Petteri: Juggling Jugulars has been around since 1989. We play powerful, melodic and political hc/punkrock. We have done several records and tours within these 12 years. The "basic" line-up of the band has existed since June 1992...
Maybe Iīll introduce myself and the missing persons of the band. I play guitar, sing and write most of our songs. Besides that I study in order to get some printing-skills, like in doing layouts, graphics etc. (I donīt know the english title for that). Arja, the lead vocalist, joined the band about 2 years ago and she works as a librarian. Tero, the 2nd guitarist, works as construction worker. Marko, the drummer, works as a psychiatric nurse at a mental hospital. 4/5 of the JJ-members has families, so it sets some limits for band/punk-activities. We do sometimes arrange tours for some foreign bands in Finland, do a little bit distribution and Jantsa has his own regular DIY-zine, but maybe heīll tell you more about that...
Jantsa: Yeah, I have made this monthly DIY-information-zine called 'Toinen Vaihtoehto' since 1989 (though I made some issues of another zine called 'Verenpisara' in 85-88), there's at the moment already 145 issues out. I'm also more or less involved in local Antifa-, Animal Rights- and Army Resisters-organizations here in Vaasa.
2. IīM IMPRESSED WITH THE NEW CD, BECAUSE IT IS WELL PACKAGED AND NOT IN ONE OF THOSE SILLY PLASTIC CASES. IS THE PACKAGING AN IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR MESSAGE (ANTI-WASTEFUL PACKAGING)? SOME WOULD SAY THE CD BOX YOU DESIGNED HAS NOVELTY VALUE AND AS SUCH IS COLLECTABLE, WHICH COULD ENCOURAGE CONSUMERISM. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?
Petteri: So far we havenīt put out any plastic-cased cd (we have 5 cdīs out), so it has been a choice and it can also represent our ideology. I think that this kind of "digi-pack" simply looks better and of course it is more ecological. Disposable music (the shit they powerplay in radiostations) is consumerism and hopefully we donīt represent that to anyone. I think our new CD doesnīt have such novelty value anyway...
3. ON THE SUBJECT OF PACKAGING, YOU ALWAYS SEEM TO PUT EQUAL EFFORT INTO THE SLEEVE AS THE MUSIC (LYRICS IN TWO LANGUAGES, GOOD ARTWORK ETC.). WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR RELEASES "ART"? DOES IT ANNOY YOU WHEN YOU SEE BANDS WASTING THE OPPORTUNITY THEY HAVE BY RELEASING BLAND RECORDS WITH NO LYRICS AND NO THOUGHT GOING INTO IT?
Petteri: It would be nice to put out someday a record with good-looking covers, some thoughts and listenable music. I enjoy very much that kind of records, they are like worth every penny. That has been our "goal", too, but of course sometimes it just doesnīt work out like that at all (lack of ideas etc). I donīt know about "art"...sometimes that word sounds a bit elitistic and expensive... We just try to express ourselves and if thatīs art then why not? My opinion is that every punk-record should have at least lyrics on the sleeve. Thatīs my minimum demand. Of course it annoys sometimes to see covers that are totally cliche (war-pictures etc. - luckily the biggest discharge-trend went over...), but on the other hand, a band with that kind of cover lets you "judge the record by its cover", like: what you see is what you get. Thatīs a kind of honesty, too, to say like we donīt even want be original - being original is not its own justification, anyway.
4. ON THE COVER OF YOUR SPLIT 10" WITH MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE, THEREīS A MAN HOLDING A COCA-COLA BOTTLE, SNEAKILLY SHOWING HIS "PUNK IS NOT DEAD" T-SHIRT, WITH THE LYRICS TO CRASSīS "PUNK IS DEAD" AROUND THE EDGE OF THE SLEEVE. THIS APPEARS TO BE SAYING MORE THAN ONE THING. IT LOOKS LIKE A PRO-PUNK MESSAGE, AN ANTI-CONSUMERISM ONE, WHILE ALSO SAYING "WATCH OUT, PUNKīS ARE EVERYWHERE". SO WHAT EXACTLY DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
Petteri: The story behind that cover is that the picture of the cover used to be a full-page ad of Coca-Cola Company in Finnish newspapers! Green Day, Bad Religion etc. were really popular at that time (1996-1998) and that ad really did piss us off. It really felt like they are going to water down the whole punk-movement. So putting that ad with Crassī lyrics to our sleeve was an act against the increasing commercialism of punk-scene. It would be great if there were punks everywhere but not in the way like this. To me bands like Offspring just represent idealization of the american lifestyle - just look at their videos; american cars and sexy women... what a crap! And they call themselves a punk-band?!
5. DO YOU CONSIDER IT A COMPROMISE SINGING IN ENGLISH? DO YOU THINK LESS PEOPLE WOULD LISTEN TO YOU IF YOU SANG IN FINNISH, OR, LIKE OTHER EURO BANDS HAVE SAID, DOES IT JUST FEEL/SOUND MORE NATURAL TO SING IN ENGLISH?
