The END 1977 – 2020 The First Finnish Heavy Metal Band – SARCOFAGUS – calls it a day!
SARCOFAGUS, The Godfathers of Finnish Heavy Metal, fronted by filmmaker and guitarist Kimmo Kuusniemi, declares the band has returned to the Valley Of The Kings.
Kimmo Kuusniemi: “Sarcofagus has been great balance of fun and pain. My albums have always had social commentary as many of my films have. I had come to the conclusions on the CORE VALUES re-release video long before the Covid19 pandemic arrived, that I am fed up with writing songs about social problems. Technology is progressing with ever increasing speed but us as humans we seem to be doomed to repeat our mistakes.
Since Covid started I have been working on a new audio visual project. This combines my need to create something new both in music and in film. There are already several songs finished with collaboration with great musicians from Siberia to Los Angeles.
This project will be released as album, videos, and a world tour. Without going yet into too much detail this project is designed to work in the post Covid world. When we get over this virus I do not think the music business will ever be the same. So it is time to re-invent the wheel 😉
Ending Sarcofagus has been in my mind quite long time but this year it became very clear that there is no space for Sarcofagus in my mind anymore. Time for a reset.
Sarcofagus has been an interesting and complicated 43 year rollercoaster ride, but everything comes to an end. At the end of this press release there is the Sarcofagus story ‘in brief’. The same story with plenty photos, some never published before, are available online at www.sarcofagus.com .
On digital platforms (Spotify, iTunes…) you will also find the newest single release “Absence Of Light”, accompanied by a fresh remake of the song “Go To Hell”, featuring an almost original lineup of the band.
We started the band with Hannu Leiden, Juha Kiminki and Esa Kotilainen so like the title of the first album “Cycle Of Life” another Cycle of Life has come to a full circle with the “Absence Of Light” release.
The “Absence Of Light” was meant to be the next Sarcofagus album but in 2019 I decided to stop working on it. There already were few songs made for it.
Now the fantastic artwork for “Absence Of Light” by Toni Hietomaa are available as Sarcofagus T shirt and A3 Poster from the Sarcofagus website: www.sarcofagus.com.
These are made to order for awhile. So there is no stock and these are aimed for the fans and collectors to commemorate the 43 years of metal work.
The next project will be introduced soon so stay tuned.
Thank you for all the fans who have been supporting us through these years!”
SARCOFAGUS IN A NUTSHELL:
Sarcofagus is reputed to be one of the most influential & original Scandinavian Progressive Heavy Metal Bands (formed 1977). They have inspired numerous new metal bands.
Officially the first Finnish Heavy Metal Band
- First Finnish Heavy Metal Band singing in Finnish
- First Scandinavian Heavy Metal Band to have a female vocalist (Muska Babitzin)
- First Scandinavian Band (first in the world?) to release a FULL ALBUM length story/broadcast quality video ever (Moottorilinnut/Motorbirds). This was before MTV, rental or sales videos and before people had VHS players
- 1979-1982 Released 1 Single and 3 Albums (Single: Go to Hell/All those Lies 1979, Albums: Cycle of Life 1980, Envoy of Death 1980, Moottorilinnut 1982)
- Kimmo Kuusniemi was the 1st spoke person for Finnish Heavy Metal. He also started the Finnish Heavy Metal Association to bring together all the Finnish metal fans
- Kimmo Kuusniemi brought metal to radio, TV and papers where he was often used as the expert to explain the metal philosophy to reporters
- 1996 the albums Cycle of Life and Envoy of Death re-released as CDs in Italy by Mellotron
- 2004 Kimmo Kuusniemi released a downloadable free web version of 1981 Moottorilinnut (Motorbirds) album with original alternative Sarcofagus cover
- 2006 Cycle of Life re-released in Finland
- 2007 Envoy of Death and Moottorilinnut (Motorbirds) re-released in Finland
- 2007 the 4th Sarcofagus album “Core Values” came out after 25 years with most of the original band onboard; Kimmo Kuusniemi (guitars/drums), Esa Kotilainen (keyboards), Juha Kiminki (bass) and Tanja Katinka Karttunen (vocals)
- 2008 limited edition CD release of a previously unpublished studio tape “Sarcofagus Live in Studio 1979″, and a limited edition DVD release of the 1982 full album length music video “Moottorilinnut”
- 2008 Kimmo Kuusniemi produced a feature length HD TV documentary “Promised Land of Heavy Metal” that tells the story of the Finnish Metal Phenomenon (featuring also Sarcofagus) – Finland is the only country in the world where metal is now mainstream. The film is directed by Tanja Katinka Karttunen. It is in worldwide TV and DVD distribution (and also available as an iPhone App)
- 2009 Sarcofagus Anthology 1979-1982 double CD by Rocket Records published in Finland, including the first Single and 3 Albums, artwork and booklet with lyrics, history of the band and a foreword by Kimmo Kuusniemi
- 2010 First Finnish Metal Band to have an iPhone App
Kimmo tells more about the history of SARCOFAGUS
About Sarcofagus “Cycle of Life” Album, originally released in 1980
Sarcofagus “Cycle of Life” Album came out soon after the “Live in Studio 1979” tape and the “Go to Hell-All Those Lies” Single, also out in 1979. The record company JP-Music released and distributed the Sarcofagus Single to radio stations and music reporters to test the waters, and to find out if there was a market for a Heavy Rock Album in Finland. The Single wasn’t even available in the shops. However, I had already talked the record label into recording an Album. “In my mind the band’s future success was undeniable, unavoidable, guaranteed and great!”
