Interviews

15th September 2013 at 23:30

2013.03.27 - Baton Rogue Morgueexclusive

Interviews

BatonRogueMorgue_Textpicture1Formed in 2005, Baton Rogue Morgue are THE Heavy Metal heroes from Borgå [in Finnish: Porvoo] - but for a bouquet of flowers from their hometown, Lee Angel Morgue (Vocals), Domino De La Rogue (Guitar), Timothy Baton (Bass) and Danger Ranger (Drums) had to wait in vain so far. Possible reasons for that, why guitarist Francesco Gasoline Mattei has been replaced by Brymir's Joona Björkroth and why it's anything but easy for a rockband with English lyrics to succeed in Finland were one of many topics the Finns enlightened us about right before their first common show with Hardcore Superstar at "Klubi" in Finland's oldest city and former capital Åbo [in Finnish: Turku]. And since the supply of beer seemed to be already used up both at "Klubi" and in the impressive tourbus of Baton Rogue Morgue, we took a seat at "Lone Star", a Texas Barbecue restaurant right across the street...

Q: Thank you for taking some time for this interview. Where are the other guys?

Domino De La Rogue: I can call and ask them, Joona and Timothy, if they wanna join us. Danger Ranger is... somewhere.

Q: Ok. First of all, congratulations on being chosen as the support-act for Hardcore Superstar...

Lee Angel Morgue: Thank you very much!

Q: How come that you are opening up for them on the entire Finland tour? I mean you don't even have a record deal, not to mention that you are not on the same label...

Domino De La Rogue: They like us a lot! [Laughter]
Lee Angel Morgue: Well, actually, our bus driver... He used to live in Sweden. He had a bus company over there and he used to drive Hardcore Superstar when they were in the same position as we are now.
Domino De La Rogue: [starts to talk with Joona on the phone] Hey! We are across the street. Do you wanna come over for a beer? There is an interview going on. They wanna ask you some questions like "Why did you join these fuckers?", "Are you insane?"... [Laughter] Just come across the street... Goddammit, dude! [ends the phone call] Well, we are training him. He is like a prospect. [Laughter] He is a little bit slow. [Timothy appears]
Timothy Baton: One small beer, please!

Q: So it's all thanks to the bus driver that you are supporting Hardcore Superstar on their Finland tour?

Domino De La Rogue: Yes, he is definitely the connection. He moved to Finland and he has been driving us around for a year, and for some reason he is insane enough to like us. When Hardcore Superstar prepared their tour and asked him to drive them around, he said: "Why not taking these guys with you?" And they said: "Done deal!" Because even though they are a big band which sells out venues on their own, it's more fun for them to cruise around with a band which is equally cool. They rather play with somebody who fits the whole thing than somebody who pays to play with them and is pure shit or something that doesn't fit at all. And why touring with a black metal band due to the same label or whatever reason would be behind it?!? But, to be honest, the politics of it... We have no fucking clue about it!

Q: So if it's all thanks to the bus driver, would you like to tell us his name in order to give him some credit?

Lee Angel Morgue & Domino De La Rogue: Uhm... [start to laugh]

Q: He doesn't want to be mentioned?

Domino De La Rogue: Yes, of course, but it's like a name... If you mention it in the States, we will be all locked-in. But one thing we would like to mention is the name of the bus company which is "Easy Miles"...

BatonRogueMorgue_Textpicture2Q: Your sponsor to "ride with style"...

Domino De La Rogue: Yeah, there you go...

Q: Have you ever been in Åbo before?

Lee Angel Morgue: Not playing.
Domino De La Rogue: Not as a band.
Lee Angel Morgue: We were here with L.A. Guns but we didn't play because the gig booker...
Domino De La Rogue: He couldn't make up his mind, so to speak. We were booked with L.A. Guns last summer...
Lee Angel Morgue: The gig was booked but then he unbooked it for some strange reasons.
Domino De La Rogue: We arrived, we stumbled out of the bus, L.A. Guns were there - and he was like: "Who are you, guys?" - "We are Baton Rogue Morgue. We are supposed to play here." - "Then why the fuck aren't you playing!?!" - "Well, you unbooked us..." That was the worst fucking mistake ever! It took like three hours to go to the show...

Q: Was it the show at the "Down By The Laituri" festival? I noticed some changes on your webpage: First you were supposed to play with L.A. Guns in Helsinki and Åbo, then in Helsinki and Tammerfors [in Finnish: Tampere]...

Lee Angel Morgue: Exactly!
Domino De La Rogue: Yeah, it was confusing for us, too. [laughs] And you live here now?

