22-Pistepirkko

You always kept a very clear principle: make it
your own way. In the early days, did you expect to get this far, to reach the
25th anniversary?

Asko: Yes
and no. When the first ten years were done, we were very surprised: “Wow, it
has lasted this long”. But then the 15th anniversary was nothing special. We
didn’t notice the 20th anniversary, but the 25th… we like it! When we formed
the band, we had the dream of becoming professionals and having this band for a
long time. We were lucky.

 

{mosimage}Do you consider your legacy as a classic
already?

P-K: We are
not the right people to answer that. We are still working on it and hopefully someday,
someone will come and tell us “you just made a classic”. If it’s not going to
happen, we are not going to stop because of that.

Asko: I
like many of our songs. I don’t know if they are classics, but I just like
them.

 

Your first album, Piano, rumpu ja kukka (1984),
came out when Hanoi Rocks was on the top, internationally releasing
Two steps from the move produced by Bob Ezrin in the United States.
How do you think your first album was received in the middle of that glam-rock
scene?

Asko: Some
people were happy that there was an alternative, but the record didn’t sell.

P-K: I’m not
so surprised because even when there are some nice moments, it is not so good.
We had some positive feedback and a lot of negative feedback, but we expected
that in a way. It wasn’t a surprise.

 

That first record is in Finnish, but since then
you changed completely to English. How was that decided?

PK: The
reason for changing our language was pretty natural. Almost from day one, one
of our aims was that we should play somewhere else than in Finland. It is
easier to do it if you use an international language like English.

 

Your sound has evolved, using more and more
technology and spending lots of hours in the studio. Do you like studio work?

Asko: Yes. Our
second album The kings of Hong Kong
took eight months. Even when it sounds so primitive and simple, there is a lot
of studio work behind it. There were lots of trials and experiments. That’s
when we realized that studio work can be great. In every record it is nice to
try something new.

 

Every new record seemed to have more
electronics and programming. How did you start going in that direction?

Asko: When
we started the band, we had those little Casios. Not really instruments, but we
could get some bits out of it. We were composing songs from those machines and
then we wanted to have a rock-and-roll band, so we did those straightforward
records in the beginning. The next step was that we felt that it would be great
to achieve that mixture as a band: electronics and real playing. Maybe it was the
hip hop movement that amazed us. It was so fresh and cool.

 

What songs or artists surprised you at that
time?

P-K: I was
so curious about Run DMC because they were the ones using the loops. I keep on
wondering from where they had gotten those sounds. It was not a drummer, it was
not a beatbox. What was it? After some time I realized that they were using
samples and drum loops. It was extremely interesting and it opened up various
chances for making music. When you are trio you already have a few options for
creating music. If you mix the trio with electronics, you have even more
options. That was the main reason we decided to go with electronics.

 

How do you think this change was received?

Asko: Every
time we have made a change, some people have been very disappointed, some
people have been really happy and some people have cared only about the song, but
not about how the song was made. Some fans left us, some new ones came and some
people came back. For example with Rally
of Love
(2001) there were people coming to us and saying “Hey, I like it,
the last one I heard from you was Big
Lupu
(1992)”. After that album some others said: Yuck!

 

While recording, did you put some limits on yourselves
so you didn’t lose fans?

Asko: We
don’t care about the fans in that sense. We think about ourselves. Are we
happy? You have to be happy and inspired, that’s the main thing. If we come up
with the kind of records that we like, maybe some other people like them too.

 

There is a long history of brothers being in
bands and having a love-hate relationship. How does it work in your case?

P-K: It is
very simple and clear because we don’t have to pretend. We can be extremely
straight with each other and even rude, because we respect each other. We can
say whatever because we are just trying to make things go ahead. It is nothing
personal, but if it ends up being personal we can discuss it and solve it.

Asko: We
work for the music and the music is bigger than us.

P-K: The
secret as well is that we don’t have to spend our free time together. Then we
don’t have to see each other so much, we get our privacy. Generally speaking,
it has been nice.

Asko: We
are different enough.

