NATIONAL NAPALM SYNDICATE

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with the guitarist Jukka Kyrö from the Finnish thrash metal band National Napalm Syndicate (NNS) was done through an internet chat in May 2003.

How are you doing?
I'm just fine thanx, the NNS studio session is finally completed and I'm rehearsing with Burning Point for the Sweden Rock festival.

Sounds good, is Burning Point the top priority or is NNS just as important to you?
At the moment I'm very excited about NNS and I will concentrate on that for a while, both of the bands are priority to me, but NNS was always my "baby" so who knows what will happen in the future!

It was about two months ago now that you released your last album with Burning Point entitled "Feeding The Flames", what has the response been like so far?
It's been O.K. some of the reviews have been very good and people have understood what the band is all about, and some reviews have only focused to the Stratovarius / Sonata Arctica thing...I don't really concider us to be a "POWER METAL" band in the same vein as the Strato etc. we're more into older metal.

But you are very satisfied with the album yourselves?
Yeah, it sounds really good, of course I would always like everything sound heavier, but it's cool...

And the other band members don't agree with you that it should sound heavier?
Some of them do, it's the normal thing the band has 4 members and everyone has their own favorite bands etc. , but I think that in the end we make pretty good mix with our different influencies.

Different opinions and influences are often good for a band. Now on to National Napalm Syndicate: as you mentioned you have recently complete the recordings of a new promo cd, could you tell us a little about it?
Yeah of course, I wrote 8 new songs with our another guitarist Markku and chose/voted for 4 songs to be demoed in the new Tonebox stidios here in Oulu. We spend the weekend in the studio and came out with the most agressive and violent NNS music ever!

Is the aggression and violence the difference between the new material compared to the old?
Well of course we play our instruments helluva lot better than we used to in the late 80's/early 90's . And the song writing is a bit more simple than it used to be, not 20 different riffs per song... but everyone who has heard the new stuff says that you can instantly regognise the band as National Napalm Syndicate. There's the "new" guys in the band of course, so thats the biggest difference to the old NNS.

That's right, your new line-up consists (besides you and the other guitarist of the original line-up) of former and current members of bands like Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Burning Point and Catamenia, is this the strongest line-up in the band's history?
Yeah, I think so, these guys are total pros with their instruments and they are easy to work with...in the old days there was always problems with vocalists and egos. And these guys were sober in the studio!

That's a good thing, I guess that wasn't the case back in the late 80's?
No, we were always in trouble with alcohol and shit like that...that was one of the reasons we broke up in the first place. Now we are older and much wiser, don't get me wrong we still drink and party, but not when we are working!!

You chose the Tonebox studio in Oulu for the recording session, why did you choose this studio? Did the recordings go as planned?
Tonebox is the best studio here in northern Finland and the guys are totally cool. They opened the studio couple of weeks ago and we got to try out the equipment for a VERY cheap price. The recordings went better than we expected,we now have THE guitar sound we've always been after and the over all atmosphere at the studio was unbelievable!

Did you produce the album all by yourselves or did you have someone to help you out?
Well yeah, it was mostly selfproduced, but the tonebox guys helped out to get the sounds we were after.

Are the people at Tonebox musicians as well or are they strictly into the producing side of the music business?
They have played in bands their whole lives. but I don't think they have any records out or anything. I guess they won't have much time for anything else than the studio from now on.

Not much has been heard from National Napalm Syndicate for over a decade, when, how and why did you reform the band? Was it a result of metal in general becoming more popular once again?
We have been playing guitars together with Markku all this time, but there was always some other shit going on so that we could not start the band again. Now we just decided that the time was right, the songs came really easy together and when Altti promised to join we just did it. The Metal scene never went away for me, it's the music that I have loved my whole life and I will paly it as long as I physically can! Actually I think that these Numetal bands which made metal popular to the masses only made it harder to get real metal heard.

What goals and plans do you have for the reforming of the band?
First of all we try to get a deal for the band and after that make full album. Maybe some gigs as long as everyones schedule can be worked out.

When was the band originally formed and what was the original line-up?
We started around 1986/87, we had a dude called Vesa Ruokangas on vocals, me and Markku on guitars, Juha Vuorma on bass and Pasi Pauanne on drums. We di one demo with this line-up.

What line-up changes did you go through and when?
Vesa left the band 1988 and we got Aku Raaska to do the vocals, with him we did 2-3 demos and the album for EMI 1989. When the album was released Aku left and we got yet again a new singer Heikki Lesonen...with Heikki we did one demo and recorded split album with Sacred Crucifix. That was never released! The singer lost / got drunk with the money for the album...

