Week 3

Finland, Finally

A few words about Finland:

“All Finns are always drunk.  And naked.  And carrying knives.” - Vehlu, singer for Hero Dishonest, while drunk, naked, and carrying a large knife at the K-Fest in 2003.

“We took Robert’s Finnish friend Markku to the train station and so far the occasion stands as the closest we’ve come to danger on this trip. He was drunk (which as I’m told by other Finns is redundant to even mention), but he was also intrepid and belligerent. He spent most of the 20 minutes we were with him running through and stopping traffic and being mean to people who were in the process of giving us directions to his train station. He never did take his clothes off or wield a knife but the night was young.” - from a past journal

“Careful of the Finns, they’re fucking maniacs.” - a concerned Swede

“Finland Finland Finland, the country where I’d quite like to be…” - Michael Palin/Monty Python

kkk supermarket, Rovaniemi, Finland
Where else would you find a KKK Supermarket but Finland?
 
megapussi, helsinki, Finland
A market that sells Megapussi, I might add.

From Seth's journal:

May 10

We drove up to the Finnish border area and saw the Finnish, Swedish and Norweigen flags hoisted above a large sign which said "Tull." Cool, maybe it is a tourist spot celebrating all three countries. We pulled into a parking lot and looked around hoping for a picture opportunity. Nothing. After a cursory look around the only thing we did notice was the border, about 1/2 km away - just close enough for the customs officers to see a van pull over for no apparent reason. Oops. So we drove up to the border crossing and were directed straight into the interrogation lane.

A shortish, middle-aged, red-haired woman and a big, scary man with a shaved head and dragon tattoo on his forearm walked up to the van.

"Where are you coming from?" asked the woman.

"Sweden," Craig replied rather skeptically as she had just seen us drive up from the Swedish side. She requested our passports and we handed them over. The woman flipped through Craig's, stopped on something inside, and pointed it out to the burly, bald Finn. They spoke something in Finnish to each other and thus began their search. The female customs officer began to walk around the van while The Bull came up to the window to talk to Craig.

"Do you have anything to declare?" he asked.

"No," Craig replied, somewhat honestly.

...pause...

"Do you have any narcotics?" the man asked with a thick accent.

"What?" Craig replied, not understanding his question.

"Do you have any narcotics?"

"Oh, no."

"You came from the U.S. to where?"

"Germany, then Denmark, then Sweden then here."

"You are in a band?"

"Kinda. Unofficially."

The woman was walking around the van looking intently through our windows.

"Do you have any narcotics?" the big guy asked again.

"No."

"How long were you in Denmark?"

"We drove right through. We didn't even stop."

"Do you have any pornography?"

"No." (stifled smile)

"Do you have any guns, weapons?"

"No."

"Do you have any anabolic steroids?"

"Huh?"

"Do you have any anabolic steroids?"

"Oh, No."

"Do you have any pornography?"

"No."

"Do you have any drugs?"

"No."

"Have you ever done drugs?"

"Uh...not in my adult life."

The woman came back from around the van. Everything we had was pretty visible. Even the cases of empty beer bottles. The agents had a quick conference and must have decided that searching us any further would be futile. And potentially gross. They gave us back our passports and waved us on our way. It was then that Craig realized why their sudden suspicion - inside the vinyl sleeve of Craig's passport was a fake mustache.

"How do you say thank you?" we asked.

"Kitos."

"Kee Toes," we replied and drove off..

Rovaniemi, Finland rest stop penis
First thing we did after getting past the border patrol was pull over and do our thang.
 
markus Rovaniemi, Finland
We stayed with our new friend Markus in Rovaniemi, Finland, just 11kms from the Arctic Circle.

Not as cold as one would expect.  It was cold, don't get me wrong, but it was far from the excruciating bone-chill we were expecting. We went to Santa’s Village, where all the letters to Santa go throughout the year. And we pulled our pants down.

love songs at the arctic circle
 
suki-suki ihanohut kondomi
What a great name for a condom.

Because of the polar cold we brought, among other things, all-weather sleeping bags.  We were unaware that each night we would have the luxury of sleeping inside, where people keep heaters blasting all year long.  Most mornings I woke up in a pool of sweat with my sleeping bag bunched up at my feet.

Learn some Finnish, hear Bradley's singing voice,
watch Seth smell good, and see some Germans being German.
jauhelihapizza quattro stagioni capricciosa
download video - 3.7mb
 
bradley sweating at the arctic circle
No matter the temperature Bradley is always sweating from the right armpit. Here we are inside the Arctic Circle, a place most people do not sweat.
 
santa Rovaniemi, Finland
For a small fee you can have your picture taken with Santa. On the wall outside his lair hung pictures of Santa with various dignitaries, celebrities, politicians, and, of course, metal bands.
 
dinner at markus' apartment Rovaniemi, Finland
10pm, dinner at Markus' apartment.
 
Rovaniemi, Finland bridge
Seth, the only one of us with a girlfriend.
12am, Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi’s show was a blast.  First Drainage played and after spending half the day with them it was cool to see them rock. Later, as we played, a French guy wearing a flight jacket and named Stephen caused a bit of a stir.  His mere presence urged a very very drunk guy to mistake him for a skinhead, despite the fact that Stephen also had on a beret.  As Stephen danced quite jubilantly during our set (another CLEAR indication the guy was not some sort of nazi) the drunk guy refused to let go of the notion that we were some sort of skinhead band, or at least nazi sympathizers.  The man was completely out of his mind and trying to talk to him was like trying to reason with a magazine rack. His constant intrusion into our show (he kept coming up to me after each song to ask me questions in my ear), and our constant and public belittlings of him, gave us the common enemy thread us and the audience could enjoy together.  We ended up playing for an hour and we were forced (yes, forced) to play two encores.

bear bar in Rovaniemi, Finland
Seth, first person in our band to befriend anyone wearing adult diapers.