 

Some time ago you had a big fight on-stage in
Austria
.

Asko: I
like those fights. They are great! It just happens. Sometimes we fight.

 

Does your being brothers affect your relationships
with the other member of the band, Espe?

P-K: We are
trying not to be too close when it has to do with Espe, but it can be
frustrating because Asko and I can communicate without speaking. Espe can do it
but not at the same level. Not so smoothly because Asko and I share the same
blood.

 

Side projects

Currently you both are working on other bands
and side projects. What can you tell us about that?

Asko: There
are three bands for each of us. Each band has a different approach. P-K has
this great duo with Janko and I have You & Me with Marjatta Oja. It’s beautiful. We also have The Others, which is
22-Pistepirkko’s alter ago for playing covers. The Others is very straight,
jukebox rock and roll. It’s a bit like when Pistepirkko started; we played a
lot in students’ parties and it was great. The Others is our party band.

 

Do these projects give you the freedom you
can’t get with Pistepirkko?

Asko:
Somehow. When I’m doing music with Marjatta it is different because she’s a
different person. It’s a new thing.

P-K: For me
the most enjoyable thing, and the most inspiring thing, is to be surrounded
with different kinds of music. That’s the reason for me to have different
projects. We are thinking all the time about music.

Asko: It
helps Pistepirkko to stay fresh.

 

The You & Me project is with your
girlfriend. How did it start?

Asko: I’m
going steady with her. She’s a visual artist. When we met she said she always
dreamed of having a band. One day I told her, hey, let’s have a band, let’s
have this electro duo. I had this machine that we didn’t like with Pistepirkko.
It was like having a new toy at home so I decided to use it. Then I told
Marjatta, “You will play guitar”. She was surprised and replied “me, guitar?” “Yeah,
that’s it”, I said and we started. It has opened my creativity as a composer.

 

Did you ever think about expanding the trio
with more members?

Asko: Not
at the moment. I would like sometimes to have some extra people that could come
and play with us sometimes, especially when we play as The Others. We would
like to have Marjo Leinonen singing with us, and also a lap steel guitar player.
We could a litlte bit of blues and country.

 

{mosimage}Films and music

Your band has been very active with music
videos and even scoring films. Is it fun to create music for a movie?

P-K: We did
it some years ago for the movie Downhill City
(1999). It was great and we are working on it again. When we started to make
music for Downhill City, it was like
a dream come true. We always thought that it would be nice to try. We had the
chance and it was good. You don’t have to think in terms of a song; you can
create any piece of music that is suitable for the movie. It’s interesting and
demanding at the same time.

Asko: Now
we are working in a new movie with director Vesa Manninen. The working title is Viiskyt tonttua (Fifty Thousand
Euros
).

 

Did you have the chance to plan the music
before the movie was shot?

P-K: In
both cases, we had the chance to see the script and talk with the director, who
said he wanted this kind of music and afterwards we play him our music and he
says what he likes and what cannot work. It’s just cooperation.

Asko: Of
this new movie I have seen the raw material. Actually I’ve been acting; I’m one
of the bad boys.

 

In 2005 you released a DVD entitled Sleep Good, Rock Well that shows 22-Pistepirkko on a tour
spanning 50 concerts in 50 days. How did this project start?

Asko: The
director, Andreas Haaning Christiansen,
is a friend of ours, from Denmark. At that time in 2001, he was between
projects and we told him to come and jump on our tour bus. He asked what he
going to do there. We replied that we should just make a film. He spent four
years editing the film. As with all the Pistepirkko projects, it was a slow
process.

 

Was it hard to have the camera around?

P-K: Since
he is a close friend of ours and the deal was pretty clear, it was easy. From
the very beginning we told him there was a clear rule – if the camera starts to
be annoying, here's a ticket back to Copenhagen.

Asko: It
was nice to have his Danish sense of humour around. When Finnish people are on
tour for many people, it is good to have someone from outside.

Asko: But
it’s good to have Espe around. He can come and say “hey, guys, cut the crap”.