Friday, July 28, 2017

Dimi Pontiac of Ranger Interview (2017)

Snippet of Dimi taken from a photo taken by Emma Grönqvist.
Edited by me, Olivia Franks. I know, I suck. I tried



Hey Dimi! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk, you must be very busy with the upcoming Europe tour approaching. What have you had to do to prepare for that? Do you need to pack extra light, have band practice a lot, etc., and is it a hassle, or are you guys more excited than anything?


Hey Olivia and sorry for a bit delay. The tour ended about two weeks ago now. We were really excited about the upcoming tour and of course after that really tired and exhausted. We had 23 shows in the row with no day offs! Overall the shows were great most of the time and we went places weʼve never been before. Well some of us pack light and Iʼve should done the same since I lost couple of stuff along the way.

With the most recent release from the band being “Speed and Violence”, how has the reception been overall of the album, so far, and did it exceed your expectations?
Oh yes it did! I was really surprised actually how the reception was immediately. Even better than with the first album. I think we have sold a decent amount of copies and the single of Lethal Force too. Eternally grateful whoever has stumble upon Ranger material.

There was only a year between the release of “Where Evil Dwells” and “Speed and Violence”, had you guys had all the songs written at the same time, or is it fairly easy for the songs to come together?
Well about year and a half, but yes! Some of those songs were already written in 2015 around the time first album was released. So, they are rather old, but some of them were made during 2015-2016. It is surprisingly easy and has been always.

Let’s backtrack a bit, before the band was named Ranger, you guys were known as “Turbin”, is this true? And why the name change, and the name “Turbin” to start with?
Yes, that is true. Back in 2008-2009 we were attending a band competition which was held and funded by Helsinki city and we needed a name. Since we covered Deathrider by Anthrax at that time we just quickly decided that we are Turbin for only this show and lets come up with the real name. Ranger came out in couple of months after that and it sounded immediately like us and it was simple and catchy.

How did you all meet, and did you know you were going to form a band at the time?
Photo by Emma Grönqvist


Well me and the drummer have known each other for over ten years now. Back then when we were teenagers we dreamed about forming a band someday. We then hooked up with couple of friends who were banging their heads to the heaviest metal and knew how to play and loved hard rock/metal. Rest is history!

Was the instrumental song “They Live” off the compilation demo “Combat Metal” inspired at all by the movie “They Live”?

Sorry, I had to correct you that the track They Live is not the instrumental. They Live was on Metal Gear demo in 2012. Instrumental track on that is Metal Gear. And the track Combat Metal is instrumental too. Yes, its heavily inspired by that movie! Iʼm actually thinking about that we should re-write that song. Its a hidden classic!

I get the feeling you like a lot of 70’s and ‘80s films judging by the look of the EP “Knights Of Darkness”, would I be right in saying that it shows in the style of the EP cover?
Yes, movies are for me as important as music. The EP cover is mainly inspired by Overkillʼs Feel the fire, Warriors movie and the late 70ʼs late 80ʼs New York scenery. I could mention Twisted Sisterʼs back cover of Under the blade too!

Has the following for Ranger seemed to have grown a lot since the first demo entitled “Enter The Zone” (I read that it was passed out for free at Keep It True, if there’s any truth in that, no pun intended) in 2009, and would you say there was any significant point when interest grew in the band?
Back then 2009 we certainly wanted to be a real band, but we were just too young I think. After that we were on hiatus for two years, but band was always there. So 2011 things started to get more serious. Yeah its true that we gave those demos for free and got some recognition, but as a retrospective Its not that good of a demo vocalwise! Young, naive and just hungry for metal which is alright! We have grown so much and we have done a lot of work for that too here in Finland and in Europe! The growth has become more since 2013 or something. Always new fans.

How has being on Spinefarm records been for you guys?


On promotional really good, but to be honest I donʼt think it was really a right company for us, but we have now experienced how the big company works.

Was/is it difficult to write lyrics, since English isn’t your first language? (I think your English in the lyrics is done well, by the way haha)
Here in the nordic (or scandinavia if you like to call it) they teach english for kids when they 7 or 8 years old, so I thank you for the compliment. I speak better english than I write, but I manage to do it! Here in the north we donʼt dub every tv show or every movie, so the english language has been always around here. Of course in the countryside people donʼt speak it that well, but in the big cities! So, answering the actual question: No, its easy!

Is there much of a metal scene in Finland, and are there any bands from there you think have some good stuff out there?

The scene is really good and its better than when we started since there werenʼt any proper bands around. Excluding all the big names which I do not like. Lot of younger bands and some older too like us, but too bad that some have quit and moved to other music. Theres for example: Rapid, Lord Fist, Bonehunter, Terror Cross, Satans Fall and handful others that I cannot remember now.

