Posts Tagged ‘Hannu Leiden’

“Stoner Kings are benchmarking a whole new sound standard for stoner rock as a whole!”

Hannu Leiden 01.jpg

Hannu Leidén

Alas, we’ve reached the end of recordings for our third Stoner Kings album, which will carry the name Alpha Male. As a special introspective we thought to do a second interview with our producer, Hannu Leidén, following the grand close of this monumental project.
Hannu initially had a certain vision of things as we set out last year on recording the songs for this album. You can read that interview here:
Let’s see what views and things have changed and how our producer feels about the new Stoner Kings material overall as we close the loop on our third album before its release!
* * * * *
Q: How have your views and impressions about Stoner King’s third album material changed over the course of this past year, having recorded and produced the band over the past 12 months now?
A: In my opinion, Stoner Kings have been searching for their own style inside of the stoner rock/metal genre since their beginnings. On this album, they’ve finally arrived. They’ve found their own style, their own niche. It’s damn near impossible to define stoner rock in general in only a few words, as the boundaries of the genre itself are very vague. With this forthcoming album, Stoner Kings are benchmarking a whole new sound standard for stoner rock as a whole!
Q: What was the most challenging part of the recording process in your role as producer?
A: The hardest part was definitely the fact that there was no set example that Stoner Kings were attempting to emulate. We had to construct an album from scratch that would come to define an entire musical genre from here on out, as auspicious as that sounds.
Q: You’ve now worked with sound engineer Eero Kaukomies for several years. You guys are like a team in many ways. What makes working with Eero so fluid?
A: Eero happens to be a very capable musician in his own right (having played in Geman metal powerhouse Gamma Ray, amongst a host of others) and he has the same work ethic as me. I’m still very much an analog guy. Eero, on the other hand, is more in tune with the digital age. Combining these two approaches helps produce optimal results in my opinion. Eero also happens to be one of the most adept Pro Tools users that I have ever seen.
Eero Kaukomies and Hannu Leiden

Eero Kaukomies and Hannu Leidén

Q: You and sound engineer Eero Kaukomies really tried to make this new Stoner Kings album arguably the best sounding stoner rock release recording quality-wise that the market has to offer. Open up the world of sound in this regard to the readership, to give them a better understanding of the standard you aimed to achieve.
A: We tried to retain some of the core aspects of the stoner rock soundscape, such as the grit of the genre’s aggressive garage sound, as well as making sure that the vocals weren’t too up-front. With the drums we kept the cymbals quite in the forefront. I wanted the arrangements to be clear-cut and anything that was unnecessary we trimmed away. For example, one of the band’s new songs called Universal has vibes going back to ‘70s acid rock acts like Hawkwind. I wanted to ensure that Stoner Kings’ bassist Rude Rothstén’s playing was duly noted as a defining factor in the band’s music, as he has a very unique sound. Another key factor was to run all of the rhythm guitars through a Marshall JCM 800 amp. This way, we were able to get more true rock’n’roll into the overall sound.
Q: Which songs of the lot overall stand out in your ears and for what reasons?
A: Bringing Out The Dead. This song is founded on a hypnotic drum rhythm which has a nifty, little hook here and there. The beat is strong and the vocals are very unique. The cherry on top here is the guitar riff, which carries the song from start to finish. Plus, vocalist StarBuck’s highlight coughs (channeling Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf) are as authentic as can be! Another song I just mentioned a moment ago, Universal, pays homage to the ‘70s in spirit, making this old rocker’s heart all warm and fuzzy.
Q: What kinds of people would you see enjoying the new Stoner Kings album?
A: I hope and believe that everyone and anyone that’s into heavy rock in general, and especially the diehard metalheads out there, will find something intriguing and captivating here. One thing is for sure; the stoner rock faithful will sure get a new bone to chew on with this one!
Q: What market sectors and countries would you see this third Stoner Kings album resonating in most of all? Thanks for your time and kudos for the good work on this upcoming album!
A: I believe that central and southern Europe, as well as Japan and the USA, would be best suited for this new Stoner Kings material. But even moreso, I believe that stoner rock bands worldwide will take influences from this upcoming album after hearing it, regardless of where they come from.
Stoner Kings at Sonic Pump with Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom (photo by Marko Simonen)

Stoner Kings mug with Alexi Laiho from Children Of Bodom (middle) as well as Eero and Hannu at Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki (photo: Marko Simonen)

I’ve been a performing musician for the past 19 years, and as such I’ve enjoyed a modicum of adventure and success around the world.

