The Ragged Saints: Sonic Reveries from the Rock and Roll Playground
The Ragged Saints: Sonic Reveries from the Rock and Roll Playground
Based out of Finland, The Ragged Saints play melodic rock that will tantalize the senses and place a great big smile upon the face of even the most jaded of music critic. Sonic Playground Revisited is the name of their latest magnum opus, jammed packed with vibrantly infectious tunes and now available worldwide through AOR Heaven. The Ragged Saints have opened for the likes of Reckless Love and House Of Lords, and are ready to break out of their Scandinavian home base and rock out for an entire world. Highwire Daze caught up with guitarist Tomi Julkunen to find out a whole lot more about The Ragged Saints and their sonic rock and roll reveries. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in The Ragged Saints, and how long the band has been together.
I’m Tomi Julkunen, and I play lead, rhythm and acoustic guitar for The Ragged Saints. I also sing backing vocals at our live shows. I’m one of the main songwriters in the band.
The band was formed in the fall of 2011. Well, me and our other guitarist Toni Bite started to write songs then, but we recruited other members in 2012 just before we started to record our songs in the proper recording studio. We were not even supposed to be a real band. Original idea was to record couple of hard rock songs just for fun and put them on Soundcloud or something like that. But, as we wrote so many songs, we thought that we could make a whole album. That’s when we decided to put a band together.
Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
We’re based in Helsinki, Finland. I’m actually the only one who lives here but this is our home town I’d say. This is where our first rehearsal room was and where we have played most of our live shows.
The music scene in Helsinki is great at the moment. Lots of young and hungry hard rock and heavy metal bands around here. I’m really happy to see so many youngster forming bands with real instruments and having great time doing it.
How did you wind up signing with AOR Heaven?
The record company who released our first album The Sound Of Breaking Free just vanished. I don’t know what happened, but they just disappeared. So, we had to start shopping around for the second album. Last spring we sent couple of new songs to 10 different labels, and five of them were interested in releasing the album. In the end AOR Heaven gave us the best deal, and seemed to be the most suitable for us.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Sonic Playground Revisited?
Yeah, I actually came up with the title. I wanted to have a title that’s original, memorable and looks cool on the album cover. So, one day I was riding my bike and the name just came out of blue. Sonic playground means recording studio; it’s our own playground and sandbox where we can do whatever we like. So basically the title means going back to studio.
Select two songs from Sonic Playground Revisited and what inspired the lyrics.
My first pick is Just Believe to which I wrote the lyrics for. It’s about this girl I used to date for a while years ago. She had all kinds of trouble going on in her life, and I wanted to write lyrics that would make her feel better. Hopefully lot of people can relate to those lyrics, especially when they are going through difficult times.
Second one is Turning Cold. I wrote lyrics for that one too. It’s also about a real person. She had lot of stuff going on, mental problems and such. She really didn’t know why she had these crazy mood swings all the time. It was like at one moment she was happiest person in the world and next thing you know she was feeling like she was going to sink into a black hole. On top of that she used to date a guy who fucked her over big time, and because of that she didn’t trust guys anymore.
Who did the cover art for Sonic Playground Revisited and how much input did you have on it?
Our guitarist Toni did the cover art. We had another cover ready to go but at the last minute we thought that it wasn’t striking and interesting enough. So, Toni come up with this great concept and off he went. He did a layout and send it to me. I did few suggestions, and we did this a couple of times until it was perfect. I personally think it’s one of the greatest album covers in years. There’s lots of stuff to look at. Would look great as a vinyl album cover.
What could one expect from a live The Ragged Saints show?
You would see and hear five guys playing the music they love. As we’re a small band we don’t put on a big show with pyro and all that, at least not yet. All I can say is that you will leave our show with big smile on your face thinking that the world is not such a bad place after all. That I can guarantee.
What was it like opening for Reckless Love and did you get to meet or hang out with them at all?
It was awesome experience! It was full house of hard rock fans and they loved our set. It was actually our biggest audience so far. We got to meet and hung out with the band before and after the show. I had met them before at this big festival where I was playing with my other band, so I was acquainted with them already. Naturally there was a big backstage party afterwards. They’re all great guys, really down to earth. We would play with them any day. At the show we could do whatever we wanted, there were no weird rules for support band.
If The Ragged Saints could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I have to pick two; playing with Def Leppard and Whitesnake would be a dream come true to us. It would be great three band package; The Ragged Saints would go on first to get things going, then Whitesnake and then Def Leppard to blow off the roof! I have supported Whitesnake twice with my other band and it was mind-blowing experience, such a great band and lovely bunch of guys! The whole idea of doing something together with Toni started at the one of those Whitesnake concerts. Toni was my guitar tech for that night and after the show we were talking at backstage that it would be cool to write couple of hard rock songs and record them. And couple of years later it really happened.
Has The Ragged Saints ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?
We haven’t played any shows outside Finland so far. Of course we would love to play in the States and everywhere else. At the moment there’s no plans to do any tours outside Finland. So, if any booking agents are reading this, feel free to contact us!
What goes through your mind as The Ragged Saints verge on your 10th year as a band in 2021?
Holy shit, I didn’t even realized that it’s been that long since we started this! Time just seems to fly. But yeah, as Sonic Playground Revisited is only our second album in almost a decade I feel like a lazy bastard hah! Seriously, it’s great. Not many bands even last that long. And even though we didn’t play together much during hiatus we were still in contact with each other and talked about finishing the record at some point.
Are you or any other members involved with any other projects outside of The Ragged Saints?
Yes indeed; we all have other bands and projects. This is what we love to do; play music. I have a band called The Milestones who’s been around for 25 years already. I also just recently started this new band called Ginger Evil. Our singer Markku Kuikka is in Crow’s Flight and Agonizer, and has several other music projects going. Miikki Kunttu (drummer) plays in Fear Of Domination, Jukka Hoffrén (bass) plays in Amberian Dawn and Adamantra, and Toni has a few bands and projects going. So we’re all pretty busy outside The Ragged Saints. That’s one of the reasons why making this new album took so long.
What’s up next for The Ragged Saints?
Maybe we should book at least couple of live shows. It seems that with the new album out there would be demand for it. Of course we need to discuss if we want to start writing our third album. But we’ll see. There’s definitely something happening at some point in the near future.
Any final words of wisdom?
Keep hard rock music alive and buy the album. You won’t be disappointed! And if we come to play near you, come and see the show, it will put the smile on your face for days.
The Ragged Saints are:
Vocals: Markku Kuikka
Guitars: Tomi Julkunen
Guitars: Toni Bite
Drums: Miikki Kunttu
Bass: Jukka Hoffrén
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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