Tarot Band: By Finnish Rock Legend Sakari Hietala

Tarot Band: By Finnish Rock Legend Sakari Hietala

For those who are new to the metal scene and Tarot:

Me and Marco started the band about 1982-83 with a name of Purgatory. Few years of touring as a warm up act, we needed to change drummer to better one and Pecu came in. In -85 we did Wings Of Darkness demo and got our first pro record deal.

Me and Marco, we wanted to do pure British metal, like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and so. Actually, we were never in to Iron Maiden, (except our drummer Pecu) which many people compared us to them.


Marco had an education of musical theory in Oulunkylä Pop/Jazz conservatory, so I read all his books and took over the theory thing for real. Janne has an education for pianist, which is obvious for keys players. All thought we all are self taught musicians and it gives more freedom to do music and not caged in some form.

Marco’s English have been so great all the time. Our father (R.I.P.) was an English teacher and Marco got the best graduation from high school, so no need to be worried about the language or pronunciation in his songs.

His stories in songs are somewhat weird.

“School of Rock”

I have done guitar lessons for multiple guitar players by the years.

Even in schools, but that’s an another story. I don’t do them for money anymore, I just show some licks to anybody who wants to learn something from the old guy, he he! Actually there are so many…

The story behind Pecu’s Join

First me and Marco had this Purgatory name and we needed better drummer, so we put invites on local music stores walls.

Pecu called and said on phone to Marco: “Your drummer sucks, I’m better”. That kinda shit made us to go to his training room to check it out. It was -84 and we wanted a drummer who can handle Van Halen’s Hot For The Teachers, Rainbow’s Stargazer’s beginning and so on.

In Pecu’s rehearsal room, there was a big red Ludwig double drum kit. Cozy Powell’s (R.I.P.) kit on Stage album and he played everything so f.cking great that we wanted to work with him. 

Finnish Music Scene in the 80s

Early -80’s in Finland, there was no other bands like us and it was easy to do a cult name for us. With the material we played and we played real well live, because we trained like hell with the band as well as personal.

Me and Marco did all composing that time and soon we got the material for first two albums as well. The record company we signed in, wanted straight rock songs on the first and in my opinion, we got much much better songs, which went leftovers. Some of them we put on the second album, but still I have a feeling they should be released someday.

The Spell Of Iron was so fresh in that time and we sold out our vinyls, which was more than 10000 copies in Finland, in that time. Follow Me Into Madness album our rhythm guitarist attitude was no more and he vanished with our money and some equipment. F.ck!

Finnish Metal Bands VS. English Bands

In the early days many interviewers, asked, why we didn’t sing in Finnish. It is fine now, but back in -80’s metal was in English and in my opinion it still is.

When you compare us to any metal genre, it’s pure NWOBHM. There are no room for any other language than English. Simple.

If you compare us or any Finnish metal group to foreign bands, we have attitude, skills and will.

I don’t want to dis any of foreign bands, but their will is not compared to Finnish bands, sorry.

The Spell Of Iron tour we did our first big festival gigs and the grace was great. We did all summer festivals in Finland, about ten in that time. For example, there was Twisted Sister playing before us in Rantarock festivals -86 and the crowd was crazy enough, when we hit the stage.

Wings Of Darkness Era

When Wings Of Darkness hit the place, it was something new in Finland and it’s still somehow our “hit” song of it all. Today I prefer I Walk Forever, Hell Knows, Warhead, they are the best example of our style and the line we are playing. “Wings” is just memories of the past or cross on our backs, we need to play live.

I don’t want say this, but we made the roots of Finnish heavy metal genre, while there was few groups before us, but not at strong enough to get on…

Advices for Finnish Bands

My advice for new metalists of our nation is: “Be proud, but humble”. Nothing more, nothing less… from this principle it does on everything.

Now Finnish metal genre is one of the best and growing. Praise the Tsup!

Playing Live

We, the musicians in the band, have been and still are more in to playing live, not for the money, it’s great too if you get payment, but that’s not the reason we play. It’s desire, calling, mission or whatever you wanna call it.

We didn’t want to get any neurotic guitar players anymore, so we went in to keyboard player and never regrets of that. Janne came in.

It took almost five years to get new record deal and third album out. Record companies did not like our choice of keys and didn’t accept our demos of the third one. That time Trash Metal was the word and original heavy metal was the curse… It took so many years to get To Live Forever out.

Suddenly one of our friend helped us out economically and Mika Myyryläinen from little label, Bluelight records, wanted to put it out and signed us. We did three studio and one live on his company and it was like a new beginning for us. All the albums on -90’s we did on Bluelight Records.

2000 onwards, we had to move on for better success and worldwide awareness. So we signed on Universal first and then to Kingfoo/Nuclear Blast, where we are still continuing with.

Now on we got side projects and different main bands for playing, so have to take some space between Tarot releases and touring. It doesn’t mean, we are not doing Tarot by heart anymore, it kinda makes things better and relaxed.

Marco does Nightwish, Janne does Turmion Kätilöt, Tommi and Pecu are in Lazy Bonez project and I’m in A2Z. So there are a lots of metal going on.

Marco’s joining in Nightwish

Funny story is Marco’s joining in Nightwish.

We did Suffer Our Pleasures demos 2002 and Marco’s cell rang, there was Ewo asking Marco to join in Nw. I listened the calling by half ear and bro said,” I need to think about it”. Very soon we Tarot guys convince him to join the Nw forces, he he! By economically of course….

My bro is, and always been, the guy of ideology and never thinks about money, just the music. Respect!

Tarot, today

Today my guitars are like stress toys, I play about 3-4 days, 4-6 hours a day at work.

I’m a youth worker as a day job. All the time I’m with problematic teenagers to handle their lives. There are room to “fiddle around” thing with guitar, not just new things or so. We all have opportunity to do music for real, so we don’t have to practice all the time. Of course, when we need to record something difficult shit, we train our asses off for sure.

As I did for A2Z Parasites Of Paradise album.

All the time, Marco, Janne and I compose the new material for Tarot and we have great ideas for forthcoming album, when it’s the right time to release Tarot shit again.

In Kuopio where we live, is about 200000 area and we really not go on pubs or restaurants often now on.

Now on we are too popular here and it’s kinda pain in the ass to go on public. Hope you understand.

When we were younger, we spent a lots of time partying in few places, but not anymore. Too old…

Mostly we do gathering of friends and party private.

Learn more about Tarot


This is a guest post written by the founder of Finnish Heavy Metal Band Tarot, Sakari Hietala.