My own baby is a band I created back in 2000, which I called Stoner Kings. The name is a takeoff on Josh Homme’s Queens Of The Stone Age band, which I found to have an absurdly contradictory name back in the day. “If there’s a queen, there must also be a king!” I mused to myself. And alas, in my personal bravado and grandeur, I auspiciously called my own heavy rock outfit, complete with chunky, grooving riffs and heavy drums beats, Stoner Kings.



We released our debut album back in 2001, entitled Brimstone Blues. At the time, I felt like I had conquered the world. It was my maiden voyage, with my very own crew, me, the captain of the ship. Sure, I had been in a band prior to this, but it was someone else’s ship. I was just a crew member. With Stoner Kings, it was mine, all mine.

We went through the ups and downs, trudged the roads of trial and tribulation, met adversity from those others might have deemed “brothers” in our chosen genre, were kicked off stage in the middle of a particular set, and traveled Europe together. It was a brilliant time, one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

In 2006, we released our sophomore effort, entitled Fuck The World. I was pissed off, angry at our detractors and tired of smacking our heads against the glass ceiling. In Finland, it was a small circle of inside members, and if you weren’t hip with the big boys, then you weren’t playing ball. I bucked the system with FTW, gave as good as we got and then some. That said, we did pretty good with FTW domestically in Finland, although we failed to make a bigger imprint with it globally.


Eero Kaukomies and Hannu Leidén

In 2007-2008, Stoner Kings went through some major upheaval. All the guys in the band got overhauled and changed, except for Yours Truly, Captain StarBuck. It was a tumultuous time, one that saw a very disjointed and wavering adaption of Stoner Kings. It wasn’t going to last and it didn’t. At the end of 2008, I called it quits and hung it up with my baby.

I engaged in different bands after Stoner Kings, finding solace in other musical endeavors and efforts. Yet, deep down, I knew Stoner Kings was my brainchild. It was my imprint, for better or worse. You can’t run from who you are and you can’t bullshit yourself. And so it was, that at the end of 2016, I felt the urge become undeniable. I reformed Stoner Kings, complete with my my original drummer Janne Kontoniemi, 2007-2008 bassist Rude Rothstén and a young, hungry guitarist named Joonas Vepsä.


Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom) lends a hand to one of our new songs with a mean lead & solo!

I had a vision. I had unrealized songs hidden away in my musical drawer, just begging to be released. Songs I had written in part 15 years earlier. They were ready, awaiting to be incarnated on tape. Other tunes had been spawned within the past few years. Yes, I was still churning out the only kind of rock that I knew how to make with my eyes closed. Chunky, heavy, groovy, catchy, riff-laden, attitude-infested raw rock. The kind that cavemen would dig. Primal. Animalistic. Simple.

And so it was that over the past year, from the fall of 2017 to the fall of 2018, we did our due diligence in the studio. We performed and laid down recordings over three separate sessions in order to focus our energies on writing a quartet of songs at a time. We got serious. Driven.

Now, here in the autumn of 2018, on a Monday tagged October 8, we brought our newest Stoner Kings incarnation of an album to a successful close. We mastered the thing at Chartmakers West in Espoo, Finland, under the auspices of Svante Forsbäck. Our producer Hannu Leidén and our sound engineer and mixer Eero Kaukomies stood by with us as we finalized the deal. It was a group effort, and we all shared in the thrill of the kill.


Svante Forsbäck puts the final mastering touches on our new album today.

