KYPCK are rightfully the most anticipated newcomers to the Finnish heavy scene in 2008. They fell on us like snow in June, fast and unexpected. Half a year ago nobody had any idea, and suddenly they are signed to a major label, on Inferno´s front cover, give tons of interviews and there´s high traffic on the band´s forum. The concept doom-metallers themselves have no idea what´s really going on, but they are determined to fulfil all their dreams and continue to go only forward, with strong Russian stubbornness. Although the ´Russian topic´ is still sensitive in Finland, even with years passed, it´s perhaps up to bands like KYPCK to finally smoothen the hard feelings, at least for the new generation. Beautiful tunes, deep lyrics, charming accents and a strong stage presence make this band very attractive, even if most foreign listeners won´t immediately pick up the complexity of a Russian soul.
Privet! [Hello!] How´s it going?
Pretty good! Our second gig is just a couple of hours away, so we´re excited. First one was very good, so hopefully this will be even better.
How was the first one actually and where was it?
It was in Oulu´s Teatteri, which is quite a big venue. Oulu is my old hometown and hometown of Sami, too, it was surprisingly good, because we didn´t really know what to expect – none of us has played this kind of music live. And the tempos are quite slow and the songs are depressive, but it really rocked, it was really aggressive on stage.
Did you get some feedback?
Mostly we got quite a positive reaction. There were a couple of Russian guys there, who suggested to help me with the lyrics to the next album (laughs) and I was like: “Is it so bad?!” and they were like: “No no, it´s good, but we can make it even better!” So we had fun, and everyone´s immediately into our music, people were even trying to sing along, so it´s a great response to have at the first gig!
Seems to me that you´re getting a lot more attention from Russia then your home country…
I hope so, that´s our main goal. If you wanna be big somewhere, you want to be at least medium-big in Russia. Obviously elsewhere, too.
Because for Russian audiences, if you´re a metal band from Finland, you already stir up certain interest.
Yes, and we are close, so… We´re your neighbours (laughs)
Which one of your songs are you the most proud of?
I´m proud of the album as a whole, it´s organic, because probably it´s the first album, for me at least, that the album is a whole, it´s complete. We don´t have any breaks between songs, as a whole I´m very proud of it. Maybe the song “Chernaya Dira” (“Black Hole”) by Sami, it´s the longest one also. It´s so massive and it´s almost of epic proportions, which is unusual for a doom metal band anyway. After the first seven minutes, it is still changing, I think it´s musically very ambitious.
Was it difficult to record or to write?
That song? Well, obviously, yes, because there are so many parts in it, there´s a lot of guitars in it. We were working very fast, we were in the studio for seven days, and the album was done, but it was hard work, 10-12 hours everyday, drinking vodka too, and the next morning the same thing again, so… The songs were done in a day and a half, then the bass and the drums we recorded in different places.
Why was it in such a pace, on purpose or…?
We just didn´t have enough time! (laughs) We wanted it to be very raw, you know, be on the edge sort of, and in the end I sung seven of the songs in one day. It wasn´t very pleasant, nor was it very easy, but it brought a new atmosphere and that was the effect we wanted.
Do you think it reflected on the quality of the final album?
I don´t think it reflects on the quality, but it reflects on the atmosphere, in the music, because it´s really pushed to the limit and I wasn´t happy that day, but I´m happy now with the result!
To those who haven´t heard the complete record yet, which song would you say should be listened first as the essence of KYPCK?
I´d say listen to it all from the beginning, like I said, it´s a whole album, it´s continuous and complete, so there´s not just one song. It´s a really bad and depressing trip, but it´s worth it. The first song sums it up very well, too. But if you want an easy access, take “Ne prosti menja, Bozhe” [Don´t Forgive Me, God], it gives a good feel.
Before you tell me more about the album, just how does it feel overall: a few months ago nobody had any clue who you are and suddenly you´re on Inferno´s cover, the next big thing! How does it feel?
I don´t think we´re the next big thing…
With all the hype it feels like it!
