1977, the year of the so-called “German Autumn”, when the Baader-Meinhof axis flared up in one last burst of terrorist outrage before being effectively eradicated by a wave of suicides, was the year in which Krautrock as a whole was winding down or settling into mainstream, de-radicalised careers. The Neu! legend, however, was destined to lie in abeyance for decades.
Krautrock had come and gone, and while it had certainly not gone unnoticed, its fate was to remain buried beneath a pile of primarily Anglo-American-generated contemporaneous musical history, from prog rock to glam, from Philly soul to country rock. Krautrock had ended. We thought.
35 years later in Helsinki, Finland, Tero Huotari, his brother Timo, and Jani Karikoivu started Teksti-TV 666 as a three-piece, but the band soon expanded into the seven-headed beast that stands before us today – and even that isn’t always enough. With their modern fusion of Neu!-esque krautrock and some lovely noisy post-rock pieces reminiscent of bands as Explosions In the Sky and Caspian, Teksti-TV have earned a reputation of being a live act worth its money, and the band’s fanbase is continuously growing after every performance, especially on home turf in Finland.
When the band made a stopover in Gothenburg to play Oceanen we sat down with Tero and Tuomas and had a chat about being a krautrock-influenced act from a gothic metal country, and the “minor” problem of being a seven-piece band.
Touring outside Finland is expensive
Teksti-TV is an experience on stage with too many people with guitars, but I’ve always wondered how you make it to work out with a band of seven people? Many bands find it hard just to get three or four people out on tour.
Tero: We’re actually seven plus our sound engineer, making it eight, and it is pretty expensive (laugh). Playing outside Finland is very expensive because you always have one travelling day to cross the sea in most directions, Finland is almost like an island, and then it’s the same on the way home. You lose two days of money (laugh).
For rehearsals; sometimes it works and others not (laugh). Ahead of these shows in Scandinavia, where we have two drummers plus Tuomas with us as well, we made it through one rehearsal a week, four a month, but we’re all professionals you know (laugh).
Tuomas: I’ve known the guys for years and have played with them every now and then when they need special features on stage like having three bass players or twelve guitar players. Their strength is that they make new songs and rehearse with a small team, and if someone can’t join at rehearsals there’s always someone else who can fill in, and then that person can play with the band later when it’s needed.
But what’s the point with having five guitarists, two drummers and, at times, two bassists?
Tero: Because it’s fun (laugh). Six guitarists or seven is even better (laugh). More is more and more is better.
You’ve started to reach out of Finland the last year and have played a few gigs around Scandinavia.
Tero: Yeah, and we sold-out Stockholm yesterday, at Hus 7, and it was just amazing and a lot fun to play. We’ve been thinking about Norway again where we did a few gigs last spring.
I guess after playing hundreds of shows in Finland that you have your mind set for something bigger now, like playing Europe?
Tero: That would be really great!
To reach out to an international audience language is quite important but you sing in Finnish. It’s the same with most German bands, they also sing in their own language. But why, especially if you want to play outside Finland? Or doesn’t language matter?
Tero: The vocals are more like an instrument we add to the songs, just like Sigur Rós do it. They don’t even sing in a real language. We have a similar attitude and then it doesn’t matter if we sing in Finnish or anything else. We sing in English in our other bands, but not in Teksti-TV.
The second wave of Finnish bands ready for the world
It doesn’t matter how much you listen to their music, you will still find it hard to label Teksti-TV’s music and put it in a genre. “The net effect is like having Germany’s Neu! blasting through one headphone earbud and Sweden’s The Hellacopters through the other” is how the music of Teksti-TV is described by their own record label. But Tero points out that Teksti-TV mix pieces of everything, and maybe it’s also because they don’t want to be pigeonholed.
You have released three EP’s and a mini-album between 2014 and 2018 but it feels like Teksti-TV was just a side project from the beginning when you consider how little you released since 2014. Has that changed today when most of those other bands you had split-up or at least are on a long hiatus?
Tero: It’s difficult to say because most of us still have other bands, new bands that turned up along the way. I and Tuomas play in this tiny band called HÄN and we also have another band, and Teemu and Johannes got Kynnet which are very popular in Finland at the moment.
There’s a lot going on for all us at the moment and it’s difficult to say that one band is more important any of the others.
Tuomas: We don’t really need to make that choice, just if it would a conflict of gig dates but it rarely happens.
What’s most difficult to pin down is what your type of music should be called. A German magazine write “psychedelic krautrock” and your label combines Neu! and Hellacopters when they describe what you do. How would you describe the music of Teksti-TV?
Tero: That’s the point, there is a little bit of everything of that in our music, but I can’t really pin it down myself (laughs). Maybe I’m not the right person to describe it and can just say that it is what it is (laughs).
Tuomas: I think you could say that Teksti-TV is a sort of an experimenting box for music.
I know you have background in many different types of bands like French Films, Love Sport, Sydän, Sydän and HÄN, and they’re all very different from Teksti-TV. Is Teksti-TV your idea of doing something completely different from those bands, not being influenced at all?
Tero: Yeah, we really wanted to do something different and create something really noisy, that’s something I love personally in music, something that you can push to the limit.
Tuomas: The core of the band has such a great chemistry between them and they’ll try out all their crazy ideas by using Teksti-TV as a platform for it.
Speaking of experimenting; I also get the impression that you improvise a lot on stage and can do pretty much whatever you want, and it doesn’t really matter how it sounds like, just that it’s loud.
Tuomas: That’s what I really like with these guys, they just go in and play and tell me “Do your own thing, it’s fine” (laugh).
What’s also interesting is how you fit in on the Finnish scene. Most people would probably see Finland as a goth metal country with bands as Nightwish, HIM, Apocalyptica, Sonata Arctica and several more in that genre. There is also a vibrant pop scene with bands like Satellite Stories and French Films but where do modern psychedelic krautrock fit in on the Finnish scene?
Tero: It does work out for us and we’re actually continuously growing, and we’ve also been picked up by bigger radio stations in Finland which have pushed some songs a bit and turned them into radio hits (laughs). And people also like to come out for a real show where something happen on stage because our kind of rock-infused music isn’t that common at the moment, not in Finland at least.
Tuomas: The alternative garage punk scene is very vibrant in Finland as well, and I think that bands as Apocalyptica, HIM and Nightwish and that first generation of bands from Finland that had an early international success is in the past, and now we have many great new bands, a lot smaller but bands that have been touring internationally but haven’t got the same kind of recognition yet. Finland is also a bit behind Sweden when it comes to exporting music and bands to other countries.
That’s what Jussi in The 69 Eyes told us a few months ago as well. When clubs in Europe are on the hunt for new bands they tend to look yo Sweden and Denmark.
Tuomas: And that’s the thing! If you’re from Finland you always have to catch a flight or take the ferry to get down to Europe, and that makes it a cost issue. And on top of that Finland is still more known for its metal music. There’s still a lot to improve in terms of promotion to make the next generation of Finnish bands viable and interesting for clubs in Europe.
If we look at the near future; is there any new music on the way, like a new EP or even better, a full-length album?
Tero: We’re not sure what it will be but what we know is that we’re going to play these Life Aid 2020 gigs with HENRIK!, and we’ll have five or six drummers, lots of guitarists and a couple of bass players. And we’ll play Finland’s biggest festival, Flow Festival, this summer and is about to record something for that occasion. That’s the big project of the year.
Then we’ll see; maybe we record other songs and release an EP or something bigger, like an album, but we don’t know (laugh).
Teksti-TV 666 pages