in Finland, The Sounds returned after many years in 2011 and
they put together their comeback album in 2015. Finally making the
rounds over continents, Live At Arcada Studios is the
comeback album by The Sounds & Rock Jerry. The instrumental
rock sound of The Sounds owes much to the legends of UK and Swedish
instrumental, such as The Shadows and Spotnicks. Adding in vocalist
Rock Jerry (real name Kaj Järnström), the band hits a veritable
sweet spot with this eleven track, live in the studio that mixes in
a number of Shadows style instrumentals and several rock & roll
oldies sung by Rock Jerry. The instrumentals are excellent and Jerrys
vocals on classics like Mystery Train, Singin
The Blues and more is another vintage offset to the more timeless
instrumental sounds. An unusual,, guitar-centric instro of The Beatles
Long And Winding Road is elegant as is the CD closing
cover of The Shadows 1965 classic Blue Sky Blue Sea Blue Me.
Speaking about the long and winding wait between the 1960s era of
The Sounds and their comeback album, group cofounder Peter Ekman
told mwe3.com, "The Sounds took a pause in 1965 as the
members went back to school and started to study. We started to play
again after a pause of 45 years, when three of the four original members
rejoined. The original lead guitarist Henrik Granö left the group
on spring 2014 and was replaced by Erkki Sutela. We recorded in 19631965,
about ten singles and one LP. Because of the long break we made no
recordings were made until the Arcada CD. It was about 50 years between
the last recording 1965 and the Arcada CD." Fans of The Shadows,
The Beatles and Elvis-style 1950s rock n roll oldies are
advised to check out the thoroughly entertaining Live
At Arcada Studios
by The Sounds and Rock Jerry. www.thesounds.fi
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Peter Ekman and Erkki Sutela of The Sounds
The Live At Arcada Studios interview
Can you tell us where you live and where youre from originally
in Finland? What cities and towns in Finland and Sweden do you like
best and what are some of your other favorite countries to visit?
Peter Ekman: We all live in Helsinki. We have a lot of memories
from touring Finland so its not easy to name favorites, perhaps
Turku, Tampere and Oulu? Stockholm and Copenhagen are other favorites
cities. Sweden, Denmark Germany and France are countries I love to
Erkki Sutela: Yeah, Helsinki is the hometown, but I like also
Turku, Tampere, Oulu, Porvoo, Raasepori and Hämeenlinna. Stockholm
is a great city and so is New Orleans, where I was two weeks back
in the early 1990s. I played with the local musicians there
and had a great time. San Francisco is also nice. Ive been traveling
around Europe, but cant say any favorites from those cities.
I just like being there and where I am at that moment.
mwe3: I was just remembering the early Sounds hits from 1963
so here we are 54 years later with The Sounds + Rock Jerry CD. Does
Live At Arcada Studios have the same sound, feel and style
as the original Sounds band, from the early 1960s? On the new CD,
were The Sounds trying to bring the classic oldies and instrumental
guitar sound of the early 1960s into the 21st century?
Peter Ekman: We do try to achieve the sound that we had after
upgrading our instruments and amplifiers in the 1960s. The first
recordings were made with more or less homemade amplifiers so we do
not try to get that sound. We worked hard to find the Hank Marvin
sound and succeeded in the end. The feeling is perhaps the most essential
part of it all.
Sutela: I was born in 1960, so unfortunately I couldnt be
there, when all of this started. When I joined the group 2014, it
was obvious that the sound should be as close as it used to be back
in the day and with Henkka Granö. Of course, the amps are better
now, but theres something magical in those early days and recordings.
Im trying to do my very best to play the style The Sounds played,
but I can make it my own style.
Because Rock Jerry has his roots deep in the early R&B, rock n
roll and country era, its natural that he sings like he has
always sung. And he sounds even better now I might say.
