MELODY LANE had the honor and pleasure of interviewing an authentic Rock legend: TIMO KALTIO!
From entering the world of Rock as a roadie for the HANOI ROCKS, to his friendship with IZZY STRADLIN' of GUNS 'N' ROSES, with whom he co-wrote the song RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO HELL, the first track of the multi-platinum album USE YOUR ILLUSION I, TIMO friendly, patient and helpful, told us many episodes related to his fantastic career in a frank, nice and detailed way and we thus found ourselves talking about CHERRY BOMZ, JOHNNY THUNDERS, MICHAEL MONROE and of the Californian super-cover band STRONZO up to the fantastic adventure with the cult band CHEAP & NASTY, which TIMO founded together with his friend NASTY SUICIDE.

Absolutely unmissable interview for every real Rock fan!

MELODY LANE: TIMO first of all can you tell us about your friendship with the guys in HANOI ROCKS, when you first met them and how did you start working with them?
TIMO KALTIO: Well...I know MICHAEL MONROE since I was 9 years old and MICHAEL was 7 years old... My little brother was in the same class with MICHAEL MONROE and MICHAEL's big brother was in my class and he always said  "… Hey TIMO you and my little brother would get along great! " know… we were into ALICE COOPER and LED ZEPPELIN...great stuff...And we were about twelve or thirteen years old and we lived in blocks of flats in Helsinki and MICHAEL used to come to my house, rang the door bell saying “ Hey TIMO let's come out and play” ...and he was dressed with green trousers, weird tights and with his hair everywhere, and my dad wanted to kill me... "Don't ever bring that fuckin' strange guy over here again!". He was mad about that. So funny...but the interesting thing is years later, you know my dad died already long time ago, and a few years ago MICHAEL was invited to the Finland's Independence Day celebrations that takes place at the Presidential Palace....It's an important and big party. The President of Finland invited cultural figures, political figures and academics and whatever and MICHAEL MONROE was there...I wish I'd had the chance to tell my dad: "Look where's your fuckin’ strange guy now!"…ah ah ah...I already knew them all, the HANOI guys, before they moved to Sweden in 1980. MICHAEL and I used to hang out together, they were the school days, and we were in a band together but that band never materialized and just folded...So HANOI ROCKS started about like maybe half a year before I joined in working as their roadie; they had two roadies in the band at that time and I lived with them. One time these two guys came back from a gig and said that they needed another roadie in and they asked me to join in and I accepted...And it was weird because that decision's changed my life.  At that time I was working in a harbor, ferries, hard work...So join HANOI ROCKS was a big change for me. So i joined them and we did all these gigs in Finland, and it was forty years  you can imagine when people saw HANOI ROCKS around, dressed in that weird ways...everybody was without words...So funny! I worked with them for six years, until the end of the band. I was in L.A. with them when unfortunately RAZZLE died.  I was with the band also during the recording of TWO STEPS FROM THE MOVE in Toronto and New York, with all these unbelievable people around in the studio...I remember BOB EZRIN, JACK BRUCE, incredible… I was sitting there with JACK BRUCE and IAN HUNTER all these guys were there to help give ideas...Awesome.

