The Achtungs interview with Joni Ekman

September 21, 2014

The Achtungs interview with Joni Ekman

If The Mummies and Nobunny had some sort of bastard dumpster
baby that they left behind a diner where one of the Ramones happened to be
shooting up in the alley, who found it and took it home in a doped out haze for
Wayne Kramer and Sonic Smith to raise as their own, this would be it!  Blistered and raw tape hiss explodes in
spasmodic fits of tightly woven pockets in the form of two minute long punk
blasters.  Fashioned with a care and
intensity that’s rare and almost unmatched, Finland’s own The Achtungs fit all
the mumbling, screaming, fast melting speed and fuzz possible in there, but
where the fuck they find time to cram all the insanely infectious and gnarly
lead guitar is what I want to know!  This
shit sounds like White Stripes-era Jack White completely lost his shit, got
hooked on dope, became an alcoholic, bought a tape recorder, kicked the
organist out of The Mummies and went Bad Brains on their asses!  With a hefty back catalog at this point, The
Achtungs are still working to perfect their own sound, a delightfully garbled
mess of distortion and tape fuzz, blending the best of the 60’s and the current
no-fi movement, but their newest releases, the Full Of Hate LP for Going
Underground especially, just bleeds real punk rock.  This isn’t that pansy shit your friends are
listening to, this is the real deal stuff right here.  None of that bubblegum or wanna be hardcore
screaming B.S. going on here, Joni Ekman and the rest of the boys mean fucking
business.  Snatch yourself a beer out the
fridge, kick back with a square and a fatty, and let The Achtungs light you
up!  The world needs more music like
this, but there’s only one Achtungs.  Oh,
and by the way, did I mention they were psychedelic as fuck baby!?!
Who all’s in The
Achtungs right now and what do you play? 
Is this the original lineup or has there been any changes since you all
Well, The Achtungs is now Jussi Numminen on drums, Teemu
Ojala on bass and me, Joni Ekman, on guitar and vocals.  This isn’t the original lineup, though.  Jussi joined the band in March 2011 and Teemu
got involved in August, 2012.  There’ve
been quite a few lineup changes since I started the band in September of 2010.
Are any of you in
any other active bands or do you have any side projects going on right now?  Have you ever released anything with anyone
else in the past?  If so, can you tell us
a bit about that?  I love playing musical
connect the dots, but I have to admit that nothing beats cheating and getting
the answers right from the source!
Yes, Jussi and I are currently playing in a band called
Lähtevät Kaukojunat.  We just put out a
LP.  We also have an EP out, but it’s
sold out I guess.  Teemu’s making music
under the name Telepiste, but that name might change.  He’s also playing with me in Koiran näköinen
nainen, soon to be Joni Ekman & Koira, and Johnny Ekman & U.R.O.  I made my first recordings with my friends as
a band called Johnny Ekman & H.I.V. back in 2008 when we we’re like
fifteen/sixteen years old.  We put out
two CD-r releases and played about five gigs. 
Then, we broke up and the other guys formed Tohtori Koira.  I also have some side projects with my
friends like The Transentiset, Smurfit, T.P. Seller, The Cheese, and Cola Boys
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
I’m twenty two years old right now.  I’m originally from Somero, Finland; a really
small town.
How would you
describe the local music scene where you grew up?  Were you very involved in the local scene
there?  Do you feel like it played a
large role in shaping your musical tastes or the way that you perform today?
There was no musical scene in Somero, just some old farts
who liked prog rock and some metalheads playing Metallica covers.  That “scene” made me play something
else than heavy metal or jazz.  I really
like the music by Rauli Badding Somerjoki though.
What about your
home when you were growing up?  Were
either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or just
extremely interested/involved in music?
No musicians in my family, I don’t think anyone from my
family is even interested in music that much.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?

I used to listen to my dad’s old tapes like Modern Talking,
Kikka, AC/DC and Eppu Normaali.  That’s
the only music I listened to back then. 
Then, my sister got into Spice Girls and E-Type, and since we shared
room, I had to listen to all that.  My
own first CD was Bomfunk MC’s In Stereo, but I can’t tell if I really liked
that.  I was kinda embarrassed to like
music when I was younger.  I don’t know
why.  Maybe, listening to music was too
cool for me.
If you were to
pick a moment that seemed to change everything for you, opened your eyes up to
the infinite possibilities that music presents and changed the way you saw
things, what would it be?
I guess hearing the Ramones for the first time made me
realize something new.  The first vinyl
record I bought was Kakkahätä-77’s second EP WTC räjähtää, and it blew my
mind.  They sounded so bad that it was
the best thing ever.  I was so excited
about that record I used to skip classes in school just to go home and listen
to it.
