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
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
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
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
’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
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
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
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
time to time for news, and get ready for the reunion of OZ in 2010!
Lords of Metal e-zine