Älymystö on the Road: 19:38:00 Tour

Written by Herra Honkonen on Thursday, January 21st, 2010


It’s been quite a while since Älymystö stepped abroad the last time, a situation that definitely had to be remedied. In the beginning of 2010 we had a very good reason to do so, since Älymystö and ATYD published a split vinyl 19:38:00, right for the Christmas eve. Our album publication mini tour took us to Tampere, Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga, this time with a full complement of six people. Our on and off cellist Ms. Savisalo has been attached as a permanent member of the band and this was the first time she was properly on the road with us. Being a professional folk musician she isn’t a stranger to these kinds of trips.


In Finland this winter has been colder than usual and there has been enough snow to get the railcars stuck around the Helsinki downtown. This of course had the potential to make transporting the band and the gear rather interesting. When we arrived at Tampere’s Vastavirta club it was a toasty -19C and going colder towards the night.

Vastavirta is a nice club to play in, but unfortunately it’s some way out of the city downtown. A lot of people opted not to brave the cold weather and a potential half a hour walk back to civilization, but nevertheless we did manage to gather a nice comfy audience and also get our gig juices flowing again. Right after Mr. Paalanen’s DJ gig ended we hopped into the car for a night drive back to Helsinki.


Our second gig took place in Club Kuudes Linja, where I personally always love playing in. The place has quality PA and a friendly staff, and with their machinery I can invoke the kind of bass growl out of my theremin that it makes everybody’s prostate vibrate. This was the last time Torture Torstai clubs were arranged in that venue and we were honoured to be the closing act, along with ATYD.

In the previous day Mr. Paalanen had got an idea: why not webcast the whole gig? We had done this earlier, of course, from our Russian tour. Back at that time getting just a sound stream going was a bit of a hassle, never mind streaming real time video. The web technology has had a few years to develop since that and now there are simply amazing tools out there to broadcast live stuff, stuff like Justin.tv. Essentially, after the registration it took three minutes to get a stream going. Unfortunately we didn’t have a proper camera and we had to use the Macbook Pro internal microphone since there were no free outgoing lines on the mixer. Nevertheless we got a nice online audience, big part of which consisted of the wonderful motherfuckers of Whitechapel, who also did a good job spreading around the word. Thanks guys!

We got out of the club and back home a bit too late for my liking, since our ferry to Estonia was due to leave at eight in the morning and I still had some packing up to do. I had to put together my tour gear, but in addition to that I had to pack stuff for the next week’s work trip. Timo and I were heading off to Germany to do stuff around Iron Sky and the gap between coming home and leaving again was just a few hours.


Against all odds we managed to get on the road in time and arrived to the ferry terminal early enough for Timo to have time to get his suit, which he forgot at home – a foreshadowing for things to come. Tuomas from Neverdice had suggested that we should rent a conference room for the trip, which we did. It turned out to be a perfect way to do day trips on a ferry if you are traveling with a band. You get a nice big room for the gear and the bags, with some floor space to sleep on. It also only costs around 40 euros, which is nothing when divided across all the band members. Our little conference space didn’t have the heating on, though, but apart from that it was a handy thing to do.

(Check out the full photoset in Flickr!)


The next leg of the trip was to head over to Tallinn’s Club Rockstars, where we arrived yawning and groggy. The last time we played there was our Atomgrad album publication tour and the place had made an impression to us with it’s decoration and mood. Turned out that it wasn’t just nostalgia, since the place was just the kind of rock club I’d like to see in Helsinki area: several underground rooms, a bar on the street level, nice decoration and once again really good food. It was at this point we realized that we have forgotten a bag full of cables in Helsinki, not to mention our stage backdrop with our logo in it, most of Mr. Haapanen’s outdoor clothes and Ms. Savisalo’s cello resin. The theme of the trip started to form.


Mr. Paalanen fixing his guitar with a rusty nail.

The Tallinn gig was also streamed out to the net, this time with the laptop connected directly to the mixer, which did wonders for the sound quality. The gig itself went well and it was my favorite from this trip. We played all of the songs more or less without a hitch, people were comfortable on the stage and Mr. Eskola found his inner bass animal and had such a frenetic stage show that I was half afraid he’ll brain me with his bass neck.


"All the proceeds from the merchandize sales will be spent on beer, as demonstrated by our representatives here."

Most of the band turned in early, but Mr. Haapanen and Mr. Vuorensola stayed up to party, stomping into our hostel late in the night surprisingly – though relatively – quietly. Mr. Vuorensola delighted everybody by setting his alarm to go off at eight in the morning, and himself snoring all through the whole damn racket, ass up in the air.

Our accommodation was the hostel Old House and I’ll have to give it a bit of a shout out. The decoration and the rooms in the place were nice, especially when we got an another heater for us. The staff was friendly, in the morning there was a good breakfast and they even lit the fireplace for us. After the antics of the previous night a nice morning moment in front of a crackling fireplace felt real luxurious.



Finally it was the time to jump into our rental van and head off to Latvia/Riga. When we were packing up our stuff, we found out that the bag with Mr. Paalanen’s guitar pedals in it had gone missing. After a few moments of frantic searching someone called the ATYD guys, who realized they had accidentally taken it back with them to Finland when they left for home the previous night. One of them is working with air freight and they tried to slip it in to a plane so it would be in Riga when we arrived there, but no such luck. It wasn’t a disaster for us, though, since Mr. Paalanen was able to work around the pedals and rebuild his signal path, and we had the time to buy some new DI boxes without which Ms. Savisalo couldn’t have played at all.


The Sturm logo.