Q: Yes, the photographer, my boyfriend, got a university place in Åbo so we moved together here...

Domino De La Rogue: Cool!
Timothy Baton: Congratulations!
Domino De La Rogue: They say it's the asshole of Finland, but... [Laughter]

Q: We know about that - but it's really pretty here...

Lee Angel Morgue: We have only seen hotel rooms and backstage rooms so far...

Q: There is the river over there...

Timothy Baton: Yeah, the Aura River, but... [Huge laughter]
Domino De La Rogue: The fucking river!
Lee Angel Morgue: The flower river!
Timothy Baton: We also have a river in Borgå where we come from...
Lee Angel Morgue: Where the same dirty water is running through...

Q: Yes, that would have been my next question: Borgå is a rather small town but has gained more popularity, thanks to you...

BatonRogueMorgue_Textpicture3Lee Angel Morgue: If you say so... It's pretty strange because they never really liked us. The press there doesn't like us. When we play in our hometown...
Domino De La Rogue: They give us zero credit for it!
Lee Angel Morgue: Back in the days when we started, they used to write in the papers about us...
Domino De La Rogue: You've got a point there because the town is always talking about the need of promoting Borgå in different ways, to heighten the profile of the town... They have somebody they can do it with by distributing our music, our flyers et cetera. But then they are like: "No, we don't like that. We don't want it that way."
Lee Angel Morgue: You probably know the band "Lordi". Their then keyboard player Leena Peisa alias Awa was from Borgå. She was living in Borgå and when Lordi had won the "Eurovision Song Contest" in 2006, the town gave her a bouquet of flowers. [Laughter]

Q: Maybe that will also happen to you one day...

Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, we are looking forward to that...
Domino De La Rogue: Winning the "Eurovision Song Contest" in 2006 was probably the biggest thing that ever happened to Finland and all the other members from Lordi got youth centres and other stuff named after them - and she got like four flowers, some chocolate and a small picture in the papers.
Timothy Baton: As fucking sad as it is...
Domino De La Rogue: Yeah, it's a shithole place!
Lee Angel Morgue: We will wait for the bouquet...

Q: Are there any other rock or metal bands from Borgå?

Lee Angel Morgue: No. There used to be some trash metal bands but we don't even have a proper venue to play at...
Domino De La Rogue: Not a single one! For example "Glückauf": It's a boat where you sit and drink. For the gig we will have in summer, they will build a stage. They are going to build the whole thing. It's not there yet. When we played there at the end of last summer, the organiser realised that it's a great business for him. People are bringing other people, people like to go to gigs in summer anyway... They are going to have a lot of work to build the stage! Still, there is no venue...

Q: Talking about upcoming events in the summer: Are you coming back to Åbo, maybe to this year's edition of "Down By The Laituri"?

Domino De La Rogue: Hopefully! Last year, the organiser of "Down By The Laituri" wanted us to play, but this year he isn't sure about the whole event so maybe it's not happening at all and then you will only have this beautiful city with its dirty river... [Laughter]

Q: Well, then we will come to Borgå...

Domino De La Rogue: Absolutely! Then we will take you and your boyfriend under our wing. We give him more booze! [Huge laughter] And then you can check the dirty river... But actually we don't wanna promote this fucking place...
Lee Angel Morgue: Because they don't promote us.

Q: Well, sooner or later they have to give you the flowers...

Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, then we can give one flower to our mums if they are still alive...

Q: You once played at the legendary club "Whisky A Go Go" on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles which is all the more impressive since you don't even have a record deal. Especially journalists often refer to that gig - but how was the feedback on the night itself?

Lee Angel Morgue: It was great. There were eight bands on the bill. That's actually pretty normal over there but, yeah, it was a little bit surprising for us as a band. We thought that it was going to be pretty shitty because we had never played with eight or seven other bands on the same night in Finland. We wondered how that would be even possible - but they made it possible over there. And, surprisingly, it was pretty packed when we were playing.
Domino De La Rogue: Especially if you consider the fact that nobody there knew us. The feedback was amazing. We were the only band on the bill next to Bang Tango who had their 25th anniversary or 25th of whatever at "Whisky A Go Go"... They are a band from the 80s, not that big but probably the craziest band in the world, and we were opening up for them and can say that we rocked them all when it comes to this kind of music. All these Slipknot wannabes and all that hardcore metal crap... It sounds just horrible!
Lee Angel Morgue: The night at "Whisky A Go Go" was quite different from what we had expected. There were all kinds of bands and different music styles on the same evening. A little bit like at these band competitions. It was weird in many ways...
Domino De La Rogue: [laughs] Poet Lee Angel Morgue: "It was weird in many ways... I'm writing a poem..."
Lee Angel Morgue: The band who played before us was consisting of small 10-year-old kids. That was just so strange, at least to me. We were coming there from Finland and this is like the most lasting venue ever, so... What were these kids doing there?!? But that's how it is nowadays...
Domino De La Rogue: It's weird and it's strange but once we went up there and played our set, we had our crowd - and the feedback afterwards was amazing! It was really unbelievable. People talked about us bringing this kind of music back to the streets - but we are a shitty small band from Finland playing at the "Whisky A Go Go", not bringing anything back there...
Lee Angel Morgue: You can measure your one-night success on the basis of how many pictures people take during the gig, how many come up to you to the merchandising booth after the show, how much you sell... On the basis of these responses, you know how successful the night really was - and the responses that night were amazing. It was amazing to be at that fucking legendary venue...

