Marko on Yle Half Past Six, 29th September 2016

Original video at Yle areena. Available for viewing also outside Finland, for one year after publishing.

00:30 – 03:10
Mikko: We’ve got Marko Saaresto from Poets of the Fall as our guest tonight! Welcome.
Marko: Hello, hello.
Susanna: This could also be an air guitar, I just realized.
Marko: Or a mic stand, it’s just the right hight for me.
Susanna: That’s more fun!
Mikko: Your band name in Finnish is ‘Syksyn runoilijat’ [poets of autumn].
Marko: Among other meanings, yes.
Mikko: How does this kind of autumn thing suit you?
Marko: It’s very nice, especially when we don’t have more leaves than this.
Susanna: Are you very much into… You said you want to do a meticulous result when you clean.
Marko: Yes, and sometimes I have raked really enormous areas in some housing building joint effort voluntary work. It actually gives satisfaction when you have done the work, and that big area is completely clean. I don’t know why, but anyway.
Susanna: Is it because when you do creative work, then for once you achieve something concrete?
Marko: That’s exactly what it’s about.

Mikko: How does autumn as a season inspire you?
Marko: It’s true that autumn is an inspirational time of year. The colors change, the mood changes, evenings get darker. Evenings are a great time for making music when things quiet down and it gets dark and the night is approaching. You get into the vibe.
Susanna: And when it rains.
Marko: Yes, when it rains, your breath comes out as vapor, and the apples are at their best. The moment when you put your fingerless gloves on, buy a coffee and walk to the studio.
Susanna: So it is romantic.
Marko: There’s all kinds of silly and funny nonsense.
Susanna: So how about a sunny summer’s day?
Marko: Of course that’s when you lie in a hammock and drink sangria, so…
Mikko: Are all seasons important in an artist’s scope?
Marko: Yes, they are. I just talked to a journalist about the new album, and they made a brilliant observation that the new album is like four seasons in one disc. So apparently it is an important part, and essential.
Susanna: Is it alright if I make an angel?
Mikko: Sure go ahead. Why don’t we get the help of modern technology and…
Susanna: Ack, help! You’re going to ruin my hair!
Susanna: Autumn is coming, and with that the deer flies. We’ll go and hunt them the next.

Parts of 06:50 – 10:23
Guest: …according to studies, black is the color that lures the deer flies the most, while they try to avoid white clothing.
Mikko: The man in black…
Marko: I think this is some kind of a subconscious thing… Deer flies in the city, stay away.
Guest: It’s known that an elk can have up to 10 000 deer flies.
Marko: How do you even see the elk?
Guest: There are no studies, but I would imagine that it can cause some kind of a stress for the elks.
Susanna: Therapy would be needed.
Marko: If I think for myself, I get stressed even from just one, so to think of it in 10 000…
Guest: A deer fly tries to find a target that is big, dark and moving. So maybe you shouldn’t go into the woods in those clothes.
Susanna: You’ve done rock climbing. Have you ever come across 10 000 deer flies during that?
Marko: Maybe not 10 000 but I’ve come across all kinds of bugs, deer flies too. And when you’re up in a few dozen meters, holding on with your fingertips and toes, and then you get the crawlies… You want to go up really fast or you’ll be coming down even faster and that won’t be nice.
Guest: Do you have any tips on how to get it squashed? What’s your experience?
Marko: I haven’t tried to squash them, I aim at not killing any living things. But if you can press it down you can stop it from moving, and then you can pick if off from your skin and just throw it far away.
Mikko: In harmony with nature, catch and release.

13:45 – 21:20
Mikko: Marko, you did quite a guru-like thing about 13 years ago. You gave up a successful marketing business, you sold your apartment and your car, and did you also move in with your parents?
Marko: I did.
Mikko: All you had you invested into a career in music. Now anyone can say it was worth it, but did it chill you at all to throw yourself into it like that?
Marko: It did give me chills, for a long time. But even from the start you understood it was worth it to do something you really wanted to do.
Susanna: It’s often talked about that people should just dare throw themselves into things. What gave you the faith and kept it going?
Marko: It’s funny, there was a book with a sentence “You won’t starve”. I think at that point I had enough to be on the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy. To have food to keep me alive, so that I could at least try to do something I really wanted. Whether it would be a success or a failure. And I still have that mentality, that I don’t care how it’s going to turn out. I’ll just do it and see what happens. Of course I have hopes and goals. But they’re not pre-definitions of how something is supposed to go.
Mikko: For real, is it just that one powerful sentence that made you believe that you could do it?
Marko: Yes. Of course in the background I read a lot about the subject of how people have had the courage to throw themselves into things like this and how they ended up. But after I read a few books on that topic, I decided that at some point you have to actually do something to see if the theory works. And in the middle of the book there was that sentence. That made me think that maybe I can really go and try for myself. It was the thing that made the small change, that little snap in the head that made the “ding” sound. I could try it out.

Susanna: Can you still make decisions like this in the middle of everyday life? That you can throw yourself in. Or what did it teach you?
Marko: It taught me that for as long as there’s breath in your body, you have chances. On our previous album there was a song named Choice Millionaire, which speaks about this. The world is a huge place full of possibilities. All you have to do is to decide what you want to do with your time. I think that’s what I live by. There are some days when I feel like I can’t do anything and I’m good for nothing and I’d never start doing anything from the beginning again. Those are just passing phases, and the next day or in a different situation you may feel completely different. And the thing you can learn from it is that when you start doing something, and at some point it may feel numbing or you don’t have the energy for it anymore, it’s still going somewhere if you just keep going.
Mikko: Oh goodness, what a guru you are. So inspiring, and I hope I would dare too.
Marko: I hope so, but I’m not really seeking to be in a position of a guru.
Mikko: Just throw yourself in. And Poets of the Fall will throw themselves in tomorrow when they get on stage at Helsinki Ice Hall as the headliner.
Susanna: The band has been working on the new album for two years now, and from that album we have a sample for you, from a song called Drama for Life.

Mikko: So, tomorrow you’re starting the tour.
Susanna: A world tour.
Mikko: A world tour!
Marko: Yes, well… how to put it. For now we’re going to Europe and Asia. We’re not going to America at this point yet, so you can’t really say world tour…
Susanna: You don’t know yet!
Marko: It’s true, we don’t know yet. We’ve published the first leg of our tour and we’ve had a lot of talk about going to try out the American market as well. We’ve been there once, but… I have no idea about what’s coming next.
Susanna: You should put all in once again and go live at your mom’s basement because you’re in for a world tour.
Marko: Oh yeah.
Susanna: Is there any country that tickles you the most? You’ve been everywhere by now, but is there anything specific?
Marko: I wish our break in the UK would continue and spread, that tickles me very much. And there are countries we haven’t been to yet, and they would be great. For example I’ve visited Dublin many times, I have friends there, so I’m always hoping for a gig in Dublin for our tour. Cos right now my friends are saying “well, we could come to Glasgow” and I’m like “we’ll see what happens”. If we could squeeze something in there. I saw this pencil drawn booking list at the beginning of the year, there was Belfast and Dublin and now they’re not included. So I don’t know what’s going to happen with them.
Susanna: And it’s all world class stuff, you have meet&greet events with fans. What’s your take on them these days? Or at the beginning?
Marko: At first… Everything was new and exciting, but then you got used to it and realized how much fun it is to meet people who come to our gigs and listen to our music. Like who they are, why do they listen to our music and what kinds of experiences they have and so on. People usually have a lot to tell, they have a lot of questions, and it gives a nice energy boost for the gig.

