(Album Review and Interview) Weepikes- We Are Weepikes
Another pleasant surprise from under the radar released last year was Finland’s Weepikes’s We Are Weepikes. I don’t really know almost anything about rock music from Finland, so when I was recommended this album out of nowhere I was anxious to check it out.
At just 20 minutes long (not including some extended remixes at the end) We Are Weepikes is criminally short for a full-length album, but it packs a punch much like a punk rock EP. Dubbed pronk for their common ties to progressive music and punk rock, Weepikes thrash out high-quality noise rock. This is a kind of music that I like to support when I go out to a show, partially because it isn’t necessarily that common anymore– it’s fun and it rocks hard. We Are Weepikes is paranoid, riff-driven punk with no jangle-pop attempts at pop-deepness in sight. That’s not to say I don’t like those other kinds of music too (when they’re done well), it’s just that I think we’re over-saturated with them at the moment.
Pasi Peni’s sneering, detached vocals make “Falling off the Carpet” and the brilliant “Flatliner” top-tier earworms, while the band’s slightly off-kilter tunings and vicious rhythms intrigue you to go back for more. The album is rounded off with two interesting remixes from k-x-p and ovito. If you love punk rock you should give this a listen, and I’m looking forward to their next outing.
Pasi Peni – vocals + guitar
Jyrki Lehto – guitar
Tomi Nuotio – bass
Ari Reiska Lehtinen – drums
I got the chance to interview Weepikes via email, and I took the opportunity to ask them about Finnish rock, their roots, and the origins of the band:
1.When did you all start learning to play? What were your early experiences playing like?
Tomi: I must have been 7-8 years old when I started taking piano lessons. And at the age of 15 I played classical guitar for a couple of years. I was quite lazy in practicing, so soon I switched acoustic instruments to electric ones. Somehow playing in a rock band didn’t feel that obligatory, at least compared to classical training… My first band around 1977-1979 was called Fire Stars. We played mostly cover songs, but had also some original material. The drum set was built of buckets, and the drummer joined a couple of years later the legendary Finnish hardcore punk band, Terveet Kädet.
Jyrki: I started with piano too as a child for a couple of years. Then I started to play guitar, my first band was a psychobilly band called The Rage as a teenager.
Reiska: I was 6 years old when I started to take piano lessons. My big brother had a band and I used to hang out at their rehersals. That’s how I fell in love with drums, I had the chance to get noisy when my brother and his buddies left the room. I loved it back then and still do.
Pasi: I was like 16 when I bought my first guitar and started to play. I studied few chords and that was it. I didn´t know how to play properly any music I listened to back then, so I started to write my own songs.
2.What music did you all listen to when you were teenagers? What were the first albums you all bought?
Tomi: I started with mostly rock bands from Finland, f. ex. Hurriganes, Sleepy Sleepers, Eppu Normaali, Leevi & The Leavings, Pelle Miljoona Oy. I believe the first album I ever bought with my own money was some LP from The Rubettes.
Jyrki: My first tape was Queen’s A Night at the Opera. I was listening Queen for many years. After that I went to rockabilly, psychobilly and punk.
Reiska: I have always listened to a wide variety of music but what really caught my ears as teen were bands like Living Colour, Primus, early RHCP and Fishbone. First album I ever bought was Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper, I was 12 years old.
Pasi: Kiss, Rainbow, Dio, Van Halen. The first album I bought was Kiss: Ace Frehley.
3. What are the artistic themes you are most interested in conveying/exploring through your music?
Tomi: For me the most important thing is to sound original. Too many bands are trying sound like their own heroes. I’m sure people will find familiar elements also in Weepikes’ music, but I’d say our sound and style are our own. To be able to create it you have to be open for all kind of music from all kind of genres and know its background. We have been listening to punk rock, rockabilly, jazz, soul, classic rock, metal, prog rock, folk, electronica etc. etc. for years. You can say it’s the basis of Weepikes’ style and sound.
Reiska: I feel that we are trying to get the vibe, sound and approach out more through improvisation rather than having strictly organized, written out songs or ideas. So, more improvisational, accidental and raw attitude is the major theme in our music and the way we make it nowadays.
4. Who are some current Finnish bands you enjoy? What is the current Finnish rock music scene like? Who are some Finnish bands from the past that you draw influence from?
Tomi: Hopeajärvi, Olimpia Splendid, Mirel Wagner, Sokea Piste, Radiopuhelimet. And yes, of course I have to mention Free Punk/No Wave/Skronk band Can Can Heads, in which I play bass too. We are to release a new LP in March, it will be titled “Butter Life”.
Jyrki: Deep Turtle (sadly defunct a few years ago), Elifantree, Ville Vokkolainen.
Finnish bands like Mother Goose or Psychoplasma might be musically the ones who have influenced Weepikes the most. They both are definitely worth checking out if interested in inspiring guitar playing, not to forget excellent song writing.
5. Are there any current American bands you all like?
We all like… Let’s see. Lee Ranaldo & The Dust maybe? Or Polvo, who played a great live show here in Helsinki a couple of years back. To be honest I’m not sure there’s is an American band we all like… Or a band from any other country for that matter.
6. What is your favorite venue to play? Your favorite city to play?
If you start counting from 2010 when we put the band back together, we are still quite young band and haven’t played in too many venues or cities yet. That’s why my choice is Lepakkomies Baari, a Helsinki based punk rock club. We played our first gig in Lepakkomies after reforming, and the gig itself was a big success. Thumbs up also for Bar Loose.