I dont use any old echoes etc., but I have a nice pedal set
from Mooer and theres a realistic tape echo. And when its
good for these guys, its good for me!
mwe3: The vocal tracks with Rock Jerry singing feature a mix
of 1950s and 60s rock and roll classics along with an equal
mix of Shadows style instrumentals. Tell us about the original instrumentals
featured on the Arcada Studios CD and your Sibelius tribute,
which humorously called Tribute To Sibbe. Which music
of Sibelius do you like best? I actually visited the famous Finlandia
Hall in Helsinki a long time ago.
Peter Ekman: The tribute to Sibbe was just a crazy idea we
came up with and Finlandia is a very beautiful composition, which
could be played on guitar so we decided to give it a try. The rest
of the instrumentals were chosen according trial and error. Our keyboardist
Esa is related to Sibelius via his mother, which gives this a special
Erkki Sutela: Tribute To Sibbe is a nice song and
Ive played that intro for fun sometimes at home. I like Finlandia,
but Im not so much keen on classical music. Maybe just those
most popular ones, if you can say that about classical music. One
of my favorites on that album is Esa Helasvuos song Kesän
Maku (translation: A Taste Of Summer), which he
originally wrote back in mid 1970s for a Finnish movie and it
was originally sung by Pepe Willberg.
Kärleken Är (translation: Love Is)
is a song from a Swedish singer Jill Johnson. Peter told us that it
could be a nice instrumental to play, we tried it and like they say
the rest is history. Cavatina is so beautiful song and
when we have a great version of that it was clear to put in our album.
Its amazing that The Sounds have been playing with members of
the entire original band since 1963. How many albums and singles did
the Sounds record in the early version of the band and over the years
and why did you stop recording at some point? I was 9 years old in
1963 and I still remember a lot from that year including all the great
Peter Ekman: The Sounds took a pause in 1965 as the members
went back to school and started to study. We started to play again
after a pause of 45 years, when three of the four original members
rejoined. The original lead guitarist Henrik Granö left the group
on spring 2014 and was replaced by Erkki Sutela. We recorded in 19631965,
about ten singles and one LP. Because of the long break, no recordings
were made until the Arcada CD. It was about 50 years between
the last recording in 1965 and the Arcada CD.
Erkki Sutela: Im so proud to be a part of this great
legacy of the Sounds today! Ive been playing guitar for over
40 years, in different groups - blues, rock and most of all the 1960s
guitar music. I started as a bass player in a group called The Diamonds,
with few older guys in early 1980s. Yeah, older!
They were something like 40-years and I was 23! And now Im 56
and Rock Jerry is 74! The Diamonds made just one record, first on
cassette, but in 2004 guitar music fans asked the record company to
release it in CD and so they did. The Dance On album can be
found also in Spotify.
After that bass playing, I moved back to guitar and have played that
ever since. I try to do my very best to get that original
sound of the 1960s. Everybody plays in their own style, but
my playing is a mix of everything Ive learned during the years
and of course a homage to the great Henrik Henkka Granö.
This a great combination, because Ive been playing as long as
those guys have been on hiatus! I have to raise my hat to those guys
for their enthusiastic way of making music nowadays.
We have a cozy place to play at the house where Peter and Bobi live
and have been living for decades. Its the old boiler room, which
is not in use anymore. Our instrument and amp set is there ready to
play. So we meet once week playing and having fun, drinking coffee
and talking nonsense as guys do. The Sounds used to have another place
to practice in that same building in the early 1960s and Bobi
has said here we are just 50 meters away from that original
rehearsal place, so the band hasnt moved forward during the
50 years! He is a great humorist.
Ive heard stories how they used to play in the dark during the
rehearsals so they could really learn all their songs. Thats
amazing! We dont play in the dark nowadays, but theres
still that same style of practicing our songs. When you know your
stuff its easy get on the stage.
On the record Henkkas son Wille Granö plays drums, but
he quit a while after the record was released, because he has so many
other band projects going on. We were lucky to get my friend Jomme
Kettunen on drums. He has been playing drums in different groups from
the late 1960s.
