MATTI LEHTONEN
Backstage Alliance
Merchandise / BSA - Store
Tampere 2007


(Photo by Kicky / Suiciderock)

"New Challenges"

Suiciderock: You are working for Beemvees, which is a sublabel of Merceedees. Can you tell the people outside what your job is about?
Matti: Actually things have changed quite much regarding my job. We formed a new company called „Backstage Alliance" which includes former Wolfgang Records and Merceedees Tuotanto plus lot's of new sectors of music business. By the beginning of September we will have 9 workers in the company so things are getting bigger step by step. Basically my work concists of merchandising and taking care of our street teams. Furthermore I will also take care of some foreign contacts but basically I will concentrate on the merchandising.

Suiciderock: Can you tell us some more facts about „Backstage Alliance"?
Matti: Backstage Alliance is a new kind of music company. It contains sectors such as two record labels (Wolfgang & Merceedees), booking agency, management, merchandising, music publishing and our forthcoming mobile application. We have two offices, one in Tampere and one in Helsinki. We also have a studio in Helsinki called Seawolf Studios.

Suiciderock: Who is taking part in the new company? Which bands are signed?
Matti: Right now we have eight published artists in record company-sector, for example Hanoi Rocks, Blake and Tuvalu. We don't demand bands to make deals with every sector we have, so bands could for example have deals with our merchandise- and booking agency-sectors but not necessarily with our record company. Of course, the ideal situation is that when we sign a new band that they'll make a deal with all of our sectors.

Suiciderock: Who had the idea for this new company and how did it happen that WolfGang Records and Merceedees merged to Backstage Alliance?
Matti: Our President Virpi Immonen and CEO Paavo Bäckman participated in music expo in Moscow last March and shared lot's of same kind of ideas. They thought that it would be a good idea to make a co-operation or even unite our companies. We started to work based on these ideas in late spring 2007 and things have gone a lot forward since their meeting in Moscow.

Suiciderock: On the official homepage www.backstagealliance.com it says that „Backstage Alliance lets fresh air into the stuffy Finnish music industry". Do you think that the Finnish music industry is that stuffy? What would you say is the main difference between Backstage Alliance and other labels?
Matti: Well let's put it this way that some practise's in music business are really old fashioned and Backstage Alliance is going to work with a differend kind of view. Our structure is also different if you compare it to a traditional record company since we have lot's of sectors that the traditional record companies doesn't have.

Suiciderock: Many people know you as the manager of Bloodpit, but they are on break at the moment. Are there some other bands you work for?
Matti: Actually I wasn't their manager, I was more like their tour manager. Anyway, yes there are other bands which I am working for right now. I am touring with Uniklubi right now and in the future it might be that I'll be doing that same work for our own bands aswell.

Suiciderock: What does a band need to get your interest or is it just depending on how much money they pay?
Matti: Mainly it depends on the people if we are talking about touring. If you have to see the same faces 24/7 on the road, it's not nice to be on tour if you don't feel like doing it. Of course the money plays a role but that's not the main point. There are also lot's of other points that matter, for example the amount of shows on the tour but I think the most important thing is how you get along with the people.

Suiciderock: Has there ever been a band you didn`t like, but you had to work with?
Matti: I haven`t toured with any band I didn`t like, but yes I`ve worked with bands I didn't like that much.

Suiciderock: How did you manage the situation?
Matti: It was okay for me but the passion for the job was missing.

Suiciderock: Besides working you are studying at the Polytechnic University. How do you combine your studies and your job?
Matti: Actually my school started on Monday, 21.08.07 again. I went there 8 o'clock in the morning until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Then I went to the office and work there until 8 or 9 o'clock in the evening. Days are differend, it depends a lot on the days. Sometimes it's pretty hard to combine these two tasks but I'll manage it.
For example if there are shows with Uniklubi during the week, I have to be absent from school. It doesn't matter that much if I'm not there for a couple of days. Last November I was off from school for a month for the Bloodpit tour in Germany and Italy. That wasn't that easy, but it worked out. You have to learn a lot after and you have to write a lot of tests without knowing anything about the subjects.

Suiciderock: Is there any advice you would give to a young band for their career?
Matti: Work hard! Believe in the things you are doing. I think these are the best advices I can give. When a band gets their first record deal it could be hard if you think that you're work is over and the record company will take care of everything else. There are lots of things that have to be worked out and to be learned by doing.

Suiciderock: What's the best and what's the worst side of your job?
Matti: The best thing about my job is the variety of my job. I can do things that I always wanted to do. For me this job is pretty much a dream job. I do lots of different stuff that keeps me aware from becoming bored easily. The worst side is that you sometimes have too many things to do, too much work.

Suiciderock: Do you think it's difficult for a band from Finland to get attention abroad?
Matti: Sometimes it is, but it depends on many things like the label, the language of course and all the partners that the band have in differend countries. It isn't that hard anymore as it used to be for example five or ten years ago. Then again, you have to do 100 times more work and it takes time to get a name abroad.

Suiciderock: You travel a lot. Is there any city or country that impressed you the most?
Matti: Indonesia. It was nice there. The country was so different comparing to other countries, but this was a holiday for me. If I go on holiday I don't want to visit Sweden or some similar countries like Finland. I don't have any favourite place.

Suiciderock: How does a typical tour day look like for you?
Matti: Keeping up with the schedule, maybe I also have to drive the bus, setting up some interviews. Of course, I have to prepare the practical things of the shows beforehand. I spend a lot of time on the phone.

Suiciderock: Was it always your intention to work in the music business?
Matti: Not always, but when I started to play music by myself in the age of 12, I started to realise that I want to do something related to music.

Suiciderock: You have been playing in a band as well. Why did you change the sides?
Matti: I wasn't that much into playing anymore. I was interested in other kind of things and here we are.

Suiciderock: Could you imagine to go back on the stage?
Matti: Not right now. Could be in the future.

Suiciderock: What would you do if you wouldn't work in the music business?
Matti: Drinking. *laughs*. No I really don't know what I would do for living. Hard question. I haven't thought about it before.

Suiciderock: Your future plans?
Matti: Working. There will be a lot of things coming up with the new company. For this year I think I already have too much to do. This is my dream job right now so I think I'll be doing this for a while. *smiles*
(c) Suiciderock.com