(Posted April 20, 2002)
FLAMING SIDEBURNS: "World Domination?"

By Roberto Calabrò

The Flaming Sideburns are one of most exciting bands come out of the underground in the last five years. Their Bad Afro debut album, "Hallelujah Rock ’n’ Rollah", (the previous release "It's Time to Testify...Brothers and Sisiers" was a compilation of singles) is an incredible mixture of hi-energy rock’n’roll with Rolling Stones/Iggy & The Stooges/MC5 sound. The Finnish combo, fronted by the Argentinean singer Eduardo "Speedo" Martinez (who sings both in English and Spanish), has style, the right attitude and an explosive rock-sound. I met the band’s drummer, JAY BURNSIDE, to talk about past, present and future of his fantastic band.

Q Your explosive debut album "Hallelujah Rock ’n’ Rollah" shows different faces of your sound: your great hi-energy r’n’r attitude is perfectly mixed with more classical influences. How did this kind of album come out and are you satisfied with the final result of it?

Basically what you hear on the record is what we are. We’ve all been through a steady diet of Detroit Rock and The Rolling Stones since we were kids. That’s the kind of music we learned to play with and it just comes out naturally. We don’t need to try to sound like that, we just try to take it a bit further.

Q A song like "Flowers" reminded me the Stones' "Some Girls" period, while "Stripped Down" sounds like the Stooges and Lou Reed and "Sweet Sound" has a similar approach to MC5. Do you see these influences too or do you think they are just casual?

As I said, that’s our background and obviously it keeps showing up in our sound. Sometimes one might hear bits and pieces that remind of something but... so what? If we would start to think about it too much we would probably end up losing our minds. I don’t think there’s such a thing as totally original music anyway. Everybody, no matter what they might claim, is getting influences from somewhere.

Q So who are the most influential bands for Flaming Sideburns?

When we started it was very easy to point out some clear influences because we had tons of cover songs in our set. A lot of '50s rock 'n' roll, '60s garage, early rhythm 'n' blues, psychedelia. Now it’s a little bit more complicated. You can still hear all that but I would like to think there’s more. We don’t really see musical boundaries. I mean, of course we are a rock’n’roll band in the end but we don’t mind if the influences are coming from country & western, soul or latin music. Anyhow, if I had to name just one band, the MC5 presents to me a ultimate example of a rock ’n’ roll band when it comes to attitude, dedication, heart and soul.

Q What are you fave songs on this album and why?

It’s been funny to realise there’s no song that’s clearly above the others on the album. A lot of people seem to have different favorites on the record which leaves us with two options: either there’s no hits or they’re all hits! My favorite is "World Domination". That's coming out as the next single.

Q Just before the album, you released "White Trash Soul!" with The Hellacopters. Do you wanna spend some words about this record? How did the idea of this split come out and how was the experience of sharing a record with the great Swedish band?

In the beginning it was just a drunken idea somebody threw in the air after we had played together at Garageshock in the USA. It took some 18 months before the record finally came out! I'm really happy we made it to happen and honored that such a great band as The Hellacopters made a version of our song. We have actually started to play their arrangement of "Ungrounded Confusion". And The Hellacopters started playing "Psyched Out And Furious" live after we did it. They had only played it live once before the split.

Q In which terms are The Hellacopters and Flaming Sideburns?

The Hellacopters are one of the few bands I truly respect in the so-called modern rock world. These guys have hearts of pure gold and share a lot of the same attitude with us. We are both doing this because of music and because of the fact that we actually love what we are doing. And the great thing is that the guys are such a nice bunch as well. It’s always dangerous when we get together. A lot of booze and craziness is shared!.

Q Scandinavia seems to be the new real rock’n’roll frontier. A place with a great rock culture, with a lot of bands, music stores, venues for concerts, etc. Can you tell us about this aspect of rock’n’roll there, especially in Finland, the country you come from?

