30.09.2009Архив интервью | Русская версия
To tell you the truth, I didn’t really believe that this interview would ever materialize. The promoters of SnoWhite’s gig in Moscow suggested meeting the band after the show, but I had serious doubts that after spending 1.5 hours on stage the guys would still be able to do the talking. Moreover, it’s easy to guess that, of the five band members, I was more interested in guitarist Sir Christus (being as unbiased as I am, I am still a journalist and share a professional interest in notorious characters) – but this person never seemed talkative to me, and I wasn’t sure I would able to establish contact. But I must tell you that all my concerns turned out in vain. Maybe, I benefited from the nice welcome the band received from Russian girls, and the “high-spirited” watermelon, which we all tried together in the dressing room. Anyway, singer Julius Maximus and the above-mentioned Sir Christus, whom the band nominated as spokesmen, were very friendly, open and ready to share their thoughts about just anything in the world. It’s nice when you don’t have to “pull” words from your conversation partners, but on the contrary, they are eager to tell you what they want to be disclosed. In such cases, you can only take the list of questions aside and look what comes out of the conversation …
Are you big fans of the fairytale about Snow White?
Julius: It’s a good fairytale, but it doesn’t combine with this band at all.
Christus: And it has nothing to do with drugs…
Julius: Many people say that it’s because of drugs. You know, “snow white” is cocaine. But it’s not about drugs… Everyone is trying to make a new start. It’s like a clean table. So SnoWhite resembles purity.
Christus: You clean your table and start again… We are innocent like first snow.
And you “start again” with a little bit of a different name. Why are you “General” now?
Christus: I have to get a higher status.
But I guess “Julius Maximus” is supposed to have the highest status with such a name… What do you mean by calling yourself that name?
Julius: That’s my real name. My real name is Jussi Julius Maximus – so it’s my second name. And my surname is Kyyhkynen and that means “dove” – not “pigeon”, but “dove”, the white one. Julius Caesar Maximus was a great leader of Roman Empire…
So you should be proud of that kind of name.
Julius: Of course I am.
As far as I know, you’re gonna record your first album in February…
Julius: Yes, we don’t know the date yet but soon enough.
Christus: We’ll try to have something for the next spring. And we have to do a lot of gigs then. This is just a “warming-up”.
Julius: We are in baby shoes. We’ve been doing this just for a year and a half, so…
Christus: We are so young, you know… (laughs)
Oh yes, “young” and “innocent” – I remember it. (everybody laughs) Do you have a name for your first album so far?
Julius: No, not yet. And even if we had we wouldn’t tell you that.
Oh, it’s a great secret, isn’t it?
And who’s writing the songs for it?
Julius: I write all the lyrics and we write music together.
Christus: Everybody makes… (chooses a word) riffs. The whole band does it.
Julius: The whole band is composing the songs.
Christus: Some songs are by Purtsi (bass player). And we have two songs written by me.
Julius: It all started with Purtsi and Dino (drummer) and their songs. They gave me their demo, and I liked it, and then I made a few songs. That’s how we started. We have many Purtsi’s and Dino’s songs, and there’re two songs written by me… But they’re all together.
And Christus was the last one to join the band. How did it happen?
Julius: Raffe was the one who did it. He was our first guitar player, and we told him that he can choose the guitar player he wants to play with. And he chose Christus, so here we are.
Christus: You know, Dino proposed it to me a little bit earlier, and I was a bit interested in this band. But when at first I listened to those demos, I thought that’s fucking bullshit. That’s the thing that happens all the time. When we play and you hear our music for the first time it’s… (uses the body language to express something like “crap”) But if you listen to it for the second time, you understand exactly what’s going on.
Before you joined SnoWhite you were playing in Black Jesus. Do you still have this project?
Christus (shakes his head): No.
Christus: Because… I don’t wanna talk about it.
Ok, then SnoWhite is the only one, isn’t it?
And you tried to play with your brother (Matthau Mikojan), but there was something wrong with this project too… That’s strange. Isn’t it easier to work with your family member?
Christus: That’s the problem - that we are brothers. We don’t go together. That’s too hard. Just a terrible idea – me and Matti…
Julius: No-o-o! They can’t be on stage together. They’re too close.
Christus: There will be too much fighting, you know.
Christus, you know, I have to ask you about Negative… You left a successful band and now you have to play in small clubs and built you carrier again. Isn’t it a disappointing step back?
Christus: Yeah, but this is just like “my band”, you know – what I’ve always been wishing for. Here the guys don’t say “that’s bullshit, don’t play it”. Actually, Jonne (Aaron, Negative singer) didn’t like anything I tried to propose. SnoWhite is a kind of band where I have my own space. I have a chance to do what I want to do. For 8 years, when I was in Negative, I was writing songs. 4 000 songs are ready… (smiles) But in Negative I couldn’t perform any of them. It’s Jonne’s band. And this is that kind of band…
Julius: This is OUR band. We are all equal.
Julius, aren’t you and other guys upset by the fact that all these girls come to see Christus? I don’t say that they don’t like your band, but…
Julius: Yeah, I know what you mean. Yes, sometimes it’s… Of course he’s more popular. But it will never be like “SnoWhite featuring Sir Christus” – never! It will be just SnoWhite.
