Interview with guitarist Anssi Korkiakoski
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: June 10, 2018
Wishing Well is a Finnish Heavy/Hard Rock band that started out as a project by guitarist Anssi Korkiakoski more than 10 years ago. Things sometimes develop strangely and soon you realize have a full band and that was the case with Wishing Well.
These Finnish cherishers of all things nostalgic and classic have released two full-length albums thus far (Chasing Rainbows in 2016, and Rat Race in 2018), both speaking clearly about the guys' longing for the golden past of heavier Rock music. The band has been active in front of live audiences as well, getting opportunities to share stages with the likes of the Graham Bonnet Band and Doogie White's White Noise (and we already know what connects those two gentlemen together, don't we?).
The Metal Crypt decided to find out a bit more about this new Heavy/Hard Rock comet above the sky of Finland... Guitarist Anssi kindly stepped in to tell more about how it all started for Wishing Well.
Luxi: First off, how's it going? Life's good?
Anssi: Life's very busy so I guess that's good!
Luxi: Could you tell the readers of The Metal Crypt how Wishing Well came about?
Anssi: Wishing Well started as my project band more than 10 years ago when I needed to express myself through music without any other compromises excluding my own limitations. I recorded dozens of songs on my own before I realized I wanted to start a real band.
CONNECTED TO GRAHAM BONNET
Luxi: You had the privilege to work with no less than Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz) who sang on your single, "Hippie Heart Gypsy Soul". How did you connect with Mr. Bonnet?
Anssi: I wrote a song which became "Hippie Heart Gypsy Soul." That song was strongly influenced by MSG's "Desert Song", one of my all-time favorites. I've always been a huge Bonnet fan, he's one of the greatest singers ever if not the greatest IMHO. I found a German agent who's worked with him previously and we made contact through email.
Luxi: Do you believe that the single was a great promotional thing for the band, having Graham's involvement?
Anssi: The single was and is a very good promotional tool let alone the tour supporting him and, of course, that's also one of the reasons we wanted him, in addition to his awesome voice and skills.
Luxi: You did a show here in Finland in April 2017 with the Graham Bonnet Band, but also played gigs both in Sweden and Norway with them around the same time. How did those gigs go for you?
Anssi: All those shows were great, and everything went really well. We went down well and we had a good time, we couldn't have asked for more. Finland, Sweden, and Norway are the same when it comes to listening to classic Hard Rock and Metal and it was great to meet fans in all those countries. In Bergen, Norway, for instance, there was a guy at the gig who was wearing the leather jacket that Graham is wearing on the back cover of MSG's Assault Attack. He got it from an auction. Plus, he had the same haircut, jeans, and Aviator pilot sunglasses, crazy!
Luxi: Do you have any future plans to work with Graham's band?
Anssi: I have worked as Graham Bonnet Band's booking agent, so it's very possible that we'll do something together in the future. They're all great guys and super professional and I'd really like to tour with them again.
FROM HIGH REGISTER TO LOW REGISTER
Luxi: Ok, enough about the gig talk for a while. Wishing Well's debut album, titled Chasing Rainbows, was released on small indie Finnish label Inverse Records back in 2016. How has the response been overall toward your debut album?
Anssi: The response was very good in general and it's cool since I believe in that album and it's great that people realized what we're all about.
Luxi: You used Peter James Goodman (Conquest, House of Mirrors, etc.) on the Chasing... record as vocalist, but at your live gigs Pekka Montin (Judas Avenger fame) shared the stage with you guys. What's the story behind this one?
Anssi: Yes, PJG was the vocalist on the first album. They are both great vocalists in their own way and it's been a privilege to work with talented Metal vocalists. PJG did not want to tour with Wishing Well so we found Pekka to play live with us. He took care of business really well and gave the songs whole new aspect with his ability to growl and scream and what not with his unique voice.
Luxi: Both Pekka and Peter are great vocalists but did using two very different vocal styles cause you any dilemmas, whether the songs on Chasing Rainbows could work well with Pekka's voice as the songs were adjusted to fit Peter's voice when you were recording the album?
Anssi: With Peter, I had to take into account that he really can't sing very high whereas the tone of his lower register is unique and unbelievably warm and strong, I really like it. There was no dilemma with Pekka since he can sing anything, the only thing we needed to do was to adjust keys of the songs to make them more suitable for his range.
Luxi: Did you consider offering a permanent spot in the band to either Peter or Pekka?
Anssi: We discussed the possibility of permanent spots but they both were really too busy with their own projects for that. They both are songwriters and bandleaders of their own bands and when you're in that position you want to do that. I realize that because that's what I do too.
Luxi: Musically, Wishing Well's influences are deeply rooted in both 70s and 80s Heavy and Hard Rock, with familiar flashes from the works of Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Free, Deep Purple and so on, can surely be heard by listeners. Can you tell us some of the most influential albums that made you become a musician yourself?