Mikko: No matter where in the world you go, there’s something that travels with you.
Marko: Yeah.
Mikko: It also accompanied you to Half Past Six studio, so… Tell us about it.
Marko: This is a nap quilt, my mom made it.
Susanna: Nooo.
Marko: And when you leave home for a long time, of course you want to have something with you that reminds you of home. Some journalist in Russia asked me why I always have these rags with me. I said that I’m like Linus from Peanuts, I have to have this comfort rag with me to feel safe. I guess it could also be a dog, but it’s this.
Susanna: Sympathetic. Your tour mode is that you lead a pretty healthy lifestyle on tour. Apparently it’s necessary so that you can do a tour of that length.
Marko: Yes, we sometimes have many gigs in a row day after day, so it’s physically taxing. On top of it you travel a lot, you sleep every night or day in a different place, in a different time zone. It can be a plane, it can be a train, it can be a hotel, it can be a tour bus. So, if you don’t take care of eating and drinking at regular intervals and of getting enough sleep… Sleep especially is important to me. A singer’s body doesn’t function very well if you constantly miss out on sleep.
Susanna: Luckily you have the nap quilt.
Mikko: Marko is a health-minded musician who doesn’t drink excessively, but venue backstages have seen all drinks imaginable. Beer, booze and home-made of all sorts flowing like a river.
Susanna: For sure. The gossip about bands’ venue riders are colorful. The truth however is even more amazing than the stories. Oh, I dropped my mic.

25:20 – end
Mikko: Marko has graduated as an acupuncturist a couple of years ago.
Marko: Yes, I have.
Susanna: I think you have your needles with you. Can we try?
Marko: Of course!
Mikko: Which one of us? The winner?
Susanna: Yeah.
Mikko: One, two, three. I won!
Marko: Welcome.
Mikko: Great.
Marko: To needle therapy.
Mikko: Needle therapy?
Susanna: My scissors lost, eh?
Mikko: Scissors lose to rock, don’t they?
Marko: You can just sit there, that’s fine. If you just lift up your sleeve a little bit, and we’ll do a very simple basic treatment. I’ll use just one needle so no-one gets a panic attack on this live broadcast. Usually when a person comes in for treatment, we’ll start by building up a person’s physical condition and energy levels. And if a person has some specific health problems, in time you can move in deeper into the energetic field by acupuncture and remove pathogens, or problems.
Mikko: Yeah.
Marko: And then… This is a bit like gardening compared to car mechanics. This is very easy.

Susanna: Where are you going to put the needle?
Marko: We’ll put it there. It’s a spot called lung 9. It feeds our energy very efficiently. And this is very easy. I promise it won’t hurt much.
Susanna: Ok, lung 9.
Mikko: Will you hold my other hand?
Marko: Yeah, take his other hand.
Susanna: Your pulse is racing.
Mikko: I’m sure it is.
Marko: It’s the transmission, it’s not this acupuncture at all.
Susanna: You’ve been doing this for 8 years.
Mikko: It doesn’t feel bad at all. No. Well, it pinches a little bit.
Marko: It’s supposed to give a small nip.
Mikko: Now it doesn’t feel like anything anymore.
Marko: It’s in place now. And now if it stays there for 21 minutes so it has time to go around your whole meridian system and give the effect that it’s hopefully supposed to give. So basically I’m just re-charging your batteries a little now.
Mikko: Alright.
Marko: So that you can calm down a bit.
Mikko (to Susanna): I noticed that I’m squeezing your hand pretty tight!
Marko: The energy will move on to you too that way.
Susanna: Can you do these treatments for yourself, during the tour or something?
Marko: Actually yes. I always have the needles with me. I might use them to treat a migraine or restlessness or sleeplessness.
Susanna: That’s awesome.
Mikko: So now I’ll just stay here for 20 minutes?
Marko: Yes.

Susanna: So if you have trouble sleeping, you can just lie down there now. We’ll come back tomorrow and Suvi Teräsniska [Finnish musician] is going to be our guest. You can stay and rest here.
Mikko: I guess that’s all there is to it then.
Susanna: Marko is off to band rehearsal, they have a big gig tomorrow.
Marko: Yes, I’m off to sing a bit.
Susanna (to Mikko): Well why don’t I go with Marko and you can stay and rest here.
Marko: It was so good to see you, and have a good night.
Mikko: Have a great tour.
Susanna: Have a good night, and send greetings to someone.
Mikko: What, no. You send greetings. Bye bye.


Marko and Olli on YLE Radio Puhe, 27th September 2016.

Original audio in Finnish can be found here: YLE Radio Puhe

Matti: Let’s start with a short history, just a quick summary. Four gold albums, two platinum albums, several Emma awards, and awarded music videos. The history of Poets of the Fall is full of milestones, and we’ll get more this Friday when the band releases their 7th album. At the same time the band’s biggest live tour starts. Welcome to our broadcast Marko Saaresto and Olli Tukiainen.
Marko: Thank you.
Olli: Thank you.
Matti: The fathers of this band, I guess one could say.
Marko: Daddy, daddy. [laughs]
Matti: The band with two daddies. But you guys started the whole thing.
Marko: Yes, we probably did get it started. Markus joined in very soon though, to continue the work. Olli and I had been working on some songs already, and during the writing of Late Goodbye we found our Mr. Captain to join our team and with that close encounter of the third kind we made some good progress on things.

Matti: Now that Clearview is coming out this Friday, do you have a clear view about things now?
Marko: That’s the goal at least, let’s say. It’s a concept that changes from day to day, on some days things look clearer than on other days.
Matti: How is the band’s future looking like?
Marko: Busy.
Olli: Yes, very busy. Especially right now. There isn’t much time to think of anything else except what we’re having the next day, barely. And how to get through it. But on the other hand it’s all pretty exciting, the tour is going to start and the album is finally coming out and… We get to move on.
Marko: We’ve been working on that album for a really long time, so… It’s kind of a St. Isaac’s Cathedral in that sense.
Matti: And like I said, it’s your 7th album, and the tour that follows. It’s not your first time at this. Is it not possible to learn how this stretch of time is going to be like? To remember that it’s really hectic a week before album release?
Marko: Well, you do learn it. You know what it’s going to be like, the whole cycle of it. I actually hope I wouldn’t learn it because then it would be new every time, and that’s a charm in itself. New things can drive you on, and you relish the discoveries. It sweeps you on and you can sink yourself into it.

Matti: How about the creative work? Is the pain of creating lessened any, or is it still as hard as it was 10 years ago?
Marko: What would you say?
Olli: Hmm, well… It’s a good question. In some ways you’ve learned about it, about writing songs and so on. But then these kinds of problems arrive… Like “but I’ve done this before, a million times, can I still do it again?”. And it’s always just as much work to get a song from the first version to a finished one. It really takes so much work to make all the pieces fit together just right. I don’t think we’ve ever had problems with creating, we get a lot of ideas.
Marko: Yes, we do.
Olli: But it’s wrapping the whole thing up that is a lot of work and there’s no way to avoid it.
Marko: And you can’t predict it beforehand. You have an idea and a song, and it can be a pretty thought out thing. But when you really start working on it, it can lead to all kinds of dead ends and knots and labyrinths and then you wonder how to put it together when something doesn’t fit at all. We’ve had songs that sometimes sit in the desk drawer for the duration of three other albums, and then 4-5 years later we realize how we’re supposed to do it. And it’s the same story with every album. If we have about 20-30 songs for the album and we know we’re going to pick about 10-12 to be on that album, then there are at least 3-5 songs in there that we didn’t pick just because we don’t yet know how they’re supposed to be done. The others are probably just waiting for some other context and there are reasons why they weren’t well suited for this particular album.
Matti: But that’s a very positive problem to have.
Marko: Yes, it’s positive in a sense that there’s plenty of material available for later times.