I had to travel all over the western world to fully realise how great thing we have going on here right at the moment. I used to think Scandinavia is a northern wasteland but after touring all over Europe and the USA I've realised the things could be worse. When you keep in mind there’s only 25 million people living up here it’s astounding how many good bands we’ve got. The ‘Copters, Soundtrack Of Our Lives, The Hives, Gluecifer, Noise Conspiracy and so on. Finland has traditionally been a rock’n’roll nation but unfortunately not too many people have heard of these bands outside of our god-forsaken, far-away country. We had the Hurriganes back in the '70s, Hanoi Rocks, Smack and Dead Allison in the 80’s and now... us!

Thee Ultra Bimboos and The Hypnomen started around the same time with us and now all of the sudden there’s tons of new bands coming up like Sweatmaster, Sunride, Screaming Stukas or Damn Seagulls. It’s great to see kids in their teens starting rock’n’roll bands. The legacy goes on.

The tradition of Scandinavian rock’n’roll has been strong ever since the '60s and so will it be in the future. There’s gonna be a new boom coming up in 2011 or so, believe me! I used to dream of being in Detroit back in the early '70s or in Sydney in the '80s but right now I’m very happy living in Helsinki.

Q After the Hellacopters/Gluecifer explosion now there is a new wave of emerging bands coming out from Scandinavia. Most of them were included in the second volume of Bad Afro's "Pushing Scandinavian Rock To The Man". Can you tell us something about the today’s rock’n’roll scene in Scandinavia? Is there any band that you like in particular and why?

Hellacopters and Backyard Babies influenced literally hundreds of Swedish bands. The bad thing is that most of them are just copycats trying to sound like the ‘Copters or the Babes. That’s a dead-end. I’m more excited about bands that are trying to come up with their own thing like it was the case some 5 years ago. Now very few of the new bands have their own identity. The Sweatmaster really blew me away in that respect. I think they’re the most exciting of the new Scandinavian bands. It’s funny people think of us as one of the new bands because we all started playing in rock’n’roll bands back in the late '80s. We were playing the Stooges when The Hellacopters and Gluecifer were trying to learn to live without diapers!.

Q Let's talk about the band again. I know you are pretty successful in Spain. What happened after the album release?

Strange things happened after the album came out. All of the sudden we were big in our home country entering the Top 20... something I never though would happen. That sort of changed our plans and we’ve been busy touring up here in Scandinavia all summer and fall. We also played some festivals in France and Spain but the European tour got postponed. So, at the moment we are doing good up here and there’s a good following in Spain as well.

The record got really good response down in Germany but we haven’t played there for nearly two years now... we sort of got sick of it after five tours down there! The good thing about our music is that it’s valid all over the world. Wherever we go we can always fill a club with enthusiastic rock’n’roll people.

Q Bad Afro, your label, seems to be the "new White Jazz", if you know what I mean. Can you spend some words about it, the people who run it, their approach and attitude, you relationship with them?

It seems like White Jazz lost it at some point. The Hellacopters and The Gluecifer left them and they haven’t been able to come with interesting new names. Most of the new bands they’ve got seem to be more into hard rock punk than rock’n’roll which is a real surprise to me as I know Calle the owner is a great guy. They only got the Nomads left. Meanwhile Bad Afro has really kept their ears open and been very active looking for new bands. For instance they signed The Sweatmaster on the spot. Another loss for White Jazz.

Q What are your future plans?

There’s some 60 gigs coming up so I think that'll keep us busy. At the same time there’s at least four different singles coming up, one on Bad Afro, one in the UK, one in the USA and one in Spain. "Hallelujah Rock’n’Rollah" will keep us busy at least till the end of summer 2002. I hope we can come up with a new album after that.

Q Last but not least: a curiosity to satisfy. Why did you choose such a peculiar bands name The Flaming Sideburns???

Like most of the things with this band we didn’t really think about it. We just took the first one that came around. The name doesn’t have much sense since three of us don’t even have the sideburns... but what the hell. When we started we had no plans whatsoever to tour all over the world some 6-7 years later, not to mention to be still together. It was all about having fun. And still is.

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