Was drummer Mark Ruffneck some sort of a
dictator in the band as he was the one who
continued with OZ while others drifted away?
"He wasn't a dictator. But he was out of
control when drunk. That's when you had to
Have you even heard "Roll the Dice" yourself
and how do you like it? This line-up also
used to play ABBA's "Money, Money, Money"
"Of course I've heard "Roll the Dice". It's
ok but the singer needed guidance on this
one as well."
Would you say in the end there was
some sort of contradiction between your
personal aspirations and the band's goals?
"No contradiction. I just got offered a
better deal with Princess Pang. Who wouldn't
want to play in the States instead of
The CD re-releases of OZ records look pretty
damn cheap and poor - any comments? Should
the albums be re-released on vinyl, what do
"I don't give a shit. Or actually, I would
like to see "Decibel" released on CD."
Do you have any idea in how many countries
your records have been released? Any sales
"I would say about 50.000 units altogether,
starting the count from "Fire...". And
that's pretty damn close."
Do you have any idea where the name OZ came
in the first place? (BTW, is it a capital
"Z"?) Who designed the logo?
"Capital Z. No idea. Wizard of Oz?"
Why do you think even prestigeous Heavy
Metal encyclopedias and magazines mistake
you for a Swedish band?
"Because we lived in
Were you familiar with the band Shock Tilt?
based band who moved to Stockholm in the
late '80s to seek success like you did
several years before. Their homicidal maniac
of a manager killed and dismembered
guitarist Hannu Rajala in 1987...
What do you consider your greatest
achievement in music? And the best song you
have ever written? (What about the best
heavy metal song?)
"Those songs are still unreleased. In metal
it's "Fire in the Brain"."
What do you think about the Finnish heavy
metal of the '80s - Zero Nine, Riff Raff,
Ironcross et al?
"I liked Riff Raff a lot."
When you think of OZ, the band's image was
somehow burdened with a sort of "dog is in
the details" syndrome - whether it be the
smoking jacket on the first album cover, or
Ape wearing a rather silly yellow sun shade
on a TV session, or whatever?
"Bad taste, that's all."
How volatile was the band's life together in
- genuine Finnish style drinking habits and
violent encounters of the Ruffneck kind?
"That's how it was. Blood, broken glass and
So how did it come about that you left OZ
behind for the land of milk and honey and
Big Apple? Princess Pang didn't quite
succeed in conquering those pastures of
green, although you were marketed as "the
most popular band in
Kind of in the wake of Europe?
"I think we did pretty good considering that
we were a new band. Two major videos on
American MTV, long tour with Mr.Big and tons
of radio interviews and magazines. They
wrote about us a lot."
You've criticised American society and its
values quite heavily. How come it took you
13 years to get fed up with it?
" I had enough money to enjoy myself with
for those first 10 years. American people
are great, but their whole system is total
complete bullshit, no matter what Ted Nugent
says. Corruption is widespread in the whole
political system, as well as the judicial.
It's a lot worse than people know. It's
fuckin' scary to live there. And remember,
I'm not into politics. I just tell it like I
Princess Pang was, if I may say so, a pretty
commercial enterprise. Some might think that
your criticism stems from bitterness… How do
"No reason to be bitter, it was my own
decision. Princess Pang was everything but
commercial. You have no idea how crazy that
sounds to me."
Nowadays you're playing in Yö, one of
most successful rock bands. Is it tough
enough for you or do you need projects like
Heep Purple to express your heavier side?
"Yö is the best band I have ever played in.
Great guys, good players and no bullshit
attitudes. I love it."
Do you find it more natural to play in a
mainstream band like Yö than joining a
contemporary heavy metal band like
Stratovarius or whatever? Apparently you did
not race Marco Hietala of Tarot for the bass
player/2nd vocalist spot in Nightwish?
"I have absolutely no interest in playing in
Stratovarius or Nightwish. HIM would be
different. That I might like."
Are you in touch with the OZ chaps these
days? What are they up to nowadays?
"We don't talk often but occasionally I get
in touch with Spooky and Ape."
So is there a new OZ album in the pipeline?
What else is in store for Mr Bassojasso in
"I'd like to do the "final chapter" for OZ,
but there's no time. I've tried to contact
Ape about it, but he's gone underground or
something. The songs are ready. Maybe one
© Mikko Mattila / Janne
Sarna / Dominique Poulain 2003