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interview:::...en
(09 | 02 | 2009 - 11:37 - reactions: 0) DIY
The Interview with Otto Itkonen / Selfish, Forca Macabra,...
The interview is from Czech zine HLUBOKA ORBA issue 26.

1. Back in early 90s you used to live in Czech for few years, your bands used to tour here quite often, you have played in band/project here in Brno, you even found your wife in Czech – let’s talk more about these times! When was the first time you came here what did you liked/disliked here? What about Czechoslovakian hardcore/punk scene back in early to mid 90s, what did you think about it?

-Filip! First off, thanks a lot for this interview, I am glad you did this coz you´ve got some perspective to this whole ordeal. We´ve known each other maybe since 1993, or 1994, right? It definitely looks like I am gonna have fun with this one J
Well, in 1992 it was my first time to Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc. east-bloc countries and sure it was awesome! I fell in love with the laid back atmosphere of the friendly people, the run down cities that were yet rich in history, the polluted industrial sites & coal mines, the veggie-cuisine and so forth. I really liked what I saw and yes did also meet my wife on that first trip so it was easy to make the decision about moving to live in Czech coz I had just graduated from the high school anyway and had no bigger plans about what to do with my life.
I had already developed a passion for the underground punk movement during the late 80´s/early 90´s and I was really excited to make all these new connections. I realized some of the Czech scene at that time was really good, too, with many enthusiastic, young people. They were really into animal rights, direct action, etc. which suited perfectly coz I was into that stuff, too. You see, in Finland the scene was not really into activism at the time. Nowadays it´s different but that´s not any of concern here, is it.
Well, as for the Czech scene back then musicwise... Well, as you know I was a die hard-fan of all those rowdier hardcore bands from Brazil, Japan, Italy, Holland, Scandinavia, US, UK, etc. so the Czech scene was basically pretty poor in that sense. Of course, it´s also my fault to think that coz I couldn´t see all the originality and effort they´d put into their bands, I was so blind back then. Anyway, I really did grow into liking the few cool bands there were around the time, and followed them around if they went to play some other cities for example. Really no problem even if they might not have been as hot as their contemporaries in some other countries… And you know, back then the lyrical output had much more value to me and most of the Czech bands had really excellent lyrics and attitude. As you remember there often was a demonstration before the show, and some scuffles with the cops, the nazis, etc. -it´s all very thrilling for a young boy, ha ha! I guess the most impressive memory still remains from that big anti-fascist demonstration in 1994 which for the lack of the counter-demonstration nearly turned into a riot. Setting off those small bombs at the parliament, wrecking the McDonalds as we passed by...ha ha! What chaotic times those were...


2. No ass-kissing here, but you was probably one of the first people who has seriously brought crust/raw punk to Czechoslovakia {other highlights were the HIATUS/FLEAS AND LICE tour and S.O. WAR gigs in 1993}. Petr Valasek, ex-drummer of HEARTLINE, once told me that when you used to rehearse on drums in Ropice, it was non-stop dis-beat tempo for few hours! I know that today it sounds quite ridiculous and out-dated, but back then the scene here was mostly dominated by bad “New York hardcore” clones and some strange jazzy/experiment “hardcore”, I also remember that people who were into the kind of music you played were sometimes accused of listening to this “primitive/violent/negative” music... hahaha. Any comments?

-Guess what, I knew that I´d done it, ha ha! I´ve exposed actually lot of people into raw punk or some obscure bands. Maybe that´s my mission? Yeah, but playing on Petr´s drumkit every now and then was great therapy for me as I was sad for having no band of my own at the moment. Sure, then later on we did start the Dogs Anti Cops in Brno but I was the vocalist there, and, uh anyway… drumming is my main thing.
Sure I remember the discussion about the "raw punk"-style being primitive music by primitive people, and you being one of them main-instigators! After the Forca Macabra-gig that you saw in Olomouc in January 1994 you really must have thought we were just a bunch of creeps, haven´t you? The issue of Hluboka Orba that came out shortly afterwards where was the hand drawn illustration on the cover about the gig, with the crusties/raw punks demonstrating their ignorance and negative attitude, was probably the most explicit attack/bad-mouthing I´d seen. Still today it´s rather outstanding I think. Something you could be proud of, ha ha!


3. Another Eastern European country quite often crossed by both SELFISH and FORCA MACABRA tours was Poland. I know that some of the craziest shit did happen to you there like gigs attacked by naziskinheads or van with all your stuff inside stolen – could you tell us more about it? Also back then Poland was known for very violent dancing and also very active crust scene, how do you remember these times back then – gigs, bands, the whole scene etc.

-Poland was one fucking bad-ass place! It was so fucked up that you basically got adrenaline into your blood with the sheer thought of going on tour there. Yes, the gigs were mad: the dancing was very violent for which we often had to stop playing until the thing calmed down. Also we got harassed by the cops, scared by the security with their guns, thrown stones at by the nazis, spit upon by the punks…take an example what happened in Gdansk in 1995: we´re peacefully sitting in the backstage room and suddenly a punk runs in and whacks this another punk with a wooden plank, yeah that´s right, with a plank! The blood was just gushing out from that poor bastard´s skull as we flee the massacre. And yeah the spitting… the more they liked you the more phlegm they flinged on you during the gig -what a punk way to show your appreciation, huh!
Yeah, the music scene in Poland has always been really big and the punk scene really was no exception. As you know it was massive as early as in the early 80´s under all that heavy government suppression. Anyway, the crust-movement was a big thing in the early 90´s. I think Polish crusties were very friendly and crazy people, always ready to fight with the nazis. I remember booking a Homomilitia-tour a couple of times in Finland and once (in 1997) they were so bloodthirsty that they were specifically looking for nazis just to beat the shit out of them. The story goes like this: we were at the gig venue in the city of Joensuu. It was the 2nd floor where we sat when they saw a skinhead across the street. Two of them run down the stairs and nailed that guy on the street on that spot. And as the horrified girlfriend is crying by, they stomp on the nazi who desperately tries to clinge on the door handle of the coffee shop, soon meeting his demise. What a rough guys many of them were. I guess the best friends we made with bands like Homomilitia, Sanctus Iuda, Guernica Y Luno, La Aferra, and a little bit later Post Regiment.
Ah, the van! It got stolen maybe in 1998? It´s quite a few years from now… but what a horrible day it was! Wish it never happened. Apparently it was taken away by the Russian organized crime. They are always hungry for vehicles with western plates. Well, but since we had no proper insurance on the van we had to pay a lot of money for the rental agent coz he never got his bloody car back. On the top of that Selfish naturally lost in that disaster the personal stuff, too. Downtrodden, the way back we made with different trains and ferries, all beaten and broke wearing some borrowed clothing. I looked like a real tramp when I resurfaced Finland a few days later! And you know we could play just one gig on that infamous tour…

4. WAR SYSTEM/SELFISH tour back in summer 1992 – this was your first serious trip outside Finland, right? You played in so different countries like Portugal on one side and Czechoslovakia on the other – can you tell us more about it? Do you have some good memories from this tour?

