Hello, and thank you for giving us the chance to interview you. How are you today?
Riku > Super.
When someone who doesn't know your band asks you about what kind of music do you play, what is the answer you give? Math rock, noise rock or, erm, noisecorewalze? What does this last term stand for by the way? I've noticed you use it quite often.
Riku > I guess that noise rock would be the closest to the truth. Definitely not math rock. Math rock makes me think of complex music made for the sake of being complex, which is not where we come from at all. The starting point for writing songs for us is always in writing a good song and that's it. Sometimes it gets complex, sometimes not. So let's just call it rock music. Noisecorewalze is something we picked up years ago from a poster for one of our shows in Germany and it just kind of stuck. The Internet especially can be challenging if your band’s name is Fun, you know?
Fun was formed in 2001, and to my understanding you've had the same trio-lineup ever since. How did the band come together originally, and did you have a clear vision of what kind of music you wanted to make? Was there an "artistic dictator" in the band in the early days, and how about today?
Riku > I had an ad in a paper looking for people to form a band with. The ad listed bands like Shellac, The Ex, Sonic Youth, etc. Teemu had just quit his previous band, so he called up and we kind of clicked instantly. We made our first demo together with Teemu playing both guitar and bass probably in the year 2000 on Teemu's 4-track which already had a few songs on it which would end up to our first EP. After trying a few different bass players we found Vesa and played our first show in March 2001.
Teemu is the song writer of the band. Sometimes the songs are pretty much completely done when he brings them to the rehearsals and it's just the matter of learning to play them. Sometimes the ideas are much rougher and we arrange the songs together. We also throw a lot of stuff in the trash and try to be as critical as we can about what we’re doing although it probably doesn’t sound like that at all.
I know this one's a difficult question, but what were the original reasons for the band's founding? Did you have a certain "mission" you wanted/needed to accomplish?
Riku > It’s really difficult for me to think that anyone especially in their early 20’s could start a band for any other reasons than the pure desire to make some noise, which was exactly the reason we formed this one. Nowadays we’re only in it for the money. We all hate each others and travel separately which is not very good because all the money we’re after goes directly to transportation.
I've understood that Fun comes from (or at least feels at home at) punk-circles. Are you an ideological band?
Riku > We don’t really come from any circle and most definitely don’t feel at home at any of them. Our first tour in 2002 was with Hero Dishonest which probably got the punk scene sort of familiar with us from the start. Especially in the early days there weren’t a whole lot of bands in Finland doing the kind of stuff we’re doing, so we played lots of different kind of shows. Whatever the scene was, the shows were mostly horrible disasters and left everyone feeling awkward, embarrassed and molested. Nowadays there is a scene for noise rock with really good bands, so it’s the same handful of bands playing at every show. But they’re good!
We’re just a band, no ideologies there.
There aren't that many bands whose line-up would've stayed as solid for such a long time. What's your secret? Is it simply the fact that playing in Fun is still so rewarding for you?
Riku > Well, we still get drunk together outside the band business anyway, so why not write a song or play a show or two while we’re at it? Sometimes it’s rewarding, sometimes it’s just a lot of work with no reward. Keeps you busy, though. Our pace has also sort of naturally slowed down the older we get and there’s really not much stress about it. We also practice waaaaaay less than people seem to think. Now that I think, I don’t even remember when we had a practice last time. We’re hard boiled professionals.
Why was the name "Fun" chosen for the band?
Riku > I do not know. It made sense at the time.
The band formed in 2001, and you released your debut EP already in 2002. What kind of a reception did it arouse? When listening to those songs today, are you still satisfied with them or what kind of thoughts and feelings do they bring out in you?
Riku > The reception for the EP was great. I think pretty much everyone seemed to like it especially in Finland. That also might have had a lot to do with the fact that at that point we were almost the only band doing that kind of stuff in here. I think the EP is still the best thing we’ve done and I’m really proud of it.
Two of your albums have been recorded and produced by Pentti Dassum (of Umpio, Deep Turtle, and a load of other bands) and two at the renowned Electrical Audio. How was it to work with such well-known names? Was there a specific reason that you self-recorded your newest 7" and let new people master it?
Riku > The general process of recording music is fairly simple regardless of who’s recording it especially when it comes to our band and working with a recording budget that we can afford. Two reasons for self-recording the new stuff are money and the fact that we can. Teemu has shittons of good recording gear and we have a big rehearsal space to work in. Just the fact of knowing that there is no hurry and if you fuck up this take or even the entire session, you can always do another equals for better results. Hell, we recorded Into The Void for the last 7” at five o’clock in the morning and were so drunk I barely even remember playing it. On the next day we were prepared to re-record it, but there was no need for that anymore. See? There wasn’t any particular reason for using Virtalähde for the mastering, we just decided to give it a go and it turned out great.
