Somojo Magazine

Karoshi Lovers

The Revolution Is Over (2008)
Death Pop (2009)
Karoshi Christmas (2008)

Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us what instruments you play?
I'm Joy-R. I play drums and take care most of the talking. (And bullshit, maybe)
Kid Karoshi: Guitars, feedback, vocals.

How long has the current band line up been together?
  Karoshi Lovers was founded in May 2007 and there has not been any changes in the line-up. Of course we’ve had some additional musicians and backing vocalists with us. Kaisa Vala (she's got a great band herself with her own name, you should check it out) has done some backing vocals on stage several times. Archie from The 69 Eyes played some bass on our first album, and he was so excited about it that we had to kick him out of the studio. He was laughing most of the time, don't know why.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
It's dark party music. A mixture of rock riffs, additional dance rhythms, beautiful melodies, reality horror and subconsciousness.
Kid Karoshi: Dark groove and disco punk, baby!

What have you been up to recently?
To be honest, Ms. Stress is riding a bicycle around Finland while tv-cameras are shooting her. National tv-company Yle is doing some kind of serial about people who walk, row or ride and talk about their relationship with nature. We don't know exactly, there's some kind of radio silence around them, but they are riding bicycles about 15 hours a day, and in one week. Serial should be out on November.
Kid Karoshi: At the moment Joy-R is writing two books and hates everybody who talks to him. First book is a biography of Tuomari Nurmio, “Judge Bone”, one of the most legendary songwriters in Finnish rock history. With the biography Joy-R is part of the writer team, but he's also writing his second novel, “Kuinka ei voi ajatella” (“The way you can not think” – the name says it all, I think...). And I’m making my living with the music business and hating every damn minute of it. On the way to Karoshi...
Joy-R: With the band we're writing new material and playing some gigs just to check out how the new songs work out. Kid bought a baritone guitar and everybody loves its sound. New stuff is strong, more rocking (not hard rock way) but still melodic. Songs like “Ties” (true story of a Japanese salaryman who hung his family and himself with ties) and “Pop Pop Pop” (a song about Finnish psychedelia: not to have colours on but to make everything grey) sound like Karoshi Lovers, but in a new way.

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
Our label in Germany told that we have a new booking agency there and we'd tour there at the end of the year. We're going to record a new song, maybe a single first, but within 12 months we're going to start working with the new album also. We're not sure yet when it'll be released, next spring at the earliest.

How did you meet each other?
Kid Karoshi:
We've known each others for years round the Finnish rock scene, but the idea of playing together came from Joy-R and it was surprising. This man had a master plan and he just made Ms. Stress and I part of it. No complaints, no prisoners, no mercy.

How did you come up with your name for the band?
Ms. Stress ran into the Japanese term "karoshi" by accident on the internet. The word means "sudden death from overwork". The trio came up with the same conclusion that Karoshi sums up the western world around us: fast life at work and death at a young age.

Did you always want to be in a band?
Well, we have always been in bands. At least for a long time. For Ms. Stress Karoshi Lovers is the first band as a vocalist, which seems funny when you think of the way she sings.
Kid Karoshi: Yes.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
At the age of 10 I didn't  listen to anything but classics, because I felt rock wasn't enough high level for me. It was like that for one year, after that I started to listen to Motörhead, Finnish hardcore, old AC/DC,
Krafwerk, Joy Division, Dead Kennedys and so on.  Ms. Stress has listened to classics, latin and all kinds of ethnic stuff, not that much rock.
Kid Karoshi: I started listening to the original Hanoi Rocks at the age of seven. Then there were other classical hair rock bands until that scene was killed by this thing called “grunge” which I totally fell into. At the moment I listen to many different types of music. The best new acts I’ve found within a year have been metal/shoegaze band Solstafir from Iceland and your very own Florence + the Machine.

How long have you played your instruments?
In a way too long, but not long enough to play as well as I'd like to.
Kid Karoshi: I started at the age of 15 I think. Before that I wanted to be Michael Monroe. Then I wanted to become Izzy Stradlin of the Guns N’ Roses. Now I’m Kid Karoshi so everything turned out just fine.

What were your first music making experiences?
Joy-R: I was a vocalist in a band called Anus Mundi in Alajärvi, which is a small town in a terrible bible belt area 400 kilometres up north from Helsinki. We played shitty covers and some of the players passed out during the gig. As myself.
Kid Karoshi: I’ve written my own music since I started listening to music... then I started practising an instrument. First bands included just me in guitar and vocals and some friend in drums... it would be very trendy now. Back then it wasn’t.

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
100% self-taught.
Kid Karoshi: Taught?

What is your current equipment?
I've got a small Premier drum set. It's old and I love its sound. 22” kick, 13” floor tom, old Zildian hi-hat's, 12” Sabian HH crash an 16” Istambul crash as a crash-ride. My bronze snare is hand made and heavy. I love it as much as you can love an item. 
Kid Karoshi: Well, I’ve played mostly with my new Danelectro baritone guitar lately. But I have a few regular 6-strings as well. My favourites are my custom ’72 Telecaster and Hagström Viking. And I’ve used Tech21 amp for years now.

