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Ypö-Viis made history in Finnish punk scene. They were the first punk band to have a self-released record out.

Ypö-Viis was formed in Karhula in summer 1977. Originally the band was five-piece, but as they changed their style to new wave, the organ player and second guitarist were dropped off. The remaining trio was Miika Söderholm: bass & vocals, Mikko Holmström: guitar and Rabbe Johansson: drums. In the early days they only gigged locally (today Karhula is part of Kotka). The self-financed one-sided single (or is it an EP?) Energia on A ja O/Kotka palaa was released in late 1978. 200 copes were pressed, costing them 600 Finnish marks. The recording sounds really crappy, but the songs are pretty good. Energia is their own composition and the flipside is a cover version of The Clash's London's burning. The next step was to found a record company of their own, called Karva-Levyt. The new label's first release was naturally Ypö-Viis' next single Mari pogoaa/Mikkitelineestä on puolet minun, released in spring 1979. The A side is a catchy pop song, and the single was even seen on Suosikki's top sales charts! In spring they were also featured on Hilse compilation LP with their song Pelkään pimeää. That song was recorded with a new lineup, as Jari Räsänen had joined the band on bass, allowing Söderholm to concentrate on vocals, and occasionally on rhythm guitar. Pelkään pimeää is one of the best tracks on the album, a pop song of course.

Then they signed a deal with a bigger label, Poko Rekords, and logically the first Poko release was called Me myytiin itsemme ('We have sold out'), b/w Kaupunki muistaa nuoria, released in fall 1979. The songs are good, and the most notable change is the improvement on the sound department. Despite the new recording deal they didn't bury Karva-Levyt (later releases on the label include singles by Pupukuusikko, Tommy & Teenagers and Zoint (pre-Saigon)), but released their first album Karhulan poikii live in late 1979. The LP is extremely fun, in fact it may just be the best live album that has been made in Finland. Covers include songs by The Clash and Sham 69. The band kept themselves busy as they were already recording a studio album in November. Unfortunately Halpaa lystiä LP is a disappointment. Kuvien kauniit naiset was also released as a single, with Ujona discossa (not on album) on the B side. Both the single and the album are boring. Two songs, Tänään kotona, the B side's opening track, and the following Ystävät kautta maan, are worth listening to more than once. The album was released in early 1980. In 1979 Söderholm also made a guest appearance as a backup singer on Kollaa Kestää's Jäähyväiset aseille LP. Fortunately Ypö-Viis' story didn't end there, instead in spring 1980 they made by far their best release, the single Hyvästi masentava maanantai/Rakkauskirjeet. The B side is sung by Räsänen. Both are catchy tunes, and everything looked good again. Then they visited a Turku studio to record songs (Steppaava hirvi and Muistoissani aina) for a future compilation (Eppu Normaali was supposed to be on it too), to be released on Karva-Levyt, but due to lack of bands and material the compilation was never released. However, despite the bright outlook, things weren't that good after all. Holmström quit the band in favour of his studies, and he was replaced by Pekka Stirkkinen. On their last single Keskiolut takaisin Alkoon/Kaunis poika Stirkkinen played both guitar and bass, because Räsänen was performing his compulsory military service at the time. Both songs are great, especially the latter. The band, or Söderholm and Stirkkinen to be exact, made a tour in Lapland with a temporary replacement drummer (Johansson was too busy with his school exams to join them), after which the band broke up. It's a good thing the last recordings were among their best.

Stirkkinen, Räsänen and Johansson had a band called Dynamo with a fourth guy, and they also paid a visit to Turku and recorded two songs, apparently planned to be released on the aforementioned cancelled compilation. Instead, the songs Hamina on kaupunki/Emman pojat were released as a single in 1981 on Poko Rekords. Despite sounding a little like Ypö-Viis, the single is quite insignificant. After a break Söderholm started playing again in late 1980's, now residing in Tampere. He had a band called Risto Ryti with Holmström, but that didn't work out well enough to produce anything but a demo tape. Mur Murr on the other hand had already had two singles out when Söderholm joined the band. He played guitar on their only album Absolutely love songs and single Gee-wow!/Jim Beam and me, released in 1988. The B side is Söderholm's only composition for the band, and he also does the vocals on it. It probably doesn't come as a surprise when I say that in my opinion it's the high point of Mur Murr's output. In 1989 the guys from Luonteri Surf were worried that Ypö-Viis' singles had become hard to find, so they decided to release a singles collection on their own Ayshire label. In addition to the single tracks the album also contains Pelkään pimeää from Hilse LP, the two previously unreleased songs and one live that had been left out from Karhulan poikii live LP. The live track is a cover version of Kollaa Kestää's (or Breadcrumb Vergers', to be exact) Ramones & Stravinski. The album, titled Energia on A ja O, was released in 1989. Luonteri Surf, with Söderholm as a guest vocalist, also played Ypö-Viis songs on their gigs that summer. So, former Ypö-Viis members were back in business, and soon a band called Pojat ("Boys", like in the English band Boys) had been formed. Söderholm was joined by Holmström, Jussi Santalahti from Mur Murr and ex-Hellhound drummer Manu Ojanen. The band has been active to the 2000's, Söderholm remaining the only original member. Pojat has released several albums, including the 1994 album Punk it, on which they are joined by guest vocalists as they play cover versions of old Finnish punk rock bands' songs. One of the covers is Ypö-Viis' Rakkauskirjeet, sung by Räsänen. But Pojat is still a different thing. In late 1980's Räsänen and Stirkkinen formed a band called Avo Heyskanen, released two albums and a bunch of singles, and broke up in the 1990's. The band's music was more radio friendly, except for the somewhat serious overtone of the lyrics. They scored a minor hit with Antakaa avuttomien nauraa, but the band's career never got a proper lift-off. Johansson later became a policeman (remember the song Kaupunki muistaa nuoria!).

Ypö-Viis hasn't been buried for good, they occasionally play gigs here and there, in their best known lineup. The band's material has also been released in CD format during the 2000's. Poko Rekords released Karhulan poikii - Koko stoori CD that collects all the singles, Pelkään pimeää, Steppaava hirvi, Muistoissani aina, Halpaa lystiä LP in its entirety plus eight live tracks. Well, the album tracks are probably there only because they wouldn't sell otherwise, but other than that, it's a worthy release, especially since the previous compilation, released by the guys from Luonteri Surf, had become hard to find too. In December 2005 Woimasointu released a CD version of Karhulan poikii live, with twelve bonus tracks, some of them demos (including Nyt mua kyllästyttää USA, a cover version of The Clash's I'm so bored with the USA).

text by Vesa Vahtera, translation by Jarkko Kuivanen