MELODY LANE: In various interviews I remember reading that MICHAEL MONROE considers TWO STEPS FROM THE MOVE the best album by HANOI ROCKS, I personally believe, (and I guess many fans of the band think in the same way), that it was clearly a great album but it was too over-produced, less hard and spontaneous than their previous albums ... Maybe a label like CBS and a producer like BOB EZRIN tamed the wild soul of the band a bit ...
TIMO KALTIO:  Well, for TWO STEPS FROM THE MOVE we went to Toronto, to the PhaseOne Studios, it was RUSH's rehearsal studio, and every note, everything was so practiced, everything was so perfect and maybe that was a bit distant from the raw energy of their previous yes, like you said, maybe it was a bit over-produced but one thing is for sure, they were punks and hard rockers you know...they got nothing to do with the Hair Metal stuff or doing things record companies wanted them to do... their philosophy has always been "If we don't make it in the way we wanna make it…then forget about it". They knew they were going to be big but they always wanted to do their own thing.They were like MC5 or IGGY POP when he started, they became stars and sure a ‘cult band’ but always doing things in their way. And you know ... back to the over-production of TWO STEPS FROM THE MOVEMENT ... Somehow it also happened with CHEAP & NASTY. We've over-produced the albums, we've worked too much on them. Overdubs and songs with five guitars ... You know when we played in concerts many people would say "Wow live ... it's a completely different band!" ... Sometimes the same thing happens to me when I do the paintings, I never know when to stop, I continue to paint, and this also happens with music when you are in the studio ... At that time, with CHEAP & NASTY, we lived in the studio, it was a farm in the countryside. We were there for a month, we could play pool, drink, sleep, we had everything. We also had a waitress who prepared breakfast for us, we worked from ten in the morning until the evening, for hours, every day. And in the end it all became too big ... because you are there, locked in the studio, all that time, and so you keep adding things ... "Let's put a guitar here ... why don't we put keyboards there?". .. I remember once I was painting in America, at the Philadelphia Art School ... and I was working on this painting and I couldn't stand looking at it anymore, I had worked too much on it. ... Then my teacher told me to stop and not look at the painting for 3 days ... He covered the painting with a piece of paper and told me not to look at my painting for 3 days ... When i came back days later I said "Oh it's actually ok! ... It's practically ready" ... d’ you know what i mean? 

MELODY LANE: In 1985 after the departure of SAMI YAFFA and after the band fired RENE BERG, from their roadie you became an official member of the band, you became the bass player of HANOI ROCKS even if only for a short time ... What can you tell us about that troubled time for the band?
TIMO KALTIO: Oh yes, but it ended up that I didn’t work at all. RENE BERG was a nice and great guy but he didn’t quite suit with the band; there were a lot of personal problems…So I was asked to be the bass player and I took the role, and it was already published in Finnish newspapers and everywhere that I was gonna be the next HANOI ROCKS bass player but then, suddenly, MICHAEL left the band and so there was no HANOI ROCKS anymore. I didn’t do any gig…so I was HANOI ROCKS bass player but only for the press, only on the newspapers…

MELODY LANE:  However, from the ashes of HANOI ROCKS another very interesting band was born, band of which you were a part of: THE CHERRY BOMBZ. As a matter of fact, they were the HANOI ROCKS with ANITA CHELLAMAH (ex-Toto Coelo) on vocals ... what can you tell us about it? And how did ANITA join the band?
TIMO KALTIO:  As far as I know…I think HANOI ROCKS were coming back from somewhere, they were in an airplane and ANITA was on the same flight. ANDY and ANITA got talking and decided to write some music together. So when MICHAEL MONROE left the band, ANDY and ANITA they were close and they had already written some stuff together and so that’s when ANDY decided that ANITA woud have become the new singer ; it came as surprise to me as well… So it was ANDY’s idea to have a female fronted band and it worked out and I just followed in. As a matter of fact, I was already there, because like I said before, at that point I was the HANOI ROCKS bass player.
I recorded the first EP with CHERRY BOMBZ and then we toured in Finland and did some Scandinavian gigs and whatever…But I had never been a bass player before; I think bass is different. Bass players’ world is different, I’ve never felt a bass player. So ANDY told me that they wanted to have DAVE TREGUNNA (LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH/SHAM 69) in the band and it was no problem for me because at the same time I was playing guitar with JOHNNY THUNDERS’ band, COSA NOSTRA, so it wasn’t a big loss for me…

MELODY LANE: Did you also play and record on any Johnny Thunders albums?
TIMO KALTIO:  I was meant to go and record on the QUE SERA SERA album, but I went to Finland for a vacation, and, you know at the time nobody had mobile phones, no internet connections, no email...and JOHNNY THUNDERS' management tried to find me but they couldn't. But they had deadlines, they had to go to the studio to record the album and when I got back in London they told me "Where have you been? We wanted you on the album...". It was such a pity, I was very sorry about that. Then JOHNNY decided to go to tour in America and he didn’t take any of us, any of his band with him. So I stayed in London and you know…JOHNNY THUNDERS in America, THE CHERRY BOMBZ had got a new bass player and I was living with the ex sound engineer of HANOI ROCKS, but then he moved to his girlfriend’s place and I couldn’t pay for the whole house. So I got no home, I got no band, I had run out of  money…At that point I decided to join THE CHERRY BOMBZ as their roadie, for their USA tour, just to make some money.

