Today’s band was suggested to us by a reader named Alex. Big ups to him, as the kids like to say, because the one-man rock ‘n’ roll wrecking crew known as Paska (Finnish for “shit”) is as weird as they come. It’s like if someone shoved Bobby McFerrin so far up G.G. Allin’s ass, he started spouting punk-rock a cappella covers of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Paska is one Ari Peltonen, and his entire shtick is that he performs and records, very, very badly, with just his voice–no instruments, no overdubs, just one clearly unhinged individual sing-screaming highly condensed, barely intelligible versions of songs like “Ace of Spades” and “Love Me Tender”, interspersed with the occasional really bad mouth guitar solo, random drum hits and whatever other noises he can muster in between sloppy gasps for more oxygen. Oh, and he does perform a few originals, too, like “Pain in the Ass,” “Sex Is Shit,” and my personal favorite, “I Fucked Myself and Fell in Love.” Been there, my Finnish brother!
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Jake, this sounds like what me and my friends do when we’re driving home from $2 pitcher night and everyone in the car is too drunk to work the CD changer.” But here’s the difference, my friend: No one would so much as buy you another $2 pitcher to see you and your friends drunkenly butcher the punk and pop classics of yore. Whereas this Peltonen dude has been doing his Paska shtick, and getting paid for it, since the 80s. He’s played major festivals. He’s toured the U.S. He’s released an album (2005’s Women Are From Venus, Men From Anus), an EP and various singles and 7″s. In Finland, he’s either sort of a national hero or public enemy No. 1, or maybe both. At the very least, he has his own radio show.
I think my favorite part of the whole Paska story is that in the early 90’s, Paska “broke up” and Peltonen began staging concerts as various “ex-Paska” members: the egomaniac lead singer was Jeesus, the cheesy organist was Johnny Blue, the disgruntled bass player was Jorma (Finnish for “dick”). Of course, all of these Paska “solo projects” also just consisted of Ari Peltonen jumping around by himself and screaming into a microphone, but that’s the genius of the whole thing, don’t you think?
Alex sent us over a crap-ton of YouTube links to Paska’s hijinks, and it’s hard to pick just one as our favorite. So fuck it, we’ll embed a few. He’s just that awesome.
First off, you gotta start by just appreciating the man’s raw performance skills, or lack thereof–and the fact that yes, he regularly does this stuff in front of attentive, seemingly appreciative audiences. So here’s Paska um, interpreting “Stairway to Heaven”, live and in concert:
Still with us? OK, now here’s my personal favorite: some wiseass edited Paska’s version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” over bits from the original Queen video. I like to think Freddie Mercury would have loved this, but I know he probably sheds a golden tear in rock star heaven every time it’s viewed:
And finally, for a good long stew in the sauna of Paska’s madness, see if you can make it through a mere 8 minutes (yes, this is only half of it) of his epic version of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”:
You didn’t actually listen to the whole thing, did you? Yeah, us neither. Just knowing it exists is the whole punchline, really.
- A Bald Finnish Maniac Named Paska (seemingly the only decent article ever written in English about this guy)
- Paskalista on Radio Helsinki (official site for Peltonen’s radio show–in Finnish)
- Bad Vugum (Paska’s first Finnish label)
- Riemu (the label that put out Women Are From Venus, Men From Anus)