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Eläkeläiset - hidden treasuries and flavoursome suits

Total confusion is happening, if you have these specific gents for an interview. The notorious Eläkeläiset (pensioners) are on tour and STALKER couldn't pass up this golden opportunity...

I would like you to introduce yourselves, not only your names and instruments, but also your functions as in who´s responsible for what within the band
Lassi: My name is Lassi Kinnunen and I play accordion in Eläkeläiset

And you sing, right?
Lassi: Yes, all of us do. It´s a thing in Eläkeläiset; everybody is a lead vocalist at the same time.

And how about drinking, do you have to drink to be in the band?
Lassi: No, no you don´t have to do it, but it´s mandatory. It´s like out bass player, he´s not drinking, but he´s drinking, but he´s not really drinking, he´s not drunk, but he´s still drinking.

Tell me a little bit about him.
Lassi: About drinking?

No, him.
Lassi: Martti is a very, very, very, very, very religious guy also. He and Kristian are the best rhythm group in the universe right now. With those guys, they really know how to make people dance, to keep the beat going on.

Will there be a side project from Eläkeläiset soon?
Lassi: No.

I thought you just said they had a group.
Lassi: Aah, no, I mean yes, they´re doing it all the time. I´m a bit lost now. Am I?
(Continues in Finnish!) *Good, Jussi that you came as a friend here. A moral support is always needed*

Lassi (in Finnish): *Why do you smoke so much cigarettes, Samira?*

*(In Finnish) I don´t speak Finnish*
Lassi (in Finnish): *But why do you smoke so much?*

Would you like to have a cigarette?
Lassi (in Finnish): *Why do you smoke so much?*

This is something about my cigarette.
Lassi: Yes, why do you smoke so much?

Ah, ok
Lassi: Quit smoking, quit smoking.

Quit drinking, quit drinking.
Lassi: I what?

Ok, back to the band, tell me a bit more about the guys.
Lassi: Of course. Kristian, the drummer is a real multi-instrumentalist genius of the band. He can play any instrument he wants to: Piano, keyboards, drums, trombone, and drums.

And aside this?
Lassi: Short tempered.

Short tempered? Please explain this
Lassi: There´s no need to explain. He reacts very fast to everything that´s happening around him. Then there is also Petteri Halonen and also Petteri Halonen 2, who is the senior. Hal one and Hal two. Hal 2 happens to be sitting next to me and he is a genius with the keyboards, all kinds of keyboards and with alcohol, and also with the football.

You mean American football?
Lassi: No, no, Fußball. And he is here also for the German football, and now he will tell us a bit more about the football.

And how come you speak so well German?
Petteri: Because I have been living here since 1991 or 1992. And you are speaking English with a German guy *laughs*

Lassi: Speak a bit in German
Samira & Petteri: Naah.
Lassi: Because we are all amazing guys. And wearing suits. And then there is the guy, what was his name? Onni Waris *laughs* Onni Waris, amazing guy too, and he´s the mental leader of the band. Everything he decides, we decide too. I am just a humble accordion player. I don´t have anything to do with the band, just drinking and being a big funk every now and then, and I am the oldest member of the band personally, I am not the oldest member in the age of the band, I am personally the oldest, 24 years old.

*Everyone laughs*
Lassi: And of course there is the technician of the band. I was almost forgetting Pekka Jokinen. All the merchandise is behind Mr. Jokinen, and Mr. Jokinen is the one who is keeping the business going. He is a very tough guy. He doesn´t wear shoes every day, he doesn´t eat every day, he is very good at caffeine. *coughs insanely* Pekka Jokinen loves his job, he can do it very personally. Then we do have a driver. Normally when we are touring Germany there is a P.E Salainen. He has a very strange name, and he drives the bus.

I thought you used a van?
Lassi: The van is covered as a bus. And of course, sound engineer Kartsan Kaartinen. He comes from the jungles of Finland, and he is some kind of a Tarzan, you know Tarzan *does a Tarzan howl*; he is the porno man.

Porno man?
Lassi: Yes the porno man, how would I know? Maybe there is something for you to figure out.

Lassi: Why not, he is a very hm-hmmm
Lassi: Ahaa.

*More drinks are ordered*

Lassi: So this is more or less us.

So most of you come from Johensuu.
Lassi: Yes, but its Joensuu.

*Another band member comes and is invited into the table and it is well confirmed that new Baileys and Beer are on their way*

Lassi: Ladies and gentlemen, here is Mr Onni Waris, the religious leader of the band. Religious loser of the band.

