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Synnin viemää: Chapter Six (pp. 56-59)

WHEN DRUMMING AND PARTYING BEAT REHEARSING

In the end, Futari [soccer magazine] was the only magazine or newspaper he could read because it for sure wouldn’t have a picture of Ville in it


Juhana Tuomas Rantala is known as Pätkä. He is not a short man, but he once had a friend called Pekka. [Pätkä means shortie. Pekka and Pätkä were characters in an old cartoon and in a series of very popular comedies from the 50’s. Pekka is a very common name.] He was born in Tampere on February 11, 1974. HIM’s first drummer still plays drums, and in the evenings, he sells beer in a bar.

- I really was born in Tampere, but I didn’t stay for long in that city, Pätkä says. – After that, we lived in Riihimäki and Rovaniemi where I spent my childhood. My youth, I spent in Lappeenranta.

When I was a kid, I listened to the Beatles and to Elvis. My enthusiasm in heavy metal began with Dio’s Holy Diver, and I had a yellow bicycle with 'Dio' painted on it. From that, I moved on to Iron Maiden and speed metal.

My first band was Slumgudgeon. You can imagine how hard it was to promote a band whose name no-one knew how to pronounce. We found the name in a slang dictionary when we had to think of something in a hurry. It started with an ‘s’, ended in an ‘n’, and had as many letters as Soundgarden.

After I had moved to Helsinki, I went back to Lappeenranta a few times for rehearsals, but we just ended up getting drunk and not playing much. After I left, the band continued for a while with a different line-up, but nothing more came of it. At that point, I didn’t play for about a year, but then Ville called and asked if I would be interested in playing in HIM.

I called my then live-in girlfriend for her opinion on whether I should do it. She told me that the music is good, but the singer is fucking awful.

I went along anyway and got the band its first rehearsal place in Tapanila [neighborhood in Helsinki]. There we started playing seriously. We really rehearsed. The way Ville is, you kind of had to rehearse. He was so into it, and he demanded that everyone else put in the same amount of energy. That’s the way it should be, but I was just so different. When you’re not a very good player and the other one is, the other one gets a bit nasty and yells.

Otherwise, it was pretty okay. I was a little older than Ville and Linde, and Mige and I were the same age. Because I had the Slumgudgeon background and had played some gigs, I was a bit more of a man than they were.

When Antto joined the band, he really was an outsider. And he did suffer for it. The keyboard players in HIM have always had bad karma. Juska and Antto have both had to suffer, and it has been painful to watch it at times. At least Burton is their old friend, and he knows how to stick up for himself.

We had really fun times in the beginning. We even played on a cruise ship. We were going to the Hultsfred festival in Sweden, and Tiina Vuorinen got us a free boat ride on the condition that we play an acoustic set in the corner of the bar. Before the ship had even left the harbor, the firemen were in our cabin. The boys had started to burn pieces of paper in there, and they were already dragging Mige into the cell on the ship. Tiina had to settle things. Later that night, we played HIM songs acoustically in the pub.

In Kouvola, the service back stage was so bad that our group of eight people got twelve bottles of beer and food that tasted gross. Even though we asked, we didn’t get any more. Mige and I decided to get revenge. I tricked the waiter into giving me directions to McDonald’s while Mige was pissing into the ice maker in the kitchen.

By the way, it was me who got Juska to join the band during that same gig in Kouvola. I talked to him before the gig, and he came to party with us afterwards. Ville and the others found him annoying. I exchanged phone numbers with him, and later he moved to Helsinki. Then when we needed a keyboard player, I said that we could try Juska. That’s how he came into the band, and I don’t know whether I should be proud or sorry for that.

By the way, it’s funny that we didn’t fool around with women at all in those days. We were all dating or not that interested in women. Antto was the only one who was single, and we used to egg him on to get laid. The uglier the woman he found, the better.

The gigs and the traveling were fun and the best part of the whole thing, but otherwise things started to get to me little by little. It doesn’t matter whether I quit or got fired, the problem was rehearsing. It was really hard to rehearse with Ville when you had to be afraid all the time. Juska once confessed to me that he often prayed on his way to rehearsals that Ville wouldn’t show up. I, on the other hand, felt that it was just like working in a regular job. I had a boss who told me what to do, and I got paid, but I didn’t have any say in anything. This by the way wasn’t the case with Mige and Linde because that’s the damn threesome.

Ville would sit behind the drums in rehearsals, play a drum beat, and tell me to play it the same way. Same thing with everyone else. I guess Mige was the only one who could be a bit more creative. But it really was Ville Valo and Kuurankukat – this is an expression I have sometimes heard. We split evenly between us the arranger’s royalties, but in reality Ville did the arranging too. He is so fucking talented that it’s a good thing he did. But it didn’t really make playing much fun.

Then I had a kid on the way, I was drinking too much, and I was still scared of Ville to the point where my performance at gigs would suffer from the tension I felt. Then a few months passed without anyone calling me or answering my calls. After that, I heard that another drummer had been rehearsing with HIM. I figured that I wasn’t missed. They really handled my leaving the band in a kind of a shitty way. I hoped at the time that HIM’s next record wouldn’t sell more than one copy to some relative.

For about a year, I was so pissed off that Futari [soccer magazine] was the only magazine or newspaper I could read because it didn’t have pictures of Ville in it. His face really was in every other one.

In time, I realized that why the fuck should I be upset about that, what did it matter. Now I get along fine with Ville, there’s no problem. But he could put a hundred thousand on my bank account.

We run into each other in bars every now and then. It sucks that I see so little of Mige. And it would be fun to see Linde too, even though he never says anything. Gas is a fucking great guy too and an unbelievable drummer. I’m actually flattered that Gas is the one who took my place.

When I had stopped playing in HIM, I got some offers to play in other bands. But I’m sure Sami Kuoppamäki got a lot more offers after Kingston Wall than I did.

Nowadays, I play drums in several bands. I play for example in a band called Spiha, a project called Evil Beatles, and a speed metal band. I have a few kids, and considering I also sell beer in Semifinal at night, I have enough work. It takes up all my nights and ruins my hearing, my sanity, and my health.

We have continued HIM’s traditions on a few gigs with other bands by wrecking a few hotel rooms. They send you the bill and it sucks, but you can’t break old habits. Back in the day, we used to think of all the things HIM could stand for. Hotellihuoneen Irtaimiston Murskaajat [= (more or less) Hotel room Furniture Thrashers] – that was one truth.
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From the book HIM - Synnin viemää by J.K. Juntunen (WSOY, 2002). Translated and posted here with permission of the author. Do not post this translation on any other site.

Comments

sineresi
Oct. 24th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
I love Ville, but I surely wouldn't want him to be my boss ;)

My sentiments exactly!

You're welcome. :)