When did you
decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what
brought that decision about for you?
I never really chose to do that, it just came naturally, or
something like that.
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get that?
My first instrument was a guitar.  My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas
in 2005, and I said that I wanted an electric guitar.  It was actually kind of a joke, but then she
got it for me for Christmas.  I remember
I felt bad for her, ‘cause I didn’t really want a guitar that bad.
How did the
members of The Achtungs meet and when would that have been?
Jussi and I knew each other ‘cause we had a band together
before Achtungs called Pill Poppers.  We
didn’t release anything, but there are some recordings somewhere.  Our bass player Teemu and I met in the
Vastavirta club in Tampere, Finland somewhere around the summer ’12, I
guess.  He was supposed to play in
Lähtevät Kaukojunat but that didn’t happen, so I asked him to come and try to
play some bass for The Achtungs since our drummer Juha had some difficulties making
it to rehearsal with me and Jussi, who was playing the bass back then.
When and what led
to the formation of The Achtungs?
In the summer of 2010, I was really bored with the band I
was in, Pill Poppers, and I wanted a band that sounded like The Reatards.  So, I formed one.
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
I know that
roughly translated The Achtungs means, ‘The Dangers”.  What does the name mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you all go
about choosing it?
The name doesn’t really mean anything.  My friend Santeri came up with it.  It sounds good, though.  Kinda.
Where’s the band
located now?
The band is located in Tampere, Finland.
How would you
describe the local music scene where you’re at now?
There’s some good stuff, but most of the music here is
pretty bad.  But that’s just my opinion.
Do you feel
like you’re very involved in the local music scene or anything?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?
I don’t know how involved in the scene we are, we play if
someone asks us to and that’s it.
Are you involved
in recording or releasing any music at all? 
If so, can you talk about that briefly here?
Well, my friend Juho and I have this tape/record label
called Fuck CD’s.  We’ve released a bunch
of tapes and one 7-inch, too.  More
stuff’s on the way!  I usually record all
of my own music but I don’t really record anybody else’s bands ‘cause I get too
nervous about screwing things up and making them sound bad.
Has the local
scene played a large or integral role in the sound, history, formation or
evolution of The Achtungs?  Or, do you
feel like you all could be doing what you’re doing and sounding like you do
regardless of your location and surroundings?
Sometimes, when I think about the “scene” here, I
just wanna go and make noise.  The scene
frustrates me.  That’s something!
While we’re
talking so much about the history and general makeup of the band I’m really
interested to hear who you would cite as some of your major musical
influences?  What about influences on the
band as a whole rather than just individually?
Well, The Reatards were a big influence when I started the
band.   Currently, I’m into Big Star and
60’s/70’s rock music, but I don’t think that will have any effect on The
Achtungs.  Maybe some more rock’n’roll
clichés will occur.  I don’t think other
members of the band really share any of the same influences as me.  Teemu really likes the Bad Times LP and so do
I.  Jussi just likes to bang drums and
play gigs.
How would you
describe The Achtungs sound to our readers who might not have heard you all
before in your own words?
Noisy punk.
What’s the
songwriting process with The Achtungs like? 
Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with a riff
or more finished idea to work out with the rest of you, or do you all get
together for practice and just kind of kick ideas back and forth until you’ve
distilled and polished something from the exchange that you’re all happy with?
It has always been the same since we started, I bring some
new song(s) to rehearsal and then we just practice it.
What about
recording?  I think that most musicians
can obviously appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes
into making an album when you’re holding that finished product in your
hands.  Getting to that point though,
getting everything recorded and sounding the way that you want it to,
especially as a band, can be extremely difficult.  What’s it lie recording for The Achtungs?
I’ve discovered that by playing all the instruments by
myself, except bass, which Teemu records later on, makes the recordings sound
more the way I want them to sound.  I
have an idea and I’m not satisfied if that doesn’t happen.  For example, I think the first LP sounds
horrible and it was recorded with Jussi on drums.  He hits everything really hard, so the drums
sound really blown out here and there on the record.  I also used only one mic back then.  Not to mention, I couldn’t really record that
good back then.  I’ve learned how to do
that now, though.
Do you all like to
head into the studio and let someone else handle the technical aspects of
recording so you can just concentrate on getting the best performances possible
out of yourselves, or do you all take a more DIY approach where you handle the technical
aspects of things yourselves so you don’t have to compromise on the sound or
work with anyone else to achieve it?
