Sharapov - Hero Dishonest are a great hardcore punk band from Helsinki, Finland. Musically, they combine the rage and fury of hardcore old and new - imagine Los Crudos mixed with Minor Threat, yet harsher, more contemporary, and with double vocals. The lyrics they write are some of the most challenging and intelligent I'd read ever. When I first saw them in Helsinki in Winter 1999 (they'd just started up) I was blown the fuck away instantly - they are the most intence live band I saw (and that includes WHN?). And sure enough they are the nicest bunch of stinkers.
Questions by Sharapov. Answers by Mikko.
- What's the sense of the name? How honest / frank it is? I mean, musically Hero Dishonest is relatively narrow as far as sound / influences go - how do you go about it? Mikko: Hero Dishonest... Isn't that in all of us, some kind of dishonest hero?! False ego, idealist who can't keep up with the standards we create for ourself? Are we dishonest musically? I think not. We don't mess around with the weak shit.
- On the one hand you have lyrics criticizing consumerism, but on the other you are involved in production of commodities such as CDs and records. How well does this combine? Mikko: Well it's the classic situation... want to save the world but keep on breathing, right?! Like our song "I've got a reason to live" says "earth liberation by killing yourself, but I've got a reason to live..." I guess we can always say that we're "spreading the message here" with our records, but is it still necessary? Can we achieve something? Well if you ask anyone in the punk / hardcore / DIY scene I think the answer is pretty much the same, people have found their ethics and ideas through inspiring music. But you're right, it's all just products in the end. It's what you make of it... Talk about consumerism and politics is so alien in our everyday lives that we are surrounded by nothing but commodites. The best politics we can offer in this kind of difficult / universal issues is our own lives. I know I could have ended in being just another "one" with no ideas, no vision and no will to know about anything but my own welfare. It was the music that inspired me to look forward. I've found ideas and people and ethics and morality, but it was always the music that came first. But am I any different or better than what I just called "just another one"?
- What's If Society? What if? Mikko: If Society is our own indie / DIY label. We love all kinds of music and want to distribute sounds and ideas from the DIY underground. We're not making money here or anything, I mean, labels that sell just 100% punk / hc sell a lot more stuff than we do, just because that's what kids want. "What if..." It's just a name. "If the society lets us we will blah blah blah"... Make your own philosophy for the name.
- I think you might've read the article in "Inside Front" on the band as a collective. How much of a(n anarchist) collective is Hero Dishonest and your other band, Echo Is Your Love? How do you go about deciding things? Mikko: I don't know much about politics and couldn't really care less. I know I'm not the right person to answer this question, I'm sure VP the singer would have a lot to say, I just don't want to have too much politics involved in being in a band. Why ruin the creativity and the process of making music with politics? Sure we argue on things but that's how it always goes when you're in a band. I would hate to make any bigger deal out of it. My motive to make music is pretty selfish - I play to survive. I need this energy, sound and move to survive in everyday life. If others get something out of our music, that's great, but in the end it's just the soundtrack for my own survival. So there's not much politics, it's just personal. But "personal is political", that's what they say, right?..
- There certainly is some sort of consensus of war is bad capitalism is bad but could you elaborate on whether there is more to your politics (if there are any) than emotions? Are you "involved" or just "aware"? Mikko: I think to us being "involved" is being "outside of all the shit" and being "aware" is the beginning of everything - the beginning of "fuck yous". Everything is so fucked up in this world, but in the end you have to ask yourself, what the hell can I do?!! I can go out to demonstrations, but if I'm realistic, it won't stop the bad capitalism, the evil world. But despite of all the evil that's going on, we can't let it stop us from being happy. We'd be fools is we forced ourselves to be unhappy because of something that's going on on the other side of the world. We can be angry, for sure, and we have to act, but in our own personal lives and small worlds there's not much we can do, so why make our own lives miserable? Use what you have, go out and act and live a good life.
- The lineup of both your band has changed very recently. What kind of an impact did the departure of Tommi have on the psychogeography of Hero Dishonest? Mikko: I don't think there will be any big change in the psychogeography but naturally the new bass player Lasse is super excited when in turn Tommi wasn't too heavily into playing live, rehearsing and especially into touring anymore during the past 6 months. So I guess it's fair to say it's a relief for everyone to have a new person in the band who is into what the band really needs at the moment - touring and going everywhere where people want us. That wasn't possible anymore with Tommi still in the band, he was too attached to his work.
- You were to Russia, and you were to many other countries of the world (even Vietnam as far as I can tell). Have you been noticing much differences between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd worlds? Mikko: I'm born in the 1st world, that means I'm born and grown up in money. I'm twenty-something, I hate work (the kind of work what people usually want us to do) but still I have the money to go out to distant countries. And when I go out to buy just a bottle of water in Vietnam or India I always carry more money in my pockets than those people on the streets will see in half a year. I'm the king, the law is on my side. The cops will come and kick the beggars in the eye if I ask them to. That's the cruel world. Still the difference is that the people in the 3rd world are happier and wiser than those in the 1st world. That's the cruel truth. There was a funny "scientific study" on where the happiest people live. The answer is Bangladesh - the poorest nation in the world. What's important to people in Bangladesh is home and family. And most of the people there have home (some kind of) and family. I know travelling to distant countries by plane and with big money is stupid shit, but at least I've learned what to whine about and when to shut up.
