First of all, can you give an
outline of Jacks Of All Trades' history?
Lary Launonen: Jacks Of All Trades was formed at
the end of 1997. First there were three of us. Me, our drummer Roki and bassplayer Tomi.
About a half year later J (Joel J-Blast Niitynen) came in. That was spring 1998. Since
then we have been with the four of us. Our bassist Tomi left us in November 1999 and then
we took our present bass-player JAR. Our first gig was three years ago. Since that time we
have done shows in Finland and we toured through the US last summer and now we are touring
Holland and Belgium here in Europe.
Before J-Blast joined the band, did you have a
Lary: I did all the vocals. It was more like
punk/hardcore back then. When J came in he brought those rap influences with him.
Was that for a specific reason? That you wanted to
go in that direction with the rap influences?
J-Blast: No. The actual reason is: I was in
another band. I was doing some other stuff, just rapping. And they (JOAT) heard me and
said "would you like to come and try this?" And a lot of people think right now,
when rapcore and the new metal scene is so big, that we are copycats, trying to do what
Limp Bizkit or bands like that are doing. That's actually not true. Like Lary said, we
started with just playing hardcore and added rap to it. So, we sort of invented it
ourselves. And that's why we don't sound that much like any other band because what we're
doing is something that's coming from us. And we're not trying to copy. Of course we got
influences from other bands too. But we're not trying to copy anybody.
Lary: When it comes to influences, I used to
listen to hardcore and stuff. But these days I mostly listen to easy pop and rock. Because
I'm a bit tired, I guess. But I still like this kind of music. It's most fun to play live.
Back then when we started, the only rapcore band I had heard was Rage Against The Machine.
So, there weren't so many bands to take influences from.
So, you think it came naturally, to move into rap
J-Blast: It came naturally because we were playing
hardcore, groovy hardcore, and then started adding rap to it. So, it came naturally.
And someone else said you're copycats....
J-Blast: I don't know if we're lucky or not. I
guess we were lucky in a way, because now it's famous. I mean, a lot of people listen to
it. So, we're lucky in that way. But then we're unlucky because we weren't the first ones
because someone else had done it before us.
In the booklet of R U Ready I read that you,
J-Blast, have a Bolivian family. What's the story behind that?
J-Blast: The thing is, I'm an MK, a missionary
kid. I've lived most of my life in Bolivia. I'd like to call them my Bolivian family, the
people that I've got there. I start my thank you's with my family, the ones that are
really close to me. Like my youngest sister. She was only six months old when we moved to
Bolivia and we had been in Spain before that. So, it's not blood-family but I call them my
family because I've got some of my best friends in Bolivia. And they are the ones who
influenced me in many ways, spiritually. So, that's why I thank them.
I guess you're speaking Spanish. Is that something
you're gonna put into your music too? I mean, in those countries there are many people who
like hard music and they would love to hear bands from America or Europe doing a Spanish
song on an album. Have you ever considered something like that?
J-Blast: Yeah, we had a short song that was in
Spanish. It wasn't rapcore really. It was hardcore. It was called Los Angeles Lloran , The
Angels Cry. That wasn't a real good song (laughs). Anyway, we never recorded that. We
might be looking into some Spanish stuff because one thing is that there are many people
who speak Spanish but don't speak English good. Maybe we'll make something for them too.
And on R U Ready there is some Spanish stuff. Some parts. Maybe we'll do a whole song some
Have you ever thought about touring around those
J-Blast: We'd love to. It would be awesome. Right
now we don't have any contacts. The truth is, when we went to the States last summer we
had a couple of gigs real close to Mexico. And there were a lot of Mexicanos, a lot of
people speaking Spanish. I was speaking Spanish to them on stage and they were really
impressed by that. So, it would be awesome to go there. But we'll see what happens in the
Lary: They scream really loud! (laughs)
It seems to be quite weird. A band from Finland
and they're speaking Spanish.
J-Blast: It is probably. And another things
is....I remember when we went to that part of Texas, I spoke better Spanish than a lot of
them kids did. Because it's almost my home tongue. I almost speak it better than Finnish.
As good as Finnish. Right now I'm studying Finnish-Spanish translation at the university
in Finland. So, a lot of them were surprised but, hey, no one knows that we are from
Finland. Music is a universal language. So, we can do it in any language. We can. From
Swedish to Spanish, to English, to Finnish, to whatever.
To Russian? (laughs)
The drummer is not here but this is something I
was also wondering about: In the booklet I read that he's called sir Roki. Does that have
some sort of funny background?
Lary: Even Roki isn't his real name, because, he's
a funny guy and he's got a lot of nicknames. Sir Roki....we added 'sir' because it was my
idea....I don't know. I guess he's so....dignified! (laughs)
J-Blast (laughing): He's not really dignified so
we try to make him sound more dignified!