“Live in Studio 1979” tape didn’t make the cut into an Album release. The band was still finding its form, and the early influences of blues and progressive rock were clear. Sarcofagus was meant to be a Heavy Rock band, and that was the direction the “Cycle of Life” was taking. The recording was done at the Pan Studio, Helsinki, the place already familiar from the earlier sessions, and Timo Toikka as the recording engineer. This time we had whole 3 days of studio time in our use!
Juha Kiminki played bass, Ari-Pekka Roitto drums, Hannu Leiden vocals and acoustic guitar, and we also had some guest stars: Hanna Heikinheimo playing flute and for the first time, Esa Kotilainen, the Keyboard Wizard, synthesizers. Since then, Esa has become an essential part of the band.
In this Album you start hearing the Kuusniemi-Leiden rift, that was widening fast. Although we both were playing Heavy Rock, my tastes were becoming more “Heavy” while Hannu leaned towards “Hard Rock”
I was more in charge of the A side of the Album, and it has a clear theme and all the tracks follow one story line: a man thinks that he has been the old Egyptian God Horus, many incarnations ago, and is locked up in a mental hospital. He kills himself to escape his situation, but has to reincarnate and come back to earth, against his will. On the “Cycle Closes” track the new life begins. The mad Keyboard genius Esa Kotilainen came along to create the experimental horror atmosphere.
We did reach some level of notoriety with this “out of this world” concept. I got some angry letters, and there were some claims of somebody committing a suicide because of this Album… But I very much doubt if any of these accusations are true, our purpose was not to drive anyone into mental breakdown! I was simply fascinated about the Egyptian mythology, the life after death and the idea of rebirth. In USA Judas Priest had real trouble with “driving people into suicide with satanic messages” claims, and the band had to go to court to defend themselves. Luckily the judge didn’t find any evidence to support these claims and the band went home free.
The B side was more of a compromise between Hannu and me, and is therefore more in the Rock department, and “Hermit” track is all his, I refused to play guitar on it! Hannu is a good singer, and he has had a solid career with his band Havana Black, that represents pure American Rock. They had a record deal in USA and are still gigging! I have great respect for him, and the old arguments about music styles seem quite childish now… but that all is in the far away past and lately we’ve even joined forces on stage, and performed “Astral Flyer” from this Album, together with the Swedish metal band Portrait. That was like stepping back in time! Or, like a re-incarnation!
I still like this Album and think that it has some really good tracks. The production methods and schedule were still incredibly tight: Whole 3 days in studio with astonishing 8 tracks! Hah! Nobody would release anything done like that today. But these limitations create a sound that some people appreciate and even copy. “Cycle of Life” has many dedicated fans. Now the original Albums fetch record prices in auctions.
And the saga continued with the next Album “Envoy of Death”, that also came out the same year 1980…
Recording Sarcofagus “Envoy of Death” Album in 1980
These were busy times: Sarcofagus “Live in Studio 1979” was taped, Single “Go to Hell-All Those Lies” came out that same year, “Cycle of Life” Album was already out in the beginning of 1980, and we started making new tracks for “Envoy of Death” by the summer of the same year! The original Vinyl cover states: “Recorded between 9th September and 16th November.” More time was spent making this Album than all the previous recordings put together!