So alas, here we are now, with a complete, finished third Stoner Kings album in hand. Even in today’s desperately crappy record label jungle, I’ll still shop this doozy around to see if any possible players are game out there. Knowing the nature of the game and dire numbers of physical album sales, I’m not holding my breath for any miracles. Nonetheless, I’ll do my best on behalf of my baby. I believe staunchly in the product we’ve created and it’s an absolute killer in my ears.

Soon, very soon, you’ll hear it, too.

Remember the name: Stoner Kings.

This past late autumn, we hit the studio with Stoner Kings in preparation for our forthcoming third studio album, which, granted, has been a long time coming. It was last in 2006 that we released our sophomore album, Fuck The World, and back in 2001 we released our debut, Brimstone Blues. Now, after making our comeback to gigging and recording in late 2016, we have orienteered ourselves, looking to make album number three come to fruition.
Stoner Kings gang vocals

Gang vocals for chorus lines (l-to-r): Joonas Vepsä, StarBuck, Hannu Leiden, Mikko Metsäruusi

Truth be told, I had written almost all of the songs for our forthcoming album already back in the first half of the 2000s, between Brimstone Blues and Fuck The World. A few of our newer numbers, such as Cro-Magnon and Bray With The Damned, are newer compositions of the past few years, but overall, most of the material that will make it’s way onto our third LP has its roots fifteen or so years back! These songs have been sitting on the drawer, packed away, unused and waiting for the right moment. If the wheel ain’t broke to begin with, there ain’t no use in fixing it, and therefore we’ve worked on honing these previously written, unreleased songs to resound with the Stoner Kings sound as it stands in 2018.
Joonas Vepsä Stoner Kings studio

Joonas lays down some mean and ornery guitar leads

Just this past week, we once again hit the studio under the auspices of producer Hannu Leiden and sound engineer Eero Kaukomies at both Sonic Pump Studios (where we laid down drums, bass and rhythm guitar tracks) and Content Union Studios (where we performed guitar leads and vocals) in Helsinki. We previously recorded with these fellas at the same studios in late 2017, the aftermath of which saw us release singles Cro-Magnon, Bray With The Damned, Universal and a remake of 2001’s Brimstone Blues favorite, Limbonic Void.
Rude Rothsten Stoner Kings studio

Rude pulls off some groovy bass lines

The new songs this time around that we recorded are entitled Bigger Louder Harder, Fucked A.D., Bringing Out The Dead and Damnation’s Own, the last of which we demoed with the third incarnation of Stoner Kings back in 2007 at Samu Oittinen’s FANTOM STUDIO in Tampere, Finland (here below).
I’m sure our followers and fans will be thrilled with the results of our new material, as some of it is more brutal than ever before, whereas select songs have melodic hooks and commercial appeal that will surprise you. Overall, however, you can expect the best Stoner Kings album to date, complete with the promise that we are bringing the roots of rebellion and counter-culture back to world of rock. Whereas everyone is so afraid of rocking the boat and kowtowing to the liberal ideology of modern day society, we are bringing in the counter-strike.
Stoner Kings in the studio

JJ and I listen like hawks to make sure everything goes down by the book

Rock music initially was dangerous, defiant and very much counter-culture oriented. It spoke out against the political undercurrents and popular ideologies of its time. Sadly, rock music has become nothing more than a corporate mule in our modern times, toting the ideocracy of the ruling class, extolling mass social sentiment and offering little more than cheap, lightweight chants to entertain indoctrinated neophytes. Rock has lost its soul. The danger is gone, the spirit is dead.
Stoner Kings are bringing in a revolution in this sense. It’s time. It’s damn time.
Our next gig will be on August 3 at Semifinaali in Helsinki with black metal legends Barathrum and punk rockers Blueintheface in a real mixed salad of a night, and at this gig we’ll have two session musicians filling on on bass and drums, as Rude and JJ are unable to attend due to summer engagements overseas in the USA.  Our original bassist Perttu “Gonzo” Sutinen will be making a one night comeback at Semifinaali and Mikko Metsäruusi from Black.44, with whom we played last year in Tampere, Finland at Jack The Rooster, will be filling in on the skins.  This is going to be a truly interesting night… come on out!!!