Anssi: I usually don't want to mention names but if you really want me to name something I can tell you that Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio is a match made in heaven.
PASSIONATE HEARTS IN LOVE WITH NOSTALGIA
Luxi: Moving on to the band's follow-up album, Rat Race, which was also released in 2018, also on Inverse Records, it is an excellent showcase of how 70s/80s Heavy/Hard Rock can still be done right, with lots of passion and heart. Did you achieve what you wanted to achieve musically and lyrically with this album?
Anssi: When it comes to passion and heart I'm happy with what we came up with and that's the most important thing. Lyrics for me are very important and I was able to say what I wanted to say. You can always improve production and it's always some sort of compromise and that's where we can improve in the future. Anyways, I'm very pleased with Rat Race and we certainly did what we wanted.
Luxi: On this album, the vocal duties are taken care of by Rafael Castillo, who's originally from Chile. I must admit he's a great singer with a wide vocal scale and fits your music somewhat perfectly. How did he come into the picture and did you arrange auditions for finding a suitable vocalist?
Anssi: There was no audition, it was actually our Hammond man Arto who suggested Rafa. They'd played "Child in Time" together in a jam session and Arto told me about this good Chilean guy, of whom I'd never heard of before. I sent him a FB message, we met and to my very positive surprise he turned out to be a really cool guy plus a very good vocalist. We get on really well and I really enjoyed recording with him. He's a talented engineer himself and that made things easier in the studio.
Luxi: I was already talking with Rafael briefly at one of your gigs and he told me that he used to sing in a Power Metal band when he was still living in Chile (they have even recorded a couple of albums). When you were looking for a permanent vocalist, was one of your criteria that this new singer have some past history vocal wise or did you want to keep the table clean, so to speak?
Anssi: His band is called Fireland and it's a very good band. I suggest everybody check them out on YouTube. Rafa is the vocalist and guitar player in the band. I needed a good vocalist who's nice to work with, I don't care about people's past. It's their talent and personality that counts at the end of the day.
Luxi: As Rafael has proved to be a capable and luminary vocalist, what else has he brought into the band?
Anssi: Rafa played an important role in arranging some of the songs, he had ideas from drum beats to song structures and we used them. For instance, "The Day of Doom" was arranged wholly based on his thoughts.
THE DOOGIE THING
Luxi: Lately you did a tour with no less than Doogie White's White Noise (Rainbow, MSG's Temple of Rock, etc.) here in Finland. What could you tell about your collaboration with this band, how it all came together?
Anssi: When I heard that Doogie was coming to Finland I contacted Henric Blomqvist who plays guitar in his band here in Finland and I proposed cooperation. They thought it was a good idea and I was able to book some shows for us, so it's been good. This sort of cooperation is what I'm looking for, it's good for bands and audiences and venues. Doogie, Henric and all other guys are really easy-going professionals, perfect company for us.
Luxi: Were the venues here in Finland all packed and which ones were more successful than others?
Anssi: They've all been good. It's clear that you don't sell out Tuesday night shows but there have been quite a few people who clearly have enjoyed themselves, both during Wishing Well's and Doogie's sets.
Luxi: You have played Uriah Heep's classic song "Easy Livin'" live. How did this particular song end up being as a part of your set? Which other cover songs have you done live?
Anssi: Wishing Well is not a cover band and will never be, that is not why we do this. It's about expressing ourselves with original material that has heart and soul. We play "Easy Livin'" because it's good fun to do that and there's this Hammond aspect, which we like. Uriah Heep are one the best bands ever. Oops, I just mentioned another name...
Luxi: You have shot at least three semi-pro/pro videos ("Sacrifice", "Wheeling and Dealing" and "Children of Paradise). How important is the power of these videos as a promotional tool?
Anssi: Videos are important, but music comes first. We'd love to shoot big-budget videos but those days are over, so we try to do what we can within our budget, which at the moment is basically DIY. It's DIY - or die!
Luxi: Have you got any gigs booked for the second half of 2018?
Anssi: Working hard to make things happen! Trying to find suitable contacts and bands to work with.
Luxi: Perhaps I am too early for this, but have you possibly penned any new songs Rat Race? How is this new material shaping up?
Anssi: Our third album is, more or less, written and it will kick serious ass. It'll feature the same elements as so far but of course, we want to improve all areas. We'll start pre-production for the album this summer.
Luxi: Well, I guess that's all I had in mind for this chat with you. Thanks for taking your time with my questions and all the best with all of your future endeavors with the band.
Anssi: Thank you very much for this interview. We want people to hear us and we need publicity to take the band forward. Thanks for reading, we wish you well!
|Other information about Wishing Well on this site|
|Review: Rat Race|
|Review: Sin and Shame|
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