Matti: Even though you are quite the self-made band, you like doing a lot of things by yourselves, you looked for an outside producer for this album. Stefan Boman, he’s made his career with Kent mostly, and with other Swedish bands like Hellacopters. But also with international acts like Backstreet Boys. How did you end up collaborating with Stefan?
Olli: It kind of came from having connection. We knew someone who knew someone who knew Stefan Boman.
Marko: Six degrees to Kevin Bacon.
Olli: Yes! When someone knows someone, then you just get in contact. You tell your story and then you start negotiating. Stefan came to visit us in Finland, we sat down and made some small talk and figured that it might be fun. There wasn’t much more to it than that. It’s his work. We slammed the money on the counter and started working.
Matti: He just comes for a visit when you call him.
Olli: But I have to say that it was the first meeting when something clicked and we realized we’re going to get along with him… and hopefully vice versa.
Marko: It’s important, getting along. And to agree on how to work together. And when Stefan came along it all just felt natural.
Matti: So what did the Swedish back-up bring with him to the process of making a new album?
Marko: Very clearly a new and different kind of view on how the new songs should be made and how they turn out good and play well. Sometimes we felt like the solutions, after all the debates between us all… Stefan listened to us, made his own conclusions and sometimes just told us that “now we’re doing this in this way”. And at times we wondered what he’s even thinking or what he’s after. But when you got in tune with what he had in mind, you realized that there’s something new in that, and it’s pretty cool. And it was something we could learn from. Great sense of style, brilliant sense of humor, so… there’s a lot to learn just from that.
Matti: Did you ever hear the “trust me, I know what I’m doing”?
Marko: Oh yes!
Olli: Absolutely!
Matti: MacGyver quote…
Marko: It was worth it though. We had discussed amongst ourselves to give him a chance. We have some strong-minded people with their own views, people who want to do things on their own. So we kind of wanted to keep hands off and give him a chance. And I think we did well in that sense. I think I only gave an absolute “no” just once during the making of this album. But that one was truly an absolute.

Matti: Aki Tykki from Happoradio once said that even though you think you’ve done a completely different kind of song, when the audience hears it they have comments like “it’s clearly recognizable as this band, familiar sound”. Did you have goals to do something completely new and different from the previous POTF?
Marko: Maybe in a sense that when you do something for a long time, you want to renew things for yourself, for maintaining your own interest in what you do. And when you have a lot of cooks making the soup, everyone has their own opinions about it, whether or not we should renew ourselves. But the starting point was to make this album sound like we sound. But also to bring something new into it, new vibe, new perspective. I think we succeeded and the album turned out quite well especially because we had Stefan Boman working on it. Otherwise we probably would have done things the way we’ve been doing them for a long time.
Olli: Yes, that’s probably the biggest reform, and the most obvious one. It sounds a bit different to my own ears. We actually had chosen 10 songs before Stefan joined in and were offering him that package.
Marko: But he made us work on more songs.
Olli: Yes, and the big picture changed.
Marko: It changed a lot, I had my whole concept thought out at that point, and I had to do a complete re-write after this whole thing started. I was in deep trouble with it at some point. But I think that when you’re making an album, and when you’re a band, there’s no point in offering something so different every time that you don’t even recognize the band from it. And as a singer, my body is my instrument and it sounds the way it does. You can get different nuances, but if you have a recognizable voice then you can have anything in the background, like banging a tambourine, scream, jump on cardboard boxes, and record cat meows… But when that recognizable voice appears, anyone can say that it’s a different or interesting song, but the band is recognizable.
Matti: Or is this Marko’s solo album?
Marko: Yeah, yeah. But it’s in some way a part of a band to be recognizable. The whole package.

Matti: Poets of the Fall turned 13 this year, and when you think of a Finnish band making music in English, it’s an old age. A lot of bands from the same starting year as you, they have packed their bags long ago. What’s the secret of your old age?
Marko: A strong tenacity.
Olli: And we’ve gotten along with each other.
Matti: You’re basically in it together.
Marko: And that’s where the tenacity is needed.
Matti: A lot of times you hear that long breaks are the trick.
Marko: We haven’t pulled that off. The longest breaks we’ve had are two weeks or so. “I’m off to a holiday in the Canary Islands. Don’t call me. Bye.”
Olli: And still someone sends you a text.
Marko: “Where did you put the single materials?!” Yeah.
Olli: No, we probably just work very intensely. Now that there’s this dynamics between the three of us, then… It’s pretty clear that when you work together day to day, you have to face each other pretty directly. And so far we’ve managed to get through our own crises quite well and to work things out together. And when you add the whole band to it, 6 guys, the manager and all that, then there’s a lot to go over. But as long as you have the stamina to go over all those things, sit down for a moment and listen for a bit too, then you can go a long way. And I think that making music together has always been a fun thing for us all.
Marko: And as a starting point, when you do something, and keep doing it, it’s going to lead somewhere. You can’t define where it’s going to lead, you can only hope, but with us it has lead to the fact that we’re still here. Just by doing the music that is important for all of us. And of course you hope that it’s going to stay that way, as the driving force.
Matti: This sounded like after the band you could all start a conflict management office.
Olli: Definitely.
Matti: Compete with Martti Ahtisaari.
Marko: Suits me.
Matti: “We managed to keep Poets of the Fall going for that many years, we can surely solve your arguments too.” I’m sure there’s one thing that has helped you over the years is your fans. Marko and Olli, what kind of concrete help have you received from fans?
Marko: This is really concrete. Sometimes when you have days that you feel like you’re not good for anything, like “I don’t know anything, I’m stupid”, then by reading comments from fans or by talking to some fans or by listening to their stories about what our music has given to them, it makes you feel like you haven’t done all of it for no purpose. And maybe I’m not so stupid after all.

Matti: If I understand right, then from your fans you’ve found professional people too, like photographers and so…
Marko: We have, yes. Professionals from different fields. Musicians, artists, everything possible.
Olli: Yes, and of course you can think that every single fan is very important. But we’ve had cases like our first gig in India, it was organized by a fan.
Marko: Originally yes.
Olli: From start to finish. And of course we had our then manager there to help and all kinds of people helping out, but that’s how it started, he decided that this band will come to India. And it worked out well considering the circumstances.
Matti: This is so interesting, stadium size concerts in India. And it’s not really the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about exporting music. What kind of vibe was it, at a festival in India?
Marko: What can I say… At first I was going to say it was chaotic, but when I think about festivals in Finland, it’s exactly the same in here.
Matti: They do it without the booze.
Marko: Yes, they probably do it without that, although for example Kingfisher festival was an alcohol financed festival, but… Just like in Finland, and very warm.
Matti: Do you have any idea how your music ended up in India in the first place?
Marko: I think that originally it started in university circles. And because universities in India are very networked communities, so once it started in one of them it spread out to others. So in a way there’s a specific age group in India that has been sort of Poets of the Fall baptized. First it became a phenomenon and then it spread further into the society of that country. This is how we understand that it happened.
Olli: I also think that Max Payne 2 game had a big impact on it. And the things we did after that. Wasn’t it… The first university we visited was IT, right?
Marko: Yes it was.
Olli: I don’t think we’ve ever asked from there how it spread from there, but they have pretty tight knit communities there.

Matti: And once something starts to spread, it really does spread. The next tour that is starting out, it’s not taking you all the way to India this time, but you say it’s the biggest ever that you’ve done. How big are we talking about?
Marko: We’re not completely sure at this point. So far we’ve published tour dates until the end of January and we’re going all over Europe and sideswipe Asia as well, but we’ve been told that the tour will continue on after that too. We don’t know, but it might take us back to India too. But for now we’re going with what we know for sure.
Olli: I think we can say that it’s the first leg, in that sense. The first part that ends at the end of January. And the next part we’ll see until the end of June or the end of summer. But the first expansions were some extra cities in Russia, and…
Marko: In the UK market.
Olli: In Britain, yes, we can even call it a small tour now in the UK. Completely new places. It’s starting nicely. And we’ll go when the fans are asking us to, in enough numbers. If we get booked, then of course we’ll go, and it all plays a part in what the tour is going to be like. At some point when we have a small tour break, or we start making the new album, then we’ll see what the tour really was in all its craziness.
Matti: It was really pleasing to notice those UK tour dates at the end of the leg because it seemed to be a market you had trouble getting into at first.
Marko: Mmm yeah, and since we’ve been an indie label all this time, without the help from big record companies, then things are slower, you have to make your own contacts. Going to places yourself, paying for it yourself… You have to do some preliminary work with every country and every city. It’s taken quite a long time…
Olli: I was just thinking how happy I was that taking the risk was worth it a couple of years ago, or when was it that our first London gig happened. When it sold out so fast and was a great success. But maybe even better was the fact that… Well, sometimes when you go to a new place it’s a success because people are interested, but then you’re not new anymore and it fades away. In this case we got two gigs the next time, and we went for a little visit in the off season, and now we have four gigs. The market has clearly opened up. Maybe that was the big reward there. But it always takes a financial risk and investing from our part. But this was a success.
Matti: Isn’t it a part of your history as a band? Taking financial risks.
Marko: With every new album, yes. We’ve talked about it a lot over the years, putting all in for the next album… I’ve noticed that it just happens every time with a new album.
Olli: It’s true.
Matti: You’ve sold your apartments and cars every time.
Olli: Almost.
Marko: Well, we haven’t sold our cars or apartments, but everything on the bank account goes to making the next album. Putting it all on one card and then wondering how we’re going to make it through.

