THE HISTORY OF KAAOS
(with Jakke, Nappi and Timpa)
JAKKE: I had been
playing guitar horribly since I was about seven. First there were some kiddie
bands, until in 1978 we started PORTTIKIELTO which was my first punk band.
I found the right guys. We pretty much didn't know how to play, but the enthusiasm
certainly shined through. There was a punk club in Tampere called "Safety
Pins" where I hanged around meeting new people. I remember playing a
couple of gigs there too. The punk scene in Tampere was generally quite big
and active. And the old hippies weren't dismissed either, we just laughed
at the way they tried to be up-to-date. It was pretty easy to team up against
the Teddy Boys, not a big deal.
Then there were the older guys who played in the band NIVELREUMA and others and asked me to play bass in a new band called AMIRAALI NELSON. Of course I said yes. They had obviously taken that name from the beer label. Next there was pretty heavy gigging with such bands as SENSUURI, KARANTEENI, KOLLAA KESTÄÄ, KOHU-63 among others. We got to record a song for the "3 Vuotta Myöhemmin" compilation with LAMA and others in 1980.
Everything changed in the spring of 1980. Although I was the youngest I kicked out a couple of guys and changed the name. It was KAAOS! So KAAOS started in the spring of 1980 and we weren't kidding around. The name was obvious so that everyone would know it's PUNK and not new wave. The first line-up still had a couple of the old guys from AMIRAALI NELSON, but in 1980-1981 we established a completely new line-up: Pena, Jakke, Kake, Bansku, Timpa.
TIMPA: I got mixed
up in KAAOS when I was in the same school class with Banaani, who for some
reason had been chosen to play the bass in that band. In the spring of 1981,
I started spending more time with the guys. And one time, when the then-drummer
Modi didn't show up, I had a sudden urge to try out the drums. I had never
even touched those cans. For some odd reason it felt fun. I suppose Jakke
was happy too, because within few weeks the guys told me that I was the new
drummer of KAAOS. Right away I bought drums and started rehearsing like hell.
With the power of "Sorbus" and "Ruska Lingonberry" wine.
We started raving like crazy being all serious and dangerous. And we were
around fifteen, sixteen. Although Pena was the youngest, he looked manly enough
to be the only one who got beer from Kumpula's store. And we downed. Football,
by the way, was an important part of KAAOS rehearsals. First a couple of songs,
then football until someone scored, then some beer and back to playing. We
ordered records from UK. We worked hard on songs and did the "Subculture"
zine... I think we drank something as well.
In June 1981 we went to Amy rock in Hämeenlinna. Since we weren't invited we decided to take over the stage ourselves. Kari Peitsamo (pop rocker) received some assistance from the KAAOS guys during his gig. First it was probably funny to all of us, but because we didn't know when to stop we got torn off. But we got to be on stage and it was a big deal. Then we gave interviews to small zines in the woods and took liquids.
The first gig was in Toijala at Satama Rock on the 16th of August 1981. This time it was all official. The other acts included IRWININ LAPSET, BLÄÄH and a young musician called Aki Sirkesalo among others, but Toijala wasn't exactly ready for the music of KAAOS. Our gig was played at the back of a semi-trailer and it caused a lot of angry looks and bewildered faces. It said in the local paper that the shortness of the songs was the best thing about KAAOS. And the fact that we had the sense to leave before the police. But we did have fun. Later we went to Toijala with our bags full of drinks just to kill time. When we got off the train at the station, it took less than ten minutes for the cops to attack us, and they said: "you little filthy bastards have a life-long ban from Toijala". Luckily.
BEFORE THE FIRST GIG IN TOIJALA 1981
JAKKE: The proto-hardcore
was already around in 1980. The number one influence from 1979 had been CRASS,
so from that point of view our songs were getting ultra fast. We were of course
notorious for the infrequent gigs we had, as 98 percent of the people had
never heard such noise. We had mohawks, jackets with studs and boots. After
all these years the hullabaloo around our appearance seems tragicomic. The
gigs always ended with a quick exit so that the new wave crowd wouldn't charge
on us. And all the time we picked at them on the stage. Late 70's EPPU NORMAALI
and RAPPIOLLA by Hassisen Kone were the roughest stuff for those new wave
people. And if you just had a badge you were a die-hard punk. They just saw
red when we wore our studs, had different hairstyles and other gear. They
had no fucking clue what we were doing. The music wasn't conventional and
we wanted to provoke and anger them. It was fun feeling like you were from
another planet. Especially when these youthful "punks" started to
wear suits and decided to grow up. They didn't have a clue about the punk
attitude. They thought it was just safe and comfortable "teen rebel"
that they could easily leave behind when moving on to their careers. It was
the furthest thing in our minds. Already in the 70's you felt like this was
your thing and it'll never go away. And with me it hasn't.