Well, folks: after a couple of years of bated wait, after the ups and downs and all the in betweens, my southern rock band Crossfyre’s sophomore album release, Iron Horse, is finally here!

Iron Horse CD sale

I personally did the layout and cover artwork for this slab, and I have to say I am damn proud of the end result.  It looks as killer as it sounds!  And I dare say, we are the equivalent of Finland’s Lynyrd Skynyrd without trying to intentionally sound like them, with Iron Horse.

The album features 10 orginals and two covers: Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower and The Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  Produced by Hannu Leiden at Helsinki’s Seawolf Studios (Hanoi Rocks, Michael Monroe, Dr. Feelgood, Leningrad Cowboys, Amorphis), Iron Horse is as top-notch of a production as it gets in modern days.  It’s also organic in sound: no drum grids, no auto-tuning, no bullshit.  In other words, it has the old school human element to it, which is largely missing from over-produced and clinically-sanitized recorded music these days.  Think of the organic vibe on Guns ‘n Roses’ Appetite For Destruction album and you will get my point.

This spring and summer, we have a slew of gigs upcoming with Crossfyre in several European markets, so mark these down and make sure to come out and see the band when we are in your area or near you:

Crossfyre tour dates:
May 8 On The Rocks, Helsinki FI (Iron Horse album release party — 6e tickets at the door!)
On The Rocks Crossfyre
May 17 Motorcafe Suviranta, Turenki FI
May 24 Seurahovi Night, Porvoo FI (w/Skinny Molly & The Slidemobile)
June 7 FH-DCE Super Rally, Tallinn Estonia
June 10 Alchemia, Bialystok, Poland
June 11 5 Sztuk, Siedlce, Poland
June 12 Alligator, Poznan, Poland
June 13 Free Blues Club, Szczecin, Poland
June 14 Barnaby’s Blues Bar, Braunschweig DE
June 15 TBA Hamburg DE
June 27 Rockin’ by the River festival, Iisalmi FI (
June 28 Kolisewa MC, Karkkila FI
July 5 Saariston Lomakeskus, Mossala FI
Aug 8 Hullu Poro, Levi FI
Aug 14 TBA, Oulu FI
Aug 15 Jänkhällä Jytisee, Saariselkä FI
Aug 16 TBA, Ylivieska FI
More dates are being added to the tour schedule as we speak, so be sure to check for updates at

Crossfyre Iron Horse promotional photo by Jarmo Katila (

This past week, I finished the last remaining vocal tracks at Seawolf Studios in Helsinki for the upcoming Crossfyre album, “Iron Horse”.


Captain ‘Buck lays down the verbal barrage for “Iron Horse”

I laid down vocals for four remaining numbers, including Rolling Stones cover Jumping Jack Flash.  I know that song has been covered to near-death, but we arguably pulled it off in spades, as studio engineer Hannu Leiden was quick to point out.  Hannu has heard everything under the sun, being the vocalist for Havana Black himself, and having gigged far and wide with a variety of acts, in addition recording a literal list of who’s who artistically.


Hannu Leiden recording the last vocals for “Iron Horse” at Seawolf Studios

So as it stands, “Iron Horse” will have 10 originals and two covers, the other being Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, which is one of my personal favorites when we play live.


Crossfyre bassist and backing singer Dan Rönnbacka waits his turn as StarBuck approves the tunes

“Iron Horse” will be mixed shortly by Hannu Leiden at Seawolf Studios, and the album will be released later this year.  Personally, I am hoping for a summer 2013 release, as Crossfyre will play a German mini-tour in July, in addition to the Southern Rock & BBQ Fest in Hyvinkää, Finland, which will be headlined by Skinny Molly & Monsters Southern Rock (featuring members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Foot and Molly Hatchet).

