Albums Music

The 69 Eyes – Angels

Which is ironic,
because it is not the biker-gang outfits, tattoos, the black nail polish and
make-up, and the 80s B-movie vampire paraphernalia that will make you remember
this band. It is not the slightly pretentious lyrics about angels, devils and
the "world of rock'n'roll" that's in between them.  It is not even the music, that for the most
part wouldn't sound out of place on the stage of a dusty roadside bar in the
middle of Arizona. It's the vocals of frontman Jyrki 69 – the vocals
that evoke none other than Elvis Presley.

The combination
might sound weird at first. But in practice it works perfectly, as the
grandiose, Elvis-style singing brings just the right theatrical element to the
picture, and makes the goth-touched-rock of the band sound genuine – in every
possible sense of the word. It is energetic, captivating and self-assured, and
even touching (without being cheesy), where need be.

released in the first week of March, is The 69
Eyes' ninth studio album. It features classical-heavy metal band Apocalyptica,
and, in general, eleven songs that would make Axl Rose green with envy
(expect further delay of Chinese Democracy).

Ladies and
gentlemen, the King has left the building. But he'll be back soon, with a crate
of beer and spirits.

Interviews Music

Releasing a violent storm of music

us about your new project, Violent Storm. What is the story behind it?

I have been writing music all my
life, since I was a kid and lived in Argentina. Then I moved to the UK and continued
composing. I did not have much chance to put my composition into performance in
live bands in the UK or the States, because basically I was playing
professionally; backing up other singers, rock bands, then with Ritchie Balckmore,
Malmsteem, and with these two guys you cannot show your own songs much, you
have to play what they tell you to play. So I was accumulating songs all this
time. And I felt it was about time to make my own CD, so I invited some guests
musicians like KK Downing and Malmsteem, and they were happy to collaborate. KK
became more involved producing the album.

Have you worked before with KK?

No. He came to see Yngwee Malmsteem
when we played in Barcelona,
and we met there for the first time. Then we kept in touch, I went to see him
playing with Judas Priest in Miami
and Las Vegas,
and I mentioned to him that I was in this project. I showed him some songs. I
told him that Malmsteem was going to play a couple of songs, and if he would
fancy to play a couple more. He said “sure”, and that is how the thing kicked off.
Then, he wanted to have a little more of input in the project. He has a lot of
suggestions and I welcomed most of them, so he became a producer in the

-Was it a problem not to be often
at the same place, working sending material via the InternetNo, not really. With many bands you
work on distance. You send ideas in MP3 and so on; it is not the old fashion
way of gathering with the band. Of course it is nicer when it is like that, but
logistics have improved, and sometimes schedules are busy. KK was busy with Judas Priest
project, I was busy touring with Malmsteem, and so it had to be done at everybody’s
convenient time.

And the story behind the band’s name? Who came
up with it?

It is a funny story. I liked the violet colour, maybe it also has to do
with the colour purple, since I am a great Deep Purple fan. I figured
out that maybe I could call the project “Violet Storm” but KK told me that he
was not going to be involved in any way in a band with the word Violet in its

So then I called it Violent Storm, that sounds similar, and I think that
sounds great.

Which are your favourite songs in the album?

For me it is difficult to choose because I like all the tracks. I
intended to have quite a lot of diversity. I listen to most of the band's cds,
and then after 2-3 tracks it becomes monotonous, so I tried not to have the
same feeling with my album. I think that all the tracks in the album are very
different. I enjoyed playing and composing all the songs, so I cannot say
“Track number 5 is the one”.  They all
have their own “thing” that I like.

And then it is a funny thing that people who have listened to the album
and critics mention different tracks as favourite ones. For Yngwee, “Empty
Hope” is the favourite because it is the one with more classical stuff, but
some DJs have different ones as favourite.

You did a solo album years ago, Ostinato, and now Violet
Storm. Which one do you feel most satisfied with?

Well, they both come from my creativity. Ostinato was a challenge, to
play classical things with an electric bass, music that was more meant to be
played with a keyboard, so I wanted to see what happened when playing it with
the bass. I had a very nostalgic feeling with that album, and I think that when
I retire, that is the thing I want to do, just to sit in my studio and record
classical stuff.

Any ideas about touring dates for Violent Storm?

We are working on that just at same time we speak. Things will be
confirmed soon, in the next few days. We intend to play all over Europe, including Scandinavia,
Spain, the UK, etc. We are
really eager to take this project on the road.

Are KK Downing and Malmsteem going to appear as guests in some

It would be great if they have time to join us in some of the shows, but
well, we are going to have our own band standing on their own feet. We have to prove
ourselves that we can work as a valid band.

You were recently in Finland
playing three gigs with Malmsteem. How was the experience?

Oh, it was great. Finland
became one of my favourite places in the world. I love the people very much; I
think they are very straightforward, very honest. I do not mind the cold
weather, so I enjoyed it. Although it was not so cold, I was looking forward to
lots of snow… and there was not.

Some people think that a Finnish audience can be a bit cold. Did you
notice anything like that?

Not at all. I really enjoyed the concert and the people’s attitude.

Tell me about this G3 project. How was to be in a project involving,
apart from Malmsteem, Satriani and Vai?