I haven´t seen this yet… Obviously we´ve been working hard, so it feels good to have some recognition, but I was surprised also that we got so much reaction in Finland. Because we, I mean, I am aiming for Russia. So I didn´t expect the Finish media to be so interested. Well, obviously because of Sami and Hiili, and the whole idea is weird, but this much interest – is just… unexpected.
I also think it´s more about the band as a whole, about the…
…concept! And the Finno-Russian situation is sensitive still. I was afraid and I wasn´t sure if a Russian-singing band would be so well received by Finnish ears, but I guess we´re doing ok, except for some idiots, but what can you do?... (laughs)
Almost every time you mention to a Finn that you´re Russian, you get somehow reminded about the Winter war, so your band´s case is almost a love-hate situation.
I think we´re both, which is good, because we´re on both sides of the boarder. There are people who aggressively hate us, “what the fuck are those guys doing?!”, and I read the Russian forums and it´s fun, and there´s some reaction and that´s what an artist wants, stimulate some emotions.
Why don´t you like Zemfira [famous Russian female rock-singer]? I read it on your profile!
I like Zemfira!!! But it´s a choice, KYPCK – Zemfira, so why not? I don´t know, it was just off the top of my head, I was annoyed with that whole questionnaire, but if you don´t like us – go and listen to something else, and I like Zemfira and I´ve all her three albums, or how many are there?
The fourth one came out recently…
I´ve to get that, absolutely! I like her, I was studying in St Petersburg when the first one came out and I really liked her. I also listen to Aria, this classic old band. I translated some of their songs to Finnish for my other Russian band project, I sung songs like “Tam visoko” and “Ja svoboden” in Finnish.
Something like this we shall expect tonight?
We have two covers for tonight, but unfortunately not Aria, but something like this I want to do also.
Can you imagine that your songs will be covered? In HeviKaraoke or something…
Why not? I don´t know… Aren´t we too slow for that, would it even work? But people can try… Pozhaluista! [be my guest]
If the band and the album are so conceptual, will it be different with every new record?
Yes. I´ve been saying that often, because people ask why we chose this Soviet military style, but it´s not something that´s going to stay, I mean, I´ve been trying to say that it´s not the only thing KYPCK can do. At this point in time it´s an obvious thing to do, we´re still very close to that in history, the whole Soviet thing, but I´ve already new ideas for the future…
Well, I´ve been thinking about Kazaks, you know? So something to go even deeper into the Russian history and then maybe the 18th century also. So we´re going to change the concept a little bit.
Is it like a commercial strategy, or something that you are personally interested in?
I am interested in that and this is a conceptual band, we like to follow all our ideas to the logical conclusion, which is like… open something horrible! (laughs)
Paint cars! [The band bought an old Russian car and re-styled it to fit the band´s image]
Yes!!! None of this was really intended. First we thought we´ll sing in Russian, ok, so I started to write the lyrics and the songs, then someone came up with the genius thought to buy a car, so ok, we bought a car, then our bass player´s whim was to have a one-string guitar, so ok, we got that also, and then our guitarist got the biggest fretboard, which is like 30 inches, it´s very big and it sounds horrible, but it sounds nice. So those crazy ideas kept popping up and one thing lead to another and we were bold enough to follow them and actually make them real, you know? We all have more regular side-projects, but we wanted something really special out of this one. I mean, every band has some concept going on, but we wanted ours to go to the extreme, push it as much as possible. So the motto was “Be more Russian than the Russians!” There has to be a hint of humour, otherwise you´ll go crazy.
When writing songs, it must be quite hard for the rest of the band not to feel isolated, cos they´ve no idea what you´re on about…
Well, I need something personal in my songs because I´m the one to go and sing them, but all the guys participate of course, for example in “Stalingrad” Jaska wanted it to be in the chorus, but I didn´t want to write about the battle, so I wrote it about the people. We talk a lot about the songs. Sami wrote a few parts, in English or whatever, and I translate. We work together.
Are you a patriot?
Only in ice-hockey! I don´t like nationalism in any form, so… I´m a normal Finnish guy who likes ice-hockey. Otherwise no, not really, I didn´t go to the army, or anything. Sami didn´t go either, we both worked, I taught Russian and he worked at some school. We are all too small.