The skull for Ranger seems to have been around since the “Combat Metal” demo in 2013, which I remember seeing, as my husband, Aaron (then boyfriend) showed it to me, and I thought it looked awesome. Has that image for the face of the band so to speak been in your mind since you started? And does the skull have a name by any chance? I know some people are fond of naming their mascots, if that’s what you’d call yours.
Photo by Mikko Pylkkö mpylkko.com

Skullʼs name is Mr. Skull. Definite influence on that certainly was Snaggletooth, Vic and Destructionʼs skull, but we certainly wanted to make our looking skull! The image wasnʼt always there, but I drew the logo at one point and then we started to evolve from there.

It seems that merch for Ranger seems to sell out quite quick, am I right in thinking that, and how do you guys have your merch made/distributed?
Yeah, I know and it goes too quickly that we always make too small of a batch for merch. Thatʼs something where we need evolve a bit too! We are putting more shirts and hopefully patches in our store soon. We have couple of distributors for merch there in the USA and then here in Europe we do it ourselves the distribution etc.

Were you a forming member of the band, and if so, what was your motivation to start the band? Had you always felt that was what you were destined to do?

Something like that. Ever since I found bands like Iron Maiden, Priest or TS, I dreamed singing in a band. It took a couple of years, but here we are.

The band is heavily categorized as “speed metal”, would you agree with that statement, and was it your goal all along to achieve that status with the music?
Photo by Emma Grönqvist


Yes, that is alright, speed metal was the thing that we wanted to do. We were heavily influenced and still are by the american metal movement in the 80ʼs plus Motörhead and nwobhm. It was the goal, but now we want to add more elements of heavy metal. Thats been there too in the eps too.

What do you think makes a band good these days, and at any point in time? I mean music, lyrics, image, attitude, you name it, what do you think are some components that make a band real, and make them good?

Well, the songs, image and attitude is important. Theres so many bands that goes under radar since so much is coming all the time and some of them donʼt appeal to me since the band name can be so used or the image and the music is inspired by cult bands and not bands like Priest or Slayer. I think some bands are so influenced by Facebook friends and youtube that they should cut of the internet for awhile and figure out their own thing. I would say overall that the attitude and the music you are representing. You know its always cool to see if the bands looks great too. Not any spandex or anything, but just like a guys/girls from the street!

Who are some of your main influences as a person? Doesn’t have to be metal or music related, even.

Iʼm influenced by John Carpenter, James Hetfield, Tony Iommi, Stevie Nicks, 70ʼs - 80ʼs movies, Koko the gorilla and Judas Priest
What are some of your hobbies/interests outside writing, recording, playing, and touring with Ranger?

I like to play video games, watch movies, go to the gym, jogging, karate (when I have money again to do it, I have a yellow belt haha) and spent time with my gf and friends.

I know it is probably a stereotypical interview question, but I ask stuff I’d like to know as well as what I think other people would too, so what are some of your favorite bands?
Theres always some periods when my favourite band can be Rush or Laaz Rockit. But the ones that have stick to me forever are classic metal bands. My favourites are: Metallica, Megadeth, Sabbath, Slayer, Maiden, Priest, AC/DC and Anvil.

What are some of your favorite movies?

I would like to mention To Live and Die in LA, Terminator, Thief, Dressed to kill, Blow out, Breakfast Club, From Beyond, basically every John Carpenter movie, Return of the living dead, Dawn of the dead and WARRIORS.

Is it easy for you guys to get off work to go on tour?
Photo by Mikko Pylkkö mpylkko.com

It has been, but it requires a lot of savings and sacrifice on money wise. Right now I donʼt have a steady, but hope to get one soon.

What was it like to grow up in your hometown, and when did you start to really get into music, and who were some of your first main influences?


In our capital here in Helsinki is best place to grow up. Everything works and its a high standard place for living and growing up. I started to get into music through my family. My parents donʼt play any instruments but they were so into classic rock and are old hippies and stuff like that so it got me too. My uncle is a musician of somekind so he was more of a metal guy, so I definitely keep him as my main influence along James Hetfield or Rob Halford.


How do you feel about the first few demos out by Ranger? Do you still think they hold up today in your opinion, and do you ever think you’ll re-record any of the stuff off the compilation album “Skull Splitting Metal”

Holds really good except for me the teen vocals on Enter the zone haha. They Live would be cool to re-record and re arrange, but weʼll see!

You started out just as the frontman-singer. What made you go from that to being a singer/bassist, and had you previously known how to play bass?

