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'The Punk Syndrome' co-director and cast discuss their SXSW-winning documentary

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Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/AP

(Read caption) Attendees of the South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals, where 'The Punk Syndrome' won the SXGlobal Audience Award, wait in line for events.

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One-on-Three interview with J-P Passi, Sami Helle, and Toni Välitalo: The Punk Syndrome – Winner, SXGlobal Audience Award

J-P Passi, co-director, The Punk Syndrome
Sami Helle, bassist, Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day
Toni Välitalo, drummer, Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day

Erin: My first question is for J-P. What compelled you to make a movie about this band?

J-P Passi: The anarchy of the guys. We have two directors, and the other one saw them on TV on a news program. It was a news flash on the band, who were still in the very early stages of their career.

Sami Helle: Four years ago.

J-P Passi: He told me about the band and asked if I would be interested.

Erin (to Sami): How did you guys get together, and what made you want to form a band?

Sami: It was Pertti, our guitar player. He has been a punk rock freak for 30 years. Of course, we just do the music. He said, “Okay, let’s just put a band together,” then we did that. Three guys, me, Toni, Kari, then Pertti started this band, and in 2010, there was a movie called A Little Respect, a Finnish movie. That movie needed a song. So the song was in that movie, and the rest is history.

Erin: It sounds like you guys ascended very quickly.

Sami: It was quick. It came really quickly.

J-P: They have a really long history together. They were already working in that direction.

Sami: We’d known each other for a long time, and so far, so good to be together.

Erin: How do you guys come up with ideas to write songs?

Sami: It’s the other guys who write the songs.

Erin: You just play them.

Sami: Yeah, basically I have no say about the songs! (Laughs.) It’s Pertti who makes the songs. The message is [usually] what’s wrong with the world today, and about their lives.

Erin: So the music comes from the lives you lead, and your frustrations.


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