Matti: On Friday the first leg of your tour starts like I already said, and you have 5 shows in Finland. But then you head east to Ukraine, Belarus, Russia. And you’re going to tour Russia all the way to Siberia. What kind of a country is Russia to tour as a rock band?
Marko: There’s a kind of rough rock vibe to it for sure. There are so many different places, different ways of travel, different facilities. And people are eager to show up, they’re keen fans: if they know when your flight lands or train arrives, there are about 200 people to welcome you with open arms. There’s a huge amount of gifts too. It’s an exciting part of the world, definitely.
Olli: It’s like… The places Finns go for a vacation, most people don’t go to Russia. But now that we’ve been there a few times, you get to wonder, like wow what places. And what kinds of people. It’s kind of a pity, it’s our neighboring country and there’s so much there worth seeing. Like the mid or east Siberian Krasnoyarsk where we went for the first time a few years ago… wow, what a place. Truly unbelievable how it looks in there. Almost like Lapland, but more open, without stark altitude changes. So cool. And even though it was horribly cold when we were there, I was fascinated. It was so cool.
Marko: It was funny when I left from the venue to the hotel, I had this guy driving me. He told me on the way that one of his hobbies is hunting bears. It’s not the first thing that crossed my mind, that you’re in a big city but the wilderness is so close anyway. And he spends his weekends hunting bears.

Matti: You’ve been to Russia many times before, so… Has the recent tightening in political atmosphere had any impact on you and the things you come across?
Marko: It does come across now and then, and I get asked about it in interviews sometimes. It’s one of the ways it comes out, to find out what our opinions are. Usually we refrain from commenting on any political topics, it’s something for experts and we’re musicians, so… Of course we have our layman opinions and feelings about things, but we try to bring forwards the music aspect. And sometimes it comes across as certain places that you just can’t go because of the local financial sanctions that are in place: that the costs of the concert are so big that it’s impossible to go to some place.
Matti: And when you think of the individual person coming to your gig. That same Russian hospitality is there, just like before.
Marko: Yes, just so, that’s true.
Matti: When we talk about a big tour, or even just Russia. The distances between places are quite big.
Marko: Yes.
Matti: How do you keep up the good spirit and sanity during the transitions?
Marko: By sleeping.
Olli: Just thinking about the transitions… well, they’re tough. You have to fly a lot and it can be a chore. It’s always an early morning flight too. But it’s fun too, a good sense of humour saves a lot. If you’re not feeling too cheerful on some morning, the group saves the day. And it’s good to close your hotel room door and be on your own. If you compare touring between Russia and Germany for example, then Russia has the bonus of having your own hotel room where you can calm down if you want. But the whole group is available if you need them.
Marko: The energy.
Olli: Yes, the energy you get. In Germany where we have the tour bus for two weeks or more, you can’t really escape. You’re together with the group pretty tightly and sometimes it really stretches your tolerance.

Matti: You live in the bus then?
Olli: Practically yes.
Marko: It can be a long time without any kind of a hotel room. And sharing the same space for weeks, at some point the other people’s faces start to get on your nerves. You have to listen to what you need, and learning that is essential in that situation. If I need peace and quiet I’ll get it somehow. Someone puts on headphones or watches a movie, someone else goes out for a walk or a jog, or goes to sleep in their own bunk, or whatever is your style.
Matti: Olli, I heard a story that you have a habit of finding local saunas. Is that also a way to escape from your group for a while?
Olli: It probably is. Actually the group has wondered what my thing with sauna is about. Most likely it’s because I’m a very active person, always running around or doing something. So for me sauna has always been a place where I don’t have to do anything. So yes, I always check out the hotel sauna, and even the venues if they happen to have something. Venues usually don’t have one, except in Finland quite a few of them do. And with some places I already know where the good sauna is located, so I try to make time for it. For example in Moscow, when we play at a specific venue I have an arrangement to be taken to a sauna right after the gig before the sauna is closed up, so I can go swim and bathe a little.
Matti: Have you ever gone to local public saunas, or banja as they’re called?
Olli: I haven’t dared to do that, but it could be my next conquest, to try it… I’m sure Germany has a lot of Turkish saunas and so, it might be worth trying out.

Matti: During the moment of silence, Marko probably has had a chance to think about his next profession. I have…
Matti: I’ve made a quick list of all the professions you’ve accumulated, and there is… graphic designer, advertisement entrepreneur, visual artist, sports masseur, life coach, acupuncturist, professional musician. And before the show when we talked, I had to write this down, you’re studying solution focused brief therapy. How do you have this enthusiasm for studying in the middle of your music career?
Marko: The world is such an interesting place, full of interesting phenomena and things. And it’s in my nature to dig into all kinds of piles, to see what’s in there and how it works. When I get interested in something, I usually want to find out as much as possible about it. They don’t necessarily end up being my actual profession that I actively practice and get paid for, but they always lead to something and I probably just jump into them impulsively and intuitively, like I’m just drawn to something. And to me it’s a sign that it’s something I need in my life at that moment. I don’t say no, and I don’t think I’m somehow finished in life or as a person. You can always learn something new, it keeps your mind sharp.
Matti: Can you open up real quick: what is solution focused brief therapy?
Marko: It’s pretty much the same thing as solution focused psychotherapy, but in brief therapy the difference is the length of it. If you have about 10 therapy sessions in a year with your therapist, then it’s quite a long therapy in these terms. Solution focused means that when you’re in the here and now, you don’t start looking back what was the cause, like in psychodynamic therapy, which is all about your childhood traumas and the sources of your current problems. Rather we find out about your goal, how you want to go forward from this situation and then we find ways of getting to that goal. When we think about a person who’s an alcoholic, the goal would be to get to a point where that person isn’t a slave to the alcohol use anymore. A place where a person is free of the problem. And this is how the therapy is focused. You don’t focus on the problem itself, you focus on the end result when the problem no longer exists.

Matti: Olli, which one of these professions has had the most use where the band is concerned?
Olli: Well… Marko has given me treatments with acupuncture needles, he has them with him on our travels.
Matti: Hopefully not on the bus, on the moving bus.
Olli: Marko is pretty much a wizard at this stuff, so… He can do it. And all of his skills have been useful. I think all of us have to have something else in our lives too. Only music and working, especially when the two are connected, it’s not quite enough, and your lane becomes narrow. It’s very important to have other things in your life too. And for Marko it’s not just studying new professions. It’s also mapping them out, but it’s definitely useful, all of it.
Matti: Maybe what you said about having something else besides music and being a professional musician is also one of the secrets to old age, which I asked about earlier.
Olli: Perhaps it’s just like that.
Matti: Marko Saaresto and Olli Tukiainen, thank you so much for visiting. Clearview is coming out on Friday and on the same day starts this much talked tour. Helsinki Jäähalli is the first show, then Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Joensuu and on to foreign countries. Good luck, gentlemen!
Marko and Olli: Thank you!