Do you think Russia has a future?
Yes… Why do you ask?!
Well, you seem to have an opinion, and you know the history and like the country, so I want to know what is your point of view.
Obviously there are a lot of disturbing things happening at the moment, but we´re not a political band if that´s what you´re leading to…
Not at all, I was asking you personally.
I want to work with Russia and with Russian people, now and in the future, I want to return there, I want to bring my other band, Dreamtale, there too, so we´re talking with Fono at the moment about a deal (for the other band, not KYPCK), so I hope there´s a future for us too with Russia! (laughs)
On the merchandise stand here I see Stalin!
I know! And he´s smiling too! It´s on our backdrop as well! Sami´s little perversion…
What kind of musical background do you have?
I started as a bassist, I played in Oulu in a British punk rock. Afterwards I picked up a guitar and started singing a bit more, and wrote some songs, but nobody liked them, so I founded my own band. I listen to a lot of different rock styles, now I have KYPCK and at the same time another Finnish punk band, so I´m diverse between all the genres. With Dreamtale we finished an album, it´s coming out on the 6th of June, and we´ve our first gig in Tampere after the Sauna [Open Air] Festival, also on the 6th, and I haven´t sung the vocals to my punk band´s second album yet, but that album will come out in the Autumn. So this year I made three albums.
And what´s going on with KYPCK now, exactly?
We have a small break now, because all the bookings are full for all the other towns here in Finland, so we´ll go there in the Autumn, unless there are some cancellations, otherwise our next show is at Sauna Open Air in Tampere. I´ll be having a few shows with Dreamtale now, so work on that a little bit, do some promotion for KYPCK in Russia because we have the album out there in May, so we´ll try to go there and d some promotion, in the Summer at the latest.
Any new videos?
With the next album!
Oh yeah, how did it happen that you´ve another guitarist playing with you live?
It was obvious from the start that we´ll need another guitarist to play at the concerts, there´s just so much guitars on the album that we can´t recreate that live, so we asked Sami if he´d like to join and he did, so our two Samis have a good chemistry playing together. So for the shows he´s with us, no plans to make him a full-time member.
How important is commercial success to you?
Well, obviously you need the money to make the albums, so obviously it´s always good to have some… And we have to sell some albums to make the next one, so the matter of money is impossible to escape. If I had a choice, I´d like to make my living out of music, because at the moment I´m also teaching in Tampere, part-time, but still. I´m doing the best I can.
Do you care that “Cherno” can already be downloaded online?
Yes and I don´t like it, but that´s life, what can I do?
Is Russian language hard?
Easier than Swedish!
What more of the Russian culture have you adopted, aside from the language?
I do make a very big deal of the 8th of March [international women´s day]. In the past I had no idea, but after living there now I really take care of that holiday. Also vodka and some pickles, that´s a classic. Many little things.
What are you thinking about when you´re on stage?
What´s the next word! (laughs) I´m trying to have a good time and be myself. I´m nervous right before the show, but not when I´m on stage, because of all the adrenaline. Occasionally I forget lyrics, but hey…
And if you do?
I sing about Cheburashka [old Soviet cartoon character with unproportionally large ears]
Is there something about the Russian character that appeals to you the most?
Those people have the biggest heart, seriously. People there are very open about their emotions. I never considered myself as a typical Finn, but this emotionality in Russians I noticed immediately when I went there, and that´s something I really enjoy.
Now a few comments on your fellows. What´s the most romantic thing about Lopakka?
Romantic?!?! Ahm… his underpants, and believe me, I don´t want to explain it.
And the weirdest thing about Hiili?
Thing… thing… annoying… hmm… (laughs) His nose!
What´s the most annoying thing about Jaska (Ylä)?
I haven´t found anything, he´s the coolest guy in the whole band, really! He has very high self-esteem and he´s very confident, very easy to get along with.
What´s the funniest thing about you, Erkki?
My accent?... Can be confused with Estonian or Bulgarian.
Are you happy, honestly?
(long pause) At the moment – yes, especially now, before the gig, but let´s see afterwards!