Q: When there was a total of eight bands, which number were you?

Timothy Baton: Last before Bang Tango.
Lee Angel Morgue: No, there were one or two bands after us.
Domino De La Rogue: And that's what beat us: We were sitting at one of the merchandising booths at "Whisky A Go Go". We just played, it was amazing, we had an interview right after in the backstage area of "Whisky A Go Go", we walked down, sat down - and the next band after us sucks fucking ass! There was at least one band after us before Bang Tango played. We were better than all the other bands before Bang Tango. It would have been better if we would have opened up for them straight but the event was supposed to go on the whole night and I think we walked out of there before Bang Tango started. And the crowd followed us! That was also like: "What's going on?" That was...
Lee Angel Morgue: You don't get that here...
Domino De La Rogue: No, you don't get that here... Or in England, in Leeds...
Lee Angel Morgue: That sucked fucking asshole!

Q: Yes, you had your first UK tour this month, with shows in London, Nottingham and Leeds...

BatonRogueMorgue_Textpicture4Domino De La Rogue: Yeah, it was fucking great in the middle and total fucking bullshit in the end!

Q: So it wasn't that successful overall?

Lee Angel Morgue: In a way, it was successful. They still want us to play there and it might happen...
Domino De La Rogue: Yeah, in England. But I'm talking about Leeds...
Lee Angel Morgue: Why do you want to talk about that?
Domino De La Rogue: Because she wants to know all the bad shit...

Q: I want to know everything, the good stuff as well as the bad stuff...

Lee Angel Morgue: She wants to crucify us...
Domino De La Rogue: She's gonna nail us... I mean literally.

Q: Next to Finland, America and the UK, you also had shows in Croatia, Italy and Australia...

Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, Australia was thanks to one of these old and dear friends of ours. A crazy person who convinced a whole bunch of people who had this custom bike event, that they need to have us there on the big stage...
Domino De La Rogue: Imagine this: One dude, drunk and totally crazy, can convince a whole fucking board full of people who run the show that "these guys you need to be with, fuckers!". They paid us 7000 € to fly over there, to play one show. That's not bad.

Q: Depends on how much the flight tickets were...

Lee Angel Morgue: They paid for the tickets...
Domino De La Rogue: They paid for everything there. They bought us a car on which they put our logo on and drove us around. That kind of fucking rockstar shit for one show...

Q: With bands like L.A. Guns, Crucified Barbara and Warner Drive, you played together more than one time...

Domino De La Rogue: With Warner Drive we played in Los Angeles. Instant connection like between you and me. They were like: "You guys are fucking cool! You need to come back here!" And we were like: "You guys are fucking cool! You need to come to Finland!" They came to Finland and we are going back there. It's just a fucking great band. They are big over there and they like us. And we like them. So that was just because we played with them there. Crucified Barbara: I was about to have the 15 years anniversary party for my tattoo studio ["Tattoo Studio Domino" in Borgå] and wanted a headliner for this event. Warner Drive from Los Angeles said: "We're gonna be there! We're gonna play at your anniversary party!" But I had already booked Crucified Barbara so in the end we had two headliners. L.A. Guns: We had this fucking gig booker and he is the reason. He brought them here, he fucked us over... I don't know if he also fucked them over, hopefully not... It ended up with us going to court. There were fights and shit, he threatened to kill us and threatened to kill me backstage at the venue "Tavastia" in Helsinki. Francesco Gasoline Mattei, our then guitarist, was there and actually saved his ass because I lost my temper. I tried to kick that fucking bastard in the face but I had my platform boots on so I wasn't stable enough to do so. Gasoline was throwing him out like: "What the fuck are you doing, motherfucker!?!" He had hired a bodyguard because he was afraid of us, so he had his own personal bodyguard with him at "Tavastia" and he threw us out of the backstage area and... It was just a fucking man.