Petteri: When we started in 1989 I listened to a lot of american punk-bands like Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds etc. So I just wanted to sound like them and that included singing in english, too. English is quite good language for lyrics, because it happens to be so international language. And it has been useful for us too, because most of our records have been released outside Finland.
My opinion is that singing in english wonīt give anybody bigger audience in the punk-scene. Just look at Los Crudos or basically all early 80īs punk/hc-bands - 90% of them sang in their own languages and still they were listened and liked worldwide. I prefer bands that sing in their own languages. It is a paradox to say as we are one of english-singing bands, but I think thereīs too many bands singing in english in the european punk-scene.
Jantsa: But also we used to make lyrics and sing in finnish in our ex-bands (Sabotaasi and Treblinka) for years (in 85-89 or so) so I guess when Jugulars was started there was this thing of "let's try something different now"....
By the way, I think that Petteri now makes better lyrics in english than in his old band in finnish - I mean those also had nice ideas but now they somehow seem to work better "poetically" with singing etc. - and I haven't yet made any lyrics in english; I'll make them better in finnish - so I guess it's a personal thing...
6. I DONīT KNOW A LOT ABOUT FINLAND, SO TELL US A LITTLE, ARE THERE MANY SQUATTED VENUES? DO YOU GET MUCH HASSLE OFF THE POLICE OR FASCISTS? IS THERE A STRONG PUNK SCENE?
Petteri: Right now thereīs only one squatted venue and it is here in Tampere. But they will get evicted soon (in December 2001, I heard). Squatting in Finland is really hard, because the cops will evict all squats almost immediately. So far we have been lucky, because we havenīt had so much troubles with fascists like punks have had in Sweden or Poland. There are not so many nazi-skins at the moment in here. The police donīt usually disturb our gigs but in demontrations you can get easily in trouble with them. Cops are bastards in Finland, too!
Finnish punk-scene is pretty strong and it has also been quite united, which is quite rare nowadays. We have a small scene (remember that we have only about 5 million inhabitants in Finland) where practically almost everybody knows each other (this also means that youīll see same people at the gigs year after year, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on oneīs personality - do you feel safe, nice & welcome? Or do you get bored?). The other good things are that the whole scene is quite easy to inform about events and gigs, there are no fights at them and the whole thing is basically quite friendly. Finnish punks drink quite a lot alcohol, but they still can behave quite well. The bad thing is that Finland is geographically located very badly for touring bands, so it is expensive to come here (you have to take a ferry) and as we have a small scene it can be hard to break even.
7. THE LIST OF DEAD PEOPLE ON THE CD IS ASYLUM SEEKERS - CORRECT? IN THE U.K. THERE IS CURRENTLY A GOVERNMENT/MEDIA CAMPAIGN BEING WAGED AGAINST (IT SEEMS) ANYONE CLAIMING ASYLUM. THEY ARE TURNING THE POPULATION AGAINST ANYONE NOT BRITISH, CAUSING ATTACKS ON ASYLUM SEEKERS AND A GENERAL MISTRUST OF ANYONE FOREIGN. IS THERE A SIMILAR SITUATION IN FINLAND? (ASSUMING YOU HAVE A LOT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS COMING TO YOUR COUNTRY)
Petteri: The dead people listed on our cd are people who have got killed or tragically died during their attempt to get into our European Fortress... When I first saw this list, it was just shocking to see such amount of dead people and to realize that thereīs a tragedy behind each one of them. Europe is a fortress and it is fucking reality!
We donīt have many refugees in Finland, because our country donīt let them in. The amount of "accepted" is really ridiculous comparing to the other European countries. Just a few hundred a year (maybe one thousand maximum/year)! But even this tiny amount of refugees piss some finnish people off! There have been attacks on asylum seekers, foreign restaurants, kebabs etc. Almost every bigger amount of asylum seekers will get publicity on our media and thatīs not positive... Recently there has been public talk in the media about quicker decisions in asylum matter, so that some officers could turn some people immediately away.
8. WHAT ARE YOU VIEWS ON THE CURRENT USA/UK BOMBING OF AFGANISTAN? IS THE FINNISH ARMY GONNA JOIN THE ATTACK LIKE A LOT OF OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES SEEM TO BE PROMISING? DO YOU HAVE NATIONAL SERVICE? HAVE ANY OF YOU DONE IT OR ARE YOU DUE A CALL-UP? (ARE YOU SCARED?). IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR HUMANITY NOW IT SEEMS A HUGE POWDER KEG HAS BEEN LIT?
Petteri: I am against bombing of Afganistan! It is one of the poorest counties in the world and what seems to be happening is starvation and deaths of thousands of innocent people; people who were first victims of Taleban and now they are victims of the western allies. Countries with low-democracy, like China, Russia, Pakistan etc. will use this "war against terrorism" in order to get opposing democratic-forces ("terrorists") down; all this with full support of the USA, who of course profits more with dictatorships with oil than with democratic countries with oil... I donīt see much hope for humanity. Sad but true. But it doesnīt mean that we should give up or anything, on the contrary!