Marko on Radio Nova, September 19 2016

Original audio of the interview can be found here: Radio Nova Evening

Poets of the Fall’s first gig in India was about the size of the Helsinki Ice Hall – 5000 people were left outside

Host: We’ll play some Poets of the Fall in Nova’s Evening soon, new material. How is it, Marko? Let’s start with a really easy question.
Marko: Good to hear.
Host: Soon we’ll hear new music from you guys, so how would you describe the band musically, here and now. Is it different from a few years back?
Marko: Yes, I do think it’s different from a few years back. I’m very happy with how the album has turned out, and at the same time like… what are people going to say about it. We’re in a bit of a turmoil, because we had this new project, ummm… For the first time ever we had an outside producer on the whole album. And before this we’ve always wanted to be the ones to hold the reins of the horse. So we’ve wanted to move on a little bit differently as artists at this point, and to let go of our own views a bit too. And to ask someone professional how this should actually be done.

Host: Was it an easy process?
Marko: No. It was fun, and it gave us a lot, but it was by no means easy.
Host: What was difficult about it?
Marko: Of course when you think that we did this… There are 10 songs on the album, but we actually made double that amount of them. And to cross them off, when you have a new person involved, someone you’ve never met before, and then there’s the group you’ve worked with for 15 years. And to trust the new person and to let go of your old fixations when it comes to making music, that was quite a challenge for everyone involved. Luckily our producer was, or is, a very talented diplomat. Through that, taking the project forward was a good experience in all its painful complexity.

Host: What does one do in a situation like that, for real, when there is a producer who is responsible for the content of the new album as much as the frontman of the band. Who’s the one who says the last word?
Marko: We decided on an understanding right from the start: you will make the decisions if there’s a conflict, or half of the group thinks one thing and the other half thinks different. So that the “yes – no” discussion doesn’t drag on for very long. Because sometimes they happen. So, the decisions are made in that understanding, but everyone always has a chance to bring their own view to the table and tell about it while we’re still making the album, that this isn’t a good way to go. But in the end, the decision is yours and I’ll accept it. It’s still someone’s vision, someone has thought it out and there’s someone’s logic behind it when you really look into it. And when you understand that, it’s probably a little easier to take in and accept that this is how it was done for this reason. In that sense, as the frontman of the band, I’ve given the decision making to the producer. And then I can always say it was his fault, if I don’t like something.

Host: Was this a one time experiment, or will this become a normal practice? Have you thought that far?
Marko: I have no idea what will happen. Partly it’s also a question of money. On one hand it was an interesting process. You learned about yourself , your music, a different method of working and different points of view. In that sense it was interesting and it would be fun to do it again. And it was Stefan Boman who was involved, and he was a fun guy, so it would be nice to possibly work with him again. But then to hire an outside producer with these album sales these days… It’s a very big challenge. It’s a big input into the making of a new album. So it depends on how the previous season has gone, so to say. How many gigs we get to do, and where. How many albums we sell, how much radio play we get and so on. All that brings in the money that makes us think what to do with it next.

Host: I don’t know if this is a rude question, but… so be it. Now that we got to the money and business part: where does Poets of the Fall’s income come from? What are the…
Marko: So rude! [laughs] How can you be so rude? You’ll get a rude answer. It’s those massages we give between the gigs… [laughs]
Host: I do the same thing.
Marko: Oh really? Right, that’s good, that’s good. Fan service.
Host: No-one sells shirts these days. It’s massages in the back room. But I do suspect that it’s the same with you as it is with other bands. That it’s the gigs that bring the income. Is this true?
Marko: Yes, I think it’s the gigs these days, for every artist. Of course you also sell those t-shirts and such. But where the gigs pay well, that’s where you make the money. Then there are market areas where you go in as a newbie. And those gigs don’t bring in money. So there are areas where you have no radio play, no album sales, gigs don’t bring money. T-shirts might get you something and then there’s always those massages… But we balance things out: we get profit from some areas, not much from others, and we try to make an equation out of that which ends with a positive figure.

Host: It must be some kind of a blessing and a curse when you look at it, because you guys are very big in Russia and India and so. People know your songs by heart and so on. But they’re probably also the worst countries when it comes to piratism.
Marko: In some sense that’s true. If I was to ask the audience how many of you have our album, everyone’s hands would be in the air. And if I were to ask who actually bought it… Actually, if I were to ask who downloaded it, there would be a lot of hands up in the air again, so… No one buys the albums, but everyone knows every song we have made. For a musician it’s a bit like… well, this is cool in a way, but…

Host: How do you feel about fans who are really passionate and know everything about you, but when they get your music, and it’s your work, and they just rudely ignore it..
Marko: I think about it from the fans’ point of view. I don’t think it’s ignoring rudely, it’s just the culture that exists when it comes to music. And for me it’s like… I just peeked into some download site recently, to see how much our music has been downloaded. Just out of interest. The first ten songs it displayed, there were about 20 million downloads. We didn’t get anything from that. It kind of makes you think that if we had gotten something out of it, then this upcoming tour would look pretty different, size and all. It makes you think sometimes. But then, the world is the way it is, and from that starting point you do the work you do.

Host: How did it happen, by the way, that you came to be so popular in India? How does it happen in practice, that you break in there?
Marko: I don’t really know the answer to that. We first got in there via universities. And they have a very vibrant university culture over there. So if you’re big at some university, it spreads. And if everyone likes what you do, then it becomes a big phenomenon.
Host: So, people at the university have listened to Poets of the Fall, and it has spread from there to the rest of the population?
Marko: Yeap.
Host: Does any record company have a strategy like this in place? That when you try to break in India, you get your music to the universities first.
Marko: I don’t know, maybe after this now that I let it out of my mouth. Actually there is another case about this. If I understand right, Dave Matthews Band. They became really big after playing in university circles. And it went on from there.

Host: What was the moment for you when you realized that you guys are big in India now. Was it a particular gig or some other signal that made you see that you have a lot of fans there.
Marko: It was one of the gigs, possibly the very first one we had there all those years ago. It was a gig with 3500 tickets available, and it was sold out. On top of that there were 5000 people outside. So you have about 8500 people on the first gig you do there.
Host: As many as Helsinki Ice Hall, or even a bit more.
Marko: Yeah, a bit more. Helsinki Ice Hall has a capacity of 7000, so… And that was a bit of a “whoa, I see!”. And when you think about making the news in there, the cultural section. They say something about Britney Spears’ new single and that Poets of the Fall is visiting the country. That’s the level where you’re at, on your first visit. It makes you think, like oh, alright, this kind of a situation. But quite nice!

Host: How do you come back to Finland after that? Do you feel some kind of a duality there? Because in Finland you didn’t sell 8000 tickets in a flash.
Marko: In Finland the big gig situation happens at festivals, and then there are club audiences. That’s how Finland’s music life goes around. In the last few years we’ve had development towards Finnish artists having their own arena or ice hall size concerts. I think it brought more understanding to what this playground is like in a global level. Like you can be huge in some part of the world, but it hasn’t really reached this place yet. And it depends on which market you are big in, like does it show at all in Europe. Someone can be huge in USA, and no one knows about them here for a long time. It could take 10 years of hard work before you can take a step out of your own market area.

Host: So what would you like to say to bands like Softengine or My First Band, that are both Finnish but make music in English. And they seem to be struggling with the fact that in Finland there isn’t so much to look forward to and how to make a break outside Finland. And for sure there are people around them telling how easy it would be with their kind of music, but what would you say to these bands? And there are many others too for sure.
Marko: Yes, there are others for sure. What to say… I think in everything you do, you have to want to do it. Or you don’t have to, but it would be good. If you’ve started doing something that feels good to you, then even if you have to fight against some circumstances, it’s still worth doing because it’s ecological to oneself, to do something that makes you feel good. And anyone who does that, I take my hat off to them, because it can be a rocky road sometimes. You get to run uphill a lot and it takes your breath away.