-So, let´s see, it was the first tour for me to make. I had joined Selfish in 1991 as the drummer and vocalist (yeah, I did sing at the time, too!) and this tour was entirely set up through the network of friends I had at that time. I used to correspond with many people and I´d just asked them to organize a show in their town so the tour was really D.I.Y. -We even traveled on Interrail-cards during that whole adventure that lasted five weeks. We had brought just our back packs, guitar, bass, drum sticks and some merchandise on us and we enjoyed the life as you can when you are young and ready for anything new: meeting friends, getting to know the local food, girls, sightseeing, etc. -and of course getting blitzed every fucking day!
Well, I can´t deny the fact that I´ve been fucking up my brain quite a bit but looks like my memory is quite allright for the most part? I have many very fond memories from those days. It was a beautiful trip. Europe is amazing: so many different nations, languages and landscapes all within easy reach, and there we were, scanning it from Finland to Portugal, from Czech to the Netherlands. The tour also really opened up my eyes to see how all that international network of DIY-minded punks worked. It also showed me the possibilities of squatting, creating your own life, and ultimately it proved to us that it´s really easy to do a tour like this if you just believe in it and everyone treats everyone right.
Mostly we just passed by places quickly, but for example I remember being impressed by the Wohlgroth squat in Zurich which was huge. Pablo & Fritze of Resistance Productions were some of the people who in a way taught me some of the attitudes I have maintained until today. The squatting movement in the Netherlands was also cool. Some more time we could spend in Eastern Europe where we did six gigs, and Portugal where we hung out with the Atentado-guys. With them we were also supposed to release our first vinyl output: Selfish / Atentado split 7". We even gave them the money for the recording but after we left back to Finland they just disappeared and we never ever heard of them again. What a weird case.
One funny incident was the arrival to a friend´s house who had booked our gig at the Vort´n´Vis (Ypres, Belgium). Well, it was maybe around midnight and this guy lived with his parents and none of them was particularly happy when we showed up at the doorstep one day earlier than expected. It was all sorted out soon though and the gig next day was awesome. That´s also where we made friends with Private Jesus Detector and Hiatus -guys -many of whom I still see around today, sweet!
Well, some setbacks that we had: we had a gig booked in London but we could never make it as we missed a long-distance train from Lisbon to Paris, which made us to miss the ferry to the UK. Also, our three gigs in Croatia were cancelled as the war broke out/expanded in the summer 1992 into Croatian territories so we could not enter there. Anyway, apart from that everything worked out OK. The weather treated us nicely, too. It was a damn hot summer!


5. From the endless list of your bands since early 90s until today let’s start with FORCA MACABRA. Give us some short introduction for people who have never heard about the band – describe the kind of music you play, talk just quickly about the history, discography, tours, line-up etc. of this band. I know this is boring question asked in every zine...

-Well, I was madly in love with the Brazilian old bands. Forca Macabra started out as an idea that it would be cool to play some Brazilian-sounding hardcore/punk. I´d done some crust/grind bands prior to that, and had played some hardcore with some guys but none of that was really getting anywhere. A friend that´s also called Otto used to drum for a band called Rytmihäiriö at that time and I asked him to play guitar and sing in a band with me. Another friend of mine (from the previous bands) was on the bass. Maybe there was no bigger ambition behind Forca Macabra either but it just turned out to be working much better. I guess mostly it was coz I hooked up with the right guy, the other Otto! We´ve been in the band since the day one, and the current bass player joined in 1992. The guitarist is from 1999. So, looks like all in all we have had a quite steady line-up and we are pretty good buddies although we are all quite different characters. One thing that´s in common is that we are all more or less silly, I think.
We all love Brazilian dirty thrashcore and that´s what we try to accomplish with Forca Macabra. The lyrics have always been in Portuguese which gives some nice extra flavor to the blend I think. We also endorse all silly metal-antics that you can think of: stupid stage names, costumes, leather & studs, fake blood, you name it, we got it! The discography is extensive -damn it- just dozens of releases all over the world! We have also toured vastly in Europe, Japan, USA/Mexico, and twice in Brazil. I guess we are pretty good at what we are doing? A new album entitled "Aqui é o inferno" has just been recorded, and it is due to release in September 2006!



6. What about your all time inspiration band ARMAGEDOM – how did you got into contact with this old Brazilian band? Didn’t they write the lyrics for F.M. in the past? How many ARMAGEDOM songs did you covered? Javier actually visited Finland later and played with you on some records – can you tell us more about this cooperation? And finally, when ARMAGEDOM finally came to Europe in September 2005 they played with FORCA MACABRA in Turku – how did it went? I have heard that the show was pretty violent!

