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Punk trailblazers PKN call it a day

Finnish punk rock band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN) has decided to call it quits next year, when guitarist Pertti Kurikka turns 60. Bass player Sami Helle has his eye on politics.

Image: Tapio Nykänen / Yle

Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (PKN), whose four members met in 2009 at a Helsinki centre for people with developmental disabilities, say they will play their farewell shows next year. In May, the group startled Europe’s music industry by blazing their way into the Eurovision Song Contest finals in Vienna. Their angry 90-second song “Aina mun pitää” (“I Always Have to”) was easily the loudest rock song ever performed in Eurovision history – besides the sole Finnish winner, Lordi’s “Hard Rock Hallelujah” from 2006.

Following the international success of the 2012 documentary film The Punk Syndrome, a second movie about the four men is being made, covering the last chapter of their shared career.

The band’s guitarist, Pertti Kurikka, announced earlier this summer that he plans to retire from the music business at 60 – and to focus instead on setting up a handicrafts club. Kurikka is also a published illustrator and poet.

Politics and peace of mind

Bassist Sami Helle says he has no plans to quit music, though.

“Sure, I’ll keep doing music, but we’ll do a farewell tour with this line-up next year,” he told Yle last week.

He also hopes to enter politics, with an eye on the 2017 elections for the Helsinki City Council. Helle aims to run on the Centre Party ticket.

“I’m a Juha Sipilä man,” Helle says of the current premier.

If elected, he pledges to fight for better pay for those with developmental disabilities who work at the city’s labour and activity centres.

“And people with developmental disabilities who start training should actually get a chance to work professionally,” he urges. “Nowadays a lot of us get trained but then we can’t get jobs. I’ve had training for two professions, but I haven’t been able to work in them.”

Four Helsinki gigs this autumn

After all the Eurovision publicity frenzy, Helle also says he is looking forward to more peace and quiet.

“Sometimes when I’m with my family and relatives, I just want my own time, just to be,” he says.

Some fans, for instance, don’t always understand boundaries or when is an appropriate moment to sign an autograph.

“Some people don’t understand that I want to be left alone. They come up to me quite eagerly, even if I say, ‘not now’. If I’m not up to it, I just say politely that I’m not signing autographs right now.”

The band’s current national tour brings them to Helsinki’s top rock club, Tavastia, on September 9. Three more Helsinki shows are planned later in the year, including an AIDS benefit on December 1. The foursome also plays Jyväskylä on October 10, Tampere on October 24 among a string of other dates.

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