Finnish hard rock act BLOCK BUSTER is about to release their debut album “Losing Gravity” on the 13 September 2019 through Frontiers Music srl. We had the opportunity to talk to drummer Jaakko about the band, the new album and much more. Read the complete interview here.
Hi guys! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Can you briefly explain a little bit more about your history as a band?
Jaakko: Aarni and I started the band when we were in junior high. Because of our young age, it was quite difficult to get gigs if the venue wasn’t a youth center, but we were still trying to book shows all the time and accepted every show we were offered just to get a little touring experience. It wasn’t until 2013 when all our members had turned 18 so after that it has been pretty constant touring in bars, clubs and summer festivals all around Finland. Even though we are still relatively young, 24-25 year-olds with our first full-length album just about to come out, the band has been together 10 years already.
Aarni and Jaakko, we know that you’re brothers. But how did the rest of you meet?
Jaakko: We all went to the same school and that’s where we met Elias and Joonas. Elias has been in the band since the very beginning but we had another bass player in the early days. Joonas joined in 2013 and our line-up has remained the same ever since.
What was the songwriting process like for “Losing Gravity”? Is it a collaborative process?
Jaakko: Very collaborative, yes. Everyone has their own role when we are writing. All of the songs on “Losing Gravity” were written in 2017-2018 and the process was quite relaxed because we didn’t have any real deadlines to meet. We signed the contract with Frontiers after the album was already recorded.
What sorts of themes are present in the lyrics? Do you draw inspiration from your own experiences?
Jaakko: There are all kinds of themes, so it’s hard to name any specific ones. Of course, in most cases, the spark of inspiration comes from some personal experience but I’m the drummer so when I write lyrics I write them for Aarni. So usually, for me, it feels more natural to write about some more universal subject rather than writing extremely personal lyrics for someone else to sing. Usually, the overall theme for the lyrics comes from me or Joonas, then we work on them with Aarni so that he feels comfortable singing the lyrics. He also always adds his own “twist” to them. We also like to have double meanings and leave something for the listener own perception every now and then. Sometimes there are lyrics that might seem super transparent when actually being about something else.
You have said before that you get some inspiration from classic rock? Which bands have been the biggest influences for you?
Jaakko: We grew up listening to all the classic rock bands, of which AC/DC has no doubt been the biggest influence on us. Not just musically though, the Young brothers’ work ethic and image was also something that made a huge impact. Of course, that impact remains to this day but nowadays the musical influences are a lot more spread out and not as obvious I guess. I listen to all kinds of music; modern pop, indie rock, metal, movie scores… You name it. Everyone in the band is the same way. Anything that sounds good to our ears might have an influence one way or another.
Even though your sound has those influences, you have a very modern production, and use a lot of modern elements. What would you say is the typical BLOCK BUSTER sound if you’d have to explain to someone who hasn’t listened to your music yet?
Jaakko: Yes, we wanted to have a modern production and not sound like a throwback band. For example, there are punchy guitar riffs played through Marshalls but on the vocal parts, you might hear an influence from a few modern pop music or even rap artists here and there. Our sound is currently kind of a mixture of modern and retro. Based on this first record, I’d say a more or less straight forward groove and catchy melodies are the main ingredients. Who knows what the answer will be like after the second album!
You have mentioned before that the band’s vision is to bring a unique take on rock music. What does “unique” mean to you?
Jaakko: We think that too many rock bands of our age end up focusing too much on paying homage to their heroes and as a result, the genre has not been evolving very much. Do not take this wrong; I love many current hard rock bands but when you look at all the bands from the past that truly made it big, they were actually very original and most of them were not afraid to evolve and experiment. There is a reason why METALLICA stands out so much from all the other bands who came from that 80’s thrash metal scene.
The music video for “Out In The City” seems to be set in some kind of futuristic Tokyo inspired city. Can you tell a little bit more about the idea for the music video?
Jaakko: Even though it might not be completely obvious on the first listen, “Out In The City” is basically like a synthwave track played by a rock band. The rhythm of the bass and the guitar is very synthwave-like and the lyrics are very cyberpunk influenced. Hence we saw it fitting to do a video game-style music video, in that same vein, which takes place in some dark futuristic city. The idea of adding the Japanese subtitles started as a joke at first but then we realized it was the coolest idea ever and that it would maximize that Neo-Tokyo / Japanese cyberpunk feel that we were after.
Has any of you ever been to Japan? Is it your goal to play some shows there as well?
Jaakko: None of us have been to Japan yet but we definitely want to go and play there as soon as possible.
Your music video was very well-thought of and very cinematographic. As a matter of fact, it suits well with your name. Is this visual cinematographic aspect important for you guys as a band? Is this something you also want to achieve in your live shows?
Jaakko: Thank you! Actually, it is important. With both of these first two music videos, “Out In The City” and “Move”, we wanted to make an effort and not take the easiest route. The first one was slightly influenced by Stanley Kubrick‘s and David Lynch‘s movies and with “Out In The City” it was the cyberpunk thing. That said, there is also going to be a third music video out soon which is going to be a little more traditional rock-video, focusing on the band’s performance more. To answer your question about live shows, we definitely have plans to amp up our show with some visual elements like that. A next-level light show and possibly having our own screen on stage in the not-too-distant future might be our next goal. We’ll see!
What are the plans for after the release?
Jaakko: The plan is to tour as much as we can. Do a good groundwork for the second album.
What can people expect from one of your live shows?
Jaakko: An energetic performance and some good times. We treat every show like it’s our last show ever. No matter if we play to 3 or 30,000 people, we want people to be entertained and to be happy about investing their time and money.
Since your name is BLOCK BUSTER – you might get this question a lot in the future – time for a less serious question. Do you have any good movie recommendations for our readers?
Jaakko: I like all kinds of movies but I’m a huge horror geek especially. John Carpenter‘s Halloween from 1978 is probably one of my all-time favorite films. I love the second one as well. For me a great movie is not only about the script, but it’s also about the atmosphere, the soundtrack, everything. There’s something about “Halloween” that resonates with me. The nostalgic aspect of it probably plays a big part as well since I first saw those movies when I was way too young and I found them scarier than anything but felt some strange attraction at the same time. Anyway, if you’re into horror even a little, I urge you to check out “Hereditary” as it is one of the coolest ones from recent years.
Do you have any last thoughts or comments you want to share with our readers?
Jaakko: Be sure to check out our debut album “Losing Gravity” when it comes out on September 13th and hopefully we will see you at one of our shows soon!