Photo by Mikko Pylkkö mpylkko.com
Yes I know how to play a guitar bit so it was rather easy, but I did rehearse own my own. Our bass player left the band so I just took that and we were like that this is working great. I would like to do just singing in a different band just try it on how it is without a instrument.

Do you have any plans in the future to come to the states on tour?

Yes. Iʼve promised so many times that we are coming blablala, but we need to start to do something about it. We have good contacts already, so we will start working on it when its time. Hopefully soon. I would love to finally come over there.

What are some bands you haven’t toured with, or even have, that you would like to have a tour with for the first time, or again?

We have toured on our own. I would love to tour with Antichrist or Cauldron or then to open up for a bigger band.

Do you play any instruments besides bass?

well I play guitar, but not very often.

Do you look forward to certain food on tour, and what’s the food like in Finland?


On tour you eat what you can. Unfortunately its either fast food shit on gas stations or sandwiches. I look vegetarian options, or meat, as long as its healthier than the shit we are forced to eat on 10 hour drive to another city and country. Food like in Finland is just everything from all around the world. Basic Finnish foods are like meatballs, fish foods, macaroni, lasagna, pea soup etc. I tend more of a veggie guy these days so I eat Seitan and soy stuff.

The energy at live shows for Ranger seems off the charts. Would you say the crowd has an equal response to you guys, or in which place do you feel the crowd was the most powerful?

Photo by Emma Grönqvist
Thank you! It certainly is. Here in scandinavia and north we tend have the most violent shows. But on tour countries like Spain and Germany are really wild Ranger crowds too! It shines to us of course even more when its really stage diving madness. We always enjoy ourselves on stage and it shows to audience. It is supposed to be fun too!!! Even people who arenʼt into metal still likes us because we look so good on stage or that we enjoy it so much.

I think you guys keep it clean and true with the speed that comes with your music, do you think some bands may overdo it in that area and just focus on how fast they’re playing instead of the quality of their riffs and lyrics? Not trying to single anyone out, just would like your opinion, of course.


Yes I think there are few bands that overdo it in many ways. Their riffs and stuff can be alright, but everything is polished or over thought in their heads. Too much going on, that you donʼt actually can grab anything from it. I think its important that there are hooks and melodies in music.

What are your overall thoughts on the metal scene these days, and what are some of your newer favorite bands?


Metal scene is alive in well everywhere i think. I have to mention Cauldron (tho they have been active for long time now), Antichrist, Rapid, Deathhammer, Nekromantheon, Power Trip and something else but canʼt remember now.

What are some future goals for Ranger, and how do you feel about what you’ve done as band so far?


I feel satisfied and proud what we have done so far. Our future plans are to take a little break, get back to write some new songs and get a new record deal! After that, back to touring!





Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A+ "Bargain Bin" Bands

Some of my favorite bargain bin bands... what's that mean? Well, if you haven't gathered what it means, it just is "obscure" stuff most people listen to and say "yeah, that's pretty good.", but I love it. Here is my first installment of the soon to be small series. I will be writing an article about a few of these bands themselves in the future. Possibly all of them for their own reasons they are special and remain strong in my collection to this day.

Rage

This... now THIS I have listened to countless times, and was one of the first bands I got into when i started my metal journey what seems like many a year ago. They are a German power/speed metal band I grew fond of by hearing this song. I hadn't seen this video then, not sure it was on youtube then, but I did listen to their other albums such as Execution Guaranteed, Perfect Man, and Reflections of a Shadow. I haven't heard their latest stuff, although they're still active, and just recently released a new album that looks like I probably wouldn't be too interested in it, but you never know, I'll give it a shot. Either way, their classic stuff has a hard hitting punch that still keeps me coming back for more to this day. I've even got it on cassette!


Proud Existence

When my husband and I went to see the band Cauldron back in October Satan was with them, and Ian Chains asked if we had ever seen them live, to which we replied no, but I said I used to listen to them a lot and had a short time in high school when I listened to Court in the Act along with this here album back to back for some reason. I couldn't remember the name of the band, but described the album cover, and he knew what I was talking about. I hadn't tried to look them up in years, but the day after the Cauldron/Satan show I looked them up somehow, and found this, and it brought me back to that time of playing PS2 for hours, cheeze-it's, coca-cola, and sleeping a lot.... Those were the days... sort of. This album definitely still draws me in and holds me til the end, and if I can ever find it on vinyl or something, that'd be great. Ian said he heard of them from a CD they got in Greece from a street shop or something along those lines. Go listen to Cauldron if you haven't. Great music, and true metal dudes, and very nice ones, at that. That aside, this band from Holland came to form in 1980 as Pre-Existence, and then changed their name to Proud Existence, and only had this release in 1988. They split shortly after that. This album art is crap, but the music is choice.