Sarcofagus veterans Juha Kiminki (bass) and Ari-Pekka Roitto (drums) joined the forces, but by this latest Album me and singer Hannu Leiden had parted ways. We had creative differences and both of us had the “top dog” mentality – and there’s room for only one top dog in a dog sledge! Hannu was also drafted to the Finnish Army at that time (a duty that faces every young man in Finland) and therefore was out of the music business for a year. And I was itching to make a new recording.
Keyboard player Esa Kotilainen had come along to play on “Cycle of Life” and our creative juices were flowing, together we could make a bigger and better project. We started to make comparisons with international Heavy Rock band sounds and invent new production methods. At the time, the first Walkman Compact Cassette players came out, and on that new gadget we listened to brand new Judas Priest “British Steel” recording: they had managed to create the extraordinary Heavy sound (for that time), that we wanted to imitate… But how to achieve it? We started to play with drum sounds and multiple guitar tracks, to get the “guitar wall” effect. We still only had the pitiful 8 tracks in our use, and they were running out fast. That meant doing intermediate mixes. Things were getting complicated…
The first drum tracks were recorded at the JP Music Base Studio. Mysteriously some tracks were lost, and we never found out how that happened. (We faced the same curse a year later when one of the Moottorilinnut/Motorbirds video tapes got wiped clean!) Dismayed about the lost time we changed studios and continued at Esa’s Indigenous Records. In a way this worked out well: there were some inaccuracies with the drum takes and at his own turf Esa could take more control of the production and keep a closer eye on proceedings. We also had more time to play around with effects, echoes and multiple tracks.
The whole Album was already recorded but we still hadn’t found a new singer. We’d had several trial runs with various vocalists but finding a good rock singer was really tough… there just weren’t that many of them around. Jukka Homi answered our ad in a music magazine, he showed promise, and we thought that – despite his young age – we would be able to work with him. So, at the eleventh hour, the vocals were taped.
Again “Envoy of Death” is a themed Album: all the songs are about deceased people, who face the Egyptian Jury of the Dead. Each person explains his life to the Jury that weighs the Soul against a Feather and decides about the after life… The most experimental track was the last one, Black Contract: it’s a story of a dying man, who makes a pact with Lucifer to gain 7 years of extra time. The song is about the moment Lucifer comes to collect his soul. Devil and God negotiate about the fate of this wretched man, but the ultimate decision is handed to the Jury. Doesn’t sound too cheery…
This could be called an experiment in early Doom Metal, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the fans. Esa and I went nuts in the studio, recording echoes in the cellar, playing Grand Piano, using vocoder and an early Korg guitar synthesizer. We got the top jazz drummer Ronnie Österberg to play the drums, for this track only. And although I’m not a singer, all the whispered echoes and spoken words on this are done by me.
The whole thing was recorded using an “artificial head” system, that creates the 3D sound – therefore it should be listened with earphones, to get the full effect.
We had lots of fun making “Envoy of Death”, and although some of it is dated now, we were also ahead of time in many ways. Sounds were getting more Heavy and more Metal, all the songs were under my creative control, done the way I wanted them to be done. But is anything ever good enough for the ambitious musician? Far from it, and the story continues when, right after this effort, I started putting together “Moottorilinnut/Motorbirds” Album and the full Album length music video…
Making of Moottorilinnut (Motorbirds) Album in 1981
Moottorilinnut (Motorbirds) album “by Kimmo Kuusniemi Band” should always have been “by Sarcofagus”. It is a natural follow up to the earlier Sarcofagus recordings. However, plans had to be tweaked a bit.
My ambitions were still intact, I wanted the band to become famous. Despite the good feedback and media interest the overall success was modest. At this time, I was already working full time at the JP Records, doing their PR and following the sales, and I should have been in a good position to negotiate our next deal. But the label refused to support anything with the name of Sarcofagus on the cover. Compromises were made. The only way to start recording again was to change the band’s name into Kimmo Kuusniemi Band. We would do the Album in Finnish, because of popular demand. We would only use the JP Base studio during downtimes, nights and weekends. I also promised to include famous names and top musicians: Upi Sorvali in drums and Kirka and Muska Babitzin in vocals. I even promised, that I’ll quit the label, if this doesn’t work out!
