Brace yourselves for Finland (yes, Finland)’s hottest export since um, the big log cabin craze of 2000 and…oh nevermind! They recently set YouTube alight with their incredible hillbilly covers of rock and metal classics and now Steve ‘n’ Seagulls are on their way to the UK to show us they can do it live too.
Originally just a bunch of local yokels from moderately successful bands, this merry mess of country cousins one day decided, just for laughs, to hillbillify (yes, "hillbillify” is henceforth officially a word) and shoot a video for the AC/DC staple "Thunderstruck”. Little did they know that the home-brewed video of the song would propel the provincial posse into cyberspace stardom virtually overnight. Attention from media both domestic and foreign ensued, resulting to a slew of performances ranging from festival appearances to being the house band at the christening of your grandma’s cat.
A few months, a couple more videos and several newspaper clippings later, and Steve ‘n’ Seagulls has become a buzzword known to most in their native Finland. Even record labels – notorious for their oblivion of anything worth noting – had the wool pulled from their eyes. All of a sudden Steve ‘n’ Seagulls find themselves with a recording contract and set about making their first full length album. ‘Farm Machine’ is out this month and as we can’t wait to see them do their thing at Talking Heads soon, we caught up with vocalist and double bass player Pukki Kaalinen to find out a little bit more about how they’re putting the farm back into metal…
How did you all meet and how did you discover you all had a passion for hillbilly rock songs?
We met years ago in the town of Jyväskylä (try to pronounce that) and have played together in different bands ever since. This whole unplugged thing has been a nice change for us.
How do you choose the songs you cover?
Somebody has an idea, we get in the same room, bang our heads together and see what comes out. Simple as that. But not just any song will do. It has to have enough flesh on the bones, so to speak. And a "classic" status is a plus.
Your debut album comes out on 11 May, what can we expect?
Rock and metal covers mutilated with love. The track list is already published and can be found on our album's pre-order site
What’s your favourite song to play live?
That depends a lot on the audience, but you can never go wrong with "Iron Man"…"
People must often compare you to Hayseed Dixie, is there room in the world for two bluegrass tributes to AC/DC? [We think so!]
Apparently there is. Besides, we're not really bluegrass. We take our influences from here and there and try to cook up something interesting, though the starting point usually is American music. Hayseed Dixie have, by the way, quite a following in Finland. They even have a cover of a Finnish song dealing with common excuses for drinking.
Do any of you own a tractor?
Hiltunen's father does. That's the beautiful Massey-Ferguson used on You Shook Me All Night Long -video. Old man Hiltunen gave some lessons to his son and he can now perform perfect doughnuts, at least on snow!
As you prepare to tour the world, is there anywhere you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
England, obviously, because of the ale and because so many of the songs we do are from British bands. We're really looking forward to going to Germany, too, but to be honest we haven't been touring abroad enough to have favourites yet.
Festival season is upon us – which festivals might we spot you at this summer?
Wacken, Weinturm and Summer Breeze in Germany, Spydeberg and Rekordfestivalen in Norway and Sweden Rock in, well, Sweden. Then, if anybody is up for a trip to Finland, we're booked to a number of Finnish festivals, Nummirock being probably the biggest.
Why should we check you out when you come to Southampton later this month?
Our English is hilarious.
Catch them live @ The Talking Heads – 19 May 2015