The hicks from the nearby towns were the dumbest. They dressed like the prog crowd, had Hassisen Kone badges and teen mustaches. Nokia was an exception and the punk scene was strong over there. But everytime we had a gig around Toijala, Viiala pr Ylöjärvi, the ass kicking was about to start. For example in 1981 there was a full house in Viiala. A local new wave band started. Actually their stuff hadn't change since the days of the 70's arena rock except that they had shorter songs and haircuts. Then we came with our HC gear. They thought: "what the fuck are those freaks?!". The gig started with us insulting them and we played ultracore to insult even more. And insults continued in between songs. They retaliated and death threats were flying left and right. Some with knives tried getting on stage. The boots kept them away. Fuck, we ran off through the exits when Jani said that there were fifty guys waiting to lynch us outside. Yet again plenty of laughs.
TIMPA: In the metropolis of Viiala, there was some community hall in the middle of a field where all the local youth had gathered. Again the gig was somewhere we shouldn't have been. Right away when we got there the Viiala toughies were goggling and thinking: "what are those clowns coming to make noise in our place?". But we took the stage and went fucking rampant. Part of the crowd was not very pleased. Middle fingers and fists started swinging accompanied by complaints and insults. And we responded. It got pretty heated in there and the security people advised us to leave quickly. The security and the wonderful taxi driver escorted us into a taxi and then things got heated again. The car would have flipped over if the driver wouldn't have hit the gas. Gratitude goes to the driver, who drove us exactly to the Tampere border, wished us a happy life and hoped we would never meet again.
JAKKE: In summer 1981 we were in Riihimäki to record a split with Säteri's band IDIOOTTI, but the "studio" wasn't a studio. Anyway we recorded about fifteen songs and left them to Säteri. The funny thing was that Teddy boys really meant to kill us. We got a police escort to the train station. Säteri said they were harmless. It depends, when a bunch of 300-pound guys attack you with lead pipes. There we had real equality when a 350- pound lady tried to reshape Kake's head. I would say we ran like hell. When the train left Riihimäki, they were waiting at the station and we told them to fuck off and mooned them. Again there was plenty of laughter and drinking.
TIMPA: Säteri invited us to Riihimäki where we played and had fun. When we were about to go back to Tampere, the trip to the train station turned out pretty interesting. Our fashion was so abnormal that we sure drew a lot of attention. An American car started following us and the boasting and threatning began. The big hairy fellows didn't like us and when we saw their knives and iron bars we turned up the speed. No one really knew where to run but we fled like bastards. And the "kill 'em" shouts gave us a boost. Suddenly we were on some dead end schoolyard and a car was approaching. So the only thing to do was to plunge through some thorny bush and run like hell. At the other side of the bush we noticed that our vocalist Kake couldn't get through and we started panicking again. Then a bag flew over the high fence and soon Kake followed. And we were off. Finally we saw cops and asked for help because we were being threatened. However the cops said: "blame yourselves for looking like that, you’re on your own all the way to the station". Thanks. We got to the station and the cops were there with the chasers talking and laughing at us. Oh yeah, and the one big hairy fellow was in reality a hell of an ugly lady. We had enough of Riihimäki.
JAKKE: We sent a tape with 25 songs to Atte Blom's label Johanna. And they were very interested and asked us to visit. We went to their office but since we were pretty drunk we fucked up that deal. In the fall we made the split EP called "Kytät On Matsisikoja" with CADGERS for Vote's P-Tuotanto label. The mixer was some old drummer of Juice Leskinen (pop rocker). I said there were two bands. He asked: "how many days do we have to make the tapes?", I said: "two hours per band" and he was like: "fuck, that's not enough time to even mic the kick drum!" we said: "just put the mics there. We have everything in place, just start recording". But we had to redo our bit completely, because the tape had only Kake's screaming on it.
KAAOS AND CADGERS
TIMPA: In 1982 I spent a week in the hospital. As I lay there I decided that my time in KAAOS was over. The circles were so small and all everyone talked about was people getting kicked out and people joining other bands. I heard a rumor that the KAAOS line-up could be changing too. So I played it safe and told Jakke that I'm out. Kake heard about my decision and said he's out too. Perry from RIISTETYT heard that me and Kake had left KAAOS, and he suggested that we should start another group. So we had a trio called JäRJESTYSHäIRIö. We went to a studio to make a demo and everything seemed fine. But then I quit playing when my best friend Eero Jokela passed away...
