Logo Kypck

"Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof"

Many a listener may think exactly that, stumbling across the downtempo monster "Cherno". The lyrics of these Finns are consistently in Russian, and also their image contributes to this impression. That KYPCK - whose name "Kursk" (the transliteration for KYPCK) is borrowed from a well known battle as well as a foundered submarine - are more than a massive and grinding machinery of war and military is something vocalist Erkki gladly straightens out in the interview.

"Yes, this is good to clear up" says Erkki who also sings about a day in the life of Yegor Kuznetsov on "Cherno". "We don't sing only about war and, if you exclude the intro, there are no references to the submarine tragedy. There are a few main themes on the album: Russian history and literature, war and religion/atheism. Some songs are more personal and deal with my experiences while living in Russia. Unfortunately, we cannot talk too much about Yegor as he wishes to remain unknown. His day contains mainly frustration towards the people who do not understand him, namely his superiors and his wife. He is a kind of modern-day "little man", as known to us from great Russian novels of Dostoevsky and Gogol. Luckily he has a friend in the shape of a bottle." Apart from the lyrics also the whole artwork and merchandise are heavily inspired by Russia. What do KYPCK think about communism and do they see any elements of it as worthwile? "What an interesting way to lead into this question, heh... Well, in a way I see the Scandinavian model of socialism and a welfare state (which is now being dismantled with predictable bad results) as a very working type of communism, if you will. Progressive taxation, national healthcare, services owned by the state... The history of the "real" communist countries is of course full of atrocities and misery, no doubt about that. And those are good subjects for songs, by the way. But the English know not to throw the baby with the bathwater. The sense of a community where people work together and help each other is definitely still a positive value in my books..."

The decision to use the Russian language had already been done before Erkki joins KYPCK. Therefore he may be the wrong person to address in search of an explanation but he does have an opinion to what extent it could be seen as their contribution to some form of international understanding between two nations have by far not come up roses in history. "The reasons were that it sounds really powerful, especially in this kind of music. Also it gives us immediate access to the enormous cultural and historical heritage of Russia. Russia has or had tensions with pretty much most of the nations around the world and it'll be a challenge to tap into that. Luckily we're not a political band in that we can pretty much remain objective in the way we approach the stories and events. I usually write from an individual's point of view, sometimes my own, sometimes a fictional character. I think it's about time to start using past tensions as material for art. In general, KYPCK already have fans on both sides of the border which is a way forward. I personally don't endorse any form of nationalism, be it Finnish, Russian or Swedish as it's a dead idea that belongs to the 19th century... Unless, of course, we're talking about ice hockey..."

Kypck Band
Picture by Vesa Ranta and provided by Century Media

In the beginning there are three general ideas - "slowly, very heavy and Russian" - when KYPCK start working on "Cherno" but already within a month they have gathered more than enough material for an album and Erkki starts with writing the lyrics. "Cherno" is a product of a couple of weeks of brainstorming together about what we wanted to do. We didn't have any specific guidelines or bands we wanted to sound like or anything like that. Besides our three general ideas we had Sami's rough demo of what was to become the central track of the album, "The Black Hole". After that we all started writing material and sending demos to each other. Me and Sami also worked together on a couple of songs, vocal melodies and talked about the themes and lyrics I was writing. Very quickly we had enough material. The music was then finished and I started working on the lyrics, except on my songs where the lyrics and melodies were there from the beginning. The rest of the band, the imagery, the look, the paraphernalia arose from the music and us hanging out in the windowless studio for ten days with some bottles of vodka..." Especially the imagery doesn't engage everyone's sympathy when KYPCK enter the Finnish charts at #11 which must be quite a surprise for the band. On the other hand names like Sami Lopakka and Hiili Hiilesmaa in the line up should be a guarantor for quite some attention. The choice of label and a huge friends list on myspace speak for themselves, too. "Well, the chart position 11 was a kind of surprise as it went so high. It was clear that it would enter the charts at some point, considering there were so many pre-orders, but the final position came as a surprise, indeed. Obviously not everyone understands or even likes what we are doing, and not many people in Finland, or elsewhere, can appreciate the intricacies in the Russian lyrics, for example, but we've managed to get people's attention. Sami and me have done a lot of interviews in the past few weeks, and for the most part the journalists on the phone have been very enthusiastic about the album. We also get fan feedback through our website and myspace and there seems to be a good portion of people out there appreciating what we are doing. It's a very original concept with strong imagery and visual outlook which may irritate some people. But in the end it's about the music, the stories in the songs and our live show which is something very special. And even though some people were irritated about the hype in the media we've proved our point in our live shows. Some people don't like the strong imagery and the theatrical side to our music, and I guess that's understandable, but then again, our fans love that aspect of this band. And personally, I don't like to hold back in anything I do and am, and I enjoy the theatrical side of performing very much. The Lopakka/Sentenced connection has some apparent advantages but as far as we know not many Sentenced fans like this type of music. In some claustrophobic, petty circles the connection with Hiili is even a big minus for the band... heh."