Host: Well, you just indicated that your band has been going for 15 years now. Hey, you’re starting your tour from Helsinki Ice Hall Black Box on the 30th of this month. I’m lucky enough that I’ve seen you live two, three or four times, and every time it’s been an unbelievable experience to see you live.
Marko: Thank you.
Host: You have a terribly long tour again. When you have a tour like that coming up and you know that you’ll spend two months in Europe and Russia, how do you… You’ve been doing this for so many years now, is there some specific way to prepare for it?
Marko: Yeah, I think through experience you change some things when you prepare. Someone asked this just a while ago, and I was half joking when I said I go to therapy beforehand. But it’s not a complete joke, it does take some mental work to endure looking at the same faces all the time or to sleep in a different hotel every night or in the train, bus or air plane in different time zones and different cities. You become aware of what you’re getting into and you can relax even though it’s on your mind. That’s the starting point of even being capable of it. Then there’s the other thing, to scream and throw porcelain to the walls. That’s my own personal method of dealing with these situations. [laughs] You can remember how things have worked out before and when you get back from the tour, there are some things you weren’t happy about and we try to get rid of that by talking it over.

Host: Before we got the tape rolling… Is this the part, right now, when you don’t even have any time for your band mates because there’s all kinds of extra fuss going on.
Marko: Yes, that’s how it is now.
Host: So when you’re on tour you feel easy and relaxed? Like you finally get to do this stuff together, and have this brotherly camaraderie.
Marko: The truth about touring… Of course there is this aspect to this like our bass player said, that it’s like being on eternal camping trip with the boys. Trekking into the woods, building a treehouse and then playing with swords. But it’s really very scheduled, by the minute, every single day. And when you do have a moment when there’s nothing, everyone’s a bit withdrawn into their own world. Many of us have headphones on, using the laptop, someone’s watching a comedy show and someone else is playing guitar. And somebody is playing another person’s guitar. Someone’s sleeping. I sleep and withdraw a lot. Being a hermit sounds great sometimes. It’s all about getting yourself normalized and loading your batteries for other things that day. You might have an interview coming up, or a meet&greet with fans, then the gig, soundcheck and all that. So you try to relax. Usually the chatting happens after the gig when everyone’s feeling great, energy’s flowing and so. And we may have opened a few bottles there, and that’s when you really ask how someone’s doing. After not really talking for three weeks, just playing on stage together.

Host: I have a feeling that when it comes to stuff like this, with your band it’s going quite well. Every place has a great PA, the infrastructure is working and…
Marko: If only you knew… [laughs] Really, you sometimes see all kinds of stuff put together that you wouldn’t even believe. Like do we even dare get on stage, will it explode. But to the outside it looks totally professional. There are situations like this sometimes. Let’s say we’ve had a few things like that. But these days we have a very skillful tech crew, tour managing and all. You don’t need to question much.

Host: So, how many trucks? When U2 tours the world, they have 32 trucks and well over 100 staff and so on. How many people do you need to have to make a successful Poets of the Fall tour.
Marko: Our tour consists of about 12 people, plus sometimes the bus driver. Then locally about 20 people. About 30 and it works. No need for 200 to make it happen. But it’s quite a lot of people, when you think of it. You have the local roadies, drivers, catering, security and so on. For the tour manager it’s quite a lot of people to give directions to on daily basis. And we have familiar promoters and concert organizers all around the world, they know our specifications when we get there, so… But there are always new places and you have to get the hang of things all over again.

Host: Is there anything out of the ordinary in your concert raider?
Marko: We used to have stuff like plush toys and something to throw into the audience. A lot of times we got to throw condoms to the audience. Which is good, people need them. In this global overcrowding.
Host: Good choice for India.
Marko: India, yeah! [laughs] No, it’s not chewing gum my dear friend. But we don’t have any special requests anymore. More like certain types of food and so. Because when you’re touring the world, it would be really nice to eat once in a while and not get something you’ve never seen or heard about and then everyone has an upset stomach and then it’s fun to have a gig. We’ve played some gig like that, yeah.
Host: So you’ve actually been nervous about the situation?
Marko: Yes, I’ve really been nervous.

Host: Can you think of any gig place or a country where the local culture has really been in your face, like for you as a Finn something’s really exotic and peculiar.
Marko: There are many countries in which I’ve experienced culture shock, but it probably was India. Many times over. There are so many things that are different than what we’re used to over here. We got so many stories from just our first time there. How can it be so completely different? You really wondered about it and tried to find a way to make sense of it.

Host: Is there something that’s made you balk, something that really doesn’t fit into Finnish culture or perspective?
Marko: Well, let’s say that of course….. Silence. No, if I continue from what I said before, even just the mass of crowd somewhere alone can feel like… Oh my goodness, what is this?! And I don’t mean to say that those people wouldn’t be warm and welcoming, and wonderful individuals over there. But when you’re on the highway, the opposite traffic comes at you on the same lane and… You don’t quite understand the logic behind it. Or when you have to stop in the traffic and you see the large amount of kids on the street, coming to you to beg, and they may have their eyes poked out or their arm cut off to make more money with begging by causing more sympathy… It’s quite an experience. You’re sitting there, in traffic, the car isn’t moving and you’re in a car for an ambassador and on the other side of the window there’s a 6-year-old who doesn’t have arms, selling handbags. It makes you think how you just don’t know what you should do. Or what you should think. But afterwards when we all discuss about it and think about it, the perspective just pours in, about the situation of this world and all other things.

Host: When you look at the upcoming tour, you have some pretty exotic locations coming up. Like on one day you have a gig in Joensuu, and the next one is in Kyiv, Ukraine and then in Minsk, Belarus. Kyiv, where according to news there was some bombing not too long ago. How does this make you feel before going? Like, oh, fun to go.
Marko: Well, first of all, the venue in Joensuu is great, always fun to go there! And I really like going there.
Host: But we’re worried about you!
Marko: [laughs] Worried about it… like what will happen. And when we’re going to Kyiv, I remember when the situation with Ukraine was very volatile and new, the local media asked us about what we think of the situation and what it felt like to visit. The first time we visited during the war, nearly all artists had cancelled. I think there were just five or six of us artists during the whole autumn to visit that city and we were one of them. Well… it was a situation where you needed to keep up to date on it, to see where it’s going and if it’s possible to go there. But it was a great experience to go there, because you try to share a positive message, and to meet the people there as they are. And we met a lot of people there, and talked with them. So in return we saw how grateful they were that we visited. There was an unbelievable atmosphere at the gig. Since then Kyiv for us has been, like… Well, last time we performed at a stadium. So, it’s a place that lifts my spirits. You can see where your own work has brought you, to see how you’ve done something right and succeeded and grown. And people have gotten a lot from the music, for themselves. For us I think it’s one of the places where we’ll always come back to when we tour. You don’t really think it as a risky part of the world anymore. Either you get used to it, or you become blind to it, I don’t know which.

Host: The world is full of volatile places, so when you tour out there, do you get asked about political views, or do you share your views?
Marko: We do get asked about it, and I’ve thought that even though I’m interested in a lot of topics like human rights, animal rights, and many political topics. And I like to read Helsingin Sanomat when it doesn’t irritate or make me depressed too much so I don’t get stressed about it. I’m a musician though, in this sense. It’s not all that I am as a person, and I’m interested in a lot of things and I do other things too, but I’m not going to take a stand when it comes to political topics. As a band we more like try to bring out good vibes where they are needed. That’s the best thing we’ve got to offer. If I tried to give people some kind of therapy…
Host: So it’s no use to ask you anything about the elections in Russia?
Marko: [laughs] Yeah, yeah… I think I’ll be more like “huh?”. Who?

Host: Well, back to the tour. There’s a quite significant gig in Finland coming up, Helsinki Ice Hall. You’re claiming a status in Finland. Are you nervous about it?
Marko: In a way it does, yeah. I have to admit it. It’s a gig like every other, and we’ve done a lot of similar sized gigs before. But it’s the first ice hall gig in Finland for us. And it’s our own, it’s not a festival or something, so it’s quite a big thing for us. We’ll see how our wings will carry with that. And it’s great to be able to provide Finnish audiences with a different thing than what we usually have at club gigs. There’s nothing wrong with club gigs, but this is just a bit different. So maybe in that sense it could be interesting, I think.