JAKKE: The line-up changed and I moved from guitar to vocals.
NAPPI: I had the shittiest drums in the world and a band called AIVOKUOLEMA. It was spring 1982. This band was short-lived, but when we played a gig with KAAOS, Jakke asked if I could join KAAOS as the drummer because Jaska was leaving the band. They didn't have to ask me twice. I played the drums only at one rehearsal. I have to admit I was a horrible drummer. Luckily for the band, Jaska came back, but this time the bassist Pena left the band and again Jakke asked me. Now my old guitar playing skills came to good use and it was pretty easy with the bass right from the start. Easy doesn't mean that I actually could play. For example, I didn't have any sense of rhythm, and that tells you what kind of drummer I had been. Anyway, I've played bass since those times. Just after couple of weeks we went to a studio to record songs for the "Russia Bombs Finland" LP. After that we started making new material. Guitarist Jone left to sing in VARAUS and Jakke took over the guitar. The gig trips were incredibly fun. We didn't really go to a gig, it was all about having fun and meeting friends. You didn't have to travel with your own instruments or other things because there simply were none. I bought my first bass when I was already in RIISTETYT.
JAKKE: We started
having gigs all around Finland. I remember this one time in Pietarsaari at
a punk festival, I had been hitting the bottle all day. When it was time to
get on stage, I was so drunk that the rest of the band beat me up on stage.
Well, I made up for it at Amyrock, where I was completely sober in front of
a couple of thousand people.
When BLACK FLAG was supposed to play at Lepakko we and RATTUS were the supporting bands. We spread flyers saying "See Jakke sober" all over Helsinki. It so happened that the corruptive liquids disappeared and I was in the shape of my life. Luckily BLACK FLAG cancelled.
I wasn't always juiced up, basically we fucked up some gigs but most were successful. We didn't play in Tampere because of the skinhead infestation. A lot of the so-called punks became skinheads and started dominating Tampere. We had to retreat to our own separate places. Those were the times when the fashion crowd disappeared and only the die hard punks were left. And there weren't a lot of us. You basically had to fear for your life because the skins were such nutcases. So it was strenuous when you had to keep looking behind your back for that skin army.
One time we were playing in Toijala and all the Tampere HC bands were there. Forty skins left from Tampere armed to teeth and in for the kill. Cops had come all the way from Tampere and prevented the violent riot by taking the skins to jail. And in Puntala, probably in 1983, 1000 punks were shitting themselves over one single skin, although not the people from Tampere, but everyone else from different parts of Finland. We laughed our heads of when the northern boys were saying: "now we're getting our asses kicked hard". And cops were generally fucking eager to arrest people. Drunk or not. All YOU needed was just a mohawk and studs.
NAPPI: We were supposed to play at a festival in Denmark but it didn't happen. Me and Jakke had a small side project called NAPALMI and I played drums. Only one rehearsal on tape and that was it. At the end of 1982 we recorded "Totaalinen Kaaos" and played at Lepakko. There we had a new guitarist Sidney. After that we hanged around in Helsinki a lot. We started making new material for an LP.
SIDNEY + JAKKE + NAPPI. KAAOS LIVE AT LEPAKKO 1982
JAKKE: During the
making of "Totaalinen Kaaos" we had a studio jam. When we were too
drunk to play, the producer Mike Poison left us there sleeping, as long as
we didn't touch anything. There we just drank more. On Sunday I had to do
the vocals hung over. Some religious people came to the studio after we had
finished, and they put pictures of Jesus all over the walls saying: "that
went well, but you have to leave now. You smell so bad too".
In 1983 we were about to play at Puntala. The guys were looking for me everywhere, until they saw a couple of boots peeping from a collapsed tent. And there I was sleeping.
NAPPI: Our gig was on Saturday but Jakke was so drunk that we had to postpone the gig by few hours. When we were about to go on stage, Jakke had vanished completely. I had enough. The gig that was rearranged for Sunday didn't happen because we couldn't find the guy. I was happy to move on when Lateri called me a bit later and asked if I would play bass in RIISTETYT. The bassist and the legendary drummer Stydy had left the band. Or were about to leave, I'm not sure. Our drummer Jaska was also pissed off at Jakke for the same reason as I was, so we both joined RIISTETYT.
JAKKE: In 1984
we were in Middle Europe. I got lost in Copenhagen and didn't finish the tour
with them. I just got lost for a second and the guys had jumped on a train
thinking: "sure, Jakke will know his way". I only knew that the
next gig was in Holland. Pretty easy.
