In Search Of Tone: Tommi Holappa Of Dozer & Greenleaf

My buddy Erik introduced me to a lot of bands over the years. It started in middle school when he would burn me CDs to listen to and to this day we still share music. There have been some great bands he’s told me about over the years but Dozer has to be one of my favorites.

Tommi Holappa / Greenleaf - Photo by JJ Koczan
Tommi Holappa / Greenleaf – Photo by JJ Koczan

When I started this interview series, I wrote down some musicians that I wanted to interview; Tommi Holappa was at the top of my list. He lays down the incredible riffs in not one, but two of my favorite bands. Greenleaf and Dozer are a must listen for me on a daily basis. Thanks Tommi for agreeing to do this interview it’s truly an awesome experience.

Playing guitar in two bands is pretty awesome. When those bands are Dozer and Greenleaf, well, it doesn’t get much better. What is your writing process like typically and does it differ between each band?

The song writing process doesn’t differ that much between the two bands.  In Greenleaf most of the time I work on ideas at home on my acoustic guitar and then play it to the rest of the guys at rehearsals. Usually I never bring in a whole song idea anymore because it never ends up sounding the way I hear it in my head anyways, so a riff or two and then we jam on it, work out the different parts together and if we are lucky at the end of the rehearsal we have a ready song, that’s if we are reeeally lucky hahaha. Sometimes it goes fast and sometimes it can take years for a cool riff to turn into a great song. With Dozer it’s pretty much the same process, except Fredrik [Nordin – rhythm guitar] also works on ideas at home. This is the way that works for us and I think this is a good way to write music because everyone is involved in the song writing process.


With your new Greenleaf album Echoes From A Mass coming out March 26th, was most of this album recorded during the pandemic? Were you guys able to get together, or were you reliant on video meetings? Did this alter the way you guys created the album?

We had a handful of song ideas before the pandemic hit us, but the rest were written and then later recorded during the Covid-19 craziness. Some of us were able to get together for rehearsals since we haven’t had any lockdowns or anything like that during the pandemic here in Sweden. Arvid [Hällagård, vocals] came a handful of times but for Hans [Fröhlich, bass] it was a bit harder. He lives in Berlin, Germany and for him to fly to Sweden during the pandemic wasn’t the easiest, but he managed to come here for two weekends before the recording of the album. So it was mostly me and Sebastian [Olsson, drums] in the rehearsal room working on songs, record the ideas on our phones, send them to Hans and Arvid, who would work on their parts at home and then send recordings back to us. This is the way we wrote most of this album and it turned out pretty damn good if you ask me.

Riffs like Stray Bullet Woman, Good Ol’Goat and Feelgood Formula are just a few of my many favourites from both bands. When writing these riffs/ideas, how do you know they’re a keeper?

I think most of the time you feel when you have a good riff in the works but you will know for sure when you play it together with the rest of the band, if everyone is smiling when you are playing it together for the first time, then you know it’s a keeper!

One day I’ll play something on guitar and the next day attempt to play it again and it’ll sound terrible. I’ll get discouraged and stop playing for a little bit. What do you do on off days and how do you get inspired to play again?

Well, we all have those days… sometimes too many of them hahaha. Most of the time I can get inspired by listening to some good music, but I have also learned that coffee can help, two or three cups of coffee and if you’re lucky you can be on fire! Hahaha!

Tommi Holappa - Amp Rig
Tommi Holappa / Dozer & Greenleaf – Soldano Slo 100 Amp Rig

Do you have a song, or even part of a song from Greenleaf, Dozer, or both, you’re particularly proud of writing and recording?

This is a hard question! With Dozer I think I have to go with the song Big Sky Theory. A very simple and beautiful guitar and vocal melody thing on the choruses, but it sticks to your brain right away and the song is very dynamic. It’s easily one of my favourites to play live. With Greenleaf there are a few as well, hmmmm, damn this is hard to choose just one, but I think I will go with a song called Needle In My Eye from the new album. This one also has one of those guitar melody things that sticks to your head right away and the recording  sounds amazing!

To me, there is definitely a perfect amount of distortion when dialling in your tone. I feel you have mastered that. What amps are you currently using to achieve that perfect fuzz and do they differ from studio recording to live?

I use a Soldano Slo 100. I bought it 8-9 years ago I think and it’s the main amp on the past four Greenleaf albums. I’ve used a couple of different amps for some overdubs and solos, but the most you hear on the albums is the Soldano.

Tommi Holappa - Pedalboard
Tommi Holappa / Dozer & Greenleaf – Pedalboard

Pedals are an interesting topic with some guitarists collecting many different kinds, while others taking the less is more approach. What pedals are you currently using and are any of them custom made for you?

I try to keep it simple, the more pedals you have the more things can break when you are on tour hahaha. And pedals are expensive. But this is what’s on my board now:

– Boss Chromatic Tuner
– Wampler Plexi-Drive
– Himmelstrutz Fetto (Got this a looong time ago from the guy who makes them and I have use it a lot live and on recordings, it’s a killer!)
– Dunlop Fuzzface Mini
– EHX Memory Man Deluxe (no it’s not reeeeeally old, it’s just rusty hahaha)
– EHX Holy Grail Nano
– EHX Wah Wah

Last but not least are the guitars. What are you currently using and do you have a preference in single coil, Humbucker, P90 or active pickups?

Mini Humbuckers since I use pretty much only Gibson Firebirds, I have three of them, I love the sound of them and those guitars just feel right in my hands. I also have a Gobson SG but that one only gets used in the studio sometimes.

Tommi Holappa - Gibson Firebird
Tommi Holappa / Dozer & Greenleaf – Gibson Firebird

Do you have a guitar, amp or pedal that you have had for a long time and will never part with?

Probably my cream white Gibson Firebird from ’75.

Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I really appreciate it! Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for wanting to ask me these questions! Stay healthy!

Dozer are currently supporting their Vultures EP featuring pre-production recordings from 04-05 that’s out now via Heavy Psych Sounds, while Greenleaf will release their new album Echoes From A Mass which drops 26th March through Napalm Records, pre-orders are available now through the labels webstore.

Label: Napalm Records | Heavy Psych Sounds
Dozer: Official | Facebook | Instagram
Greenleaf: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Interviewed by: Josh Schneider