A-Olut (A- beer, the strongest beer in Finland) was founded in Helsinki in 1984 by Petri “Rähjä” Räisänen, Mika “Nittari” Miinikoski and Ossi Laine, in Rähjä’s parent’s garage. Nittari was the screaming front man, Ossi played the guitar or bass, depending on whichever instrument they had in the garage, and Rähjä was behind the drums and wrote a few lyrics although the band mostly played covers from other punk bands. He also played drums for Krooninen Erektio (Chronic Erection) in 1987-88.
Niitari and Rähjä first met in the early ?80s at a house party in Kannelmaki (in north Helsinki). They had much in common as they listened to the same music, went to the same Finnish-Russian school, and shared the same values. At that time, they listened mostly to 70s punk and 80s hardcore punk. Some of their favorite bands were: The Clash, Sex Pistols, Lama, Terveet Kadet, Unisef, Maho Neitsyt, Kaaos, Chaos UK, The Germs, Reagan Youth, Dead Kennedys, Rattus, Nina Hagen, Pelle Miljoona & N.U.S., Riistetyt, Discharge, Anti-Pasti, Choatic Discord, Conflict, Crucifix, Minor Threat, G.B.H., Mellaka, Skit System.
The name, A-Olut, was chosen from the name of the beer the guys were drinking at the time. It’s not particularly meaningful, but there are many such similar instances, so this didn’t really bother them. The two friends felt that starting a band was a good way to express their opinions and channel some fucked-up energy but also to have fun and hang out with like-minded friends with a similar lifestyle. Ossi was good friends with Niitari and Rähjä and was able to play instruments. He had different taste in music but also loved punk. Their punk “DIY” (do it yourself) attitude turned their plans to perform, easily enough, into reality.
A-Olut was a political scream against the macho, redneck, materialistic belief system, complete with its education and politics, and arrogant, racist behaviour. The lyrics and noisy music was something the guys identified with the most. It was authentic, raw, liberating…
There were no gigs in the 80s; rather, a lot of wild rehearsals and one recorded tape which Niitari found many years later. The band never actually quit, but there was life to be lived, so it got to be impossible to rehearse.
Rähjä found his calling in Finnish folk-healing and yoga. He has been working as a healer and yoga teacher since 1991. He moved to New York City for a few years in the early 2000’s and continues to travel and teach yoga internationally. Niitari lives in Helsinki, rides motorcross and works as a putkimies (plumber). Ossi is somewhere around but is hard to locate.
The second coming of A-Olut took place when Niitari and Rähjä met in the fall of 2007. Rähjä was just back from Los Angeles and decided to stay in Helsinki for several months. The guys couldn’t find Ossi, so they started looking for a new band member. In Niitari’s second-living room, a bar called Roskapankki, there were a bunch of potential candidates hanging around. Niitari’s good friend, Aristoteles, had a long history in the Helsinki rock scene and was solo guitarist at Bar Liberty’s Sunday-night gigs, so he joined the band. Rähjä thought to add a new layer to the band with a saxophone and found Pena, from Bad Ass Brass Band. Rähjä’s brother-in-law, Ile, also joined to play bass while his sister, Api, is the official background screamer as she has the loudest scream in Finland.
The rehearsal with the updated band was full of anger and laughter. Rähjä found that more than 20 years away from the drums was too long and started to sing with Niitari. Aristoteles was a great addition to the mix, as were Pena and Ile, both in their area of expertise. However, A-Olut still needed a drummer. Several drummers tried their skills, but they were mostly too drunk or broken to play, so Ana joined the band. Despite his very short history with drums, Ana, a great guy and friend, was in.
In 2009, Niitari tried to play bass, while singing, for the first time. After the first few rehearsals, he had fallen in love with his bass and took his place where he belonged.
Rähjä: vocals; lyrics
Niitari (or Moppi): bass; vocals
Aristoteles: guitar; songwriter
A new demo with seven songs (+ one old remastered song) was recorded on December 14th, 2009 at Soundtrack, Helsinki, Finland.
The band’s first 7” vinyl EP, Ongelmajate (Toxic Waste), was released in the fall of 2009. It consists of five songs.
The A-Olut story is written in a Finnish hardcore punk history book: Punk on kuollot, elakoon hardcore (Punk is dead, long live hardcore). The book was written by JP Inkinen and Kivi Larmola and was released in spring 2009, in Finnish, by Like Publishers.
Fuck off, love, enjoy!
Petri “Rähjä” Räisänen
Ratakatu 5B 19
+358 40 57 25 113