Marko Saaresto. Art of being grateful.
There are a lot of rock bands in Finland that somehow affect the entire rock industry. We grew up listening to their songs, and many of them we still listen.. It`s jealous that our close neighbor has so many bands that blow up any scene in the world, and we don`t (hope not for long). But this band stands alone, even in such a country rich in great musicians.
Marko Saaresto is a leader, author and singer of wonderful band “Poets of the Fall”, a preacher of life in many ways and widely open man for any conversation.
It is usually difficult to arrange an interview with such a high-tier musician. It can take too long, or just impossible to do, due to busyness or complex nature. But with Marco everything was different, which turned me into a pleasant state of shock.
I can only explain this by the fact that he himself catches a buzz from any conversation and from being in contact with the outside world, getting to know it, and thus finding some kind of harmony for himself, without which it would not be so interesting to live and create.
And to us all, this harmony would not hurt.
Maybe the world could get a little better.
"Poets of the Fall" released long-awaited new album “Ultraviolet” in October 2018. What`s your expectations on people reaction to this album, and are they coming true by now? Do you think that it`s your best album by far?
Releasing a new album or song is always really exciting and scary at the same time. We never know what to expect, especially this time around when we deliberately knocked down genre walls and tried new approaches to songwriting. We always do our absolute best to make music that kicks ass, sounds great, touches people and adds value and meaning to life. We have been very happy with the response we’ve received from our fans, those who have been around since the dawn of time and those who have just recently found us, and everyone in between. I’m sure Ultraviolet is definitely one of the best albums we’ve done, maybe even the best so far, but I guess that depends on who’s listening to it.
In February 2019 you will visit Russia. It`s not your first time in the our country. Will it be a presentation of new album, or you prepared something special for Russian fans? Talking about Russian fans, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 - stands for quiet and calm people, and 10 – for maniacs rushing to the scene through security guards, how would you rate them?
Haha that’s a fun one. The Russian fans are a 10 on that scale, in a good way. It’s really great playing shows there as people are with us full on, singing along, living it up. So there’s a great energy at our shows in Russia. The show this time will represent the album, but in addition, we’ll also play songs that are especially loved in Russia.
Have you ever had a fear, especially in beginning of your career, that “Poets of the Fall” can be one-hit-wonder thanks to the “Late Goodbye”? As we know there are plenty of stories like that.
When you start out, you most definitely have that thought going on in your head. After so many years in the business, traveling worldwide and playing to people, we are super happy to note that that’s not been the case with us. We are still very much into writing music and even for us, it’s so exciting to see what we’ll come up with next, and that’s why it’s also so great to release new music once we have it all done and ready to rock.
Where do you find inspiration for writing new songs? Maybe at home, in a car, or even in a dream? Name most unusual or weirdest place where new song came to your mind.
Oh, song ideas, lyrical themes and melodies, sound variations, harmonies, moods and stories can pop into your head at any moment at any time. You kind of just have to be present in the moment to realise what’s happening, so you are able to pick up on it and make something of it in the days to come. I mean it’s happened to me while I sleep, when I’m in the shower, driving is a good one. The weirdest place might be while on stage singing another song, and something else starts playing in your head, and you go OMG I have to get this down somewhere before I lose it, so you keep singing it in the back of your head while doing the show, until you have a chance to write your idea down. Talk about multitasking.
Name your top-5 Finnish bands of any genre?
Sure, I’ll give it a shot. I’ve always thought highly of acts like 1. Apocalyptica, interesting take on metal. 2. Smack, a Finnish rock group from the eighties, with a great devil may care attitude, sadly they are no longer around. 3. Chisu, a Finnish solo artist, writing in Finnish. I think she has a nice touch all over. 4. Bomfunk MC’s, I still love their biggest hit Freestyler and last but not least 5. Nightwish. I think it’s always interesting to see what the Nightwish guys, and gal, come up with.
How would you describe that phenomenon that in a not-so-big country like Finland there are so many top-rock bands (Nightwish, HIM, Rasmus, Children of Bodom etc.). What`s so special about Finnish people, that people and musicians from other countrys don`t have?