Doing the G3 was an amazing project! You can imagine, with these three guitar
monsters! The musicians in each band were amazing as well, for example Billy
was with Steve Vai´s band. Everybody was as good as it gets, so I felt
really privileged to be in a situation like that. You know you have to do your
best every night; you have to do well and perform well. I really learnt a lot
at that experience.

Malmsteem said literally in the Helsinki press conference that on
stage, he does “whatever the fuck he wants”, meaning that he can change the
song, he can play the way he likes. Is it difficult for you to follow the
performance, or do you enjoy with this way of working, this improvisation?

It is challenging, but well, I was “trained” with Ritchie Blackmore
because I played with him before, and he does similar things. Before you have
time to realise, he plays something that is not even in the set list and you
have not even rehearsed and on the spot, you have to play it! Maybe that is the
reason why Malmsteem likes to get “ex-Blackmore musicians”, because we are all
“well trained”

So after working with Blackmore, there are no big surprises for you
anymore on stage.

Being honest, it keeps the show from being boring. It keeps you on your
toes, because you don’t know what comes up next. I have done gigs when it was
the same list every night, and I almost fell asleep in the middle of the show,
so this is quite different.

I saw some pictures where you are dressed up
in these curious medieval clothes while playing with Blackmore. How was that?
Is it not strange to play, disguised like that?

In the Blackmore experience, he and Candy loved the medieval
things. They tried to put the show in medieval times, so a part is to work with
that kind of clothes…Well, I had never worn tights before, so it was a little
bit different. But well, everybody was in the same boat. Blackmore liked to put
this funny Austrian hat on himself. Sometimes we were hanging out, going to a
pub, and he would put one of those ridiculous hats on me. And people were
watching at me like “what is wrong with this guy???”But well, it is part of the
fantasy of working with Blackmore!

So the fantasy is everywhere, it can be on
stage or even in a pub.

Yeah, he really liked that! In his house, all the decoration is medieval
type! He has an old abandoned park nears his house… He owns lots of medieval
stuff, nothing too dark, but just funny stuff owned by him. So he really enjoys

And in the future, what is going to be next after Violent Storm? Any
possibility of having a second album?

Well, I have sort of being planning this project for a long time, so I'm
going to give this a lot of attention. The next step is touring, and not just
in Europe. The album is going to be released
in America
too, so I am going to be touring in America, and hopefully also in South America, Australia… and everywhere else.
Depending on the response, there would be the possibility of planning a second
album – let’s see.

Do you know how long the tour is going to be?

I expect it to be for a long time. Probably it will be starting in May
through the rest of the years. It could be having gigs for 3-4 weeks, and then
resting for a couple of weeks, and then back on the road. So hopefully it will
be a very extended tour, we need to spread the word and show it in many
different places. So you must come and see it!

Albums Music

The Good, The Bad and the Queen

The result
is a laid back album of pleasant listening. Music floods like calm ocean waves
and pop song structure is exceeded. The songs are moody, even cinematic. Allen
and Simonon, who is back in the music business after 16 years, keep a mellow
groove and Albarn’s singing is melancholic so the album is at risk of falling
into monotony, until the climax of the final song when the band loses the
unsentimental mood.

The album
is produced by Danger Mouse, responsible of Gnarls Barkley’s hit Crazy. Frequent listening will help finding
the rich details of the production and the charm of the compositions. One just
misses a more adventurous way of telling this sad story of a city.

Albums Music

Grinderman – Grinderman

Cave sounds
revitalized, trying to be dark and noisy as he hasn’t been since Henry’s Dream. Grinderman is an
incorrect band, even naughty with a low-fi punk blues approach. The opener
track, 'Get it On', is uplifting and angry in a way that one feels like running
down the streets kicking basket cases and smashing windows.

Grinderman is also the continuation to the previous Nick Cave work, the double
album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus.
The song '(I Don’t Need You To) Set Me Free' would have perfectly fit on that
album. Another connection with previous works is one of those obscure murder
ballads that Cave loves to deliver.

Even when
Grinderman does not bring many new things to his music, it is thrilling to
listen to such a fresh Nick Cave, full of raw energy. The music on this album
promises some very hot live shows.

Interviews Music

The teddy bear sings freakfolk




Your father is British and your mother is
Finnish, but it seems that you strongly identify with your Finnish side (your
band’s name is Nalle – Finnish for “little bear” – and you don’t use your British
surname for your work). Have you lived in Finland or spent much time here?

Yes, my mother is from Iisalmi and my
father from Sussex, where they both live and where I grew up. As a child I
spent my holidays with my Mummo in Iisalmi until she died and then visits to
Finland became less frequent. Two years ago I spent three months living in
Pispala, Tampere whilst on exchange at art school.




I identify with both ‘sides’, but yes, I
guess I yearn for the forests and lakes in Finland and the scent of the air.
They almost remain a fantasy in my dreams when I am not there and a constant
source of inspiration. I use my middle name Tuulikki (in English means little
wind) as my surname because I think its meaning describes me and the things
that I do better than my real surname. 

The band name Nalle came from the name of
my bear I was given by my Mummo and the idea that somehow our music is like a
transition object between us and the world, in the same way that a toy is to a

Your website ( gives a really
great overview of all of your work, which includes music and drawing. As your
artist’s statement highlights, you use various media “to explore music not as
an end in itself but as part of the wider environmental sound-scape”. Why did
you choose art school rather than music school? Who did you study with at the
Glasgow School of Art?