Most musicians were still looking down to Heavy Metal, there was lots of elitism about music genres (and without doubt there still is.) Many musicians refused to take part. I had always admired Kirka and Muska Babitzin for their singing, they both have a natural Rock sound. They were a few years older than me and I’d listened to them since the early 70s, although their music was far from Metal. When I asked Kirka to take part in Motorbirds, to my astonishment he agreed! He came to the studio and sang a couple of tracks in one day; he was a natural fit. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to tell about the project to his record company CBS, and they went ballistic. Surely this would ruin his “nice boy” image for good… After some negotiations they let us to keep the tracks that were already taped. “Truth of 1000 Mega Watts/1000 MegawatinTotuus” song has become some sort of Metal Anthem in Finland. Kirka loved singing Rock and told me later that inspired by Moottorilinnut he made his own Heavy Rock recordings.
His sister Muska came along and also recorded a couple of tracks. This music style was more alien to her, and I helped her with the melodies by composing them with guitar. That’s why the end result is somewhat haunting. She ended up making history and became the first female singer in Finland to sing Heavy Metal. Her “Metallic Rainbow/Metallinen Sateenkaari” is the favorite of many fans.
It was Jukka Ritari who belted out the rest of the vocals on the Album. He was a true professional, even when this was his first time working with this kind of material. His voice has a wide range, and we’ve recently started working together again. The “House/Talo” track is one of the only Metal ballads we’ve ever made and shows his skills.
Upi Sorvali, a famous drummer who could play anything you throw his way popped along for one whole day, and did the drums, there and then. We were blown away; the guy was a machine! I spent way more time with my guitar tracks, obsessing over every solo. Sarcofagus bass player Juha Kiminki and keyboard player Esa Kotilainen did a brilliant job (as always) and after learning the tricks of the trade with Esa during Envoy of Death recording, I took care of the studio work and mixing. I’d started really like the post production phase, but the number of tape tracks was still limited and lots of fiddling was needed with intermediate mixdowns. Many, many sleepless nights…
The theme of Motorbirds also moved away from the ancient Egypt and became more modern: it criticizes society, talks about disillusionment and anxieties… there’s even a song against computers called “Megamachine/Megakone” Well, little did I know… Now I love new technology! But it’s OK to change your mind about some things.
Motorbirds came out in 1882. We got some good feedback but also gained a few critics. The idea of a studio rock band was considered “fake”: a Band is a Band and that’s it! The cover art was voted the worst effort ever, and I agree… the painting was made by my (then) wife, we weren’t in good terms, and I let the artwork slip through my fingers.
At this point I decided It was time to call it quits. In my mind I had with the Motorbirds reached and surpassed my goals. At the time I could not see any reason to continue Sarcofagus there was no way in sight out of Finland. While making the Moottorilinnut full album length video I realized that my future is in film making.
Life after Sarcofagus 1982 – 2000
Kimmo Kuusniemi is professional film makers, and have internationally produced and directed hundreds of films from TV commercials to music videos. Kimmo’s films carry his trademarks: high energy, music and fast action.
By the year 2000 the tide had turned, and new Finnish metal bands were making waves internationally. In addition to the old Sarcofagus fans also new audiences had found the pioneering metal band. Requests for interviews and come back performances were piling up and old albums and memorabilia were fetching record prices. The early 80s metal was back and young metal heads were looking up to the original guitar heroes.
In 2004 Kimmo Kuusniemi released a downloadable free web version of 1981 Moottorilinnut (Motorbirds) album with original alternative cover.
1986 Exciter “Automania”
In 1986 Kimmo released and extended single “Automania” under band name Exciter. The song appeared in YLE TV series ‘Automania’ which was directed by Kimmo. A music video was made out of the title song Automania. This was shown in movie theatres as a promotional video for the TV series. It was chosen as “Best Scandinavian Movie Theatre Advertisement”.
1991 Double Vision “Dream On”
In 1991 Kimmo released single Double Vision: “Dream On”.
This was donated to WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature International). Kimmo produced, composed and directed the music video, which was a critical statement about the state of nature around us. This video made the headlines in MTV (the 1st ever Finnish music project to achieve this) and was extensively aired in MTV Europe and Asia.