Had any of you had any previous band experiences before forming NNS? What musical backgrounds did you have?
None really, we were really young when we started, of course we had some school bands before, playing ac dc covers and stuff, but NNS was the first real band for us all.

Did you start out playing covers or did you begin writing your own material right away?
We played Metallica's Kill Em All songs and Exodus songs from the first album. But I think that we started the songwriting right away...that was the best thing about thrash in those days, you didn't have to be Yngwie to play guitar in a metal band.

What musical influences did you have? What did you listen to back then? Mainly old-school thrash / speed metal?
The main influence was Exodus and Paul Baloff. Of course Slayer and Dark Angel were there too and I was listening to a lot of hard core punk in those days, I liked the power in those bands. Black Sabbath, Sacrifice (Canada), Testament there's so many cool bands from those days that we could do a interview of our own just talking about them!

We're not going to :-), why did you choose the name National Napalm Syndicate? Was this your original name and who came up with it?
Me and Markku came up with the name, first it was National Napalm Storm, but we changed it to Syndicate soon after. I think that the idea came from Apocalypse Now! movie, I remember watching it and getting these ideas from the movie. Of course we had some beer watching it and that did the trick.

You are from Pudasjärvi, a small town outside Uleåborg in the mid-north of Finland, were there any other good bands in this area when you started out?
Not really, we were the only long haired guys in our town and we were in deep shit all the time because of that. Pudasjärvi is a very religious small hole and we were anti-christ for these people, they have this cult thing going on there. In our next town Kuusamo there were other metal bands like A.R.G. and we hangout with those guys a lot!

Did you play any live shows? In that case with what bands? Do you remember your first gig?
We played quite a lot actually, mostly with A.R.G. and Stone. I guess at the time we played with every speed / thrash bad there was in finland. Our first gig was in Kuusamo, and it sucked. The people at the show didnt quite understand what we were up to...they wanted to hear real music not noise...

What demos did you record and what years?
That's a hard one, first one came 1987 I think and the one we got the deal with might have been 1989. There was few demos for the EMI only so I don't really remember when or how many we did all in all.

Did the 1987 demo have a title?
In The Time Of Full Moon, or something I might be wrong about the title , but we had a demo with that name in the early days.

Your one and only album so far, the self-titled "National Napalm Syndicate", was released through Parlophone (EMI) in 1989. Are you happy with the outcome of the album?
Well I'm very suprised that so many people have heard the album or have heard about the band, the album was only released in Finland. We still get quite a lot of mail from all over the world and when I do Burning Point interviews people ask about NNS. But I not happy with the way EMI handled us, that sucked big time, with proper promotion and work we could have been bigger. They had the money but they didn't know how to work with a metal band.

A certain website dedicated to Finnish hard rock and metal claims that you "had a poor man's Zetro Souza on vocals" back then, do you agree?
Yes, I do, sorry about that Aku. The vocals were always our weekest link in the band.

When and why did you split up?
1991, we were fightin all the time and I moved to Oulu and the others to different cities in Finland. Some of the guys just didn't like the band going to a heavier direction and that was it, I don't compromise.

What have the former band members been doing since you broke up? Did you start with Burning Point right away?
The other guys had some bands but nothing happened with them. I went to play in different HC PUNK bands and finally in 2000 started BP with the other guys.

Did you release anything with the hc punk bands?
Few eps and one album...

What were the names of the bands?
Amazing Tails was one of them, it was more melodic type of thing, but I liked the fast shit.

Your former bass player Juha Vuorma became a famous album cover artist and did work for bands like A.R.G., Autopsy, Whiplash and Unholy, was he responsible for the cover art and logo of your own album as well?
The logo was his, but the cover was from Friedrich, old german painter... he will do our new cover if we make an album.

What do the current band members do except for music, do you have full-time jobs to handle as well?
I have a business of my own, I do music promotion and merchandise wholesale etc. Altti is a engineer or something, Jari (drummer) is a truck driver and Tero (bass) doesn't do anything. Markku is thinking about going to school.

The Finnish metal scene is very rich in bands and is growing rapidly all the time. Do you like any of the younger Finnish metal bands?
Sure, children of bodom are cool and kalmah. Demigod is great, as long as they play heavy it's good.

What music do you listen to yourself these days? What are your favorite bands at the moment?
I listen to a lot of death metal, malevolent creation and death etc. At the moment I think that The Haunted is doing good things and the other swedish bands like Defleshed etc. the scene is good.

I agree with you on The Haunted, they are a great live band as well. Any final words to close the interview with?
Well thanks for the interview and get the album when we get it out, it will be heavy and very aggressive, you won't be disappointed!

STAY HEAVY!!

Thanks a lot to you too for taking a lot of time to answer these questions!
THANX TO YOU!


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