Eläkeläiset – jenkka, polkka, humppa.
The members of Kumikameli (a band, born 13.11.1986) started up a side-project called Eläkeläiset (The Pensioners). The mission of project was to present delightful but forgotten qualities of traditional Finnish humppa-dance rhythms to younger generation in a form that could be accepted by rock/pop/disco etc. oriented youngsters and by elderly rock'n'roll freaks as well. Former hard rock stars of Kumikameli also wanted to step down from their stage lights to make warmer and more intimate contact to their audience. Eläkeläiset started to perform semi-unplugged in various open air summer festivals. Their humble humppa-concerts reached instantly a status of cult-events and wherever their played, a small but fanatic and joyful bunch of people were around singing along and dancing wild humppa-dance. After few months the member of the band (Waris, Waris, Voutilainen, Terävä) decided to complete the project: the last concert (as it was planned to be) was pure humppa-ecstasy from beginning to the end.
Kumikameli was in crisis. Their record company refused to publish their new album saying it is too psychedelic and avantgardistic. Eläkeläiset were forced to sing a record deal and their booking agency organized some revival concerts. The first album was recorded in a small studio under strong pressures and before than album Humppakäräjät was released Kristian Voutilainen decided to quit (personal reasons). Very soon Petteri Terävä made the same decision (musical reasons). But the rat race was on and sold out venues were howling for more humppa. Petteri and Kristian were replaced by Lassi Kinnunen and Tapio Santaharju (both used to play in Kumikameli during its early progressive period) and the band managed to play their gigs but the intimacy of the first performances was gone. Because the touring was not joyful anymore the band started a long-lasting studio session aiming to develop a new kind of fusion between humppa and modern popular music. The results were successful: Humppalöyly EP was sold out in few weeks and in their second album Humpan kuninkan hovissa was their biggest success ever since. Selected gigs around Scandinavia proved that new kind of humppa-fusion have international potential as well and in the autumn, when the record album was released, the group decided to concentrate in their international career and cancelled all their concerts in Finland. The second last concert was even more successful than their first last concert in 1993.
The first Eläkeläiset album as released in Germany and two weeks before the promotion-tour was about to begin Tapio Santaharju decided to quit (personal and business reasons) and Kristian Voutilainen stepped back to duty. The tour was success and next summer Eläkeläiset were invited to play in Roskilde festival, Denmark. Late 1996 the band signed a deal with German TUG records and returned to Germany for another promotion-tour.
TUG records released In Humppa We Trust-live CD and the band kept on touring in Germany and in Scandinavia. Summer tour 1997 were almost about to be cancelled, because Onni and Lassi realised that they were forced to stay in Finland to take care of their growing personal businesses. Because the tour was already booked, the band hired and trained Johennes Peura and Keijo Tirkkonen (professional musicians and close friends) for the tour. In autumn the band recorded Humppamaratooni/Humppa Till We Die 2000 CD which was released by Humppa Records, a new sub-label of TUG. The recording session and the mixing of album were full of misfortunes and result disappointed the group (in this compilation you can hear very satisfactory remixes of those tunes). Through the touring in Germany, Austria and Luxemburg continued through the following years it took some time until the band returned to studio.
The band returned to stages in Finland and organized a set of free concerts. Album Werbung Baby was released late 1999. The band was bigger than ever and kept performing successfully only in the most famous venues and festivals in Finland. The first concert in Holland took place in early 1999.
Humppamachine seems to be working better than ever. Again a new member is on stage when Lassi (or Onni) is replaced every now and then by Petteri Halonen aka Hal-I or by the original member Petteri Terävä aka Symbol. The small but effective professional crew (Ilmari Koivuluhta, Pekka Jokinen and Sakari Kuvaja) take care that the concerts are audiovisual enjoyable events. During the European tour on autumn 2000 Kristian was forced to stay in Finland (business reasons) and he was replaced by Sakari Liimatainen. Juhani Harsia wrote the authorized Eläkeläiset biography «Suuri suomalainen juopottelukirja» (The big Finnish drinking book) and Stupido Twins Records salute the new millennium by releasing the compilation of the best humppa-classics ever made.
To be continued…