The story of Prestige begins in 1987. The place where it all happened was Annala or rather Hikivuori to be exact, a suburb of Tampere, Finland. The two brothers Ari Karppinen (guitar) and Tero Karppinen (drums) formed a metal band together with Aku Kytölä (bass/ vocals). The guys got a brilliant rehearsal room in the bombshelter of the youth-club of Annala. It was located some six meters under ground, there were no other bands rehearsing and there was even a toilet in the room. Down there – literally “underground”- they rehearsed and wrote the first songs for “Prestige“. In 1987 they also played their first gigs.
In January of 1988 Jan “Örkki” Yrlund joined the band after his former band “Claymore” had ceased to exist. Örkki had already met the guys before and he knew them well. Ari had actually attended the same high school as Örkki.
The band adopted the moniker “Prestige” which was taken from a porn-movie called “Climax
Prestige” by Örkki. With the line up complete the band now started intensely rehearsing five or six days a week. They also wrote their own material right from the start.
The first “Metal Party” at the school of “Hikivuori” was a great success for the band. It was a hometown gig also featuring their good friends in “Dethrone“. Prestige wanted to play live more and more, but because the official rock-clubs did not book any Speed Metal acts, the band started organizing their own gigs by renting venues and PAs for that purpose. These “Metal Parties” were of great importance for the new local thrash metal scene and the underground spirit was definitely present.
In the same spring of 1988, Prestige was ready to record their debut-demo. They went to the “Emma” studio in Ylöjärvi, run by the Maijala brothers, to record five songs for the demo, which was to be titled “Gods” – after one of the songs. The demo was recorded in two days in June.
The demo turned out to be quite a success and it was spread around the country and beyond. The guys sold them not only by mail order, but also in the local shops and summer festivals. They put ads in the underground magazines and these helped to spread to word. Overall more than 1000 copies were sold or given away through the years. After “Gods” was noticed and reviewed in the mainstream music press the official venues also started to pay attention to the band. This is how the band got their first gigs in other cities and how they participated in the legendary “Metal Massacre IV” gig in Helsinki, in the cult venue “Lepakko”. This sold out gig was reviewed in major music magazines and the band got more recognition – even though they weren’t even signed yet.
A gig at the brand new “Tullikamari” in Tampere – “Speed Metal Party I” – turned out to be very important for the future of the band. The huge “Pakkahuone” venue of 1200 people was crowded and also “Dethrone” and “Necromancer” were playing. Prestige had heard rumours beforehand that a talent scout from “Poko Records” company would be there to check them out. And indeed, after their show they were contacted by the record company scout who was very impressed. After hearing the “Gods” demo, Prestige was invited to drop by at the Poko Records Office and when they did they were signed right away at the very spot. In this way Prestige became the first metal band ever from the Tampere area with a recording deal on a major label. Everything happened very fast indeed.
Only a couple of weeks later the band was introduced to the producer TT Oksala, who was very well known and who had a good reputation with the heavier bands. TT chose the very well equipped 24-track JJ-Studio of Juuso Nordlund in Tampere.
In the autumn of 1988 Prestige was already recording their debut-album with TT Oksala at the JJ. The recordings took seven days and for the mixing the band travelled to Helsinki, to the legendary Finnvox Studios.
The first full-length album was called “Attack Against Gnomes” and it was released in January 1989. The first edition was released as an LP & MC. Later that year the album was also released on CD.
“Attack Against Gnomes” got very positive reactions in the music press and Prestige started to play more and more gigs. Also international press seemed to be interested and the first interviews in English, Spanish and German Metal Hammers took place. The album was also licensed to the Spanish GBBS records and a special shipping of 1500 pieces went to the Semaphore in Holland.
Also the metal heads in their own country were impressed – it seems – because the album went straight to the Top 20 Charts in Finland.
That year Prestige played all over the country, supported bigger and even more mainstream names (like Yö, Peer Gunt, Gringos Locos etc.) and played some festivals (Musiikki & Media, Forssa Icehall). They also were selected to support Nuclear Assault in “Lepakko” and the gig was awesome and of course sold out.
In September of 1989, Prestige was ready to release something new and that is why they went back to JJ-Studio with producer TT Oksala to record some songs for a single. The twelve inch maxi-single “Priest” was the result. It was released in January of 1990 and it was sold out quickly.
But in 1989, Prestige was also busy with something else: in November, after a trip to Sweden they decided it was time to record “Veijo“- EP. “Veijo” was a kind of a hardcore punk ripped-off and raped version of Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop A Lula”, but sung in Finnish and of course with Prestige-style lyrics. It was all about Aku’s one time boss, who was a total pain in the ass. The song was an absolute favourite of the live-audience, so it had to be recorded. Therefore, the band went to the Tonal Studio in Helsinki to record an EP. On the EP there was also another punk song called “Jani“, which was sung by Örkki and which was dedicated to the craziest metal head in town, Jani Ruuskanen (R.I.P.). There were also four other Hard Core songs on the EP. “Veijo”- EP was strictly limited and numbered and it was sold only at the Prestige gigs. It became a collector’s item later.