I’ve been recording everything The Achtungs have released on
my tape 4-track recently.  We’ve had some
sessions with other people recording us, but they never really worked out the
way I wanted to.  I don’t want to waste
anyone else’s time but mine.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into working out every little aspect of a song before
you all head into to record it?  Or, do
you all get a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like while
allowing for plenty of room for change and evolution during the recording
We used to be more of a “band”, but now that I’ve
learned to play drums better, I’ve been recording more stuff by myself.  That single we’ve got out on Total Punk for
example, was my first experiment playing drums on an Achtungs record, and I
think it sounded really good.  It was the
sound I’ve been looking for all of these years.
Do psychoactive or
hallucinogenic drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting,
recording or performances processes for The Achtungs?  People have been harnessing the effects of
these substances to produce altered mind states in hopes of channeling it into
their art almost since recorded history began and I’m always curious about its
usage and application to the artistic process…
Not really.  I don’t
care much for drugs.
2011 was an
extremely busy year for you all to say the least!  The first thing I know of that you all ever
released as the self-titled The Achtungs cassette from Fuck CD’s.  Can you tell us a little bit about the
recording of the material for that first release?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for
you all?  When and where was it
recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  I’m pretty sure that’s out of print and
pretty well unavailable at this point, but how many copies was that limited to?
Was it really that busy? 
That tape was recorded with the first lineup of The Achtungs.  We had drums and two guitars; Axel, Arttu,
and I.  It was in January, 2011.  We recorded nine songs and put six of them on
the tape.  The recording was pretty
frustrating ‘cause I didn’t really know how to use my 4-track back then.  Our drummer Arttu helped me a lot during
that, with setting the mics up and stuff, so thanks.  We setup two really crappy, cheap mics
somewhere in the room and just played the songs.  I got twenty to twenty five copies of the
tape to sell at our first gig, which was in Helsinki later that January.  We’ve released some repressings of that on
Fuck CD’s, but I have no idea how many copies we’ve made so far.  Somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and
fifty copies, I think.
You also released
the Vol. 2 cassette for Fuck CD’s in 2011. 
Was the recording of the material for Vol. 2 recorded during the same
session(s) as the self-titled tape from earlier that year?  Or, was that material recorded specifically
for that release?  If it was recorded for
Vol. 2 can you tell us about the recording of that material?  Who recorded it and where was that at?  When was that?  What kind of equipment was used?  Either way, I know that Vol. 2 is out of
print as well but I couldn’t dig up many details about it.  How many copies was Vol. 2 limited to?
Vol.2 is pretty much a compilation of demos and failed
recording sessions, there’s quite a few of those!  And I just decided that I wanna put out a
tape of this material.  There’re some
good songs on there and the recording is really crappy throughout.  It was recorded by me once again, except for
a few live tracks on it that were recorded by Jukka Nousiainen.  We’ve never done a repress of this tape on Fuck
CD’s, ‘cause I think it sucks.  We only
made 80 copies of this.
After a short
break in 2012 you all released the Vol. 3 cassette tape, again for Fuck
CD’s.  Was the recording of the material
for Vol. 3 very different than the two previous volumes?  When was that material recorded?  Who recorded it and where was that at?  What kind of equipment was used that time
around?  Do you know how many copies Vol.
3 was limited to?
Yeah, Vol. 3 is definitely the best tape we’ve made so
far.  It was recorded with the current
lineup.  We we’re just starting to play
together and I think it really sounds good. 
We played it live and recorded it straight to tape.  Teemu was really helpful while
recording.  He brought some better mics
for us to use and knew some recording tips. 
The same old 4-track was used.  I
think this was the last recording on that machine.  It broke soon after this.  We recorded this in November 2012 and the
B-side, which is a live recording, was recorded in October 2012.  We’ve made quite a few of these, maybe
somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and fifty copies?  I honestly don’t know these things very well.
2013 also saw the
release of a self-titled 7” EP for Joteski Groteski and Rock ‘n’ Roll Bullshit
which was later repressed here in the States by the ever amazing Going
Underground Records.  What was the
recording of the material for that EP like? 
Was it much like your earlier recording sessions or do you feel like you
all had learned a lot from the early cassette tape series?
That first 7” and our first LP are from the same
sessions.  We we’re recording that first
LP and I felt like there were some songs that didn’t fit in that well on the
possible LP, but they would make a good 7”. 
So, I just picked a few songs and set them aside for a possible 7”
release and we got few of our friends to put it out in August 2013.  I can’t really remember anything about the
recording, other than it was just Jussi and I playing our songs on that
tape.  It was recorded with a new 4-track
which allowed you to use all four tracks simultaneously, so that was the
biggest change, I guess.