Well, it’s a been a few days since we landed back in Finland after our last German tour with Crossfyre over late September – early October 2012, and I am still feeling the exhaustion from that jaunt.

Last rehearsal before the tour: Jay Jay Asikainen, Jaakko Kinnari, Danny Cross, Jupi Hjelt and StarBuck (left to right)

Our drummer Danny and guitarist Jay Jay drove out to Germany via Sweden and Denmark, whereas bassist Jupi Hjelt (filling in for the MIA Dan Rönnbacka), guitarist Jaakko Kinnari and I flew out ridiculously early in the morning on Wednesday, September 26 to play Bremen on the same evening.

Waiting for our flight out of Helsinki at around 4:00am in the morning … I would rather be in bed fast asleep!

Danny and Jay Jay picked us up at Hamburg Airport, and from there we headed to Meisenfrei Blues Club in Bremen for our first gig.  German wrestling promoter Eddy Steinblock of EPW (European Pro Wrestling) came out to say hello and talk shop.

Wrestling promoter Eddy Steinblock came out to shoot the proverbial shizzat — I have worked several times for Eddy over the years.

Jay Jay and Jupi jam it up in Bremen.

The following day, we drove out to Braunschweig to Barnaby’s Blues Bar owner Peter’s rock and roll mansion – a relic from WWII – before heading out on Friday to Magdeburg for our scheduled next show.

My good pal, Braunschweig promoter Peter’s Labrador dog, Buddy!

Much to our surprise and chagrin, once we arrived at UrBar in Magdeburg, the club owner informed us that the city placed a restriction on all live gigs in their city block back in June of this year.  The problem was, the club booker forgot to inform us of the changes.  It was Spinal Tap 2012 – or perhaps we could call it Anvil – as we realized that not only did we drive all the way out to Magdeburg for nothing, we also ended up losing money because of the lost date and fuel expenses.  I tried to salvage the day by scoping out other venues in the Magdeburg area, should we be so lucky as to score another gig on that same night, but to no avail.  We were screwed.

Crossfyre live on the air at Radio Okerwelle in Braunschweig.

On Saturday, September 29, we played Barnaby’s Blues Bar in Braunschweig.  Before the gig, we did a radio interview plugging the evening’s show at Radio Okerwelle with DJ and all-around good guy Florian Damm.  Florian has had us on his station and show for three years in a row now, every time that we have played in Braunschweig, which has kind of become our German hotspot.  Barnaby’s is always a good show when we are in town, with capacity audiences on hand.  This time was no different, as we rocked the house like nobody’s business.

Crossfyre commands the stage at Barnaby’s Blues Bar.

Heading up into the mountains, on Sunday, September 30 we played Rockkneipe Jungfer in Arnstadt.  Club owner Udo is one of a kind, a burly and loud, warm-hearted German bloke whose club is like a cross between a living room and a rehearsal pad.  Udo even got on stage with his harmonica and jammed with us on our final number, ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man!

Rockkneipe Jungfer owner Udo plays a mean harmonica.

Laying down a soulful mood in Arnstadt.

Jaakko Kinnari rips into a solo.

After Arnstadt, it was back to Braunschweig for us, as we had one more gig to play on Tuesday, September 2nd at Barnaby’s.  This was the absolute highlight gig of the whole tour, as the “magic” was most definitely in the air that night, and the band played on “10”, bringing the audience on hand to life.  Truth be told, the folks at Barnaby’s that night had such a blast, that they didn’t want to let us off the stage!  That – I would say – is a job well done.

Jay Jay showcases his blues aptitude for the appreciative audience in Braunschweig.

Yours Truly tears up the stage with a rocking rendition of Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.

Be sure to check out our newest Crossfyre studio offering, called Born to be Free, recorded just before our tour at Seawolf Studios with engineer Hannu Leiden in Helsinki.

