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In A Transition State with the Almighty OZ

In A Transition State with the Almighty OZ

The story of the heavy metal collective known as OZ commenced exactly 40 years ago in the country of Finland, and throughout the years, the band has rocked the entire world with underground classics such as Heavy Metal Heroes, Fire In The Brain, and Roll The Dice After a state of slumber, OZ would unleash Burning Leather in 2011 on AFM Records, featuring new songs as well as re-recordings of older fan favorites.  And now in the year of 2017, OZ returns with a triumphant album of brand new heavy metal anthems entitled Transition State on AFM Records.

Highwire Daze Online recently caught up with drummer and founding member Mark Ruffneck to find out more about the past, present, and future epic adventures of OZ.  Topics include the formation of OZ 2017 and the making of Transition State, recollections of the early days of OZ, working with Black Mark Production and encounters with the legendary Quorthon of Bathory, favorite beer of choice, and a whole lot more!  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in OZ, and how long the band has been together.
Mark Ruffneck: I’m the Drummer of OZ and also the founding member of OZ. OZ started as a local cover band in a little village, Nakkila, Finland. I started OZ in 1977 (40 years ago) with the first bass player, Tauno Vajavaara R.I.P. (He had his funeral at the same day as Lemmy). We had been playing before OZ in some other local bands and we were always playing the same Beatles and Rolling Stone songs and we decided that we will only play some hard rock! Summer, Beer…then it’s quite easy to start a Hard Rock band. We had the same inspirations as all kids who start a rock band..;) Play music, be a star, get laid and just wanna be somebody. We listened to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Nazareth and Alice Cooper and thought: this is awesome music, let’s put a band together and play like those guys. During the years there have been several line-up changes and this latest line-up on ”Transition State” album has been together 2-3 years.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
Mark Ruffneck: I’ve been living in Stockholm, Sweden since ’83 and the rest of the band is living in OZ’s old home town Pori/Björneborg in Finland, so we can say that we went back to OZ’s roots with this new OZ line-up. The local metal scenes in both places are good and there are several bands playing different kinds of metal music. Especially Stockholm is the big city all big rock stars and rock bands visit when they are touring in Europe. So for me there’s some travelling from my home town to rehearsals in Pori/Björneborg in Finland, but at the same time our rehearsals are more focused, when we are not living in the same place.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Transition State?
Mark Ruffneck: Oh yes, there is a story behind the album title ”Transition State”. When we started to record this new album we didn’t have any album name, but during this ”crazy” recording process I started to think about the name and got this idea that it should be a kind of which also informs the situation where the band was at the moment and then I came up with this name. And TRANSITION STATE as the name of the new album and the situation in which we were, and still are, was the solution for my idea. Why is the name coming from Quantum mechanics? Well, after the first break at 1991 I started to study Chemistry in University and also got Ph.D in Structural Biology and Biophysics, so for me it was a logical name for this situation in which we are, ”Transition State”; moving from one point to the next and there is no way to turn back. “Transition State”; we are heading to the future with new songs and a new line-up.

Select two songs from Transition State and what inspired the lyrics.
Mark Ruffneck: I asked Johnny Cross about this question and he has this to say:
1. Bone Crusher
Bone Crusher” was inspired by OZ’s former vocalist Ape De Martini, especially his intimidating stage presence. So I just kind of wrote a song about him and also about playing rock n’ roll and kicking ass!
2. Restless
Restless” is also a song about playing rock n’ roll and kicking ass, but even more it’s a song about OZ; about sticking around year after year against all odds and doing what we are meant to do and what we love. Being restless and always hungry for something more is what keeps us alive!

What could one expect from a live OZ show?
Mark Ruffneck: Loud and Proud OZ playing in 80’s style classic Heavy Rock. Smoke, Fire and Lightning. Some old, classic OZ songs together with new songs on the set list.

Has OZ ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
Mark Ruffneck: Yes, we did a Club tour in USA east coast 2013 and if it’s possible we will play in USA at some point in the near future.

What do you think has kept you so passionate about OZ after all of this time and throughout many lineup changes?
Mark Ruffneck: People don’t know the fact that I started OZ 40 years ago with our first bass player Tani