In the Spotlight

Tip of the Finnish punk iceberg: Disco Ensemble & Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät

Finland is the focus country of Eurosonic 2013 and thus we have 17 groups showcasing their talent at the festival.

Nuorgam, the snazziest little music site in Finland, takes a long look at the bands we are carting off to Eurosonic. In this episode Disco Ensemble and Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät go under the microscope.

After the miracle years of the early 1980s, Finnish punk turned into an increasingly stringent series of hardcore genres, cliques and underground movements. There are still loads of hardcore bands, clubs and tiny record labels in every corner of this large and sparsely populated country, but whatever happens in these scenes, stays in these scenes. I think both the hardcore underground and mainstream audiences are quite happy with this state of affairs.

Disco Ensemble and Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät have broken the surface, like the tip of the iceberg of Finnish punk. They show the mainstream audience that the punk attitude is still alive and well. In the case of Disco Ensemble, it has taken on the guise of post-hardcore with added electronic elements and pop hooks. The music played by Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät, which consists of mentally handicapped musicians, is the real 1977 thing. The subject matter of the songs and the perspective are what makes the band unique.

5. Disco Ensemble

Video: Second Soul (dir. Gregg Conde)

What is it?

Disco Ensemble was formed in a little town called Ulvila in western Finland in 1996. It can be loosely characterized as a rock band that plays post-hardcore. Their breakthrough album was First Aid Kit in 2005. Since then the band has toured central Europe extensively and regularly. In Finland, it has been a part of the Fullsteam Records roster from the very beginning. Internationally the band has worked with Sony and Universal.

Why do we care?

Disco Ensemble is all about the energy. Their wild, rough and sweaty gigs are naturally the best environment to truly experience that feeling, but they do manage to capture it on their recordings, too. Their first two albums, Viper Ethics and First Aid Kit, combined straight-ahead punk histrionics with shout-along choruses and smart pop hooks. On the next few albums the band lost some of the attention of people outside the core fandom. Their 2012 album Warriors revealed some interesting new facets to the band. Co-operation with hot Finnish pop producer Jukka Immonen helped the band mature and move towards the arena rock of U2 and The Killers, while retaining its own sound. Disco Ensemble is once again one of Finland’s most internationally relevant bands.

Lineup:

Miikka Koivisto: vocals and keyboards
Jussi Ylikoski: guitar and background vocals
Mikko Hakila: drums
Lasse Lindfors: bass

Releases:

Viper Ethics (Fullsteam Records, 2003)
First Aid Kit (Fullsteam Records, 2005)
Magic Recoveries (Fullsteam Records, 2008)
The Island of Disco Ensemble (Fullsteam Records 2010)
Warriors (Fullsteam Records, 2012)

If we had to pick three adjectives to describe the band, they would be…
… passionate, shouty, intense.

 What records have the band members probably listened to the most in their lives?
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, At The Drive-In and other post-hardcore bands with odd names.

If a good fairy gave the band one wish, it would be…
… to be Big In Japan.

If the band were to go on the road to support a big star, it would tour with…
U2, which they’d absolutely destroy with their noise, forcing Bono to confront the essentially anodyne nature of his own band and retire from music.

In two years…
… Disco Ensemble will be working on the follow-up to Warriors and preparing to play the following summer’s big European festivals.

6. Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät

Video: Kallioon!

What is it?

Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät is a punk band consisting of four mentally handicapped musicians who met each other at a cultural workshop by Lyhty association in 2009. The band is named after the guitarist Pertti Kurikka, who writes the band’s music and works on the lyrics together with vocalist Kari Aalto. A documentary film about the band, The Punk Syndrome was released in 2012, to a rapturous reception. The film features, among many other events, the band’s visit to the Finnish Independence Day celebration at the President’s residence.

Why do we care?

When Kari Aalto sings “I need some respect and equality in my life” in the song Kallioon, he is making a universal demand. Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät invests their music with criticism, hate, hopes, coming from their own starting point and perspective, but they’re all familiar to all people regardless of how many chromosomes they have and what their health is like. At the same time it distills what punk was always about. Through music, Pertti Kurikka has had a greater impact on the attitudes of Finns towards handicapped people than any integrated class in school or any speech by a politician. When a healthy person sees them live, he or she will see, first and foremost, four people who share many of his or her concerns. The audience will not laugh at the handicap, but rather share the joie de vivre emanating from the band. Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät is irony-proof.

Lineup:

Pertti Kurikka: guitar
Kari Aalto: vocals
Sami Helle: bass
Toni Välitalo: drums

Releases:

Ei yhteiskunta yhtä miestä kaipaa EP (Kakka-hätä 77 -split, Airiston punk-levyt, Red Lounge Records, 2010)
Osaa eläimetkin pieree EP (Punk & Pillu Mauski Records, 2011)
Päättäjä on pettäjä EP (Hikinauhat Records, 2011)
Asuntolaelämää EP (Airiston punk-levyt, 2012)
Kuus kuppia kahvia ja yks kokis LP, compilation (Airiston punk-levyt, 2012)

If we had to pick three adjectives to describe the band, they would be…
… real, relentless and hungry for life.

What records have the band members probably listened to the most in their lives?
… Late-70s and early-80s Finnish punk, from Eppu Normaali to Ratsia.

If a good fairy gave the band one wish, it would be…
… to live a healthy life in the Kallio neighborhood of Helsinki and play kickass punk rock.

If the band were to go on the road to support a big star, it would tour with…
… anybody who needs a lesson in reality, professionalism and humility.

In two years…
… Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät will still be engaging in social criticism by writing kickass punk rock songs. In Finland they’ll be respected as one of the most notable artistic entities of the early 21st century.

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