From page 20 of Classic Rock Magazine December 2000
Y ou supported Mel C? "Yes." The Spice Girl? "Yes" So is she... or isn't she?
There's a pause... then Snowdogs singer and guitarist Ville Leppanen grins sheepishly, before offering a considered, "We didn't really get to meet her. I walked past her and we both said 'Hello' but that was it, really. So in answer to your question, I don't know."
Oh well, never hurts to ask, does it? Amazingly, Ville Leppanen and his band, energetic and engaging trio the Snowdogs, found themselves supporting the Spicy diva at her first solo gig at Liverpool's Theatre Royal.
"We just got this call asking us if we were up for it," he says. "I think they wanted a bona fide rock band to open for her to give her gig some sort of credibility. We were told by her people that there was the chance of a few more dates on the tour as long as we didn't say anything dodgy to the press. We were interviewed by the Melody Maker who asked us what it was like and all we could think of to really say was that the food was good backstage. After that we were told our services were no longer required."
You're probably wondering how this hitherto unknown trio, clearly with Finnish connections, ended up playing second string to the Scouse Spice Girl.
"We've been going for about three years," explains Ville, whose excellent command of the English language gives away a nomadic existence around the globe thanks to "my father's job".
"We'd done some small tours off our own back and had recorded our own mini-CD on a friend's 16-track in his front room," he continues. "That came to the attention of Ian Grant, who manages Big Country, and who had resurrected Track Records, the label that put out the Who's early records. Basically, Ian said that he liked what he heard and wanted to sign us as the first band to his new label." What this doesn't tell you is the tale of a dissatisfied youth, sitting out a miserable existence in what he saw as a dead-end job and deciding to actually do something about those dreams of stardom. No, don't laugh at the back, it's actually true. And it all came to pass with the aid of one of the rock world's very biggest stars, albeit unknowingly...
"I was working in this Finnish hotel," explains Ville, "and one morning this guy came down from breakfast. At first I didn't pay him much attention and then I realised who it was. Axl Rose! He just seemed so cool, like he didn't have a care in the world. I looked at how he was and then at myself and realised that to get what I wanted I'd have to do something about it. So I went home and told my parents that I was quitting my job and was off to England to make it as a musician."
With Ville went younger brother Mat. Not long after their arrival they found Sicilian drummer Tano Di Jaco, who'd fled national service in his native Italy, and with likemind, hotfooted it to London to seek his fortune as a drummer.
Since then, things have fairly whipped along, and the trio have just released their debut album, 'Animal Farm', through Track. There have also been support slots with acts like At The Drive-In, Blink 182 and Less Than Jake, with the trio's single 'Are You With Missy' being acclaimed as the Radio One roadshow's Record Of The Week. And that sort of impetus should bring a few more a few more high profile gigs, like the one with Sporty Spice.
And talking of which, Ville?... Ville?! Oh, he's scarpered...
WHAT'S THE STORY?
WHO ARE THEY?
Finnish brothers Ville and Mat Leppanen on guitar/vocals and bass respectively, along with Italian drummer Tano DI Jaco.
WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?
They're compared to US punk-pop acts like Green Day and Offspring. But the Snowdogs' more pure pop sensibility really sets them apart.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Any band that jacks in life in their homeland and heads off to London with rock star aspirations and then actually follows them through is deserving of a certain amount of your attention.
HOW CAN I CHECK 'EM OUT?
Their debut album, 'Animal Farm', has just been released on Track Records, and there touring. See dates on p.14.