You keep extremely
busy, and never once to rest on your laurels you’ve already dropped a single
and a full-length album this year (2014) as well!  The Full Of Hate 7” was released by Total
Punk Records and features two brand-new tracks from you all, one of which was
ironically “Full Of Hate” which is the title for your full-length released this
year as well.  Were either “Full Of Hate”
or “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It” from the same sessions that produced the Full Of
Hate LP later on that year?  I know that
album’s limited, do you know how many copies it’s limited to?
It was completely different sessions.  The LP was recorded in February 2013 and the
single was recorded in January 2014.  So,
that’s almost a year in between.  You can
clearly hear the difference in the recordings. 
The album’s limited to 400 copies 100 on green and the rest on black
I mentioned it
before, but you released your sophomore full-length album Full Of Hate for
Going Underground Records.  Did you all
try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or
recording of the material for Full Of Hate? 
Where and when was it recorded? 
What kind of equipment was used? 
Who recorded it?
I just had songs and we recorded them, basically.
Do The Achtungs
have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a demo or a song on a
compilation that I might not know about?
A few songs appear on some compilations.  The Flash Trash comp had two songs, “I’ve Had
Enough” and “Hey Girl”.  They’re just me
copying the first Reatards record, banging on a mattress and a notebook.  They sound like drums though!  Then, we have a song called “Mess MyHead” on a Bat Shit compilation that’s on Bandcamp somewhere, only
digital!  And then we have a song on this
new compilation by Fuck CD’s called Kesäpano
We’re doing a Beatles cover there, “I Saw Her Standing There”.
You’ve already
dropped a single and your debut 12” this year but with you all being so
productive it does beg the question, are there any other releases in the works
or on the horizon from The Achtungs at this point?
We have a three song 7” and a new 12” recorded.  I think the 7” is coming later this year, and
the second LP is coming after that, I guess.
With the
completely insane shipping rates all over the planet I try and give our readers
options when it comes to picking stuff up. 
Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your
I think the best place to buy our records for US people is
straight from the label.
What about
nationally and internationally?  There’s
nothing worse than being able to afford an album, but not being able to cover
the shipping!
I don’t know what stores carry our stuff.  P.Trash and Ken Rock might have some copies
of our records.
And where would
the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news like
upcoming shows and album releases from The Achtungs be at?
Since we don’t have a Facebook page, there’s really no place
to look for upcoming gigs or releases.  I
try to advertise them on message boards sometimes.
Are there any
major plans or goals that The Achtungs are looking to accomplish in the rest of
2014 or 2015?
The only goal for now is to get those two upcoming records
out and play gigs as much as possible.
Do you all spend a
lot of time out on the road touring?  Do
you enjoy being out on tour?  What’s life
like on the road for The Achtungs?

We’ve never been on a tour so I can’t really tell.
What, if anything,
do you all have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?
We have only one gig booked at the moment.  We’re gonna try hit the US next year, but
we’ll see about that.
Do you remember
what the first song that The Achtungs ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been at?
The first song we played live was “Bored” in
Lepakkomies, Helsinki.  Our first gig was
in late January of 2011 at the Flash Trash Fest.
Who are some of
your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the
past few years?
Pää Kii, Atom Mouth Gimlies, Räjäyttäjät, Kakkahätä-77,
Moderni Elämä, Mental Problems, Mustat Kalsarit, and Räjäyttäjät etcetera.
In your dreams, who
are you on tour with?
Umm…  Motörhead.
Do you have any
funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to
share here with our readers?
I’ve broken some stuff and had to pay for it, but I don’t
know if that’s fun?  I once smashed my
guitar to pieces just because Jussi was too drunk to play and I got really
annoyed by that.  I shouldn’t smash any
guitars anymore.  That’s dumb shit.  And another story, Jussi once hit himself
accidentally gave himself a bloody nose with a drum stick.  Blood, sweat, and punk.
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent,
stuff like, flyers, posters, shirt designs, covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that
you’re trying to convey with your art? 
Do you have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when
it comes to that kind of thing?
I don’t think about what to wear at a gig, it makes me feel
like a rock star and I don’t want that. 
I want to make the cover art of our records look like crappy 70’s punk
records.  Those are the best.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why they choose and prefer the mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own music?  What about when you’re
listening to or purchasing music?  If you
do have a preference, can you tell us what it is and a little bit about why?
I buy and listen to vinyl, pretty much.  That’s why I wanna put out my albums out on
vinyl.  They look better.
Do you have a
music collection at all?  If so, can you
tell us just a bit about it?
Yeah, I have records. 
I’ve been collecting them since I was sixteen years old.  The first vinyl record I bought was
Kakkahätä-77’s second EP, WTC räjähtää which is still one of my favourites.