Who was a bigger influence on The Sounds musically, The Shadows or
The Beatles and can you compare them compositionally? Seems like around
1962 and 63 The Beatles copied some of the early Shadows studio
mannerisms. Must have been the Abbey Road sound. What made you pick
out the Beatles The Long And Winding Road as an
instrumental? Its not really a beat-group kind of track but
it sounds great on the CD.
Peter Ekman: The Shadows and The Ventures in the first place
but in the very beginning also Swedish bands as The Violents and The
Spotnicks and the Danish band The Cliffters. We went more after the
sound than the composers when it came to guitar music. The Beatles
were great composers and The Long And Winding Road was
picked out because it is one of the most beautiful tunes. The Sounds
of today are much more than a guitar group
we play rock n
roll, country and blues in addition to the guitar tunes. Rock Jerry
is a vital part of our show and we divide our sets using acoustic
guitars, along with the electric ones both in the vocals and the instrumentals.
Erkki Sutela: As Peter says The Long And Winding Road
is one of the most beautiful songs. We are always trying to find different
type of tunes than the other guitar bands. I like The Beatles and
The Shadows, but my history with The Shadows is a bit funny, because
when I joined The Diamonds, the only Shadows album which I was heard
was String Of Hits, so the guys made me listen their early
recordings and then it all started to make sense to me. The Beatles
and The Shadows have both made great songs, but its hard to
say which are better. Good music is good music. The Sounds has always
been a bit rebellious about their choice of music. For
example Emma was an old waltz from the war time and made
many old people angry the time it was released. Now we have songs
like Life On Mars, God Only Knows and Procol
Harums Homburg in our set list. We havent
heard any other guitar band performing those songs.
mwe3: How has the choice of guitars changed for you since 1963?
You must have seen a lot of changes in the guitar world over the years
and what are your favorite amps?
Ekman: We mainly use Fender guitars and amplifiers. We have Stratocaster
guitars and a Jazz Bass. For the acoustic parts we have a Martin.
The amplifiers we use are a Twin amp, a Rivera and two Rumble bass
amps. Erkki uses a Gretsch guitar in the vocal songs because we want
to get another sound than we do in the instrumentals.
Erkki Sutela: Fender Stratocaster is the guitar for this kind
of music. That Gretsch, which I use during the Rock Jerrys songs,
was just accidentally bought. It was hanging on a music store. Nice
green color, good sound and price was right, so welcome to Daddy!
That happened just a few months before Ive got invited to replace
Henkka Granö... talking about miracles. I also play a Fender
Sonor acoustic guitar. And the reason I bought it was the Fender brand
and of course the Lake Placid Blue color. Maybe the nice acoustic
sound played a small part as well, (lol).
mwe3: You mention Sibelius but how about the late Pekka Pohjola
and other rock era Finnish and Swedish guitar groups and composers
that you were influenced by? What is the quintessential Finnish musical
sound in your opinion? Does it come from early 1960s Scandinavian
guitar instrumentals, from jazz-rock, from classical music or from
folklore music like Kantele?
Peter Ekman: I personally had very little to do with music
during our 45 year break so I cannot give you a proper answer here.
The guitar music in Sweden transformed into s.c. dance-band-music.
In Finland we traditionally love music in minor keys. We have a very
high class education in music today in Finland. I think that the musicians
today are influenced by all the music they get in touch with. In the
end it all is a matter of taste, some guys like the daughter and some
Erkki Sutela: Traditional Finnish musical sound is basically
full of sorrow and makes you want to cry. I like more happy songs.
When you are down and out it doesnt help you in anyway if you
listen a singer who tells you the same story. Blues is a different
thing, but that Finnish melancholy stuff is just pain in my ears.
