By Scott Heller
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
Kingston Wall were one of the greatest bands to ever play rock music. The band mixed the hard rock styles of Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, and Jimi Hendrix with the sometimes spacey feel of Pink Floyd and ethnic sounds of India. They were lead by the incredible talent of guitarist Petri Walli. Petri played the guitar like no one else on earth, with so much melody and feeling. His solos were so well constructed. I think he learned a lot from his older brother Hasse Walli, who played in many famous Finnish bands like Blues Section and Piirpauke. He was backed by the great bass talents of Jukka Jylli and the incredible drums style of Sami Kuoppamäki. This guy can play the drums with such finesse, mixing rock and jazz styles so smoothly, kind of like Apt. Q258 (Jeff Sipe) of the Aquairum Rescue Unit.
The first rehearsals were in 1987 and the band did not yet have a name at this point. The band consisted of Petri Walli on guitar, Jukka Jylli on bass, and Tinde Joutsimäki on drums. Tinde left the band soon after these early rehearsals. The first gig was played in late 1987 at Singh's Pub, Pukinmäki, Helsinki. The line up was Walli, Jylli, Kapanen on drums, and Jukya Häikio on vocals. There were about 5 or 6 ideas for later Kingston Wall songs and some melody lines. The band played a one hour set two nights in a row.
The first gig under the name Kingston Wall was at the Natsa Club in Helsinki in 1988. The lineup was Walli, Jylli and Kapanen on drums. Kapanen left the group sometime in 1989 and Tinde Joutsimäki returned on drums. The first Kingston Wall album was recorded in 1989 with this lineup but during the sessions Walli and Tinde has some serious fights about how to arrange the songs. After the album was completed in 1990, Tinde left the band again.
Petri had heard of a great drummer (Sami Kuoppamäki) from someone, so he sent a tape and a letter to Sami, who at the time was studying drumming in the USA. Sami listened to the tape and said ok and joined the band in 1991. They re-recorded the KWI album's basic tracks in the Spring of 1991 at Freak-Out Studios, Helsinki and the overdubs and mixing was finished in the Summer-Fall of 1991 at Finnvox Studios. The album was released in January 1992. The band would play many gigs all round Finland in 1992, 1993 and not as many in 1994. The last Kingston Wall show was on 12/6/94 in Helsinki. The band had decided to take some time off after this gig. The last event in Kingston Wall history was when Petri Walli jumped off the roof of a church in Helsinki on 6/28/95... and that was the end of Kingston Wall.
The band produced three incredible CD's and one single, as well as a professional studio MTV like video ("Another Piece of Cake"). The band held these special concerts in Helsinki called Freakout Club's in which they would do cover songs by some of their favorite bands (see set lists), such as the Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Rory Gallagher, Beatles and others. I will miss this band... one of the greatest.
I was very lucky recently to get a chance to interview Jukka Jylli, former bass player in Kingston Wall.
SH: When the band started in 1987 did you play only original songs?
JJ: We had something like 5 or 6 tunes that we had. What the hell are we going to do, we had like 5 songs. We did a lot of jams.
SH: Where did you meet Petri?
JJ: In a bar... I was pissed drunk. He was like usual his, talking... a hell of a lot. I was like no way, I'm not interested. I had a band before and I felt like.... ahhhhhh I am not going to do anything with this guy. Somehow I gave him my phone number.. He phoned back later and he was so convincing. Then we started playing together and found a drummer. We practiced about a month or two and we had a gig. He has to go somewhere and show everyone who the guitar hero was. It was really funny. Young asshole..
SH: Where did the name Kingston Wall come from?
JJ: I don't know. Next question.
SH: So you didn't use this name when you played the first gigs?
JJ: No. We had a singer earlier and after he left we started calling it Kingston Wall. There was another name, which I am not going to tell you if you don't know it. It was so stupid... (HE LAUGHS...)
SH: When did Petri decide to do the singing. Did Jukka leave the band or was he kicked out?
JJ: No. He wanted to leave the band. It was a good thing for the band. Petri originally wanted to have a trio, that is the main reason. We played such long guitar solos and it is quite boring to stand on the stage ten minutes. That is the main reason.
SH: When you recorded the first album in 1990, were the songs written in the studio or where they from rehearsals or worked out live previously?
JJ: We had played most of the stuff live so many times. There wasn't anything really new. Some songs were almost 3 or 4 years old. It was kind of a collection because we had so much material. The album is mostly live in the studio anyway. Like the seconnd one too. The third was absolutely a studio album.
SH: After Tinde left and Sami came in and you decided to re-record the drums...
JJ: And everything else...
SH: So you played live again with Sami...
JJ: Yeah... of course... We did everything again. Which is good anyway.
SH: Do the tapes still exist from that session?
JJ: Yeah. (laughs..) I got them. I have got almost everything.
SH: Where did you know Kie von Hertzen, who did all the cool drawings inside the first CD?
JJ: He was an old friend of Petri's. Great guitar player himself. He has this band called Don Huonot, which is very famous here in Finland.
SH: How did the Middle East art work and themes come about in the songs and CD's? Did you or Petri ever travel in the Middle East?