-The Forca Macabra lyrics were first translated by the before mentioned Atentado-vocalist named Chico, but when he disappeared we had to look elsewhere. Subcaos´ guitar player Libe gave us some assistance in the mid 90´s. But please note these guys just translated what we had written in English, or poor-ass Portuguese.
It was late 90´s when we got in touch with Javier of Armagedom. Of course, it was a dream to come true! And guess what, it was made possible by the internet! Would you imagine that it was he who came across Forca Macabra in the internet when he did a search on "Armagedom", ha ha!! So, he sent mail to us first which started the friendship.
Javier then came to check us out in Finland and we recorded one day in studio. This material came out in Japan on the Overthrow records as a limited edition of 700 copies. It is the 7" called "Meus olhos so veem dor", which is actually an old (unreleased) song title by Armagedom. The other time in Finland we played a gig at the Puntala festival. It was the four guys of Forca Macabra and Javier on the 2nd guitar on the stage. The set consisted of Armagedom-songs only so I guess we have really played many of them! Usually we play a cover by them on nearly every one of our gigs. Their heritage can not be denied.
When Armagedom came to Finland last year they played with us three gigs booked by us, but no gig in Turku though. I guess you refer to the last of the gigs which was a birthday party of a friend of ours here in Helsinki who turned 40. Kuolema, Appendix, Kohu-63, and some other bands played as well. There were mostly old timers present in the crowd which means the atmosphere was rather unusual. More like the early 80´s it used to be. Yes, there was some madness and spontaneous fights, too, which is very rare for Finland. But it was a great night, everybody just got really fucked up and laughed it away…
Armagedom were the biggest musical influence to us, so this friendship has meant a lot for us. Besides, on the top of everything actually all of them Armagedom-guys are totally cool people, one of the very best around! It´s so big fun to hang around with them. The same goes with Lobotomia, too. The only complaint is that those bastards live fucking 1000s of miles away from Finland!


7. Sure everybody knows OLHO SECO and RATOS DE PORAO, maybe ARMAGEDOM as well, but can you talk more about the other ancient Brazilian thrash/hardcore/punk bands which have influenced you? Let’s talk about cover songs again, about the releases, which you would recommend most etc.

-Well, I guess it´s all the same which one of our releases you grab, they all sound like "Forca Macabra", it´s all good´n´honest material in that sense. But I do have high hopes for the upcoming album. The recording turned out really good. Of the older material the best-selling 7"ep (4000 copies!) is pretty intense; the album "Caveira da forca" shows the versatility of the band; the split LP/CD with Armagedom gives you also another good band on the flipside. By the way, there is also a Forca Macabra CD coming out soon/now in Brazil which includes an entire live set (professionally recorded and mixed by Marcelo Pompeu of Korzus!) plus a bunch of 80´s cover songs of Brazilian metal and hardcore/punk bands: Dorsal Atlantica, Metalmorphose, Psykoze, Colera, Lobotomia, Armagedom, Korzus, Overdose and some more. Yeah as you can see we are not trying to hide where we draw our influences from, ha ha! Every night we gotta do at least one cover song, preferably more!
You know, we have been influenced by the general "feel" of the early Brazilian bands. It´s not just limited to hc/punk. There were some madly intense and crazy bands who made (mostly) no releases, apart from some poor quality tapes, but we find those so charming: S.P. Caos, Ulster, Ruidos Absurdos, Psykoze, Ultima Chance, and so on. We are also suckers for the Brazilian metal and definitely urge anyone in their right minds to check out the godly v/a LP´s "Sp metal" and "Sp metal 2" from 1984 & 1985. Just cross early Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Angel Witch with vicious, high-pitched vocals in Portuguese, and play it detuned and record that on a 8-tracker, and you will have some killer metal albums!!!


8. FORCA MACABRA toured Brazil two times, right? How did it feel to actually play the country whose hardcore scene has inspired you so much? What were some of the high-lights/down-falls of the tour? I can imagine that touring Brazil must be pretty tough {big distances, backline, money}, but also very rewarding since every Brazilian band I met so far was full of cool people who were 100% crazy into hardcore/punk...

-Yes, twice is correct. It was both times really fucking amazing and it seems that we have gained quite a following there. The second time we went there the shows were bigger and better organized and people did really gather around. If compared to the European fans, the Brazilian fans are crazy, and really show their feelings. You know, and they also like to ask for your autograph, get into the same picture with you, introduce you to their girlfriends, etc. weird stuff. The equipment at some shows has been just ridiculous but we don´t mind: we can handle also poor equipment and it´s just part of the charm is it not. For example, in Mexico I was asked not to play the drums too hard or else they´d fall apart, ha ha!
Brazil´s pretty big country indeed. We had some insane drives which is a little bit heavy at times but with the right attitude it´s no big deal. But this time we had some bad deals with the tour management which means we lost big money on the car and some other expenses. We also did poorly with the merchandise so touring cost us a lot of money. But noone´s complaining as it´s always a great experience to go and play. For me it´s a perfect holiday and I am not expecting to have it all for free of charge.
Some of the bands we have played there with really made a big impression to us. The bands that we look upon to: Armagedom, Lobotomia, Colera, Chakal, to name but a few, were really cool people as well which means of course a great deal! On the other hand I felt some newer bands such as Sociofobia and Unidos Pelo Odio were real killers! And on this last tour I was also personally stoked to meet Glauco of Neurose Urbana and Fofao of Besthöven (and play with them!!!) finally as we´d been friends for many years.


9. Last year FORCA MACABRA played only 2 gigs in Italy and they had to do them with replacement drummer found in Italy, what has happened? How did it went?

-Well, that was some headache for me personally because this was the first time I dropped out from a gig for health reasons. You know we were invited to play on the Agipunk festival in Italy and had agreed to do that. They´d even paid our plane tickets upfront but it was like two or three days before the festival I fell really ill (pneumonia) and I just couldn´t go. We decided that the others would make the best out of it with "someone" on the drums. Then, at the time of arrival to Milan they are told that this one lady called Marziona would be the drummer -amazing is it not! They had some kind of rehearsal at the soundcheck and the two gigs went well by her. I heard only good things about her performance and we really owe her a great deal, especially me personally because she really saved our asses! Eternal gratitude to Mamma Macabra!
But there´s more to it. A fair two months ago I had a decline at a gig here in Finland right before we were supposed to play. I ended up in hospital for having had an intense drinking spree. I was feeling very ill, my upper abdomen was swollen and I was just trembling in the backstage so the guys said I better go now coz I looked pretty bad. Anyway, at the hospital the doctor told me I had blewn my gut with too much hard liquor and told me not to drink a single drop for the next four weeks and sent me off with a prescription for a medicine. Shitty timing, really bad luck, that´s what it was -but guess what happened at the show? The other guys did play the gig through with three different drummers, each one of them trying to remember a few songs in their turn, ha ha! This maybe reveals that our attitude is not dead-serious all the time. And the moral of story could be that all of us are growing older, we are certainly not young anymore…


10. I remember for the first time FORCA MACABRA in Czech back in January 1994 in Olomouc on your tour with UUTUUS, where you drummed with both bands. I can imagine that it had to be pretty harsh tour as it took the place in the mid of winter and it was mostly through the Eastern bloc, right? The last time you was here was few years ago in Roznov pod Radhostem/Vrah Club. Any plans for other European tour, which would cross Czech as well?