I guess I never really considered myself a
musician. Sure, I played music, but never in public! Aside from learning the
recorder and flute as a child, I have taught myself to sing and play, so music
school was never an option. It was only while at art school that I began to

I went to art school in Glasgow because I
was interested in the environmental art course as something that looks at other
ways of engaging with an audience apart from the gallery space. Whilst there, I
studied with Tanya Eccleson, Justin Carter, Sue Brind and Ross Sinclair. 

Going to art school was great because it
made me think about who I was and what was important to me. I realised that my
connection with nature and music were the things that motivate me and I wanted
a way of combining those things. I started to experiment with playing outside,
listening to and imitating the sounds around me that in my ears, were all
music. When we look at the world, our sense of vision emphasises the distinct
boundaries between phenomena, whereas the sounds that things make are often not
so distinct and sometimes the experience of listening is often one of
perceiving the inseparability of phenomena. So, I guess I like to create sound
worlds that attempt to dissolve certain distinctions between humans, the
environment and animals.

There’s a thought-provoking essay on your
site (by you) on the role of art in ecological sustainability and environmental
change. Are those ideas you continue to deal with in your work? If so, how do
you do that?

I wrote that essay while I was at art
school, where I became very interested in art that can help to create
social/ecological change. There are certain artists around the world who seek
to use their art as means to create pragmatic change, for example to restore
contaminated land and habitats. I really believe in this work, for example the
work of Mel Chin, Alan Sonfist and Helen Mayer, and Newton Harrison. I began to
try and work in a similar way, but felt trapped in politics and felt
disconnected in some ways to the things that really inspire me.

In this time of ecological crisis, I think
it is also important to embrace the tools that we have to remind us of the
sacred. Music or sound are my tools and I have discovered that aural and
musical metaphors can provide us with a means to describe the world in ways
that remind us of our physical connection to the environment. Within my work
now, I seek to find a sonic space where I can almost transcend my humanness or
my sense of self in order to feel a deeper connection, either with other
people, or another species or a particular environment.

{mosimage}Your band, Nalle, released its first album
(By Chance Upon Waking) in 2006. You sing
partially in Finnish, you play the kantele (a traditional Finnish instrument),
and your music fits in nicely with the current Finnish folk scene. Were you
influenced by Finnish folk music? Who are some of your other influences?

On that album I actually don’t sing in
Finnish, but for some reason in some reviews it says that I do. When we play
live I do sing one traditional gypsy song in Finnish (Voi Ruusuni), which we
are currently recording as part of the new album to come out on Locust Records later
this year.

I picked up a kantele when I was living in
Pispala and started recording with it, enjoying the way the wood sits in my
hands and its pure sound. I like the kantele as an instrument and its symbolic
significance in folklore. I have not heard many recordings that use traditional
musical forms, except for PRIMO’s Bear Feast (Karhu Juhla), which I think has
definitely been an influence. I also have a great album of wax cylinder
recordings made in the first part of the 20th century. I like the
simple pentatonic melodies and I love the stories. I have also listened to a
fair bit of Finnish gypsy music and met some great players on my travels.

Other influences range from traditional
folk music from many parts of the world, music of the 60s and 70s folk revival,
60s drone music, free or improvised music and music of the birds.

People have compared you to Joanna Newsom
and Björk, but I find your vocal
experimentation unique. Can you share something about your singing aesthetic?

Yes, that comparison is made too often! I
find this question quite difficult to answer because I don’t really think about
it – I just sing! It is just what feels like the most natural form of
expression. I try to expand the range of sounds I make so that I use my voice as
an instrument and I sing with words to tell stories.

Interviews Music

Metal God’s predictions

“I love
Finland. I was there recently, a couple of weeks ago. I visited to some Finnish
friends who are helping me to put my future website together,“ KK says.

{mosimage}Let us know more
about Violent Storm project, where you recently got pretty involved.

We were on
tour in America,
with Judas Priest, and we had a couple of tours in Miami. We met Mick Cervino there.
Later I met him again in Barcelona.
We went there to see Yngwie Malmsteem´s show. He asked me to play a
couple of songs in his album. Nobody has offered me that before. I said
“maybe”, and when he sent me the record I thought it was pretty cool. So I
played the solo guitars guitar solos and then slowly I got more and more

Did you
enjoy the experience?

Yeah, it was
very interesting to see the whole process. I was not there from the very
beginning, otherwise I could have had even more input. It was a lot of hard
work in the end but I think that for a first album, it sounds good.

They are
going to be touring pretty soon. Any chance you can appear as guest musician in
any gig?

I suppose
that at some point we are going to be on stage with them at a festival or big
concert, so anything can happen.

It would be nice
to see you on stage with them.

Yeah, maybe
they could even open for Judas Priest. You never know what is going to happen. I
think that they would work very well as a support band for Judas or for others
like Black Sabbath.

It was
recently confirmed that they will play at the Sauna Open Air festival next
summer in Tampere, where
Black Sabbath guys will play as well.

I am looking
forward to seeing the band live. After delivering a good record, you have to be
able to show that you can deliver a good live show too.

Focusing on
Judas Priest, the launching of the new album about
Nostradamus is coming
closer. Why this turn toward a conceptual album?

