Rattus 45 years PDF Print E-mail



The story of Rattus begins in the Spring of ´78, when two friends since little boys, Jake Marjamäki and V-P Hyvärinen, started to play "New Rose" by the Damned at the boiler room of V-P´s home. And boy, they did it all day long... Next summer the commune of Vilppula (7000 inhabitants) mercifully gave the guys a rehearsal room in the cellar of a town hall. And the same shit went on there from morning till night.

A few weeks later boys started to need someone to play bass. Jake asked his older brother Tomppa to join the group. At first he thought that the whole shit was just a bricolage of two fairly young kids. After all he was two whole years older... After a while he joined the band, but only if some important terms would be accepted. One of them was the name of the band. Tomppa gave three choices for the name:

1. Rattus (taken from the first album "Rattus Norvegicus" by Stranglers (Tomppa´s favourite band at that time)

2. XYZ (a long time before the title by Rush)

3. Nobody remembers, and probably better that way...

The name Jake and V-P had as working title, "Uuno Häly", didn´t sound cool to Tomppa. Which was a blessing. There was also an English name, Loophole under consideration, but it didn´t work out. So, with so many brilliant choices guys decided to name this group "Rattus". The first songs were covers of bands like Sex Pistols, Ramones, Widows and the Boys.


The same year a class mate of Jake and V-P, Jari "Viri" Virkki joined the band as a singer. At that point Rattus started their show business. The first gig was in a class party in a school in Vilppula. Jari worked sometimes in a local service station, so naturally there were lots of gums and candys to share during the gigs. There was a particular show at a restaurant: The show was really wild, but the listeners not exactly the right kind: the local professional drivers´ association was celebrating Christmas Party... so instead of two sets Rattus was sent home after some songs. But by a taxi, which was nice. Many of the early shows were same kind of Christmas Parties by cultural association of Vilppula or something. After all, rock´n roll was strange thing in those dark days in a small place like Vilppula. And four underaged boys trying to play it, wow!


At that time the first own songs were written, like Hätä ( Need to shit), Nimismies (Police chief) and Kuka viljelee Vilppulaa (Who works the fields in Vilppula). Rattus also considered to make English words to the song "Carolise". Fortunately that never happened. The legendary c-cassette "Live At Lyly" is from the first years of Rattus.

In 1979 Rattus played its first gig using smoke machine in Korkeakoski City. Jari "had got" the practice smoke powder the local fire department used and being wise guys Rattus decided to use it at Korkeakoski gig. In the middle of the show Jari set the powder on fire. He also set his shoes on fire, trying to put the shit out. At first the band was disappointed by the effectless smoke, but no worries: after some minutes the smoke was so thick that the show had to be stopped. And as the hall was used as movie theatre too, they had to cancel the viewing the next day. Probably it was a shit movie, anyway, so no harm done.

Another legendary show in the early days was a visit in a community hall in Multia. The local audience and the band had so big differences in musical taste that in the beginning of the night some members of the band were chased with knives. No hits were reported. After the show the security of the place organized an escort to get the band safely away.

At that time almost a local personality (he still lives in Mänttä, a town near to Vilppula) Pastori (Pastor) Pohjalainen, a drummer and a leader of a rock band the Defiers took a manager role to Rattus. That happened even if he told that one member of Rattus looked like a troll instead of a rock star... for our friends abroad one important note here: the Defiers made an album in the beginning of the 70´s playing cover songs. In the eighties the album was noticed as the all time worst rock album made in Finland. Even nowadays it would be at least a runner-up. Hot stuff in Ebay!

So, Rattus made 3-4 gigs with the Defiers as an opening band. And occasionally some members even played in Defiers, if someone in the main act was unavailable to perform... the cooperation ended after a show and the huge fee of 2 euros 50 cents. Well, the early Rattus would be an excellent archetype for "Spinal Tap".

Still 1979 and Rattus was growing with one new member. Another guitarist seemed like a good idea so an add was put to a rock magazine Soundi. A new member was found from Mänttä, Risto "Mutu" Murtosaari. The boys were amazed by his career of playing guitar, so the deal was easy to make! Mutu´s guitar playing is documented in a few c-cassette demos, like "Väntas på lite" and "Bara för några kronor".