MELODY LANE: I think that THE CHERRY BOMBZ opened for POISON... right?
TIMO KALTIO: Yes, just one gig in Los Angeles…and I remember looking at POISON during the sound-check while they practiced those stupid movements on stage…and I said  "They'll never make it"...Oh my God how wrong was I? Ah ah ah…You know in THE CHERRY BOMBZ there were former members of THE CLASH, SHAM 69 and HANOI ROCKS, you can easily understand the difference of attitude and style...

MELODY LANE: …And after the tour?
TIMO KALTIO: Well, at the end of the tour, if I’m not wrong we were in New York, on the way to the airport Richard Bishop, who was the manager of THE CHERRY BOMBZ, asked me “Ok I need to buy you a ticket home; are you going to London or going to Finland?”…And I answered: “Los Angeles…I know some people there”.  I wanted to go to Los Angeles just to visit some friends and to see what was happening over there. It ended up that I stayed there for five years.The only thing I owned and took with me was my guitar, a BLONDE EPIPHONE, that ANDY McCOY gave me when we toured Japan with HANOI ROCKS. My guitar was everything I had. I did audition for the BROKEN HOMES with that guitar, I did jam with STRONZO and MARC FORD, and I had nothing but that guitar. I was at a point that I was living in a car, sometimes with no food, I was like 51 kilos, skinny and when I had one or two dollars I had to choose if to buy Mexican burritos or Marlboro cigarettes but I never sold my guitar and I still have that guitar here with me.

MELODY LANE: A couple of curiosities. First one: some time ago we interviewed SPIKE, THE QUIREBOYS front-man, and he told us that at the beginning of their career THE QUIREBOYS played with THE CHERRY BOMBZ in the UK ... What can you tell us about that period?
TIMO KALTIO:  Yes, QUIREBOYS opened for THE CHERRY BOMBZ and it was the period that I was working as a roadie for THE CHERRY BOMBZ, it was just before THE CHERRY BOMBZ's American tour. GUY BAYLEY and SPIKE, cool guys, they asked me to join QUIREBOYS. But, as I told you before, I had no money and I was working with THE CHERRY BOMBZ as a roadie to try to make some money, there was nothing else I could do. QUIREBOYS couldn't offer me any money in that period, so I would have loved to play with them, it would have been such a great gig, I really liked that band and I still like them, they 're such a great band, but at that time, I had no home, I slept on some friend’s floor…so I said " Ok, let me do this tour in America, and then I'll come back and if you still need a guitar player then I'll come in...", but then, as I told you, after that tour I didn't come back in Europe and I moved to Los Angeles...and that was all...

MELODY LANE:Second one: a little while ago, among the bands you were a part of, you mentioned STRONZO, a band with a very weird name. What can you tell me about this band or project, which I have often heard about?
TIMO KALTIO: Oh yes, also LES RIGGS, our drummer in CHEAP & NASTY, was part of STRONZO. The thing with STRONZO was...It was a cover band composed by so many players, people came in and out all the time. We started the band and started playing covers because we got bored, because everyone was on a break: SAMI YAFFA was with JETBOY with MCA records, MARC FORD was with BURNING TREE with EPIC records and they both had a break; the guys in BROKEN HOMES had a break too, no one had anything to do, so we all put this band together but we couldn't get signed because everyone was signed already on a label and all had their own it was just for fun...And it ended up when JETBOY and BROKEN HOMES started to do their things again...that was the end of STRONZO...