Q: It never gets boring for Baton Rogue Morgue... By the way: Are you aware of the fact that some people have problems to pronounce your band name correctly?

Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, we heard that before...
Domino De La Rogue: Phil Lewis, the vocalist from L.A. Guns, was standing in front of an advertising column for one minute. He just stood there. Then he talked to his bass player Scott Griffin and they came up to me like: "What's up with your band name 'Baton Rogue Morgue'? You have this strange 'Rogue' thing... 'Rogue' instead of 'Rouge'" And I said: "Yeah, because we don't have anything to do with the capital of the U.S. state Louisiana which is called and spelled 'Baton Rouge'. That would be stupid for us. So we changed the 'Rouge' but 'Baton Rogue' sounds shit, so we kept the pronunciation but we have it spelled this way." And Phil replied: "That makes no fucking sense at all - which makes it cool..." And I was like: "You got it! You got it exactly right! We didn't need to explain because you got it straight off!" And when Elvis James, the bass player from Warner Driver, asked the same question and I explained the same thing to him, I said that we have been having some problems in the States with exactly this. And he said: "No, man, there is absolutely no problem. You just need to teach them..." And that's exactly how it is. Take bands like Megadeth or Metallica as an example. Those are fucking stupid names. When people saw the name "Megadeth" for the first time, it was like: "What is that? You die mega times or how many times do you die? Is it a big death or bigger than death?"
Lee Angel Morgue: And there is no "a"...
Domino De La Rogue: And, yeah, the "a" is missing. It's like a spelling error. So it became cool through the music. Through the music, the name became established. As long as you are an underground band, people will have that problem. But you can't run around and change your name just because some people have difficulties with it.

BatonRogueMorgue_Textpicture5Q: You just had a change in the line-up. Your guitarist Francesco Gasoline Mattei has been replaced by Joona Björkroth, one of the guitarists in the Epic Metal band "Brymir"...

Domino De La Rogue: I called that fucker!
Lee Angel Morgue: I don't think he got it. Well, Gasoline moved back to his home country Italy. He couldn't effort to stay here because we're not making any money with the band.
Domino De La Rogue: We make a lot of money!
Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, it all goes to waste. But, yeah, he moved back to Italy. We are playing quite a lot of shows now and we can't afford his flights everytime we need him here in Finland. He also has his own studio in Italy. He has work there so he is based there.
Domino De La Rogue: He left because of the impossibility of flying back and forth for gigs - but we are friends and we miss him a lot.

Q: But he used to live in Finland, at least for a while?

Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, for a couple of years...
Domino De La Rogue: I guess we didn't make it big enough for him which is totally understandable because he was here, he had no work... [Joona appears] Now go back to the question where he joined the band and why he is the new guy! [Domino presents Joona, grabs a pen and plays an interviewer] So why, dude... [Huge laughter] So why did you join this band?
Joona Björkroth: Why did I join Baton Rogue Morgue? Because you asked!
Domino De La Rogue: Good answer. Are you satisfied with that?

Q: I think our readers would appreciate more details...

Joona Björkroth: I was playing almost anything, like music that hasn't anything to do with this rock shit. I had an acoustic gig in a small pub in Borgå, playing Jimi Hendrix and this sort of stuff, with my friend who played acoustic and sang while I played the guitar solos. Domino was there and he was very drunk. After his girlfriend convinced him that "this guy is a good guitarist", he started to listen like: "Yeah... Yeah... Yeah... He can play something..." And then he came straight after the gig to me, very drunk, and asked: "Do you want to...?" He said something about Baton Rogue Morgue but I didn't get the half of it because he was so drunk. [Laughter] So I just gave him my number and said: "If you are serious, call me tomorrow at 11 o'clock in the morning." And later on I was lying in bed like: "Nah, he is not going to call me. He was so drunk; he probably can't remember it..." But he called and then I went to their rehearsal room, we had some chit-chat and I went to a few rehearsals since we were about to have a gig at "Tavastia" three weeks later and I needed to practise a bit. It turned out quite well - and now I'm here...
Domino De La Rogue: Look at that poor guitar player! We knew we have all these gigs coming up and we didn't had a guitar player. Everybody thought that we need to go public to get a guitar player since nobody knew we were looking for one. But then on this one night, I went out to the bar, just to drink, and he was playing there, as he said, some acoustic shit. And at some point, my girlfriend said: "Aren't you looking for a guitar player? There is a dude who looks a little bit like you guys and he can fucking play..." Yeah, so it's exactly like Joona said. And seriously: The new shit will kick fucking ass!
Joona Björkroth: Of course, it will.
Domino De La Rogue: Joona is a dude who can play. We are totally unprofessional, full of bullshit and don't know what we are doing. But he listened to some of our songs and he was like: "That's gonna be killer!" And to make an official statement from the band: Joona, we haven't told you this yet because you are like a prospect - but you are also like a fresh driving force to us. We have a great video of Timothy and Joona at my place where Joona is playing the piano and Timothy is composing. You wanna see it? This is how we do it. When we do stuff, we do it like this. Baton Rogue Morgue style. Now you are going to see something that you will never ever forget... [Domino shows a video on his smartphone which shows Joona playing the piano and Timothy "whining" some words like "forever" in the background; everyone laughs] Does that answer your question? Some good tunes are coming up!