JJ: Yeah. Petri traveled quite a lot. I traveled in Europe, Petri traveled somewhere else. I don't know, maybe it's the music too. First it was the music then the pictures. He traveled in Turkey, Egypt and India.
SH: Did Petri write all the lyrics to the songs?
JJ: Yeah, that was him.
SH: What are your favorite songs from the first CD?
JJ: The opening track is quite nice. What the hell is the name anyway... "With my Mind"... and I hear you call. Those two. But the seconnd album is much better than the first one, that is my opinion.
SH: Did you record any extra songs at the time of the first CD? You said that you had a lot of material built up from the previous years and it was only about 60 minutes.
JJ: Yeah... there can be something. I have this two inch tape... but I don't have the equipment to listen to it. So I don't know what there is in it. Some Hendrix stuff. "Can you see Me" and "Manic Depression". There should be something like that.. That stupid "Fire".
SH: You got tired of that song?
JJ: Yeah. I never really liked that. I liked so much the original and... all this... (waving and wild gestures and guitar sounds made by Jukka.)
SH: On the second CD you really developed into a tight unit. I really feel that this album has some of the best rock songs ever..
JJ: That is for sure. I think you are right.
SH: So where did you learn to play the Egyptian horn?
JJ: Nowhere. (Laughs) I didn't.
SH: But you did play it....
JJ: Oh yeah... but that is different. Very typical in this band... don't learn anything... just play... try to learn anything.
SH: Did you ever record any of the other covers you used to play live?
JJ: No. Nothing else.
SH: You played a lot of incredible gigs in 1993. Seems that you played shows of mostly covers, some very special Freakout gigs with guests etc. Do you recall some memorable shows?
JJ: Yeah. There were 8 gigs in Tavastia, every Sunday. They were quite similar those nights... more or less... very long tunes you know... Sakari Kukko, this saxophone, flute player he played with us. He is great. Strange stuff anyway..
SH: How many copies of the original vinyl and CD's were printed on the Trinity label? Was it 1000, 10,000, 20,000?
JJ: No. I think it more like 5 or 10,000.. I think it sold about the same in Japan.
SH: When you guys were a band was there ever an effort to try and get the albums released outside of Finland?
JJ: Yeah. Of course. All the time there was something going on. But we never really went anywhere. (laughs)
SH: Did you feel like you guys had a reasonable following in Finland? You played a lot of shows all over the country.. I guess people showed up to the shows and bought the T-shirts (Jukka laughs loudly!)
JJ: Yeah. I guess. We never really made T-shirts, but I saw once a mobile phone of the first CD album cover. That was really nice...
SH: When did you start working on the Trilogy material, was that in 1993?
JJ: I think that was almost like Petri's solo album, this third one. It was the only album that we really... just one or two songs that we had played before at gigs... so me and Sami... we didn't really know what we were doing in the studio... it was really funny... because we didn't really have any idea what it will be... the result... Petri knew... we just tried to do our best. It was a very different album..
SH: I really felt that there were some powerful, deep lyrics on songs like "Time" and "For all Mankind"... sort of a premonition with Petri saying stuff like: "Look out world it's time to die" on "For all Mankind". He really seem to be looking deep into his mind.
JJ: Yeah. That is true. Petri thought that the band was going to change somehow after this third album. Well, it changed because we split. I don't know what he actually wanted to do. He did not want to go on like before. So we released the album in autumn 1994 and I met Petri the last time on Christmas Eve, the same year... and then he went to India and after that I never saw him again. He tried to call me but I was not home. I was in the states. Shit happens...
SH: So the band at the end of 1994 after the gig in the Prison, that was when the band really broke up.
JJ: Yeah. But I never really thought of it that way.
SH: Taking a break anyway and maybe you would be back together.
JJ: Yeah. That is what I thought... I knew... I felt that Petri could not live without Kingston Wall... and maybe that is what happened anyway..
SH: How did Sami feel about it when the band fell apart... JJ: He had so much to do at the time we stopped playing. I don't think he felt bad. Maybe later of course... when Petri died. He was the most busy guy. I think he still is..
SH: A Finnish friend had told me that he had heard on the radio of the possibility of a box set of extra live material or something.
JJ: Yeah. Maybe... I am in the bootleg business the rest of my life. (laughs)
SH: No. I think there is a market for it. I think you could release stuff on your own.
JJ: I don't know. I don't feel like that. I don't know.
SH: Did you guys regularly record your concerts.
JJ: Yea.. Later on we did. I have about 50 or 60 and about 25 on DAT tape. I have some very early stuff also. Most of the shows are from 1993 and 1994, some from 1992.
SH: I am just glad that you recorded some of this stuff.
JJ: FIRE 50 times (laughs)
SH: Have the bands you are currently playing with... have they been recording?
JJ: I have this for you... (Saunabadh) They are an old band.. but I have been playing with them for half a year now. Yeah. I have been in the studio with Mannerheim, this kind of heavy rock band. Let's see... some German connections now to release the stuff. Something's coming up. Every band is busy now. For two months there was nothing happening. I am almost dying.