In 1985 we had to have a discussion, because there were things like HC metal and others, and no one really wanted to go that way. KAAOS decided to quit in December 1985.
By the time KAAOS split up me and Nappi had already started KUOLLEET KUKAT. And before Kaaos was reunited, we played in POSITIVE NEGATIVE, which was active from 1996 to 1999.
In 1999 KAAOS reunited for the Lepakko funeral with the following line-up: Jakke (voc), Sidney (guitar), Nappi (bass), Janne (drums). We made the "Ismit" LP, a split with SVARY AGGRESSION and some songs for various compilations. And of course there were gigs. KAAOS also toured Europe in 2002.
In April 2005 I disbanded KAAOS for good at the "Vastavirta" club in Tampere. We couldn't get a rehearsal space anywhere and I got frustrated. Then I was reading some 80's zine where I said that KAAOS won't play ever again. I felt like I was betraying myself. And when all these old bands started to reunite, I thought that was it. For KAAOS anyway.
What I was left with was hundreds of various gigs, about seventy records including all the compilations and a bunch of bootlegs. I emphasize that we only made spoken agreements. Unlike Rike Jokela who was very particular about getting all the money etc. to his own pocket. Jokela was never a punk, but an upper class coward and a business man. He tried to get all the Tampere bands against each other. He was the most obnoxious rich kid ever. He didn't even drink and collected his band's money and used it as alms. But we trusted the punk attitude and people's word. Sometimes we were fucked because of that. All labels rip off more or less. If we had had the money, we would have kept all the control in our own hands. But, no one told us what to do. And if they tried, we ignored.
Our records have been released officially in the US, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Austria, Japan and Portugal. Plus all the bootlegs. Sure people have been complaining that we should do few more gigs, but... I don't know.
Well, if we're getting into details, I had already read about this new revolutionary movement from Soundi. Or was it called Musa back then. Anyway it had an article about the New York scene in 1975, and it seemed great. I was born in 1965, so as a little kid I had been listening to Iggy, MC5 and VELVET UNDERGROUND, but then you started hearing all kinds of things from the UK. I thought something new might be coming against all the prog shit. I was about ten when punk came to Finland, so it's not so clear to me. But those were fucking exciting times. I was interested in anything new. I think first was the RAMONES, then stories about the SEX PISTOLS and THE DAMNED. It was just music back then, something rough, but you didn't think about anything else than "it's fucking cool". In 1977 I found some like-minded people. I knew about the bands in 1976 because I had been reading NME. But there weren't any records, except some RAMONES and the first DAMNED single. Almost every weekend I hanged around Lepakko when it was invaded. Me and Raitsikka were good friends. You met all kinds of great people like the LAMA guys, THE WIDOWS, 000 (NOLLA NOLLA NOLLA), and the subsidiary punks. And Jontsa, Tino, Pitka etc.
I remember being in Helsinki at Nisonen, drunk of course. I went to the stairs to take a piss into some kind of bucket. Soon the doorbell rang and there was an angry mother saying: "who the fuck has pissed in my baby carriage?". Those Helsinki trips were so great, because it got pretty crazy compared to Tampere. Already because of the Teddy Boy infestation, which wasn't that bad in Tampere. We showed them.
Fuck, there's so many great memories. Sometimes you think things were better than they really were, but those were great times. You were younger and there was always something new coming around. Today it's all pretty dull and apathetic. Those were pioneering times. We made something that the young people of today can regard as foundational. Maybe in those times the emphasis was more on the booze, but then again it feels like that today as well. Back then there were punks all around Finland, even in the small places, and wherever you went you had friends and a place to stay. It could be that now there's less people but they're more sensible. Sure we were 100% serious too, but nowadays it seems like all the fun has disappeared. Now punk is pretty fragmented, which is a good thing. In 1982 everyone played HC. Now we have all kinds of things. And it's good that the youngsters are doing something, otherwise the whole scene would dry out. They're pretty good at what they're doing, but we old ones are still around too, with things like for example the Vastavirta club and the whole organization, labels, distros, bands etc.
Punk has been familiar and stable for years and it has a steady place in the world of subcultures. Maybe I would like too see something a bit wilder. The circles are after all pretty small and everything's so serious. But it takes time and there's no reason to give up. Avoiding jobs has always been my project. I write to zines, go to gigs, make videos and read a lot. Drinking is seasonal. Nothing special. It was clear already in 1976-77 that punk is my thing. And it has been to this day!