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Hard cases. And carefull reconditioning of my set. I don't need new gear, it won't make me better player. I'm perfectly happy with the old ones.
Kid Karoshi: Gibson ES-335.

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?

Karoshi Lovers
Photography by Hanna Hopea

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
Some kind of routine, yes. Usually lyrics come first, but sometimes the idea of the song starts up from a guitar riff – or even drumming. When we have a couple of good sounding ideas, the rest is routine team work.

Which software/recording process do you use?
We choose the sound engineer carefully, but we're not so interested about software and things like that.

Would you sign with a major record company?
Why not, if the deal is ok. We're not desperately seeking a major deal, and many things work out easier when you're indie.

Do you have any new recordings planned?
As I said earlier, yes. And we're very excited about them!

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
Joy-R: We're all arrangers and I worked as producer of the first album with Johan Forslund.
Kid Karoshi: I have the most ideas at the rehearsal room. In studio I listen to the producer and negotiate with him.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Usually we've got visions how albums should sound – and how they shouldn't. Producer like Johan Forslund and Rami Helin got their own visions. It's always interesting to find out, what kind of a sum those visions make together. About the future... I think we're going to work the same way. Producing is interesting, but writing and performing music is the main thing, so I guess I'm not going to work with other artist. But you never know.
Kid Karoshi: Not interested in producing. Just playing and writing songs... and especially playing live!

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Yes, it gets easier the more you do. There's always surprises and pain in that process, and there should be, because without them it won't be enjoyable.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
They're different experiences. Our live sound is more simple and maybe raw, but I think it works out better than our first albums. Maybe the sound of the next album takes couple of steps towards to the live sound.
Kid Karoshi: Next album HAS TO sound more live and more raw. I think our strength is in live playing.

Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
Absolutely. From the first album songs like The Revolution Is Over, Down In The Ice Pit and Birth, School, Work, Death. From the Death Pop the title song, LTWWTD and Old Men Love Missiles.
Kid Karoshi: Yes, “There is no alternative” from the forth-coming album. J

Who are the main songwriters for the band?
It depends on title and day. It's teamwork after all.

Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
Thank god no, otherwise we'll be all dead, ha ha.

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Let's say it's incalculable. You can always write some kind of a song, but it's impossible to say if the result is going to be good or not. And no one is interested in boring songs. Sometimes good songs come out easily, sometimes not.
Kid Karoshi: I can be 6 months without writing a single song. Then I might write 5 songs in five days... inspiration... it comes and goes.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Joy-R: Would be interesting to work together with the songwriters of The Godfathers, as well as with PJ Harvey or Captain Beefheart. From Finland I prefer Judge Bone and Otra Romppanen from Mana Mana.
Kid Karoshi: I would love to be there when Florence Welsh writes her songs... and then I would love to perform on stage with Solstafir.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
Lennon and McCartney together, Neil Young, Al Jourgensen at his best, Otra Romppanen, Judge Bone, Janne Westerlund from Plain Ride... lots of them.
Kid Karoshi: Florence, Judge Bone, Josh Homme, Izzy Stradlin, Andy McCoy... there are many...

Which countries have you gigged in?
So far in Finland, Germany and Austria.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
At the moment it would be nice to tour in Iceland. They need some karoshi spirit there, and I guess it's not too hot there.
Kid Karoshi: Spain, UK...

Who would you like to tour with?
We've been playing with many kinds of bands, so the music style is not so important, but it would be nice to have new audience... Sonic Youth or PJ Harvey would be nice. I'm not interested in warming up mainstream superstars.
Kid Karoshi: Anyone as long as we’re touring.

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
Internet is the main thing.

Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
Reverbnation yes, but what the hell happened to our Reverbanation site?

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
Joy-R: No, not really.

How do you relax?
By working, of course.
Kid Karoshi: Ashtanga yoga.

Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
No, never. It's not our thing.

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Our first gig at Nurnberg was pretty close to disaster – and it became one of the best gigs ever. Air France lost most of Kid's gear and clothes, German backline rental send us totally wrong keyboard and so on. We were tired and frustrated, we couldn't play all the songs because of the keyboard problem – but all the negative and desperate feelings turned into positive energy when the gig started. It was amazing, all that energy from the audience. The whole tour was very nice. So that was almost the worst experience, but actually the worst was our gig in Jyväskylä, where we weren't focused enough. Not a real disaster, just little bit lame.
Kid Karoshi: Jyväskylä was one of the best for me.

Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
Yes we are nervous – desperately – and that is the point. Get over it and get yourself together on stage. We won’t calm down – at least not before the show is over. Turning all nervousness into positive energy with the help from the audience, that is the purpose of making music and playing live.
Kid Karoshi: I have a beer or two.

What are your day jobs if you have them?
I'm a freelancer writer, PR-man, sound engineer, stage manager and so on. Freelancer whatever-you-like, ha ha.
Kid Karoshi: Agent and programme manager.

Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
Anything goes. Full time working with the music would be very nice, but this situation is not bad either.
Kid Karoshi: I would definitely rather make a living by playing guitar than working for the man.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not yet. Karoshi Christmas was used in a tv commercial.

Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Sure, why not?

Is there anything you'd like to add?
The truth is not out there. The truth is in our forthcoming song God Profit: “Economics is our religion, stock markets our god.” It is that simple.


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