Host: I’m really looking forward to it. It feels funny to think that, like you said, you’ve done a lot bigger gigs too. Why did you wait until 2016 to do it in Finland?
Marko: I think it’s… Uhm… It’s usually about what you want to do. From my point of view, I see the whole spectrum of people involved in touring and everything, from inside the business. To make them think it’s even possible is also something that demands a long process. Maybe the time is just right for it now, and people see it as a possibility now. Maybe before now they have thought something else is more suited for this band in Finland. And the way things are usually done in Finland has worked, but maybe it’s time for something else now.

Host: When it comes to Cheek [Finnish rap musician], I had to admit that I never would have thought to see him perform at ice hall or the Olympic stadium. I went to one of his early gigs and said “this isn’t going to fly”. I had to admit it to him, when it happened. But now I get to say that I always knew that this day would come: Poets of the Fall at Helsinki Ice Hall. Because at this small gig at Pietarsaari Pihkuri, which I’ve mentioned to you before…
Marko: You have.
Host: On front row, I told one of my friends that this would work in an ice hall too. And the stage you were on was pretty much built on beer cases.
Marko: Yes, I remember standing on empty beer cases, because the drums took all the space of that stage.
Host: It was a great gig.
Marko: Yes, it was a memorable one. I’ve also done a gig once standing on a wine barrel. That was my stage.

Host: Is it somehow an emotional moment, even though we’ve talked about how you’ve done many big gigs by now? If we bring down the roof at ice hall, is there some emotional involvement?
Marko: Yes, there’s emotional involvement. We’ll see what it’s going to be like when we get on stage. If I will burst in tears like they do at the Vain Elämää show [Finnish TV show where popular musicians perform each other’s songs]. Maybe there’s some sort of a… how would I say… I don’t know. Maybe it’ll feel like “whoa, here I am”. Have I proved something to myself at that point? That’s what I think it could potentially feel like, emotionally. I really don’t know yet. I’m in a bit of a fog with everything that’s going on. There’s something new all the time. I’m reminded of Lenny Kravitz’s sentiments when things started rolling. He said it all went so fast that he didn’t have time to let it sink until it had already happened. For me it’s a bit like that when we’re at the verge of a tour and the album’s coming out. You just rush from one thing to the next. And maybe later on you can look back and think about what happened and how it happened. And how it felt.

Marko on Radio Nova, 31 May 2016

Original interview audio here: Radio Nova Morning
Hosts: Aki and Minna. Guest: Marko Saaresto

Aki: Marko from Poets of the Fall here in the studio. Live Nation and Radio Nova are involved in your upcoming event, the biggest Finland gig in Poets of the Fall’s history. And it’s all about your latest album which is coming out in September. And Marko, may I take a guess that now you can put your feet on the table, everything’s all done.

Marko: Yeah, yeah, totally is. All you need to do is decorate it with a bit of thyme and it’s going to taste great.
Minna: So it’s completely unfinished.
Marko: Completely unfinished, still.
Minna: But you have promised new music in the form of a single on August 5th.
Marko: Makes me nervous!
Minna: By that time, by that time.
Marko: Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Minna: Exactly. But it’s been said that your album release gig is going to be very showy, and will take place at the Ice Hall on the day the album is released. It’s going to be at Helsinki Ice Hall Blackbox.
Marko: Blackbox.
Minna: What is this Blackbox?
Marko: I think it’s a rather new concept over there, a lot of artist from abroad have preformed there. The Ice Hall is transformed into a huge club with black canvas. They make a kind of a cube out of it, and also build a stage.
Minna: So it’s a bit more intimate?
Marko: It has a more of an intimate feel, yes. Artists like Manic Street Preachers, Bullet for My Valentine, even Mariah Carey performed there when they were in Finland last.

Aki: Big names. And now Poets of the Fall. There are big arenas coming up, in October there’s Pakkahuone in Tampere, Logomo in Turku and Arena in Oulu. But I want to get back to thing about thyme, the album being finished. So the first single is coming out on August 5th. That’s two months away. How are things, for real?

Marko: It’s in a rather good standing, as I understand. Apparently I’ve sung pretty much everything that is needed apart from some backing vocals. Lyrics are all finished. But the mixing needs to be done. I think the first two or three weeks of June will be spent on that. Mixing and mastering.
Minna: Alright, well maybe we don’t have to start helping you out with the melodies here, humming something to you and saying ”how about this?”.
Marko: Yeah, but maybe one day we could do that. Definitely!
Minna: Absolutely.

Aki: You’ll get some help from us for sure. So, what kind of a person are you, and what is Poets of the Fall’s philosophy as a band? Do you work insanely hard towards the end, or is it like ”it’s good as it is”? Or do you want to keep working on it, in case there’s something that could be improved.
Marko: We’re pretty much perfectionists, the whole lot of us. The ability to find the moment you learn to let go of things has developed over the years though. And now that we have a new producer, he has made things easier in a way. If there’s something we can’t figure out, we all turn our heads towards Stefan. ”Tell us, what are we supposed to do, Mr. Producer.” That’s how you can let go of your so called baby a little bit.

Minna: Hmm. Poets of the Fall is the type of band that we don’t necessarily quite understand how big you guys are out there in the big world. After Finland, your tour will become a world tour.
Marko: Yeah.
Minna: It’s a feat not every band can achieve. What countries have your biggest fans?

Marko: What do I say to this now? I think at the moment in our eastern neighbor, Russia, and India as well. They both have a big fan base. UK is a surprisingly good market area for us. Then we tour in other European countries as well. There are places where we may have eleven thousand people at the gig, and then there are places where we go for the first time and we get a few hundred people. And we’ve been an independent band with our own record label from the start, we do pretty much everything on our own. We cut the felt cloth into pieces ourselves and stitch it back together. That we’ve been able to grow this big, it has been a long road and in some ways will continue to be. But it’s nice to see that it has grown, to see what it has been like to start from club gigs for 200 people and work your way into ten, even twelve thousand people at one gig. When there are more than two thousand people, you don’t always have a clear concept of how many people there really are. You just hear about it afterwards, from the tour manager or someone. ”Today we had 12 000.”

Aki: Oh no, you don’t have to tell us that. Minna and I were hosting Women’s Ten this year! [Women’s Ten is a 10 kilometer running event for women in Finland.] There were about ten thousand people there.

Article interview from December 2015

Original interview on YLE website. Translation to English:

Poets of the Fall’s guitarist: “I was trembling when I realized what I almost turned down”

Jaska Mäkinen, the guitarist of the Helsinki based Poets of the Fall, almost made the mistake of a lifetime in 2004 when he first refused to join the band. Now he tours with the awarded band around the world from India to United States.

Jaska Mäkinen, the guitarist of the Helsinki based Poets of the Fall, remembers the beginning of his career in his home county Satakunta with fondness. The very beginning of his road in music started with the piano at his home in Ulvila. It took the man to piano lessons first. Later on the instrument of choice became a guitar.

The guitar teacher Seppo Tyni from Palmgren Institution in Pori talks about Mäkinen repeatedly.
-He was an important person to me, like I’m sure to many who played guitar in Pori.
In addition to guitar and piano, the clarinet was in the picture as well, but the first paid gigs the guitarist earned playing the banjo.
-I played the banjo in Rosenlew Brass Band. I inherited the spot from Tyni. It was my first experience of doing a professional gig that I got paid for.

“It sounded so unbelievably good”

At Pop and Jazz conservatory Mäkinen got to know the founding member of Poets of the Fall, Olli Tukiainen.
-He heard me playing from behind a door and asked me to join in. First I declined citing being too busy, but Tukiainen called me again in a couple of months.

