Danger Zone split up before we got to play any gigs, but we weren’t to be stopped. Assu got his first drum set (he had to shovel a lot of snow before his dad agreed to buy it), and in early 1989 I convinced my long-suffering parents to let us rehearse in our garage. We also had to find a new bass player. Assu said there was this guy living close to him who would be up for it. He was called Rytky, Mika Rytilahti. One day he joined us, apparently after three days of persuading. We had a bass guitar for him, and it was hand-made – by some other kid in the junior high handicraft class. It looked like a B. C. Rich Widow, which was cool.
Rytky had never played bass or been in a band before, but was excited about it. The amp we had for him blew up as soon as he started to play, so he brought his tiny Marshall stack in. It was a practice amp for guitar, not bass, but who cared? We did not. We’d rehearse after school, and then he’d stay at my place until late and draw band logos and dragons and warriors. I was too shy to tell him he should go home already, so he just sat there quietly and kept drawing. It was him who came up with the name Arched Fire. Apparently he just wanted to tie the words “Arch” and “Fire” together, because it looked good. We didn’t know how to pronounce our name, but again, who cared? Also, Rytky designed all our early logos.
At the time, we were listening to all kinds of rock, hard rock and metal. Basically any band with long hair and distorted guitars was cool by my standards. In 1988 the hair metal era was giving way to more edgy bands. I was listening to State of Euphoria by Anthrax, Megadeth’s So Far, So Good… So What! and Metallica’s bassless …And Justice for All, and the first Stone album, but also a lot of rock bands like Guns N’ Roses and Hanoi Rocks. All these were big bands you could read from big magazines. I had no clue about anything indie or underground. We had our mainstream rock and metal magazines, and Music Television with Headbangers’ Ball, and Finnish music shows like Rockstop.
We kept playing and smoking stolen cigarettes and hoping my Mom wouldn’t notice the smell. Pretty soon we had a bunch of songs of our own. Rytky came up with a tune called “Ramparts of Hell” that sounded like early Metallica meets Venom, and I think he was singing it as well. It was the first actual speed/thrash metal song Arched Fire ever played. I managed to persuade my parents to buy me a Marshall combo, turned the distortion up and wrote a song called “The Pestilence” that had Metallica written all over it, so much so that the term “rip-off” may not be inappropriate. But the rest of the songs we had were hard rock.