In April 1990 Prestige was ready to record the follow up to “Attack Against Gnomes“. Mister Oksala was again chosen for the production and the studio was the same JJ-Studio used on the previous album. The recordings took more time than on the debut. The album had 12 tracks, one of which, “Help the Science” was taken from the “Priest” sessions of September 1989. The new full-length was titled “Selling the Salvation“. This time Prestige had much more to say, lyric wise. The album presented a much more technical Prestige. The songs had more riffs and they were also much faster than on the debut.
The album was again well received by the fans and the media. In the summer of 1990, Prestige played several gigs in Finland and later that year they went to play in Denmark for the first time. They were invited there by the Danish thrashers “Invocator”. To support the release of “Selling the Salvation” Prestige did the “Mutaa Lapioon” tour in Finland after the Danish trip. Invocator came over to Finland to do four gigs on that tour with Prestige. After the tour Prestige was invited to play in Czechoslovakia. This small week long tour was a truly unforgettable experience. Prestige was one of the very first foreign metal bands to play there after the velvet revolution of ’89 and certainly they were the first metal band in the most of the venues. It was a very wild and adventurous tour and showed the explosive spirit of the band. The reaction of the audience was unbelievable.
In 1991, Prestige kept on playing live shows. They went first to Sweden in April, (invited by the Örebro thrashers Fallen Angel). After that, they went back to Denmark to play a tour there with Invocator. The good friends of the band, Maple Cross from the Oulu- area of Finland, were also taking part in the Danish tour. Soon after this adventure, Prestige brought the Swedish Hysteriah’ G.B.C. over to Finland to play with them. This all happened in April 1991. In May 1991, it was time for another band to come over to Finland, invited by Prestige. This time they chose the Norwegian black metal band Dark Throne. They played three gigs together on that short tour. Especially memorable was the big “Feast Metal” festival in Riihimäki’s “Urheilutalo” on that occasion with Dark Throne. In June 1991 Prestige went back to Sweden, this time invited by No Remorse, which changed its name later to Temperance. It was a lot of fun to play with those guys.
In July, Prestige was ready to hit the studio again. This time they wanted to do some things differently and that’s why another studio/producer combination was chosen. First of all, they needed more time and somebody who they were familiar with. They chose Jani Viitanen from the band “Yö” and as for the studio the “Harasoo” studio, owned by Costello Hautamäki. The producer Jani understood the band perfectly and the guys were very happy with the result. The songs were mixed at the “MSL Studio” of Mika Sunquist.
The symbolic name “Parasites in Paradise” was chosen as the title for the album and it turned out to be the heaviest and fastest Prestige album ever. The album was to-the-bone thrash-metal and even if the album was very fast, it also had some more quiet moments on it. Lyrics dealt with important daily issues, but were also sometimes serious with a clear message and some songs had the typical Prestige-style ironic humour in them.
“Parasites In Paradise” was released in January 1992. With the release of the new album, Prestige started extensive touring in Finland in January. The Swedes of Fallen Angel came over to play four gigs with them on that “Parasites in Paradise” tour. Prestige played more than 25 gigs during the spring. Right after that Prestige recorded a video-clip for the song “Sniff” with the help of the new “School Of Art And Media”. Poko Records used this clip mainly for promotion, though it also ended up on some compilations later. Finally, Prestige received the news that they were chosen to play on the legendary “Ruisrock” festival in June 1992 (with headliners like Nirvana and Bryan Adams) in Turku, Finland. They made a true Prestige show of the gig. This festival was to be the last Prestige would play, although the guys did not know that at the time.
After Ruisrock, the four guys in Prestige decided to have a break. They felt they had earned it. The time had gone by very fast and the band had also lived fast and they had never slowed down, but gone full throttle all the way. And, what happened after that?
Well, the break actually lasted more than a decade. This might sound funny indeed. Aku and Örkki started experimenting and gigging more and more with their punk/crossover band “Heppihirviö“. Prestige also lost their long kept rehearsal room that spring of ‘92. The new rehearsal place did not feel the same at all, the magic was gone. Maybe everybody also just got a bit tired after all those memorable years. Nobody ever quit or left the band. The band never split up either. Other things and interests just came in its place.
During the break Örkki moved abroad and made many albums and toured with several metal and gothic bands and Aku had many punk, hardcore and psychobilly bands back in Finland and he also produced some others. Whenever the two came together they continued with their crossover band.
In 2002 Aku and Örkki decided to put up a website because through the years many thrash and speed metal fans kept on requesting the Prestige music and pictures from them. Always supporting the underground, they answered these requests, as a website would offer these interested fans an easy medium to acquire the info they would need and also music for free download. The veijo.tk was launched in the autumn of 2003 and in 2006 a new official url was in place: www.prestige.fi.
Also, in 2006 Poko Recods wanted to release a new compilation album of the best songs of Prestige.
This sounded very interesting to the band so they finally got back together and made a representative selection. They also wanted to include all the material which never had been released on a CD format: the Gods demo, the Veijo- EP and the Priest maxi single. So it became a double-CD. In January 2007 Aku and Örkki headed back to Finnvox Studios after 19 years of absence. All the material was there completely digitally remastered by Minerva Pappi. The guys decided to title the compilation “Decades of Decay”. A title which marks the 20th anniversary of the band – two decades – but it also reminds us of the fact that the band might have suffered from an early state of dementia when forgetting to come back from the break, but Prestige was never dead – nor was it ever buried!
We hope you all will enjoy this flashback to the history of Finnish metal,
Aku, Örkki, Ari, Tero