Johnny: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Middy: Bass, Backing Vocals
Taz: Drums, Backing Vocals
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SANTA CRUZ are a Finnish modern hard rock band formed in Helsinki in the summer of 2007
By Archie Kuosmanen and Johnny Parkkonen. With the mutual aspiration of playing their asses off and kicking other players’ butts, the two teens (at the time) shared the same goals and similar same passion for a band to be. Inspired by greats like Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses, the name Santa Cruz was chosen as the title of their vision of a perfect hard rock band. The following year, Middy Toivonen joined on bass. A year-and-a-half and two drummers later, Taz Fagerström was drafted into the group to permanently man the kit and thus cementing the Santa Cruz lineup.
Introducing themselves to a larger audience in the semifinal stage of the Finnish nationwide band competition Ääni ja Vimma in 2009, Santa Cruz released two demos in 2008–2009, the latter of which was titled Another Rush of Adrenaline and which received remarkable reviews on the media. Word of mouth about Cruz crew’s explosive stage presence and rabble-rousing shows spread like wildfire, resulting in a lengthy succession of shows. Santa Cruz played well over 100 shows while still in the demo phase of their career, which established their reputation as the hardest working group of axe-wielding young turks in Finland.
After dropping a self-released EP of six songs, titled, Anthems for the Young ‘n’ Restless, which featured a music video for the title track, the band began grabbing international headlines. The media attention and an unbroken continuum of hellraising performance caught Spinefarm’s attention. The rest, as they say, is Cruz-story.
After intensive studio sessions at Hollola and Helsinki, the ass-kicking, 11 track label debut Screaming for Adrenaline was unleashed in April 2013. As the chant in the debut single “Relentless Renegades” quotes Julius Caesar, “We Came, We Saw, We Conquered!,” the album was released to raving reviews and cracked the Top 40 on Finnish album chart. The album saw the sound of Santa Cruz truly take flight, assaulting the ears with an explosion of pure adrenaline and attitude in the form of honest Rock ‘n’ Roll, not to mention the virtuoso level of musicianship, especially in the flashy guitar work of Archie & Johnny. The band was aiming high and Santa Cruz didn’t merely crash the party; they are the party!
Even Children of Bodom guitar god Alexi Laiho has praised the Cruz boys: “Never mind that they are young, ‘cuz the matter of the fact is, that Santa Cruz definitely sticks out from all these retro hair metal bands running around nowadays. Not only do they have the attitude and the looks, but most importantly they sure as hell know how to play and the songs along with the awesome guitar playing pretty much makes me wanna bang my head in two pieces when I see them play live. And after all that’s what it’s all about. End of fucking story!!!”
In 2013, the band signed an international booking deal with TKO Agency (Motörhead, Anthrax, Buckcherry etc.) and subsequently played their first three British Tours. The year also saw the fearsome foursome continue their heavy gigging domestically. In addition to complete conquest of Finnish stages big and small, Santa Cruz also paid their first visits to Germany and Belgium supporting their heroes Skid Row.
In between all the touring Santa Cruz somehow also found a way to squeeze in the time to prepare for the recording of their second album, which is self-titled. The released a video for “Wasted & Wounded.” And when 2014 came to a close, the single “We Are the Ones to Fall” was the most aired song of the year on the Finnish nationwide station Radio Rock. Mission complete.
March 2015 will see the release of the band’s eponymous sophomore effort, which further distances the band from the throwback glam metal sound, as they further and more deftly mix their influence of the ’80s and early ’90s hard rock sound with elements of modern rock and metal and put it in their own special blender, ice the mix with blinding energy, stupefying stage show and a healthy dash of bad attitude!
2015 will be the year of Santa Cruz, who work as hard as they play… and shred.