Pardon and excuse me, but thats how I feel. My musical influence
is a mixed with various styles, artists and bands. Lucky for me there
was a lot of different types of music at my childhood home. My father
used to listen musicals, movie theme albums, jazz, classical and most
of all, different kinds of instrumental albums like those Herb Albert
and the Tijuana Brass made. Everything was gogo music
during the 1960s at our home.
older brother listened to bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, King
Crimson and Blue Oyster Cult. I listened those and, thanks to my dear
brother, now I like Pekka Pohjola, Wigwam, Tasavallan Presidentti
and other progressive bands he also played to me. When you add some
of my other favorites like Toto and Dire Straits with those already
mentioned, we find the musicians who made me who I am today.
mwe3: The Sounds + Rock Jerry CD closes out with a cover of
Blue Sky Blue Sea Blue Me. Thats a Shadows rarity
from Sound Of The Shadows. Is that your favorite Shadows album
and what Shadows period do you like best? What other Shadows covers
do The Sounds play?
Peter Ekman: Blue Sky Blue Sea Blue Me was chosen
because we thought it is a nice tune and The Shadows version was not
optimal. Over the years we have played almost all the old Shadows
tunes. I cannot name any special favorites but the first LP sparked
my interest in guitar music so, perhaps Shadoogie, Nivram,
Blue Star and Sleepwalk should be mentioned.
Erkki Sutela: I have that album with Blue Sky Blue Sea
Blue Me and I like it very much. The Shadows didnt play
it live and its so rarely heard so it was a good choice for
our album. We play also Atlantis, Wonderful Land,
Shindig and The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Bunt
and almost all of those go well with our acoustic set too. Sleepwalk
is fun to play, because Esa has a great piano intro before the band
joins in. My opinion is that The Shadows were at their best during
the early 1960s.
mwe3: What do you think about the current guitar instrumental
scene in Finland and Scandinavia in general? Is there a worldwide
guitar instrumental sound and with so many early rock giants leaving
us every day, which of the early rock n roll pioneers
had the most influence on you and The Sounds? I enjoyed your Arcada
Studios cover of No Particular Place To Go. Its
so sad to lose Chuck Berry.
Peter Ekman: We have a number of guitar bands here but sadly
most of the musicians are getting old. The audience wants mainly songs
and not instrumentals today. The guitar sound is not what it has been
and I do not think that there is one special sound to mention. Everyone
tries to make his own sound just to differ from the masses.
Sutela: Some younger guitar bands are playing The Sounds music
and thats good. The legacy continues. And as Peter mentioned
the older bands are starting to fade away, but theres still
some good ones left. Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard,
those are my favorites and all time rock n roll
pioneers. I envy Peter, Bobi and these other guys in our band, because
theyve been there, when this all started. I cant imagine
that moment when they heard those legends the first time!
The guitar music era, Rautalanka as they call it here
in Finland, lasted only about three years, but it still made its mark
and it has been popular ever since. Old bands keep coming back, the
veteran bands are still playing and as Bobi has said it was easy to
make a comeback, because those songs they played in the early days
never went out of style. There are many different guitar music festivals
and associations keeping guitar music alive in Finland.
mwe3: Now that the band released the Sounds And Rock Jerry
album, are there other plans for new music writing, recording, possible
compilations and live shows for 2017 and beyond?
Peter Ekman: We have no firm plans for a new record but it
is in the air. I think it will be a single or an EP. It depends on
what we will come up with. We are constantly taking on new songs,
both instrumentals and vocals. We have booked live shows till the
end of this year and we are planning different sets for most of the
gigs. A novelty for us will be an appearance in the famous Rock Church
in Helsinki in the beginning of June. We look forward to this.
Sutela: Yes, like Peter says, we have plans but we arent
in any hurry. We just play and practice new songs and then see what
happens. Many great gigs are coming up during this year. That church
concert is one of the highlights. The guys couldnt make the
trip to Japan in 1960s, because they were so young and their parents
wouldnt let them go, but now it would be possible to go there.
So, Japan we are ready for you!
Photos by courtesy of Aki