During the years Kimmo has composed and performed 100s of soundtracks for films. Kimmo has made several rock videos (Vader, Lawn Mower Deth, Becki & Bombshells etc…)
Kimmo has filmed many international super stars including Madonna, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Verve, Terrorvision, Van Morrison etc…
He has worked and lived in England since early 90s.
Come Back 2000 -> 2020
2007 Sarcofagus “Core Values”
“After quarter of century one can easily say that the band is living a new spring time through their new “Core Values” album. Even after 10 plays it is easier to describe what the album is NOT than what it IS. In 2007 Sarcofagus is not being retro or repeating the old.” -Imperiumi-
Kimmo’s thought about the album in 2007:
“I have always had my own style in composing songs and to me Core Values is a natural progression from Motorbirds.
Although there is 26 years between Motorbirds and Core Values the time gap is somewhat downplayed: the Motorbirds was quite ahead of time as a Heavy Metal Album. Core Values is heavier and more complex and progressive than Motorbirds.
I am VERY pleased with the “Core Values” album, as is the whole band. The synergy between us is fantastic. I set out to make a very heavy progressive album with postmodern screaming feedback guitars. Then Esa added the original Hammond B3, Minimoog, Mellotron and real Accordions in an authentic 70´s Deep Purple style. Tanja did unusual progressive influenced vocals with cool lyrics based on my song ideas. As always, Juha played strong supportive bass.
The result is a Post Modern Progressive Metal album which also embraces our roots. World is full of good bands and music. We went out on the limb to make a unique fresh new album. I think we have succeeded in that; whether you like it or not, it´s something you haven´t heard before!
4th Sarcofagus Album “Core Values” came out in 2007, after 25 years since the early albums, with most of the original band; Kimmo Kuusniemi (guitars/drums), Esa Kotilainen (keyboards), Juha Kiminki (bass) and Tanja Katinka Karttunen (vocals).”
2008 “Sarcofagus Live in Studio 1979” and “Moottorilinnut”
In 2008 Kimmo released a limited edition CD of an previously unpublished studio tape “Sarcofagus Live in Studio 1979″, and a limited edition DVD of the 1982 full album length metal music video “Moottorilinnut”.
2008 Promised Land Of Heavy Metal International TV Documentary
Heavy metal is a full time job again. In 2008 Kimmo Kuusniemi produced a feature length HD TV documentary “Promised Land of Heavy Metal” that tells the story of the Finnish Metal Phenomenon, and features many of the famous Finnish Metal greats. It is also available as an iPhone App. The first in the world full documentary iPhone App.
2009 Sarcofagus “Anthology”
Sarcofagus Anthology 1979-1982 double CD was published in Finland by Rocket Records in 2009, and it includes the first Single and 3 Albums, artwork and booklet with lyrics, history of the band, and a foreword by Kimmo Kuusniemi.
2010 “Cycle Of Life” and “Live In Studio 1979” Vinyl Re-Release by Svart Records
2011 “Moottorilinnut” (Motorbirds) Vinyl Re-Release by Svart Records
2012 “Envoy Of Death” Vinyl Re-Release by Svart Records
2016 THE FINAL ORIGINAL SARCOFAGUS LINEUP ALBUM “BACK FROM THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS”
Album was recorded in ONE day studio session in 2010. Sarcofagus had only played 4 times together (one rehearsal & 3 gigs) before the studio session since our recent reunion. The idea was to get a fresh “live” and original 80s feel to the recording to do justice to the songs and STAY TRUE to the originals.
Recorded in one day but this album proved to be the hardest album to mix and master in my 40 years music producing career. The problem was to get the sounds right as in the studio session, there was no time to fiddle with individual instrument sounds. Also, the drums were bleeding other instruments, the Hammond Leslie speaker broke down in the middle of the recording.
I’m very happy about the end result so this is an appropriate way to end the chapter for the original Sarcofagus; all done, all good, goodbye.
2020 Sarcofagus “Core Values” re-release
“CORE VALUES has been off the market for 13 years. The album was, as the name indicates, lyrically, a very dark look into our society. In 13 years, none of the issues have gotten better, on the contrary things are getting worse”, says filmmaker and the guitarist and songwriter of Sarcofagus, Kimmo Kuusniemi.
