Passing The Favour Back: Pekka From One Hidden Frame

One Hidden Frame – Lappeenranta, Finland

Passing The Favour Back: Pekka From One Hidden Frame

Passing The Favour Back: Pekka From One Hidden Frame. Now, if you’ve had anything to do with the European fast melodic Punk scene within the past inordinately fast twenty years, the name “One Hidden Frame” may well have sped past, enveloped or captivated your corporeal form in some way. Whether it is those very words or others entirely, One Hidden Frame’s high octane, evocative and socio-politically charged displays have become something of an underpin of the scene. Here, now and of course, fast, the band’s next full-length offering is rapidly hurtling towards release, stopping only to tease with its single releases. Now then, I would confidently say, is a good time to learn more.

I Am Not Here is set to release via the dynamic-duo known as Lockjaw Records in the UK and Europe and Thousand Island Records of Canada and on the American continent very soon. With the band now twenty years old this very “2” of the 2020 saga, I got talking to their primary voice box Pekka Multaharju. Onward, then: Passing The Favour Back: Pekka From One Hidden Frame.

As is tradition for Ear Nutrition interviews, let’s start with something slightly less serious. I’d like you to introduce yourself and what you do using as many previous One Hidden Frame song titles as possible.

Hi, I’m Pekka. I sing and play the guitar because that is a way to feel immortal. I try to find a balance so that I would feel that this is not the end. It’s just that there are endless choices in creating, you can go the wrong way and get stuck in quicksand. But what I’d rather say is that with music, sad thoughts, they disappear.

There you go, you wanted something “less serious” but that’s a hard thing to compile with the titles of our songs, hah!

I am incredibly happy that was a success. That was masterful!

Before we get on and most importantly, how have you been these past two years and how are you doing at the moment?

Well, here in Finland, I feel it hasn’t been that bad. We haven’t had REAL lockdowns that much, I guess because the population density is so low here. There’s a lot of room! And we keep a distance to each other even without pandemics, hah!

Personally, I’ve had no real problems with the virus, haven’t lost any close people or my job or anything. Touring with the band of course gets close to zero, which is annoying because it is the most fun thing to do. But that’s not the end of the world. We played maybe five shows during these years, which isn’t much, but one of them was in Slovenia at Punk Rock Holiday’s reduced capacity euro band version in August 2021. It was a small glimpse of normal times at the best festival location on the planet. It compensated a lot. And of course, we recorded the new album in early 2021.

Staying away from people? Finland sounds like my sort of country! In all seriousness, that’s good to hear. It’s been the opposite over here. We’ve had some normality regarding tours and such but now they are being cancelled again. I am both happy for you and envious about the PRH event!

I’m going to ask you more about the album more so shortly. For now, I wanted to ask you – How are you feeling about One Hidden Frame as it stands, nearly 20 years since its inception and thirteen years after ‘Giant Steps’?

Yeah, I hope this year the virus will calm down with its severity, at least there are some promising results about how it develops now. Belvedere should visit here this March, I’ve been on it as an organiser and we’ve been postponing it since May 2020. I’m really hoping this works out, but it is a tight one.

Yeah, this band had its first rehearsals in July 2002. A lot has changed since and not only the fact that I’m not an 18-year old anymore, hah! I see that this band has had a few different stages, the early years of 2002-2008 when we didn’t really tour outside Finland, then with ‘Giant Steps’ we went out in 2009 and found a new spark. That lead to some line-up changes during the next few years because of, well, you have kids and so on so there’s not a lot of time for sitting in a smelly van for two weeks, hah! So, a couple of members stepped aside. Even though there are a lot of years down with this band, I’d definitely say there’s still a lot of progress going on. The line-up now is motivated to go anywhere in the world and we are having a lot of fun.

One Hidden Frame - 'Giant Steps' (2009)
One Hidden Frame – ‘Giant Steps’ (2009)

I am also hoping to see Belvedere here twice in the coming months, so fingers crossed for us and all those involved! You’re only as old as you feel my friend and I’m sure most children of Punk would love to be taught the ways of the roadie should that happen again! 