At one point you joined Bullroser Records. How did
J-Blast: We are all from Jyväskylä, the same
town where Bullroser and the whole Little Rose Productions thing is situated. Originally.
And we knew the guys and they were the first ones to hear us. And it happened naturally.
They liked us. And they thought "this is a good hardcore band, we would like to sign
them". And we were happy with that deal and made it.
Last year the label president for that company
Bullroser Records, Manu Lehtinen, went through severe personal problems. So, he couldn't
promote Bullroser very well. How do you feel about you're deal right now? Are you happy
J-Blast: Actually, no, not really. The thing is,
like you said, there were lots and lots of personal problems. Lots of problems with the
whole company itself. Right at the time when we were about to release our album, the
company splitted. And there was stuff like that going on. So that kinda hurt our album
sales, in a way. It's not only that we're not happy with it. But Manu as well as we,
understands that it can't go on. Right now we're trying to look for another deal. And Manu
is helping us really much in that also.
Lary: Right now our manager Juha is doing most of
the work, like trying to sell our albums and promoting us to different countries. He has
taken the responsibility of selling our album. That's a good thing 'cause he's good at it.
I read on your website that you're also looking
for a license-deal in the US. How is that going?
J-Blast: Actually, right now, we're just about to
sign a license-deal with Rustproof Records. For almost half a year though. They are ready
to release our R U Ready album. We haven't signed it as for now. But we hope to see that
happen pretty soon. And we'll see what happens from there.
On the website I read about the American tour with
the band Pillar that we talked about earlier. As Jacks Of All Trades is quite a new band
from Finland, a country that seems to be like a corner far away in the world, how was it
to tour in the US? How was that experience and how did they look at you as you're from
J-Blast: First of all, I've got a funny story to
tell you about when we went to the States. I think it was the first show that we did at a
festival. And we said to people that we're from Finland. And somebody came to me after the
concert and said: "Yeah, I kinda know where Finland is." And I was like
"really?" And he said "yeah, I do. Isn't that somewhere in
California?" "No, not quite. Not in California but in North Europe." A lot
of people didn't know where Finland is and they didn't know us. And it happened that we
sent one of our albums to HM Magazine in the US and they released one of our songs
together with one of Pillar's songs on one of their CD's they do every two months. Our
song was on it and their (Pillar's) song was on it, and we heard each other and we kinda
got in contact. Our manager did all that. We didn't even know about it till we got in the
airplane (laughs). And that's how it happened. They worked it out. We had a couple of
festivals that we did in the States and we got together with Pillar to do the shows in
And how did the American public respond to the
J-Blast: They responded good. There were times
when they said: "I can't understand a word they're saying but I love it". But,
well, that happens in hardcore a lot even if you're not from Finland. (laughing): Even if
you're from the States, because of the screaming! But, a lot of people did like it a lot.
And the rapcore thing is very big with POD on the Christian side and Pillar kinda big too.
And on the secular side we've got Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, all those bands coming out.
It's a big thing. The kids loved it there and we were happy with it.
Are you going back to the US for a tour this
Lary: Yeah, hopefully. They should be releasing
our R U Ready album in May, and we have some plans to tour there next summer. Hopefully
Not bad! And also the big festivals like
Lary: I don't really know.
J-Blast: We can't say anything, but we'll see what
happens. We're working on it right now. Our manager is. So, we'll see what happens.
I have only one question: What are the future
plans of the band?
J-Blast: For myself I can say: We're working on
some new material. Lary wrote some new songs on his guitar. And we're looking for putting
them together. We just have our last EP released with three songs on it. So, we're
promoting that right now, now we're here. Still one week to go. Then we're doing some
shows in Finland. A lot of it actually. Until this summer we have a tour with Dust Eater
Dogs and a band called Jumpin' China from Helsinki. The three of us are going to do a tour
across Finland. That's some time in May. And then, maybe, we'll go to the States this
summer. That's not totally sure yet but 80%. Then we're going to start on our next album
pretty soon too.
Lary: Yeah, hopefully, 'cause I want to sign a
good record deal 'cause I really want to do our next full-length album.
J-Blast: And the thing is that we know we've got
the skills to do a good album. All we need right now is somebody to believe in us. And we
need money and time to make a good album. But on this EP (Liar), you can hear there is
some potential in the music. And on R U Ready you can hear that already. When we told
people in the States how short time we had, just a couple of weeks, to work on a
full-length album, they were so surprised. I say, if we get a good contract there's some
very good stuff coming up.
As I understand it, the EP Liar is a
stepping-stone to go further, to get a deal?
J-Blast: Yeah, that is kind of a card that we're
giving out to record companies, radio stations and who ever holds the power. And we'll see
what happens. It's in God's hands right now. We can only wait and see.