CORE VALUES was completed in 2004 and released originally in 2007. Says Kuusniemi: “I was very busy working on an international TV series, so I had to give away the distribution of the album. CORE VALUES received good revues, but not enough was done to sell it. I took it off the market just after a year.”
In November 2019 Kuusniemi recorded a video message about the CORE VALUES release and his thoughts about his upcoming album. “My albums have always had social commentary as many of my films have. I had come to the conclusions on the video message long before the Covid19 pandemic arrived that it was time to move on from social commentary as things do not change. The message of CORE VALUES seems to be more accurate in 2019 than 2007”.
The CORE VALUES CD release is a limited edition. “It has the original 2004 print covers that where never used, and the CDs will be NUMBERED and AUTOGRAPHED.
Making of MOOTTORILINNUT – MOTORBIRDS Full Album Length Video, Released in 1982
1981 – Dark Age of Technology
Motorbirds Video is a good example of my futuristic thinking:
It was done in 1981. Back then we didn’t have video rentals or much video sales as most people didn’t even have a VCR or a Colour TV. Net was a fishing term, Mobile Phone was two tin cans and a piece of string, Computer was a pocket calculator… how did we survive?
Motorbirds was definitely the first Finnish full length album sales video ever. Probably the first in Scandinavia. I’m not even sure if there were any other similar heavy videos Internationally out back then (Judas Priest live video came out in 1983). In the 70s and early 80s the music videos were prominently made by Television Companies for their (very few) music programs. They usually had just the band playing and a few dance girls. There also were few Music Feature Films like Led Zeppelin’s: “Song Remains The Same”.
The story based videos were just starting to appear. Motorbirds has a loose “story” connecting all the songs together and individual songs have images supporting the lyrics. It was radical and innovative in those days, so we were pioneers of the music video age.
INSPIRATION IN 1980
I had been taking photographs professionally for years. Then I saw Jehtro Tull’s music video on TV. I thought right away that I want to make a story based sales video about the Motorbirds Album! It was as simple as that, the rest proved to be slightly more complicated!
The next thing was to try to find a film company who could do it; there really wasn’t a great selection of them in Finland. I luckily got in talks with Helsinki Cable Television (HTV). HTV had a big TV studio and the latest wonders of 1” video technology (they looked like big old IBM computers with tape reels).
The next problem was that the video I was planning would have cost more than £500 000, in modern currency. Well, we didn’t have that kind of money like Jehtro Tull or Blondie who had the backing of a global record company. One of my strong points has always been the ability to get people excited about projects. So here I was, the first time Producer/Director, without any experience in video, putting together a very ambitious full album length story based music video project, without any money!
HTV had two young guys; Jari Mynttinen (video editor) and Harri Väätäinen (cameraman) who were really excited to try the limits of video technology. Their boss was one of those very few persons who could see the bigger picture.
We were able to strike a deal where I promised to raise 20 000 FIM (equals to £20 000 today) and then HTV would let the boys spend their free time on the video, off working hours. Luckily, they didn’t realize that this project would take half a year to finish! We spent countless nights and weekends at the studio experimenting with the new music video language.
Raising the money was another river to cross… I managed to talk a lot of people into the project; some giving money and some giving their time and equipment. I needed Guns, Motorcycles (Suzuki), an Army Transport Vehicle, Computers (IBM), Skidoos, Motocross cycles, a Customised Lorry, PA Systems, Parachuters, Locations – to mention a few… In the end it all somehow came together, perhaps because I’m blessed with ADHD, giving me endless energy and optimism.
We also had my (Russian) Lada Niva 4 wheel drive a la American Pickup style 🙂 The Lada importer promised us money but being new to this I didn’t make an agreement on paper and the marketing director of this fine commercial enterprise refused to pay! A lesson learned there. (That Lada was the worst car I’ve ever had, luckily, I was later able trade it for a Land Rover.) The American Style Lada created a lot of negative attention on the streets of Helsinki as car enthusiast saw it as an abomination and sacrilege to the American way. I didn’t think that Lada was a cool car but it was the only 4 Wheel drive I could afford!