It is a very
good challenge for us. In Judas Priest, we have never been too afraid of
pushing the boundaries and trying new things. We always thought that if we can
bring a wider audience to metal, that's a good thing, because it makes this
kind of music stronger, and this is good for other bands as well. People
complain that heavy metal is boring, but it is funny that every year, the same
classic metal bands are the ones that have the biggest headlines in the festivals.
All in all, Judas Priest are very proud of what we have achieved, and not only
from our band, but also from other bands.

Do you have
any information about the releasing date of the album?

Not yet. For
the moment it is going exceptionally well. We are working very hard on it and
hopefully it will be released soon.

What is the
story behind your first guitar and
Michael Schenker?

U.F.O. was playing on a Saturday night,
this was years and years ago, and I think that Michael saw the flying guitar
that I had, in a little shop window, and the shop was obviously closed because it
was at week end. He went back to London,
and came back to Birmingham
to buy the guitar, but I had bought the same guitar that morning on Monday. So
later when I saw him in Los Angeles,
he told me “That's the guitar that should have been mine!” I said: "too
bad, it's mine now!" That particular guitar… Gibson only made 117
worldwide in 1969, so they were quite rare.

So Michael
has kept reminding you about this every time you met later?

Yes, of
course, yeah. I said: "if I go to my grave first, Michael, I will leave it
to you in my will!"

You also
like collecting cars. If they offer you a choice between a nice guitar and a
nice car, what would you take?

The car! I
can play a cheap guitar, that's fine, but I would take the nice car!

Is true that
Julio Iglesias, the legendary Spanish singer, and Judas Priest
collaborated together once?

Yeah, it is
true. We were recording in Miami,
and Julio came to the studio where we were rehearsing. I think that we released
the song in the bonus track of the Remasters.

He was a
very nice guy indeed. One day a big truck arrived outside the studio, and then
a brand new Ferrari come out of the vehicle: a present for “Mr Iglesias”, sent
by the record company for selling so many records. He got in the car, drove around
the block, and said “too fast for me, I will give it to my son”. I said: "I
will take it, Julio, that's fine for me!"

I want to
see one day that I am in the studio and a truck comes with a Ferrari for me!

We work hard
for it.


You only
need to sell some more million albums, KK…

Features Music

Iskelmä hero travels to Memphis

to Memphis and Graceland is a pilgrimage. It is the same trip he did many years
ago before he joined the army to complete his military service and now the same
trip has been documented by filmmaker Ari Martikainen in Yhden Tähden Hotelli (One
Star Hotel
), which opens in cinemas on March 2nd.


is one of the youngest singers of the 1970's “Finnhits” generation. Born in
1961, he headed his first band when he was 15, but would not make his big breakthrough
until 1992 when he joined the band Agents, which is an important part of iskelmä music.

Iskelmä is
the most genuine form of Finnish popular music. It is a style of melodic and
light popular songs, and the word means “hit”. Most Finns know the list of the
pop stars that kept the iskelmä tradition alive since the 1970s, with names
like Irwin Goodman, Frederik, Jari Sillanpää and Katri-Helena being some of the
most popular.




Along with
the documentary, the singer is releasing his third solo album, also with the
title Yhden Tähden Hotelli. The first
single is Yksinäisten Miesten Kanjoni (Lonely Men Canyon) and the album features a full-size
orchestra conducted by Riku Niemi. For his previous album, Onnenlantti, Jorma Kääriäinen realized a live-long dream by recording
in Nashville and at Sun Studios in Memphis.

Martikainen’s film draws a portrait of the different sides of the singer. The
movie follows Kääriäinen’s path from Lapland to Memphis, and to the backstage
of Finnish dance halls. It is a deep, although warm and humorous, analysis of
the traveling musician.

Agents have decided to have a break for an undetermined time, Jorma Kääriäinen
will tour Finland during the spring and summer with the orchestra of Riku Niemi.
Either attending one of his shows or watching the documentary is the perfect opportunity
to discover this one particular Finnish crooner.

Features Music

That weird guy and his noise

born in Vilppula and educated in art in Lahti, Anssi lives and works in the
remote village of Sahalahti, where he finds strange stories and inspiration
from which to compose his music. Storytelling is a fundamental part of Anssi’s
songs and shows, yet the odd stories and rudimentary instrumentation – thanks
to homemade and worn out equipment – makes him look like a weird troubadour of

Where is
the drummer? There isn’t a drummer. Anssi simultaneously plasy guitar and
drums, producing crude tunes, which sometimes sound as though The White Stripes
are playing Nirvana songs. On stage and on the album, he is occasionally joined
by Miss Hot Coke, who brings some syntheziser, backing vocals and maracas,
hi-hat or tambourine to the ensemble. This addition sweetens the compositions
and stresses the pop sensibility of the melodies, which is like comparing Nico
to The Velvet Underground.

vs. Svesse was recorded over long three days with short breaks for pizza,”
according to producer Arttu Tolonen’s notes. The first day was used for
recording the basic instruments and during the second day was dedicated to
vocals: “Stick him in a booth with a mic, press record and let him yell.” The final
day of recording served for overdubs and Miss Hot Coke’s deft touch.

To add a
splash of extravagancy to the recording, Mexican artist Gustavo Artigas, as a
DJ, introduces the recording with not so pleasant words towards the music
industry, although you need to know Spanish to understand the intro track.

