INTERVIEW WITH TEEMU RÄTY AND NIKO RÄTY OF SIXGUN RENEGADES
Date: August 17, 2015
SWEDEN MAY HAVE THE REPUTATION AS BEING THE LAUNCHING PAD FOR MANY OF TODAY’S SLEAZE ROCK BANDS BUT FINLAND MAY WELL BE STARTING TO GIVE IT A RUN FOR ITS MONEY. SIXGUN RENEGADES HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR MORE THAN TEN YEARS IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, AND HAVE JUST RELEASED AN EXCELLENT NEW EP CALLED ‘BIG TROUBLE’. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH BAND FOUNDERS AND BROTHERS, TEEMU RÄTY AND NIKO RÄTY, TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SIXGUN RENEGADES.
Sleaze Roxx: Sixgun Renegades have a new EP that was released in March 2015 called ‘Big Trouble’. The one thing that I noticed was that the lead off single “Renegade” seems to have first surfaced on the band’s prior 2011 EP ‘Sixgun Renegades’. Am I correct in that regard and how did you come to choose the three songs that made it unto the ‘Big Trouble’ EP?
Teemu Räty: I think that was a kind of my idea. We were thinking that the ‘Big Trouble’ EP was lacking a good opening track. Something heavy and high tempo. So we started to look back for the previous songs that we were released and we thought that “Renegade” had that right energy and attitude. So with minor tweaks and production, we gave a new life for the song.
Sleaze Roxx: I have started noticing this more and more, and I am not saying that Sixgun Renegades have intentionally or purposely done this, but newer bands tend to only promote their most recent recordings and sometimes make pretend like their prior recordings never happened. For example, only the last two Sixgun Renegades EPs, ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Big Trouble’, are available on Soundcloud and only those two EPs are listed on your group’s Facebook bio yet I understand that the band also released two prior EPs, 2010’s ‘Bells Of Recollection’ and 2011’s ‘Sixgun Renegades’. Do you agree or disagree with what I am saying and why?
Niko Räty: Good question (laughs). Haven’t really thought it that way. I think it’s because bands don’t want to promote their older stuff if it’s just demos like ours. These two recent EPs are all about being real records and the old ones are just demos. I am not saying that there isn’t good stuff in there but in my opinion, the band has developed so much from those days that older recordings aren’t up to our current ones. And these two recent ones are so much better to promote ourselves with. So yeah I kind of agree.
Teemu Räty: We have always believed quality over quantity, but recording a full length album is on the top of our “to do-list “. So if I have to answer the question when? I don’t know for sure, but soon!
Sleaze Roxx: The band has recently released a video for “Renegade”. What were the highlights of filming the video?
Teemu Räty: Definitely filming at the old oil storage tank by the sea. It was so windy out there. We had to seal all the doors so that we could use the smoke machine. And even that was not enough because there were these artistic holes through out the walls of the tank where the wind obviously came through. And it was freezing cold (laughs)!
Sleaze Roxx: Sweden has garnered the reputation for being the spawning ground for many sleaze rock bands in the last decade but I find that there are more and more bands coming out of Finland as well. Do you agree and what is the music scene like in Finland since Sixgun Renegades started back in 2008?
Niko Räty: There is definitely a growing underground scene in Finland. And you can really see and hear it in Helsinki. It reminds me a little bit of the Sunset Strip back in the ’80s you know. Most of the bands are friends and many of them have actually played in the same bands at one time or another. And all of a sudden, you have lots of great upcoming bands that are making a name for themselves and all of them share the love for ’70s and ’80s hard rock music. Many of those bands we have shared the stage with. It will be very interesting to see how far this thing is going to go. Especially since Santa Cruz has gotten so far. Many will follow.
Niko Räty: I actually love all of them for different reasons since I wrote them. But “Renegade” is a big favorite of mine. We love to play it live and it has that raw power and energy which is what Sixgun Renegades is all about.
