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Prestige's Aku Kytölä: "…there are different kind of obstacles, like sofa at the living room, fridge full of treats, jobs and families, but now there isn't no need to prove anything, Prestige saga continues…"

Interview with Aku Kytölä from Prestige
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 23 August 2021, 10:50 PM

Certainly dust removal was at the house, the unveiling of the wicked from that aggressive past that didn't take no for an answer or pitying the prisoners. History surely brings back a lot of its underground heroes straight out of slumber and into the newly found present. The Finnish Thrash Metal band, Prestige, hasn't been for a while, probably a little more than two decades so to speak. Performing here and there, but not creating isn't a sealed in stone comeback. Nonetheless, when they treat with such a record as “Reveal The Ravage”, the heat turned up a notch. Steinmetal reconvened once again with Aku Kytölä about his returning to the Thrash Metal roots, alive and well, and with a purpose.

Hello Aku, I see that we meet in different circumstances. After our great interview due to Coronary’s debut’s album, we have another cause for celebration right here. How have you been sir?

Things are rolling just smoothly over here, thanks for asking. Reveal the Ravage has finally seen the day of light, gotten great reviews, and the very first gig with the new line-up at Speed Metal Party went great! Way better than I even dared to dream of. Not that all of us have enough experience, quite the opposite, but that still was the very first for us to play a show as a band, together, and it's been more than a year since the last Prestige gig, so I have to admit, there were butterflies all over the place.

With myself only being able to think of two Finnish Thrash Metal bands in mind from the 80s, meaning Stone and Airdash, which I am sure that you know, I discovered you guys at Prestige, frankly I came forward with a disadvantage. However, the most important thing is that you are back. About your return, let’s go back, what made Prestige disappear in the early 90s? Was it the course of Metal music at that period of time?

Those two bands you mentioned were truly our partners in crime. If i recall, our album came out right after those two had released their debuts. Lots of great memories of shows we did together back then. But hey, we are the ones who are still around, doing our stuff, kicking and screaming.

Back at the 1992 we decided to take a little break after Ruisrock festivals, we had no rehearsal room at the moment and lots of other excuses. Grunge took the audience, metal went black. We represented either.

Well, it took more than just that summer to play together, but now it feels like time is right.

While Prestige was in deep slumber, or simply disbanded, what itched to start making a comeback? Were you waiting for the right timing for the band to return, especially after the 90s where a lot of Metal bands faded away?

None of this was really planned, but after all those comeback shows once a year or so since the first one at Jalometalli 2008, all of them always left that certain itch to take the band further, what we never did, but when Tero called it quits, and Matson came out of nowhere to take his place, we decided to give it a last try, this time with all we got to give, and with all the raw energy Matson brought to the band, we realized were back on the saddle again, but this time the rodeo audience is not going to see us face first in the dust.

Once the band was back in action, did you have the chance to perform a bit locally and even outside of Finland to see what you have been missing all this time without Prestige?

We totally focused on writing and recording the album, and now when the process is finally over, we can concentrate on touring, but were talking about summer 2022 of course. Or further. Hope this global pandemic dies before all the people are bored to death. Piledriver locked and loaded.

What can you tell about the image of Prestige in the 21st century? Has it changed since your early days?

Nothing has changed, except for the line-up a little. Still doing this straight from our hearts full throttle. Though our mascot got wrinkled, but to be honest, so did we.

The gradual, official let’s call it, reawakening of Prestige was with several singles last year up, along with signing to Massacre Records and eventually announcing the comeback album that was so needed, “Reveal The Ravage”. A rhetorical question, yet I will ask it anyway, how does this new beginning feel to you in general? 

We used to think that there was nothing but an open road ahead of us, and 1992 road suddenly took a landslide down the hill. Now there are different kind of obstacles, like sofa at the living room, fridge full of treats, jobs and families, but now there isn't no need to prove anything, Prestige saga continues, but nowadays our ship sails only on perfect weather.

Being part of such a long history label as Massacre Records, is no doubt quite a career move by you guys. How do you feel about signing with such a label, which I am sure was part of the overall plan of the band’s return to action?

We thought that if we spit out couple of awesome songs, of course I am talking about the single cuts, Exit and Weep, they will prove the world were back, serious and definitely worth a deal, and it really didn't take that long before our quite atheistic, but also pessimistic prayer was answered.

Massacre was more than perfect record company for us, and we were extremely happy and pleased with the deal.

With a purpose to puncture a few, or a lot, skulls along the way, there you have “Reveal The Ravage”, I guess that the title is as straightforward as your musical approach right? You guys are the true ravage, a force to be reckoned with?

Thanks, and at the moment it feels like there is nothing that could stand in our way, but then there is, the motherfucking covid19. and 20. and now 21. Well, it will pass eventually, and then we can start talking about touring seriously. SMP gig proved that band actually is in a great shape, and ready for anything. As you said, true ravage, ready to rage.

From what I could gather, the record lyrically felt down to earth, tends more towards the individual rather than the social structure of our society. What is your opinion about that? 

I intentionally tried to write lyrics this time with more poetry in them, make them more interesting, and give people a possibility to view them from different angles, but basically I am no poet, and they are all short stories about the stupidity of the human race, a subject I never get bored of. But there are of course more in them than just that. I even wrote a love song, but that one was left out of the album. When our next single comes out, it presents lyric-wise more like gothic romance than death and despair, which was refreshing for a while. I promise I still am going to stick with the destruction of society, that's more like my area of expertise, so to say.