MELODY LANE: Before we get to talk about CHEAP & NASTY, which represent the main chapter of your career, we cannot fail to discuss the subject IZZY STRADLIN, your friend and legendary guitarist co-founder of GUNS 'n' ROSES. Tell us how you met IZZY ...
TIMO KALTIO: I first met IZZY when HANOI ROCKS were on tour in America in 1984. IZZY knew about HANOI ROCKS even if they were quite new to the US, not so many people knew them. One day, I think it was in Chicago, you know, there was always two dressing rooms, one for the band and one for me and the guitars. I found IZZY in the guitar room, he was sitting there and he told me that he had come from Lafayette to see the band. IZZY still lived in Lafayette at that time. So we started talking and I said "Help me up with the guitars and I'll give you a backstage pass". I never let anyone touch the guitars but somehow I knew IZZY was a cool guy, and I trusted him, so we set up all the guitars and IZZY got his backstage pass and he could check out the band. Then after the show we went to the hotel while IZZY had to go home but he didn't have the money for the bus-ticket, so he said  "Can you lend me five dollars?". A funny thing is that years ago I went to America, to write and record a couple of songs that are included on IZZY's album called ‘FIRE, THE ACOUSTIC ALBUM’ (the songs are SEEMS TO ME and BOX), and one night, we were having a drink in a club and we started talking about our first meeting and he said "Hey you know what…I never gave you back that five bucks!" ...Ah ah ah…

MELODY LANE: You co-wrote with IZZY and AXL the song RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO HELL, the opening track of the masterpiece multi-platinum album USE YOUR ILLUSION 1… Tell us about the importance of the song and everything that has come with it for your life ...
TIMO KALTIO: I was at home and IZZY just called me to have a few beers together. And then he started talking to me about a song he was writing but he couldn't figure out the chorus. I had some old songs of mine, I’ve always been writing music all the time, and the chorus of one of those songs seemed to work with the part that IZZY had written…Then after a few years, in the meanwhile I had moved to London with CHEAP & NASTY, IZZY called me and he told me they were about to release a new album with GUNS and that they needed my permission to use the track. You know one day he came to London, in the studio where we were rehearsing with CHEAP & NASTY, and he gave me his headphones and he played me the song he had on a cassette to know what I thought. At the time the working-title of the song was MARK SO SIMPLE but then it became RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO HELL, after AXL put down the lyrics. Things happen and sure this is one of those things that change  your life, clearly for the better. USE YOUR ILLUSION 1, a platinum album, millions of copies sold, before that song practically nobody knew me, after that things have changed a bit and I have also been able to afford a more comfortable home and a slightly larger car, let's say a four-door car ah ah ah ... Some time later, IZZY called me and told me they were going to play at WEMBLEY stadium, summer 1991 ... and he invited me and the guys from CHEAP & NASTY along with other friends to the concert…we were on the VIP list with royal tickets, yeah!

MELODY LANE: Have you ever talked to IZZY about the controversy over the title of the song WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE? ... Was it taken from the verse of the song UNDERWATER WORLD by HANOI ROCKS? “…”Welcome to the ocean, Welcome to the sea, Welcome to the jungle, Deep inside of me…”
Well, I don't know, yeah, it just happened to talk about it ... As far as I know IZZY didn't really agree with using the words WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE because it seemed like they were ripping something from HANOI ROCKS but AXL always claimed that those words came from the title of a book he was reading at the time, and that HANOI song had nothing to do with that. Honestly I don't know the book, I tried to look for it on the web but I never found it; anyway what I know for sure is that GUNS were big fans of HANOI ROCKS and that verse is pretty clear ... But who knows?

MELODY LANE: Let’s focus now on CHEAP & NASTY…I don’t know very much about your first bass player MIKE FINN…
TIMO KALTIO: Well, MIKE FINN before joining us played in a band called THE UNFORGIVEN. We started CHEAP & NASTY with him but then when things started moving, and we decided to move the band to London to reach NASTY,  MIKE FINN didn't want to come with us. He decided to remain in America because, you know…he was a teacher, he had got a job there…and then he's American and he wanted to stay in America…and that’s all.   