Since ‘Giant Steps’ you’ve obviously had three other releases with the most recent being ‘Harmful Content’ and the split with Thousand Oaks keeping people (happily) satiated a year later. You’ve already mentioned that the new album was recorded in early 2021 but when did work on ‘I Am Not Here’ begin and when did the finished package make its way back to you?

The first song was made in June 2019, so it took two years from that for the whole package to reach the pressing plant. Actually the title song ‘I Am Not Here’ was made by our new bass player Vesa, so it is a bit older as it was taken from his archives and we thought it fits OHF well. This is actually the first time there are three people making songs, which is a good thing.

How have you found the process of making the album then, with more people contributing beyond playing?

While we’re on that subject. Outside of the obvious pandemic related issues, were there any obstacles during the process or similarly, did anything unexpected crop up at all in the playground of ‘I Am Not Here’? Both positively and negatively speaking.

Yeah before this new album, only ‘The Water Seems Inviting’ had two songs by Vesku, our other guitarist. ‘I Am Not here’ will have twelve tracks, of which seven are mine, three from Vesa and two from Vesku. Of course, there are some riffs here and there that were placed on others’ songs, but it has been refreshing and I hope it brings something new for the listeners.

I think we have thought out the arrangements more than ever, with everyone in the studio suggesting additional things. I’m pretty lazy on making the final touches when recording, so it is great that I’ve had more help from the other guys when I’m out of brain activity, hah! There are a couple of moments that are now goosebumped to the maximum because of them, I wouldn’t have had the patience alone, heh.

I think everything went smoothly though, I remember having more stress on the previous albums. We stayed on the schedule when recording. We were supposed to start recording in 2020 but it looked like it would be better to have the album out in 2022 rather than in 2021, so that turned out better in the end. That is funny by the way, that you said “the playground” because that is one of the song titles.

One Hidden Frame - 'The Water Seems Inviting' (2013)
One Hidden Frame – ‘The Water Seems Inviting’ (2013)

What can I say? I must be psychic. All those years of destroying my hearing with fast Punk have left me on a higher; frame.

If ‘I Am Not Here’ has been thought through the most compared to other OHF releases, why did you choose the singles you did?

Well, these days I’m not sure if people listen to albums as a whole, so we wanted first to put out tracks 1 and 2 as they are on the album. That way at least they come in the order we want, not just shooting separate singles from here and there.

‘Run To The Rescue With Love’ is a deeper cut into all our sides, having big guitars, fast parts, a catchy chorus and an epic ending, or at least that’s how we feel. So we thought that would work as an opening to the album, setting the mood right. ‘Information Blackout’ is to give an easier touch to the listener with a more simple song structure and a faster pace. ‘You Are Free To Go’ stands out with its less intense atmosphere, so it was an easy decision to give a more versatile feeling about the album. There are still two to come before the whole album is out, but let’s keep them as a secret for now.

You’re not the first person who has said that to me. There is a trend of “putting your best tracks at the top of your release” due to streaming services and such. Personally, though I use them and sites like bandcamp for example, due to my ever-increasing vinyl collection, I’m all about albums. There’s nothing like a well-organised track listing.

I was actually going to ask you if there were any tracks that you were keeping hidden for a reason or equally anything you wanted to hint towards but I’m not it’s worth asking that now. You’re good at this! So, with that in mind, as you have mentioned it, tell me and those reading this about the inspiration behind ‘Information Blackout’.

The lyrical theme for ‘Information Blackout’ is based on human rights groups reports of interviewed former detainees from internment camps in Xinjiang, China. Local ethnic groups, most famously Muslim Uyghurs, have faced torture and persecution in these mass imprisonment camps. Authorities have stated that these camps are created in the name of “re-education”. Sadly it has been widely reported that they contain systematic erasing of their culture and language.

I had a feeling that was the case. I don’t think enough people in the west were talking about that outside of the initial reports, despite them being as you say and it is also very sad and pretty clear how a lot of western attitudes fail at seeing the “bigger picture” on such abuses.