So what was the initial thought to start a band like KYPCK after ´officially burying´ Sentenced some time ago... Do they feel that early 2007 was the perfect time for the birth of KYPCK after the initial idea was pronunced already in 1999? "As for the timing, I can only speak of what I know - that Sami was definitely ready for a new project and really threw himself into this album. I myself was more than ready for this one as in February 2007 I had just completed a mini-tour in Finland called "Russian Rock Project" where I sang Russian metal hits in Finnish translations. So, I was already in a ´Russian mind-set´ when the opportunity for KYPCK arose! For me it was the perfect step." Talking about doom KYPCK are in good company with many other Finnish bands like Reverend Bizarre, Unholy, Hanging Garden, Terhen, Depressed Mode, just to name a few. But still they all crown the more common ingredients with something unique each. So do KYPCK and let's just explore the main characteristics of KYPCK's music. "We don't live in the past, in the sense that the kind of garage-UK-doom sound is absent from KYPCK. For me, this is doom in the 21st century - the sound we've created is really massive and grinding, yet strangely soothing in my opinion. It's like a neverending series of waves, hitting the shore somewhere in the Arctic. In the end, it doesn't matter if you call us doom or not. This band is more than a label. The Russian themes in the lyrics and the imagery are only too obvious to mention but will always be a part of KYPCK, also on the next album. The band is still young and we'll keep developing this concept further." They often sound heavy and range from desolate to melancholic. Would Erkki see this as some trademark of Finnish bands? "Probably, I mean we share something of the same cultural heritage and mentality. In KYPCK's case we specifically wanted to keep the melancholy in the music and not just stay with the grinding. Melancholy is also essential to the Russian soul (not just the Finnish) and that needs to be reflected in the songs.

Kypck Band
Picture by Vesa Ranta and provided by Century Media

A video is shot for the song "1917" whose characters remain a bit mysterious after watching this little episode. You can't really tell what is happening respectively which incident leads to the woman's body. "The video was shot outside of Porvoo, in Southern Finland, in a small cottage. it's the director's interpretation of the fate of the song's main protagonist. It can be viewed as a kind of projection into his future of which there are only hints in the song. The whole video portrays a kind of pseudo-reality and it's left open to interpretations. So, your view is as good as mine." Another little KYPCK mystery is the Doomsday Party which fans can join on the KYPCK's website. "I have no idea who came up with this idea but fans are obviously of huge importance. There's your sense of a community in practise!" And probably quite some bottles of vodka within the inner KYPCK community triggered one or another humourous idea like the arms race of which the initiator can't be spotted any longer. "Like I mentioned above, all of this, and the general mentality within the band was formed during the recording sessions. We were all really hooked on to this concept and quickly became of one mind about what we were doing. We decided not to hold back on any of those crazy ideas that started flying about. Usually, these things are forgotten the next morning but we were adamant in that we're gonna do this and follow things to their logical conclusion. You have to have a bit of a twisted sense of humour to be in this band. It's not a secret that there was a kind of arms race within the band at one stage, after we bought the Lada... Jaska then wanted an extreme bass-guitar, in the same style as the car, so he made the one string Kypcklop himself... Hiili bought the biggest available (30 inch) ride cymbal which has a horrible sound but somehow it suits us... I had a special-made mic-stand with barbed wire wrapped around it... Sami had his new guitar made out of a real AK-47... And so on. But it all sprang from the music and the concept. One thing led to another."

All this can hopefully be witnessed on stages all over Europe soon. Regarding tour plans and if KYPCK would prefer to be on tour with other doom bands or rather a high contrast in the package Erkki reveals that "of course, we want to tour Europe as well, and Russia is our goal in the near future. We've already had offers from Moscow, St. Petersburg and our hometown Kursk. At the moment we are waiting for the offers from the rest of Europe and the months of September and October are at least reserved for gigs. As for the bill we don't really have a preference at the moment. We've enjoyed playing with many different bands at the Finnish festivals and that just gives us a chance to show to many kinds of people what we do. Many people are still sceptical about this band but not after they've seen the show. We did a festival tour in Finland and this rusty Russian shit really rocks... The sound is really big, the atmosphere is oppressing and for many it has come completely from the woods... And it's different from everything else. It's definitely a challenge for your average metalfan." Last but not least Erkki has a message for the German fans. "I wish all the best to German metal-fans. "Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof" (a popular German term for not having a fucking clue) but I promise to learn something else before we do our first show there!"

For further information check out the KYPCK website or their myspace page.

Interview done by Endrew. July 2008.

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