Features Music

The seed is fertilized

{mosimage}Toni and Antti, in a telltale
sign of the band's do-it-yourself attitude, convinced Sipe to join them on
drums. It didn't exactly matter that Sipe had never actually played the drums
before. On the contrary, it fitted perfectly into the genuine punk attitude of
the lads. As did the name Apulanta – meaning "fertilizer."

The story goes that Toni came
up with the name while lounging on his then-girlfriends' sofa, and that other
possible name candidates included Napalm Killers, Silmaläsikäärme
("spectacled cobra") and Pökäle (roughly translated as "sturdy
piece of crap") – Apulanta was to be different, gritty, and as
down-to-earth as possible.

At and around the first few
gigs, the band auditioned numerous bass players, but the right one came along
only in the autumn of '92, when Sipe met Amanda (Mandy) Gaynor, an exchange
student from the US. Again, the fact that Mandy had never played the bass
before was no problem: what really mattered was her fondness of punk bands,
such as The Misfits, The Ramones and Bad Religion. The band was soon playing
gigs, not only in Heinola, but all over Southern Finland. Time was ripe for a
record deal.

In the fall of '93, Mandy
returned to the US. Her replacement was the band's longtime friend Tuukka
Temonen. Keeping with the tradition, he didn't have any previous experience of
playing the bass, but he caught up quickly. Tuukka was also interested in
movies and videos, and became the first video director for Apulanta.

In 1994, Apulanta supported
Californian punk band The Offspring, but the grandiosity of the events failed
to impress Antti. He would have pursued a heavier, more gothic, darker sound,
instead of the catchier, punkier tunes that were the traits of Toni's
songwriting. In the fall of the same year, Antti decided to quit the band.


…and they became famous

Initially it seemed that his
departure led to a lowpoint in the band's career, but in fact it merely marked
a new beginning. The band decided not to look for a replacement guitarist but
continue as a trio, and they recorded their first LP (Attack of the A.L. people) in the winter of 1994. The EP that
followed in 1995, under the name Hajonnut,
contained the song that would become their biggest hit to date: Mitä kuuluu ("What's up"). The
rest is Finnish punk rock history…

Interviews Music

Apulanta breaking the law

We have an animated talk with Toni (vocals and guitar) and Sipe (drums) about their history and their new album that was released that same day.

Why the name Apulanta (fertilizer)?

Toni: When we formed the band we were very young. I was 13 and he was 15. We were punk rockers at that time and we just decided to choose the worst possible name for the band. I think we succeeded pretty well…

Sipe: What can you expect at that age…? The first point was that it had to be easy to remember and the second point was that it was funny.

Toni: There have been one or two occasions when we came to regret the decision; it is an ugly child, but it is our child!

How did you get to know each other?

Toni: We went to the same high school.

Sipe: And we were basically the school outcasts. When you are an outsider and you do not have friends, you seek out similar people. So, we met at a disco where we both were trying to get girls, but instead we met…

{mosimage}And you formed a band!

Toni: We both come from this small town called Heinola. At that time, in the early-90s, there was nothing going on there, no sub-cultures of any kind. We were the only guys at the high school who were wearing band t-shirts, as we were into heavy metal, trash metal and death metal at that time. It was kind of a “t-shirt” incident that led us to meet each other. I saw that there was one guy with almost the same kind of t-shirt that I was wearing, I said: “Hi, what is your name? Do you play anything? Why don’t we form a band?” So actually, that was simple.

It was like a Aki Kaurismäki dialogue…

Toni: Yeah it was.  A couple of months later {quotes}Sipe stole his first drum kit{/quotes}

Sipe: Actually, this is the first time we say it in public!

Toni: It was actually a place owned by city of Heinola. It was a nasty thing to steal those drums, but years later I think we have paid it back with taxes and so on, so it was a kind of “investment”.

How was it living in Heinola?

Toni: Actually, Heinola is a nice place and I would like to return there at some point. I get my dose of “action” on tours, and, for example, we will perform over 100 this year, starting this Friday and will probably end in November, so after spending so long in rock clubs I really need peace. Well, when you are a 19-year-old guy in a rock band you need more than peaceful countryside, so Heinola was good for growing up, but it was also good to get out of there.

We have seen Apulanta live several times before. It seems that you love having these acting shows, such as being disguised with strange costumes.

Sipe: There is a lot of time to kill on the tour bus…

Toni: I kind of like it. It keeps us occupied, we do it for ourselves. A couple of times we have gone over the top with it and the show became more important than the music. Once we had this outrageous theatrical thing: knights versus orcs…Lord of the Rings style.

Sipe: Sadly, there were only seven or eight songs in our festival set…. But playing punk rock songs is basically “the thing”…

Toni: At the end, punk rock is the thing. Not the other things. It was fun for one summer. Then we changed the line up and we couldn’t hide behind masks anymore. We had to come back to our roots, do what a band is supposed to be doing and that is rocking, writing good music and entertaining the crowd. We had to leave the costumes.

Sipe: Well, since the tour starts on Friday, we have to concentrate on music. So no costumes… for few months at least.

We know that Toni likes to appear in movies, making small cameos, such as in Kuutamolla (Lovers and Leavers), or playing a role, like in Pitkä Kuuma Kesä. How was the experience?

Toni: Yeah, I did some of those in the late-90s and early-2000. It really was not my thing, it was more arrogant attitude. When you are a young guy and all of a sudden you become successful, you think you can do everything. You can do a movie; put together an art gallery… I realize now that I completely suck as an actor.