Via Baltica was in a much better shape than in the last time I had been driving on it, also on the Latvian side. Surprisingly the roads were almost snow free and dry, and the paving had been repaired from the potato field it was the last time, especially on the Latvian side. Going to play in Latvia has always been a pleasant adventure and this time wasn’t an exception. Our destination was not Depo, but something completely new, Club Elektra. It’s a place built by the industrial collective Sturm in an abandoned fur cap factory in the industrial area of Riga. In the Soviet times the factory used to be a military secret, since hey, you don’t want the capitalist swine to know how many fur caps you are building for your army and deducting your troop strengths.


This is an underground-credible aquarium if I've ever seen one.

So, it was late in the evening when I negotiated our large van into the yard of an industrial building. There was snow outside, stars sparkling in the sky and only one illuminated door. It had one of those slits which you could *kseeesh-klonk* open, so you could peek through it and ask in a rough voice who’s at the door. Soon our contact came to greet us and we were up into the coolest fucking club we’ve ever seen.

Elektra is basically an undergound club built by the Sturm members and assorted artists. The club has a cinema with several rows of benches, a bar and a club area where you can watch the movies from several monitors set on top of a pillar, a dance room for DJ’s, a smoking room, a big and heavy aquarium with carps swimming inside and of course a stage with kick ass paintings on the walls. It was like stepping into a club in set in the Fallout world, with a dash of cyberpunk thrown in. It was made all the more precious by the fact that at any given moment the authorities might find out about it and tear it down.


Paintings on the gig space walls.

ATYD had left for Finland, but we got Niko Skorpio and Ovro to play with us in the club, where they were already waiting for us. The only slightly negative thing about Elektra was that although there were large butane heaters and stoves around the place, on the stage it was cold enough to make the breath cloud up, and apparently cold enough to freeze up my theremins. Before the soundcheck I had to go and find a wooden stove and use it to thaw the theremins to get any kind of sound out of them.


Mr. Vuorensola is getting into the mood during the sound check.

The gig itself was really fucking fun to play. I had some technical problems, having to do with us dithering around about the setlist before the gig and delaying it for long enough that my theremins had frozen up again. This was the first gig ever where I had to swap the theremins after each song and basically stick one of them in my crotch to warm it up enough to be able to play for a couple of minutes before it refroze.


Ovro on the stage.

After the gig ended it was almost three in the morning, which is when the partying started. We had agreed that since I’d have to get up rather early to drive, the first half of the band would leave for our accommodation quite early, but not surprisingly there was a whole lot of dallying around and a long long drive through unlit, snowy and ice covered roads to the cabin where we stayed the last time too. The financial crisis has hit Latvia really really bad, so they don’t even have the money to tend some of the roads, which made it very interesting to drive a van at six in the morning and sleepy as hell on roads that were dark, icy and occasionally narrower than the car.

The morning found me with 3,5 hours of sleep under my belt, Mr. Paalanen extremely hard to wake up and Mr. Haapanen naked on the downstairs floor, laughing and telling everybody to come for a morning sauna. In other words band business as usual. The morning sauna was a really terrific thing to do. In spite of the disorganized state people were in the morning hours were fun and pleasant, people got their stuff together with awesome efficiencty and we were back on the road in time.


Niko Skorpio.

The drive home was beautiful and uneventful. Outside it was a regular winter wonderland with Latvian houses huddling under a thick cover of snow, sun shining down from clear skies and Mr. Haapanen alternately laughing and snoring on the back seat. The lack of sleep hit me only in the late afternoon. Luckily I had Ms. Savisalo to keep me awake by chatting with me, and in the latter stages of the trip I was hysterically amused by anything I saw.

On the ferry we sat in the main bar, chatting about the trip and feeling generally pretty happy about it. On the whole we had lost or forgotten our backdrop, a bag of cables, two jackets, two sets of gloves, one wool cap, some cello resin, a small led light, etc., so as our artist pal Evestus said in Tallinn, we’ll be lucky if we are still wearing pants when we get back home. Anyway, the gigs went well, everybody was in a good mood thorough the trip, there was a whole lot of net love for us because of the direct feeds and so on. Definitely a trip worth all the trouble and I sincerely hope we can do it again soon!

(Check out the full photoset in Flickr!)


Heading back home.

10 Responses to “Älymystö on the Road: 19:38:00 Tour”

  1. [...] As I’ve written earlier, Älymystö published its first release since Atomgrad and we went out to Tampere, Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga to promote it on a tour. In Finland the weather has been really wintery and blizzardy, bad enough to get trams stuck in the snow and ice in Helsinki downtown. Considering that our trip had surprisingly few mishaps in the Finnish end, and even driving around the Baltics was easy. The tour was incredibly satisfying: we had fun gigs, playing was fun and went well, we managed to stream live video from some of them to the net and we got to visit the coolest fucking underground club we had ever seen, Elektra in Riga. You can read more about our trip in Älymystö’s blog! [...]

  2. It’s nice to see that some of the Starwreck/Iron Sky creators have also artistic hobbies outside the work!

  3. [...] I hadn’t touched it in three weeks, not since we got back from the first Älymystö gigs of the tour. The weather has been a nightmare for people who aren’t used to driving in the wintertime and [...]

  4. [...] some water from Egyptian ports is not good for digestion) before it was the time to leave for an Älymystö band tour in the Baltics to promote our new EP, 19:38:00. The band trip started from Tampere and took us to [...]

  5. [...] for Converting Coal-Fired Power Plants to Hydrogen-Fired Steam-Generation (InnovationToronto.com) Now scientists have found a way to use ambient noise to turn water into usable hydrogen fuel We rec…e recently looked at a breakthrough in using sunlight to create hydrogen but now scientists have [...]

  6. [...] I’ve had a weird few weeks, which have taken me from diving in the Red Sea through playing a gig in an illegal underground club in Latvia to Germany, where we are doing recce with the Iron Sky movie crew. We’ve spent a [...]

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