Finnish army wonīt join the bombing but our government supports "the war against terrorism"... We do have national service. Itīs 6-12 months and you can avoid it by doing it as civil service (12 months), having mental problems or going to jail (Finland is in Amnestyīs blacklist because of our total-resistors that end up in jail). 90-95% of Finnish males join the army and it is an honour-thing to do (for majority). Me and Jantsa were in civil service, Marko got liberated (for "mental" reasons) and Tero did his army service as a young boy, but later (older & wiser) returned his status and is now officially a civil servant. So we wonīt fight in their fucking wars ; )
Jantsa: I have quite mixed feelings about this. Of course I'm against the bombings where civilians are victims, but on the other hand I understand how easy it is now for the 'allies' to say "well, if we don't attack the terrorists, how do we stop terrorism"... Of course there could be other ways but for them the bombings seem to be "the most effective way" - but I have doubts about that too; as more aggression will probably provoke more terrorism - let's see what the future holds... It is a real fugazi = a-fucked-up-situation.
9. ALSO, ON THE SUBJECT OF THE CURRENT CONFLICT, CONSPIRACY THEORISTS COULD SAY YOU KNEW NEW YORK WAS GOING TO GET ATTACKED AFTER READING THE LYRICS ON YOUR CD ("FANATIC MUSLIMS.. MAYBE ANGER IS THE ONLY FEELING THEY CAN STILL HAVE... NEW YORK.."). SO ARE YOU PROFETIC OR IS IT JUST A COINCIDENCE?
Petteri: Yeah, we are really profetic, ha! Our drummer asked recently if Iīm going to write song about WTC-things and later I realized that I have already done it! Seriously, things that happened in NY was expected. Of course something like this has been "in the air"; what else can Americans expect with such politics in the foreign countries? The more they exploit poor people the more fanatic people they create.
I wrote those lyrics when there were few Finnish tourists kidnapped by extreme-muslims (by "Abu Sayyaf" or something like that) in the Philippines.
Jantsa: Also, after the 911 there was some debates on Finnish television and some "Middle East/developing countries experts" (or something like that) said that they have already for more than ten years tried to warn that if the policies won't change there is going to be more terrorism and so on... (also a bit like what Jello Biafra said: "In 1991, Jimmy Carter publicly warned George Bush that his Gulf War would set back world peace and Middle Eastern relations at least twenty years. Now what happens? Now what do we do? ...")
10. Does the current situation make punk seem irrelevant when put into context, or more relevant as a means of protest and at the very least, escapism from all the madness?
Petteri: I think that punk can be everything you mentioned; it is all up to you. For me it means that I know that I am not alone in this sick world with my different views; views that I feel right. And it is very reliefing to listen to aggressive music with conscious lyrics and little bit lighten the mental burden that this world piles on us.
11. A LOT OF YOUR LYRICS ARE PRETTY ANGRY. SO IS BEING IN A PUNK BAND A GOOD WAY TO RELEASE PENT UP ANGER AND FRUSTRATION? WOULD YOU BE RUNNING ROUND HITTING PEOPLE OTHERWISE?! OR IS IT A BAD THING TO RELEASE FRUSTRATION THROUGH MUSIC WHEN IT COULD BE RELEASED IN BETTER WAYS (ATTACKING MULTINATIONAL SHOPS, FOR EXAMPLE)?
Petteri: Yes, it is really good way to release anger to write angry lyrics and shout them out at gigs! I donīt know what would happen in my head without this therapy, because nowadays I can feel when it is time to have a gig or at least rehearsals... Hopefully Iīd find some other creative way to release these feelings. About releasing frustration: I wrote a song called "Do a Favor" some years ago. Song had an idea that suicidal people should do a favour before committing suicide. Like if someone donīt see any value for his/her life, then why not do some radical direct action for activists who donīt want to end up in jail for years (attacking multinationals etc). I donīt know if that idea is good or bad, because I also think that releasing frustration or anger is definately not a good motive for direct action - it must be motivated by real reasons. So? I donīt know...
12. DID YOU EVER TOUR OVER HERE AND DID I JUST MISS IT? ANY PLANS TO COME OVER SOON?
Petteri: No, we havenīt been in the UK, but of course we would love to get there someday! Maybe it would be about time to do that, because we have toured 6 times in Europe and still without visiting your country. So, if thereīs anyone interested booking gigs for us, just let us know! I think the problem has just been lack of contacts. And of course it affects too that our records have been released and distributed mostly in Finland, Poland and Germany.
13. ANY LAST WORDS, COMMENTS, PLUGS, ETC.?
Petteri: Hopefully weīll get to the UK in the future! Everything happens quite slowly with us, but we will be around in the punk-scene for years to come, hopefully you do too!
NICE ONE JJ'S! IF THEY DO EVER GET OVER HERE I'M SURE THEY'LL BE AN INTENSE LIVE BAND, SO I'D CHECK 'EM OUT IF I WAS YOU. IN THE MEANTIME, I'M SELLING A COUPLE OF THEIR EP'S AND THE NEW CD, SO WRITE TO THE BALD CACTUS ADDRESS FOR DETAILS.