-That tour in January 1994 was a nice one! The gigs were rowdy everywhere. The first night the Uutuus-vocalist got punched into his face by some local redneck; the gig in Olomouc was just a havoc; the one in Kosice was really cool, Nonconformist kicked ass back then; I never made it to the gig in Lodz so the Homomilitia-drummer played the set for Forca; and the three roadies we had with us got totally fucked up all the time, even more than the band members. It was just hilarious, I remember we behaved pretty badly everywhere we went so there you see you probably got a point with your writing on Hluboka Orba about idiots on the run, ha ha!??
The previous time Forca Macabra was in Czech was maybe in April 1997 or am I missing some dates? The 1999-tour with Wind of Pain might not have stretched into Czech territories? Selfish played two shows in February 2004 and both were great gigs! Vrah is one of the best places around these days I think, and the scene that revolves around Vrah is really inspirational. We are also good friends with Innoxia Corpora and it´s always a pleasure to be their guest. Hope to book them soon again in Finland. I just wish they were shown some more appreciation by the Finnish punks. Nowadays I feel there is a climate of certain disrespect for bands that come from slightly more unorthodox places for punk rock, and that´s so wrong!
Oh yeah I used to drum for Uutuus a lot although I never was a real member of the band. I filled in probably 30 or more gigs for them. The entire Selfish / Uutuus European tour in October 1993 for instance.
OK, today my bands have no plans for any tours at all. We are all too busy with our jobs and daily lives that it is hard to think of the rehearsals let alone a local show. We are also chronically out of money which is the biggest problem. Sure, if someone pays us the trip we will come and play anywhere, almost anytime. Please get in touch if you have any crazy ideas!
Or, wait a minute. I just remembered we have been talking about a small tour to Russia next winter with Selfish and Hellshock. Let´s see if anything happens...


11. Since early 90s you run the record label - please give us the complete discography of your label incl. all the different label names you used and pressing info. And since Johnson from ANTI-CIMEX found out who did the bootleg split 7" w/SKITSLICKERS and wanted to kill you because of it, maybe you can also include all the bootlegs in the discography?! Which is your fave stuff you released? Any plans for new releases?

-I did first start out with a tape label though. I made compilation tapes. Back then tapes were still an attractive format so I did actually sell and trade many of them around and this way got in touch with new people and bands and labels. My label was called Earquake Tapes, by the way. But hey Filip, please don´t bother asking, as noone will ever get the entire discography of my label, ha ha! But if you have them all and just follow the catalogue numbers you will see everything that I´ve released till now. It´s a few dozens of EP´s and LP´s, and a couple of CD´s, too. I like keeping this a little obscure and vague. I like kind of mystery. But the very reason why I change the name of the label every time I release something dates back to 1993 when I was releasing my first vinyl. I just didn´t know what to use of the many names/options I had for a label. And then I decided I will use now this, and that name will be on the next one, and so on. Also, I have come to see that by changing the name every time I can keep my label small, I can keep the distance to the business, you know what I mean? Also it´s nice to surprise people “Oh, was it YOU who made this, I never knew...!” –ha ha!
Back in the day it was easy to press 1000 or even 2000 copies of a record and get rid of them but as the volume of new releases has increased drastically and as people buy less and less records I have made more recently -that is, since the late 90´s- just small pressings of 200, 300, or maximum of 500 copies only. I can´t name any definite favourite among the releases but some of the better ones might be: Disclose "Tragedy" LP, Liberate 7”, Sanctus Iuda/Sharpeville split 7”, Neurose Urbana 1st 7", Rytmihäiriö discography CD, Slang 7", Risperdal Punx on meat Hooks v/a CD, Helluntaiherätys CD, I Slaughter Singing Madly Anthem v/a 7", Armagedom demo´84 LP, and yeah, the Anti-Cimex/Shitlickers split 7".
Well, I just wish people would get this straight, I have no further involvement with releasing of bootlegs. My mailorder label has sold them and will sell them when interesting ones turn up. And I do think bootlegs are fair when they are made nicely and when the original artist is given some free copies. Allright, this brings us to the split 7"ep that I´ve put out. The utmost motivation for that bootleg was to show people that "War system" was not a song by bloody Sore Throat! I was annoyed coz the Shitlickers didn´t get the credit from their masterpiece recordings. Well my logic didn´t last too long it seems: I did wrong coz I made an unauthorized record, and I did especially wrong coz I didn´t give free copies to the band. But when I was going to give them there was already talk about them snuffing me out so it was too late to do anything about it I thought, and just avoided the whole deal. Anyway, what can be said is that I did sell the record for as cheap as possible (yes, that´s very little comfort for the bands, I know…), and that I did do a nice job with all the respect to the originals -in fact in my opinion it´s got an outstanding quality! Anyway, that experience within the realm of bootlegs taught me a lesson and I don´t wanna mess around with them anymore. Since that I have been falsely accused of making this or that bootleg but all I can say is that it´s crap! The other side of the coin is that one of my bands has been bootlegged in Mexico. An edition of 500 CD´s was made off a Forca Macabra c-cassette that was distributed by a Mexican label. We didn´t think it was such a big deal anyway, our stuff is not copyrighted but it´s always nice to ask for a permission...
New stuff will be coming out on my label but it´s really quiet. I can release maybe two new titles per a year as normally I need to wait that the previous one sells out so that I get the money back for the next one. Right now I have placed an order for 500 copies of the Katie Katty 7" with a cool, girlie sticker to boot. It´s gonna be one smoking 7"er by those three ladies from Kobe, Japan who belt out some ferocious, rocking japcore! Furthermore there are some 80´s Finnish hardcore reissues being planned on my label but it might take some time as I don´t even have the artwork or master tapes from the bands so far.


