Posts Tagged ‘Stoner Kings’

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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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!!!

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.

Stoner Kings JJ Crash drummer

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.

Here at the end of 2017 as the New Year is about to turn a new page for all of us, I reflect back on what the past 12 months have meant for me personally and professionally.

I have to say from the bottom of my heart that this past year has been one of the best overall years for me on record, especially in terms of my professional wrestling career and movie actor ambitions.  I once stated that if I could do with my life what I dare dream, it would be to become a world-traveled professional wrestler, a touring rock artist and a movie actor.  Here, at the age of 44, I have achieved all of those things and more.  That is certainly something to be proud of, and I can only look to make the good things in life prosper and grow in the fact of each new challenge as life rolls on.

2017 saw me claim my 21st country in pro wrestling, that being Pakistan, this past May.  Pakistan is about as exotic as a location as it gets, and the treatment we got from the local PWE promoters was top-notch.  Five-star hotels, bodyguards and even a presidential suite were all in the offering, as we were treated like royalty by fans and organizers alike.  I was the only wrestler on the international roster out of the Nordics.

StarBuck with Syed Asim Ali Asmi PWE

With the big boss of PWE in Pakistan!

StarBuck vs. Bambikiller in Pakistan

Getting the upper hand on Chris “Bambikiller” Raaber in Lahore, Pakistan

My long-awaited autobiography, Battleground Valhalla, also came out in May through Crowbar Press in the USA, a highly-esteemed publisher of wrestling autobiographies, whose earlier releases include Donnie Fargo, Ole Anderson and Stand Hansen to name a few.  My book has sold great to this date, as I’ve even mailed out a ton of signed copies to folks far and wide who’ve asked for personalized copies.  My story also got released through Kindle on Amazon as a digital e-book, which was icing on the cake!

2017 was the year that I was named the inaugural Valhalla Nordic Wrestling Champion by ’80s pop sensation Samantha Fox and STHLM Wrestling out of Sweden.  After being lauded the honor of interim champion in (again) May, I went on to defeat a very capable up-and-coming young star in Timmy Force on July 8 in Stockholm to become the undisputed, first Valhalla Nordic champ.  This match was highly-praised by one of the heads of WWE, who was on hand, front-and-center ringside to witness this 30-minute classic that will go down as quite possibly the greatest match to date on Swedish soil.

StarBuck vs Timmy Force VALHALLA Nordic Championship 6

Timmy Force falls to my world-famous finisher, the jumping spike piledriver in Stockholm (photo: Fredrik Streiffert)

2017 was the year that I ventured into the studio with my reformed Stoner Kings band, recording new material after a decade of absence.  We even filmed the first-ever music video we ever did with the band for a single called Cro-Magnon, which was a very proud moment for me as the founder of Stoner Kings.

2017 was the year that I took three unprecedented vacations, something I had never done in that number per annum, in Morocco, Romania’s mountains, Spain and Thailand.  Thanks to my wife, Diana, for arranging these trips, as she’s quite the tour organizer and could easily be a commercial tour guide if she chose to do so.

2017 was also the year that I captured my fifth Finnish wrestling championship.  On December 2 in Helsinki at Finland’s biggest annual pro wrestling spectacular, Talvisota XII, I unseated Juhana “King Kong” Karhula in a 25+ minute mat classic, becoming a double-champion this year.

StarBuck FCF Champion 2017

StarBuck – FCF champion for the fifth time, December 2017 (photo: Marko Simonen)

2017 also saw me featured in two ground-breaking movie releases: It Came From The Desert and Rendel.  Both films have been sold worldwide now and have been dubbed in multiple, foreign languages like Japanese, German and Spanish.  My roles in both movies were incredibly intriguing and important characters, both of which for I was able to channel my vast pro wrestling experience into.

StarBuck in Rendel

My Russian mercenary character in Rendel has arguably the best fight scene in the whole movie

All in all, I can only be thankful for the awesome year that was 2017.  Even as a personal trainer and voice-over speaker, I accumulated several new clients and commissions.  As a graphic artist, several customers utilized my talents as a traditional illustrator.  With my voice, I was able to parlay my talents as a guest ring announcer at various boxing events, in front of new audiences.