During 1980 Rattus returned into original trio, as Jari and Mutu started their solo careers. After that Rattus felt that it would be about time to put out the masterpieces done. And the right way to publish it would be by own label, Hilipili Records. This raw punk single with powerless sounds was called

"Khomeini-rock"/"Muotipunk", a seven inch single. The issue was 200 copies. The covers were made using childrens toy printing press. Every copy had a unique, hand made cover with texts RATTUS, MSL (the studio), 80, HILIPILI RECORDS and the titles of the songs. Artwork consisted of different drawings and different themes, made with a ball pen. The paper for the covers was donated by local youth organisation of Social Democratic Party, unknowingly, though. They happened to possess things in the same room where Rattus was rehearsing. The accessories were in a locked space, but the band had a key there. The organisation also sponsored Rattus with soft drinks etc.

The first single was sold mainly to local people hand to hand. And the 200 copies were sold, not because of popularity, but more like support or pity. Later the single has spread all over the world and the price in Ebay has been quite high. One friend of the band even put an add to a newspaper in Mänttä area to buy as many of the singles as could for a whopping price of 8 euros. He managed to buy one.

At that time Rattus made first shows outside the local are. The first big show was in Seinäjoki, supporting up and coming punk band Ratsia. The show is documented and archived in bands´ possession.

In the late summer of ´80 Rattus was kicked out of the rehealsal place. The official reason was the smelling carpets the band used to make the acoustics better. That was a fake reason, the carpets didn´t stink. The boys could have understood better if they were kicked out because of many other reasons, regarding things the band took, comprehending them as a gift from the commune. The new rehearsal place was constructed into the cellar of V-P´s house, by the permission of his mother.

The boys of Rattus were quite athletic these days, so they decided to participate in the skiing relay competition. They skied under the name of Hilipili-Records and finished last. The band blamed the skis to be the reason for this failure: they were from the time of second world war and were much too broad for the ski track. And after all, using the same skis cost too much time while changing the member of the relay team.


IInspired by the first single Rattus returned to studio in the end of 1980 to make the next record, called "Fucking Disco". It was an ep and was published in 1981. The first issue was 200 copies again. A big success forced Hilipili Records to publish another 100 copies of FD. This time a printing house, printing quality magazines like Donald Duck, was sponsoring this work of art. Unknowingly, naturally.

Half of the second issue was exported to UK. A shop called Bullet Records bought 50 copies of the ep and even advertised it in the local small magazines, like NME and Sounds mystically: "Fxxxxxx Disco". Spooky!

In the cover of FD the boys of Rattus, because of great success after the first single, decided to use stage names Goljat, Bongo and Hindi Weissmuller. The cover art was the band´s specimen of skill. It was a fictitious review of the Fd ep. And that review was used by Soundi magazine, when they reviewed Fucking Disco. It starts with the words "Our favourite band just can´t fail" and ends with "The single of the month". Sometimes even bad humour works.

A Tampere based record shop Epe´s also was selling the ep and the owner, Epe Helenius, who also ran Poko Records, happened to hear FD. He even liked it and contacted Rattus in the summer of ´81. The contact didn´t lead to anything, yet. Then, in the August of ´81 Rattus went to studio to make its third record, originally to be published by Hilipili-Records. The studio had risen the prices which came by surprise to the band/Hilipili-Records. So, out of money Rattus had to think what to do now. The studio owner knew the interest of Poko and persuaded the band to call Epe. That was done and the rest is history. A small one, but still.


"Rattus on rautaa" ep was the first Rattus record a real record company released. The original title was supposed to be "A Tribute to John Lennon", but a recent death of him made Poko change the name without band´s permission. Which wasn´t too nice. Also the humorous title "Rattus on rautaa" ("Rattus Rules") that should have ended the ep was changed to start the ep. Which wasn´t too nice, either. The cover art was done by one Juho Juntunen, who is drawing rock comics nowadays. The sound of the ep was really poppy. The ep had maybe one of the first rap songs, at least in Finland, "I remember John Lennon"

Just when ROR was released, Nov. `81 Rattus supported the Exploited for two shows in Finland. The first one took place near Kotka and another one in Tampere. Rattus had it´s success in Tampere: Spit, sugar cubes and whatever were in the air and on their way into the stage and the band. Local skins and part of punks showed their respect that way... Rattus played the whole set, anyway. If it doesn´t kill you it makes you stronger. The reactions of the skins were understandable, of course. The reactions of punks; well, maybe Rattus should have been a band from Tampere. Some weeks before that show Rattus was supposed to support Dead Kennedys in the same place, but for some reason it was Problems, a ´77 band that played there. Problems, a Helsinki based band, got their success in a form of dozens of flying eggs. Way to go!

