Interview with Rock

Published in Vandalism News #64
Performed by Jazzcat during May 2015

Rock is a Finnish musician who started in the scene in the early 1980's joining Finnish Gold as well as a brief stay in Origo Dreamline. He has recently rediscovered the scene and is coming back with new compositions.

V) Hello Rock! Welcome to the pages of Vandalism News and a very warm welcome back to the humble C64 scene! Please tell us a little about yourself.

R) Hi there everybody! I hardly can believe this, I'm back in the scene after 25 years. But here I am writing this interview for this great magazine! Thanks Jazzcat!

What can I say about myself, well I was born in 1969 in central Finland, and I still live here quite near to the city where I was born. I also have been living in Austria about 1.5 years, in the middle of '90s. I have a wife and an 18 year old son and 2 dogs. Very middle class family I would say.

Music, computers and exercise fills my free time nowadays. At the moment I'm working in a factory as a Shift Foreman.

V) How did you find your back to the C64 scene recently?

R) Well it was something like a year 2000 I had some thoughts I should do some more C64 music. I actually did some things with Future Composer, but never found the right attitude with it. Later I just lost my interest and dumped the classic 64 back in the closet.

It was last December, perhaps right after Christmas, I called to Lemming and asked if he can help to fix and modify my C64 and 1541. He did a very good job, thanks again Lemming!

Before New Year 2015 I did the demo tune 10 remix with PC and a few days later composed first new beats using FC 1.0!

V) Did anyone think it strange that you work on the Commodore 64 when there is more modern computers? Like: "hey man, why aren't you on PC?!"...

R) Well sure, most of my friends, but I have done a lot music with the PC also, so they just might think I'm a weirdo!

V) How did it all start?
R) It was in the late 70's when I got my first video console. I don't remember if it was an Atari 2600 or what, but it included the classic ping pong game with several variations. Later my cousin got a VIC-20 and that was a blast! It really took me over. The year was around 1982-1983. I spent lot of time playing those classics like Radar Rat Race, Omega Race, and Choplifter etc.

In 1984, the first computer magazine in Finland was published, called Mikrobitti. It was the same year, my cousin got a Commodore 64! (Damn, I was jealous...) Later the same year I got my own C64 with datasette! And a year after that I got the 1541.

What is unbelievable, I didn't have a colour monitor! Only 12 inch black and white CRT TV. This is maybe the reason I begun to compose music instead of playing ;) well actually I also played a lot, but you can imagine how it was without colours...

The first tune I ever did was Subdivisions, a Rush cover released in FIG Demo I in 1987.

I don't recall any remarkable stories from those days at the moment, but after the Subdivisions I did some tunes with Sound Monitor and also directly to machine code before We-Music Editor was released.

Future Composer was a huge step ahead, and gave a nice boost and more inspiration to me.

V) You mention your Rush cover. What can you tell us about this Canadian band and their influence on your music life?

R) Well, RUSH is my all-time favourite band! Seen them 5 times, I own all their albums, I also can play maybe 60+ of their songs with guitar (you can listen from YouTube, Moving Pictures entire album 2112 Rush has really influenced me a lot.

V) Back before FCS joined Finnish Gold both FCS and yourself had your own bands (Rock "The Horse" and FCS "The New Roundabout")...  Can you tell us about those times and did it have something to do with both of you doing music later on together?

R) Well, The Horse was originally named 'The Horse and the flying bananas' :) oh my god... I joined with The Horse when I was 15 or 16. At first I was a rhythm guitarist but later I was doing solos also. The Horse was 'famous' because of the show on stage. Our singer was really an entertainer and a show man. The rest of us never knew what will happen in the next show, that was really fun.
Actually I have a video tape recorded in 1986, but I bet that it will never be released. :) I also have another live c-cassette tape recorded, also 1986. The Horse was doing hard rock/blues.

We did maybe 10-15 gigs after the band broke up.

I knew FCS was playing in The New Roundabout and The Horse actually did some gigs together with TNR. It was right after The Horse broke up, I recall that FCS and I set up a new band with other members from The Horse and TNR. That band was never named. We did even a gig in the local restaurant, without a name, I don't remember how it all happened. :)

We also performed the song called 'It's a sin' by Pet Shop Boys... :) But the music was more like hard rock/blues.