MELODY LANE: I know that you and ALVIN GIBBS before playing together in CHEAP & NASTY had already played together in a band in Los Angeles? What can you tell us about…?
TIMO KALTIO: Yes, I knew ALVIN GIBBS already from London, actually I first met ALVIN in Finland back in the late 70’s when U.K.SUBS came over to Finland. After I moved to Los Angeles ,I heard he was in Los Angeles too…he was playing with this band called REVOLVER and I went to see them, I just wanted to say hello but then they told me they needed a second guitarist and so they asked me to come and join in and offered me the job. We just played small gigs, we never recorded...then I don’t remember if the singer decided to move back to New York or it was the fact that ALVIN started playing with IGGY POP…anyway…the band dissolved...but you know…bands come and go.

MELODY LANE:  Is it true that it was your friend JIMMY ASHHURST, (known for having been the bassist of THE BROKEN HOMES, IZZY STRADLIN 'JU JU HOUNDS and later BUCKCHERRY), who brought NASTY to your house when he moved to Los Angeles?
TIMO KALTIO: Yes, they totally surprised me, I really didn’t know that NASTY was coming. JIMMY knocked at my door and said “Hey there’s a friends of yours who’d like to see you”…And I looked out the door and I saw NASTY coming up from the staircase and he said “ Hey I wanna put a band together and you’re my guitar player ”…

MELODY LANE: And so NASTY was finally putting 'his band' together ... Finally he could move freely as a composer and as a front-man ... Let's say that in both HANOI ROCKS and THE CHERRY BOMBZ, he had always lived in the shadow of ANDY McCOY, who has always been considered the main composer ... Maybe it was also a little frustrating for NASTY ... What do you think about?
TIMO KALTIO: I know that NASTY and also MICHAEL tried to write and to submit some of their songs during HANOI ROCKS days but, you know, they were different songs from what HANOI ROCKS was all about… If you listen to almost any HANOI ROCKS’ song, (maybe not TAXI DRIVER because that’s a simple song), there are lots of different parts and that’s ANDY…It happened that everybody came up with anything, with some idea…and ANDY went like “ Yeah…and then we put this part…and then this part…and this part and then…” and so eventually it ended up being ANDY’s song…do you know what I mean? In HANOI ROCKS I just worked as a roadie, so I wasn’t involved in that part…but at the same time I can say that the band was ‘so much ANDY’…But what I could see, in HANOI ROCKS, was that everyone was perfectly happy with ANDY writing the songs, because they were always great songs that worked out good. I used to say the same back in HANOI ROCKS days. NASTY is a great guitar player, try to listen to the solo of MILLION MILES AWAY: that’s NASTY! ANDY and NASTY had a different kind of style; ANDY’s playing was very flashy, while NASTY’d got the melody. NASTY’s guitar is like a red line that you follow all the time, while ANDY with his style is…is everywhere…D’you know what I mean? So… Well… I don’t know if NASTY was frustrated about it, I don’t think…of course NASTY was frustrated from the fact that after THE CHERRY BOMBZ there was nothing going on…He had to do something… NASTY always had ideas and I remember when we were touring with HANOI ROCKS… NASTY and I always used to sit in the hotel rooms and jam together for hours and NASTY always had riffs and ideas …and it was actually when NASTY was back in Finland at home that NASTY’s dad came with a 4 tracks recorder and said “ Go to the garage, I’ll drive the car out from there, you take the garage and put these songs down!”… So with those songs we started CHEAP & NASTY but then, for what concerned the writing process, it became really a sort of ‘democratic situation’. When we moved to England ALVIN GIBBS joined the band and we started writing songs together. Of course NASTY had a lot of songs but we all wrote, the albums were really a sort of team effort…And we got a record deal with CHINA RECORDS. 

