Interview with: Prestige’s bassist/vocalist Aku Kytola

2006-11-07

Finland had very few thrash exports during the 80’s and early 90’s, one such was Prestige, formed in 1987, released 3 full length thrash classics, and then broke up. We caught up with former bassist/vocalist Aku Kytola to re-live the glory days:

Hi Aku! I’d like to start with current events, is there, or will there be a Prestige reunion?

I have to say no. My voice is gone, no more screaming for me. Tero for sure has left drumming behind a decade ago, Jan lives in Netherlands and i haven´t heard about Ari but a couple of times since Prestige, enough reasons to leave such an idea behind. If possible, it might be fun to arrange somekinda re-union, but it´s totally not. Me and Jan recorded 6 HC-songs though couple of years ago, Perttu from Riistetyt played drums, maybe one day we’ll finish it off and let people download it from our site.

What are you doing musically right now?

Well, I am a sort of an extra guitarist/regular face in local band called The Dirters. I used to record their demos years ago and at first I did some solos for their records, then a bit more, and after a few years I ended up onstage with them, so I guess I am a bandmember nowadays, but without a face in the record sleeves… new album coming out within next couple of months…

We also just formed a Neobilly band called “Vulture Club” and it seems like things are going pretty fine with us nowadays. I have always wanted to play that kind of music, with upright bass and all. Check us out.

Prestige are also gonna release a compilation album, february 2007, it’s gonna be 20 years since we put up the band, so iquess it’s time.

Don’t know for sure yet, but we may even be able to record a couple of new
songs, though there aint gonna be re-union gigs, just one recording
session.

Are you in contact with the former band members?

Jan is the only one I meet every now and then, but as I mentioned earlier, he lives in Netherlands, so mainly only in summertime we have a chance to have couple of beers together and talk about the good old days…

I understand you were in a punk band called Heppihirviö after Prestige, what is the status with that?

Actually we formed Heppihirviö somewhere around 1989, basically ’cause me and Jan wanted to play also other stuff besides metal, and sorta explore in different music styles. HH were never a pure punk band, attitude was there but ’cause we had a chance to do basically whatever we wanted, and we did. HH broke up 1994 when Jan decided to move abroad. We recorded an album, but when we were about to release it Jan left the country. It may be allready downloadable in the internet somewhere, don´t know for sure, but we´re probably gonna add at least some of those songs to our site too… I still do music with Tune, HH’s drummer, but all we have done are just projects without any ambition, just to please ourselves.. few gigs every now and then but i bet not even one during this century.

I’d like to go down history now, how did Prestige start out?

Tero was drumming in a HC-band called Wankers, and after they broke up, he had nothing better to do than form a band with me and his little brother. I bet he also heard Slayer’s “Hell Awaits” too many times, and wanted to play something abit more fast and furious. Their old rehearsal place was available for us to use, so we went 10 meters below, into the dusty bombshelter and formed a band.

It was clear from the beginning, I´d do the bass and vocals while Ari concentrates on playing lead guitar. I had to change the instrument from guitar to bass, but I thought it was sorta easier to play bass while doing vocals so it was ok.

We had a couple of local guys to play the second guitar, but it never worked out fine with them and after a while we realized that we’re a threesome again, chemistry between us works fine, but something is still missing and thats where Jan came along.

They were schoolmates, Ari and Jan, and his band Claymore had broken up. I quess Ari realized that we needed a good guitarplayer, and now there’s a chance to get one so he dragged Jan to our rehearsals. Jan liked us, joined the band and thats when Prestige was really formed, we took the name from old Pornfilm called Climax Prestige, Jan had a copy of it and we thought what the hell, if it’s good title for porn, lets call ourselves that. We just dropped the climax part off and there it was, our band finally had a name… By the way, we did our first ever gig as Genocide, pretty original name for the band, huh? there were also few other awful titles, like Dispice Suicide.

What were you doing as a musician before that?

We were young, so we havent had a chance to do much. As i mentioned, Tero was in couple of punk bands before, I had played some with Tune, HH’s drummer, and I think Jan was only in Claymore before Prestige.

Can you go through some highlights in Prestige’s career?

Metal was sorta the next big thing connecting kids after the punk movement had withered away, so each of our first gigs was basically a big thing and a highlight for all of us in the scene, as a bandmember or the member of the big happy headbanging family a.k.a. audience. We rented the PA-system and the places, sold tickets by ourselves and made helluva shows with local bands like Dethrone, Master Blaster, Amnesty and Menticide… great friends, lotsa beerdrinking and laughter..

At one gig I was thrown at with something really weird brown mushy stuff, and everyone can quess what was my first thought. Finally I realized they were meatballs, quess my friends thought I was in need of some extra energy at that point, which was the first real highlight, free food!

