Posts Tagged ‘riff rock’

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.

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STONER KINGS 2018

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Check out the brand spanking new Stoner Kings mini-documentary and music video for our song Limbonic Void, shot by our good friends, pro video team Marko Simonen and Jarmo Katila.  Marko edited the video together, doing a helluva job!

This feature was filmed on March 3 this year at Helsinki’s Nosturi, as we opened for the legendary Fu Manchu from California, USA.  This gig was one of our definitive career highlights over the past 18 years since our inception, and we wanted to record it for posterity.

You can catch Stoner Kings LIVE next tonight, May 3, at Helsinki’s Bar Loose, as we play the prelim round of this year’s Tuska-Torstai band contest.  There are six bands in total on the bill – Stoner Kings, Grin, Saints For Mass Production, Licuation, The Nomad and Torchia – each showcasing their best wares, with the first act hitting the stage at 20:00 and us finishing last at 22:30.  Come on out and cast your live votes and help usher Stoner Kings to the main stage of this summer’s Tuska Open Air metal festival in Helsinki!

Stoner comic frame TEXT ALT

Drawn and inked by Yours Truly, digital colors by Crystal Hughes (www.jenired.deviantart.com)

Just over a week ago, I had the express pleasure of playing alongside one of the godfathers of the stoner rock genre and one of my personal groove/riff rock favorites: Fu Manchu.

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We lit that Helsinki stage on fire the night of March 10. (photo: Marko Simonen)

I remember when I started my own stoner rock band, Stoner Kings, in the year 2000. I still vividly recall the backlash that we got from especially the Finnish stoner rock scene at the time. All the hate mail and criticisms over our name. “Who the hell do these guys think they are, calling themselves the Stoner Kings?”, that was pretty much the adverse sentiment of our detractors.

I recall clubs that refused to book us because their bookers disliked our name and image. I recall certain bands in the same genre not wanting anything to do with us (which I’ll refrain from naming, as there’s no need to go so low), refusing to play with us even, due to our name. There was so much spite from a small, but influential, sector of the music industry toward Stoner Kings, that it was baffling.

Stoner Kings StarBuck Michael and Joonas

It ain’t supposed to be pretty! (photo: Saara Planting)

Alas, we persevered, regardless. I personally put out our debut album back in 2001 as a self-released title, and I sent 300 physical copies out to the various hard music medias worldwide. We got a ton of press, most of it good to very good to excellent for Brimstone Blues. They likened us to a mix of Skid Row meets Monster Magnet with the energy and intonation of Guns ‘n Roses. Some said we were like a sludged down Mötley Crüe. Others said we were like a potent mix of stoner rock and 70’s glam with a very distinct LA vibe.

Once we put out our second album, Fuck The World in 2006, the music business had changed considerably and stoner rock in general had gone back underground. Our sophomore album title reflected our backlash at the haters that we’d amassed after our debut. It was a big, fat middle finger to every detractor that chose to stand against Stoner Kings just for us being ourselves.

Stoner Kings Rude bassist

It was never my intention to imply by our name (as our most vehement detractors claimed) that we were somehow “better” than Kyuss, Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu — the big three of the stoner rock genre. I chose Stoner Kings as a name since it embodied the kind of bravado that I had become familiar with over my time and career in pro wrestling. Everything was over-the-top, larger than life and bold beyond belief. Who the hell wants to be low-key and hide in the bushes when you’re out to make an imprint and make your own mark on the world? Go for broke or go home, that’s what I believe.

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J-J “Crash” Kontoniemi lays down the rhythms like a monster. (photo: Marko Simonen)

So we went all-out with Stoner Kings from day one. Just like Alice Cooper did. Just like Motley Crue did. Just like WASP did. Just like all of the greats before us did. If you want to become the best, then learn from the best. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, then take Arnold Schwarzenegger’s word:

And so it is, that we come to 2018, two years into the comeback of Stoner Kings after an eight-year AWOL absence (2008-2016), and to the date of March 10 in Helsinki, Finland. That was the day that Stoner Kings got the chance to play with one of the three greats of the stoner rock genre. That was the day that we got to share the stage with Fu Manchu, and it’s a day that I’ll fondly remember for the rest of my life.

Stoner Kings Fu Manchu Helsinki March 10 2018

I personally take great pride in this opportunity and moment. It was a milestone for me personally. Chatting with the boys in Fu Manchu showed how cool they were with Stoner Kings, as they warmly accepted us opening up for them at Helsinki’s Nosturi. Fu Manchu frontman Scott Hill even dedicated their song California Crossing to us at the event, upon hearing that it was my personal favorite album (and title track) from their band.

So thank you, Fu Manchu, for giving Stoner Kings the opportunity to play alongside you guys. Thank you to Zachris at Live Nation Finland, who made it possible for us to play with these fellas. And thank you to the stellar 800-strong audience on hand at Nosturi the night of March 10 in Helsinki and the rousing, heartfelt ovation that they gave Stoner Kings, also. 

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Fu Manchu’s vocalist Scott Hill and I share a few words. (photo: Marko Simonen)

Catch Stoner Kings next in concert on May 3 at Bar Loose in Helsinki as part of the Tuska-Torstai band contest, where the overall winner gets the opportunity to play Finland’s premiere, annual metal festival, Tuska Open Air this summer.

Hey folks, it’s been awhile since I last blogged, but things have been hectic!

I have huge news: this Thursday, on November 3 in Helsinki at On The Rocks, my infamous Stoner Kings band makes a return comeback to live gig action!

It’s been eight long years since we last played, and incidentally, our final gig was at On The Rocks then, too!  Since our inception in 2000, Stoner Kings recorded two studio albums, Brimstone Blues (2001) and Fuck The World (2006), going through a few line-up changes in the process, before calling it quits in late 2008.

Now, in late 2016, Stoner Kings are back with a new line-up, consisting of myself on vocals (as always), co-founding member Janne “Crash” Kontoniemi back on drums, Rude Rothstén from the 2007-2008 incarnation of Stoner Kings on bass, and Joonas Vespä on guitar.

Don’t be unfortunate and miss out on this monumental comeback gig!  Come on out tomorrow night at On The Rocks in Helsinki for the dawning of the new Stone Age!!!

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