for MAXIMUM ROCKNROLLl US + Scanner UK
by Steve Scanner late 2001
1. As MANIFESTO JUKEBOX are a moderately new band
to most readers, can we just do some history? When did you get together,
how did you all meet, is it still the original line up, original influences,
have you been in any bands previously that we may have heard about?
Jani: Weve been together since January99. Ive
been in bands with Antti since i got into punk and we had been seeing
Jukka at gigs for years. I dunno if its possible that youd
have heard of those bands although some good people like Richard
AWA have tried to distribute them in the UK
bands like Sharpeville
(anarchopunk based monumental hardcore) and Aurinkokerho (female fronted
When we started, i dont think anyone expected us to play music like
this! Everyone thought Jukka and Antti only like fast and aggressive hardcore/punk
but they were wrong, ha! Its good to shuffle the deck a bit. This
was so different from what any of us had done before and we could not
expect anything and everything was new and interesting
Yes its still the original line-up but on our first gig
it actually was not! Antti broke his arm just a few days before and we
had to get a friend to play bass, i switched to guitar and Antti only
2. Did the band have a set direction & definite
ideals when you first formed? As in where you wanted to take the music,
any set ideas about lyrical content, anything you wanted to achieve with
this band that previous bands had failed to achieve? Did you have an original
Manifesto that you abide by?
Jani: Yes, i think we had a pretty clear vision of the musical direction
and the way we wanna do stuff, and luckily it has proven to work! We wanted
to combine the hardcore energy with melodic guitar and vocal stuff and
we wanted to do a lot of the record and gig stuff ourselves and do it
The lyrics were a big question mark when we started but then Jukka turned
out to be a productive young poet and hes written all the lyrics
after the first 7", where there are songs from all of us. Id
love to write them too but i just cant heh! Jukka has this distinctive
style that fits us well
we have been able to find kind of roles
for everyone, although of course everyones opinion is heard on all
matters. But Jukka writes most of the lyrics, Antti most of the music
and i do most of the other stuff like the record business, internet stuff,
We have definitely been able to do a lot of stuff that our old bands never
managed to do
maybe it helps that thre are only 3 of us so schedules
are easier to make. And were all very motivated to do this, which
has never been the case before. Now i can honestly say it really is way
more than music to all of us!
3. You released your own debut 7" yeah??
Was that because no labels were interested, or just a matter of it being
the easiest way to get it out there? Did you enjoy the experience of releasing
your own record? Was it easier to do - as in set up a label - than you
expected? Have you still got any copies left? Is the label still an on-going
Jani: We released it ourselves cos we wanted to. We wanted to do as much
as we can ourselves, and also we wanted to have something out soon so
we didnt even ask anyone cos that would have taken too much time.
Wed only practiced for like 3 months before we recorded that 7".
But the releasing and distribution part was nothing new since i had already
been running a small label of my own for years and also Jukka was running
what at the time was maybe the most important punk distro in Finland,
Fragments Of Hope. The only difficulty at first was that our contacts
maybe expected more hardcore stuff
but now that people have actually
heard the band itself and not just comparisons to HuDu and Leatherface,
the response has been way better than i could ever have expected for a
totally unknown band playing unexpected kind of music. It was sold out
for a long time but my current label Combat Rock Industry just repressed
it cos we still like the record and want to keep it available
has now sold 1200 or something. The Desire LP/CD/MC has sold like a bit
over 3000 or something like that if anyones intererested.
Releasing records of the bands i ve played in is what ive
been doing right from the start. Thats what my friends were doing
when i got into punk so i started doing and learning by mistake myself
i had never even asked anyone to release "my" record
before the LP. When we wanted to do it we realized its too big of
a project to do just by ourselves, we simply did not have the resources
to do it as well as we wanted. So we ended up thinking about european
labels who we could ask and Nabate was the only one we came up with. And
amazingly, when i asked he said yes! I could not believe it cos Nabate
had been running like 10 years and had not ever released a melodic record
yet still wanted to do it. And it worked!
Our recent 7" on Japans Snuffy Smile is the first ever record
im playing on (OK, compilations do not count) that im not
involved with from a label perspective. He he, at first i was a bit nervous
as im a bit of a control freak, how would it work, blah blah
cos this is so big part of my life and its very personal so i dont
wanna lose control. But i was worried for nothing, its going very
well! Snuffy Smile is a great label and everything has worked perfectly
and of course since hes in Japan we are distributing loads of the
record in Europe ourselves.
4. Coming up to date a bit & your recent release
'Desire'. Are you happy with the way it came out? It's got an awesome
sound. Are there any faults, or things you'd change in hindsight? Is the
process of recording something the band enjoys?
