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a.k.a. “The Great Petander”

by Andy Long


A couple of months ago I went to a very special gig in London.  It was the debut solo gig for Chapman Stick player Nick Beggs, in which he showcased some of the material from his album, ‘Stick Insect’.   His fantastic set also marked another debut, the first British gig for the support act, the Finnish multi-instrumentalist and solo performer Petander

In his home country of Finland, Petander is something of a household name, having been a full-time bassist for one of the country’s leading bands as well as having an extensive discography of work with artists such as Popeda, Yo and Kari Peitsamon Skootteri.   

These may not be names that the rest of the world is familiar with but that’s mostly because Finnish bands almost always perform in their native language, subsequently they don’t necessarily travel well. 

Petander had decided it was time to expand his horizons in two ways, first by becoming a solo artist and recording his own albums and secondly by switching to singing in English.  I met up with him after the show and began by asking him why the time was right for such a radical move. 

“I realized that there’s a composer in me,” he began.  “I  keep ending up with all this material all the time, it just kept coming and I realized that I’ve got to do this myself, there’s just no other way.  If you’re in a band it’s always quite limited somehow, and as I play almost every instrument, I just decided to do this now.  In Finland wherever I go, people know me.  Now that I’m singing in English, it doesn’t make any sense to them. They believe that if you are from Finland you should just sing in the Finnish language.” 

“My first real bass-playing gig for example, it was very funny,”  he said, with a chuckle.  “I had just been on holiday for about a year and a half in New York and Brazil, just travelling wherever Summer was.  When I got back I didn’t really know what I wanted to do next.  This friend of mine was in a really big band and they were having trouble with their bass player. At one point  he just said “Goodbye’ and with a  tour coming up my friend said that they needed a bass player. He asked if I wanted to join and I had nothing else to do.  Things like that have happened to me all the time.   

I am definitely not going to join any band now at least for a couple of years just so I can concentrate on all this unfinished work.  One band that I played bass with ended up touring for five years. I ended up playing all of the instruments on their albums as well.  Because I like to change instruments sometimes, it’s quite creative.  I think that’s typical for a composer.” 

Petander will be working on his solo album for the next few months at his home in the forests of Finland.  Although he hails originally from the countryside he has spent most of his working life living and playing in cities. So when the time came to return to more pastoral settings,  his musical associates found it very strange. 

“Oh yes, that was the point when I was officially declared a madman. When I finally moved to the Finnish countryside.  I had moved away when I was around eighteen because it looked like I wasn’t going to get any professional work.  But now I’ve had my cities, I’ve been all over. So now I live in the middle of nowhere. You’re completely independent, it doesn’t matter what time it is, you work when you feel like it.  

I’ve been recording on hard disk for more than ten years, so it’s possible to work on a million things at the same time.  Technology is so funny these days, on the album there might be a bass track that I played ten years ago and on the same song there could be a guitar that I will pick up and play tomorrow.” 

A few of the songs for the album have already been demo’d . There is quite a variety of feeling and style within the album, from hard rock through to acoustic ballads,  it runs the gamut. I asked him what direction the album was likely to take predominantly. 

“I think both directions, we still have to work on that a little bit.  I know I may look like a heavy metal guy but to combine my own personality with my music would be mostly both things and that’s where I am at.  I can play Brazilian stuff or an Eddie Van Halen trip, no problem, or even Jaco or whatever and it’s not a problem.  On the other hand that’s what gave me a lot of work.” 

In reference to heavy metal I found it interesting that Finnish magazines had drawn comparisons to Slash of Guns `n Roses. Fair enough, take a look at the guy!  But what about musically?  Petander just laughs it off…


“Well if you’re talking about guitar playing all it takes is curly hair and a Les Paul and then you go Woo-ooo-ooo! and pose. So what about basses then?  Petander has had a lot of bass gigs over the years, and after all,  this is a bass mag, remember?  Let’s get some basses in there!  He tells me the story of how he got his favourite bass… 

“I was in Rio De Janeiro for the third time in a year, almost ten years ago and met all these musicians that were there. I took some percussion lessons and I met this man called Joao Gravina, who lives in Rio.  I just went to his place as a guest with some friends, I didn’t even know he was a bass maker.   

We had dinner and some wine, then we went to another room and it was full of basses, hand-made basses that he builds. He really knew what he was doing.  I’ve still got that one.  It sounds really nice to say I’m playing a handmade Brazilian bass, that’s the truth, it can even handle the Finnish climate quite well. You have to adjust it somewhat for winter and summer conditions, but that’s all. 

I’ve also got a Carvin five string fretless that I like a lot. I used to endorse Carvin so I got it made just the way I wanted it. 

One of the songs that will definitely feature on the forthcoming album is a poem, written by Nick Beggs and set to music by Petander.  The poem is called “If” and was written in memory of Nick’s friend Kevin Wilkinson, a drummer who worked with such names as China Crisis, Robert Fripp and Howard Jones.  (Kevin took his own life in 1999.) Petander tells me the song is almost completed but he really wants Nick to approve the final version before doing anything with it. 

As a final insight into Petander’s rural Finnish lifestyle it’s worth mentioning that he is Vice-President of a local hunting club.  Finland has a huge moose population and there is sometimes a need for a cull to keep numbers within a manageable level.  Last year eleven people were killed in car accidents when they struck moose.  

Petander told me.  “I’ve been training dogs for three years now and it’s a lot of work, especially when you're doing a hundred gigs a year, which means you’re out of your home for two hundred days. Try to train a dog then!  A couple of years ago it got really crazy.   

On the weekends you get up at 4.00 a.m. and spend all day hunting. You jump in the car around six, drive somewhere, play a show till midnight, jump back in the car, drive home, spend all the next day in the woods again and then drive somewhere else.  Imagine the third day!  You don’t get any sleep at all, which means you can’t really see anymore. I realized that it was like, “Hey I don’t want to do this, but which one am I going to quit?  So now that I am working on my solo project my life is a lot easier!” 

Andy Long is our correspondent in the U.K. and the author of numerous articles in Global Bass for a number of issues. Andy will be continuing over 2001 with a series of interesting and provocative interviews with some of the UK's best and brightest bass players. 

Check out his official website at Third Bass






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