MELODY LANE: In confirmation of what you say there is for example the fact that BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, which was a single, video and title-track, was a song written by you and Alvin ... In my opinion, I think it is a clear proof of the importance and of the contribution of each member of the band ... Can you tell me something about the song?
TIMO KALTIO:  I had this idea in my mind, this melody, that I saw it was gonna be a chorus, but then I played it to ALVIN and he was like “ No no…that’s a verse”…And so we started working on the music and then ALVIN had this ‘BEAUTIFUL DISASTER thing’ that came to him when he was watching a silent movie of LOUISE BROOKS and then some documentary about this actress and there ALVIN heard those words “…Oh she’s such a beautiful disaster…”. That’s why on the cover of the single we got the picture of LOUISE BROOKS. 

MELODY LANE: Can you tell us something about the end of the band? Were you disappointed with NASTY's choice to pull the plug? Did he surprise you all? ... Was the band working on new stuff in that period right?
TIMO KALTIO: Oh, I was very disappointed. At the time we were a really good band, we were doing great, we were also offered another record deal from PONY CANYON, the Japanese record label. We would have had money, we could have carried on. But Nasty decided to change his life, he stayed in Japan, then he wanted to return to Finland, to start studying again. For a while he played with MICHAEL MONROE in DEMOLITION23, but there it was a completely different situation, there was less pressure, he wasn't the front-man, he was just the guitarist for the tour ... Anyway I couldn't blame him, I was happy for him for what he decided to do, he just chose to do what he felt was right for him, there was little to do or say about it ...You can’t be in a band if your heart is not in it, if it’s not what you really want to do. I was very disappointed, me and NASTY started the band in L.A. and we went through so much and so good times and great songs, the albums, the tours… and writing stuff together…then, suddenly, it was over…we could have done one more album and then all at once, nothing…all disappeared… Yes, as I told you we were writing for the new album and we already had songs that we were rehearsing for the new record, and some of that stuff ended up in NASTY’s solo album VINEGEAR BLOOD. A couple or maybe three songs on that album were  co-written with ALVIN GIBBS and LES RIGGS… 

MELODY LANE: A few months ago we had a wonderful interview with ALVIN GIBBS, he told us that there are possibilities of a re-union, that you all started talking about it ... in short, something has started to move? It would be great...
TIMO KALTIO: Yes, it would be great. Well NASTY and I were talking on Facebook, then NASTY talked with ALVIN and then LES got involved, and so…now… we got this group-chat going on. We started working on some new stuff, so things are slowly moving...We are not in a rush, we would definitely like to write new music, so It wouldn’t be just a reunion to play the old songs. This is the plan; after the pandemic…we will see what will happen.

MELODY LANE: Timo, unfortunately time flies and we have to close the interview, just enough time for one last question. In your, to say the least, fantastic career, you have had the opportunity to work with exceptional musicians and composers, artists who have become legendary for this genre of music, I think of JOHNNY THUNDERS, IZZY STRADLIN, ANDY McCOY, ARTHUR KANE ... What is the experience you remember with the most pleasure and do you have any regrets?
TIMO KALTIO: Personally when I was in THE CHERRY BOMBZ I felt like I was THE CHERRY BOMBZ's bass player and when I played with JOHNNY THUNDERS I felt like I was JOHNNY THUNDERS' guitar player, I was ARTUR KANE's guitar player, and I did jams with MARC FORD and JIMMY ASHHURST...and I played with IZZY in California…but CHEAP & NASTY was my band...D’you know what I mean? That's the great difference. That was my band. I wish I had had more bands but, afterwards, I‘ve had three kids so I had to start to make regular money so that I could pay for a house and for all other things...So, maybe, a little regret is that if CHEAP & NASTY had done just one more album perhaps things could have gone differently; it was such a pity because the material was already there, everything was there, but who knows? But I completely understood NASTY, as I told before, it was his life and we all had to respect the fact the he wanted to change and he did great after that and he’s doing great no problem. But we remain optimistic and confident that perhaps CHEAP & NASTY are slowly coming back and there will be fun and good times together again.

MELODY LANE: Thank you TIMO, you ‘re so kind! We hope to hear from you soon and we are confident in the CHEAP & NASTY’s reunion…We’ll keep our fingers crossed!!!
TIMO KALTIO: You’re welcome! Stay safe and all the best!!!