TORNADO, the American, Dutch and Finnish thrash metal band has just finished the recordings of their debut album “Amsterdam, Hellsinki”, which will come out this summer, via Listenable Records. But who are Tornado? They surely have an extra portion of the force of nature… to describe the band I could compare it to the tornado, the weather phenomenon: “Wherever it hits the land, it always leaves a trace…”
Couple of days ago I had an interesting chat with Superstar Joey Severance, Tornado‘s frontman, just read by yourselves what I found out…
Hey Joey, welcome to Metal Shock! First of all, represent us Tornado’s project, members and their roles in the band… …and how you guys found each others?
We are Superstar Joey Severance – Vocals, Michiel “Big Maaaaan” Rutten – Guitar, Daddy B – Guitar, Johnny Wow – Bass, Juhana “Starvin Marvin” Karlsson – Drums.
The band was something that I had in my head for a long time when I moved to Europe from the States but the problem was I didn’t know anybody here in Holland. I had a specific “type” of personality that I wanted in this band and the dutch people are very introverted so that was difficult finding the right people here until Big Maaaaan came along. We became fast friends and just started writing together in my bedroom since he lives a few minutes away from me. In the meantime, 6 years ago I did a tour (as tour manager) with Finntroll and their supports were Naglfar and Amoral (their first ever tour). On that tour I became friends with all the bands but I especially liked the Amoral guys. They were young and full of energy and had great personalities. I also thought that Ben was a hotshot shredder and Starvin was a wild front man behind the drums and that I would love to have the two of them in my band. Anyway fast forward some years and Amoral are heading out with Amorphis and Before The Dawn and I asked the guys if I could tag along since I wasn’t doing anything at home at the time. On that tour, we (Amoral and crew) were travelling in a van. There were 7 of us in that van and even though our travelling conditions weren’t the best, I had the best time ever and I thought, if I can live with these guys in THIS condition, I can live with them everywhere so I started sharing my ideas with Ben and from there I got the other 2 involved because I always knew that I wanted Ben and Starvin in any band that I would do. Johnny Wow was added in because he was such a cool guy on that tour and a great bassist that it just made obvious sense. Of course for those guys, their main band is Amoral and I understand that and we use different names for those guys just as another way to keep separation between the bands ( and not to mention that I usually have nicknames for all my close peeps) . They did Big Man and I a great service by playing on this album and are well aware of the fact that I consider Tornado a band (and not a project) and that their spots are secure as long as they want to be there.
Your former name was Nemesis Divina, but then you changed it to Tornado. Is there any specific reason, or you were just fed up with the old name?
The name change had more to do with the fact that the general public who was aware of us was confusing us for a black metal band which the only thing black metal about Tornado is black dynamite ;)
From which bands come your influences?
Oh shit! this list could go on and on forever as I absorbed everything in my formative years but my first influences on a musical level for sure were Kiss and Rick James but also a lot of the old school wrestlers had a huge impact on my personality. From Kiss I moved onto a lot of the glam bands that were starting to come around and from there I just started discovering a whole bunch of other metal. Thrash, hardcore, death metal… it was no problem at all for me to go from say Poison to Bathory one after the other. Most of my friends hated me being the dj cos they would hear shit like Ratt, Cinderella, Vain mixed in with Kreator , Destruction and Anacrusis as well as Agnostic Front, Leeway and Ludichrist or Accept, Judas Priest and Saxon. So as you can see my musical taste are all over the place but in terms of developing my own writing style, Slayer, Nuclear Assault and Overkill would be at the top of my list.
Your sound is deeply rooted in 80’s thrash and a style rooted in 80’s sleeze… however your genre is something else, what?
Our style is 100% THRASH METAL. We just try and add some other elements to our writing which might make it seem that we are all over the place but we aren’t. If you were to just LOOK at our band, one might say, well ok…..those guys look a bit pretty so im going to guess they sound like some L.A. cock rock bullshit, but when you HEAR us there is no mistaking that John Connelly (Nuclear Assault) is my daddy ;)
Last November you inked a multi-album deal with the French label Listenable Records. How it changed your lifes?
I can’t speak for the other guys but in terms of myself, it will allow me to take music that I write in my bedroom and expose it to a much larger audience. It also gives me a better chance of performing this music for other people which you know, for others who do the same, they can tell you. it’s a dream come true.
You entered the studio, in Sweden, in February 2011 working with Swedish producer and Hypocrisy /Pain mainman Peter Tägtgren. Tell us about this experience…
Ha! I had been working with Peter for years but only as his tour manager so I only knew THAT side of him which is a wild hooligan! Mostly I spend my time picking him up off the ground, putting him to bed, getting him out of funny situations, oh shit, the list can go on so I didn’t know what to expect. On the other hand, he only knew me as a womanizing, weed smoking loudmouth motherfucker so it was VERY strange to get into the studio and find Peter totally focused and razor sharp in regards to taking his craft very serious! When we first arrived he told us “guys, im your friend so i’m going to be honest, I don’t know how im going to record your album in 10 days. I just had a band in here for 3 weeks and we barely made it” and we just said “Peter, relax. We got this” and by DAY 6 my whole crew were sitting around scratching our balls asking, ok……..what do we do now? we were totally finished with everything! All credit to that goes to Starvin Marvin. That fucker raised the bar very high by bangin out 8 songs in one day! From there, the rest of us were just trying not to let that asshole make us look bad! I’m proud of everyone. We all did a great job in my opinion and the studio experience was a fantastic one. I don’t have enough words to say how Peter really took care of his boys and made us sound expensive!
Metal Shock Finland had a pleasure to “be there” while you were in the studio, through the constant studio updates you sent us. How was it to live together 24 hours a day with the other guys? I mean, tell me the pro’s and con’s from the intensive studio week.