12. You released records by two Czechoslovakian bands HEARTLINE and NONCONFORMIST, but the DISCLOSE/LOS SOMMROS split EP never saw the light of the day, even DISCLOSE have recorded 3 songs for it back in 1994. Don’t you regret it? Was there any other unreleased or cancelled stuff on your label?

-I wanted to make CulDeSac 7" too but for whatever reasons Martin of Malarie Records did it. Maybe I had no money at the time? Anyway, it was CulDeSac, Nonconformist, Los Sommros and Heartline the 4 bands that I really liked at that time. Of course I was into making the split 7" for Disclose coz I was a big fan of Disclose and Kawakami was a dear friend of mine but it just got delayed coz Los Sommros didn´t get their shit together. Then eventually they split-up so I just returned the master tapes for Kawakami. The Disclose songs were actually later used on one of the sides of the picture disc they put out on Distortion Records from Sweden. But hey to be honest I had already forgotten about this title until you mentioned this to me J
As for other releases like that, I am not quite sure. There might have been something but I can´t remember. At least some Japanese releases were in the pipeline. But the bands just disappeared, split up, whatever. Probably the hottest thing ever would have been the Engrave 7". They were slicing killer japcore punk, a furious young band from Kyoto who I got to know when I lived there. Too bad they called it a day. The drummer Osamu is nowadays with Nightmare though…



13. The label name for NEUROSE URBANA EP is „Gang Rape“ – I know that it has raised some eye-brows {mine as well} in reviews I read. In Germany you have introduced the gig of CRUDE with following immortal words: „Here comes the most exciting thing which has ever happened in Germany since Adolf Hitler“ and there is photo of you sitting on motorbike and pissing on some FORCA MACABRA LP – which other acts of politically incorrect behaviour would you share with our readers?

-It´s good to cause some reactions, is it not? I like to push the limits in many ways -one way to do it is to push your luck. The Brazilian anarchopunks are not very well known for their good sense of humor so what do you get if you put out an EP on "Gang rape records" by a band favoured by anarchopunks? Or what do you get in Germany if you crack a joke about nazis and jews? Well, you know the answer… In my opinion it´s fun to stir up the stale mass of people. Besides, I have tendency for weird and crazy things so maybe deep inside I get pleasure of pissing on a scooter, ha ha! In my opinion people should have more sense of humor, more abilities to laugh at themselves. Hey, even though you gotta know where to stand life is not so fucking serious!



14. Let’s talk about SELFISH now for a while. Doesn’t it actually feel like playing in two different bands with the same name, the „crusty“ SELFISH until 1996 or so and new „japancore“ SELFISH since mid 90s until today? Even some ex-LOS SOMMROS members who have heard your „new“ stuff were in total shock... why such a radical musical change back then?

-Oh no, that past means nothing like that for me. It´s been always 100% Selfish for me personally: ever since I joined the band I have been one of the generating forces behind it. I have been in the band since 1991 and while we did the raw punk-thing until 1995 it was the best what we could do, and what we also wanted to do. Then there was a radical change of musical direction in 1995 and since that the "japcore" has been the style that we wanna to do… I know, today there are no original members in the band, not even me, but I really feel it´s been just one and same band for me always…
But why the musical direction changed? This is quite simple really and is becoming one of the "boring" parts to explain in the interviews, after all, it´s ten years now since it took place. Where the hell were everybody? However, the raw punk / crust -punk exploded in Finland and also elsewhere towards the mid 90´s and we soon realized we were no more anything like an exciting or original band -also it started to sound boring coz it really seemed like everyone was playing the d-beat drunkpunk-flavoured stuff. It was fun, it still could be, but luckily we decided to try out something else. I was a japcore-freak and twisted our guitar player´s arm into writing new songs like that. Some changes in line-up ensued and there we were finally: doing this same stuff that we are still doing today. The line-up has been also steady for the previous ten years with the exception of bass-players who´ve been in and out of the band. The new guy´s again a bundle of nerves and we hope he will last longer than his predecessors. We are also very happy about the musical direction because this is pretty much the most vivid, exciting and challenging form of hardcore/punk that is possible for us to play.

15. I think that SELFISH has even longer musical history than FORCA, so again give a short biography of this band to people who haven’t heard about it – history, tours, members, releases... thanx!

-Well, a lot of that I covered in the previous answer… Yes, Selfish did start a few years before Forca Macabra. And like Forca, Selfish have also been busy making many tours all over the Europe, also twice in the USA/Canada and thrice in Japan! And there is a long list of releases, the most recent of which (from 2004) is a mini-album called "Cause pain" -but most interestingly we are just now preparing for a new album which is hopefully out during the year 2007. It might be released on Feral Ward again?

16. While FORCA MACABRA has Brazil as the „cult country“, for SELFISH it is for sure Japan with it’s huge hardcore/punk scene and it’s rich history. SELFISH toured Japan three times I think, recorded the first LP there – let’s talk more about your Japanese experiences!

-Damn, there would be many stories to be told...I wish you´d been a little bit more specific with the question. The recordings have been nice there ´coz Our House studio is a cool place, with Mr.Yanagida the soul of it. I was personally quite surprised when I first went there. I was expecting some big studio with the newest equipment coz of the big sound they´ve created (Bastard 12”, Death Side-recordings, Zone, etc.) but in fact it was the smallest studio I´ve ever been to with lots of old, dusty gear crammed in there. Yanagida-sensei told he´d built many of them by himself which explains that he knows really how the get the sound right. The studio is nowadays somewhat bigger but it´s still relatively small in size.
Japan is a beautiful country with amazingly rich culture and history. I´d really suggest anyone to travel there at least once in their life and see some of it with their own eyes. Of course, the hardcore/punk bands are the best that there are around today and the gigs especially prove the point. The so-called live houses that set up most of the shows in Japan really take pride in their work and try to make the shows be as perfect as possible. The same applies with the bands, of course. It´s a winning combination, really!

17. My band will tour Japan in few months, so of course I want to know a lot about touring in so far away and for us also very exotic/sometimes also very strange country. I know that for the first time your tour was organized by the „crusties“, while for the second and third time you went with „japcore“ bands. How was the difference? Which were the best places you played, what about the audiences reactions? Which were some of the best bands you have played with?