On that note, I’ve always found the lyrical displays from OHF very poignant and open. Is there anything from this album or in the past that you have found difficult to write? Outside of the latest single I mean.

Yeah, I think the USA recently signed a ban on products from that region, so that is a start. I’ve sat here for a while and thought of writing a bunch of stuff about the frustrating things in this world, but I think I’m gonna pass on that this time. The lyrical theme for the opening song on the new album is actually about this, that you shouldn’t take too much guilt on trying to save the whole world and burn yourself out. Start with smaller, better consumer decisions and go from there, be conscious that you’re doing at least something and maybe pass the idea to someone else. Just like if you have mental health issues, don’t be too hard on yourself and start with small goals to get your life control back, even if it was just, “today I will do the dishes for two minutes, and that is enough and that is alright”.

But yeah, I’ve had no problem writing about difficult stuff. I think that it is empowering and I hope it sticks to the listener as well. Music has helped me so it is kind of passing the favour back.

One Hidden Frame - 'Harmful Content' (2017)
One Hidden Frame – ‘Harmful Content’ (2017)

I really don’t think anyone can argue with that. Incremental change and self-care can still fight the good fight.

Do you have a personal favourite from ‘I Am Not Here’? And, to extend that, does the band as a unit all agree or do your choices differ?

If we’d go voting, the next song that comes out on February 15th* would probably be number one. It has such good energy. Actually, the energy levels are so high that even the song title ended up having a grammar error, hah! I personally would also mention the opening and the ending song of the album.

*’Watch For Your Head On The Way Out’ is out now and embedded in this interview later on. What a time to be alive!

I can feel the need for you to get ‘I Am Not Here’ out into the world. Was there anything you didn’t expect to be influenced by on this release or something that you’d say is perhaps less of a regular influence on your writing? Lyrically and musically.

This was a hard question. Musically, of course, I’ve lately enjoyed Covet, Svalbard and Choir Boy for example but I don’t feel that different to when I was sitting down and starting to compile riffs than I did 20 years ago.

Something I didn’t expect to be influenced by is the stupidity of people who live in their conspiracy theories of anti-5G, anti-science, QAnon nut-heads and flat-earthers. I think my favourite claim during these years has been the “there’s programmed worms in surgical masks that go into your brain”. And what was it, that things stick to you after vaccines because they make you magnetic? Hah! That requires some next level shit brains, it’s the best entertainment. Well, I guess this takes me to some of the recent lyrical influence then.

That mask conspiracy is actually an entirely new one to me and I am actually quite impressed, what an idiosyncratic two years this has been. I’d love to go back to university to study History again in the distant future and focus entirely on this period of humanity. It would be fascinating! I also feel we could rage about this for hours to each other but perhaps we should keep it on OHF, for now, anyway ha!

Back to it and with a question that is either going to be the easiest thing you’ve answered or the complete contrary. How do you think 18-year-old Pekka would feel having heard the final cut of ‘I Am Not Here’ for the first time? What would he say to you if you were present with him?

I think he would say ironically ‘wow, still at it?’, because he knows making this music will last for 20 years easily. Probably arrangement-wise, he would think there are some hired producers behind it, even though it is just us. But I feel he would be glad to hear that there’s still aggression and emotion to it. The present me would be tempted to show a festival poster from 2018 with us, Bad Religion, Adhesive, Satanic Surfers and No Fun At All. Then I would also let him know, that now that apparently time travel works, we will be skipping the years 2020-2021.

One Hidden Frame x Thousand Oaks - 'Antipodes' Split 7" (2018)
One Hidden Frame x Thousand Oaks – ‘Antipodes’ Split 7″ (2018)

It’s funny that you mention “time-travel” because the next question is entirely based on that. Enter this fictitious scenario:

The timelines collapse. Skate Punk and Melodic Hardcore never existed but you’re the only one aware of the past. In this alternate universe, you have the option to rebuild it, but you can only pick five bands to bring back into existence, who would they be? You may pick two of the “big names” and three smaller from the last ten years.

