Juha Mattila - Ruokangas Guitars

Juha Mattila / Subspace Radio

My Musical Home

In Juha Mattila’s own words:

From pop to growl

I have a relatively long history in a number of Finnish bands as well as some cover projects, with musical styles from hard-hitting speed/thrash metal during the mid-80’s, moshing through the legendary Helsinki Lepakko and other such classic venues, through hard rock / grunge / pop rock era of the 90’s to my current band Subspace Radio that is my musical home – composing music that can be described as modern progressive rock, that uses elements of different musical genres – from jazz influences and odd time signatures to bright prog through attacking metal riffs, from beautiful pop melodies to pure growl.

The first contact

Subspace Radio was formed in 2002 and released two albums in the 2000’s but ended on a longer hiatus after the last gigs were played around 2010. The spirit of music making never went away, so the fresh re-boot of Subspace Radio became real in 2019 and the 3rd album of the trilogy called “AIKA” is coming out in March 2022 – also celebrating the band’s 20th anniversary.
My first contact with Juha and the Ruokangas shop was nearly 20 years ago at the original Hyvinkää location, taking my gear for fixing and repair at the time and making crazy setups for some of my guitars and making them work… and of course I found myself often trying out the Duke’s and VSOP’s and those at the time he occasionally had hanging there waiting for the lucky new owner.

Trial and error

Just like most self-taught guitarists of the era, I believe I share the history of having owned and used many many guitars by trial and error, and this means more than 20 different guitars for me. But now this new chapter in time started with making my decision to use the Ruokangas guitars exclusively. The 3rd album recording sessions were played with the Ruokangas Hellcat Artist I got in 2015, as well as the recently acquired Ruokangas Hellcat Classic (in the Bad Absinthe green colour I had always wanted a guitar to have…)

The ‘AIKA’ Sessions…

I am a bit of a minimalist in the sense these days – when I find the perfect tool for myself, those are the specifications for me. Therefore, the Hellcat Classic had to be the choice for my second main tool, to be close to the Hellcat Artist. Remembering how annoying and frustrating it was many times over the past years to record guitars in studio and having to continuously check and tune and re-tune during sessions – that was quite time-consuming thinking about the studio time spent. The choice between powerful attack and soft chords playing is also something that can be very nicely controlled, and I love the Gotoh tremolo and the overall dimensions of the neck and feel of the fretboard. Especially when making the new Subspace Radio “AIKA” album – there are multiple layers of guitars throughout most of the album tracks, so there was a lot to record for me. Many solos and themes were just played in unison just to get to the type of sound I wanted, and so on. Using various sounds of course also adds to the quantity of guitar tracks needed.

The future visions

And all this came together with the making of the album during COVID restrictions, recording all guitars by myself at home, being my own sound engineer. Going completely digital with amplification and sounds, was of course something that makes things a bit easier from a recording and sound editing standpoint, but there was still a lot to do. And thanks to the Hellcat axes – the absence of constant tuning and checking and re-tuning was just making everything so much easier – as of course is on stage, too. Despite recording or playing live – during the summer or winter with the bounces of air humidity and temperatures back and forth are there. The need for guitars’ quality will continue the same way or can grow even bigger for me once we get to compose the next theme and try to realize the growing visions of the future albums.

The first single from the new album "AIKA" (2022) - The day of the brightest colours (feat. Kimmo Blom)

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