Jani: At the time we did it i was happy but now i realise we made some
bad decisions when we mixed it
im still very happy about the
songs and thats what is most important. But the mixing is weird
the vocals were meant to be lower than usual to make the overall
feeling a bit rougher than whats usual for this kind of music but
they ended up being almost unaudible at parts
and we do not want
Recording is very important for this band. Since theres only 3 of
us theres some stuff thats impossible to play live. Like on
the record there are often 3 different guitar parts at the same time and
what Antti plays live is a combination of those. I cant understand
how he does it, the guy is the best guitarist i know! I like being in
the studio although with our band its over for me pretty soon. Me
and Jukka play the basic tracks in a few hours and then Antti does his
stuff for a few days! But i like thinking about the sound and mixing,
the production part and ive often been in the studio with the bands
on our label, just hanging out and telling my opinions if they are needed.
Some people think its somehow more punk to have crappy sound
in most cases thats bullshit, an excuse for not trying your best!
5. It seems to have been released on a whole bunch
of assorted labels, including Belgium's Nabate. Were they the first label
to pick you up? How did you get involved with them? And there's a Polish
cassette version yeah? How did that come about? It's been released in
Brazil too yeah?
all this releasing stuff must sound very chaotic, which
it is! The original CD pressing was released by ourselves and a bunch
of Finnish friends. Then theres the Boss Tuneage repress in the
UK and it will soon be released in Brazil by a local label. I traded a
few copies of the record with this Brazilian guy who does a big punk newsletter
and plays in bands and when he got it he loved it and wanted to put it
out over there, whoa!
Nabate did the vinyl version and Trujaca Fala did the tape for Eastern
Europe, which is very cool! Filip from the label saw us when he was in
Finland with this Polish band Post Regiment and it grew from there. Eastern
Europe is so cool! So enthustiastic and heartfelt, i love touring there!
The kids dont have much money and thats why all the stuff
has to be released on tape there and were lucky cos Trujaca Fala
is possibly the best label for this job!
6. It's been released over here by Aston &
his Boss Tuneage label, you been happy with the support received from
Boss Tuneage? How did you hook up with Aston for the release of this?
Jani: Im happy, oh yeah! I havent known him for a long time
and have not met him personally which is why i originally was a bit nervous
but i can say all the surprises have been positive! I knew
Boss Tuneage since we traded some copies of our 7" came out and he
also distributed the Desire CD in the UK when it came out. Then in winter00
he wrote he would love to release a miniCD or something like that for
us but the timing was not right as wed just agreed to do the 7"
for Snuffy Smile
However a bit later i realized we had a spring tour booked, Desire was
almost sold out and we did not have money to repress it cos i had spent
it on other bands records
i was frustrated. But then i remembered
Aston. I knew he works in a pressing plant so i asked if he could make
some kind of a friendly deal about the price or payment time
then he said hed be interested in participating in the re-release.
And hes been doing a great job originally i only wanted to
keep the album in print but on top of that weve gotten so much more,
so were very happy!
7. If we can just talk about a couple of the songs
on the album, starting with 'Our New Lenins'. That's an interesting title,
what's the idea behind this song & what are you trying to say here?
There's a line about "Stars shooting through cyberspace aiming at
your heart" - how does that fit into the message of the song - is
it an Internet reference?
Jukka: The idea to the lyrics of "Our New Lenins" came after
reading a book (whose name I have blissfully forgotten) which drew parallels
between the old state communist monoliths of Lenin which could be found
all around the ex- Eastern Bloc countries and the commercial billboards
we are unable to escape here in our own western countries. These Lenin
monoliths supposedly pointed the way to the new, brighter future which
turned out to be a totalitarian nightmare whereas the billboards and advertisements
serve a somewhat similar purpose to us these days. We are constantly force-fed
with the idea that our lives must be lacking something essential unless
we buy this and that product. On another level the song is also about
the concentration of political and economic power into fewer and fewer
hands. The line you quoted in your question is indeed an internet reference
and the babble about the stars refers to the flag of the European Community,
so there you have it!
8. What about 'Filter'? In particular the opening line, "Rub my nose
into my own hypocrisy", what is your hypocrisy? What else lays behind
Jukka: "Filter" is about those depressing moments when you notice
that despite your efforts to fight and diminish your life-long conditioning
and indoctrination to the Western capitalist values and the shit floating
around them, they still have their effects on how you think and behave.
In my opinion we can never be "pure" of all this, so its
better to recognize these symptoms for what they are and try to at least
reduce them to their very minimum. The song also tries to communicate
that there is always hope to overcome this sick conditioning.