Oh yeah and I just realised that if we skip the years 2020-2021, there will be no album, the conversation with the 18-year old me and this interview doesn’t exist!

Ok, so the question, bands that have existed within the last 10 years? I will go with Propagandhi, Strike Anywhere, Coral Springs, Michael Circle and well, I have to include Adhesive, they did play quite a few shows so they count! This mix would make a good foundation.

If there was a fourth wall, I think it’s crumbling now, unlike that foundation, which is to me seems rather robust. Or does it? I don’t even know anymore. Perhaps, I am not here.

To pull us back to reality (yay), tell us why Punk in the first place? How did it work for you prior to the age where people will “add you”, say nothing and invite you to like their band page?

Everything probably started around 1994-95 when ‘Smash’ by The Offspring and Green Day‘s ‘Dookie’ became big. Around the same time, Bad Religion’s videos were played on a Finnish TV show and they really caught my ear as well. From an early memory, I remember I was 6 years old when I recorded Phil Collins’ ‘Another Day In Paradise’ from the radio to my cassette collection. It had a melancholic tone that appealed to me already back then, which feels weird now because if I saw a 6-year old wanting to listen to that I would think “is this kid alright?” hah! I probably didn’t at that time really consciously think about the theme of the song but the video was moving for a little me. I think later, similar things happened to me when I heard the Bad Religion lyrics: “this is just a punk rock song – written for the people who can see something’s wrong”. They seemed and looked determined about what they were saying, and you kind of just were dragged along like, “yeah, let’s make things right and march along to this!”

So, I found the side of Punk that had social equality and I was sold.

How did we find similar music then? There was this mainstream-ish music cd club, where my friend was a member. You could choose your favourite genres and they’d automatically send the latest releases. Kind of like Lockjaw does now with their vinyl club, it is a good concept! So back then, one time the package included No Fun At All’s ‘Out Of Bounds’ and Pennywise – ‘About Time’, so that was a big thing. All these records easily hooked me up in the genre and I guess I wasn’t the only one.

Later around 1997 I remember this music downloading software, maybe it was called Soulseek? It suggested some bands which I found through it, like Adhesive and Shai Hulud, who became very important in my world. I didn’t know people from my town who listened to this kind of music. So, I kind of stayed in my own bubble with this and just learned to play the guitar, though there was a scene already on the other side of the town.

So, there was a great live music scene in my home town Lappeenranta. Hardcore bands from USA came in and I guess the first show I went to was when All Out War and E-Town Concrete played in 1999. Shows were mostly Metallic Hardcore, which I did enjoy, but I wanted something melodic too. That style was around strongly in 1996-1998 but I didn’t have the courage to go to these shows, hah! In 2000 I saw the local legends’ new band Overdriven, which was super fast Skate Punk with great dual vocals. I decided I wanted to do something similar. I’ve uploaded their music to youtube by the way, in case someone is interested. They never released them anywhere.

I really love the stories of how people found their way to underground music and that’s why the ‘Turned Out A Punk’ podcast is great! It makes me wonder what will come out of music trends, when now for example Will Smith’s daughter Willow makes Pop-Punk with Travis Barker, hah! That is somehow really heart-warming and kind of plastic at the same time. It maybe doesn’t have anything to do with Punk music, but I do enjoy the thought of organic Rock music “coming back”. I don’t know, who really cares in the end what happens in their millionaire scene, hah!

We actually have a lot of the same mutual albums in common regarding taste! That’s actually really interesting, I’m the same as you in that I love hearing how fans and musicians got to where they are now. I actually interviewed Matt from Shai Hulud a couple of years ago for this site, it was great fun!

I suppose, saying “fuck it, I wanna make this now” is pretty Punk in its own way and if it makes people happy, why not?! That said, I can see the juxtaposition to a degree. Is there an album or two that to this day you still absorb and experience regularly?

I have a couple more for you, then we can put this chronicle to bed! But fast.

