Dirty Fingernails released one of the best Finnish indie-pop albums of 2008, Greetings from Finsbury Park, N4, a great achievement taking into account that it is their debut work. And they did it from abroad. Brother/sister Sami and Paivi decided a couple of years ago that they have had enough of the coldness of Kajaani, and moved to London to pursue their dreams. Sami eagerly attended my questions and the result is one of the funniest interviews you have never had the chance to read at FREE! Magazine… Enjoy it!
Hello Sami and thanks a lot for answering our questions. So you moved from Kajaani to London a few years ago together with your sister. If you are so kind, explain to us a bit more the reasons for this change of location and what your expectations with this decision were?
You can kinda blame it all on the EU; as it’s become so easy to move between different European countries now, it’s really difficult for someone like me who’s into rock & art & going out to find reasons for living in someplace like Kajaani. I’m not sure what it’s like now though I can’t imagine it’s changed all that much. It’s not even a band or a career thing or anything. It’s just: do you wanna live someplace where there’s no jobs and it’s darker and colder than a penguin’s arse or do you wanna go to London and party? Paivi moved to London a few years after me and then we finally hooked up properly with the band thing about 3 years ago now.
How is a typical day of your life in London? What are the best and the worst things of living there?
This is one of the most over-used quotes of all time but Dr. Johnson said that “if you’re bored of London, you’re bored of life.” There’s always something happening but obviously you also got to go out and seek it out a little bit and be creative and active and open-minded. But you have to be those things anywhere. My ideal day in London is: wake up late, head down to Rooz (our rehearsal studio) work on new stuff, head round the corner for a couple of drinks after and maybe check out a band or club with friends. A nightmare day is: wake up early, it’s cold, damp, have to do something all day you don’t enjoy doing, stand on packed trains, crying babies everywhere, automated announcements, noise. A typical day is somewhere between those two scenarios
So if I am walking around London and I pass by Finsbury Park, N4 (the title of the band’s debut album), will you be for real the ones greeting me there at the door?
Ha ha! Hey, if you give us a call we will be! And we’ll take you for a little drink at our local! Otherwise, there’ll probably just be the alcoholics & crack addicts that normally hang around near the station
What are your feelings when you come back to visit or play in Finland? Does anything change about your perception of the country and the people now that you live abroad?
We were shocked by the violence man! Some dude got the crap kicked out of him at one of our shows. And a couple of days before that we were in Helsinki and Charlie (our drummer) was cleaning out the car when a guy nonchalantly walked up to a car about 50 feet from ours and smashed a brick through the side window! It could’ve easily been our car had Charlie not been down there. I also witnessed a very well known rock guitarist (who shall remain nameless) necking other people’s leftover drinks at a rock pub. You definitely forget how keen some people in Finland are for alcohol when you’re away for a while!
It seems that for being a debut album, the record caught very fast the attention of audience and media, for example you appeared in the cover of the magazine Rumba. How was that, were you well known already before? Is it about the good marketing of Poko Records, o just simply happened?
Well, it’s probably a combination of a lot of facts: obviously the label have been working hard to push us to the media. Also, our album was the first release on the new imprint Northern Swing so I think that gave it an extra lift as well. And maybe it was an interesting story for the media to pick up on. After all, they do have a certain number of pages to fill week after week and most bands are just so excruciatingly boring that I wasn’t surprised when people wanted to write about us.
Please resume with your own words what people can expect of this Greetings from Finsbury Park N,4.
It’s what it says on the tin: it’s a bunch of songs that we got together in a flat in Finsbury Park and we’ve sent it out to the world as a bit of a greeting to introduce ourselves. It’s poppy songs about stuff I think about wandering around the streets of London Town
It surprised me a bit that you cited at your website early 69 Eyes as a major influence. Difficult to link the “Helsinki vampires” with an indie pop band living in London…
Ha ha! I’m a rock dude at heart! When I was a kid those guys were more of a straight up rock band than what they’re doing now. When I was 12 or 13 I was mad for 69 Eyes. I even sent for their fan club and after what seemed like an eternity (but I imagine was actually more like 3 weeks), they sent me back a photocopied lyric sheet to go with their album, some fliers for their shows in Helsinki and a ticket stub from the New York subway!
How is to play with your sister, is it easier to play with a relative, or when there is a fight, does it become more “personal” or “touchy”?
I’m not really a laid back guy at all so I can quite easily get personal & touchy with anyone! It’s easy with Paivi, she works hard and I appreciate that. We’ve got a common goal and we’re working to achieve that.
How are the sales of the album working so far, are you having a good feedback?
It’s all good. To be honest, when we started recording the album we weren’t really thinking in terms of it being released or anything like that. We were basically just having fun and trying to be creative and trying to get something together. I love the fact that if people want it, they can now quite easily go out and get it and we don’t have to do the admin either. We’re privileged in that way as a lot of bands have to run their own online shops and I don’t think I could be bothered with any of that. But yeah, money is power and the more records you sell the more stuff you can do so obviously we’re hoping for the album to do well.
I see that mostly you have been touring around England or Finland. Are there future plans to expand your concerts to other countries in the near future?
We should be going to Italy in March so already looking forward to that! We’re happy to go and play anywhere but obviously it makes sense to play in the U.K. where we live and in Finland where the album is currently out.
Anything you want to add for our readers?
All the best for 2009 and don’t forget to stick it to the man every once in a while!
FREE! Q&A with Sami from Dirty Fingernails
Name and Age?
Been doing a bit of roller skating recently.
Best band you have seen on live recently?
Favours for Sailors
Best band you have shared stage with?
With this band, let’s say: Robots in Disguise
What is your biggest musical sin?
Dude, all of it!
If it would not be in London, where would you like to live?
Somewhere sunny. Hawaii
Your favorite word or sentence in Finnish?
Jos et veikkaa et voi voittaa. You gotta be in it to win it!
Photos by Tina Korhonen.