-Well, the times have changed a lot. Nowadays there aren´t anymore those idiotic divisions between the scenes but all punks, crusties and japcores go to any shows they ever feel like going to and have a great time together! The first Selfish tour was in spring 1998 and organized by crusties. It was well-organized but maybe not the best time to tour Japan anyway coz the scenes were not doing particularly well. I guess the highlights of the tour were the two last gigs in Yokohama and Tokyo where we had also some japcore audience as well as japcore bands to play with. We found much more in common with their raucous attitude than with the well-behaving, moderate crusties. No offense here, that´s just the way it looked like at that time and I am sure anyone outsider would agree with us. That time we made some good connections to the japcore scene that normally had been sort of hard to reach by foreigners. They were surprisingly nice (you know, they have this tough-guy attitude) and really flattered at our attempt to play music similar to theirs.
This resulted the second tour (May 1999) being organized by Burning Spirits. We toured a few weeks with Forward, Zone and Evance both left and right on the islands. It was a really amazing, interesting inside-view to the japcore scene. The gigs were really fucking great but that time also japcore scene was quite small and struggling with both internal and external pressures so now I can firmly say that this tour as well could have been even much better! The best places could have been Antiknock in Tokyo, and Flower and Dragon in Yokohama.
The reactions in Japan were never ecstatic but it´s actually not very easy to make a Japanese crowd to go nuts like the kids in Europe, US, or Brazil do. We were glad to get any reaction at all. Often they give you the positive feedback after the show -and if the merchandise does good it means they have liked your set.
The third tour (summer tour 2001) was booked by me, using my Japanese contacts. Asking individual friends to set up a show each. The experience was first of a kind done by a foreign band touring Japan and the locals called me a madman but I knew I could pull it off coz I had done it before elsewhere -and oh yeah it did work out just fine! We played an equal share of both japcore and crusties gigs and some of them had even quite boldly mixed line-ups with bands from both scenes but that was not a very smart move as the turnouts to those few gigs were smaller than normally. Some of the bands even caused a bit of a fuss not wanting to play with that other band from “the other scene” etc. childish crap… A nice exception was a gig in Tokyo with Rocky & The Sweden, Final Bloodbath, The Slowmotions, Abraham Cross, etc. which was a truly great night! Even the mighty Bastard played a short set that day! Anyway, I was always for the united scene so I kept pushing my views perhaps even too harshly and made some enemies that way. But look at the situation now: nowadays in Japan the crusties and japcores are one and it´s great!
From those times I thought some of the best live bands from Japan were Crude, Geshpenst, Liberate, Tetsuarei, Evance, S.D.S., Engrave, Zone, Paintbox, Judgement, Warhead, Naguri, Carrie, Dopamin, Rocky & The Sweden… and also some crusties such as Gloom, Framtid and Disclose.

18. I know that on one of these Japan tours when you met with the other band-members on the airport, your bass-player just came to tell you that he won't travel with you to Japan... fuck, it had to be crazy! You went anyway and did the tour with re-placement bass player found in Japan. How did you managed to do it?

-Well, it WAS crazy, and that happened before the second tour. The bass player had had some hard time, he was not in full mind & spirits really, and we were already in troubles with him but the news he gave us at the terminal were still rather shocking. Anyway, it was certainly too late to turn back and I guess we just knew one way or other we are going to make this work, we like to push it to the extremes. Make the best out of a bad situation. At Tokyo airport the Evance-guys were to meet us and as they find only three of us, everyone stinking drink, the first thing that we tell them is: "Please get us a bass player…" –They were laughing their asses off!
Oh well, for our luck we had a few days off before the tour was to start. Luckily a guy called You-kun agreed to play with us. He´d played before Systematic Death and Death Side, and was the bassist of Forward so we thought it can´t be all that wrong. And fucking hell yeah he did a perfect job! Eternal gratitude also for him!!!

19. I think that I read somewhere a line like „After we found out that hardcore is dead almost everywhere in the world except Japan, we started to tour Japan extensively“ – well, I think that especially in the last few years the DIY hardcore/punk scene especially in Western Europe is in kind of downfall... would you agree? Both your bands tour more in Brazil/USA/Japan than in Europe as well – how would you in general describe the differences between touring overseas and touring Europe? SELFISH did the last European tour back in early 2004, how did it went? When you plan to hit the road again?

-Uh, the quote is probably one of mine. I often comment things in a blunt way, but really meaning no offense. I also remember I was just referring to the music. Hardcore in our opinion really is down in the dregs for the most of the world -whereas Japan every and each time comes up with some new and refreshing ideas, still maintaining the aggression and speed and power that for us stand for a good hardcore/punk music.
As for touring "overseas" as opposed to Europe, well, it´s kinda hard to make these decisions really. We are not overlooking Europe in any way. On the contrary: we like it here and the previous European tour was a great success measured by any levels, but you see for one we are very busy, which means we can possibly make only one tour in one year. Probably even less than that. And we do get a lot of offers. And it´s four of us and everyone wants to go somewhere different... so there are many factors really to think about when deciding where to go next. Right now we have had some talking about Brazil. OK, why not? But then again USA has been really good for us every time. So why not the States for the third time? But there are people in Europe as well who really wanna see us play live…so maybe Europe? It´s really hard to decide and we know that we can never satisfy everyone, including ourselves. The best would be making short tours, a week or less, but with those it´s next to impossible to dream of breaking even moneywise.
As for the real DIY-scene anywhere on this planet to be honest I am not too sure how it is doing?! I haven´t been in direct contact with those people to the same extent as I used to so I don´t know. But I haven´t seen any significant change for better or for worse in Finland. The scene is healthy over here. However, it´s also curious how people define DIY anyway? This would start a whole new conversation I am sure…


20. We have already talked about touring South America, Europe and Japan, the last country not covered yet is U.S.A {and didn’t you played also in Mexico during one of your U.S. trips?}, which you toured both with SELFISH and FORCA MACABRA. I can imagine that touring U.S. is probably not much easier than touring Brazil with their super-long drives and super-D.I.Y. venues {living rooms, cellars etc.}. Again, let’s talk more about these tours – some of the best/worst places, bands you played with, crazy tour stories etc.

