OULU. Radiopuhelimet (”the Radiophones”) is a legendary alternative rock-band from Oulu. The members have been playing for three decades and last year celebrated their anniversary by releasing their 14th album called Saastan kaipuu (”Yearning for Filth”).
Radiopuhelimet´s music is an original mixture of hard core -punk, classic riff-orintated rock (à la Iggy & the Stooges), brutal funk, acoustic blues and even jazz and avantgarde. The charismatic singer/shouter J. A. Mäki plays an important role. Through the years they have also made theatre-projects, like Kostamus-sinfonia (Kostomuksa-symphony) with directors Esa Kirkkopelto and Juha Hurme. (Kostamus is mining town in Russian Karelia, near the Finnish border.)
Hurme and Mäki have published the band´s history in the book Radiopuhelimet (Like 2006, in Finnish). Among the musicians´ own favourites are names like Iggy & the Stooges, Robert Quine, Robert Fripp, MC5, the Who, Velvet Underground, Nina Simone, Veikko Lavi, AC/DC, Leevi and the Leavings, Laila Kinnunen, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Big Bill Broonzy, Aretha Franklin, Tuomari Nurmio and Georg Ots. Captain Beefheart is also often mentioned in interviews.
The lyrics – usually written by Mäki or guitarist Jarno Mällinen – plays an important role in the packet: often clever, sarcastic, absurd, bizarre, philosophical. The world is seen from a Northern (male) perspective, there´s even an album called Jäämeri (Sonet 1992) (” The Arctic Sea”). In it´s title song, someone has turned his back to Europe and stands by the ”calming cruel” Arctic Sea.
The lyrics are in Finnish. To understand their style here´s Mällinen´s – also a novellist – never recorded English text from the late 80´s called Hang Myself From My Christmas Tree:
Oh Santa Claus I´m so alone
I´m going to have a party of my own
I´m gonna hang myself from my christmas tree
Got no turkey, no peppercakes
Got no presents you would take
Ham is crawlin´ in the bathroom
Jesus is born – it´s not true
But it´s Christmas so let´s have fun
You will sing and I´ll get my gun
Light a candle and ring a bell
I´m the red man straight from hell
Peace and happiness for everyone
Joy in heaven and peace on earth
There´s no snow just plain dirt
The band has toured all over Europe, and even in the old Soviet Union. In Leningrad 1989, almost all people walked out from a youth palace where they played, but in a small club in a suburb they had an enthusiastic audience. If there would someday be a Barents rock festival – maybe in Archangelsk, Oulu´s friendship town? – Radiopuhelimet should be the main act.
Cover: Radiopuhelimet, 1990. Photo Jorma Mylly
Wikipedia (in English): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiopuhelimet
Offical website: http://www.radiopuhelimet.net