INTERVIEW: Steve ‘N’ Seagulls (Finland)


INTERVIEW: Steve ‘N’ Seagulls (Finland)                                                                                             by Carina Lawrence

So I had the pleasure of interviewing Wild Till Hiltunen (plays accordion, kantele, mandolin, keys, flute) from Finnish band Steve ‘n’ Seagulls, who rose to fame in 2014, through their popular bluegrass cover versions of well-known rock and metal songs they posted on Youtube. Their most popular video of AC/DCs ‘Thunderstruck’ has received over 35 million views. I caught up with him whilst they are on their most ambitious ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ UK tour about to play in Exeter (30th March) to find out about how the tour is going so far, about their origins as a band, their successes so far, as well as their future plans…

So you are currently on your ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ UK tour, how is it going so far?

It’s been very good. We have enjoyed a lot…I think it’s our fourth time in the UK, so there’s a couple of places we have been to before, so yeah it’s been good.

What has the crowd reactions been like this time around, as you are playing in parts of the UK you have never ventured before?

I think it’s more about the night…we played on Monday night (March 27th 2017) in Stoke-On-Trent and the audience seemed to be very quiet for some songs. But still it’s always about the night, weekends are more crazy. It’s not really about the location.

How does it compare so far with your previous experiences in the UK?

It’s been better this time somehow I don’t know why. Last time I had like lasagne with beans and potatoes, haven’t tried that (laughs) weird combination, but in general it’s like we have got used to touring with the van, so we got the routine, no surprises but not in a bad way. It’s always fun to see more people and see that things are going well and we have got a good label here as well, Spinefarm (records) and we just played at their studio yesterday (29th March 2017) we recorded three songs for the radio and some promotion like now…it’s been good and developing nicely. We have just been running outside here in Exeter and enjoying the beautiful capital.

Can you tell us a bit about the formation of the band?

We started like five maybe six years ago in Jyväskylä, Finland where we all used to study there and we were meant to a country tour for our booking agents and somehow it just felt like it’s want we wanted to do and it started developing, and at some point we changed our singer to Remmel with us now and maybe it’s that time we started to go towards bluegrass, we had like a banjo, mandolin and stuff like that, so it’s been changing a lot from the beginning and I’m not sure where we are going…we are actually talking about the third album already and planning it and trying to find good songs and writing new materials, so let’s see what happens. Pretty excited about that

What inspired you to learn so many instruments and what was this process like?

Just because it’s fun to just try a new instrument even if you don’t know how to play them, because you spend hours and hours with the instrument and maybe get something out of it, it’s just a lot of fun to mix those in our music. The elements like the banjo and double bass and accordion, then like take something out of the books. Last album we had like Finnish traditional instruments like the kantele (five string) and a playing saw, which is basically a saw you used for cutting trees and you play that with the bow, like you play violin or cello, very creepy sound. Also the balalaika was one of the tricky ones.

stevnsgs2

Why is the band named after actor Steven Seagal? How did this come about?

Yeah it’s sort of a pun, but we like his movies though. That was actually my girlfriend who came up with that idea. We had like a bunch of good names but that just sounded like us. People keep asking who is Steve? There is no Steve in our band, it could be misleading but it just suits us.

Did you ever think when you first formed in 2011 that you would go on to become Youtube sensations?

The first video we did was just to give some material for our booking agent and also we noticed that on Youtube there was sort of a trend going round with live videos, people did like real live videos outside and outdoors where you can hear like background noise like traffic. We kind of took that guide line to take one camera and one mic in one take…so we put it on Youtube and suddenly something happened with the metal online magazines, they just started writing about us and it spread out, that was with ‘The Trooper’ by Iron Maiden that video and after that we did ‘Thunderstruck’ (AC/DC) and we expected it would spread quite well, but five million views in a couple of weeks was way more than we expected. We were really like what the hell?! After that like two months after the ‘Thunderstruck’ release we got a recording label contract and everything and then it’s been like we have been touring mostly abroad, so we have been very happy with the Youtube videos.
What has it been like to achieve such success with mass video viewings, two acclaimed albums under your belt and being able to tour around the world?

Now it seems like we are after a break (laughs) and we are going to have a break in May and then we will start doing the festivals in June, July and August in Europe mostly, but it’s exciting travelling all over the country. I think we did maybe twenty five countries last year, so a lot of airports, a lot of packing stuff, not complaining! May is also time to go towards the third album and planning that, so we are not entirely having a vacation.

 

What made you decide as a band to play bluegrass cover versions of some of the biggest rock and metal songs going?

We started with more like spaghetti western like movie music influenced…I don’t know we just tried different instruments, like I used to play guitar and had been for many years and at some point I just tried banjo, and it kind of sounded funny and good. But there was no particular plan, it just happened, we don’t plan that much.

What is your favourite song you have covered so far and why?

That is tough. I think from the last album we did Gary Moore’s ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ that had a kind of black metal vibe, I liked that. We don’t play that a lot live for some reason, I don’t know if it’s to do with the lyrics but still it’s so fun to play.

How do you decide what songs you are going to cover?

For the third album we have a bunch of stuff. We make a list and come up with the idea of arrangement or some melody that could be played with accordion or banjo and how would it sound. So we make a list and then we sit down and start playing and kind of stay open minded and abandon songs that aren’t good enough to make it on the record…we sit all together and decide what to keep.

Have you started to work on any new material yet? If so, can you give us any insights into this?

I think it’s very early to say…to reveal anything but I would say we are looking forward to get some new originals, but it’s depending on our producer and everything how it comes out. There will be some heavy metal classics, but we can also try something else…what it is I don’t know (laughs).

What else do Steve ‘N’ Seagulls have planned for the rest of 2017?

We just finished our third US tour in February and we are waiting for the numbers and everything and would like to go back in September after the festivals, but that is not set yet. What is sure, is that we are going to Europe in October, November and December, so a lot of touring and rehearsals for the next album, so it’s going to be a very busy year.

 

Steve ‘n’ Seagulls are coming to the end of their UK tour but have two dates left:

31 MAR – Birmingham, O2 Academy 2 (Current)

01 APR – London, Tufnell Park Dome (Current)

So if you are in the area make sure to head down and catch the band in action!

Full tour listing:

IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP TOUR 2017

24 MAR – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

25 MAR – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club

26 MAR – Newcastle, Think Tank?

27 MAR – Stoke, Sugarmill

28 MAR – Bristol, Fleece

30 MAR – Exeter, Phoenix

31 MAR – Birmingham, O2 Academy 2 (Current)

01 APR – London, Tufnell Park Dome (Current)

 

Official Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/Stevenseagulls/

http://stevenseagulls.mycashflow.fi/

 

#darkartconspiracy #interview #spinefarm #finland

 

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