Cats on Fire Tour d’Italia 2013

garibaldi3Ciao a tutti! We will tour in Italy in December. These are the affected cities and venues:

04/12 ROMA, Unplugged In Monti – Blackmarket
05/12 NAPOLI, Lanificio
06/12 PADOVA, La Mela di Newton
07/12 MILANO, Pop Days – Ligera
08/12 CARPI, Mattatoio

We are extremely happy to get on the road again. And, what’s even better, we could get on any old road, because, as you know, all roads lead to…

Cats on Fire have some history in Italy. Our first ever concert outside the Nordic countries was in fact in Modena, Italy. That went a bit wrong, for everybody involved. All of us arrived in Modena having paid extra fees at the airport, a routine which I consider naming the Old RyanAir Tango. Then we found out that the festival venue had been closed down by the police. The organizers manage to move the festival to a different venue, but what they didn’t manage was regulating the alcohol consumption among the Scandi artists that were supposed to play. They just put the liquor bottles on a table, out in the open! Surely they must know you can’t just do it like that. We were definitely not among the worst participants in the bacchanalia that included vomiting, falling behind toilets, ambulance personnel. Scandinavian people are easy to deal with, as long as you hide the bottles, for Christ’s sake. The organizers just shook their heads and said they thought the behaviour was strange and disrespectful. Yes, but you brought it on yourselves.

Me and the Graaf Sisters

graaf_35397When I was 16 or 17, my parents took me and my twin sister on what was supposed to be the last family vacation, since children of that age and younger could still travel with their parents at a reduced price. The destination were the two Greek islands of Santorini and Naxos. This was a time when I had begun to realize certain things about myself and my family, and I suppose I wasn’t in the most secure mindset, but I still wasn’t prepared for the sudden onset of severe anxiety when stepping into the bus that would take us from Santorini proper down to the beach from where the ferries to Naxos departed. The road, a dusty old serpent, was only loosely attached to the steep volcanic wall, and I instantly felt it would be my last bus ride. [read more]

Mattias in English

After some years of what could be seen as simple negligence, I’ve decided that I am going to take a more structured approach to writing online. Since 2004, I’ve been keeping a sort of a diary on the Cats on fire website. Right from the beginning, I’ve refused to call it a blog, and the word still makes me cringe after all these years, but I really can’t see why one couldn’t call it just that if one felt the need to. [read more]

A Few Notes On Radio Helsinki

radio-helsinki_logo_valkReports of the decision to shut down Radio Helsinki in October have probably reached most Finnish people who has even the slightest interest in popular music. With ‘interest’, I mean those who are not automatically content with what’s being fed to them via mainstream channels. Cats on Fire has, like countless other Finnish groups, received invaluable support from Radio Helsinki, and with international behemoths like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Wilco now joining the campaign to save the station, I’ve felt that some kind of statement from us would be both superfluous and slightly presumptuous.

However, there is something irritatingly familiar with this decision that I just have to address with a few sentences. I don’t know quite how the big guns on the board of the massively big media house Sanoma have reasoned, but the bottom line is apparently that the small, alternative radio station doesn’t generate enough dough. I’m certainly not going to contest that, since I don’t know the details at all. What I find irritating is the obvious lack of pride. In a statement regarding the decision, the business director of Helsingin Sanomat (the parent newspaper of Radio Helsinki) Petteri Putkiranta acknowledges that Radio Helsinki has been appreciated for its talk shows and speciality music programmes. That’s an understatement so gross that you could argue it misses the point completely. Radio Helsinki should be a source of endless pride for any respectable media house. To run a playlist-free station like Radio Helsinki, with its enormous musical and cultural braintrust, in the airheaded, watery, streamlined media landscape we live in today is a show of strength and willpower. Let me assure you, they have nothing like Radio Helsinki in Sweden. It gives you the bragging rights. Or, if you want to reduce it to terms of competition, look at what evolutionary biology teaches us – it can be very advantageous to show your competitors that you can indeed afford to bleed a little. In case you shut it down, all everyone sees is that you are cultural buffoons in financial distress, and every mother-in-law knows just how unattractive that is.

Shutting down things that are slightly difficult, precious and different is of course a sign of the times in the media business. In other words, a shutdown is precisely what you could expect would happen to something like Radio Helsinki, because it is all that. But what’s to say it is the right thing to do in the long run? Has ‘playing it safe’ been proven to work when it comes to turning around the negative trend in media ad revenue? What’s to say that the shutdown of this unique media outlet isn’t going to cost Sanoma News dearly in the future? I don’t know the answers, but I have a strong feeling that the people who have rallied behind the campaign to save Radio Helsinki have done it partly because they dislike the ongoing trend of standardization and conformity in big media, and that these enlightened people will be a lot more likely turn away from Sanoma media products in the future.

Find ways to support the campaign by liking the Save Radio Helsinki facebook page.

New Recordings and Such



Hi all of you, and especially all the truly faithful ones among you,

We’ve just started recording again. Ville and I spent a few days in a small chapel in a remote village in Northern Sweden. We didn’t do it because we were desperate for extra-ordinary amounts of peace and quiet, but simply because it made logistical sense this time. It is not often it makes logistical sense to go up here to do recordings, but this time it did, and the sweet deal included peace and quiet as a bonus. Even God was strangely absent, and we sneaked in unnoticed.

We are not quite ready to reveal our plans yet, but this time, as opposed to all the other times we’ve done something, we think that the speed of the process will surprise you. All of a sudden, unexpected news will reach you, and you will not quite know what to do with all the information.