Christus: It will end some day – all this bullshit about “ex-Negative”. That’s gonna change.
Julius: Actually that’s a benefit that we just have to accept. You know, if he hadn’t been there, the hall tonight would have been empty. No one knows us, but everybody knows him, so they know us now. And after a couple of years there’ll be no more Sir Christus, there will be SnoWhite, where he plays.
Aren’t you afraid that he will leave you like he’s left his previous bands?
Julius: No. He has so much work to do here now…
Christus: I had a reason to leave Negative, but I have no reason to leave this band. This is what I’ve been looking for all my life. I can do my own songs now. I don’t wanna play someone else’s anymore.
When you say “my own songs” does it mean that you write only music or do you write some lyrics too?
Julius: No, that’s my department.
But you said that all of you are equal in this band – so why not? I mean, isn’t it a kind of contradiction: we are all equal, but it’s only me and no one else writing lyrics here?
Julius: Well, if somebody makes good lyrics, then I’ll accept it, of course. But it was like that so far: guys play, I sing, I write the lyrics, I do the melodies for the lyrics – and that’s been good so far. But everybody can do everything. Like our last song in this gig (“Opium”) – it was totally me, I’ve written this song in something like 2001 with acoustic guitar at my home. So it’s really my song, but, of course, the arrangements have been made. That song was acoustic and now it’s electric. So the guys have made it sound like this and, you know, it works.
By the way, Christus, one more question about your “Negative” period - what did you do to your “Pink Lady” (pink guitar with the inscription “Sir Christus” on the fretboard)? How could you have got rid of it? It seemed to be a part of you…
Christus: Pink Lady? (seems confused) A-a-ah! It’s in “Elimäki”, some kind of restaurant or rock-club… It’s under glass there and people can see it like in museum…
Ok, it’s part of history now, I see… This evening you were singing one song on stage – “Lost In America” (Alice Cooper cover). Don’t you think about singing something else in this band?
Julius: No, that’s just that one.
Julius, but he’s done it so many years ago – don’t you want to “change repertoire”?
Julius: Yes, he has done it, but he couldn’t sing it on stage, when he was in Negative.
Christus: Jonne doesn’t like someone else singing…
Julius: And here if Christus wants to do it – then why not?
Christus: I have a little bit more glorious voice than Jonne… (laughs)
Julius, if you write all the lyrics for this band, the next question goes to you. What do you sing about? I mean, what do you feel you should definitely sing about? What are the main themes for your lyrics?
Julius: Well, at this moment my lyrics are not happy. This is my personal thing, but I’ve been through hell. And I’ve been writing about that. It was, you know, a bad ex-girlfriend, a fucking crazy one. And in one song I kill her – I mean, I was thinking that I wanna kill her. Of course, figuratively speaking – I’m a kind man, I will never kill anybody, I wouldn’t kill a fly, but that’s my expression for that girl. You know, “die bitch”. Cause she was fucking insane.
If your lyrics are that personal, how does it feel to sing them on stage, recalling it all over and over again?
Julius: I try to stand behind my words – as much as I can. It’s like acting, you know. You have to get the song – if it’s a rough song, you go rough, if it’s a song with slow emotions, you go slow. Just like acting.
I see… Didn’t you hurt yourself by your falling on stage tonight? It was a bit shocking…
Julius: (laughs) Even if I would have dropped on the floor with my head first, I wouldn’t have cared. I can stand pain a lot. In my life there’s been a lot of pain.
Nice to hear that you’re ok - but still you caused some damage in the club. Do you often break things around you on stage? You seem to be very expressive, so maybe you have some passion for destruction while performing.
Julius: No-o-o… But sometimes I would like to smash everything in pieces, so I don’t know – we’ll see. I’d like to break a drum set and two guitars, but I can’t afford it. I’m poor. We don’t make money on this.
Well, but you have some other advantages. You know, traveling, performing in different cities, seeing people…
Julius: Yeah, that’s fucking cool! Only getting out of Tampere, where we live in Finland, is fucking cool. Just leave everything behind and go on the road. And now we’re in Moscow and that’s fucking awesome. I’ve never been in Russia and now I love it! Everybody I’ve met here is just great. They’re so nice.
Are there any countries you’d love to go to?
Julius: I’d love to go around the world.
Christus: This one, Russia! It’s the best one, and China is the second one.
Julius: If I had to name one place, not considering Russia, because we are here now, but it may be Brazil.
Christus: In Finland it’s so fucking boring… It’s all because of the EU – all these crazy rules…
Julius: People are not that nice in Finland. Everybody wants to see how fucked up we are. They think we’re drunkards even if we’re sober. We don’t have any drug problems and still we are “junkies”. They consider us to be junkies.
Christus: Yeah! If Finland would be involved in some war, I wouldn’t be there…
Julius: Oh no, I wouldn’t defend it.
Not very patriotic, I should say!
Julius: Oh! (laughs) Of course it’s not like that. Still it’s our fatherland.