As if you never stopped, Prestige revamped that foot on the pedal to the Metal, showing its menacing Thrash Metal vibe into the third decade of the 00s, with a few contemporary additions along with the reintroduction of the early 90s. Either than toughening up a bit vocally and sound wise, how would you say that the band developed musically while working on “Reveal The Ravage”?

While writing the album not that much, still making 80s metal, but while we were working through songs as a band, of course we did learn a lot from each other while doing so. And most important thing, day by day we grew together as a band.

Since it has been a while since “Parasites In Paradise”, how did the new “Reveal The Ravage” change your perception towards writing and arranging a song? Unless if it didn’t of course 

Well, during all the years we were absent, we did pick up small things here and there from a huge variety of different music styles we explored through as individuals. So when we finally got together, it eventually brought more into it, though we still tried to write as 80's metal as possible. And it was really fun, lots of fun. Sometimes even like we were teenagers again. We just knew a lot more about everything in the process than back then when we basically made a song and played it live next weekend, so the first version was usually the one on the early albums. Now we even had time on our side. Plus, all the experience we had today.

Nowadays, since I am sure that you have been listening to various Thrash Metal bands of the age, whether newcomers or early bands making a comeback such as yourselves, what are the elements within the subgenre that weren’t really significant back in the day that now are integral?

Metal we do comes out easily, naturally, but I have to admit I really don't know that much about modern bands. On any genre. There has to be lots of great stuff out there I just haven't even heard about, cos my stereos blast slayer, way too loud.

And nowadays its cool to listen to anything you want, be what you want, do what you want, you get the point, no more narrow-minded people making up stupid rules, but back then you got punched in the face, if you dared to even mention Duran Duran 10pm Friday night. Unless you were a girl. But even then you had to walk home alone. So there are no restrictions like them sub-genres really anymore, it's ok to think outside the box.

Did that implementation of harshness into your musical approach towards Thrash Metal feel as if you were pushing it rather than letting it slide in naturally into the vibe that has been part of you since day one? 

This is what we do, and that's the way it's going to be, been trying to do things the other way around, but still I'm back on square one. And it feels great!

Metal is what I listened to a lot through those tough and rough teenage years, so I'm pretty sure it is true what scientists say, what you listen to at the age of puberty, it’s going to leave a mark in your brain forever.

You received quite the drum machine in the image of Matti Johansson, the long-time Korpiklaani skinman, joining Prestige. What can you tell about Johansson’s impact on the rhythm section, and of course on the album?

Without Matson, making of this album would probably have been impossible. We got a lot of mojo from his animalistic banging behind the battery, he gave all he got, and by that I mean more like we didn't rob him blind, but we really clicked, cool sync from day one, and we fed each other. Writing the album with him was really easy. We are really lucky to be able to welcome him to the band.

Working with Samu Oittinen surely brought in results when it comes both to your production and sound engineering. “Reveal The Ravage” sounds true to its Thrash Metal roots, but with the fairly nice treatment in order to make it relevant sound wise. What do you think about the newfound sound of the band? Were there any longings for the band’s old sound after having such an armour of sound created for you?

You can't make a metal album nowadays without sounding as big as possible, it just isn't an option. In other genres it's just fine, but when we're talking about aggressive, storming metal, you have to sound like there are enemy troops marching outside, with tanks and all. Samu knows how to make that magic happen. Past is past, and there isn't no turning back.

It felt like it was a mere continuation of the past, yet in destructive mode, I was treated to be blasted by the opener, “Innocent”. Toughness and moshpit celebration devouring my brain. What is your take on this juicy tune? 

I wrote the lyrics, Jan wrote most of the song, and after a few weeks in rehearsals we came to realize that this one is the opening track of the album, no way were we going to write anything catchier than that one.

Nonetheless, after talking about being a loose cannon, there is that greatest example of a rather pleasing, and different, musical image of Prestige. The final track, “Prime Time”. To me it felt that it is not a situation of losing one’s way, but rather maturing just enough to refer to it as special. What can you tell about this song? What is its magnitude on the record? Do you consider it as somewhat of an oddity within the release yourself?

Prime Time was something different, really different, but we all thought it’s going to be a great tune, if we manage to do it right. What you hear on album, is probably Zillionth version of it, Lyrics were re-written at least 3 times, and what is left of them, is a combination of lots of different takes in the studio with variety of different styles in vocals, lots of frustrated shouting to each other, and finally us all getting it right. Together. As a band. As we usually manage to do. And it came out great. And it is as it was, the last song. closure. Love it a lot.

Fun fact, few lines you hear on record are taken from demo sessions, from the very first take at Aris home studio, without a glue they are going to end up on the album.

Where does the long road lead Prestige in 2021 or it was mutually decided to wait until the pandemic will loosen its grip a bit, probably in 2022? 

Don't know when we are going to hit the road, nor where the road leads, but definitely year is going to be 2022.

Aku, once again, it was a pleasure to have you on board for this interview. It was fortunate for me to get to know Prestige, and I think that I need to do some listening to the old you. All the best and cheers.

Thanks, mate, until next time!!


 



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