INTERVIEW WITH DIMI PONTIAC OF THE FINNISH SPEED METAL PATROL: RANGER
Hail the old school speed metal! It lives well in Finland, thanks to the rising forces of metalbangers known as Ranger. The four piece has taken the metal scene by storm and conquered both new and old metal heads with skull splitting metal. Ranger’s most recent output, WHERE EVIL DWELLS, is a pure old school speed metal onslaught, with a modern approach. The band’s frontman Dimi Pontiac talks more about the new awesome album, and yes, every old school worshiper needs to get a hold of the album now!
Interview and pics by Arto Lehtinen
Hello what’s up in the Ranger metal camp ?
Everything’s cool! Lot of rehearsing and heading to Denmark next weekend!
NEW HOME AND NEW ALBUM
Inking a deal with Spinefarm came kinda out of blue for me, but I assume other labels definitely showed their interest toward Ranger, what made the deal offered by Spinefarm so tempting as you decided to join them?
I guess for a lot of people it did and it wasn’t really your typical label to choose! We had a lot of good interesting offers too, but in the end Spinefarm is Helsinki based and of course the offer was something that we wanted to build. We didn’t chose it right away, it took us quite some time to get the offer to be good!
As Spinefarm is part of the Universal division, did you think twice before signing if there is any risk of getting dumped by them if they loose the interest in Ranger and Ranger is considered anything less than cool?
Yes, we sure did. The deal isn’t any bullshit deal, so we are in the safe water. We did a lot of work on that deal to be better!
The previous Ranger releases have been released by more independent labels like Etkno Records. Do you still have any option to release some release via them, or is the deal done now basically fulfilled? Did you have the heartbreaking farewell with Etkno anyway?
Of course Ektro is the best still and has been good to us from the beginning! Basically it’s just that Ektro releases still all the other material and do re-presses and we just released our compilation when we were already at Spinefarm. Of course it was a little bit sad, but this was logical and natural development with Ranger.
As the full length album has seen the light of day (when this interview is published), what kind of expectations have you set in terms of promotion and distribution for the album as Ektro Rec took care of Ranger very well as far as I know?
At this point we’ve had numerous interviews via phone and internet. Its been on Inferno’s cover and a lot of other bigger metal magazines, so I think it’s going pretty well with the promotion. We are going on a tour in September to promote album too and next year hopefully in the US.
Speaking of the album titled WHERE EVIL DWELLS, how was the recording process, how did you work on the material in the studio?
It was really exciting, but at the same time really stressful with all the technical problems that we had. It took us 3 weeks to record and of course we are really satisfied with the result. It was a real learning process too! There was the same guys that are responsible for the other releases too!
As a matter of fact, could you shed more light on the details of the album – where it was recorded, and who was behind the desk observing you during the process? As far as I know, the album was recorded with analogue tech, how come?
It was recorded and mixed in 5 by 5 studios in Helsinki. It was Tapio Lepistö from Black floyd roundhouse. He is the one who’s done all our other ep’s and mlp too. He is the wizard of analog recording! We think that it sounds superior on tape and it has a lot more depth and soul when you record in analog. Its a good learning process too, because you really have to play and you don’t have any possibility to stop unless there is silent section in the song. No automation and no digital tech was used in making of ‘where evil dwells’ (except for the explosion, hehe). It was mixed manually on a analogue desk.
Ranger is known for furious and catchy tunes with an old school speed/heavy metal grip, don’t you fear having a lack of ideas to create catchy riffs to meet the standard and quality that Ranger stands for? Did you have any sort of agonizing moment to come up with good sounding and killer riffs for the album?
Thank you! We’ve seen so far that we have like tons of riffs that could be molded into a song, but we don’t have the time right now. Ideas and everything keep pouring all the time. Earlier this year we have actually come up with few new songs, so everything is good! We’ve decided its 7 track album and it was a great decision.
What are the main keys when it comes to composing the material in general, do you pay attention to certain styles as aggression, speedy catchy riffs?
Skull splitting metal riffs and great hooklines vocally and lyrically! We like to get the best both worlds with traditional metal and thrash. Thats what we’ve basically been doing since 2009. We don’t usually say that this must sound like Slayer or Maiden, those riffs and songs just comes out and we play them and move this part here and maybe delete this riff and put it another song.
