I’m a Kidnapper

I’ll be on a mission to kidnap and you can watch me doing so.

I had the pleasure of trying out some TV acting last May, in the highest-rated drama series in Finland, “Salatut Elämät”. Since its first episode aired in January 1999, it has been one of the most popular TV shows in Finland. At some point this Finnish daily soap opera regularly attracted around a million viewers (1/5 of Finland’s population). Not too bad, I would say.

Now, I’m a musician, and I will continue being primarily just that. But I’ve been lucky, and I’ve had the chance to try out both acting on stage (I play the role of god in The Rock Opera “Playing god”) and now also on screen, in front of TV cameras. I enjoyed both, very much, and I enjoy challenges in general, but I have also come to realise there is quite the difference between on stage and on screen acting. There is the obvious difference; the location of the audience. When on stage, one has audience in front, but usually quite far away. A stage actor needs to, depending on the size of the theatre, exaggerate their facial expressions and gestures so even the back row can see what’s going on. A single little tear would not do it, for example. On screen, on the other hand, there are cameras detecting even the smallest facial expressions and actors need to be more subtle, controlled, and use more natural expressions and gestures. Acting in front of a camera, and especially doing close up acting, is a challenge, but at the same time there is a possibility of multiple takes to get a scene right. And man did I experience this while shooting my Salatut Elämät scenes! It was take after take, over and over again. If you’ll watch my episodes, you’ll know why I was totally exhausted at the end of the day. Live theatre has no do-overs, actors have just that one chance to get it right. And I have to say, having tried out both now, my respect towards both theatre and on screen acting has grown immensely.

I am very happy to be getting different types of opportunities and challenges.  Drumming is my love, profession and passion – will not change it for anything, but it’s great to have the opportunities, and to try out various things in life. Think less, live more.

Jarkko Rantala is in Salatut Elämät, episodes 3244 and 3245.

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I Am God

Yes, I am a drummer. But, I am also ‘God’ – in the Rock Opera “Playing  God”.

The origin of the idea of a Rock Opera came from Matti Häyry, Professor of Philosophy at Aalto University Helsinki, and fellow Philosopher Tuija Takala. In short, they wanted to put together a rock opera on the ethics of genetics, something that they both had research history and interest in. By the end of 2011 much of the story had been developed and it was time to add the music. Häyry and Takala wanted to create an authentic 1970s classic rock atmosphere and they decided to contact someone with actual experience of creating music in that era, Laurence “Corky” Laing, drummer of the pioneering hard rock band Mountain and holder of two gold records from Woodstock. For the next year and a half 25 songs were created to tell the story of “Playing God”. Altogether 11 musicians participated in the studio work and recordings of these songs, including two guest performances by Erik Schenkman on guitar, courtesy of his band Spin Doctors. The cd, Playing God: Corky Laing and the Perfct Child (yes, this mis-spelling is intentional) was released internationally in July 2013.

And how did I become ‘God’? After performing together with guitarist Phil Baker in Helsinki in 2016 I was asked to join in as one of the gods. Phil Baker had been working together with Corky Laing, and was also involved in the production. There was a need for one more actor and vocalist and before I knew it, I was up on stage acting and singing. I had just returned from a couple of months of travelling in California, I was in a life-changing mode and it was perfect timing for something different.

And what a learning curve and experience this was. To jump into something totally new – to act, sing and dance. Rehearsals, cast bonding, experimenting before opening night. Stage acting, theatre, is quite a nurturing – and challenging – art form. I’m still a musician, and will be for the rest of my life. But I am very happy to have received acting experience.

I am performing songs from the Rock Opera Playing God, among others, this upcoming weekend, May 5th and 6th, at the Rockin’ May Fest, Golden Classic Café Helsinki, Finland.

Come and rock with us!

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Monaco March 2017

Jarkko Rantala in Monaco

A good drummer is everything to a band. He or she lays down the  foundation of the music. A good drummer will compliment the rest of the band, decide the suitable rhythm, create the feel.

I need to drum. I practise pretty much anywhere and everywhere. If I don’t have a set of drums, I use a pad, or just give pillows a totally new shape This funny little clip with me by the pool in Monaco reminded me of Steven Adler, the legendary, original, drummer of Gun N’ Roses. Steven struggled with a severe drug addiction and his struggles eventually got him kicked out of one of the greatest bands on this planet, but Steven Adler is a great musician, a fantastic drummer. Adler’s drumming has bouncy soul, even a funky touch. I personally believe that the absence of Steven Adler was one of the factors leading to the downfall of Guns N’ Roses. Adler was not only involved in the sound of the band, but he collaborated strongly in the actual writing process of the Guns N’ Roses songs. Slash has stated, on various occasions, that Adler’s brilliant and creative ideas were a strong and important basis for many of their hits. By the way,  have you noticed that Mr. Brownstone exhibits the Bo-Diddley beat?

Appetite for Destruction was the first studio album by Guns N’ Roses. It was released in 1987, and was a massive success. It became the best-selling debut album in the United States. Appetite for Destruction is also one of the best-selling records ever, worldwide. Welcome to the Jungle, It’s so Easy, Paradise City, Mr. Brownstone and more – all written by Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven Adler. And my very first Note-for-Note Drum Transcriptions were the ones of Appetite for Destruction. And man did I drum through those songs. Thousands of times, evening after evening, in the garage of my parent’s house.

So, what makes a great drummer? I would say a deep well-honed musical sense. Dedication, focus, drive, TALENT. Someone once wrote that knowing when not to play is just as important as knowing when you should. And if and when you’re going to hit something that’s loud, best to do it with confidence and conviction. Absorockin’lutely!

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Drum Clinics

drum clinic at rock academy turku

I have been taught by great drum teachers. Among them Rod Morgenstein of Winger, one of my  favorite bands by the way, and drummer/ educator Jim Payne. I spent some time in New York, studied through a Berklee College of Music Drum Course together with Rod and Jim – even got to meet Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers, who I’m a big fan of. All of this has inspired me to teach drumming myself. I enjoy breaking down songs, going through the pieces, beats, the rhythm, the thoughts of the drummer in question. I enjoy passing on what I have learned myself throughout my 20+ years of drumming.

I occassionally give private drum lessons but I also co-operate with Rock Academy Finland. I’ve held a couple of Drum Clinics for them in Turku, Finland. A drum clinic is an educational demonstration of drumming technique, usually held by a respected and influential drummer. Rock Academy Finland provides free musical educating and support to young musicians, especially juniors that are in the beginning of their musical careers. Beginners get free help from professionals, from actual music lessons to marketing support, studio time and even making of music videos. How great is that?! A big thumb up for Mark Albert Bertenyi, who is one of the founders of Rock Academy Finland. Love the ideology, and I am more than happy to help young drummers.

Here’s a clip from my latest Drum Clinic, Rock Academy Turku, in February 2017.

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