- On the last EP there's a song about people destroying nature. Again, would you choose the "less consumption, nicer products" apporoach (aka the personal is political) or some direct actions (aka from protest to resistance), like those 5 ppl. arrested at a Finnish fur farm recently? Mikko: I'm just a boy from distant Finland... I can't give universal answers. Probably these two could go together. Protest and direct action results in awareness, so I would say first protests, then consciousness and less consumption.
- What punk can be good for? Aren't you afraid that having political lyrics in hardcore songs will pretty much annihilate the possible impact? ("Meat Is Murder" by The Smiths made MORE people go veggie than Crass). Mikko: "Punk rock saved my life but it won't save the world". I guess some could call our lifestyle (or whatever you want to call it) hellish, i.e. living for music, travelling and playing in horrible conditions and not owning almost anything. But for us it's some kind of salvation... being saved from the cycle of numbness. So I think punk and any music or fucking ANYTHING that can give meaning for your life is some kind of salvation. Punks should open their eyes a little bit to see that it's not just punk and hardcore that can bring changes (like your example of The Smiths) and meaning to our lives. Political lyrics... I'm quite tired of politics that just float somewhere in the abstract level up in the atmosphere and in the cliche-like phrases in hardcore lyrics. We can deliver politics in our talk like machines and one day wake up being totally numb realising that none of it meant anything to ourselves.
- Fair enough, but how do you keep the things you do relevant and fresh? I mean, while the sound of the band changes from record to record (though only slighty), you still play and what's more important sing the songs originally written four years ago or perhaps even more than that? Mikko: Naturally we don't sing about everything that we encounter in our lives, but only about the things we can all agree on and probably still agree on five years from now. What do we sing about? Finding inspiration vs burning out, money, consumerism, love, hate... We're not making promises in our songs but making questions to ourselves. A good example of an opposite situation would be all those hardline bands swearing commitment to whatever the trend might be that day. You can outlive those promises in 6 months, but if you instead use the energy to having a discussion with yourself you might benefit a lot more. Also five years from now.
- What are the most fun and loco things that happened to you, as a band? Do the most extreme events have to happen at gigs, or the rehearsals (where do you happen to jam by the by?) have some shit-stirring potential? Have you ever SERIOUSLY fought amongst yourselves? Mikko: The best and funniest things are probably all the encounters with local people everywhere in Europe, like seeing some guys at a show in St Petersburg in autumn 2000 and then meeting the same guys in a subway after the show wearing army / police clothes (you know those big hats, I think they're scary!..) and shouting "Punk's not dead!!" to us!!!.. I think that was hilarious. Sometimes the most fucked up situations are the ones I have to laugh at most afterwards, like when our van broke in Denmark in Summer 2003 and we took it to a garage to a young mechanic who we didn't trust in too much and I ended up sleeping 2 nights on the cold garage floor watching him do the work. And still fucking us up. I was ready to kill someone but now it's one of those situations I will always remember. We play at an old paint factory (the smell is gone!) and never really fight seriously. We don't take any pressures about writing our music, we are always ready to make room for other's ideas, and when we organize things (tours, gigs, booking, mixing, designing artwork etc.) we have our own parts that we take care of. Someone does the artwork, someone does the booking and so on. I know it sounds crazy, but honestly, there must be something special to our band cuz we never really fight.
- Why do you think the world hasn't really awoken to the wonders of Hero Dishonest yet? Maybe I read the wrong zines and websites and shit, but rarely do I get to see your name in print... You have an EP co-released by two English labels and toured the UK but the editor of this here rag (Ripping Thrash) had to go download a song off your site cause he never heard you. Mikko: I'm quite sure the answer is that we have released our stuff on our own label If Society with only a little help from a couple foreign labels. If Society is only just getting started and things are now starting to roll with bigger volume but still we're not really a punk label which might explain the situation. We've wanted to release our music on If Society because running a label with a good list of quality releases is something that I want to be involved in. We could have gone the easier way and look for punk labels with longer history in the first place but thanks to Hero Dishonest's and Echo Is Your Love's success (recognition we've gained from intensive touring) If Society is finally becoming the label that can support all kinds of music from hardcore to indie pop, and if Hero was started now we could surely spread our music much wider much faster.
- Will you care to spread the light on the planned happenings, sit-ins, bed-ins, and all that of Hero Dishonest? What is the split EP Tommi threatened to deliver from beyond the grave? The shout-outs are not compulsary, unless you mention The Leningrad Cowboys. You know the drill. All punk bands are alike, and all punk zines are similar, and so should be all interviews. If you challenge the traditions you destroy the culture right?
Mikko: What's been planned... Both Tuukka and Vellu (the singers) are out of picture till early 2004 due to studies and girlfriends worldwide. We have a new bass player and are rehearsing and writing new songs very intensively and are going to hit the road again in mid February for a short tour in north Scandinavia. There should be a split 7" with Mukeka Di Rato from Brasil in early 2004 and a new long play in Spring / Summer '04... and a tour in the US in Aug-Sep. We've also talked about going to Brasil but I don't think will happen yet in 2004. Shout outs to grandparents! Is that challenging the traditions? Spend more time with your grandparents, kids, if they're still alive..! Try to inherit all their wisdom while they're still with you... Even if you can't agree on everything it doesn't mean you couldn't benefit from their wisdom. That's it... feel free to get in touch.
Jyrangontie 7 as 1, 00550 Hki, Finland