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From the youngest punk guitarist in Eskilstuna to a heavy metal drummer

Mika Kristian Karppinen was born in Eskilstuna, Sweden on February 8, 1971. Kaasu a.k.a. Mixu a.k.a. Gas Lipstick a.k.a. Buddah Cognac loves above all things ice hockey and the Pittsburgh Penguins player Mario Lemieux. He has used snuff since he was seven years old.

- My dad worked for Volvo and my mom worked at a bakery. This was in Eskilstuna in the 60’s, and it was there in Sweden that they met each other. And then little Mixu was born, Gas says. – My mom says that I have been knocking on everything since I was two, trying to find out what kind of a sound things make.

I got my first instrument when I was three. My dad remembers that while the other kids wanted Lego sets and other fun stuff, I wanted to know whether it would be possible to get instruments. So that Christmas I got a toy drum set, a little piano, and a kiddie guitar.

When I was four, I liked Irwin’s music that my parents played a lot at home. But Kiss was the first real band that I got into. I was in kindergarten then, probably six years old.

I’m childhood friends with Harri Mänty who plays guitar in the band Kent. We were in the same kindergarten. Once we went through Harri’s big brother’s records, and the Kiss album Destroyer—the one with the guys on top of the mountain—caught my eye. Right away I got the feeling that goddamnit, these guys are cool. We asked Harri’s brother to play the album. Both of us dug it so fucking much.

At some point, we decided we were going to do a gig in the kindergarten and play Kiss playback. The teachers painted our faces, put Kiss make-up on us. I was Gene Simmons, and Harri was Paul Stanley. We did a few songs with brushes, and that’s where it started.

I went to a Finnish elementary school in Eskilstuna, but at the same time I learned to speak Swedish perfectly because half of my friends were Swedish. Already in elementary school I played in different punk bands. After Kiss, I became a total Sex Pistols freak in 1979 because the big boys on the yard thought that that was the thing.

We formed our first real band when I was only eight. I played the guitar, and Harri Mänty played the drums. His father was a drummer back then. We had a cousin in common called Kari who sang. We played Eppu Normaali covers because I really dug the Aknepop album in those days.

In the early 80’s, I played the guitar in quite a few punk bands in Eskilstuna. The first gig must have been in 1981 at a youth center. The next year, I was eleven and joined a band called Hairless Future. The singer was a skinhead but the others were punks. They had an audition, and I thought I’d try out even though the guys were much older than me, about fifteen and eighteen.

I have a good ear for music, and around that time I learned to play The Exploited, GBH, and other punk stuff by listening to their albums. So I went to the Hairless Future audition, and I was so goddamned nervous because the guys were so much older. The singer told me to play a such and such song by The Exploited. Well, I did, and they asked for something by GBH. I played that too, and they almost couldn’t believe that goddamnit, that’s it. It was funny--a little kid joining a punk band.

My mom and dad didn’t approve that their son had a leather jacket with studs and his hair put up with soap. But I was a good boy. Although when I was seven, I tried snuff for the first time, and I got drunk for the first time when I was twelve and we were playing wine poker at the rehearsal place. In that game, the loser had to drink the wine.

Mom and dad moved back to Finland when I was thirteen. It was pretty weird at first. All my friends were back in Eskilstuna, and suddenly I was living in a strange country. I cried for six months that I wanted to go back home.

That first summer in Finland, my dad told me that in Kirkkonummi there was a music camp organized by the municipality, do you want to go. Well, I went there scared shitless and with my guitar. I was surprised to find two older guys there that were total punks. Together we formed Valvontakomissio and did our first demo already during the music camp. Soon I realized that there were nice people in Finland too and it wasn’t the end of things.

After camp, we started making songs and made a few records. It did take a few years to make the first one, but we kept rehearsing the whole time.

On the first record, I didn’t play the guitar anymore but instead played the drums and sang just like Remu [Aaltonen from the Hurriganes]. I had played the drums for as long as I had played the guitar but not really in any bands because back then there were always more drummers than guitarists. The drumming actually started when my dad was playing in an accordion club in Sweden, and I used to go with him to their rehearsals. There I tried playing the drums and liked it. I actually started looking forward to when my dad had his next rehearsal.

After Valvontakomissio I had a thrash metal band called Dementia inspired by Slayer and Exodus that made one record and where I played the guitar and howled. Roope Latvala played in it too. Around that time the Kyyria thing kind of sneaked up on me. Mikael Tanner (who later has written songs with Kalle Ahola for Ahola’s debut solo album) had moved to Finland from Sweden, and this curly-haired guy came to ask me what was going on and saying that he had this band. I think I played in seven bands back then so at first I said that I don’t think I’ll have the time.

Mikael played me his demo though, and there was one song I liked instantly. It was heavy metal which I had started to listen to myself as well. That’s how it started. The bass player was Setä [Uncle] or Kimmo Aroluoma who was then replaced by Niklas Etelävuori who now plays in Amorphis. As a keyboard player we got Sande, also from Amorphis. We met the singer Ville Tuomi (currently from Sub-Urban Tribe) totally wasted in some bar, and he got excited about the band. Then we started looking for the rest of the guys.

Kyyria lasted while it lasted, and I did three albums with them. After that, I toured the world as a drum technician for Stratovarius and thought about what to do next.

During the Kyyria years, my mom and dad still kind of thought that it was maybe a job of some sort. But during HIM they have started to think that this really is it. They are very supportive of Mixu. But I do have a real profession as a back-up--I’m a carpenter by training. I did those jobs until I joined HIM.

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.


Nov. 21st, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)