© Lords of Metal e-zine

 

LORDS OF METAL


Monthly Metal E-zine - Issue 103: May 2010

http://www.lordsofmetal.nl/

Text by Koen

What can I say? The mighty OZ has returned and a come-back album will be out later this year! I couldn’t wait until the new CD was released and therefore contacted drummer Pekka Mark a.k.a. Mark Ruffneck and started off the interview with the following question: what made you decide to reunite OZ nineteen years after breaking up?

I called Jay last summer, and asked if he was interested. After a few weeks he said that he was. Then I asked the second question, "do you have new songs?" Jay:" Yes". Later in the evening he sent me a new demo song, a good one…and after that we started planning to do something together. Later I contacted Ape, same questions and more planning, and now we are here! The first reason: We would like to do the album, the one that we were planning to do after ‘Decibel Storm’. And now we do it as we will, “the wrong fingers and persons” are not there as they were in 1986. The main reason: We just like to have some fun together!!!

Who’s in the bands line-up nowadays?
OZ hard core, same as 1986, with Ape De Martini (lead vocals), Mark Ruffneck (drums), Jay C. Blade (bass, vocals and probably some guitars) but the most axe works are made by hired guns as in Wild West world.

Let’s get back to the bands history now. Oz was formed in 1977 and the first effort was originally released with the title ‘The Oz’ on Tyfon in 1982. The second issue (on Wave Records) is called ‘Heavy Metal Heroes’. What was the main reason for that?
The label and the band together figured out these changes. It was better that way, when the new lineup was born. After ‘Fire In The Brain’, the label just liked to have a new cover for the first album, without the old picture of the band. We never thought so much about that name, because the first album was already history for us after recording ‘Fire In The Brain’, with the new lineup.

The second full-length ‘Fire In The Brain’ came out in 1983 and was fucking great! How do you look on the recordings of that particular album?

‘Fire In The Brain’ was a “diamond” after getting the new OZ lineup together. We were rehearsing, rehearsing, Jay was writing songs and lyrics and at the end we were putting everything together and again went out and played. Later I had contact with the record company and said now we have it! Question, what do you have? And I said, the new OZ, new lineup, new songs, the whole fucking thing! OZ played one gig in Stockholm and after that recording of ‘Fire In The Brain’ started. Recording and mixing, OZ together with The Boss, maybe three to four weeks.

The hand on the cover of the album is that of the legendary Quorthon of Bathory. How did he end up on this album?

I think the idea just popped up and Quorthon made it. I met Quorthon first time in Finland, when he was there with The Boss and checking when OZ was playing. I think he was probably fourteen or fifteen years old at that time. When OZ was moving to Stockholm, Sweden, he was around, sometimes in the studio, sometimes when OZ was playing live and also at some rock parties. Later he started to play guitar and make his own music and focusing more on that, but we had contact until as far as 1991.

’Fire In The Brain’ was a huge NWOBHM-flavoured vigorous metal album that won over critics and fans alike. What were the band’s main influences back in those days?

Sorry, I have no personal heavy metal heroes. Don’t take this the wrong way! I was sixteen years old when I started with OZ and my focus was to learn to play drums, not to listen to other bands. The first band from outside of Finland I saw maybe three years later and it was Rainbow in Helsinki. In the early days we were listening to, surprise, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Alice Cooper. Yes these are really good bands with really good music, but when we were starting with OZ and living in Finland, there were not so many records available of these bands. We didn’t have any knowledge of NWOBHM or other bands that time, as I told before, we were rehearsing, rehearsing, Jay was writing songs and lyrics and at the end we were putting everything together and again went out and played. When we were living in Finland, OZ was touring every week!

History goes that after Oz got their first royalty cheque for the ‘Turn The Cross Upside Down’ EP (1984) the number was 666. After that, you decided to stop writing satanic songs. What about this story is really true?

Yes, I remember when we were sitting in meeting with the record company and looking at numbers of sold records and money, Jay started to laugh out loud and pointed out the number 666. No I don’t think so, Jay always wrote his lyrics as he wanted, as the other members in OZ and stories (lyrics) were in different areas. Somehow all members of OZ had a big freedom to do different things, but in the end we found some kind of stop stations where everything was put together.

’III Warning’ was great as well but I always disliked the fact that the band never played Holland back then. Others gained popularity just by touring the Dutch cities like Eindhoven (Dynamo club) or Katwijk (Scum club) or playing the big festivals like Aardschokdag. Why did the band never come over?

After moving from Finland to Stockholm, Sweden we had big trouble to find a good management in Sweden with international contacts. Several tours around Scandinavia, Europe and even in USA were fucked up by different managements and this is the reason why OZ didn’t touring so much that time. We were in the wrong place with our RAW METAL.

The subsequent albums ‘Decibel Storm’ (1986) and ‘Roll The Dice’ (1991) failed to elicit the same response and Oz faded from worldwide view. Why was the band not able to scale new heights again?
Troubles with management in USA and Sweden, and troubles with the record company were forcing our focus from the music making to other issues. OZ was always ready to rock, but the surrounding forces not. The last lineup when recording ‘Roll The Dice’ wasn’t hard enough, the hard core of OZ was missing!

Why did the band split up after the ‘Roll The Dice’ album in the first place?
OZ did not split up after the ‘Roll The Dice’ album. I was saying to Ape that we should take a break and think what to do when we get troubles with other boys in the band. And the break lasted for nineteen years hahaha.

As far as my information goes, ‘The Oz’ / ‘Heavy Metal Heroes’, ‘III Warning’ and ‘Decibel Storm’ were never released on CD. Any chance that they ever will be released in this format?

We have no contact with our old record company, and what releases they have done with OZ records or planning to do in the future isn’t possible to tell or speculate here.

On your My Space page I read that a new album will be out in November 2010 and studio recordings will be starting soon. Could you provide us with more information on this subject?

It's pre-production time, nice! We are sending demos to each other, making some changes, and listening again and then the tracks are ready for the real studio recording. Recording in different studios, both in Sweden and Finland. The first drumtracks will be recorded in the beginning of May.

A bunch of us are hoping for ‘Fire In The Brain’ and ‘III Warning’ part two. Are you aware of the fact that you will have to fulfil the demands of your old school fans?

Well, think yourself, OZ hardcore, same as 1986, with 2010 sound, what it will be? ‘Fire In The Brain vol. II”? We know how it will sound! RAW METAL made by OZ.

Are you going to play live to support the album?

Yes, we have our plans, dreams and more for 2010. The first target is the new album, what happens after that…. we will see, when we get there. Live shows, several festivals arrangers have already sent emails to us and asked about entering the stage. When OZ goes out to play, everything has to be perfect. Takes time to organize.

Thank you for the interview. Any last words you like to share with the world? The space below is yours…

Last words; check www.myspace.com/ozofficial and www.ozofficial.com from time to time for news, and get ready for the reunion of OZ in 2010!

 

© Lords of Metal e-zine

Text by Koen