Interview with Masi Hukari, guitar player of AMORAL band

NQ:What are your musical influences?

Masi: Well…speaking as a guitarist my influences are Steve Vai, Fredrik Thordendahl, Nuno Bettencourt, Brian Setzer, Allan Holdsworth, Marty Friedman, Eddie Van Halen, King Crimson and so many more. I always forget some one.
Musically speaking I love Astor Piazzolla, John Coltrane, Edward Vesala, Jan Garbarek, Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains…so much stuff! I could go on for days!
Oh! Steven Wilson I have to mention! I found his amazing music a few years ago and his aesthetic has been a huge influence.
NQ: What do you like to do on your spare time?
Masi: I don’t have spare time 🙂 …but for a good conversation I’ll spare some time.
NQ: What was your favorite place to visit in the world and where else do you wish to go?
Masi: I believe that places and experiences are essentially what we bring with us to the moment.
I feel so lucky that I have had the opportunity to go all around the world and share great moments with so many different people in so many great places.
Some places hold a special place in my heart. Tel Aviv is one of those. Buenos Aires is another one. But basically I can feel at home and at ease anywhere and I can’t wait for all the travels that lay ahead.
I’ve been to so many places that it’s more of a question where I would like to go back to 🙂
One place I have never been in and want to go to some day is Tibet, but I don’t think they have heavy metal concerts there, so I guess I will have to go backpacking 🙂
NQ: What drove you to be passionate about music?
Masi: That’s actually funny, because I really didn’t have intrest in music at first other than listening.
My parents made me take piano lessons as a kid and I never was really in to it.
I was passionate about sports and especially skateboarding. I really tried so hard!
But one day when I was 13 my mom was going to buy me a mini motorbike from one of the kids around the neighbourhood where I grew up and the guy had a drum kit in his garage! For some strange reason those drums were calling me and we ended up buying those instead of the motor bike. So I started with drums and we got a little band together, but my brother got better than me, so I decided to sing. Well as kids you don’t think so much about these things so the band grew all the time and eventually there were two guys singing and we didn’t have a guitar player, so my friends and I had a “band meeting” and I was forced to play the guitar!
I didn’t even want to…if you can imagine that!Well, eventually my family moved to Israel and I felt isolated in a strange country and playing guitar seemed like a good way to spend my time. Also I had found some great albums that had killer playing on them! like Vai’s Passion and Warfare, Megadeth’s Rust in Peace and Extreme’s Pornograffiti. Those are the kind of albums that really make you want to play better! And ofcourse that means you have to practice a lot!  It just became this obsession for knowledge and a way of expression. Plus some girls thought it was cool, so it saved my teenage dating life 🙂
From that time on the longest I have been with out an istrument in my hands is a few days. If I ever get married I will take a guitar on my honeymoon 🙂

NQ: Do you play other instruments besides guitar?
Masi: Yeah I do! These days it’s mostly piano, drums and saxophone, but I learned and studied contrabass and bassoon. I believe it’s important to be adventurous and versitale.

NQ: Do you have any hobbies?