Well, like I mentioned earlier. I lived with the Amoral crew in tighter conditions. On that van tour, Starvin Marvin, Johnny Wow and I were all bed mates! We slept in the back of the van on the top of 2 mattresses that were strategically placed on top of gear. Doesn’t get any more hardcore than that! And Big Man is my brother so usually when you see one of us, the other isn’t too far behind! There were no con’s about being in the studio with those guys at all. We all did our share. Johanny Wow and I did the cooking, Big Maaaan did the dishes and food shopping, and Starvin Marvin… well fuck he was raisin the roof!
The title of this album is “Amsterdam, Hellsinki”… well I can understand it on a geographical level, but why this choice?
This is where we come from. (I live here in Amsterdam and have for a long time, but I come from Providence, Rhode island, and EVERYTHING I am as a person is a direct result of providence and all my people there. in my formative years, they and the times we had together helped shape who I would become as a person and the music I now create) so even though some of the band come from Helsinki and some from Amsterdam, anywhere I am, P Town is represented! But it’s also my own fantasy world. A place where if you are looking for a good time, you can come on in and hang out with the pimps, the ho’s and the other outcast. You know. At the end of the day, it’s all rock ‘n roll. I want to have fun while I am alive and if the world you are living in doesn’t cut it, create your own ;)
The album has also a guest apparence, Doro from Austria, who sings the albums most touching song “Noora”… well, I’ve read her story and I’m not going to ask about it. But in 1:10 min it tells a lifetime… but tell me instead of Doro and about this collaboration.
Doro introduced herself to me some time ago because a mutual friend, we have suggested that she make contact with me. I had heard some of her own music and thought that her voice was fantastic. (i’m way into girl singers starting with pat benatar) so when “Noora” came along, the choice was obvious for her to sing it because I just did not want to relive the whole situation again by singing the lyrics myself.
On the album there’s also a song talking about the sad phenomenon of our days, the pedophilia… would you like to tell us about this song?
This song turned out to be one of my favorites. It sounds exactly how I envisioned it in my head when writing it. I find pedophilia to be something absolutely disgusting because children to me are the most beautiful creatures in the world. The best part of being a human being in my opinion is growing up and discovering the world around you, the person that you will become. So when an adult comes along and violates that innocence in such a way, especially when the adult is dressed as a priest. The only punishment suitable is death.
What about the songwriting process, how your new song sees the daylight?
Usually I will have several riffs that I am working on and I will show them to Big Man and we will work on them together until we have something written or I’ll have something already completely written and he will come in and organize the structure.
Well, reading your biography it seems more like a challenge than a band biography… I could really do quite many unusual questions LOL, but let’s pick up some of them… in what way your’re DANGEROUS? and What is Tornado’s “IT” factor?
If I were to tell you how dangerous, we would have to kill you for sure. It’s bad enough were wanted in 3 solar systems! Regarding the “it” factor. That one is hard to explain but i’m sure that anyone reading this can relate to the fact that some people are just “different” maybe they got a little extra hot sauce in their DNA. I mean, look at my man abbath (immortal) . On stage you can see that motherfucker is just oooozing with charisma and from the back row you say to yourself, oh yeah baby! he’s got it! THAT is what i’m talking about. Some of us light up a room when we walk into it. An outsider would scream “what arrogance” but my man Alx Rose already told you “I dint buy that fifth of whiskey that you gave me” for me personally, I like to think of myself as a “front man” than singer. I love to entertain. I come from the David Lee roth, steven tyler, Paul Stanley school of frontmen… at least that’s what the sign on the wall says.
Btw Joey, what is the story behind the belt you wear in many photos and during the gigs?
Oh! The belt! Well, seeing that I told you in the beginning that a lot of old school wrestlers are part of my blood stream, the belt (and the superstar in my name) are the direct result of one man and that is Superstar Billy Graham. The belt was his model when he was the champion. I’ve dreamed of owning that thing forever and always knew that I would make it part of my stage gear if I had the chance. Looking at the text “World Heavyweight Thrash Champions” I just have to put this out there right here and now so that there is no confusion. In my opinion , THRASH METAL begins and ends with Slayer. Everything else (including Tornado) is just a bonus…….but with that said, there was no way I could bring shame to my man’s good name by putting on that belt and not talking trash at the same time! After all, he taught me everything I know!! (Along with Muhammad Ali, Ric Flair and the American Dream Dusty Rhodes).
And talking about the tour to support “Amsterdam, Hellsinki”, I guess, you’ll head on the road right after the release. But where can we see you on stage already before?
I am not sure when we will be heading out on the road but I will say this. I am hoping that it will be with one of the big dogs so we can play to as many people as we can. We are very much looking forward to getting on stage because we believe that a rock n roll band should be SEEN and some of those fuckers next to me are something to look at!
What are your next plans?
Right now we’re just waiting for the release date so that other people can hear what we are all excited about. I believe we have made a very strong record with songs that you can actually remember and songs that are different from one another. But for sure, we are hoping to land on a very good tour where we can go out and spread some Tornado love to the people ;)
And now, the last question… what are your greetings to your fans and to our readers?
If you have read my bullshit this far…….you have way too much time on your hands! Ha! We appreciate anytime someone takes the time to check us out. And taking with you was also a great honor. We are LUCKY and we are all well aware of that fact. In closing. Tornado for 2011!! Girls, break out the daisy dukes!! Boys, get out those bullet belts!!
Thanks Joey, it was nice talking with you! See you soon on the road! \m/
Interview by Tarja Virmakari – Pics taken in the Studio during the recording sessions