Q: So you are already working on a new album?

Lee Angel Morgue: Yes, we're writing songs.
Domino De La Rogue: We just released our latest EP "Hat Trick"...

Q: Yes, I read some reviews about "Hat Trick" and I'm actually surprised that none of those mentioned the guest appearances by Reckless Love guitarist Pepe, Private Line singer Sammy Aaltonen, Johnny and Middy from Santa Cruz and Barbe-Q-Barbies frontgirl Niki Rock...

Domino De La Rogue: They all came to help us out - but we never mentioned their names anywhere. They are not on the CD, they are not on the credit list...
Lee Angel Morgue: And Niki is not there.
Domino De La Rogue: No, she isn't. She was supposed to and in her car, on the way to the studio, when our producer needed to go somewhere else. So she never made it. But everybody else is there and singing, and Pepe is playing his guitar solo. It's fucking great that they all came and helped us out - but they are not on the credit list and nobody knows about it.

BatonRogueMorgue_Textpicture6Q: Why? It's a great opportunity to promote Baton Rogue Morgue...

Domino De La Rogue: That's the thing: We don't wanna promote ourselves as an all-star thing or to profit by using their names. That's not what we wanna do. And none of these guys had been mad because they are not on the credits. We left everybody out. It's just about us and how good WE are. We are really great. Fucking good.

Q: Well, I know that but the majority out there knows your friends from Reckless Love and Santa Cruz better than you, at least at the moment...

Domino De La Rogue: People hear or see our name and they don't understand it. They hear "Reckless Love"... That's a good name... Better than ours... People understand it and like them better than us. That's why we don't wanna lift them up. We just want us to be higher. [grins]
Lee Angel Morgue: I would really like to play with this guys. Reckless Love are by far one of the most interesting bands in Finland...

Q: Talking about Finland: Are you overall satisfied about how it goes for you in Finland or do you think that you could be more successful somewhere else in the world, for example in the States? I noticed some critical words from you in this regard...

Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, I think Finland is such a small country and it's so much based on Finnish music in general. It's really hard to be a rock band with English lyrics, even for bands like Reckless Love. They don't have that many venues to play at in Finland, all in all. So, yeah, it's definitely better to go abroad. But that demands more, especially moneywise. You need to have money to go abroad in order to buy flight tickets, stay at hotels, buy food, drive to places and so on. So it's, of course, much more complicated to go abroad. Wherever we played so far, we always had somebody that we knew. For example in England: We stayed at the place of one of the band members from Widows. They were in Finland before and we played around three shows together with them. So we did them a favour and they did us a favour when we played in the UK. That's pretty much how it goes, you know... Same with Warner Drive who we met in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. Last year, they came to play in Finland, and when they come to play here, of course we try to help them out - and vice versa. In that case, it's very hard without a label. It's very hard to go abroad unless you have some contacts or know some people somewhere who can really help you out. I guess we are lucky enough to know those few mentioned...

Q: Do you think it makes sense to have a record deal nowadays?

Domino De La Rogue: We don't know. It could be based on an illusion. We don't know the politics of any of that. Who knows where this market is going, who is buying who and what's the perfect way. Should we get a lawyer or a record deal? I don't know...
Lee Angel Morgue: One reason why we don't have a CRAPPY record deal is that we don't wanna sign any random shit given to us. Basically, you can live without a record company nowadays.
Domino De La Rogue: Which doesn't mean that we would say "no" if any of the good ones would make us an offer...

Q: Ok, we are almost done so it's time for the "Famous last words". What are the next goals of Baton Rogue Morgue, apart from a guest appearance in the TV series "Sons Of Anarchy"? [The band starts to laugh]

Lee Angel Morgue: Yeah, that would be one. It's good work.

 

This interview was made and taken by: Stefanie Singh (FacebookTwitterBlogSpot)

Photos by: Adrian Nysand / Promotional picture by Baton Rogue Morgue

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