Photo: Ville ”Unicorn” Tarhala

What made Steve ’n’ Seagulls join the campaign Music Improves Brain Health?

– ”We’re doing it for the good cause. It is something that certainly concerns a surprisingly great number of people.”

Do you have any personal experience with memory disorders in your circle of loved ones? / Do you know anybody who has a memory disorder?

– ”Yes, I do. My grandfather has a memory disorder. He’s sick with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Have you played your songs to a close memory disorder patient/your grandfather? How has he reacted to them?

– ”I haven’t played him our music. I have gone to sing at a nursing home with my siblings, though, and my grandfather likes to sing too. He usually always sings when we go to visit him. He sings mainly hymns and sometimes he does it with his own lyrics. He still sings very impressively. Music seems to be one of the things that stick with you for your whole life.”

To many people music brings some counterbalance to the everyday life. You’re a musician yourself and it is an everyday job for you. Do you ever take ”time off” from work and what do you do then?

– ”I don’t think about music as an actual job even though I make my living from it. To me it’s more like a passion. On my free time, I listen to music, read about it, play it and do other music-related things. I do other things on my free time as well, of course. I play sports: I ski, go to the gym, run, play ice hockey as a hobby and stuff like that. In addition to that, I like to go to the nature and hike in Lapland, for example. On my days off, I also drink coffee and read magazines.”

The positive effect music has on brain activity has been proven by research. What kind of music helps you relax and get in a stress-free mode?

– ”It varies a lot depending on the situation. Sometimes I relax with something calm, sometimes with punk and metal. When I go to sleep, I often listen to the soundtrack of Amelie and some tangos by Astor Piazzolla.”

Nowadays, it is possible to make a living will to which you can add personal wishes regarding your treatment. For example, you can add albums on it that you want to be played to you if you’re in a state where you can’t do it yourself. Which albums or which bands would be on your list?

– ”Huh, this is a pretty difficult question. At the moment, I would pick Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Astor Piazzolla, J.Karjalainen and Raised Fist. I would probably ask my loved ones to bring all the vinyls I own and play them in a random order.”

You make tours around the world. How do you keep your energy up on the tours and what helpful tools do you have? As a band, do you have some mutual ways to deal with the stress brought on by the tour and by traveling with the same faces 24/7?

– ”I don’t think we have any mutual ways, except going to have a beer together sometimes. Some of us exercise during the tour and some have other ways to relax. You have energy for touring when you sleep when it’s possible and get some rest at home. Of course living with the schedules is stressful sometimes but all that is a part of the job, so you think about it that way. It gets more straining if you’re stressed-out about it all the time. So I don’t want to do that. Playing music for a living is such a privilege that you’re happy to do some traveling for it.”

How does your family feel about your tours and life as a musician? Do you have a so-called normal family life?

– ”I would like to see my loved ones a bit more often, of course, as well as my friends and acquaintances. But like I said, this is a part of the occupation. Having a social life is challenging sometimes but things can always be planned and arranged together. And we do have free time too. I do think that I’m leading quite an ordinary life. Sometimes I don’t have as much time for yard work as I’ve planned.”

Is there a specific gig that has stuck in your mind?

-” It’s pretty difficult to name just one. Our first big festival gig at Sweden Rock is often the first one to cross my mind. And so is our first tour in the US. A lot of unexpected things have come our way.”

Is it nicer to throw a gig at a club or at a big festival?

– ”Both have their own nice aspects. At big festivals, the size of the crowd gives its very own rush of adrenaline and sometimes there’s a big moshpit going on. On the other hand, at clubs the atmosphere is more intimate so the energy between the audience and the band is different. Festival productions are often very workable but the schedules are tight. The gig days in themselves are often days to celebrate.”

What is the best gig you’ve been in the audience of?

– ”Oh, I’m going to have to name a few again. I’ve seen Neil Young four times and they have sent shivers down my spine every time. Raised Fist at Lutakko in Jyväskylä was very wild and seeing Guns N’ Roses live in Tallinn was a youth dream come true of sorts.”

Where do you imagine Steve ’n’ Seagulls to be in ten years?

– ”We will hopefully be making our next album and touring as widely as possible and enjoying music as well as expressing our vision as a band.”

Photo: Jaakko Manninen

Interview: Marko Mustiala

Photos: Ville ”Unicorn” Tarhala, Jaakko Manninen

Translation: Heidi Malin