Interview with bassist and vocalist Pete Korpi
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 5, 2018
The development of Speed and Thrash Metal was a beautiful thing back in the 80s. This more aggressive and in-your-face sub-genre of Heavy Metal was loved by many, thanks to pioneers like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Kreator, just to name a few.
Thrash spread like a disease over the entire world and almost every corner of the globe had a share, including the northern part of Europe. Thrash Metal hit Finnish shores with full force, causing waves that swept over the underground scene and resulting in the birth of a decent number of Speed and Thrash Metal bands. Sadly, many of them died after only a few demos due to a new movement called Death Metal (another story completely). One of the more promising bands was a four-piece act called Terrific Verdict. The band was formed in 1987 and called it quits three years later. However, they managed to record two demos that became instant classics in the underground tape-trading scene.
Who could have ever guessed there was still an unwritten chapter? 2017 saw the band reforming as a trio with all the original members except bassist Jani. The main reason for the band's comeback was simple and understandable; they felt that they still had unfinished business and better now than feel sorry when you are old and grumpy, watching TV in your rocking chair.
The Metal Crypt contacted the band recently and frontman Pete Korpi took the opportunity to talk about their reasoning behind the comeback after 27 years.
RETURNING BACK TO THE LIMELIGHT
Luxi: I guess it's safe to say miracles still happen as one of the most important Finnish underground Thrash Metal bands IS BACK; Terrific Verdict!! What made you collect your troops back together in 2017? Did you feel like you had some "unfinished business"? What things triggered the rise of Terrific Verdict from its grave?
Pete: The comeback was not our idea at first. Ippu (Arvilommi), Mikko (Siltanen) and I have been talking for years, decades really, about re-recording our hit song "No Return" with a modern sound, just for fun, but it always just talk. When Jari Hurskainen (Demonztrator) sent me an email in 2016 asking if their project band cover "No Return", something happened. I had to make a call to Mikko and Ippu because I needed their permission. During that call, I asked, "what if we do it ourselves as well?"
Our childhood friend Pekka "Tapi" Tarnanen (ex-Protected Illusion guitarist) had a studio in Kallio, Helsinki, so we started to practice as a band. It wasn't easy because none of us had played Metal for almost 30 years. After six months, we re-recorded a couple of our old demo songs, "No Return" and "The Mystery of Phantom" and shot the videos to these two Thrash Metal monsters. After this session, we hit the bar and discussed what we should do next. Mikko said that he had several riffs ready and I promised to buy a bass guitar and learn how to play it. That was the crucial moment when Terrific Verdict was reborn again.
Luxi: Was it easy to convince the other guys that the band was worth another shot?
Pete: To be honest with you, no it wasn't. After reuniting, the old chemistry was still there. At least we should give this a try, we thought...
Luxi: Did you try to convince your old bassist Jani to join the Terrific Verdict troops in 2017?
Pete: Back in 1988 Jani had lack of motivation and he left the band, so we didn't believe that we could get him to re-join the band. However, we asked Ande (who was our bassist on the Lost Preacher demo, released in 1989) to play rhythm guitar, but he said that riffs were too difficult for him and he wasn't motivated enough to practice. After that, we felt that Terrific Verdict as a three-man combo was the right thing to do. Also, our middle-aged lives and schedules are tight and busy, so it's easier to find time for training with fewer participants, I guess.
Luxi: I love the fact that the teaser songs off your forthcoming album all sound like good old Terrific Verdict. I mean, it's not an easy task to capture that old magic and spirit, is it?
Pete: Yes and no. Mikko was our riff master back in the 80s and he still is today. Maybe that's why this new stuff sounds old school. Playing fast and sharp is not an easy task when there is a thirty-year break, especially in Thrash Metal. If you say there is an old spirit left, then that's a compliment.
ALBUM IN THE WORKS WITH ALL NEW SONGS
Luxi: How many new songs will be on your first ever studio album and how much material will be reworked demo songs from the 80s?
Pete: All the songs on our forthcoming album will be new. They were written between 2017-2018. It is possible that the four songs (two old and two new), that we released earlier, will be added to the album as bonus tracks. Let's just wait and see...
Luxi: Are you trying to release it independently or find a proper label for this purpose?
Pete: We're going to release our debut album independently. Of course, if a good offer comes from someone, we will keep our minds open. This way we hold all the strings in our own hands, and no one can tell us what we should do or when we should do. Let's be honest; we will need our day jobs, too, so this band is principally a passionate hobby for all of us.
Luxi: ... and the plan is to get this album released by the end of 2018...?
Pete: It's hard to say the exact date. We would like to get it out by the end of 2018, but there are so many variables in this project that it can easily be in early 2019.