I don’t know if I’m the right person to answer that. Maybe some cultural anthropologist slash music historian could answer it better. I’m just happy that there are so many great artists finally coming out of Finland. Maybe the Finns need that strong emotional release that rock music provides and we’ve become good at writing it. Be as it may I suppose it’s a good thing for the world entire, that great music gets to be made and people all over can listen to it and benefit from it in their own way.
Your game soundtracks are amazing in every way. What`s your thrill in that kind of art? After all, more often bands wants to cooperate with a movie industry. Do you play video games, and if you do, then what are your favourite ones?
Games are interactive movies, so there’s certainly a special kind of thrill there. Writing music to games is brilliant because it gives us a chance to do something outside the Poets of the Fall realm every now and then. Not only is it fun, but we also get to explore our musical awareness even further. With our super busy schedules, it’s also interesting to connect with new people and see what they are doing with their respective projects when we manage to find the time for it. We are all avid players. I’m more into games like the Witcher 3. I’m a bit stuck in the fantasy genre there, not into games that happen in “modern times”. I know Olli and Captain like many more gaming genres.
Where did you get such an attachment to Eastern culture? For a man of western world it`s not a common thing, especially in our age of technology.
It must be all the Kungfu movies I watched when I was growing up. Haha. But I think the whole world is a wonder if we just open our eyes. Just today while driving to work I took a slight detour to just take a moment and appreciate the myriad minute details that make up the day. The air, the sounds, the smells, the feel of the coldness on my face, the crunch of snow and ice under my feet, the distant swooshing mayhem of the motorway, all that and more. So now if you extend your senses east, and why not east, or west, north or south, and realise all that exists in this world, from chaos to order to chaos and back again, a million times over. There’s so many fascinating realities to discover, even if you’re just traveling in your easy chair.
If you could ask world government (or someone behind them) one question, what secret of world history you would like to know? Maybe – “Who killed Kennedy”? Is there any indication that aliens visited us and etc? :-)
I’d probably ask for next week’s winning lottery numbers. I mean, isn’t future also history after a fashion?
Communication with a media is a necessary tool for any band to attract more fans and keep in touch with them. Which question from journalists annoys you most? Or are you quite loyal to any questions? :-)
I doubt there’s any particular question which annoys me. I tend take things as they come, and I try to find a way to answer, through which I can stand behind my answer, even if the question is actually a presumption, or seems to only want my confirmation of the interviewer’s opinion on something. I think it’s more conducive to any conversation or interrelation between people, however, when the mutual attitude is respectful, so I’m all for that.
Do you communicate with some Russian rock artists and do you like any Russian rock bands? What do you think they doing wrong, that they are still not so widely known in the West?
At the moment we are not in collaboration with any Russian artist, even though I’m sure there are brilliant artists there. It’s true that the “genre” is not very widely known in the west. Still, it would be impossible for me to say why that is. I don’t think it’s necessarily to do with the artist as much as it has to do with the marketing and the state of music business in general. Each case is individual, so there are no definite general guidelines to why any artists career is the way it is.
Your videos are always a piece of art. Ever had a wish to perform in a theatre or a movie? If you do, then what genre more suitable for you and why?
Thank you so much. Making videos is always a pretty big undertaking. We do try to always make them an extension of the songs and we are lucky to have had so many successes with our videos. It’s not always easy and sometimes compromises have to be made to get a video done.
When talking about acting at a theatre piece or a movie, I’d probably opt for the movie. Acting might be interesting provided the role was interesting enough, but it’s all up to the script. I like dark drama and crime stuff, so maybe there’d be something interesting in that field one day. But until then music and other art forms keep me nicely and happily occupied.
Thank you so much for the interview. It’s been a pleasure.
Interview led by Dj Distemper.
Translated by Ivan Mikhno.
Edited by Irina Erokhina.
Special thanks to Mike Lynch for help in making interview.
Spelling and punctuation whenever possible saved.
Interview created with the help of musicians community: «Musicians of Russia».
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