-In the USA the biggest problem are the cops. They seem to be everywhere and they´ve got all these bullshit laws about not to drink inside a car, not to drink on the street, etc. And they seem to be a bit paranoid in the 9/11 aftermath. Also the customs/passport control is quite strict but naturally we never had any problems as we are model citizens… But I´d say it´s a lot of surveillance really.
Yeah your right: there are many interesting venues in the States. But the system works! The basement parties can be really fucking good with good equipment, great food, lots of money, and fucking wild dance & pogo. And you know they don´t even pogo, they just run in a circle pit and do crowd surfing or other wild stuff. The drives are quite long, yes, but there are also short distances on the east-coast for example. The underground/DIY-punk scene there is not terribly big but it´s really united and sticks together. Everybody seems to know each other and they can handle all kinds of problems: all in all it seems to be a very dynamic group of people. Sometimes politically correct, maybe even uptight, but then on the other hand you have some gunfreaks and other loonies in that same scene -and almost everyone does coke and drink! I have made very many dear friends there and can hardly wait to go back some day…
Crazy stories, fun stories… well, here is one from the Forca Macabra-tour in summer 2004. The vocalist had been drinking heavily (!!) for some days and the substandard vodka, the pounding heat, and not eating properly probably all contributed to him act a bit weird. It was something like 2PM on a Wednesday in a quiet downtown of Providence, Rhode Island, when he staggers around the parking lot and starts to jump at the cars stopping at the red light nearby. He yells at them profanities and death threats both in English, Finnish and Portuguese. He was wearing no shoes, no shirt, just a pair of ragged jeans and he had a bottle of vodka in his hand. We tried to stop him but he´s a big bloke and quite odd character when he´s drunk out of his mind so we could not restrain him. People were scared. Anyway, it was obvious that in no time there will be cops at the scene.
After several excruciatingly long minutes we finally get his ass inside the van while the cops arrive. They start searching the area as we are hiding inside the van. Of course the drunken slob starts to yell and roll over the seats and gets one of the pigs attracted. The cop walks by and talks to our driver, Skell. Luckily we get the vocalist to shut up for a while and Skell subtly tells to the officer that he knows nothing about any drunken people around here. J
As soon as the police leaves, we leave. We drive for the Armageddon Shop where some people had already gathered around for tonite´s show. As soon as we stop there, the vocalist comes out of the van in a messiah state of drunkenness, falls on his face and passes out on the pavement. Very soon another cop car arrives. This time I am talking to the officer and miraculously make him leave us there, promising him that we clean up the mess and get the man off the pavement.
Allright, that said we start to move the vocalist but he starts to puke on himself and finally he lands face down in that pool of puke. Quite disgusting, aint it! This is followed by a few hours of sleep on the Armageddon Shop´s floor with the customers skipping over his lifeless torso. And we played a smashing gig a few hours later! Anyway, this was supposed to be a funny story? Well, at that moment we felt amused. But you know there would be countless of stories like this including all the members of the band...
Oh, one thing I´d like to say about Canada. I was really surprised to see how "european" it was! I mean, it´s totally unlike the neighbouring USA. The feeling there is more like somewhere in the western Europe really. Especially the Montreal punk-scene was super-cool! Inepsy rules OK! Come to Finland soon!!!

21. WAR SYSTEM, ARMED REVOLUTION and DOGS ANTICOPS... these are some of the most obscure/forgotten bands you have played with – I did managed to found out some Finnish comp. tape with few WAR SYSTEM songs {I think that they are recorded live in Portugal}, I think that ARMED REVOLUTION has this mysterious rare EP released on very strange Paris label and finally I saw you singing with DOGS ANTICOPS back in 1995 in Brno opening for VARUKERS who didn’t arrived... OK, now YOU talk more about these bands!

-Ha ha! That mysterious 7" by Armed Revolution is not that mysterious really. It was released by Dan Doh records from Japan, and as a matter of fact Filip, I guess that you can find it now in Japan when you go there, it should be somewhere around. Anyway the ep´s got 10 songs from the 12-song tape we did in June 1993. One remaining song "Corporate slave" is on Pablo´s Bullshit Detector vol.4 v/a double LP and one song is still unreleased -that however was supposed to be on that mysterious label from Paris who in fact sort of disappeared. Fucking wankers many of those French labels! Armed Revolution anyway was a band that I had with my friends in the rural town of Punkaharju where my parents lived. It was great fun, we used to drink homebrew and play some shit. We played maybe three gigs during the existence of the band. On the stage we played the songs off the demo tape plus the first song from the Kuro "Who the helpless" EP.
War System was the band I played bass for. It was a sort of sidekick-project of Selfish. The Selfish guitarist played drums there. We also had a vocalist but we never really played with him so usually it was just three of us. The style was just d-beat punk. We did a 5-song demo tape of which exists two versions of mixing. I have just the other one as the other (the much better!) tape is broken, the tape snapped in 1992! We also recorded for a split LP with Forca Macabra. The two bands had booked a studio for a weekend but the first day went down to hell as we got nothing recorded and just got drunk. The second day War System recorded the songs, maybe 12-14 of them, I can´t remember the exact number, but the vocals were not recorded coz the vocalist puked and didn’t feel too good to do the vocals then. He was supposed to sing later but the project got delayed and some more delayed and eventually the studio guy needed the master reels and just erased all our material. So that recording simply does not exist, sadly. Forca Macabra neither never recorded for that album so obviously it got never released. By the way, a Forca Macabra / Rotten Sound split LP also never got released.
So, the Dogs Anti Cops finally. It was a band I sang for in 1994-1995. We played two or three gigs. One I remember at Propast, it was much better than our debut at that Varukers-show that you remember. This band was good fun. We used to practice in that one garage up on the hills surrounding Brno. I met actually the drummer´s (Pogo) sister in Berlin some years ago. She was really happy to meet someone who knew the brother. Brno was a great place anyway, I was always very fond of the city and the people there, I am glad to hear the scene in thriving again!
Speaking of more bands where I´ve played, well, I had also three bands while I lived in Japan. And a couple more projects there...



22. By the way there are 4 songs on the first SKITSLICKERS EP - "War System", "Cracked Cop Skulls", "Leader Of the Fucking Arseholes" and "Armed Revolution" and you already used 2 of them as the band names and CRACKED COP SKULLS was the band from UK w/DOOM members... this leaves only the LEADER OF THE FUCKING ARSEHOLES name... do you know, is it still free or did somebody used it already?

