Interview with Wentus Blues Band: Too Much Mustard: Video, Photos

- in BLUES, INTERVIEWS, VIDEOS

Interview with Wentus Blues Band – the supernatural heartbeat of Nordic blues explosion – released their new album ”TOO MUCH MUSTARD” produced by Duke Robillard.

What were the reasons that you started the Blues and Rock researches and experiments?

Juho: When I founded my first band, my friend’s mothers had some blues LP’s. After listening those LP’s, we found some songs we wanted to try to play. I think I found at the same time a way to express my feelings and emotions trough the music. Blues sounded for me as a raw and honest without any limits what you can sing about.

Robban: From the first time I heard Blues music I was hooked and started my musical investigations and adventure, a lifelong journey that has taken me to different paths all over the world… I think it´s the best way to travel and I have gained friends all over the world…

Niko: When I started playing guitar and formed my first band the biggest influences were Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, ZZ-top etc. and of course learned songs by them. And pretty soon I noticed these songs were based upon the Blues so from there to SRV, Johnny Winter and from there further to Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and then Robert Johnson, Skip James, and after some years I found myself and WBB together on the stage with likes of Louisiana Red, Eddie Kirkland etc.

What do you learn about yourself from the blues music and culture and what does the blues mean to you?

Juho: The Blues music is a universal playground. It doesn’t look your color, how old you are or where do you come from. It gives you simple tools to start with and after that feel free to bring your own ideas to this playground. For me it has also begun to be a natural way to remember certain people and happenings. It also gives me a chance to express my emotions and ideas. (and moves…)

Robban: For me blues has become a lifestyle and what it really means for me is the way to cope with hard times and struggling through life and it´s matters and problems. Finnish people are well known for not to talk that much about feelings and therefore doing it through music is a great way to express yourself.

Niko: To listen and to be in the moment. That beautiful music can be born from culture under pressure. Blues means life.

How do you describe Wentus Blues Band sound and songbook? What characterize band’s name and philosophy?

Juho: Touring and playing all the time is the best way to create tight sound and own style. When you do it day after day, you don’t have to think about playing all the time. You are living the music. That gives you chance to transfer your daily emotions into your music. I also believe in this “learning by doing” method. More I do more learn… I think we do music that looks like us.

WBB’s 30th anniversary: Why do you think that WBB continues to generate such a devoted following?

Juho: I think we have our own style to play. Someone said that it is honest and raw. We have also learned a trick or two from our loved mentors we have played with.

How do you describe “Too Much Mustard!”” songbook and sound? Are there any memories from studio sessions?

Juho: Too Much Mustard is a studio live album. Most of the songs are made in that session. This was more like having fun with friends. Whole session was full of stories from the road. We kind of played through those feelings. This was also a chance to meet our old friend Duke. Was fun all the way! Also, that album title came from Duke’s story.

Robban: Too Much Mustard is a mixture of own originals, songs from Dukes early years and some great covers… It was a thrill to do the recording session and we had such a great time recording and coming up with the songs… some of the songs we came up with in the studio…

Niko: For me it was like a meeting with friends playing music and having a good in in a new surrounding (USA). This was of course planned and orchestrated by the producer Duke Robillard. We had talked about doing a couple of WBB originals and some of Dukes writings and after that just see what happens. For me (think I can talk for the rest of the guys too) being a fan of Dukes work we had a good picture of how we wanted to sound. Duke’s dog Minnie running around in the studio very very happy after every take (probably because she could come in to the recording room after).

What is the legacy of Duke Robillard to music todays? What has made you laugh working with him?

Juho: Duke is an amazing guitar player! He’s also open minded to do some experimental things on his music. He can different styles and still Sound like himself. Laidback pleasure!

What touched (emotionally) you from Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Robert Johnson, Chuck Willis, and Wendell Holmes?

Juho: Crazy dude telling strong story. Then he put some musical magic on it. You just gotta love it.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Juho: Our old mentors have taught me to be myself as a musician and person as well. Learning this from these old masters has been more value to me than any gold.

Robban: We have been very lucky to have the chance to meet a play with so many people and we have somehow managed to create a blues-family where all the older guys are like grandpas and uncles… the most important has without doubt been Eddie Kirkland and Louisiana Red that ore became like mentors for us. All the long discussions with Eddie about not just music but life has been memorable moments that I will keep in mind as long as I live…  The best advice..? hmm.. Eddie put in one line in one of his song “Pick up the pieces and keep on marching on…”

Niko: Louisiana Red and Eddie Kirkland, Red said to listen, Eddies advice was to make it my own.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Juho: I’m missing those great characters and the honest way how they perform and lived the life of a bluesman. I hope that I have health to do this as long as I live. I don’t really fear the future, I’ll do my thing as good as I can. What comes it comes.

Robban: Well, of course I would have wanted to see all the old guys that now or gone… but I live for tomorrow and we have to take the blues music one step further to the next generation, get them inspired and make sure that the music will live on…

Niko: That it came naturally. I hope it don’t get institutionalized like jazz, it came from common people and I hope it stays with the common people.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Juho: Music is not a competition of skills and techniques. Music is a way to expose your personality and emotions. It’s a way to share something to the others and a tool to be social.

Robban: I would like to be able to attract more younger people to come out and listen to music that they are not familiar with… make the live music scene more virile.

Niko: I guess it’s quite good as it is, a lot of good things is going on underground. Maybe that live music would be a part of everyone’s everyday life.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

Juho: Wentus 20years Family Meeting concert in Helsinki and chance to see all those guys together again.

Robban: I would go to Harlem, Apollo Theatre to see Ike & Tina Turner in like 1967 -1969 to see their show… That must have been THE ACT to see and experience live…

Niko: Back in the Wentus Blues Bands van together with Eddie and Red and all the other fellows.

INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL LIMNIOS

PHOTOS BY HEIDI ALHO

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