Your latest full-length "New 13" was published in 2010, and it was also recorded at Electrical Audio. What does the name "New 13" stand for, and where does the cover painting fit in all this? I've heard that the album had a rather painful birth process, is that the reason for its title? What were the obstacles that you met during the way of making the said album?
Riku > New 13 is misfortune. In some countries/cultures/religions/whatever a stork’s nest on a top of a chimney means good fortune. There.
We had a bunch of names we were considering for the album and New 13 was one of them. Pretty much everything started to go to shit right from day one. When Teemu got deported from the US border on the way to record the album, New 13 had made it clear that it was going to be the name for the album. Unfortunately we had to go through a lot of shit before and after realizing it. Now that the new 7” is out, I finally feel that the curse has been lifted.
Teemu > It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. In many, many ways.
Your most recent release is the opening single/EP of your trilogy of 7"-releases, titled simply "1/3". Have you already recorded the following two records in the serie, and where did you get the idea to make a trilogy like this? Does it have some general theme that carries through it, and is there anything you could reveal to us about the following two 7"-vinyls?
Riku > We had already decided that the next release is going to be a 7”. We had six finished songs and got the idea of making a trilogy once we’re at it. No particular reason for it. Only the first part is recorded yet. I’m sure we also had some idea for the theme, but I have no idea what it was anymore. If you figure it out, do let us know.
Teemu > I painted a triptych and thought they´d make nice back covers. So if the music sucks you can hang them on the wall.
Since your early days, what has changed within the band and your music? The production values have become better and your songs are more twisted and detailed, at least, but what has changed beyond its surface? Has your approach to your work and your ways of composing or rehearsing changed over the years?
Riku > The music lives its own life and that’s kind of beyond our or Teemu’s control I suppose. I don’t think anything crucial has changed over the years. We’re better at knowing what’s going to work and what isn’t, so I guess there’s much less toying around with ideas that are doomed from the start. Also, in the past we were able to play these horrific shows, but nowadays our shows rarely turn out a complete disaster. Now that we’re older we’re completely ok with half a disaster. We’re also a lot lazier nowadays, so our creative pace has slowed down even more. We’re also a lot busier than we used to. See, we’re grown-ups now? It’s not all fun and games any more.
Teemu > Right now I personally try to go for the simplest form possible. The ultimate goal is to create a functional song with just one chord, like what Bo Diddley did, you know? That being said, the next one is probably going to be a twenty minute prog-opera with parts from a to z.
You don't make the most crowd-pleasing music possible, obviously. Was it difficult early on to find the suitable people, record labels and gig venues that might be interested in your music, and has it gotten any easier to this day?
Riku > The people behind If Society are our friends and they have been with us since day one, so finding a record label was never really that difficult for us. Nowadays it’s even easier, because we can release our records ourselves. If Society released the CD of New 13 and will most likely be somehow involved in the future as well.
As far as playing shows goes, I suppose we have a steady following in the few larger cities in Finland, so it’s pretty easy for us to book shows. In the past we almost never booked our own shows, but nowadays we try to play less one off shows here and there and rather do focused 2-3 show trips and cover more cities while we’re at it. That has sort of forced us to do more booking ourselves. In a country the size of Finland you only need to do that a couple of times a year and you get everything covered.
As far as touring abroad goes, I think it was a lot easier in the past probably just because there was a lot less shitty bands touring and the scenes for different types of music weren’t so divided. We haven’t really made any longer tours since 2008 and don’t plan to do so either. We try to do shorter, focused trips with good, well promoted shows rather than just grab any show at any shithole that no-one ever goes to. And find ourselves playing in a random shithole that no-one ever goes to. There might be a few crust punks and a dog. No! Make it a few dogs and a crust punk.
Speaking about the reception you've got, you've done a lot of tours and gigs in foreign countries. Has the reception been better within Finland's borders or elsewhere?
Riku > Lately the reception at many of our shows in Helsinki has been great actually. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we only play weekends anymore and usually we’re the last or one of the last bands playing when people are already so wasted that they’re ready for any noise as long as it’s loud.
The reception in the eastern part of Europe used to be great, but I suppose they’re getting too spoiled since there aren’t that many people coming to shows anymore. Vilnius has always remained our strong ground and Russia has always been really good to us. Lately we’ve had some pretty good shows in France too and have played there almost annually. I think we got pretty good reception at some of our shows in the US as well. Guess what I’m trying to say is that there really is no pattern.
In general, what are your lyrics about, and who/what (authors, movies, bands...) influences them? Do you see the lyrics as an important factor in your music? I've read a few of them, but there wasn't a lot in them that I would've understood, heh...