-I think there actually was a short-lived project band in Japan called Leader of the Fucking Assholes. I should check this out because I have many weird tapes from the early 90´s by Japanese crust bands such as Algolagnia, Jhonio 47, Condoom, Crusade, A.A.N.A., Despair, Abolish, War Cry, Carnage, Warscared, Ace of Shit, etc. The project might have involved Morishita of Overthrow Records and they might have been called -at some stage anyway- Leader of the Fucking Assholes. Or was it maybe a project involving Kawakami? He´d remember I am sure... The Japanese scene is huge!!!

23. You played drums for the reformed KUOLEMA and you recently wrote me that you may also play for KANSAN UUTISET... tell us more about it. I know there is huge trend of old Finnish {not only Finnish of course, it’s happening everywhere} bands reforming, is it so interesting? Which of these old and now reformed bands would you recommend as sounding still good? I sawn APPENDIX only last year live and they sounded more like bar band playing cover songs of APPENDIX...

-Yeah well, I am a sucker for the old scene so I basically prefer even a weak old band reformed to a new band, almost anytime. You know what I mean? But your right there as well: why judge the band by its old merits if they are as good as shit nowadays? Kuolema have been playing now five years and we are doing good. It´s got really not much left of the original 1982-1984 Kuolema but that´s the way we wanted it to be -the idea never was nothing else but just to keep the old name and to write new material.
Kansan Uutiset have now been rehearsing a couple of times with me, and we are basically learning how to play again. Those guys have not been active with the music scene in a while so it´s a bit rusty for them, ha ha! But we try to get into a shape till July as we are supposed to play at the Puntala festival this summer. And how did I end up with all these bands/projects? I don´t know, people just ask me and I can´t say no... I have been drummer also for a band called Sekasorto a couple of years now. It´s another 80´s Finland raw punk band. They never split-up though, it´s the vocalist & the bass player who´ve been doing the band since 1984, always with different drummers and guitarists...
Uh, old bands reformed who still sound good?! I guess Jerry´s Kids would be one but I didn’t see their reunion-gig. Verbal Abuse might be another scorcher on the stage. And sure a Poison Arts (Japan) reunion gig would be a dream to come true but the one that was supposed to be 6 months ago was called off the last minute I heard. And by the way, although nowhere as good as their 1982/83-material I do like Appendix a lot nowadays actually.

25. Well, after playing this music for more than 15 years, releasing tons of records and touring all over the world, don’t you fell tired, bored, jaded...? Don’t you feel the urge either to „move on“ like on bigger label, like having your video on TV or don’t you feel like to settle down and quit all this punk shit? What about the other old and current SELFISH/FORCA MACABRA members, are they still excited about this punk shit?

-I don´t feel tired or bored with my lifestyle at all, I love this! And I am more and more confident about this every day. I feel annoyed when people even suggest me dropping out one day –why should it happen to everyone? I guess it´s sometimes that the people near me get affected and suffer coz of my choice but what the hell: hardcorepunk is the best partner for your life! Ever since getting into this I never thought about doing something else! I can´t imagine what else could I do but this?! I feel great and happy like this, what else does a man want? Get laid more often perhaps but that can be arranged without making any compromises.
In the bands, too, it looks like all the guys in the bands share more or less similar attitudes and ambitions how the band should be operated. That is, it seems that there won´t be any major dealings nor videos on MTV in the near future by us. But please don´t get me wrong, I am not for the small, segregated scenes, not a diehard-DIY-fanatic either, but I am all for bringing the different underground styles together. However I think this does not need to involve the major labels. It´s not that I´d be heavily against them -I am just a realist, I know it´s got nothing to do with our scene so why bother trying and dreaming.

25. I guess that you managed to live out of the Finnish welfare state for some long years, you even managed to have some University studies intercourse in Japan, right? What’s your today's job? Where do you exactly live now in Finland?

-I live in the capital area, suburbs of Helsinki, some 25 kilometers from the downtown. Far away and a little bit isolated but it means I don´t have to be bothered by drunks ringing the doorbell every other day. On the other hand the connections to the other areas are good by the commuter train. This is a small block of flats with some woods nearby, a quite nice place I think, especially now that I renovated this all by myself some two years ago: building new flooring, cupboards, painting, etc. So it really feels like home now.
Both Kuolema and Forca Macabra are nearby so we get to meet sometimes and hang out and maybe rehearse once or twice a month but regrettably with Selfish it´s much more hard as we all live in different cities and we get to practice only once in 6 months or so.
Yeah I have studied at the university. The system in Finland is highly supportive for students, makes it pretty easy really. And since I had japanology as my major I was lucky enough to get onto that bilateral student exchange program where I was sent to Kyoto, Ryukoku University for 12 months free of charge! After that I worked 4 years in a telemarketing job which was horrible towards the end, I got so tired of it. Now it´s looking great again as I´ve been an instructor soon nine months at this asylum for refugee children who come without parents to Finland from the war crisis all around the world. This is a real social work: badly paid but really rewards you mentally, I am very lucky doing this. Sadly, looks like my time´s up after the summer as they will do some reorganization and I won´t be needed anymore. Maybe I start a revolution somewhere next?


26. 26 long questions, that’s it finally... Thanx a lot for your time! Any last words?

-This was a very nice talk, thanks a million! It´s also fantastic that some people still bother to edit good old paper fanzines. I don´t like reading a zine in the internet! Uh, anyway, if somebody like that crap, feel free to check out the websites:
www.selfishfinland.com
www.forcamacabra.com
www.kuolema.biz
They are always out-of-date and quite silly anyway but maybe they are of some use...? More than anything, all of us wanna play shows so if you think of a festival in your area, booking a small tour for us in your country, or something like that you can count on us as long as your ready to pay for our travel expenses there. Also we all got T-shirts and records for sale, please buy and support our habits, ha ha! Greetings to all Czech friends, this one was dedicated to you. Thanks for everything. Peace & Violence / April 2006.

Mail at:

Otto Itkonen
Kulotie 1 B 63
01450 Vantaa
Finland

oitkonen@cc.joensuu.fi
ottoitkonen@gmail.com
 
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