This time Mäkinen said yes and has not regretted the decision.
-I still remember when Olli played a demo of Late Goodbye to me in a car. It sounded so unbelievably good. I started trembling when I realized I had almost declined the offer to join the band.

Sold out venues in India

Mäkinen has been involved in Poets of the Fall since 2004. The band has arduously toured the world. There have been concerts in the United States, Central Europe, Ukraine, Russia as well as in India.
-For some reason Indians have taken us as their own. Our latest gig there had an audience of 10 000 people.

Mäkinen says he is living his dream now. Already in elementary school he wrote that he wanted to do music.
-I feel very lucky. Not everyone gets to work in their area of passion. Music is work and a hobby for me.

Kaija Koo does not diminish rock credibility

In addition to playing in a rock band, Mäkinen also plays in Kaija Koo’s band. He says he sees himself more as a freelance musician than an artist.
-I’ve been doing all kinds of gigs, quite a lot in party bands. And now also in pop music. I don’t find that it disturbs my rock credibility.

Poets of the Fall, founded in 2003, has sold over 100 000 albums in Finland and holds two gold records and two platinum records.

Video interview from July 2015

Original video interview in Finnish by Radio Aalto. Translation to English:

Marko Saaresto from Poets of the Fall: This is how summer affects song writing

Jarkko: Marko from Poets of the Fall, what kind of relationship do you have with Helsinki? What does Helsinki mean to you?
Marko: Helsinki is a wonderful place, really wonderful. I was born in Helsinki and lived here all my life. When I was a kid I used to run around in downtown traffic, evading the cars on Esplanadi and caused my mom’s heart to pound. Like “Where did he take off again?”
Ellen: Do you still cause your mom’s heart to pound?
Marko: Yeah, I think I still do sometimes.

Jarkko: What’s the best thing about Helsinki?
Marko: I think the beginning of summer when people open up more and come out of their hiding places. You see people all over the place. At beaches, at parks, wearing more or less clothing and so. It makes you feel like your own soul becomes free too, ahh.
Ellen: What about Helsinki as a city?
Marko: As a city… I think a very nice one. Someone once said that it’s a large small town, lots of potential. On my way here today I noticed that a lot of new stuff has been built recently and when you look between the buildings, it gives a nice frame, things look different. There are a lot of surprising elements that you don’t see before you have to be stuck in the traffic lights.
Jarkko: Typically the biggest city of a small country.
Marko: Yes, yes.
Jarkko: If something could be evolved, what would you like to see more in Helsinki, or in a different way?
Marko: What can I say to that… Well, the summer could go on all year round.
Ellen: Weather like this, which you brought here to Kaisaniemi.
Marko: Yeah. And I think we have a lot of street level building space, but not enough places for people to go. Too much of it is all kinds of bureau space. Those could be placed in the upper floors and the ground floors could be little shops. It would liven things up to have more cafes and restaurants. Downtown area could be a no-cars zone, if there was a logistically sensible way of doing that. I think there’s a need for promenades, there’s a big number of people in this town who enjoy Helsinki in the summer and it would be great if you didn’t have to inhale bus dust and try to find some way to get to the other side of the street.

Jarkko: You’ve been touring for years across the world. What is the thing in your group that wins the audiences over?
Marko: Well, I think it’s the way we are present in that situation, the way we are with the fans when we go and play, and have fun together with them. That makes the energy go around, it comes from us and from them and that turns it into a really great situation. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a stadium, or a festival like this or a small club. Small clubs are really fun, we’ve sometimes been… a couple of years back we were at a club with only about 100 people in there and the vibe was so awesome there. It was a really great living room party.

Interviewer: Who did you come to see here?
Girl from the festival audience: Haloo Helsinki and Poets of the Fall. Those two bands.

Ellen: What kind of a summer are you going to have?
Marko: Long and warm, hopefully. Good weather. Let’s say that a touring pop artist gets to visit a lot of places, so it’s really nice to be at home for a while. Or at the studio. We’re in a good situation, because we have a few gigs left. We’re ending our spring/summer tour in St. Petersburg at a festival and in July we get to work on new music at the studio or to have a vacation.
Ellen: And how does the pop artist relax during the vacation?
Marko: In a hammock.
Ellen: In a hammock?
Marko: Yeap, in a hammock by the lake.
Jarkko: Who in your band gets to decide if you’re going to make new songs or have that vacation? Do you have a democratic vote or…?
Marko: No, we just get an inkling.
Ellen: So it’s everyone’s decision?
Marko: Well, it’s either “we have to get something done” or “nah, can’t be bothered today”.
Ellen: Great, when some of you want to go and work, one of you just wants to lie in a hammock. “Why don’t you go among yourselves?”
Marko: Then the others just have to go among themselves while one chooses the hammock.
Ellen: And that’s ok?
Marko: Yeah, it’s perfectly ok. We can do our stuff on multiple levels. Sometimes one of us is working on something, and later on another one of us and at some point we all work together on it.

Jarkko: When it comes to the other upcoming festivals, is there some other band you’d like to see?
Marko: Yeah, in St. Petersburg we’re performing just before Muse. Muse is the headliner and we’re just before that. So I’ll definitely stay at the side of the stage and watch.
Ellen: Absolutely.
Jarkko: You say it so casually. “Just before Muse”.
Marko: Yeah, it’s great, it’s really nice. We toured on a couple of festivals in Europe too, and they were there also, so I watched their show both times.

Ellen: What’s the style for this summer?
Marko: In general or mine or…?
Jarkko: Stage style.
Marko: Stage style is what you can see…
Ellen: It’s black.
Marko: It’s pretty black, yeah. What you see is what you get.

Jarkko: It’s great what we’ve been seeing today. Haloo Helsinki was in yellow, Elastinen was in white, and you bring the black.
Marko: I bring the black. Black shiny leather, that’s what it is.

Jarkko: Wikipedia, the horn…
Marko: Mecca.
Jarkko: of all useless information. If you could add a piece of information about yourself there, what would you add?
Marko: I have to confess that I haven’t read what Wikipedia says about me…
Jarkko: What would you like?
Marko: What would I like…
Jarkko: It doesn’t even have to be true. In Wikipedia anything goes.
Marko: Knows how to fly.
Ellen: Knows how to fly…
Marko: Mmm.
Ellen: Is there some thing, or a passion that you could add there that’s actually true?
Marko: Something I could add that’s true? Nnnggh! What could it be? Do I have to endorse myself, or…?
Jarkko: It can be anything at all. We’re not going to judge any of your abilities.
Marko: I eat donuts with coffee in secret.
Ellen: “The truth is that I can’t sing at all, it all comes from a tape.”
Marko: Exactly! One day they’re going to find out.

Jarkko: Just before the gig, does your band have some traditional routine that you repeat every time?
Marko: Yes, we have The Hand.
Ellen: Why “The Hand”?
Jarkko: Can you open that concept up a bit?
Marko: Yeah, I can.
Jarkko: Most of us do have a hand, you see…
Marko laughs.

Marko: It’s this ritual where we gather up and form a circle and we put our hands on top of each other’s hands, like this. And then for each day we have…
Ellen: And then you hug and kiss, mmm.
Marko: Should that go on Wikipedia too?
Jarkko: Could be interesting.
Marko: And then there’s a different word for each time.
Jarkko: Oh, it varies?
Marko: Yes, it varies. It comes from whatever the vibe is that day.
Jarkko: Many bands have the same one year after year. They don’t dare change it because of some superstition. But you guys are brave and keep changing it.
Marko: Yeah, we just find a different word for different day and we’ll just see what comes up.

Ellen: What kinds of words do you use?
Marko: Anything at all. In Germany after one festival, we kind of had a few drinks and at the end of the evening a few characters were in a joyful mood, maybe a little too much so. And the drinking induced the word Gelsenkirchen for “The Hand”.
Ellen: Gelsenkirchen?
Marko: Yeah, it was the name of the place we were at, and next time “The Hand” was Gelsenkirchen. It was like “let’s have a party!” so of course it was Gelsenkirchen.