9. The lyrics throughout the album seem to be
rather cryptic - is that something you intended, to make people think
a little, look a little deeper into the songs rather than just skim the
surface of more blatant Political dogma or jaded love song?
Jukka: The supposedly cryptic nature of my lyrics is not intentional at
all. I do not try to impress people with particulary obscure sentences
or metaphors or the extent of my vocabulary (he he). This is just the
style of expression that I feel most comfortable with at the present stage
of my life so the lyrics turn out that way. I dont have any illusions
of the impact our lyrics have on the people who listen to our music, but
if people have to rack their brain a bit with the words it would be fine
by me, maybe theyll even get something I never thought of out of
the songs. I sincerely like many bands that have a more direct political
approach to their lyrics and can even stomach a jaded love song or two
but it would be totally unfamiliar to me to try to write in such style
for MJ. Do it your way and Ill do it with mine.
10. You seem to be a band who tour a lot - you
obviously like being on the road yeah? How important is the live show
in getting MANIFESTO JUKEBOX's message across? Any neat tour stories you
wish to share?
Jani: Yeah touring is a crucial part of this in every way, its a
crucial part of how this underground network works and also the experience
of travelling is very important for me personally. Touring is the combination
of everything that i love! I like travelling, the feeling of going to
some place and i love playing music. And of course i love free beer too,
ha ha! And i also do the record label and i dont think it would
survive if we and Endstand and Wasted did not tour and do distro every
its hard to pick just one and i cant write
about all of them! We even decided to start this kind of band while on
tour, Antti and me. We were with Sharpeville, sitting in a squat in Potsdam,
Germany after the van the band had just bought before the tour had just
burned after 2 gigs! So we were stuck there, drank beer and had plenty
of time to go though different ideas
most of which never happen
but this one did and here we are!
11. You've toured at home in Finland & abroad
quite extensively. Do you find you are treated differently as a band when
you play abroad? Do you have a preference between playing shows in Finland
Jani: Every place is different, there are more differences inside the
countries than between them i think. I think Finland is pretty similar
to England actually. Here too the gigs have to take place at normal pubs
or rock clubs, you get no food at the venue and you have to buy your own
expensive beer! Maybe thats why we feel like at home there!
Germany is very easy for touring bands, it seems that even in the smallest
place there is a youth center or squat where all kinds of things happen,
you get more delicious food than you can eat, more beer than you can drink
and usually enough money too, its just unbelieveable for us Finns.
Then in Eastern Europe things can be pretty chaotic and out of your control,
but thats ok cos when you play, the crowd is enthustiastic and out
of control too! We like playing anywhere where people wanna see us. Sure
we have had our fair share of bad experiences as well but i dont
want to publicly slag people off
12. What differences do you see between the audience
reaction towards yourselves at shows abroad? Do you notice any great social
or political differences when you are in other countries?
Jani: One thing thats a bit sad about touring
you know, many
people assume we see a lot of things and know some stuff about places
since we tour a lot - thats not true in most cases! Life goes like
this for weeks, starting from the morning: We wake up, have breakfast,
load the van and start driving. Then we arrive to the next venue having
seen a service station or two, or a record or tattoo shop if were
lucky! We carry the backline in, do the soundcheck, wait, wait and wait
set up the distro, eat and play. And get drunk somewhere in between. Go
to sleep. Start over again.
OK im being a bit sarcastic but thats how it sometimes feels
like. Sure there are a lot of times when we can actually enjoy things,
otherwise i wouldnt be here doing this! We talk about a lot of stuff
with people we meet but the fact is that theres very little real
life that a touring band can really see for themselves, were often
just entertaintment for people and tourists in their life ourselves
but sure its great to get to see the surface of a lot of places,
ive found many where i want to spend more time when i have the possiblity
some day. I want to say hi to people in Liege, its always especially
great to go there!
13. Tell us a bit about the Punk Scene in Finland.
Is it strong, many bands, venues etc? Is the Finnish scene still dominated
by Dis/Crust bands that it always seemed to be?
Jani: No, its not crust dominated at all, luckily! But sure if someone
likes that stuff theres plenty of that too. There is a bunch of
great rising bands that are doing really great stuff
i think the
best Finnish bands now are definitely Wasted and Endstand, and the mighty
Umlaut! But that goes without saying cos theyre on my label. Of
the other bands please do yourself a favour and pay attention to at least
Hero Dishonest, Rebound and Unkind.