After ROR the musical style, punk/ska/new wave became harsher, thanks to hardcore records from US and UK that boys caught hold of. Bands like Discharge, Disorder, Exploited, Minor Threat, MDC etc etc. really inluected Rattus´ future songs.

Rattus met Voitto "Vote" Vasko after a show in Jyväskylä in ´81. That turned out to be an important meeting. Vote ran his own mail order and record company P.Tuotanto. Vote´s contacts abroad helped Rattus really much with releases and tours outside Finland. He is the man to thank. Or hate, it´s up to you.




The next ep, "Rajoitettu ydinsota", was recorded in December ´81. The publisher was Poko again. The production was the best so far and the result was respected among the scene and is still one of the best known Finnish punk records abroad. The release of the ep was prolonged because of the problems with the cover. The four song ep was more hardcore than before. It was released also in Brazil and in France.




The next project was a 14 track mini lp "WC räjähtää", released by Poko in ´83. In the same studio session Rattus recorded also three songs to Propaganda Records "Hardcore ´83" compilation lp.



IIn ´82 Rattus got a letter from an American artist Pushead. He had listened to band´s released stuff and did like it. He was wondering if he could have a chance to do artwork to the next release. He also sent some drawings that convinced the band to use his art. The fee for doing cover for "WC räjähtää" was eight records. Later Pushead has drawn covers for not so known artists, like Metallica, Misfits, Queensryche etc etc. The wild gossips insist that the fees have risen to two-figure amounts of records.

In the end of ´82 Rattus played in a punk festival in Lepakko, the legendary rock club. All biggest names of the scene were playing there like Riistetyt, Kaaos, Appendix, Nukketeatteri, Bastards + about 100 more. Rattus had the honour to be a closing act. Or at least it seemed so first. During the third song police came and switched off the electricity. The permission for the festival ended at 12 pm.

After WC Jake wanted to concentrate on playing guitar. The seek for a singer began. Some friends came and tried, but without a result. Until Anssi "Annikki" Nieminen, the long term roadie of the band was chosen to the task in March ´83. Another guitarist was considered, too.


""Uskonto on vaara", a nine track mini album was recorded in May ´83. The artwork was done by Pushead. And the cover was a classic. The release of the record was delayed because of various reasons for 12 months. During the studio session Rattus recorded also two cover songs, "Horror Business" by Misfits and "A Look At Tomorrow" by Discharge. They were recorded just for fun but because the guy in studio put them into master tape they were released, too. Not in Finland, as the mistake was found, but in Brazil, after the original master tape was sent there. It was released by Punk Rock Discos.The five copies of the first test pressing are quite rare and therefore quite valuable.


The first show abroad took place in Århus, Denmark. In a punk fest "No Århus" bands from Denmark, Germany, England and Finland played their sets. A couple of days before the trip to Denmark Rattus didn´t have any idea how to get there. Annikki made a move and bought an old Opel Kadett with 250 euros. After a short test drive the car was estimated as a glorious shape, so everything was ok. And that way it was up to Turku, when the first problems appeared. Various caution lights were lit and went out only by driving fast enough. That didn´t work all trip, because the band noticed soon that extra supplement of water and oil were needed regularly. It brought guys a chance to have an airing, so no harm done.The band arrived in Århus luckily, slept(?) in a car, played a show next evening and had to drive immediately couple of hundred of km´s to arrive in time for a ferry. It was Tomppa´s turn to drive while other guys slept like babies. Tomppa woke V-P up after waking up himself when all four wheels were outside the road. Both guys battling against the tiredness and changing driving turns Rattus had the fortune to arrive in Fredrikshavn in time. When the ferry landed in Gothenburg it was obvious that the vehicle was full of dope. While guys were watching the custom officers unpacked the car. And guys, too. It wasn´t unclear if there was something in a car. It was just a matter of time. And poor bastards, how faithless and disappointed they were when boys continued the trip back home. The same happened in Turku and once again by the police outside the harbour area in Turku. The car broke finally when Jake was brought home. Annikki sold the car to its former owner for the same 250 euros. It´s not certain if he has got the money yet.