THE END OF TERRIFIC VERDICT
Luxi: Why did Terrific Verdict call it quits back in 1990?
Pete: I guess I am the right man to answer this question because it was all my fault. After our second demo, Lost Preacher, we had a block preventing us from making any new material. Also, I felt frustration with Finnish record labels back then that were not interested in aggressive Thrash Metal. There were so many good bands out there that didn't get a recording deal like Oppression, Brainwash, Protected Illusion, etc. My motivation was completely zero and I started to make excuses for why we should cancel our practice sessions. I left the band in early 1991. The other guys didn't want to find a new singer, so that was it. I have regretted that decision many times since then. I hope that I am wiser now that Ippu and Mikko gave me second chance.
Luxi: If you think back some 30 years ago, it's unbelievable how good the Finnish Speed and Thrash Metal scene was back in those days with bands like Oppression, Protected Illusion, Stone, A.R.G., Mengele, Damage, National Napalm Syndicate, Brainwash, Virago, Necromancer, and many others, of course. The sad thing was many bands broke up before they got going and the first wave of Death metal killed the rest. How do you remember those "golden times" of Finnish Speed and Thrash Metal? Obviously, as young, wild and relentless lads, you must have felt great to be a part of all of it. Just tell me if I am all wrong... ;o)
Pete: It was awesome to be a part of it all, but back then we didn't realize it. We were young, 16 or 17 years old, living without any worries, playing in a Thrash band, having fun with friends and playing some gigs. Some dudes our age played soccer or hockey, we played Thrash Metal. We admired Slayer, Kreator, Sacred Reich, etc. and wanted to be like them. After all these years we have begun to understand that we were part of a historical movement in Finland. We were among the fighters who led the way for Finnish Metal music, which is now well-known all over the world. Sad that many of those bands you mentioned are almost forgotten now.
TERRIFIC VERDICT = TERVEET VERKKARIT
Luxi: Did bands try to support and boost other bands within the scene back then or was it full of envy and even hostile?
Pete: I think we were certainly not competitors with each other. Rather than that, we felt a deep partnership with other bands. There was an encouraging spirit and we all had something in common. We had very special connections, especially with Protected Illusion. We knew a few guys from PI very well, so it was quite natural to be good friends with them. We were hanging out a lot in PI's training cabin in Hiekkaharju, Vantaa, meeting many other guys from other Finnish Thrash bands there. We had a plenty of parties there and all kind of funny things happened. I think it's best for everyone to leave those happenings in peace. One thing I can reveal I our Finnish name, which was "Terveet Verkkarit" which means "Healthy Sweatpants" in English, because someone claimed we were funny when we were drinking. Personally, I have no recollection of that. PI was a role model for us. We played in several gigs with them, borrowed their amplifiers, etc. - and in the end, without PI, our music wouldn't have become what it is now, or what was back then.
THE DAY WHEN EVERYTHING WENT WRONG
Luxi: Terrific Verdict played a good number of gigs, mostly in the southern part of Finland as far as I can remember. Can you share some of your memories from those days with the readers of The Metal Crypt? What were some of the best and most memorable gigs that you did back then, and how did you get the band booked for those gigs?
Pete: The memorable gig happened at the Vuoritalo in Käpylä, Helsinki. It was in 1988 and we had just released our debut demo. There were fellow Thrash bands playing as well; Necromancer, Metallic Toaster, and Protected Illusion. It was winter time and February in Finland is commonly cold. I believe at that place there was neither heating nor insulation in the building. We all remember the chilly conditions in the space where we supposed to play. We all played hard. Our fingers were frozen, and we had winter coats on. Except for the drummer Ippu, we all had green Parka jackets and long johns under the pants. Naturally, the drummer has to move a lot during the songs, so he had dream conditions in which to play. The rest of us were freezing and we tried to warm our fingers between songs with some pitiful heating fans which the organizer had provided on stage. It was a lot of fun!
The worse experience was a gig in a youth center in Kontula, a suburb of Helsinki. It was Sunday night in the middle of the dark winter. Our drummer had to play with a strange drum set and with borrowed double bass pedal instead of his own beautiful yellow drum set with double bass drums. Everything went wrong. The drum pedal broke during the first piece and that was it. At that time, we were very green on stage so we totally lost our self-confidence. We were playing so badly that our ancestors were rolling in their graves. It was just embarrassing. At the end of the gig somebody shouted from the audience something like this, "the band has nice equipment, but they can't play". We ran off the stage quickly and went backstage to lick our wounds. Next day all was forgotten, and we carried on.