SH: You can at least make a living on making music as opposed to driving a cab.
JJ: (laughs) yeah. I think it's better this way. I don't make great money but it is ok.
SH: Do you think that Petri's family has a long history of being in music. Do you think this had a big influence on him?
JJ: Yeah. That's for sure. His older brother, Hasse (half brother, same father)... something like 22 or 23 years older, over 50 now... he is one of those real guitar heroes in Finland. He had this band in the 60's, Blues Section, and the 70's, Piirpauke, with Sakari Kukko. So he must have been some kind of idol for Petri when he was a kid.
SH: Who would you say were some of the guitar players that influenced Petri the most?
JJ: Jeff Beck is what he usually says. And of course Hendrix.
SH: What bass players were a big influence on you? Did you start playing guitar?
JJ: You know... it was these punk years. I started playing with a punk band. I was a kid and the other guys were older. We didn't have to be a very great player to get into a band. It is very easy to play. I have never had anything like a teacher. Then I started listening to the WHO. That is my main influence.
SH: Did Petri have a favorite guitar?
JJ: Yeah. he used only one guitar. That is why we started to do these stupid fucking bass and drum solos because he broke some strings and we had to stay there on the stage so he could change his string. Nothing to do. Fucking bass solos. Nothing so stupid as a bass solo.
SH: So you never tried to get him to buy another guitar?
JJ: Yeah. We tried to but he liked the situation. Very nice. Changed very slowly the string... fucking ass...
SH: It was a 70's Les Paul.
JJ: It was a really great guitar. One of the best guitars I have ever seen.
SH: Does his family have it now?
JJ: That's very sad. I would like to have it. Not like that. Guitars... you should use them... and nobody plays that guitar anymore... That's stupid. I'm not jealous or anything like that. (Laughs)
SH: So that last gig was in a Prison (Sörkkärock). What was that like?
JJ: It was kind of sad. You know these prisoners. That was the first time I had ever been in a prison. So I meet some guys I had never met for a long time. Oh you're here... You're here to... I was wondering where you have been. There were like really slow... eating... zombies. Of course, they liked when we were playing but I don't know if it was because we were playing there or if it was just something was happening. I don't remember much about the gig. We played mostly slow stuff. Then we went to the local bar and split.
SH: And "Fire" of course... did you play "FIRE"?
JJ: No. I think we didn't.
Santtu: Do you have any tapes of that concert?
JJ: There must be something in prison. (Laughs)
SH: You guys will go down in history as one of the greatest Finnish rock bands in history whether you like it or not.
JJ: Yeah.... oh huh...
Well, it was a very special morning to hear these stories about the band. Jukka had to leave to catch a plane for a gig in Stockholm at an Irish pub with the band Boolabush, the Celtic music band he plays with. He also plays in a heavy rock band called Mannheimer as well as Saunabadh. Sami is playing with two bands, Groove Connection as well as Fisso. Fissio released a CD entitled "Impossible" in 1998. Groove Connection has just released a CD in March 1999. I have to thank Petri Masculin (Helsinki) for all the valuable information about the band. Also, there is a very nice Kingston Wall web page on the internet but it does not really contain that much information about the band though it does have all the lyrics!
Between the Trees/She's so Fine 7" (Trinity TTY 0001- Finland1992)
We cannot Move/She's So Fine CD single Promo Trinity TTY 0005- Finland 1993)
Stüldt Håjt / Have you seen the Pygmies? CD single promo (Trinity TTY 0003- Finland 1994)
The Real Thing, Radio edits CD single (Trinity label, TTYCD 0007)
-The Real Thing (3:27)
-Take You To Sweet Harmony (3:39)
-I'm the King, I'm the Sun (6:04)
Kingston Wall- I (Trinity TTYCD 0002- Finland 1992)
- Released in Japan on Zero Corporation in 1994 (XRCN-1084)
- Remaster with bonus CD Released 1998 (Zengarden Oy GAR 16)
Kingston Wall- II (Trinity TTYCD 0004- Finland 1993)
- Released in Japan on Zero Corporation in 1995 (XRCN-1067)
- Remaster with bonus CD Released 1998 (Zengarden Oy GAR 17)
Kingston Wall- III/Trilogy (Trinity TTYCD 0006- Finland 1994)
- Released in Japan on Zero Corporation in 1995 (XRCN-1200)
- Remaster with bonus CD Released 1998 (Zengarden Oy GAR 18)
Rumor has it that 100 copies of the Kingston Wall I were pressed on vinyl. Kingston Wall I and II were released on prerecorded cassette tapes as well. The remasters with bonus CD were a limited edition of 1000 copies.
Live- Tampere, Finland 4/1992 (Finnish TV) 16 minutes
Live- Espoo, Finland 5/24/92 (Finnish TV) 19 minutes
Live- Vernissa Club, Helsinki, Vantaa, Finland 11/93 (5 camera/sbd) 98 minutes
TV Top 40 (Live 1994) For All Mankind 7 minutes
Studio Promo Video 1994 Another Piece of Cake 4 minutes
Petri Walli In Memoriam 47m