I grew up around
this massive collection of my father’s music and he would take me out on the
weekends and pick me up random stuff that I was interested in from the local
shops.  I developed this system of
picking up an album, kicking back with a set of headphones, reading the liner
notes, staring at the cover artwork and just letting the whole experience carry
me off on this trip!  Having something to
physically hold and experience along with the music has always made for a much
more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with
physically released music?
Yes, I do, for the same reasons as you.  I like vinyl more than a CD.  Vinyl is just more than a CD and everybody
knows that more is more.
Digital music is
here in a big way, like it or not.  When
you combine digital music with the internet though, that’s when things get
really interesting.  Together they’ve
exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and
allowed for an unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fan
bases.  Nothing is ever black and white
though and while people may be exposed to more music than ever they’re not
necessarily involved in paying for it and for a lot of people music is becoming
this kind of disposable thing to be used and then discarded.  As an artist during the reign of the digital
era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
I don’t think I would ever have gotten as into punk music if
there was no internet and mp3-files.  Our
LP is for sale as mp3-files and I’m fine with it.  Most people wanna hear the record before
buying it, just like me.  New vinyl also
cost a lot nowadays, so I don’t really wanna buy a crap record for twenty five
Euros, I’d rather buy a good record.  Not
to mention, I’m not making any money with my music.  So, I don’t care if someone listens to my
music for free on the internet.  I’m just
glad somebody might get something out of it.
I try to keep up
with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s just not enough time in
the day to keep up with all the amazing stuff that’s going on out there right
now.  Is there anyone from your local
scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?
My favorite new band from Tampere is Jukka & Jytämimmit.
What about
nationally and internationally?
I like the new Giorgio Murderer EP a lot.
Thanks so much for
taking the time to talk to me about the band, it was awesome learning so much
about you all and I at least hope it was a little fun for you look back on
everything that you’ve managed to accomplish as a band.  I swear I’m done with all of the questions,
but before we call it a day I’d like to open the floor up to you all for a
second.  Is there anything that I could
have possibly missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk
to me or the readers about at this point?
I think we got everything covered here.  Punk is the best.
(2011)  The Achtungs –
The Achtungs – Cassette Tape – Fuck CD’s
(2011)  The Achtungs –
Vol. 2 – Cassette Tape – Fuck CD’s
(2013)  The Achtungs –
Vol. 3 – Cassette Tape – Fuck CD’s
(2013)  The Achtungs –
The Achtungs EP – 7” – Joteski Groteski/Rock ‘n’ Roll Bullshit/Going
Underground Records (Going Underground Records pressing is a repress)
(2014)  The Achtungs –
Full Of Hate – 7” – Total Punk Records (Limited to ? copies)
(2014)  The Achtungs –
Full Of Hate – 12” – Going Underground Records
(2008)  Johnny Ekman
& H.I.V. – Johnny Ekman & H.I.V. – CD­r – Self-Released –
(2009)  Johnny Ekman
& H.I.V. – Monoa naamaan – CD­r – Self-Released –
(2012)  Johnny Ekman
& U.R.O. – Lost In Time – Cassette Tape –
(2012)  Transentiset –
Rock kasvissyöntiä vastaan – Cassette Tape –
(2013)  Johnny Ekman
& U.R.O. – 2 – Cassette Tape – 
(2013)  The
Transentiset – Kielloista huolimatta… – Cassette Tape –
(2013)  Koiran Näköinen
Nainen ­ Rock’n’roll – Cassette Tape –
(2013)  Teendreams –
Dead Body In The Sand – Cassette Tape –
(2013)  Johnny Ekman
U.R.O. ­ 3 – Cassette Tape – 
(2013)  Lähtevät
Kaukojunat – Lähtevät Kaukojunat EP – 7″ –
(2013)  Koiran
Näköinen Nainen ­ Nussimista auton takapenkillä – Cassette Tape –
(2013)  Koiran
Näköinen Nainen – Koiran Näköinen Nainen EP – 7″ –
(2013)  Koiran
Näköinen Nainen – Viulumusiikkia – Cassette Tape
(2014)  Ralliauto ­
Ralliauto – Cassette Tape – 
(2014)  Koiran
Näköinen Nainen – #4 – Cassette Tape – 
(2014)  The Cheese –
The Cheese EP – 7″ – 
(2014)  Koiran
Näköinen Nainen – Kesämuistoja EP – 7″
(2014)  Lähtevät
Kaukojunat – Lähtevät Kaukojunat – 12” –
Kytänsoittajat/Transentiset – Split EP – 7″ –
(2014)  Cola Boys –
Cola Boys EP – 7″ –
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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