The Scenes are a 6-piece experimental band from Oulu, Northern Finland, who sound like something between art pop, hardcore punk and progressive rock. They have just finished a tour of the UK supporting The Specials. I caught up with Konsta Koivisto (Vocals) and Miki Liukkonen (Guitar) at the beginning of the tour before their Belfast gig.
XS - How did the band get together?
Miki – Basically we were all friends at school and we liked the same kinds of music and we decided to start playing together instrumentally as a hobby but it got more serious when Konsta joined which was an eye opener, little by little that defined our own style and voice.
XS – You definitely found your voice, Konstas voice reminds me of Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley with your own distinct sound, its a fantastic voice.
Konsta – Yeah I think its how we make our songs its like observing how we want to create our own style of music, not like what somebody else is doing.
XS – What were your main musical influences growing up?
Miki – When I was a teenager I listened to a lot of punk rock, The Sex Pistols and The Clash, then I got into jazz and tried to glue them together with punk and progressive music, I think it can be heard in our music. We like to bring the energy and rage of punk and still it’s kind of moody, I like the combination it’s not so common nowadays.
XS – You don’t stick to a formula musically some of your songs are like three songs in one they veer off in different directions.
Miki – I think the main power in how we make music is Konsta is an artist he paints and I write poetry and novels. We don’t just take influences from music we also take it from art and poetry and try to mix them together and the result is quite unique.
Konsta – It’s like we are making collages with different pieces we like reading books we like movies and so on.
XS – Miki has won awards for writing in Finland and Konsta sculpts, does it inspire music for The Scenes?
Konsta – It comes like seasons, when I am painting then I am not writing or composing music, I don’t concentrate on music at all, and now its the time when i'm making lots of music, this music season is going on right now.
Miki – We have always been ridiculously ambitious so we can be one of the best bands around. Nowadays music lacks true sincerity they only think about how their hair looks or what kind of jeans they must wear, that has nothing to do with your heart or your soul or music at all.
I am almost hateful towards today’s bands, especially indie bands because I think that everything that’s wrong with music today, indie music has become so mainstream it needs to stand out it has become so plastic it has no soul or anything.
Konsta – yeah it’s just copying old things there is nothing new, bands are doing this retro rock music, its fucking 50 years old, really old stuff. I think when you are starting a band and trying to make music you have to make something new, there is so much old stuff we have to break these walls.
Miki – It really makes you miss guys like Frank Sinatra and John Lennon.
The problem is people are just copying, but if you want to make something new , you can copy but it has to go through your new mind, so it becomes something that is your soul.
Konsta – You take little influences from everywhere but you have to put it in a new way and write it in a new way.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/165864933" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
XS- Your song 'Anorexia is Boring' dealt with image
Miki – It was a really misunderstood song. Almost everyone thought we were making a joke about the subject they didn’t get it at all. Many people have a problem with us they think our songs are too intellectual or have too much depth because people just want to party and listen to songs about girls, drinking beer and having fun while we concentrate on anorexia and literature. When the listener has to work out songs it gives them more belief, nothing comes too easy. With this way of thinking we have been compared to Manic Street Preachers in some way because they use literature and politics. Though we lack politics that’s our difference.
XS- How would you describe the new album 'Beige'?
Miki - It started out that we wanted to celebrate mediocrity, we like things which people think of as boring like a gas station, taxis or televised golf, these things surround us all the time and make us what we are, we wanted to look at them and find beauty and make music about it. But it turned out to be impossible because the songs are not boring (laughs) . the songs are quite old we started to make the album 2 years ago, now we are playing songs from our third album it hasn't been recorded yet.
Konsta – We have composed those songs but we haven’t recorded anything.
XS – Your album ‘Images of Animals Crying in Public' was released last year and 'Beige' came out this year, you obviously write very quick, could we see your third album next year?
Konsta – Maybe but I think the next album will be quite difficult to make because there is new things we are observing. We don’t want to do the second ‘Biege’ or the second ‘Images of Animals Crying in Public’ we want to make a brand new album, maybe a country album (laughs) but yeah it will be really hard and difficult to make.
Miki- It will be more angry because I have become more cynical about the music business because there are bands who have been put together last year and they are much more successful than us, because they make ‘Cool’ music . We have been playing together for 6 years I think it’s time to catch up with us I think we are too hard for the listener nowadays.
Konsta – Yeah I think listeners would think our music is not cool like other mainstream acts today, we have made lots of brand new songs but we have deleted those songs. Miki has given me some lyrics and I have given Miki new songs and we have thought ‘no no this is crap, this is cliché’ we are like that because we want to make a really really good album not a mainstream album.
Miki – There are some lyrics that makes me think can we really do this? because they are so angry!
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/89492527" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
XS – Paul Weller recently said that there are no bands out there saying anything.
Konsta – What really interests me these days is of course good music but also the story behind it and the story behind the musicians, the whole brand.
XS – You toured at the beginning of the year and you are back on the road now, do you have any memorable experiences?
Miki – Well last tour I was drunk 90% of the time (Laughs) so I have no memories really!
Konsta – (laughing) but still we played quite good.
Miki – There was one show that was quite terrible because there was one person watching and I was so frustrated and I said to him to fuck off! (laughs) but he stayed, he really liked us.
XS – It’s much harder for new bands to get through these days, record companies don’t give bands enough time to develop anymore. What are your thoughts on the current state of the music business?
Konsta – I think we are quite honoured because in Finland there are few bands and we made our debut tour in the UK but lots of Finnish bands tour in Eastern Europe and they do shitty gigs, while we went straight into the UK and it was very cool. And we have made good contacts with X ray touring and Prescription Pr who are making this work.
Miki – This is really annoying for me because I don't have enough confidence to speak in English I have so much to say about the state of music at the moment I can make myself clearer in Finnish.
It annoys me I would like to talk and talk and talk but I cannot find the words. The only thing I can say is I am sick of the state of music at the moment, something needs to change its really hard I don’t know how, there has got be some kind of revolution. It sounds ridiculous but that’s the only solution I can think of. Its more important that you try and make something different, you just don’t go the easy way and make yourself look like a decent indie rock band guy and sing about un original stuff.
We are so ambitious that its making us crazy because people don’t understand us enough.
XS – What music are you currently listening to and what would you recommend?
Miki- I have been listening to the same bands since I was 14, I listen to The Beatles, The Smiths and Joy Division and a lot of classical stuff, I also love Roy Orbison and Frank Sinatra and Sam Cooke.
I don’t really listen to contemporary music it makes me sad.
Konsta- I listen to Philip Glass and old minimalistic composers like Terry Riley they really inspire me.
XS- What would be your writing process?
Konsta – We compose at home, I compose then bring it to Miki and we discuss what the songs could be , then I leave it to Miki he writes most of our lyrics.
Miki – Konsta once said that we are like John Lennon and Paul McCartney but I think we are like John Lennon and John Lennon (laughs).
XS- A lot of bands who cite The Beatles as an influence make it obvious in their sound but its not obvious in yours.
Miki – The most important thing for The Beatles was to always try new stuff, it was the attitude we got from them. If we write a song that people like then we don’t need to do that kind of song again.
The Scenes second album 'Beige' is out now.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/136998864" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]