Scanner

Yet another German power/speed metal band that is top notch, and among the first few bands I came across while heavily getting into metal. I remember seeing this cover and thinking it looked cool, and for some reason reminded me of one of the Darkness album covers, who are ANOTHER German metal band, a thrash one, at that who I am also a big fan of. Looking at the album covers now, I don't know what the hell 13 year old me was thinking their album covers looked like, but at any rate.... I Heard this album first, then looked into more of their stuff and listened to Hypertrace, which was their first album. They've been around since 1986, and are still going around playing today. Mainly at festivals, like most long time going on again off again bands. Classic power/speed metal, give them a listen if you haven't, they might be one of your favorites if you're into that type of metal.


Meliah Rage

This next band is from Boston, and has been active since 1987. They're classified as thrash metal, but I don't know if I'd consider them a specific metal genre. A lot of people seem to quarrel over that, but I never really went to deep into that conversation. When it's easy to categorize bands, sure, I'll identify them as that genre, but when the band tends to go between sounds, or just has a sound all their own, I don't like to dispute that much, and just think of them as their own thing in the heavy metal world. Which is what I think of Meliah Rage. Between this first album they had and the other powerhouse of an album Solitary Solitude, they have their own sound that'll knock you on your feet, and still leave me nodding my head today. I just recently bought a Kill To Survive shirt they released. Not sure if there's any left. And yes, Meliah Rage themselves did sell these. I don't buy bootleg shit.


Mysto Dysto

Now more people Probably know the other band this turned into Called Mandator that formed after the 1986 release of this album, which was the only thing they had released under the Name Mysto Dysto. I remember the name of the band sticking in my head, and would look them up whenever I didn't know what I wanted to listen to that day. I still listen to this gem... I probably don't need to keep mentioning that, I already said in the intro that the reason I'm listing these bands is because they've held up strong through the years for me. When I first started getting into metal I would write down bands from this youtube channel Wolfgangvonposerkila, or TheBurningOfSodom that made videos called "Thrash Metal Gems", and this was on one of them. I would write down all the bands on the list, then cross them out when I could remember several songs from the band, name of the album, and some info on the band. Yeah, that's stupid, so what? I loved it, and it helped me find so many great bands, and I wouldn't know these bands, or remember them, for that matter, if I hadn't done that. So here they are: Mysto Dysto. Check out Mandator if you like this stuff, too. They're a bit different, but still really good.



Powerlord

Maaaaan, this production quality sounds like ass, but it's the great kinda low budget sound that just adds to the sound! What, you thought I was gonna say "the great kind of ass"?  Mhm... nah. Lemme tell ya man, get that dang ol mind outta the gutter, you know? For those of you who read that in Boomhower's voice.... mmhmm. Getting back to this awesome slice of molten metal dripping with... well, awesomeness. The scream in this intro will make you let out of Keanu Reeves "whoa!". Or at least that's what I did. I love the singer's voice whose name is unfortunately Dane Cook.... Yep. That shitass comedian wishes he had the talent this guy did. The band has since split up, and were (probably are, they didn't get shot off the earth upon disbanding)  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The only release they had was the album this song is off of "The Awakening" in 1986 (good year, eh?). I wonder what those dudes are up to now? Probably have day jobs at some office with short hair and 5 kids or something. Either way, this is a great tune, off a great album in my opinion. That riff in this song is almost hypnotic...



Mezzrow

 These dudes don't mess around when it comes to thrash metal. A lot of great metal has come out of Sweden, and this is certainly among them for me. I think they definitely deserve more people hearing this than the amount that have heard it. This whole album "Then Came The Killing" is great from start to finish. Great guitar tone, I might add, and pretty good production sound for a small band with only one release. They have since split, and have a brief reunion in 2005 for a festival, which there apparently was a DVD of that only the band distributed directly. I feel like they should have used the picture they used on the back of the album instead of the picture they used on the front. i remember seeing the music video and thinking they were cool, then looked them up and saw the name of the album, and looked it up to see a bland-ass picture on the front, but, hey, a lot of kinda obscure stuff has lame covers, and great music. It's better to be more concerned with the content itself, instead of the cover and looking cool and all that jazz. I need to get this on vinyl, still. Very powerful, full sounding thrash with whit and force. Check 'em out! That's it for this one, stayed tuned for more, and thank you for reading, and listening! If you get this far, let me know what you think on the facebook fanpage for Thrashdance Fanzine!