Teemu > Lyrics are a mandatory evil. Usually I just combine random stuff that somehow fits together. Sometimes I have a coherent idea, like in UFO Or Die for example, where an alien is sentenced to live on earth among human beings as a punishment for something he´s done. Luckily they come and pick him up eventually. But these themes probably open up only to myself, which is good cause some people could get offended. Lyrics are a great way to get revenge, by the way.
I could ask similar questions about your visual side. How do you plan what kind of a visual side to give each release? They've most often been rather minimalistic and fairly bare, too, has it been an intentional stylistic choice?
Riku > The cover art for each record is usually a pain in the ass. We always seem to do it the last and in a hurry. Usually we have some artwork either by Teemu or someone else and then me and Teemu sit in front of a computer for a few nights and fight over the layout. There’s no intentional choice in the style. It’s just what pleases our own eyes.
Most of your works have been released on CD, but more often on vinyl. Is this the format you prefer (either with your music specifically or in a more general sense), or has this just been something decided by demand? Speaking of which, will "Szklarska Poreba" be released on vinyl at some point? Of course nowadays there's a lot of people who buy (or illegally download) most, if not all of their music online.
Riku > None of us ever buys CD if there’s a choice. The previous records have been released on CD mainly because they cost next to nothing to manufacture. Nowadays, nobody seems to be buying them so I don’t think we’ll be releasing any more music on CD. Well, at least our own label will not be releasing them.
I really doubt that Szklarska Poreba will ever be released in vinyl. Pressing vinyl isn’t free, so there would need to be some heavy demand for it if it was to be pressed. Of course if you want to throw in a thousand euros and do it, give us a holler.
Teemu > Vinyl is the only format that makes you feel like you have actually made a record.
Speaking of your older releases, will there be a re-press of your debut EP?
Riku > The same thing here, I really doubt there is enough demand for this besides a few snot nosed geeks who most likely will find a way to get a free promo record from us anyway.
Have you thought about making a release that would compile the songs you've submitted on various compilations? Some were available on a compilation-tape of yours, but I suppose these tapes are long gone already. What's your view about compilation-releases by the way, are they something you generally buy or listen to?
Riku > This might be something we could do, but so far there are no plans for it either. There’s actually only one extra song on the compilation tape we’ve released. At the time it came out we only had one track called Swamptrack on a compilation CD which was included there.
I have a bunch of CD’s from old punk bands and such whose albums have been out of print for decades. Anyway, when it comes to our band, I don’t think that’s going to be the case for years to come.
Just out of general curiosity, is alcohol or some other substance important or in any way meaningful to you when performing or creating your songs? As a related note, how do you prepare yourselves for a live show?
Riku > Substances, schmubstances. We don’t have any routines really. We try not to get too wasted when we play. I guess that’s it.
Teemu > I played once a show sober. It was the last time I´d do something like that. Very awkward. As far as creating is concerned, drugs and alcohol don´t work. They make you want to do something else.
What does Fun have planned for the future? You'll be finishing the 7"-trilogy, as mentioned earlier, but what happens after that?
Riku > It’s hard to see the future even to the point when the entire trilogy is out, so let’s not worry about that just yet. We’ll think of something.
The noise rock "scene" is Finland is slowly growing, and we already have such great bands as Throat and Baxter Stockman - not forgetting the pioneering Radiopuhelimet here. Have you followed these bands' actions?
Riku > Sure. Radiopuhelimet has always been one of my all-time favorite bands. Actually we played our second ever show with them at the long gone Oranssi-klubi in Helsinki. Throat is great, Baxter Stockman is greatgreatgreat. We play shows together regularly and so on. Markus from BS sometimes does the sound for our shows too.
As a follow-up, what've been the latest bands that have blown your minds, be them either Finnish or foreign ones?
Riku > Overall, I think there’s plenty of good stuff being released in Finland nowadays in many different genres. The noise whatever rock scene is doing really well nowadays and there are a lot of good bands and records coming out. I also listen to a lot of straight up punk rock and that scene is also very much alive and kicking.
At least some of you have some other bands, although I think I'm not aware of others than of Echo Is Your Love. Could you tell us something about your other bands and their current actions?
Teemu > I play in Melmac and the Mymmelins. Both bands have excellent new stuff recorded and we try to find someone to release it. It might take a while though 'cause excellence is subjective.
The interview is approaching its end. Do you have anything you'd like to add or discuss further, advertise, ask, whatever?
Riku > Everything you ever want to know about our band can be found from our website which contains a lot of stuff throughout our history: www.noisecorewalze.com
For more frequent updates you can join our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/noisecorewalze
Buy our shit from Bandcamp: www.noisecorewalze.bandcamp.com
Life ain’t nothing but bitches and money.
I thank you for your time and patience, and for your recent gig at Nuclear Nightclub here in Oulu. I'll be looking forward to your upcoming releases.