Disco Ensemble

By paul

Andy caught up with Mikko Hakila and Lasse Lindfors of Finnish punk outfit Disco Ensemble before their slot on the Eastpak Antidote Tour at Brixton Academy.

PT: Hey guys – introduce yourselves and tell us what you do in the band.
MH: Hello. I’m Mikko, the drummer.
LL: I’m Lasse. The bass player.

PT: How’s the tour been going so far?
MH: Yeah it’s been really good. We’re playing first every night in the UK so we’ve got the shittiest slot. It’s still good though, because it’s the biggest tour we’ve ever played and lots of people are getting to see us.

PT: It’s so far away from home for you as well.
MH: Yeah, we’re doing things all over Europe as well so we’re kind of used to it. We’re probably more used to touring away from home than we are at Finland so it seems pretty normal to us.

PT: This tour has quite a diverse line-up. How has this affected the crowd’s reaction to you?
MH: I think in the UK it’s more of a dancing crowd. In the mainland, where Dank Jones is headlining, it’s going to be more of a rock show. It’s cool to have four completely different groups of music fans having fun together in one room so I think it’s been great.

PT: You guys have been together for almost a decade now, yet only recently started enjoying some proper success. Has the road here been a tricky one?
MH: Well when our first album came out in 2003, things started really happening for us. We’ve been doing all kinds of stuff over the last ten years.
LL: It’s been a really gradual process. For example ‘First Aid Kit’ has been out at home for three years now, but it’s only just been released here so it’s been a slow process.

PT: Do you get tired of playing songs that are old for you to new audiences?
MH: When it’s new for people who are seeing us for the first time, it’s effectively a new album to them so for us it still feels fresh for us too. It’s great to see people’s initial reactions to the songs. Back in Finland when we play the same songs, it’s not the same because it’s old for the crowd as well as for us, so the songs don’t get the same reaction.

PT: Did you always know you were going to write English songs as opposed to those in your native language?
MH: It never really occurred to us to have Miikka [Koivisto, Disco Ensemble vocalist] sing in Finnish.
LL: I think we were raised listening to English and American music, so it’s kind of a music reality we know better than singing in Finnish.

PT: It’s not just simplistic English either.
MH: We also have a good grasp of the language, and Miikka knows how to write lyrics properly. Every program we watch on TV back home is in English anyway, so you just kind of learn it, take it in without realising. You learn before you even start doing it in school or whatever.

PT: England’s perception of Scandanavian music is heavily centred around the goth metal/black metal bands that only get heard of when they’re receiving bad press. How do you react to that?
MH: I don’t know, we’re not particularly proud of the fact that we’re Finnish, or make an emphasis on it so it doesn’t really concern us. We don’t feel like we belong in any genre so if someone cares about it in that way, then it’s their problem. It’s the equivalent of American rock bands being pigeon-holed together with rappers receiving bad press. I guess that because we’re from such a smaller place, it all gets centralised, and all the music gets lumped together.

PT: Is there a big punk/emo scene in Finland?
MH: Not so much emo…no one really plays emo anymore! There area lot of alternative and punk bands around. It’s a really active scene – a lot more so than the goth rock scene now’s just totally changed.

PT: Any bands you can tip for big things in the future?
LL: Probably our label mates like ‘Rubik’ for example are a really up and coming band.

PT; What do you listen to when you’re off tour?
MH: Usually something completely different. It’s sort of dangerous to listen to your own genre because then you end up copying other bands without even realising it. I listen to a lot of classic rock, a lot of alternative.
LL: I like Neil Young a lot!

PT: And what about the future for Disco Ensemble?
MH: We’ve been writing for a new album and the songs have been coming together really well. We’re aiming to record around February time so get the next album out for a summer release.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]