Foyers Of The Future
(Running Moose)


The revolution in sound created by the late, great Pekka Pohjola continues on in his native country. One label with a steady hand on the Finnish prog-rock and instrumental rock fusion pulse is Running Moose and its sub labels, Presence Records and Puuma Records, headed up by Matti Kervinen, himself a fine keyboardist and member of the group Pax Romana. One 2013 Running Moose CD release, entitled Foyers Of The Future is solid showcase by the band known as Moonwagon. Parts of this electrifying fusion affair harks back to the early 1980s and the heyday of Pekka Pohjola while Moonwagaon is also kind of futuristic sounding, not unlike a variation of some of the more progressive guitar-centric instrumental tracks recorded during the mid 1980’s by The Shadows. Some excellent guitar work by Joni Tiala adds sizzle to this fine example of 21st Century Finnish instrumental prog. Somewhere in heaven Pekka Pohjola is smiling down on Moonwagon. Commenting on carrying on the tradition of great Finnish instrumental progressive rock music, Moonwagon's Joni Tiala, in the following interview, told, 'Foyers Of The Future was a lot of fun, composing and rehearsing the material took a little less than a year. We wanted everything to be properly ready before going into the studio. Lots of the music came out just jamming together, and some of the songs were composed more precisely. Some ideas were really old, some ideas were just crazy but we really liked the material and felt comfortable with it. And we still do. Everybody had something to give.' presents an interview with
Joni Tiala of MOONWAGON

mwe3: Where are you from originally and where do you live now and what do you like best about it?

JONI TIALA: I'm originally from Finland and I live in Finland although we travel quite a lot with my girlfriend. We have a folk music act called Vellamo together, and we just finished a three-month US tour a couple of weeks ago. We bought a house last summer, that's my favorite thing here right now! I also wouldn't want to miss summertime in Finland.

mwe3: When did you form Moonwagon, what was the impetus for forming the band and who plays in Moonwagon with you?

JONI TIALA: We formed the band with my old friends who we share a colorful musical history with; we have been playing in different pop/rock groups for years, together and separately. Our mutual dream has been to form a progressive rock band someday, and that dream came true in 2008.

Last year our original keyboard player Ami Hassinen decided to concentrate on his long time ambient group Nemesis, and also his solo work which goes by the name of Ashen Simian. You should check 'em out; he's a fantastic musician and we wish all the best for him!

Moonwagon’s lineup in 2014 is:

Jani Korpi – drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, jew’s harp, voice

Joni Tiala – electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, voice

Janne Ylikorpi – bass, fretless bass, bass pedals, keyboards

mwe3: How many albums does Moonwagon have and how has the band sound evolved over the years? Can you tell us something about the Foyers Of The Future CD? Where and when was the music on the CD written and recorded and who else was involved in making the album happen? Do you have some favorite tracks from the CD. Track 5, “Through The Veil Of Rain” is a great track!

JONI TIALA: Thank you! We have two albums: Night Dust (2011) and Foyers Of The Future (2012). Third one should be out by the end of this year; at least we hope so! We are really excited about the new material and we have already started the recording. It's hard to tell how the sound has evolved, I would like to let the listener be the judge of that. I guess nowadays we know better what we are doing... or not!

Foyers Of The Future was a lot of fun, composing and rehearsing the material took a little less than a year. We wanted everything to be properly ready before the studio. Lot of the music came out just jamming together, some of the songs are composed more precisely. I think “Through The Veil Of Rain” is a good example of having the both sides. That is one of my favorites too!

Some ideas were really old, some ideas were just crazy but we really liked the material and felt comfortable with it. And we still do. Everybody had something to give. Recording process took about five months; it was recorded in Kokkola which is our little hometown in the west coast of Finland.

It was recorded and mixed by our bass player Janne and we produced it ourselves. A British guy called Ade Emsley took care of the mastering and I think he did a fantastic job. He has been working with Iron Maiden in the past and he mastered Steve Harris’ recent solo album.

mwe3: When did you start playing guitar and can you tell us what guitars are playing on the Moonwagon albums and the new CD? How about other gear do you use on the Moonwagon albums and what are some of your favorite amps and pedals / effects and picks and strings that you use to color the sound?

JONI TIALA: I started playing at the age of eleven. Mostly I use Fender Jazzmaster guitar, and I like Strats and Teles too. I also played dulcimer, electric mandolin and Fender Redondo acoustic guitar on the album. I use a lot of FX pedals; I guess MXR Carbon Copy delay and Small Clone chorus by Electro-Harmonix are my favorite ones at the moment. During the Foyers Of The Future recording I used only one amp: Music Man RP120 with 4x12 HH Electronics cabinet.

I just love the combination of those and my Jazzmaster. But I'm sure I’m gonna try some new equipment on the new album just to get new sounds and have a slightly different angle on some of the new songs. And now I’m playing keyboards too so I have to think about that as well... we'll see what happens!

mwe3: What is the music scene like in Finland these days for progressive instrumental music? Do you miss Pekka Pohjola’s music as much as I do? How do you think Pohjola changed progressive instrumental rock, influenced other artists and what other Finnish prog legends are you influenced by and what newer artists from Finland do you feel are carrying the prog-rock torch forward?

JONI TIALA: I absolutely love Pekka Pohjola's music. He has been a huge influence for me and many other Finns over the years. I think he was one of the best composers ever to come from Finland. He really should have been more famous. I also love Jukka Tolonen, a legendary guitar player.

There are not so many progressive rock bands in Finland, let alone instrumental bands. I think it's more towards jazz if it’s instrumental. But yeah, there are some really good prog bands here, like Hidria Spacefolk and Jeavestone.

mwe3: What do you feel the future holds for instrumental rock and progressive instrumental rock in Finland, Scandinavia and the rest of the world for that matter? Do you feel part of the progressive rock scene and sound? Also can you tell us something about Moonwagon working with Running Moose Records as they seem to be doing great things.

JONI TIALA: Music-wise, I think the situation is far better now than it was ten years ago. There are really good bands coming out of Finland and Sweden all the time, they're just hard to find because groups like us, we don't have the support of massive record companies.

It's getting harder and harder to be heard, sell your music and get good gigs. It's hard to promote the band just by yourself. But those people who love that sort of stuff tend to find the right bands no matter what. And we are not dreaming about the number 1 single in charts... we wouldn't mind though if it happened!

We've been enjoying working with Running Moose Records, it’s a very easy going and down to earth type of thing. And they put out really good albums. Quality music!

mwe3: What are you and Moonwagon planning as far as writing and recording new music, producing other music related things and performing shows for the rest of 2014 and beyond? Any ideas yet on the next album for Moonwagon?

JONI TIALA: We are currently composing and rehearsing new stuff. Like I said, hopefully the new album would be out later this year. And we would love to be back playing gigs in a few months time too, it’s been a lot of work to practice old and new material since Ami left the band; now we have two keyboard players instead of one! So during the past year we have been figuring out how I'm gonna handle the guitar and keyboards, and how Janne is going to handle bass, bass pedals and keyboards. It’s going great and we cannot wait to try it out live!

Thanks to Joni Tiala and Moonwagon and Running Moose Records


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