From those old albums, yeah, of course, they do get a spin every now and then. Especially at our yearly parties with the ‘Skate Punk association of Finland’, hah! We go to the cabin, blast old stuff from an old CD player and have some beers, quizzes and sauna, fun stuff! 

‘Skate Punk Association Of Finland’ might have to be the interview title! Though I’m sure I’ll think of something more relevant!

You’ve partially answered this already but still, however, is there anything you have been recently enjoying specifically? Within Finland and externally?

I could give a shout out to the Finnish bands that can be categorized within the Skate Punk scene: P.T.K (Part Time Killer), Bucket, Teresa Banks, Knullburken, Neverlearn, Kuritus, Suntrace, Wedgie, Strum 101, Lowlife Hero and Blossom Hill! Wow, that’s quite a ot actually. We do have a nice scene here! The third edition of our HKI SKEPU FEST is set to be held this April, a week after Manchester Punk Festival. So let’s answer that I’ve enjoyed the Finnish scene a lot these recent years.

Some names I know, others I don’t. Thanks for that.

So, now it is time for another EN interview tradition: If you were to make a sampler for a new listener to One Hidden Frame. What tracks would you choose to show people what the band is about?

You may choose five tracks. Only two of them can be from ‘I Am Not Here’.

Alright, this was easier than I thought:

  1. ‘Exploding Head Syndrome’
  2. ‘Watch For Your Head On The Way Out’
  3. ‘The Firewood Of Bentiu’
  4. ‘Cynic Stomp’
  5. ‘Run To The Rescue With Love’

Ok, if it was that easy, tell me why you chose those?

  1. ‘Exploding Head Syndrome’ (For easily being our most listened to song, so it must not be bad I guess?)
  2. ‘Watch For Your Head On The Way Out’ (This and Firewood have similar intensity and atmosphere, they represent exactly the right feeling for me especially at shows)
  3. ‘The Firewood Of Bentiu’
  4. ‘Cynic Stomp’ (We do have an easier side so catchy mid-tempo material works to give more variety)
  5. ‘Run To The Rescue With Love’ (This, like I said earlier, is a good overall cut into our world having different parts in it)
One Hidden Frame - 'I Am Not Here'
One Hidden Frame – ‘I Am Not Here’ (2022)

I need to consider harder questions.

So, to finish off, why the name ‘One Hidden Frame’, what is the story behind it and what is next for you all?

The name refers to the movie ‘Fight Club’, where the character played by Brad Pitt is working in a movie theatre, and just because he is bored of the job, he inserts single, let’s say inappropriate frames that just flash quickly for the viewer. So they are not sure if they saw something but are affected by it anyway. So in a way, like in advertisements, we get affected by them even if we think we don’t.

(The scene: Here)

Next for us? We were about to have our first shows outside Europe in 2020 before everything went to shit, so I hope we can continue pushing to play more countries soon with the new album!

One Hidden Frame

Well, I wish you the best of luck with those and hopefully, I’ll see you at a show at some point soon and please, do let me know when the next meeting of the ‘Skate Punk Association of Finland’ is and I will be sure to bring beer.

Thanks for your time, Pekka, it’s been fun! Do you have any words of wisdom to end on?

Thanks a lot, this was fun! I hope to meet you in Manchester this April! Final words are: fuck racists, misogyny, harassers and homo/transphobes. They seem to exist in our “scene” too, so intervene somehow if you see this kind of action. Trust the science, get jabbed if you can. Let’s start living along with the virus and not overcrowd the hospitals by being selfish.

Well, that was “Passing The Favour Back: Pekka From One Hidden Frame”. I Am Not Here, the latest from One Hidden Frame is set to release very soon by the aforementioned double-act, Lockjaw Records and Thousand Islands Records. More is en route. But fast.

Find the labels, all things One Hidden Frame and the pre-orders below! April 8th is the day!


Founder of Ear Nutrition, Matt is sadly over 30 and first cut his words writing for the now defunct site, Musically Fresh. He enjoys a variety of guitar-driven music but can usually be found navigating a web of Skate Punk, Hardcore and everything in between.