This took a LONG time to complete as we tried and invented all kinds of special effects. Now all these things look so simple! Anybody who complains about the technology today should be sent back to early 80s to see how complicated things used to be! Any Video Camera cost an absolutely ridiculous amount of money, weighted tons and their batteries lasted for 10 minutes. We needed hell of a lot of light equipment. Nowadays a £200 Digital Video camera has 10x better image quality than the 80’s £200 000 camera kit!
Kirka (vocals) was very excited about the video shoot! This was his first heavy metal gig. He had grown his hair for the Studio shoot and was wearing all black leather and had adopted a heavy metal attitude! That’s how things should be done! Muska (vocals) was slightly reserved with all the hassle but we got everything done, no problems. Jukka Ritari (vocals) was a natural performer so he was right at home in front of the camera. The rest of the band of course had done the Heavy Performance a few times already 🙂
The actual “band on stage” footage was originally taped in two days. Unfortunately, on the second day the 1” Video Tape recorder had a malfunction and erased the whole tape on rewind. I don’t know how that’s possible but that’s what seemed to have happened after the day’s work! We had to re-schedule which was complicated as Kirka was very busy. Unfortunately, Juha (bass) was not able to come for the re-shoot and we ended up having my good friend Jari Lintukankare to “play act” the bass. Jari has been there all along from the very beginning of my music career adventures, to the present day, helping with all kinds of things. A true friend there.
We did all sorts of stuff: fake blood, chroma key (seven finger guitar playing :), dancers and The Flame Throwing Guitar. The Flame Throwing Guitar appeared on the “Cemetery For The Living” video. Of course, I had to burn some crosses with it.
Post production took ages as we had ambitious ideas and wanted to experiment with layered images, color effects, chroma key etc… Luckily Jari and Harri were as excited about the project as I was. We spent numerous nights in the HTV studio finishing the edit.
We got the video done after half year of working on it; the video took longer to do than the actual Motorbirds album! Now we had a complete album length sales video, made in as high quality TV Standard as possible at that time. What to do with it? Obviously, I had not been thinking about that!
HTV ended up showing it twice on their channel, and YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company) showed two songs from the video on their Rock Music Program. There were no music or satellite channels. And there were no ways to sell or rent a music video!
Also, the media was unable to comprehend the video aspect of the album! This was long before the MTV and the concept of the Music Video being as important for the band as the Music. The Motorbirds Album got good coverage in media but nobody ever mentioned the video! The Reporters I offered the video for review did not have VCRs to watch the video. Hah! THAT IS FUNNY!
The Motorbirds was the first Finnish metal album, sung in Finnish, and featuring female vocals. But looking back I think the most important achievement was the first Broadcast Standard full length Story Based Music Video!
LOST MASTER TAPE
I had reached all my goals musically and due to unpopularity of the heavy music there was no point making more albums. Perhaps the main reason to end Sarcofagus was that I was really excited to continue work on film/video. This is what I have been doing for the past 25 years; first in Finland and then in UK.
My new career took off and the Motorbirds video was forgotten for the next 15 years. Sarcofagus surfaced again in the end of 90s when a friend of mine told me that the first 2 albums had been re-released in Italy as CDs. In early 2000 Klaus Flaming, The Heavy Metal Voice of the Finnish Radio, asked me if I have the master tapes of the video as they were putting together a compilation of Finnish Heavy Music Videos. Klaus Flaming made also a great service to Metal by making a very thorough Radio Series about 80’s Heavy Metal Bands. He interviewed me and all the main metal bands that appeared after Sarcofagus retired. Kudos to Klaus for the excellent and important task! Klaus and I started to chase my old contacts to find one of the 2 original masters I knew existed… But after two years we had not found a single copy of the Motorbirds Video! It looked like we had lost it completely. One year later I managed to find (maybe?) the only existing VHS copy of it. The owner was VERY reluctant to let me have it for digital duplication. After long negotiations we managed to make a copy!
The transfer from the VHS tape nicely enhances the age of the video. Originally, I was thinking about making a full restoration operation, but then decided not to. It is 25 years old so it should look like that! I have only run it through Digital Noise Reduction and replaced the music track with the new 2004 Internet Mix.
WHAT I THINK
The video was done with the same “tongue in cheek” attitude as a lot of other Sarcofagus stuff. If the video would have been dead serious it would look silly like many of the early music videos now do. The humor now makes it even funnier to watch than back in 80s. To me, as a Film maker, it’s a good reminder how blessed we are today with all the Digital Technology.
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