Finland's Santa Cruz have streamlined glam-metal into a potent, heavy form: expect crushing riffs, wailing vocals and duelling guitars. The only problem is deciding who takes the lead.
"We're always playing rock-paper-scissors!" laughs guitarist Johnny Parkkonen. "That's how we decide. I used to win a lot, but nowadays I'm getting beaten, so I think I have to train more!"
The band formed when Johnny met frontman and fellow shred head Archie Kuosmanen at a music camp in their teens. "I had this Mötley Crüe patch on my back that he liked," recalls the guitarist. "That's how it started."
"Listen to BB King... it gets interesting when you learn to play like that and combine it with shred guitar" - Johnny Parkkonen
Dodgy shredders are 10 a penny, but Johnny and Archie are some of the finest face melters we've had the pleasure of encountering in recent years. The secret, says Johnny, is going back to the blues.
"Listen to BB King," he tells TG. "You hear so many guitar players who don't have the balls on the bends – to be like 'WAAAAH WAH!'. So it gets interesting when you learn to play like that and combine it with shred guitar."
Armed with an Axe-Fx and a '59 reissue Les Paul, Johnny is currently preparing to hit the UK in support of their new self-titled album.
"We have this one song called Vagabonds that I can't wait to play live," he enthuses. "There's, like, a two-minute solo battle."
The rock-paper-scissors obviously went out of the window on that one.
- For fans of: Mötley Crüe
- Hear: Wasted And Wounded