Essen, Zeche Carl at April 19th 2002

I was quite early at the Zeche Carl in Essen and soon found somebody who I could ask for direction. He guided me to my interview partners: the Finnish band Eläkeläiset
It was dinner time and they where eating in the café of Zeche Carl. I felt awkward. Not only did I disturb the guys during dinner time but I’m also a replacement for the person, who really wanted to do this interview. 30 minutes ago Eläkeläiset and Humpa Yoik Metal have not even been part of my personal universe.

So all I could do was to smile at the guys and get on with it.
I wanted to give them time to eat first, but Kristian Voutilainenen wanted to talk during the meal. “During food is the best time to talk to new friends”
At first they explained why they have chosen to call themselves Eläkeläiset (= pensioner): “Look at all the guys! We don’t know any better name for this bunch. That was the first name which came to mind.” To me they didn’t look as old as they pretend to be, but I had the feeling, they where proud of their age so I dropped it.

Since I don’t know anything about the band, I asked a bit sheepish if they could tell me a bit about themselves and received an answer I had not expected: ” See us as four apathetic alcoholics who are trying to play something. Even when we are not capable of playing, almost always something amazing happens. We play humppa, some polka.”
Not much to get my teeth into, so I fired away with the standard interview questions. It wasn’t easy to get coherent answers to almost anything. Don’t get me wrong, they answered, and friendly and with good will but they might as well not have.
In general I can summarise the following information:
Eläkeläiset made it their mission to improve on existing songs. “Why should we do own songs, when there are good songs. Let the other guys write the songs, we can play them better. They know how to composed them. We know how to play them!” And they take every song from radio or TV, try to play them and “if it ain’t good, we put it on our album. Otherwise we play it live!”
At this point I start to be afraid of what to expect for tonight. Eläkeläiset stays  always true to themselves and that means that the record is “the same shit in a new package to be honest!”
Honest they were! Fun to talk to and sympathetic are two other words that come to mind thinking of the Finnish Humppas!
Promotion of their first record went wrong and so they decided to not dwell on it and just make a new one. The first record will not be part of the discography and if you have one, it will become a rarity. So hold on to it.
Since this was the second day of the tour, I couldn’t really ask much about how it was received so far, and so I ask about the previous gig in Cologne. “The place was sold out, but it looked a little bit like a fighting pit down in front of the stage.” It seems that Humppa Yoik metal moved cologne!

Kristian looked a little bit astonished at me as I wondered about what the future holds for Eläkeläiset’s. “Really, we don’t have any plans! We never have plans. Somebody tells us about the possibility to go on tour in Germany. ‘Would you like to go on tour?’ ‘Yes, we would.’ And really every gig could be the last one! So we don’t have any plans for the future. I think the only plan is that we still need to do one more record for our record company. Our deal includes one more, so I guess we’ll do that one somewhere in the future.” That’s an answer I can live with, but some of the guys had another plan. Petrri smiles at me: “I know what my future holds! I do! I will have an hangover tomorrow!” And the laughter took the conversation into another bizarre direction.

“I just remember, there happened something on tour I would like to add to the record: There was one cat and three dogs. One of them bit my Boombp” he pointed on his bottom ” Yes, the small dog was biting his Boombp just like in a cartoon.” somebody “Wau” And the cat was a little bit shy… It was really shy and even a little bit nervous. – That was nice! So… Something happened on our tour!”
We laughed and I think I looked a little bit uneasy, so they told me a little bit more about what they’re doing on tour. They informed me, they started a little treasure hunt between Cologne and Essen for other musicians on tour or their fans. Lassi Kinunnen explained the game to me “…we hide alcohol on our tours… Somewhere in the ground, you know. We make a hole somewhere and put some vodka in it wherever we think that friends could come around on tour and need something. And we draw maps passed me his palmtop and show me one drawn map You can find those maps on the internet, so everybody could find these treasures. explaining the map
If you find the X you are very near to this treasure!” But they don’t only hide alcohol in the ground. “Sometimes we hide clean underwear, plectrums to play guitars, drum sticks, cigarettes, whatever people need on tour..” Nice idea?! Then go to the Eläkeläiset website and look for a treasure map of a place close to you.
“If you really need alcohol, just take a car and get your  Boombp to one of those places and you will find free booze there. Surely!”
I thought that was a good point to stop before I lost my mind. Our online Magazine has a section with questionnaires, artists fill out and so I put them to work.

I do want to say ‘Thank you!’ for this experience to the whole band and crew! It certainly  taught me a lot about interviews and what to expect.
To Pekka thanks for the help with the guest list and the nice talk during the concert and Petri demnächst kommst du mir mit dem deinen Sprachkenntnissen nicht so einfach davon 😉
Thanks guys and I had a very special evening!

Header picture borrowed from piikkikasvi.fi

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