Theres a lot of people who are interested, records sell really well
but the core of active people who actually make most of the things happen
is pretty small which is too bad. The gig situation is pretty bad, they
are regular only in the 3 biggest cities: Helsinki, Tampere (where i live)
and Turku. There used to be more gigs is smaller places when i first got
into punk and it was cool but now most of the people have moved to the
cities (hmm, myself included) and the new generation has not been not
so active in this area
but like i said theres a big young
crowd whos interested in punk so maybe things will get stronger
14. Is Finland a good place for a Punk to live?
Is the society of Finland open to all forms of radical beliefs, music,
ideas & art? Or is it pretty conservative?
Jani: It really depends on where you come from, where you live
mean im now used to living in a city, although i originally am from
a small village where the social control is pretty strict. I already had
long purple dreadlocks when i worked a summer job at a factory there
thinking back now, i must have been crazy! Not really i had no
problems cos i knew everybody there before, but say if you came from the
neighbor village, it was a big chance you get beat up no matter how normal
now years later i am playing in this band and i guess
i look more like a rocknroll guy than the punk i am at heart
and we play this village next to Tampere and at the end of the gig as
we are getting ready to leave, all the boys of the village show up and
want a fight: we are faggots because we are from Helsinki. Thats
Finland for you
in the cities you can do whatever the fuck you want
and no-one will notice and in the countryside you cant do anything.
Hell, i dont know which is worse?! I actually think being from a
small place is good, you have to deal with all kinds of people no matter
what they are like and what you are like.
15. Do you feel that coming from somewhere like
Finland - which isn't exactly a recognised hot spot of Punk Rock as far
as most eyes go - has hindered your developement? Or do you feel that
it has allowed the band to grow at its own pace & not bow to any form
of trend or market?
Jani: You said it yourself in the last sentence! This is not a punk rock
supermarket like America or even the UK or Germany but i think thats
good in a way. The thing is, if you are from a place like Finland and
you want your stuff to be heard, youd better be really good and
try really hard! People who are into trends will most likely not think
of Finland as the hottest spot on earth so you might as well actually
try to come up with something original!
This issue is not something i usually think about
to use a cliche,
"We just do our own thing
16. I understand you are in some way involved
with a distro there in Finland? Tell us a bit about that.
Jani: I run the label Combat Rock Industry together with the Endstand
singer Janne. We had been doing labels of our own for years and wanted
to do something new so last year we started this. Its been great,
better than i could have imagined! The main thing is to release and support
Finnish stuff that deserves to be heard. We distribute lots of great stuff
from all around the world, we mainly trade it to our own releases. Thats
how this system works.
Now were coming to a new phase, we cant just release Manifesto
Jukebox, Endstand and Wasted records all the time! So we are starting
to release some stuff from other areas too - but all of this new stuff
still has a strong finnish connection. We are releasing the Oi Polloi
"Fuaim Catha" album on CD, that came about cos their singer
Deek has been living in Finland for many months now. Then theres
a beautiful hardcorepunk photobook by this really talented guy Kristoffer
Pasanen from Sweden, whos also been living in Finland for a long
time. And then theres the crazy hot album from the notorious Umlaut.
Nobody knows who they are but they mean business!!! I would love to write
more about my label but i dont want to turn this into a total advertisement
if youre interested and wanna know more, our address is at the end
of this story.
Jukka also has been doing a distro but now hes put it to ice as
he works full time and this band is pretty time-consuming. Antti is involved
in a label called Pathetique, they release and distribute a bit darker
and heavier stuff like Sharpeville, Unkind, Jeniger
and we are actually
joining forces with them to release the aforementioned Umlaut record!
17. I know you've recorded a BORN AGAINST cover,
have you done any others? Do you do any live, or have any plans to do
Jani: Ha ha, the first song we ever played together at our first practice
was Real World by Husker Du not exactly a surprise?! Live weve
also played Schwarzeneggar, Social Distortion, Crucifucks
Flag once when we were drunk at a midsummer festival!
But the Born Aganst one is the only weve recorded for a release.
We were asked for this compilation a log time ago and we promised but
when the deadline was, we wanted to save the new songs we had for the
next LP so we thought wed do the Shroud cover, we thought it would
be good cos not so many people know Born Against in Finland. But then
when we played it on tour, really a lot of people were going wild! It
was a nice surprise in a way... but on the other hand we try to change
the covers we play pretty often, it sucks if people start expecting us
to play a certain cover
were not a jukebox, ha! But just this
has now happened with the Born Against song and its annoying but
we can only blame ourselves
18. I read on your webpage that you refused to
do Military service. Is that something everyone in Finland is expected
to do - a national call up type deal?
Jani: Yeah, theres still conscription here. Everyone has to do something
if they are healthy. But Antti and Jukka went to the psychiatrist and
pretended they have serious mental problems and they got away with it.