After “Gnomes” was released, we toured around as much as we could, and nothing that cool happened, but after our second album “Salvation” was released (best one we did, my opinion) we started to think different ways to conquer the world.. We toured with Maple Cross and Invocator in Denmark and With Fallen Angel and Hysteriah G.B.C in Sweden. And then suddenly a guy called Svatopluk contacted us, we were offered to tour Czechoslovakia. A place where no Finnish bands have visited and nobody really knew anything about. So we went, and realized that food and booze was almost free, really good, and whole country was full of metalheads. All the gigs were amazing. We played at the old barn in the middle of nowhere heated by only 2 stoves and the place was packed full, propably best gig ever, 3 encores ´til there was nothing left to play and still they wanted more!

There was lots of highlights in those 5 years of prestigious lifestyle, but i doubt there’s not enough space to put down all of them.. One more though, one gig, where we supported Nuclear Assault in Lepakko, Helsinki and the place was really packed and we did one of the best shows ever, 1500 people in a place for 900; sweat, heat, lights, smoke and total thrash, everybody had great time there for sure. When NA started their set, all went just nuts, the stage itself almost collapsed, wild night.

What kind of metal scene was there in Finland when the band started out?

Nothing much existed, we were a big part of it right from the beginning. I dont mean to take credit for creating the metal scene here, but without us and the other bands and lots of DIY attitude there wouldn’t have been one… I’m of course talking only about our hometown, but i bet it was all the same everywhere around the country. It took only a year or so for people from record companies to realize that this is something kids are into nowadays, and that’s when things went easier, but at the beginning we had to create everything out of nothing, there was not even a slightest chance to get a gig anywhere when you played music like this.

Where, apart from Finland, Did you tour and sell records?

We toured couple of times in Sweden and Denmark and once in Czechoslovakia, our label didn´t wanna put enough money into us, enough to get to support for example Kreator at their European tour. We were asked but nothings free for an unknown band. I think our first album was released in quite a few European countries. For sure I can mention Spain, Germany and Netherlands. Second album at least in Germany, I never cared much about where they were published and where not, so i don´t really know for a fact..

Why did the band break-up?

We never did, but cause our 3rd album didn´t sell much, and people didn´t seem to care about metal anymore, we decided to take a break.. Played our last show in Ruisrock, Turku, summer of 1992. Big festival, lots of audience, wonderful sunny day, good show, had great time and never even thought that it’s gonna be our last one, but sadly it was. Well, at least it was the best way I can figure out to do the last show. We also lost our rehearsal place right after that and never got a new one… me and Jan had HH, enough gigs and fans, so Prestige sorta got forgotten.

What do you think about the resurgence of interest in thrash that’s on these days?

Well of course it´s great to see that things we believed in as kids are not forgotten, and of course there are bands that have continued to play and lots of good new ones, so basically it was just matter of times when this was to happen. Aggressive music is something all of us needs every now and then, and that’s when metal comes crashing in. I tend to listen to Slayer´s “Reign in Blood” everytime I’m totally bored. The most brutal album I have ever heard, and it still does the job after 20 years from its release.

Are there any current thrash releases you found interesting?

I’m not sure if these count, not really thrash metal, but Rotten Sounds Murderworks is a really cool one, then I have to mention Diablo, haven´t heard the new album, but “Eternium” is definitely worth buying. Also Children Of Bodom are getting better and better all the time…Oh and then I have to mention Endstand, which are not actually metal, but it sure sounds like a metal band, their album “Burning Bridges” kicks every possible ass around!

All of these oldschool bands from abroad that have done their second coming haven’t been able to top what they used to do, so can’t say anything good about them, except, once again, I have to mention Slayer, but they never gave up, so that one really doesn´t count. I don’t follow much on the scene abroad, but these Finnish bands are definitely worth checking out.

Will the classic Prestige albums be re-issued sometime?

I really doubt it, but it would be a cool idea to do a compilation album, guess I have to talk about it with Epe at Poko Records.

What’s your view about the current large metal scene in Finland?

I think i should read the next questions before answering the earlier one =)

Metal here has become pretty popular, mainly because of bands like Him, Nightwish etc. and this of course helps a lot to the career of a bit more brutal bands, like the ones mentioned above. Finnish metal bands have always been good; dunno if it’s because of the weather here or what but lots of snow, darkness, cold and a runny nose sure give inspiration to scream out ones lungs. It’s great to realize that after only 15 years metal musicians are finally getting recognition and called musician instead of stupid hippies playing freaky noise.

I think there’s always been a strong scene here, let´s hope it´s gonna stay that way..

Any specific plans for the future, music-wise?

Not really, i don´t much care about fortune and fame, but I´m gonna keep playing my guitar ´til i drop, that´s for sure!

That’s it, thanks for doing this interview!

Alon Miasnikov

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