Well how did you come up with such lethal riff mayhem for the album?
Mostly because of probably anger and frustration! Our drummer basically is a riff wizard so he’s got a lot of going. On this album there is a lot of everyone’s ideas but mostly our drummer’s songs.
As for the album title, where did you come up with that? Did you borrow it from a movie of the same name?
The name just popped out when I was searching info on Ricky Kasso. Our song ‘Black Circle’ talks about Ricky Kasso who was a notorious teenage murderer in the late 80’s. He practiced occult, did a lot of drugs and listened to heavy metal. This was of course when PMRC was around and Heavy Metal was dangerous!
REFORMATION OF RANGER
Let’s get the time capsule to return in time to eye how everything started out in 2008, you started as Turbin, but evolved into Ranger, but could you shed the light more on what inspiration brought the band to life?
We were talking about reforming a Speed/Heavy band with our drummer in the early 2008 and finally gathered around some people that we knew who could play something. We thought that there weren’t any decent and real metal bands around (expect for few good ones) so we were thinking that we could do that since we love metal and we know how we would be a awesome band! We listened to a lot of records and spend our little money always on them and absorbed lot of influences on there with the images and stuff. Especially 80’s US metal was a huge influence! First Miko was a guitar player for a while and i was just singing. We were a five piece for 2008-2011.
Ranger definitely draws its influences from 80’s bands, but I assume that is that name of the game, not re-inventing the wheel, but do you ever get fed up with those mandatory mentions regarding influences? Do you find it more of a compliment as well as interesting to read reviews and comments?
Yes, reviews and comments are certainly more interesting usually.
Was it a deliberate choice to start playing more school metal stuff, or did you come by it naturally?
It certainly came just natural and was our thing basically before that too and still, we were born too late! We talked about that and it should be like this and this, but certainly it developed naturally in the end.
Apparently some of Ranger songs were written during the Turbin era?
Some of the stuff that you might hear on Knights Of Darkness and on ‘Shock Skull’ is taken from Enter the zone demo. So no full length songs but some ideas yes. We were Turbin just a 2 months or something.
How did Ektro Records come into the picture?
Ektro records was already interested in 2009 to release our Enter the zone demo and more stuff in the future. We met briefly at the Keep It True festival in 2009 and Ektro was really excited about it. But things didn’t move really at that year anymore from some reason. In 2012 we just asked that if he would still be interested to release some Ranger and he then said “lets do this!”
As Lost Society got catapult to another dimension of success, do you view this sort of raging speed metal as a temporary phenomenon?
Well, I hope that it wouldn’t be just temporary thing for other bands. In some bands that you look you can probably see that these guys are not gonna last for a long time, but I certainly still hope that more and more speed or traditional metal bands pop around and more younger people starts to take notice on bands like us.
You have visited some European countries such as Germany and especially the mighty Keep It True festival, how was it?
It was a dream come true to play on the same stage with some US Metal legends! Of course we had a great show there too and we sold the most merch there in the whole festival day!
Do you have other plans lined up for making more appearances in other territories?
Yes, next month we will be in Tokyo for this Finland fest for one show and then some festivals in the summer in Germany and in Finland. We are actually really busy all the time so that is a good thing. We have some tour plans for the end of the year too! Full 3 week European tour.
Are you overwhelmed and surprised to see the ultimate positive reactions toward Ranger? Have you thought why Ranger has managed to get to that level, as the band is getting recognition all around whereas other bands, from the same kind of genre, are struggling to get any kind of recognition?
I certainly am. I think that its our music and our image that certainly is original and that has made a huge impact on people. We always want to do things over the top and i think thats what other bands might lack. The pure passion on stage and the energy that the music brings must be there all the time! Of course now that we are in a bigger label it certainly has boosted our previous “hype” some more!
Before concluding the interview, name five most important albums having the biggest impact on Ranger’s metal onslaught?
- Metal On Metal
- Hell Awaits
- Skeptics Apocalypse
- BACK IN BLACK
- Piece Of Mind
I thank you for doing the interview with Metal-Rules.com, and of course your skull-splitting comments are welcomed to conclude the interview…
Knights Of Darkness we’ll rise from the depths to seek new blood and to slay those who oppose us!
The Official Ranger sites