"Thirsty Thursday" Featuring Finland's Tom Tikka from The Impersonators
Thank you for chatting with us! For newer fans, how did your passion for music and career come about? My passion for music was instilled in me by my parents. I have told the story of hearing Paul Anka’s “Lonely Boy” in my dad’s car when I was six a few times but that was really the start. Something clicked that afternoon and I realized I wanted to become a songwriter. It’s a great track and I remember being impressed by the powerful Latin-influenced chorus and Anka’s double-tracked lead vocal. But I was so small then. My decision to try to make music my career came a bit later when I was in my teens. I remember watching reruns of Elvis and Beatles movies and being very impressed by all the female attention these guys were getting. I remember thinking, “this is a very cool job!” That’s how it really all began.
What song that you have recorded means the most to you and why? They are all very special to me. It’s hard to choose a favorite but I’m truly proud of the Missing Hubcaps’ track “What Is Love?” I really love how that came together. I like everything about it. It turned out exactly how I envisioned it. Lyric wise, it’s a very personal song but I also love all the different segments in it. Yeah, I’m immensely proud of it.
Where do you draw inspiration from when writing? I suppose my own life and whatever is happening around me. I like “me” songs, if you know what I mean. Even if I write in the third person, the lyrics are going to be based on something that’s happened to me. Lyrically-speaking, I’ve never laid down a lie. I stand by what I write. My lyrics are not projections, they could each have a little box next to them saying, “based on a true story.” Melodies I work on for a long time. A melody I finished the other day, I began seven years ago. Now it’s done. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you get lucky and you finish a song in one sitting but roughly half the time, you just sort of leave them simmering. You might have a great chorus but the verse isn’t ideal or the other way around. I probably have about three hundred unfinished melodies on my cellphone waiting for me to wrap them up.
Is there anyone in your family that you can credit as being instrumental in your decision to go into the music field? I suppose my dad. He was always pushing me to do better, to write better songs and to learn to sing better. He taught me how to harmonize. We’d spend hours analyzing The Beach Boys and The Byrds. He explained what was happening on the records, showed me the parts they were singing. Another important person was my aunt’s husband Timo Oinonen who taught me how to play lead guitar. Great memories!
Was there ever music playing in the kitchen growing up? All the time. My parents loved music. There was always something on. My dad had a tape player in the kitchen and I remember listening to music with him while helping him out with the cooking. I think we listened to all the CCR albums in the kitchen about a hundred times. His favorite one was Pendulum. It’s a great album! One special memory comes to mind. My dad and I were making lasagna. This was the late eighties. Keith Richards’ Talk Is Cheap had just come out. He had bought it on the day it was released. We listened to the album quite a few times that night and my dad told me how he had seen the Stones in the sixties. My dad was a wee bit toasted and started singing over "How I Wish." All of a sudden all the lights went out and the music died. My mom had turned the power off from the circuit breaker. She had gone to bed a few hours before and had decided that we were making too much noise. I remember that my dad and I just cracked up. We were laughing and laughing. “I think we’d better turn in, son,” my dad said. We giggled while walking in the dark, running into the furniture, trying to find our way to our bedrooms.
What is an example of a menu you would prepare if I came over? For starters, I’d serve sweet potato soup. For the main dish, smoked salmon with boiled potatoes and chanterelle sauce, maybe some green beans on the side. The dessert would be carrot cake with caramel sauce. This would be pretty much my favorite menu. Also, I love preparing it: making a fire and smoking the salmon etc. I always have a few drinks when I’m doing that. I’d smoke the salmon and bake the cake the night before, listen to some music. Hopefully my eldest son would hang out with me, we’d have a great time.
What is your favorite breakfast? Well, it’s bacon, eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. I love that stuff. Too bad I don’t eat it very often! What I usually eat in the mornings these days is yoghurt and muesli. I like that too but let’s face it, if the other breakfast didn’t kill you, I would choose that over muesli any day. Also, I do watch my weight. That’s the other reason.
What's your favorite cooking show? It’s Kitchen Nightmares. I think Gordon Ramsay is very cool and this show really has it all: a lot of drama, tension, excitement, great recipes and also, you get to see how the decor of the restaurants improves. It’s quite a multifaceted show. My son watches the reruns currently and loves it as well.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs? Well, I’m hoping they remind folks that life very seldom resembles Disney fantasies and that that’s okay. Your life doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be enjoyable and rewarding. People look for perfection too often. I don’t get it. Perfection is boring to me. All the best stories that I have about my life are the ones where things didn’t go right. To me, this is the true spice of life. Like the time when I forgot to pull the damper out before I lit up a fire in the fireplace. I was in my early twenties. The flames and the smoke began to pour into our living room. My ex-wife was in the kitchen and I called out to her in panic, asking her to bring some water to me quickly. I didn’t specify what I wanted the water for, so she showed up with a tiny glass of water for me to drink! When she realized why I had asked for the water, she turned around quickly and came back with a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water. Problem solved.
If you could be sponsored by one food/drink brand who would it be and why? I'd love to be sponsored by Snapple. Snapple iced tea is something that I've been consuming since I was a kid. I love Snapple products and it's also something that my parents always had in the fridge.
Lots of great and funny memories spring to mind when I see Snapple bottles at grocery stores. My dad used to steal my Snapple drinks for his Long Island iced teas and joked around saying that Snapple brings a smile on a guy's face.
Tom Tikka picked up the guitar at the tender age of six after hearing Paul Anka's "Lonely Boy" in his father's old Chevrolet. Soon afterwards, he began writing songs. Tom's infatuation with music only deepened after his aunt's husband introduced him to the concept of lead guitar and even more importantly to the music of such legendary groups as The Beatles and The Doors.
Tikka formed almost as many groups as he disbanded in his late teens and early twenties. Yet, when he finally signed his first recording contract on his 21st birthday, it was a solo deal and not a band effort. He recorded a three-song EP for Olarin Musiikki, a small indie label in Espoo (Finland), under the alias of Tom Spark. Unfortunately, the EP disappeared as quickly as it was released. Consequently, Tikka found himself in square one, without a band or a record deal.
Disappointed, Tikka withdrew from music for a few years but began writing songs again once his brother Lappe Holopainen suggested that they form a songwriting team. Lappe had founded a group he was convinced would go far and he needed tunes for his new outfit. This group was Carmen Gray.
Carmen Gray was signed to Sony/BMG in 2005 and during the next nine years, they went on to record three albums and one EP. The group's entire catalog (including such radio hits as "Lost In My Mind Again", "Gates Of Loneliness" & "Life Can Be Beautiful") was penned by Tom Tikka & Lappe Holopainen.
After Carmen Gray disbanded in 2013, Tikka formed his current group The Impersonators with poet Antti Autio. In 2017, The Impersonators signed with FBP Music Group, a German label based out of Frankfurt. Together with their producer Janne Saksa, The Impersonators have released tunes to rave reviews and a considerable amount of radio attention.
In 2020, Tikka began working with MTS Records and released a solo EP titled "Working Class Voodoo" under the name Tom Tikka And The Missing Hubcaps. On this self-produced venture, Tikka plays and sings everything himself. It featured the UK iTunes chart hit title single. On July 31, 2020, Tikka & The Hubcaps will release the “Insane” EP on MTS Records.