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

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

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
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!

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