I think we only did that one gig and that was it. I believe that was very significant time, because I and FCS became close friends and the rest is History as we know it. :)

V) Your history on the scene, back in the early 80s, when you came back from the army and joined up with Origo, what was it like? Leaving and returning to the scene... Can you please tell us what you recall in full detail?

R) After the army I wasn't very keen on Commodore 64 anymore. But I still composed some tunes (actually I have some tunes composed around 1990 which were never released, but will be someday!).

I don't recall that much, joining Origo Dreamline was nice, but very soon I noticed that a lot has happened in the scene and there are new, very talented musicians and coders around. Finnish musicians like Zardax and Mixer really kicked ass, and I recall Spemu (Finnish Gold) said to me one day: 'ROCK, you are starting to lose your position, those guys are doing very cool tunes!' (I admit 100% what Spemu said). Later the same year I quit the scene.

V) I heard Charles Deenen and Jeroen Tel sent angry letters to FCS and Gallstone threatening with lawsuits if Future Composer development was continued. What do you recall about that and your thoughts at the time and your feelings on it now?

R) Oh yes, that was bad. I remember Gallstone visited me and said that we are in trouble, FCS received a serious letter. It was clear we had to stop the FC development. Using someone's routine without a permission is not acceptable. FCS did not continue the FC development and if I remember correctly FCS apologised and agreed to all matters with Tel and Deenen. Those guys in Maniacs of Noise were my idols back in time and still are. 

V) With a smile on my face I recall the brutal user interface to FCS' We-Music Editor. Some mighty tunes were done in that composer, but how could anyone actually compose something in it, I wonder what they were thinking back then when designing it? :D

R) Yes, actually We-Music Editor is a really nice program. I like it a lot. Those unique sounds and all, so cool! Perhaps I'll compose a new tune with it, soon!

V) What achievement are you most and least proud of in the scene?

R) Most proud, hmm... well actually I'm proud of all what Finnish Gold did, all those cool demos and those broken English scroll texts :) Just classic! When it comes to my tunes I'm quite proud of the deadline demo tunes, especially the 2nd screen tune (known as demo tune 10). And yes, Vertigo tune! I have to say that Hawkeye by Jeroen Tel inspired me to compose the Vertigo tune.

Least proud, nothing!

V) Maybe too early to ask, but is the scene any different today compared to when you started out?

R) Well, actually I cannot comment to this.

V) What is the scene all about in your opinion?

R) It's all about enjoying life around with some good friends, music, coding, demos and parties!

V) If you decided, which of your tunes would you redo?

R) All what is done is done, no need to remake. :)

V) What are the guys in Finnish Gold up to these days? Are you still in contact with any of them or hang out?

R) Well, we had a FIG meeting around 10+ years ago at FCS' house. Only the original members were around. We had a great time and we should arrange a new meeting some day in the future. I'm very rarely in contact with other members, nowadays I see only Lemming because he lives only 5KM away from my house.

V) Young computer sceners in the 80s and 90s with huge egos, the scene can be a playground for war, ragging and other such things. Did you ever war with anyone or have problems with any dudes?

R) No, Not me :) I'm a polite dude ;)

V) Do you any favourite composers on the C64?

R) Sure. All those pioneers like Hubbard, Daglish, Galway, Whittaker, Cooksey, Gray.... and of course Tel, Deenen, Bjerregaard, Laxity... FCS (FIG) has done good tunes also and has inspired me a lot back in the day. Also the best Finnish composers like Yip, Zardax, Mixer and Flex have done super cool tunes.

V) You started doing C64 music again? Will this continue, can we expect more from you?

R) I hope so, at least now I'm in the mood again :) Just finished my newest tune called 'Funkyass Monkey' :)

I also loved FCS' WE-Music Editor, I try to compose at least 1 tune with it. Future Composer will be the main tracker anyway. :)

V) Is there any modern music that inspires you perhaps on C64 or any C64 musicians these days that take your fancy?

R) Lately I have watched a lot of C64 demos starting from early 90's until 2015. There are so many cool tunes which inspires me all the time.

V) Agreed, you must be swimming in quite a lot of new things coming out of the old chip. Well, nearing the end of this interview, here is your opportunity to shout out to those you know...

R) Shortly: Cheers to everybody!  Especially to all active and inactive Finnish Gold members, Lemming, thanks for fixing my C64's and giving a helping hand whenever I needed it.

V) Thanks for your time Rock, any last words for our audience?

R) Let's ROCK!

Take care.