Värityskirja kansi Vesileppis

The cover of a children’s coloring book for Vesileppis Sport & Spa hotel in Finland, featuring Yours Truly as the human lead.

I have said that for some unexplained, divine reason, particularly good things happen to me in seven year installments.  This year was one such waypoint.  My previous seven year boon was in 2010, when I debuted as a professional wrestler in Japan – my career goal – where I became a star on the national stage overnight.  Seven years prior to that in 2003, I started the entire professional wrestling phenomenon in Finland, bringing the fighting art form to this neck of the Nordics and teaching it to the very first class of Finnish students in history.  Seven years before that, in 1996, I moved to Finland from my homeland of Canada to begin rewriting personal life history and create a legacy which even I had no inkling of, nor the its magnitude, as the years would roll on.  That said, here at the very end of 2017, I can say with all humility and honesty, that I am the most accomplished and successful professional wrestler in history to this day out of Northern Europe.

I eagerly await to see what 2018 brings.  While the world at large seems to be headed into a maelstrom of uncertainty, I can honestly say that the Good Lord above has blessed my life and continues to do so.  All respect the Big Man upstairs.  For me, the proof is in the pudding!

Well, ladies and gents, it seems that 2017 is turning out to be one of my better years in the wrestling game.

Firstly, my long-awaited autobiography Battleground Vahalla came out through Crowbar Press, and it has since been released on Kindle also!  This book has been selling great, and I am stoked about its success!

Shawn Khan Battleground Valhalla StarBuck

Shawn Khan, the Director of the Middle East and USA for Pro Wrestling Entertainment Pakistan, whom I wrestled for in May of this year, mugs with my autobiography!

Whereas this summer, I became the first-ever Valhalla Nordic Wrestling Champion, a title covering four Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark), I also find myself as the number one contender for the Finnish FCF Wrestling championship title, with a title shot pending and upcoming on December 2 against current FCF titleholder Juhana “King Kong” Karhula at the biggest annual event in Finnish pro wrestling, Talvisota XII.

FCF Haastajalista_17.10

As of late this autumn, I’ve traveled on several occasions to Germany to wrestle, doing very well for myself there against the top European competition, against the likes of Pascal Spalter of Germany and James Mason of England.  Just this past weekend, I toppled Native American superstar and former WWE name Tatanka in Delmenhorst, Germany.

StarBuck vs. James Mason POW Germany

I had one hell of a technical match in Hannover, Germany on October 14 against POW Intercontinental champion James Mason.

On November 11, I will travel to Wittorf, Germany to wrestle a mammoth of a man in Voodoo from the UK at DWA Harley Night XVII, and on November 25, I travel to Moscow, Russia to fight at Wrestliada 2017, which is the biggest Russian pro wrestling event of the year on an annual basis.

DWA Harley Night 2017

In addition, I have some marquee gigs with my band Stoner Kings coming up on November 17 in Helsinki in support of Swedish heavy rock powerhouse Sparzanza at Nosturi’s Alakerta venue and on November 18 in Tallinn, Estonia at Rockstars, where Stoner Kings will be joined by Redneck Rampage from Estonia and Hold from Finland.

Stoner Kings 2017

Stoner Kings are back on the attack, with monsterously potent new music soon coming out! (photo: Marko Simonen)

Right now, I am in the studio with both my Stoner Kings and Crossfyre bands, as we have new music coming out at the end of this year also!

In closing, get this: the It Came From The Desert movie (based on the famous 1989 Amiga video game) that I play a key role in has now been sold worldwide, as far as Japan!  Add to that the fact that Finland’s first-ever superhero action movie Rendel has been scooping up tons of international acclaim and licenses, and I’d feel comfortable saying the snowball of momentum is super-hot right now!

It Came From The Desert JAPAN

Stay tuned, more infos coming soon!

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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