I like the name for the film’s band you led, Vittupää

Toni: We actually wrote the songs for the movie. We went to Lahti, 30 kms from Heinola, by bus and wrote three or four songs on the 30-minute bus ride to the Lahti studio, so in the whole process of getting our asses on the bus in Heinola, going to Lahti, recording some songs, mixing the songs and back to Heinola took two hours. It was very fast and very fun, kind of very punk. I really liked the songs. In fact, we still cover those. There is one very good song, which translated means: ‘Cop is a Nazi Bastard’. Where did we steal that riff, Sipe? We stole most of the riffs for those songs…

Sipe: I think that was a Black Sabbath riff reversed and played.

Do you feel you have softened your style?

Toni: In the late-90s we went in a softer direction, but lately we are back to our roots; I think that is a natural evolution of a rock band. You kind of walk a circle, as simple as that. I don’t really feel like going soft. I really enjoy playing the new album – it is quite hard with technical riffs and very aggressive. I enjoy aggressive music these days. {quotes}We are in pretty good shape to play aggressive music these days.{/quotes}

You have two albums in English in your discography: Viper Spank and Apulanta. What can you tell us about them?

Toni: When we started to sell big amounts of albums in Finland, we generated interest in other countries like Germany and Spain. They asked us if it was possible to make some translations – that is basically what they wanted us to do, so we did these couple of albums. Viper Spank is a collection of hit songs with the re-recordings, and it was nice. We had some success, not anything big, but we went to different countries to play and it was nice to do.

You have a very long discography already. Do you feel pressure to release new albums often?

{mosimage}Toni: We live through music. We are both music lovers. It is natural to work a lot. Of course, when you do nine albums, you have to reinvent yourself because you do not want to make the same song over and over again; that would make it very uninteresting for people and for us. With the latest album we worked very hard to make it a living breathing album, and I think that we succeeded in that.

Sipe: We are very proud that Apulanta is a band with roots. There are not many bands with 16 years of history, and every year doing better and better. The previous album, Kiila, that was released a couple of years ago, was the best album we ever made and stuff like that, so it created a lot of pressure, cause you never want to do an album that is not better than the previous ones.

Sipe: It sounds like a cliché, but our fans seem to be a pretty loyal bunch of people, so we really do not want to let them down. We want to do things with a lot of heart.

Toni: I think that the respect for the fans is one of the things that keep us trying new stuff. The loyalty and dedication they have given to us. The fans have bought me my shoes, my t shirt, my car…it is for all those people who decided to spend 20 euros on my album that I have these things, so they deserve the best they can get.

I think it works both ways, that you are one of the bands in Finland you take more care of the fans. In concerts there is always a great feeling. You put in a lot of effort.

Toni: I think that is due to the punk scene we come from. It has always been about interaction with people. We had this crazy Japanese girl who flew from Tokyo just to see us, she spent all the money she had just for that, that was crazy dedication. We got to know her pretty well and she ended up spending several weeks with us on the tour bus.

Sipe: We obviously took care of all the expenses…

Toni: Of course, when somebody says that you have a nice 19-year-old Japanese girl who wants to join you…you cannot say no…

Sipe: I have one reference case of a thing like this. In 1993 in Provinssirock, my “gods” Bad Religion played there and we had a chance to meet them, they spent 2-3 hours with me, and I was just a teenager from Heinola, so that was sort of a lesson for me: being a rock star does not mean that you have to be an asshole.

You have been playing for 16 years. Starting so young, and after so many albums and songs, is there a point you could feel “burnt out” in the music business?

Toni: At this point…when you complete an album you can feel empty, but at the moment, it has been a very refreshing experience… You never know what the future brings, but I do not see any point in quitting at this stage, when the band is still at the top.

Sipe: We still have lots of ambitions. We want to do better shows, better albums, know how to play even better, when we started we were not the best musicians in Finland, and we still have a lot to achieve. I think that our band is needed in the Finnish scene; I think that it is our duty to be here.


Pick up your copy of FREE! Magazine to read more of the interview with Sipe and Toni 

Photos by J.M. Rodríguez

Features Music

Open your ears

Since its first
edition in 1981 – at the time it was called Helsinki Biennale – Musica Nova has
focused on introducing contemporary music from all over the world to the
Finnish audience. And judging from some of the musicians who have been
participating in the festival the mission has been, so far, brilliantly
accomplished. Over the years one of Musica Nova’s main features has been the
choice of offering a great variety of contemporary music, from jazz to chamber
music to choral concerts to electronic music.

This year the festival will turn 26. Also, this year marks the 90th anniversary
of Finland
as an independent republic and the 125th anniversary of two institutions of
paramount importance in the cultural life of Helsinki and the whole country – the Sibelius Academy and the Helsinki Philharmonic
Orchestra. Thus it’s probably not by chance that Musica Nova’s 2007 program
focuses on Finland, offering the opportunity to get familiar with the country’s
composers and performers, and the work of some of those artists who have come from
abroad to study and work in Finland.

