Metallica, Iron Maiden and AC/DC get the bluegrass-metal treatment from Steve'n'Seagulls at Portsmouth's Wedgewood Rooms

Jamppa is the new boy in bluegrass mavericks Steve’n’Seagulls, but his musical background is a little different from the current day job.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 6:00 am
Steve'n'Seagulls are at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea on September 21, 2021. Picture by Jaakko Manninen

Before he joined the Finnish five-piece, famous for their distinctive rock and heavy metal covers, he was studying for a master of music degree in jazz at the prestigious Sibelius Academy.

But as the replacement for original bassist Pukki, since mid-2019 he’s swapped Mingus for Iron Maiden and Pastorious for Pantera.

‘The former bass player actually asked me to join,’ Jamppa explains. ‘They had been talking with each other, and I knew some of the guys before, and what kind of person I am and the style I play in.

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‘I hesitated like one or two minutes and then I said: “Yes”, he laughs.

‘Jazz music is one of my passions, and I ended up studying that, but of course it doesn't mean I wouldn't listen to or play other kinds of music.’

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The band released its fourth album, Another Miracle, in November last year. As with previous releases, it mixes their revved up cover versions with original material.

This time out they blitz through The Knack’s My Sharona, Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers and AC/DC’s Moneytalks among others. But it’s the album’s opener which is the real showstopper – Metallica’s Master of Puppets – the title track from an opus often voted the best heavy metal album of all time.

The Seagulls’ version opens with the sound of a chainsaw and takes off from there…

Explaining their choice of covers, Jamppa says: ‘We play songs, of course, that we like and our point is to honour the songs and the bands we are covering.

Some of them we are trying to do our own way - when we're making our covers, everyone is involved and plays their own part. It can go anywhere you can imagine.

We started planning it as a little more minimalistic version, but when we started recording, it was: “Okay, let's add this”, and “maybe we need that”, and “we need the strings there...” It escalated!’

Since joining the hard-touring act, Jamppa had already racked up about 100 gigs with the band, touring America, Australia and Europe before the pandemic hit.

They had recorded the album back at the start of 2020 and after a break were planning to hit the road again in spring, which obviously never happened.

‘The album was supposed to come out a few months earlier than it did, but it still went great.

‘We had one release concert in Finland, and then we haven't played any gigs again.

‘We were supposed to have these 30-plus gigs around Europe from the UK, France and Germany, Austria, Denmark – all these places, but we've postponed all those dates maybe three times already!’

It has, naturally, been frustrating for the guys.

‘We all love to play, and that's what we love the most – to go on tour, to be together and have these magical moments when we get to play with the audience there.

‘I think we are definitely a live band. It feels like everything is better live.’

And he still gets to keep his improvisational chops from his jazz days.

‘Every time we play, nothing is settled – you don't have to play a certain way every time. There's a lot of improvising and communicating, as there is in jazz, and that makes it more exciting for me.’

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Tuesday, September 21

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