Embracing much of what was gloriously loud and fuzzy from rock & roll's past -- from Link Wray and the Sonics to the Stooges and the New York Dolls -- Finland's the Flaming Sideburns first got together in 1995 with the modest goal of "saving rock 'n' roll." Originally claiming to have passed through a time warp after opening for Little Richard in 1965, the Flaming Sideburns were comprised of five hardcore garage rock followers, most of whom had played in a variety of bands before forming the Sideburns. Guitarist Ski Williamson (aka Jukka Suksi) was a member of the Isebel's Pain, while fellow guitarist Jeffrey Lee Burns played with Teenage Kicks; both worked together in the band Bomber. Drummer Jay Burnside also held down time with the Lowdown Shakin' Chills, the Unhinged, and the Kowalskis, while singer Eduardo "Speedo" Martinez and bassist the Punisher were both relative newcomers.
The band made its recording debut with a pair of 7" singles in 1997, one on Denmark's Bad Afro Records label; the same outfit released the group's first 10" EP, 2000's It's Time to Testify, Brothers and Sisters, and their debut album, 2001's Hallelujah Rock 'n' Rollah. The band's growing popularity in Northern Europe (as well as frequent name checks by friends and fans the Hives and the Hellacopters) sparked the interest of American indie label Jetset, which gave the band its first full-length release in the States with 2002's Save Rock 'n' Roll (though the band's first U.S. release was actually a single for the garage-friendly Estrus label in 1999). 2002 also saw No Fun Records issue the raucous Live at Gearfest 2000, recorded at Finland's infamous garage rock blowout. After the unexpected success of the Hives in America and the United Kingdom in 2002, the Flaming Sideburns became one of several Scandinavian bands touted for breakthrough success, alongside Sahara Hotnights, the Sounds, and long-running scene veterans the Nomads and the Hellacopters. Their third full-length release, the stylistically diverse Sky Pilots, was released in the spring of 2003. When not busy with the Flaming Sideburns' schedule, Martinez, Williamson, and the Punisher play together in a side project, Jack Meatbeat & the Underground Society. ~ Mark Deming