The festival will take place from the 10th to the 17th of March in several Helsinki
venues (all listed in the festival website: where you can also find detailed
information about programme and tickets), and boasts several very interesting
premiers, as for instance Kimmo Hakola’s
L’or d’Azur, Kaija Saariaho’s
cello concert Notes on the light, the Concerto for orchestra by Jukka Tiensuu. But this year at Musica
Nova there will be space also for modern dance with Kwaidan, composed by
Pehr Henrik Nordgren and
coreographed by Mia Malviniemi, and
for the series of Focus concerts featuring such artists as Matthew Whitthall, Paavo Heininen, Lauri Kilpiö and Perttu Haapanen.

Features Music

A tsunami of Japanese Rock

Japanese rock (J-rock), or rather a particularly flamboyant subgenre called visual kei, is hitting it big all over Europe. Visual kei stands simply for “visual style”, and refers to a movement that pays specific attention to the visual side of ands. The look, eccentric and exaggerated, often draws inspiration from anime, video games, goth or punk subcultures, and usually involves theatrical costumes, clots of make-up, hints of androgyny and enough of bling to make Finland’s own Hanoi Rocks look like the Dave Matthews Band.

Musically most visual keibands fall under categories of goth rock or heavy metal, but subcategories abound. “There’s for instance angura kei, which is darker and not as particular about the visuals, and oshare kei, which is more cute and fluffy”, explains Annika Vellonen, also known as Matron, co-manager of JaME-Suomi web portal and an active member of the JrockSuomi association. “The categories mainly delineate a certain visual style, but it usually also reflects the music.Angura kei band MUCC, for instance, blends aggressive metal and punk rock.


J-rock fandom is often closely associated with a general interest in Japanese youth culture, and within the variety of styles represented by J-rock groups any Japanophile can find hers. The fans are truly dedicated, and in fact the recent invasion is mostly orchestrated by an underground army of fans. “There were a lot of fans and demand for gigs in Finland, but nobody was doing anything about it, so we decided to do it ourselves”, says Annika. JrockSuomi took the initiative and brought the first visual kei band Blood for a gig to Turku in 2005 and collaborated with King Foo Entertainment to bring in other names like D’EspairsRay andMUCC.

Once proven popular, bigger promoters are joining the game. This summer’s Ankkarock is the first Finnish rock festival to get on the J-rock bandwagon by adding visual kei heroes Dir en grey to their line-up. Bands are also springing up in China and Korea, and recently a group in Greece proclaimed themselves the first European visual kei band. There’s plenty of potential there, and right now J-rock is hotter than lava.

Features Music

On the pursuit of the perfect plate

music and sound systems

The reggae scene in Finland is currently
doing better than ever. Over the
years there has been a strong underground movement, but only
recently it has broken through to mainstream. In addition to the flow of Finnish
reggae music, sound systems are gaining more and more attention and are
becoming known to the public.

In short, a sound system means a group of people,
most notably a DJ (Disk Jockey) and an MC (Master of Ceremony), who play reggae
music at parties. A sound system does not include a live band. Instead, they
rely on the Jamaican tradition of playing recorded music to the audience. Thus,
an important part of the sound system is the arsenal of vinyl and the style in
which the records are played.

An essential aspect of reggae culture is the
concept of sound clash. Sound systems compete against each other in sound
clashes, where the idea is to “murder” the rival sounds by playing better
records. Special records, dubplates, are needed if one wants to qualify. In
addition, the wordplay of the MC is also a crucial weapon.


the mpv sound

FREE! Magazine took an inside look in the
sound system culture by interviewing Andor, the DJ of one of the leading sound
systems in Finland, MPV.

MPV is a Helsinki-based sound system. It has
gained reputation and a fine bunch of followers by providing energetic dances
and competing successfully in sound clashes. Who are the members of MPV and how
did it all get started?

MPV consists of Nestori the MC and Andor the
DJ. One MC and one DJ, as the man would say. The first gig was on New Year’s
Eve 2005. I joined MPV when I returned to Finland from Holland in summer 2005.

The most visible part of the sound system’s
activity is performing in
front of a live audience. What makes MPV strong in live situations?

Nestori and his energy on the mic! Energy
also flows to the dance floor from behind the turntables. We want to offer
people something which we would like to hear in a dance ourselves. A crucial
thing is the selection of records, which builds the atmosphere and has a proper
amount of hooks and humour in it. It’s important to be in contact with the
audience – music has to stir the soul and leave people both fulfilled and
yearning for more.

Managing a sound system requires a lot of
time, effort and, naturally,
money. How much does it actually take if one wants to have a fully operational,
professional sound system?

It’s a big part of life. The running of the
sound system takes all the
time I can give to it. It requires a lot of work in different areas:
finding out and ordering the latest hits, playing shows, making mixes, remixing
songs. Organizing the recording of dubplates and mixing them is important, too.



A dubplate is a custom-made special record,
often a re-recording of a hit tune with altered lyrics. They are played at
dances, but more importantly, in sound clashes. How does MPV obtain these
special seven-inchers?

We get dubplates both from Finnish and Jamaican
artists. There are some studios in Jamaica with which we have been
cooperating. It all depends on how good a business partner one is able to find.
In some cases there has been a great deal of teeth-grinding included. If an
artist is performing in Finland, due to touring schedules the recording can
take place at very awkward hours, such as late at night or early in the

It’s a long way from here up north to the
West Indies, both geographically
and mentally. Is it difficult to acquire dubplates from desired
Jamaican artists?

Usually it’s quite possible to get what one
wants. The prices have risen in the last couple of years, though, and some
artists may ask for large sums of money.