IIn Dec ´83 Rattus recorded an 18 track album, simply "Rattus". It consisted new versions of old songs and was released in the USA and UK by Rat Cage Records.

http://homepages.nyu.edu/~cch223/finland/info/rattus_MRRinter.html (Pushead interviewed Rattus to "Maximum Rock´n´Roll"-magazine (USA)



In January ´84 Rattus recorded a three (or five) track 7 inch ep "Ihmiset on sairaita". Poko was supposed to release it, but their interest in Rattus and/or punk scene was fading. So the ep was not released until June ´85 by Ann&Archie Records.


IIn Spring ´84 Rattus did their first big, a four week tour in Europe. It was called "Ei heilu se" tour. Backline was brought by organizers while the band and some of their friends toured by train with only guitars and drum sticks with them. The tour brought band to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Yugoslavia and England. At that time before the Schengen contract different ways of custom policy was familiar to the band. Including the checking of rectum.

The tour began in Gothenburg and continued to Hamburg. There the organizer told that because of nazi skins the show was barely advertised. The skins were attacking the shows with a good old time spirit. Because of the lack of advertising the show was quite peaceful. Only one skin showed up and he left quite soon. Carried out and unconscious by a hit with an empty bottle. The country boys aka Rattus kept on playing wondering the big cruel world.

The local organizers in Italy and in England failed badly. Instead of three shows in both countries there were only one per organizer. The guy (or girl) in Italy didn´t even show up. So, instead of doing a couple of shows Rattus lived in Milan in a stage where the show was played. Ljubljana in Jugoslavia (nowadays Slovenija) was the motherfucker wildest place with 500 people in a show. Western bands seemed to be something else at that time. In England Rattus played a show in Leeds with bands like Black Flag. And there was Århus in Denmark. It was a second time when country boys were wondering. A Danish band quit playing and ran away, shouting something in Danish. The country boys of Rattus went to the stage, wondering wtf was happening. A local biker gang was inside breaking furniture and beating people. One biker rushed on stage to make some kind of speech. The police came soon and arrested the bikers. The Danish band came back and told the boys the danger of that kind of hoodlums. After the show the members of the band had a chance to go to the sauna and after almost a month it was like coming home. The sauna was well heated and long used. For Danish friends it was obvious that these guys were brave northern heroes, with this sauna thing and fearless behaviour among the rude bikers. And the country boys didn´t even realise the danger of the gang...

The same year of ´84 Rattus had a chance to tour in the USA with Italian Raw Power. There was no time to do it so instead of Rattus Riistetyt/Holy Dolls made that.

In ´86 there was a six week tour in the US about to happen but when it was time to have the final confirmation the post strike began in Finland and lasted for a month. It was time before emails and mobile phones. The telegram sent by the manager of DOA didn´t reach its destination but a way too late. So instead of Rattus an Italian band Cheetah Chrome Mother Fuckers toured from coast to coast. You are both welcome!


In ´85 Rattus went to studio to record a demo "Will Evil Win". Two songs from that demo found their way to compilation album "Have A Rotten Christmas" by Rot Records in England.

In ´86 Rattus changed into metal based stuff and fired Annikki. Jake took a singers role again. In the summer ´86 Rattus recorded a ten track album "Stolen Life". Dekadenze was to release the album, but wasn´t too happy with the metallic touch of SL ("..just like AC/DC...") so SL never was released in Finland. Instead it was released in France and, surprise surprise, Brazil in ´87.

In the end of ´86 another guitarist joined the band. The name this youngster was Kari Tomminen. The music was more and more to metal. Rattus played three shows in Sweden and Denmark. The shows were okay, but the audience waited for the hc Rattus instead of speedmetal Rattus and were confused.

The last show before the break of 13 years Rattus played in Jyväskylä, Finland. There was 300 people piled to the place of 150. The show was the best for ages, but still it was time to say goodbye. The last single "Win or Die"/"I´m Gonna Kill You Mentally" was released posthumously.




TTomppa left the band first. Jake and V-P who lived in Helsinki at that time tried to continue with another bass player but without a decent place to rehearse the task was too hard.

Jake continued with the band Swanziger and made a single while V-P and Tomminen formed a band Chorea. They also released a single.

After quitting Rattus got an offer to make three albums from an American record company Sub Core Records. That had a short inspiration to boys, but it was too late.

In the early 90´s Poko Records released a compilation cd of Poko era releases "Levytykset 81-84 Recorded Works". It was the summer that few records were sold, so that was the first Rattus release that went to Finnish Charts Top 40 at the place of 32. Rattus had finally sold out...

to be continued