Teemu Räty: Mine is definitely “Rock City Blues (Born Under A Bad Sign)”. The song has that bluesy vibe that I like and it is so much fun to play live. It´s really a sad love story about a washed up rock star that had lost everything, his wife and his band. The only thing that he has left is the love for his home, the mysterious streets of Kallio, Helsinki. Kallio in English means “The Rock”. Kallio has a really special place for us as well.
Sleaze Roxx: I understand that the band was formed in 2008 by the both of you. What is the band’s history in terms of the various members that have been part of the band including why the past band members left the group?
Teemu Räty: Actually we started to play together with our current bass player (the lead singer back then) Miko [Mattila] as a trio in 2003. Samu [Tuomi] joined us in 2005 and in 2008, Miko left the band. So we were thinking what to do now without a lead singer and bass player? So Niko was thinking “What the hell! I’ll be the lead singer!” We then added for bass our friend Otto Aho who played on the ‘Dangerous’ EP ). And we also took a different direction musical wise with a more rock and roll kind f style. And Sixgun Renegades was born. We had five great years with Otto until he decided to leave the band due to other goals in his life. He felt that he wasn’t able to give his 110% so he decided to leave the band. We were of course very stunned by this, but it was perfectly clear that the Sixgun Renegades train would keep going on no matter what. We then called Miko whom had started to get into playing music again and asked him to join us. It was absolutely a no brainer for Miko and it was like he had never even left the band. And now with this line up, it is 10 years in the making and hopefully another 100 yet to come!
Sleaze Roxx: Over the course of history, there have been many siblings that have played together in rock bands. Do you find that being brothers in the same band is an advantage, disadvantage, or a little of both, and how so?
Niko Räty: Definitely both (laughs)! We used to fight about just about everything. Even when we’d actually agreed on something. Now everything is going a lot smoother. And we actually like each other’s company. The advantage I’d say is that since Teemu knows me so well, he knows exactly what I’m going to play next and react to it — and vice versa. The guys are always joking that we are sharing the same brain!
Sleaze Roxx: Sixgun Renegades have already released four EPs. It seems that it is more and more difficult for bands to “make it” in the last ten to twenty years. Do you find the whole music industry frustrating and why?
Niko Räty: Yeah it’s hard but I don’t think that it was ever easy. Back in the day, you had to be really really good to get anywhere. Now, it has become more about running a business. Even in a very small scale like we do. But you have to have some kind of a marketing strategy. Unfortunately, the music for the masses has become just a background noise for rolling a joint. And the big labels are really scared to put any real money into their artists. So instead, they promote these one hit wonders. That’s why it is really important to have an understanding of marketing and how to get your music through all the garbage. But still I see the future for hard rock music and the music industry in general is very good. I mean hip hop and EDM can’t be the big thing forever you know? And royalties from streaming services are getting better all the time. So I think that the bad days are indeed behind us.
Sleaze Roxx: What are Sixgun Renegades’ future plans?
Teemu Räty: We are a going to a studio this upcoming fall to record some new songs and maybe film another music video. Do a lot of gigs, always aiming bigger and bigger! And most of all, getting signed by record company and record a full length album someday.
Niko Räty: Mine are first Whitesnake’s self-titled album released in 1987. I love everything about that album including John Sykes’ riffs and Solos as well as it is [David] Coverdale’s best vocal performance. And most importantly the songs are really good. Second is Thin Lizzy’s ‘Black Rose’, which is just a masterpiece! To me, Phil Lynott is the ultimate frontman and my biggest influence on songwriting. It also features the late great Gary Moore’s absolutely insane guitar work. Third is Gary Moore’s ‘The Wild Frontier’. Moore is the guitar player that got me into playing guitar and to this day no one has influenced my guitar playing more than him.
Teemu Räty: First is Iron Maiden’s ‘Rock In Rio’. In my opinion, this is the best live record by my all-time favorite band and one of the best live records of all time. Hearing Nico McBrain playing his huge kit and the guitars singing — this is the record that gave me the inspiration to start play drums and wanting to start a rock band. Second is Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’. Do I need to say anything more? Third is Accept’s ‘Russian Roulette’. I´m a huge fan of Accept and in this record, the band was at their peak. Packed with Accept classics and the whole concept and feel of the album is just perfect.