Sometimes it feels like the age of classic rock bands is over, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find plenty of exciting bands to satisfy the thirst for a dose of shredding.

Hailing from Helsinki Santa Cruz are one of those bands. Head of their latest album Bad Blood Rising coming out on the 10th of November, guitarist Johnny Cruz took some time out to answer a few questions.


For those who don’t know, could you give a brief overview to Santa Cruz?

Santa Cruz is a hard rock band that I started with our vocalist and other guitarist Archie back in 2007. We had a shared vision to create a band that has bigger than life choruses, the best riffs and sickest shred solos. I think we’ve managed to do that pretty well.

From a guitar playing standpoint, who have been your main inspirations?

My biggest inspirations were Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Nuno Bettencourt, Zakk wylde and Alexi Laiho.

Did you learn to play guitar the traditional way?

I taught myself for 5 years just playing songs and learning solos, but after that I took lessons for few years.

What gear do you use and does your selection differ much from the studio to your live shows? Is it all Les Pauls and Marshalls or do you mix things up a bit from time to time?

I use a Gibson Les Paul ’59 reissue mostly, then soldano pre amp and vht 50/50 as a power amp through Marshall cabs, and I also used the exact same setup in the studio, with the addition of pedals if needed to make different noises.

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You guys are touring quite a bit over the coming months – are you looking forward to coming to the UK?

Definitely! The UK was our first tour abroad and were recognized outside Finland. I think there’s a good rock/metal scene also.

What’s the music scene like in Helsinki? Are there good opportunities for new bands?

You just need to be fucking great live band and have the best songs. There is no easy way.

If you had to learn to play from scratch, is there anything you would recommend to your younger self?

I don’t think so, if you get too many shortcuts, you won’t respect the playing ability that much. Sometimes it’s good to play until your fingers bleed cause when you finally nail some difficult solo after rehearsing many days, you’ll feel fucking amazing!

See Santa Cruz on tour in the UK through December:

05.12. Nottingham, UK – Rescue Rooms
06.12. Milton Keynes, UK – Crauford Arms
07.12. Grimsby, UK – Yardbirds
08.12. Sheffield, UK – Corporation
09.12. Birmingham, UK – The Flapper
10.12. Glasgow, UK – Cathouse
12.12. Manchester, UK – Academy 3
13.12. London, UK – Underworld
14.12. Chester, UK – The Live Rooms
15.12. Swansea, UK – Sin City
16.12. Bournemouth, UK – Anvil
17.12. Norwich, UK – Waterfront