Masi: No, not really. I do like skateboarding and still enjoy it, but I have no ambition in it, because I’m too affraid of getting my hands hurt and having to cancel gigs or sessions.
I like reading and I read books on astronomy and cultural anthropology as well as novels.
I like books by Umberto Eco, jorge Luis Borgess, Hunter S. Thompson and Jose Saramago, to name a few.
NQ: How you entered the banda Amoral?
Masi: I was introduced to the music in 2007 by Valtteri Hirvonen, who is our photographer and 6th member. I liked the music imediately and saw some shows and got the albums. Ben lives close by so we would bump in to each other and exchange hellos from time to time.
One day he called me and wanted to buy a 7-string guitar from me. He was writing the Beneath album at this time. A few months passed and he texted me and just straight out asked me if I would consider being in the band and that I would have to buy a 7-string guitar, since he had mine! Hah! What a guy!
Apparently Valtteri, who was the temporary guitar player had convinced him that I was the guy to get. So, Thank You, Valde! It also helped that I knew Ari from before I joined, so it was not just some random dude that no one knew nothing about.
NQ: What do you think of Brazil? Intends to return?
Masi: I can’t say about all of Brazil, since I only went to Sao Paulo, but that I liked a lot!
I was there with Sonata Arctica and we had an awesome time at Manifesto rock bar! There was a really great Brazilian Pantera tribute band playing and a guy working there gave me a Manifesto T-shirt that I’ve used on gigs so much that it stinks so bad I need a new one!
We also had great barbeque and met really cool and friendly people, so my experience from Brazil is so positive!
I really hope to visit Rio some day! My brother in metal Jules, from the great Finnish band Profane Omen is moving there this year, so I’m going to be mad at myself if I don’t come there someday.
I want to surf on the beach and play Bossa Nova with local musicians!
NQ: How was recording with Sonata Arctica’s new album?
Masi: It was a trip! Tony Kakko is one of my favorite singers in the world. The guy has a sound like he could be singing you a shopping list and it would sound like it had deep spiritual meaning and so much emotion! I have so much respect for him as an artist and a friend that to have the opportunity to work on the vocals and just hang around working on lyrics and vocal expression was one of the best collaborative experiences of my life. I think we both knew we were making some magic happen in his home studio. I hope we we can do more work together in the future, because I fell there is a definite musical connection between us.I only worked on the vocals on the Stones Grow Her Name album, but I really like the other guys in the band too! As you might know I did drum tech work for Tommi and I’ve got to say the whole group are some of the greatest people to be on tour with in the world! They call themselves the band of brothers and that is no joke! Love those guys!

Actually Henkka played some keys and rock piano on my other band’s (Alavala) album that is released this friday here in Finland! Henkka is the King Of Gonzo Keyboards and if you don’t know what that means…don’t worry, he will!

NQ: Alavala is a new project?
Masi: Not really.
The band was formed in 2008 after Emilia and Noora ended their multi platinum selling all girl band Tiktak and were looking for a new channel for expressing themselves.
We got a lot of attention at first, but we were determined to take it slow and develop a thing that would feel like home for all of us. And that no record company would tell us what ro do! We’re all sick of that. Eventually we found a good home at Playground music and are releasing our debut album now. The music is somewhere in between of 90’s grunge and basic street rock.
You can find us on the web and FB.
NQ: What are your plans for next year?
Masi: Well, Ben and I have written quite a bunch of music for the next Amoral album, so we will rehearse and record an album hopefully early next year. In april we will go to play in the Philipines and hopefully some other places in Asia as well.
There’s also the summer festivals, but everything is too early to tell.
There’s good stuff coming but I can’t talk too much about it yet. It’s way too early!
NQ: How was the tour in Asia with Amoral?
Masi:It was great! You can see what happened on youtube. Just search for: Amoral Asian Tour 2012.
NQ: How was the recording of the album “Beneath”?
Masi: The sessions were intense and fun.
I only joined the band 4 months before we started recording and contributed two songs, so it was a very new experience for me. I was in such a hurry to learn the parts accurately that I even took a guitar to the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise and was practicing and writing solos everyday for a few hours even with all that craziness going on.In the studio I remember spending the nights working with Pexi on his bass parts and waking up to get guitars done with Ben. It was at the same time hectic and calm. Hectic because we are a band that relies on technically well executed parts with very little overdubs. We don’t build a wall of guitars and atmospheres, we just play our guts out and go for blood with the shredding!
The calm side was that Ben is a really good band leader with a definite vision from project to project and it’s easy to believe in his judgement. He’s open to ideas, but in the end he will know what is right!

But this is already old stuff!
We are moving to the next album! Most of it is already written and it will be epic!

NQ: Would you like to leave a message for fans who will read this interview on my blog?
Masi: Thanks for reading and please remember to stay open minded in life and music!
By: Melissa

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