Christus: (says something in Finnish)
Julius: He says “Finland can suck the flood out of my ass”. That was Christus, not me. I’m patriotic, you know.
Christus: It’s so fucking hard to live there, because the people are too normal there. Wherever I go out of my house everybody’s staring at me. Now it’s autumn and you should put on something brown. Nobody understands you there. In Russia it’s absolutely different.
Oh, Russia seems to inspire you a lot…
Christus: I love it!
Julius: Love it too! It’s my first time here and everything is awesome. Good people, good food… Everything! And it’s not in the European Union, so you can smoke anywhere and so on…
Do you mean that here in Russia we have no rules?
Christus: No ill rules…
Julius: Not so strict as in Finland. In Finland you go to an amusement park, which is outside, and there are only those fucking parking places where you can smoke. Even if it’s outside! What the fuck?!
Christus: And you can’t smoke on stage in Finland. It’s not allowed.
Julius: I can say I like this country more than my fatherland. And I always tell the truth – even when I lie.
Christus: Don’t wanna talk about Finland anymore. I hate it.
Then come and live here. I think your fan girls will be extremely happy about it. By the way, what do you think about all this “fan love”? Do you enjoy it?
Christus: Yeah-yeah… Of course. Without your audience you’ve got nothing to do.
Well, tonight you were quite attentive to your audience. You’ve spent so much time signing tickets and what not, making photos, talking to fans…
Christus: Well, when you travel so far away you may be not able to waste your “precious time”. But this is not that kind of gig. We had to keep our fans glad. They should remember us when they leave the club.
Julius: And I’d like to say one more thing about Russia. Finnish railways are like that - no cigarettes, no alcohol and so on. And then you get into this train called “Tolstoy”, which goes to Russia – and you can smoke, you can drink, you have good restaurant…
Christus: (sings) Somebody’s opening the door…
Julius: Yeah! It’s like a different world when you step into that train. You’re still in Finland, but when you get into that train, you’re already in Russia.
Maybe you should go on tour all over Russia?
Julius: Yeah, we’d love to go to St. Petersburg…
Well, I mean not big cities but also some smaller towns…
Julius: Yeah, “Pribaltica”, Belarus, Estonia…
Hmm, Belarus and Estonia are not Russia…
Julius: Yeah-yeah, but we should go there too. And Ukraine…
Christus: If we could make a deal with any club in Russia we would come and play there. We’d love to play in different places in Russia.
And what about money? You say you don’t get much from your playing in clubs… How can you manage?
Christus: (sighs) Money… Well, some days you get paid for your job. But we don’t need money anyway… We have cigarettes and beer and we’re working and performing. That’s the point. (smiles wickedly) And actually we have money.
(At this point I finally manage to explain to the guys that it’s time to wrap up the conversation, as the guys have been making obvious signs to me for about 10 minutes already. Then Christus takes the Dictaphone away from me, brings it closer to his mouth and pronounces the following message)
Christus: Ye-a-ah! This is Christus from SnoWhite, peace and… shame for yourself.
Julius: This is Julius from SnoWhite. Rock like fuck!
(I get up and intend to get out of the dressing room, but I’m suddenly approached by drummer Dino, who says blatantly that I just have to talk to him too)
Dino: I’m a drummer. What would you like to ask me?
Well, I can ask you, what’s so special about this band that makes you do the drums for it?
Dino: Well, basically this band started from me and Purtsi. We collected all these people around us. Christus and Raffe and Jussi are not the founding members of the band. But when we found out that Christus had left Negative we started collecting people around us. First of all we needed lead singer. If you look at Jussi Kyyhkynen you’ll see that he’s perfect. He has sloppy eyes and a good sound and sometimes a big stomach… What do you people like to see? If you take pictures of Jussi Kyyhkynen in a period of one month or three months, you can see what’s happening… He’s a “real life” rock star. He’s not a picture image. And it’s all real: all sweat and scars and pimples… That’s what it’s all about. We’re ugly ourselves, but the goal is to get girls… And guys as well. You have to have something to give for the guys. I think we have… If you come and bring your boyfriend with you, he may think “they’re faggots” – but then he will be surprised. He’ll go like: “What’s happening here? These guys can play”. Of course we can play. That’s it. And the girls should get horny. If they don’t, it means we failed. That’s rock-n-roll, it’s all about this!
Ok, you say you and Purtsi were the ones who started the whole thing. Why have you decided to start this project? Was there any kind of “turning point”?
Dino: The turning point was when Christus became available. He’s a magician, he’s so good. He’s the best guitar player I’ve seen for a long time – and I’ve seen a lot.
So you think that without him it wouldn’t have happened?
Dino: No, it would had happened, but in some different ways. Having Chris in our band opens some boards, of course. But it brings you the whole load of Negative publicity… You know, the yelling about drug problems and stuff. Everyone’s afraid of signing us. But we’re the loveliest guys – we love to play with each other, and everyone has his own challenges. But we love to play with each other and we have songs.
SnoWhite on the Internet: http://www.myspace.com/sw1923
Special thanks to Oksana (RM Records) for arranging this interview
Interview by Ksenia Artamonova
Photos by Olga “Omena” Dendymarchenko
September 19, 2009