It was a surprise for me to see you guys a couple of years back at Wacken Open Air
Onni: We have been there two times. We were playing before Napalm Death, and a Finnish band, Timo Kotipelto, I think. Bigger stage. It was strange for a Finnish Humppa band to play at a Heavy Metal festival after bands like Napalm Death, the inventors of Thrash Metal.

How did it feel, I mean the crowd was really going bananas
Onni: They were really going peanuts, or oranges, or ananas´
Lassi (in Finnish): *Where was this?*
Onni (in Finnish): *In Wacken, the really big metal festival*
Lassi: Ah, yeah!
Onni: We were also playing in Rock am Ring and Rock am Park.
Lassi: This was a few years ago. People keep asking how the hell we do it, and we keep going on. I think it is because we were quite known at that time because of the record label. At least up till now. Now we do what we are asked to do. We don´t have any expectations, plans, or goals. If someone asks us if we want to do it, we do it.
Onni: It´s been a funny, mathematical, theoretical… I mean it has been three years of our 15 year career and during the first year our salaries rose from tens of euros to hundreds. After the next break it rose from hundreds of euros to several hundreds of euros and after this break we were serious musicians. We could live with this one, but it took the fun from the job because this kind of job is fun as long as it is fun for us because if the fun goes to the audience…
Lassi (in Finnish): *Are we going to start politicizing about this?*
Onni: I´m sorry, I´m talking nonsense, I´m just analysing…
Lassi: Don´t
Onni: …analysing…
Lassi: Don´t
Lassi & Onni: Analysing….Don´t….Chest hair…Now we are talking business.

So you guys have day jobs besides doing music?
Lassi: Yes, we do.

What is it?
Lassi: IT

Most of the crowd is probably from I.T business.
Lassi: I guess so.

And the rest of the band?
Lassi: One is graphic designer, one is web page designer, and one is kindergarten teacher. Hal 2 is also a teacher and one is a sports teacher. And one is just a daily worker.

How do you combine your daily jobs with you touring?
Jussi: These are our holidays. We are just touring Germany for 16 days, for 2 weeks. Kind of double paid, so it´s only fair.

I read somewhere that you´re doing something like 200 concerts in a year.
Jussi: No, not anymore, we can´t play that much anymore.
Onni: We can´t do that anymore because we can´t play sober, so 200 days drinking out of 365 days.
Jussi: How many days are there in a year?
Onni: 365.
Jussi: We could have survived that. *laugh* But even we do have our limits.

Every celebration day is welcome, like Vappu…
Onni: In Eläkeläiset every day is a celebration. Every evening and every morning there is a funeral.
Lassi: That is quite funny ´cause we don´t celebrate then. Let the amateurs drink then.

Is there some band or some song that is sacred for you, that you wouldn´t touch?
Lassi: No. Nothing. Actually, yes, if the song is extremely bad or lousy, then we will not do it.
Onni: But think about Scorpions “Wind of Change”, how stupid kind of a song can we make of it?

Didn´t you have problems with that song?
Lassi: Yeah, but there´s no real limit. If the song rings some bells, we make a Humppa version of it, but it´s not easy because if you have to make an album with 15 songs in it, we make 60 or 70 songs…
Onni (in Finnish): *I´m going inside*

Lassi (in Finnish): *Ok, order us some drinks here ´cause we have to play soon.*
Onni (in Finnish): *No can do.*
Lassi (in Finnish): *Oh, hell*

Lassi: The more we make Humppa versions, the more difficult it becomes to get consensus to make Humppa versions of songs. Bad news travels fast and we are bad news.

Bands who are more relaxed see it as an honour to have other bands make their songs into covers or make fun of it because this means that the song is well known.
Lassi: The problem is the person receiving the consensus. Say for example we send a request to make a Humppa version of a Tokyo Hotel song and we send the request, then who is it who receives the fax or letter? The manager or the cleaner of the building.
Jussi: So it´s a lot of boring and non-profitable work, and even if we get the permission to release, usually there is the problem, that the Finnish translator, who is us, gets zero. Every time it is played on the radio, we get nothing. It is kind of charity, but this is not bitterness talking, just boring facts.

I heard you do bootlegs of yourselves, is this so?
Lassi: We are kind of leaking them into the internet.
Jussi: You know, the internet is kind of a big thing?
Lassi: We made a double album, like 26 songs. We didn´t get permission to release the songs, there were some really famous songs like Man on the Moon by REM, so we kind of leaked the songs and they have been surfing around the internet.

Lassi & Jussi (in Finnish):*cheers*

(In Finnish)*cheers*
Lassi (in Finnish): *You speak Finnish quite well*
(in Finnish)*I do not speak Finnish*
Lassi (in Finnish): *But you understand everything we say*

Maybe. So, you bring them just a little bit closer into the internet.
Lassi: Yup.

