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Stupido.fiBoomhauer plays a range of music, from blues to garage rock to country and pop.
The annual showcase of Finnish bands, "News from Helsinki," takes place at Ikra on Thursday, featuring performances by Damn Seagulls, a punk-tinged, soul-rock sextet, The Winyls, a garage-rock five-piece and Boomhauer, a mixed-genre trio. These bands are characterized by their rock sound, which provokes a question that even the musicians struggle to answer: Is there such a thing as Finnish rock?

"It is hard for artists to detect the influence of traditional and folk music from their own culture in the pop and rock music they make," said Mikko Lappalainen, the drummer and spokesman for Boomhauer, in an interview this week.

Despite the event's name, Boomhauer does not come from Helsinki but from Turku, Finland's oldest and fifth-largest city in the southwest of the country. The trio, formed in 1997, also includes singer and guitarist Saku Krappala and bassist Marko Hongisto. On their web site they describe themselves "the mongrel seed of trashy garage rock, blues, country, punk and indie-pop."

"I really can't tell you what might be 'Finnish sounding' in Boomhauer's music," said Lappalainen. "Maybe the melancholic shades in our more melodic songs. And I'd like to think our singer-songwriter Saku's way of interpreting the blues is Finnish rural culture's version of this style of music."

Having picked up its name from a U.S. animated television show "King of The Hill," the members found the quirky humor of the character, Boomhauer, matched the band's spirit well. "Boomhauer is the weird neighbor of the show's main character," Lappalainen said. "The show is very funny, but in a very eccentric, dry way, and Boomhauer might be the most eccentric figure in the show. [This] fits us perfectly."

Boomhauer is not known just for its music, but also for its humor-filled performances. "It is both a good thing and a bad thing," said Lappalainen. "While it may make people remember the band, a lot of people don't want rock music to be played tongue in cheek ... I guess some people think we are messing with a serious thing."

Lappalainen, who also works as a teacher, said he joined the band because of his love for music. " I have always thought I am first and foremost a music fan, not a musician," he said. "That is why I don't really consider being a musician as a job. I am an English teacher by profession, and music is my passion and hobby. I like to keep it that way so that I don't have compromise my ideals about music that I play."

Lappalainen listened to a lot of music before he started playing twenty years ago. "My original influences as a drummer were hard rock and heavy metal of the '70s and '80s. However, the current range of my interests is much wider."

Boomhauer's only Russian foray was into Petrozavodsk, a city in Russian Republic of Karelia, where Finnish is the second official language, in 2005. "I guess we haven't really visited the heartland of the Russian Federation, as in Karelia some people understood us perfectly when we spoke in Finnish, so in a way it almost felt a little bit like home," Lappalainen said.

The band's latest album, "River Run Deep," was released last month and gives a good idea of what to expect at the concert. "I think it is our best album in the sense that it is a well-balanced whole and it sounds most like what the band sounds like at rehearsals or at live shows."

Boomhauer, The Winyls and Damn Seagulls perform Thurs. at 8 p.m. at Ikra, located at 8A Ulitsa Kazakova. Metro Kurskaya. Tel. 505-5351.