Fr, 30.09.2022
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Villu Tamme: whippersnapper at fifty

Rivo Veski
, reporter
Villu Tamme: whippersnapper at fifty
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Photo: Karli Saul

Half a century under his belt, Villu’s still standing. Young at heart, ready to roll, joking the age away.

«Frightening like crazy... I exceedingly quake and tremble,» says the man, mulling on the looming jubilee.

Middle-aged? Villu would not say so. «Here’s how it is: the youth is gone, old age not here yet. The notion on middle age just clean passed me by. Still with wits of a whippersnapper, on the one hand; an old guy’s health, on the other.»

First Punk of Estonia, he has yet to lose all residue of rebellion. Still, there are things to be troubled about. «In my mind, I not all that rebellious any longer. Not quite a kid anymore; still, I’m not yet at peace with all that’s happening in this world of ours,» he admits.

For punk music in Estonia, Villu is not troubled. Being aware of his vital role in it, however. «Of course, one might imagine Estonian punk music without me as well... but, then, it’d be a bit lousy. But, provided the imagination, it could be done,» he ponders, adding that he feels quite niche in rock music of Estonia.

Punk the Timeless

For the glory days of punk music to return, he sees no other option that somebody invent the time machine, taking us back to 1970ies. «No other option. Even so, there’s the new expressions – like the hip hoppers taking up painful issues, with a lot better rhymes than the punks.»

Despite the changing times and the shortness of the punk-glory, Villu deems it a timeless genre. «This is a music not fashionable. And, the things not fashionable always have some audience. Fashion, however, lasts for some years and then loses all of its audience,» thinks Villu.

The timelessness of Estonian punk music, in the estimation of Villu, is in the new audience constantly added. «Without the youth, the audience would just keep shrinking up. Of the original listeners, a half has passed away long time ago. Soon, it would just be the band and the dead. But, provided the youth are coming... we can go on playing some 50 years more.»

For a contemporary youngster, the social criticism in J.M.K.E [Villu’s band – edit] texts may come across as weird; even so, this is not what Villu considers as most important with his music. «I’ll never look down on 13-years’old girls all enthusiastic at the stage. Main thing if they like what’s happening up there.»

Social criticism is also up to the channel it comes through. «Like Marco [a local strip «artist» – edit] did a really social song. I wonder if people now feel he is addressing them? I’m a bit like that also: somewhat of a clown... I may sing real social stuff, but it’s not necessarily that they feel addressed. Maybe they just come to behold the curiosity?» reflects the songwriter.

When it comes to Estonian rock landscape, this is considered «quite normal», by Villu. «Nothing the matter with it, as if. Nothing sensational lately, either. Quietly they do their thing, people come attend concerts, so why worry,» says he.

Of the rock bands around, Villu Tamme most esteems Psychoterror. «They’re the best in Estonia, for the past fifteen years, maybe more. Of the new ones, I know not any... It is very seldom that I find one that tickles mine ears. My latest discovery was Electrobation; they will be also performing at my jubilee, in Rock Café.»


At rock festivals, the fieriest fans line up in front rows, singing along by heart. «The other 80 per cent are somewhere at the back, hearing it for the first time. Maybe with Tere, perestroika it feels somewhat familiar...,» he says a bit indifferently, underlining he only does music for those it really kindles.

More than crowds at concerts, Villu is concerned for the globe. Ever green at heart, he is increasingly of the opinion the next generation will have nothing to eat/breathe. «Or, maybe some have, the rest will have to be killed off,» he considers, then continues laughing: «Well, this is stupid talk. Still, this is problem No 1 for the globe to continue. With life here no longer possible, the rest of the problems will cease anyway. With all OK, we may see about the rest; like which party to vote for...»

With politics, he’s totally fed up right now. «I only notice what happens to strike the eye. Like a Kross poster on trash can. But otherwise I don’t care. Should something go really badly wrong and some monstrosity come to power, requiring intervention, I think I would.»

The punk is unmoved by the situation in Tallinn, and the election results. «No difference for me it Tallinn is managed by Centre Party, Reform Party, IRL, whoever. None has so far proven, convincingly, to be better than the rest. Therefore, I see no need to participate in the inter-party fight.»

With musicians or actors joining parties and going into politics, Villu finds no fault – having himself formerly run as a green. «Let them go for it. It’s nothing like betraying anybody, swapping music for politics.»

As a musician, Villu makes no big plans for foreseeable future. «I’ll just keep going the same old way. Working at the album, a little bit; giving concerts. The album material is ready, for a year and a half, already... I haven’t been much of an organiser. Not willing to let anybody else do it, either.»

When it comes to the new music, Villu says it is a bit different. «Not jumping over my own shadow. I play as I can, compose as I can. More philosophy perhaps, looking inside. But I won’t be revealing too much, you know,» he says, asking us to wait and see.

A lifelong punk, the only other genre he would consider trying is jazz. «That would mean a new band. JAZZM.K.E.,» hints Villu.

Villu Tamme

•    Bands: Türann, SH Dispanser, Velikije Luki, J.M.K.E.

•    Author of dramatic play Haned võlgu, as well as books of verse Tuvi on tihane and Sorlimeki Plät

•    Former host of TV show Seitse vaprat

•    An esteemed crosswords compiler

•    Godfather for the most well known Estonian iris variety, bred at the end of 1980ies by Heino and Laine Lepiku, a shorter lilac iris Punkar Villu