What about the Finnish bands you know personally, like you did a cover of HIM and some others?
Lassi: We have gotten consensus from them, we have seen them on festivals, like Amorphis, who we are covering in the forthcoming album, and Kwan, and Hanoi Rocks.

How did Tuomas react when you did Nightwish on your last album?
Lassi: He was about to come play some additional keyboards in the record, but he was on tour. When we were doing the cover of The Rasmus´ song “Falling”, I called the record company and asked if we could do the cover. He passed the phone to Lauri from The Rasmus. He said he just wanted to see the lyrics first, so I sent them in 5 minutes and Lauri put the “Okay” stamp on it. So you can see that we are in quite good terms with the Finnish Musicians.

About your lyrics, they are in Finnish and the Germans don´t get much sense out of them, how do you mistreat them?
Lassi: We don´t. Firstly it started with the whole thing must Rock and Roll which would be translated as “Humppa” and “Jenkka”. Then it goes on to describe everyday life in Finland, where there is really little money, living with old people, who are over medicated and dying, being underpaid, listening to bullshit music, and the only big thing is playing bingo where you can win half a kilo of the cheapest coffee in Finland. That´s about it. And also about homo pensioners and lesbian pensioners, driving drunk and Aimo is your king. *laughs* Onni once explained how easy it is to make lyrics in Finnish and he said “Aimo is the king of Humppa”. That doesn´t make any sense in English, it´s an onomatopoeic thing; once you translate it into Finnish it makes much more sense.

Lassi: It´s an onom… Onomte… Onom… It´s just bullshit. *laughs*
Once you translate it to Finnish, it makes some kind of sense, or nonsense. It makes some kind of nonsense.

I guess you can´t translate it to English?
Lassi: No, never. Actually we really have to translate the lyrics because when we make a Humppa version of, say Madonna´s “Like a Virgin”, we have to translate the lyrics to English and send them to the copyright place, where they wonder weather they can give us permission to make a cover, or it could even be the cleaner who receives the e-mail or fax.
Jussi: Whatever.
Lassi: Yeah, whatever. We have tried several approaches to the lyrics, like translating it word by word, which is very bad…

There was one where someone wanted to go in but he couldn´t because he had a cat pee smell on him?
Lassi: Yeah, it´s kind of like a hangover story where you wake up in the morning…
Jussi: …and the cat had already peed on you, and you try to go into a bar, but you are not allowed in because you smell so bad.
Lassi: We can´t really translate it to English, we kind of have to make it “my mouth smells bad and my suit is kind of ruined”.
Jussi: In Finnish you can say that in one phrase, but in English, you have to really explain “I was out and I was lying there and I had a cat and the cat peed on me…”
Lassi: Extremely thin line between bull and shit.
Jussi (in Finnish): *The suit smelled of cat pee.*

What about this alcohol hidden in the venue thing?
Lassi: We are not hiding any alcohol in the venue.
Jussi: No, it is in the bushes and whatever. We have been making a new kind of hiding alcohol thing, we are hiding vodka and Baileys and things like that and it´s a huge pot, like 20 bottles and we will be hiding it tomorrow, we have to buy a shovel, it´s like a huge mass grave of alcohol somewhere between Hamburg and Berlin.
Lassi: Also yesterday when we were coming to Hamburg there was this one treasure place called “Rokkerheide” and we were trying to find it yesterday, and we couldn´t find it, its some really, really well hidden alcohol, because even we couldn´t find it.

So you hide this for yourselves?
Lassi: No, no, it is on our webpage with the treasure maps.
Jussi: It´s like an AA thing, if you´re an alcoholic, you hide alcohol everywhere.

What´s going on right now? There´s the tour in Germany and Austria right now and your new album is out now.
Lassi: The album is out and we will be recording the new album I think in July, and I think it will be released before the Christmas markets.

Ok, and what can we expect?
Lassi: The worst.
Jussi: Then there´s going to be also some interesting things. Like Humppatauti, which we are going to play today. You can record that with you dictaphone thingy. But it will be released before Christmas.

Are you playing in any festivals?
Lassi: Yes, there will be at least one festival in the beginning of June in Tampere, in Finland and then Sweden Rock, in Sweden surprisingly in Malmö, then there´s Raparock in Estonia. Provinssirock in Finland, one gig in Kaivopuisto in Helsinki, and then we´ll play in Ilosaari Rock and probably, we are looking forward to hearing the confirmation for Sziget in Hungary.

Any last words before you have to leave?
Lassi: Goodbye.

Author: Samira Alinto, translation: Ozzy Aikas, photos: Eläkeläiset
Date: 2008-05-13

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