when I was 16. I think that was enough. I started to
play when I was 13, my father bought me a guitar.
After hearing your CD a friend of mine commented that Thunderstone
sounds quite similar to Stratovarius. Are they an influence and do you
feel that you sound at all similar to them?
Yeah sure. They are the same kind of stuff in a way. If you take the
3 fast songs off of our CD there would be no comparison with
Stratovarius. Its always same when new bands come out. You have to be
compared to someone. Same when Stratovarius started. Here in Finland
everyone was calling them a cheap Helloween clone and when Sonata
Arctica came everyone said they were a cheap Stratovarius clone and now
with us many people call us a cheap Sonata Arctica clone.
A little while ago you sent me a picture of the band with NHL
hockey players Jiri Lehtinen and Janne Niimmiiaa. I was wondering if you
were a hockey fan and what you thought of hockey players such as Saku
Koivu and Teemu Selanne who come to North America to play hockey?
I think its great. Papers are screaming about these guys all the
time. I played junior hockey and was a goalie but I don't follow it that
closely anymore. The only sport I follow is Formula One but not as much
as Mika Hakannen. We have followed Saku Koivu's fight with cancer so its
great that he is back.
I know many people are wondering. What is a Thunderstone?
I haven't done much research but there is an ancient story of a stone
that had healing powers. In the beginning the name was a joke. We wanted
a real cliché name. *laughs* So when the time came to sign to Nuclear
Blast we were looking for a different name. There really wasn't anything
else so we decided to keep it. It's a good heavy metal name!
I think that is pretty well it for now!