In Finland Wednesday is called “mini-Saturday” and people are expected to go out and get wasted in honor of making it halfway to the next weekend.  Finns are also known for getting drunk twice in one day.

finnish breakfast of beer
Traditional Finnish breakfast.
 
moose crossing in finland
Thankfully this was the closest we came to a moose crossing.
 
Pretty Finnish shit
 
drainage and love songs in Rovaniemi, Finland
Not so pretty, but definitely some Finnish shit. (Not picture: the knife)

We showed up to Vastavirta Klubi (a vegan hardcore club in Tampere, Finalnd, go figure!) and were served a much-appreciated dinner.  A short while later we heard a voice from the other side of the backstage door ask if we wanted to go to the sauna.  Super keen on experiencing some Finnish culture (that didn’t involve drinking) we jumped at the chance.  We got some things together and walked out to meet our escorts only to find two old, balding, toothless, drunk guys waiting for us.  We were expecting it to be someone from the club, rather, someone who worked at the club and not someone who just drank at the club.  Fuck it, I'm game...

tempere, finland oldest public sauna
Our two sauna hosts. Behind us is a BB machine.
The top floor is a schmelter that releases metal pellets down a spiral chute. By the time the pellet reaches the ground it is a perfect sphere.

We followed them on foot down the street to Finland’s oldest traditional sauna.  The guys were very friendly, almost too friendly.  Every corner we turned we were waiting to be rolled and robbed.  Then we got to the sauna where we sat naked in a rock room with a bunch of other old naked men while the heat reached unthinkable temperatures.  I think Bradley would have preferred being robbed. The way the sauna worked was this: you strip in a common room and then walk into a large rock room.  The ground floor is where you go to seek refuge from the heat.  There is a small pool with buckets you use to douse yourself when the heat gets to be too much.  When you are ready again you climb the stairs to a second floor balcony where the steam from the heat duct is most intense.  When even the downstairs is too much you go outside and cool off, then return as many times as you can stand.  The whole process opens the pores while the sweat cleans them out.  When you go outside the pores close all nice and empty.  You also leave the place feeling like you ran a marathon.  Not a good thing when you still have a show to play.  Riot Patrol and Abduktio were very good which made our performance only appear worse.  We played sloppy, out of tune and we got no vibe from the audience.  It was a real bummer because it seemed like an ideal place to play.  Interestingly though, I was able to hit high notes like I was the singer from Nitro.

The sound guy was from South Africa.  His parents moved to Finland when he was in junior high.  When he boarded the plane it was 100 degrees and when he landed it was -4.

Abduktio
Abduktio, finland
Abduktio finland Tempere, finland Abduktio
 
Abduktio live video
download video - 716kb

The next night we played at a rock club in Pori and we had a great time.  Let's recap - we bombed in a punk club but were gangbusters in a rock club.  What a horrible turn of events! We actually slept in an art squat, a location way more suited to our type of show but they were hosting a German metal festival the same day. After our show was finished we headed back to the art squat and found metalheads in various states of catatonia. Most were just plain passed out (more than one were face down in pools of their own vomit) while others were writhing with their heads in the hands no doubt mulling over their debts to Satan. It was as interesting as it was creepy. Here, check out the only place where a few of them were still conscious (and check out the sweet 'music' they were listening to):

sleeping metalheads video
download video - 855kb
 
sur sur, pori, finland
Click for fullsize picture.
 
sur sur, pori, finland
 
pori finland floyd look a like
Could there actually be another Floyd out there?!?
 
kreator backpatch
You can doctor up the backs of your jackets all day long...
 
thraser speed metal jean jacket
...but sometimes it's better to just get to the point.
 
canon powershot finnish street art
Once again, give it up for the Canon PowerShot - a camera so good it even makes Seth pretty enough to stand next to some wacky Finnish streetart.
 

We've been spending the last couple days with Abduktio, an extremely tight, polished, two-guitar emo-metal-hardcore band from Tampere. Their singer, Mikko was very reserved, almost stoic, and I got the feeling that our irreverent inclination to always be bouncing off the walls rubbed him the wrong way. But then a couple days later he signed our guestbook "THE GRAVITY WILL HAVE ITS SAY!!! -Punx against fake tits-" which sorta blew my impression of him. At any rate, he and his bandmates were an awesome bunch to hang out with and I hope we didn't spoil their record release party by playing it.

sur sur, pori, finland
Abduktio

Their drummer looked straight out of Sigue Sigue Sputnik a la 1987. He had a teased mohawk/mullet and random articles of glam clothing, including hot pink mesh fingerless gloves. He went by the name Tender and he is part of the new breed of rock excess. He was very effeminate and claims to have the heart of a 14 year-old girl. Naturally we all gravitated toward him but as one might imagine, it was the females who were tripping over themselves to get a piece of him. In fact, at the show in Pori Tender showed up talking about his girlfriend when a few minutes later two young ladies came in looking for him. One of them spent the night telling me how how dreamy Tender was, recalling vaguely their past experiences together (yeah, those kind). They flirted openly and when Abduktio set up to play the woman got a call on her cell phone. Some words were shared betwixt the two and she hung up. I didn't have to ask, my raised eyebrows did for me. She said it was her boyfriend and he was on his way down to beat the shit out of Tender.

tender
 
drunken boyfriend passed out
The guy eventually showed up but was so drunk he could do nothing more than slump into a booth and watch blearily as Tender stole his girl.
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