Getting dubplates can be a risky business.
The artists might record dubplates in long sessions. At the end of these
sessions the quality can vary. Getting a superb dubplate is not easy; a good
plate is powerful both musically and lyrically. What dubplates is MPV the most
proud of?

Gonna Put on an MPV Shirt
(a version of Max Romeo’s
hit, I Chase the Devil – ed), which has kind
of become a signature tune for us. Derrick Parker, Gyptian, Million Stylez and
Luciano have done a great job too. MPV has also lot of quality Finnish
dubplates, for example from Finnish reggae artists Jukka Poika, Nopsajalka,
Raappana and Janhoy. We have dubplates from other genres too, such as from
Mariska and Don Johnson Big Band. Finnish dubplates are usually of very high quality.
The lyrics are written with thought.


to the future

The Finnish reggae scene is strong at the
moment; lots of sounds have started operating lately. How have things developed
in recent years?

{mosimage}The development has been wild. It is unbelievable
how strongly clashes and dubplates have broken into the scene. Soon we will be
on an international level. The audience has kept up pretty well, too. On the
other hand, hits from Jamaica come ashore faster nowadays.

It’s important to understand that although
Jamaican music is usually
associated with the “one love” idea, the reality in the dancehalls
in Kingston might be a little different. Sound clashes can be total war, albeit
musical and verbal. In the future the competition between sound systems will
probably get fiercer in Finland, too.

The standards will get higher. At the
moment there are few sounds in Finland
that do things on a professional level. There are lot of rising stars, but not
anyone can invest as much as it takes to be on the top. I wouldn’t necessarily
want the competition to get much fiercer than this.

Jamaican popular culture has always been very
dynamic, constantly changing shape and moving in new directions. Being able to
react to changes makes one vital in this culture. What kind of moves does MPV
have in store for the future?

To the top! I will soon go to Jamaica, with the
intention of bringing inspiration and spice to our thing. MPV has a view in the
right direction, but the road there will be built with care. Better things are yet
to come! In conclusion, I’d like to give respect to Komposti, Lion Head and all
the other sound systems. And of course to all the people who enjoy themselves
dancing or just listening to the music.

Features Music

How much would you pay for music?

{mosimage}”There's been a lot of talk about
high record prices in Finland
and we thought it would be interesting to see how much people would actually
pay for music if given a choice”, says singer/guitarist Sami Konttinen from ultrasport. ”On the other hand we just wanted
to put out some quality music for a price you can definitely afford.”

Ultrasport's guitar-driven pop
builds on catchy up-tempo melodies and bittersweet lyrics with a geeky slant.
Their first album, entitled Nothing Can
Go Wrong
was released in 2005.The
new album is more energetic”, Sami declares. ”Juho [Kosunen, singer/guitarist
for ultrasport] describes the new sound as 'The
playing Springsteen',
which is pretty accurate.”

Of course there's the possibility
that shoppers will decide to pay the bare minimum for the record and the band
ends up suffering a serious financial loss. They are fully prepared for such a
scenario, says Sami: ”We're definitely not expecting to make a lot of money
with this, but hopefully people will enjoy the album and appreciate what we're

Features Music

Escapism in Japanese style

{mosimage}In brief, cosplay (short for “costume
play”) simply means dressing up as your favourite anime or manga character.
Escapism has never been this colourful.

The success of cosplay relates to the
spread of Japanese popular culture. The growth of interest shows. For example,
there are currently more than twenty associations in Finland that consist of the people
who share an enthusiasm in anime, manga and cosplay.

“Japanese pop culture is currently in a
state of growth and will be for a couple more years,” tells Kyuu Eturautti, the person in charge of
the sponsors of the Cosplay Finland Tour. “I’d like to believe that the
collaboration of the devotees has had a great significance.”

In addition to the growth of the
consumption of anime and manga, more and more people have become aware of
cosplay, too. “In Japan
cosplay emerged during the anime and manga boom in the '80s. The phenomenon
travelled to the West in the '90s”, Eturautti explains.

Cosplay Finland, the Finnish association
for cosplayers, was founded in 2002. The association organises meetings and
workshops for its members. The cosplayers meet each other nationwide in anime
and manga conventions, or 'cons' for short. The next opportunity to cosplay
will be at the Tampere Kuplii comic festival in the end of March.

In Finland there have been cosplay
enthusiasts since the '90s. It wasn’t until the '00s, however, when the hobby
started gaining more attention. “The first happening with dozens of people
dressed up was Animecon II in Turku
three years ago,” says Eturautti. He continues by saying that competing isn’t
the main reason for the hobby. “Only a small percentage of the cosplayers
participate in competitions. Having fun and meeting likeminded people is more

According to what one sees in cons, it’s
easy to distinguish cosplay as something teenage girls would do. Eturautti
agrees. “The typical cosplayer is a girl between the ages of 13 and 17. In
total, eighty to ninety percent of cosplayers are female.” Eturautti sees this
as a larger phenomenon. “There haven’t been that many comics for teenage girls
before manga.”

There are of course boys who cosplay, too.
Eturautti, a 27 year-old consultant finds it a good counterbalance to
nine-to-five day job. “Cosplaying is a permission to be another person and
literally to experience what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes. All
you need is a suit, a wig and some make-up.”

As simple as that.