This very common here. Most punks however do the "civil" service.
But in my opinion it is not so civil, its a part of the same system
so i said id rather go to jail than support it and surely
enough, thats where i ended up!
19. You also spent time in prison yeah? Why was
that? Was it to do with not joining any form of Military Service? What
did you take away from your prison sentence?
Jani: I spent six and a half boring months there. It was not so bad all
the time - i went to sauna and talked about tattoos with motorcycle gang
guys every night, studied and wrote a lot ("jail is the university
of revolutionaries", right ;) ), played too much ping pong
its ridiculous, why do they have to waste societys recources
by putting us there? Finland is actually on Amnestys black list
for doing this to conscientious objectors but nobody seems to care as
long as the business is good, which it of course is. More and more people
are going to jail every year and maybe, hopefully the system will have
to change in a few years. Not just because of some punks and hippies going
to jail but because of the whole concept of war and peace changing in
this world of technology. I hope what we do will make some people notice
a few things and maybe even tell their friends about them!
20. Do you guys work at all, or is the band your main thing? Is there
a lot of unemployment in Finland? What about the homeless? Is that a big
situation in Finland? Surely the winter there must be a great problem
to the homeless.
Jani: Jukka is working full time as an offset printer and he actually
wants to do it, hes crazy! We are hoping we can slowly brainwash
him and convince him of the joys of unemployment but hes a tough
nut to crack
Antti sometimes works at construction to get money
to live a life like this, touring and putting out records. Me, im
unemployed but it is not a problem for me
i am actually doing a
lot of things, i work for the label countless hours every day, book tours
and gigs, blah blah
i would not be able to do those if i worked
some shitty useless job. See, i dont have education to any job,
thats the price of rock & roll for me! I hope could pay the
rent doing this (meaning the band and the label) some time in distant
The social security is still very good here. There are not many homeless
people and there would be room for most of them too if they could stop
drinking. Alcoholism is a horrible disease, very common in Finland even
among the people who to the outside seem to be doing very well not to
mention the less fortunate. The social security money is enough to pay
rent and eat decently and do something else too.
The winter is hard
maybe thats also one reason why there are
no squats here and were all so content living on the dole cos the
arctic winter makes many things close to impossible.
21. What are your views on a United Europe? Are
you in favour of the Euro?
Jani: I am not in favour of the European Union in its current form, or
the Euro money system the Finnish government chose to join. I dont
think it can be a good idea to tie so totally different countries with
different economical structures and situations so closely together. If
some disaster happens, the normal poor working people will suffer the
consequences. They are trying to build a fortress of Europe, to shut out
the less fortunate who live outside of it.
22. So, what are the bands plans from here? Any
tours lined up? You thought about the new album yet?
Jani: We have an UK tour booked but by the time you are reading this its
propably already history, what i can say now is that im really looking
forward to it! As for next year, i have no idea
there has been talk
of touring in Japan, the US / Canada, Brazil
hell, if even one of
these actually happens im more than happy!
We have most of the music for the next LP but we havent decided
on how to release it yet
23. Lastly, the name MANIFESTO JUKEBOX conjures
up some great images. What are the 10 tracks you'd have on your JUKEBOX
& what MANIFESTOS would adorn it?
Jani: Ha ha, this is nice
the only manifestos i would have are "TRUST
YOUR DESIRES" or "RESPECT" or something like that
for the music, heres a list in no particul order and its
not my all time top 10 of great songs either, just ones i think would
fit in a jukebox! Its the most beautiful object american culture
has ever produced
so all punk does not necessarily fit in! I mean,
i get a certain feeling when i see a jukebox and then im not thinking
of Discharge! Its OK to love good rocknroll too
and i do actually have a jukebox in my room! So now you know the name
of the band is not a total coinsidence, i have a long history of jukebox
* The Clash : London Calling
* Stray Cats : Rumble In Brighton
* Elvis Presley : Burning Love
* Billy Idol : Rebel Yell
* Chris Isaak : Wicked Game
* Johnny Cash : Ring Of Fire
* Black Flag: Six Pack
* Leatherface: Not Superstitious
* X : Burning House Of Love
* Brian Setzer: Switchblade 327
24. Anything you wish to add?
phew! I think thing is the longest interview ive ever
typed. This will have to do
but feel free to contact us directly
if you have any questions, want to tell us how youre doing, send
7"s for my jukebox, healthy vegan recipes for Jukka, blah blah
we can be found at: PO Box 813, 13501 HML, Finland. www.fireinsidemusic.com/manifestojukebox
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