... AND THERE WAS A NEW SLAYER BUBBLING UNDER THE SURFACE
Luxi: If we continue talking about those old times, both of your demos, the self-titled demo from 1988 and Lost Preacher from 1989, they were well spread via the underground tape-trading scene. Were you approached by any record labels back then?
Pete: We sent our demos to some Finnish record labels but none of them answered. I think A.R.G was one of the few aggressive sounding Metal bands at that time that managed to get a record deal in Finland. Of course, they were recording Speed and Thrash Metal bands like Stone and Airdash, but to us they were just like Metallica, too lame, not aggressive of fast enough. A few months after our first demo was released, some guy from Ohio sent me a letter asking us to send our master tape to the USA. He wanted to make an EP or something like that. However, we never sent the tape, and I really can't remember why. Maybe we got afraid or maybe we just forgot to send it - who really knows? We could have been the new Slayer now if we had sent the tape to him. Or perhaps not. ;o)
Luxi: As many of us so-called old-timers know, the demos that you recorded in 1988 and 1989 were an integral part of the Finnish underground scene, representing the killer, quality releases Finnish Speed and Thrash Metal bands were able to record in those days. I was wondering if it has crossed your mind to get them out as a proper CD or perhaps even on vinyl?
Pete: Yes, it would be nice, but I'm not sure if there would be the same magic if our old pieces of Thrash from C-cassette demos were transferred to CD or vinyl. I know that there are some plans to release one, or a few Thrash collections on CD, which will include our old material, but I don't have any clue about the schedules of these projects. Musically, we want to focus on developing our new material and our past stuff is mostly meant to be played at our forthcoming gigs.
Luxi: Another one of the true stalwarts of Finnish Thrash Metal, The Hirvi, have reformed, and they just released the band's debut album, aptly titled Old School Killspree, this summer. Have you heard the album in question and what are your thoughts about it?
Pete: Oh yes, I've heard it. I think it's a very solid album with several amazing songs. I have also seen them on stage after their comeback. These guys really know how to put on a really killer show.
GOOD THINGS ARE MEANT TO STAY FOREVER
Luxi: Thrash Metal has been in good shape for many years and many old Thrash Metal bands have been resurrected from the dead as well as new Thrash Metal bands popping up from their hot and dusty cellars and making new material. How closely have you been following this resurgence? Is it part of the reason Terrific Verdict is among us again, after almost three decades?
Pete: Great things, or genres, or whatever, never die. They might fade away for a while but will always pop up again. It's the same with all awesome music in the history of music in general - and Thrash Metal is one of the great things that refuses to die. You can talk about Thrash Metal or any music genres. In the 70s there was Black Sabbath and at the beginning of 80s the NWOBHM thing. Then came Metallica and soon after that Slayer made a breakthrough and Thrash Metal was the dominating genre. After those days, there haven't been that many glimmers of light either in Metal or even Rock music. Now there is some light in the horizon, because of these new kids are into playing Thrash Metal again. They can play and really thrash. These groups are real bands again with real instruments and they can play and compose some killer music. So now it's a good time to come back for us, too. We represent the old school Thrash style and it's really fun to try to keep up with the younger guys. I'm sure that our music is going to progress as time goes by, and will probably be mixed up somehow with this new Thrash Metal style, who knows?
Luxi: 2019 is on our doorstep already, so what's Terrific Verdict's stratagy for this upcoming year?
Pete: The main focus is definitely on this forthcoming Terrific Verdict album. That was the dream back in the 80s; to have our debut album out some day. What happens after the release of it, who really knows? If someone invites us to come over and play a gig, of course, we are in, although we haven't played live on stage for the last how many decades... three? But we are not rusty, I think we are in our best shape ever. On the other hand, we have to be realistic. It's just a matter of how we use our time. I mean, we all have daytime jobs, families, children, and we aren't youngsters anymore. Anyway, standing and playing on the stage again would be a super thing to do, no doubt! Our riff master, Mikko, is coming up with new material for us all the time. In our opinion, we have a bunch of fucking crazy sounding new stuff and there's no end in sight for that flood of new songs. Keep your ears open for our new stuff, folks!
Luxi: Thank you, Pete, so much for accepting this interview invitation. Last but not least I want to wish the band all the best and great times in the future. Last words are yours, sir...
Pete: It's my pleasure. We were thinking that nobody gives a shit about our material anymore. Anyways, we just want to do our thing that we love, and it's, of course, great if there are some people out there that want to hear our material. We will thrash until we die - guaranteed! Visit our Facebook site (www.facebook.com/terrificverdict), or YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGbJu_hU8QE) if you are a sucker for some intense, uncompromising old school Thrash Metal!! \m/
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