When I got back to Finland, I was asked to perform in pop star Jessica Wolff‘s new music video Broken Wings.  The video shoot was on Friday, October 5th in Helsinki, and I portrayed a violent alcoholic who was down on his luck.  Truth be told, that is rather funny and ironic, as I am not a drinker … but I do partake in a rather aggressive sport, being a professional wrestler.  As an interesting side note, Jessica Wolff’s producer Eric Gast has also worked with Britney Spears as an engineer on her hit, Oops!… I Did It Again.  Read Jessica’s own blog about the Broken Wings music video HERE.

StarBuck and Jessica Wolff, on the set of “Broken Wings” (photo by Mikko Löppönen)

By the way, for anyone who wants to “like” my official Facebook page, you can join up HERE.

Also, you can subscribe to my personal music channel on YouTube HERE.

Well, now almost everything is in the proverbial can for my southern rock band Crossfyre‘s follow-up album to Southbound from 2010.  We had a very intense recording jaunt at Seawolf Studios, located off the coast of Helsinki at Suomenlinna sea fortress, with engineer Hannu Leiden (some of you might know him from his own band, Havana Black) over this past week.

Hannu Leiden (left) says I sound like Jim Mangrum from Black Oak Arkansas! (photo by Jarmo Katila)

From Tuesday to Saturday, we recorded all of the drums, guitars, bass and keyboards for our new Iron Horse album, which will be out next year.  We simply ran out of time before I could lay down all of the lead vocals, but I was able to amass an amazing total of eight songs yesterday … and considering the fact that I have been suffering from an extremely aggressive influenza virus for the past four weeks, it is an irrevocable miracle of Almighty God that my voice somehow sounded better than ever yesterday.  Even engineer Leiden had to admit that I did a helluva job, and Hannu really made sure that my best material made tape.  Think about that, folks — eight songs in one day!  Just like Leiden said, the most that any vocalist will reasonably perform in one studio day is four songs.  I did double that.

StarBuck lays down some of the best vocal tracks of his life for Iron Horse

The title track – music and lyrics – were written by Yours Truly, and overall this new album will be honest, classic southern rock in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet.  Whereas the music for Southbound was written by and in large prior to my joining the band in 2010 – with much more in the way of raw blues – the material for Southbound was written for my vocal approach and in light of my strengths as a rock vocalist.  That said, I can honestly say that the material on Iron Horse does not take a back seat to the latest Skynyrd album Last of a Dyin’ Breed in any way, shape or form.  A bold statement, yes, but I am 110% certain that we can back that up, as everyone will hear once Iron Horse is officially released.

Jay Jay Asikainen lays down his solos while Jaakko Kinnari awaits his turn

Iron Horse was supposed to be released last year, in time for Crossfyre’s jaunt aboard the Rock Legends Cruise with ZZ Top and George Thorogood in December 2011, but we only made a limited edition pressing of the demo tracks for the new album to be sold at that gig.  The band decided to up the ante and hire Hannu Leiden, who in all honesty is the number one studio man for southern rock in Finland, to record the official Iron Horse album, which carries a slightly different tracklisting as compared to the Rock Legend’s demo version of the album.  However, I painted the cover art for Iron Horse last year, and this cover will be the one used for the official release of the new album also.

We are now headed next week on a tour of Germany, and our tour dates are as follows:

26/9 Meisenfrei Blues Club – Bremen, DE @ 20:00
27/9 TBA (updates at
28/9 UrBar – Magdeburg, DE @ 21:00
29/9 Barnaby’s Blues Bar -Braunschweig, DE @ 19:00
30/9 Rockkneipe Jungfer – Arnstadt, DE @ 22:00
2/10 Barnaby’s Blues Bar – Braunschweig, DE @ 21:00

Crossfyre’s German tour line-up (l-r): Jay Jay Asikainen, Jaakko Kinnari, Danny Cross, JJ Hjelt (filling in for Dan Rönnbacka) and StarBuck

Photographer extraordinaire Jarmo Katila ( came out to Suomenlinna sea fortress to shoot the band line-up for Iron Horse, and below is one of the great shots from the photo set.

Crossfyre’s Iron Horse album line-up 2012 (photo by Jarmo Katila)