Today – or rather the day after tomorrow – is the celebration of 20 amazing years of music masterfully offered to us on a platinum platter by Finnish rock band POETS OF THE FALL. As a writer, it is always nerve-wrecking to imagine people you admire so much reading your words. When these people are POETS OF THE FALL who, wordsmith Marko Saaresto, belongs to… well, I get nervous with all the what ifs screaming in my head… Truth be told, there are so many surprises throughout this article I could not be more please for Poets and for you, readers, fans and friends. We’ve all been touched to the core by Marko‘s words and voice, Olli‘s and Jaska‘s guitar solos, Captain‘s atmospheric keys, Jani‘s deeply smooth bass and all this rocked by Jari‘s ever changing tempos. Such a world they’ve created!
POETS OF THE FALL know how to surround themselves with La crème de la crème of artists… whether it be other musicians, producers, photographers, filmmakers or technicians, the people surrounding them make them shine. At the same time, POETS OF THE FALL return the favor whenever they can, never keeping the spotlights for themselves only. The few words that some of them have been so gracious to send Misfit Heart for this article are a testament to that.
Let the party begin!
Twenty years ago, POETS OF THE FALL saw the light of day when Marko Saaresto and Olli Tukiainen decided to join their talents to make music together. We all know how the story started… Sam Lake asked his friend Marko to turn a poem he’d written into a song for the video game Max Payne 2. Late Goodbye was born. Markus Kaarlonen produced the song et voilà!
“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life” – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo’s birthday speech.
About a week before, I’d turned one of my dreams into reality: to go to Sweden. A dream I’ve had since I was 11 years of age and inspired by – now rock legends – Europe, the band. Already a fan back then, see! Europe who “incidentally” is also celebrating an even anniversary this year: 40 years of brilliant music. Europe started everything, but POETS OF THE FALL pushed me on a path I never thought I’d take. These are the TWO rock bands who turned my heart upside down – and dare I say my world.
The first time I saw POETS OF THE FALL live was in Helsinki, at the now closed venue The Circus. It was then their 15th Anniversary and I remember Marko Saaresto introducing Late Goodbye. An evening of firsts, including first row at a gig… I was a new face… or at least in such a setting… “Our very first song“, he said looking me straight in the eye with a smile and a nod. Whether it happened like that or not, it is how I remember it. We all know that things happening in our head do not mean they aren’t real – badly paraphrasing the amazing J.K. Rowling here. Anyway, that day, Late Goodbye became extra special to me. Told ya, a fan through and through!
Fangirl to Fangirl
Imagine, all over the world, on April 25th 2023… a load and s**t loads of fans singing along your music to celebrate those 20 years… we’re spread all around, yet we are together. Your music brings us together even when we’re apart. POETS OF THE FALL community is ever growing. We recognize each other at gigs, we talk, dance, jump and rejoice. All that because 20 years ago, you thought it’d be fun to make music together, and what music! Life’s funny that way ❤️.
Some never saw you live but breathe your music daily, some have seen you so many times – I don’t wanna say how many I did, I’d blush like crazy… but the point is that all that you give us, through your music and live performances, impacts our lives but also brings us together be it virtually or face to face. I have made an incredible amount of friends, who I love very dearly, thanks to you POETS OF THE FALL, and that, one cannot quantify in any currency or social media likes or views because it is absolutely priceless. I am eternally grateful to you! You… reading this… you know who you are: I love you loads and see you at the next gig or around the next chatroom.
This is also what makes me so eager to write about your music and how it makes me feel… YOU, Poets of the Fall and US… YOU, the fans. Cotilions flying in my head, I wonder: how do you reconcile being a fangirl with striving to become a professional music blogger 😂? Weird, yeah?! And yet, there is only one person coming to mind who could answer that question. The beautifully talented and creative artist Tiia Öhman, your friend… she has something to tell you dear Poets:
“I simply can’t believe it’s been twenty years! Or, if we’re being specific, nineteen for me and this merry band of rockers. I met the guys in 2004 when I asked them to come on the little TV chat show that I hosted back then, and on that very Saturday they played music live on television for the first time ever. It was just Marko, Olli & Olli’s guitar, but I remember it being amazing.
And that’s how everything they do still feels like to me: AMAZING.
I work with them almost daily in some capacity, but it rarely feels like work. Whenever someone asks me about it or my role, it feels wrong to call them clients or what I do a job, so I just shrug and say ”it’s sort of like a family business, it’s all hands on deck.”
And yet, after all this time — even knowing them inside and out — I’m a total and complete fangirl. I love every single thing they do and I’m constantly in awe by their talent. (Oftentimes, I sort of hide it and try to act all cool, but I know they know, haha.)
Anyway. I was supposed to keep this short. So:
Happyhappyhappy 20th Anniversary to Poets of the Fall, and a ”yay!” for my own 19th. ❤️❤️❤️” – Tiia, Photographer
Join me all to wish a Happy 19th anniversary to Tiia! 🥳🥂 Tjohoo & Hurray!!!
POETS OF THE FALL entered my life when my heart was closed and I was going through a rather severe burn-out. I was introduced to their music through their videos: Carnival of Rust, Cradled in Love, Daze, Choice Millionaire, you name it. I was very intrigued and impressed by the quality of what I watched. I listened to their work for about a week until I decided to buy the entire discography. I was hooked. I also bought the DVD they had made, since it was still available then: Poets of the Fall 10 Anniversary Tour: Live in Moscow 2013. The DVD is what started the clock for me to attend live shows.
Now you can watch it on YouTube of course, bless ’em 🥰 👇👇👇🥰
Suffice it to say that they made me feel again… between the ever engaging music and Marko‘ soaring voice, it seemed like there was nothing they could not heal, no depth they could not reach, no door they could not unlock. I am an over-sensitive person, and music has always touched me one way or another, but with POETS OF THE FALL, it went further, deeper, hitting home every single time and I had never experienced anything like it before.
As I am sure I am not the only one in this, someone I have great admiration for – who I gladly call my friend – does too. Poets‘ friend Jay Ray sent these words for the occasion of their anniversary…
” Already 20 years?? Wow! I still remember the first times when I heard them on radio and saw their music videos on TV. Their music hit me hard. I’m a big fan of emotional music with great melodies. To be very honest, POTF is still my favorite Finnish band 😊 Their music have touched so many souls around the world and as I’ve met these guys personally, I can say their humbleness and positivity is just from another planet. That is what makes them very special. Lots of love and I wish them at least 20 more successful years!! ❤️” – Jay Ray, musician.
So, twenty years ago, Late Goodbye started it all and a couple of years later POETS OF THE FALL first album Signs of Life was released and started as number one on Finnish charts. The album was certified Platinum a few months later and remained 56 weeks in the Finnish Top-40. No small feat for a first album! Did they know then how big what they started was? Probably not. First part of a trilogy, 3 letters title – yes, I’m a nerd, so what… It would take a few years for me to catch up, but the crazy ride began then.
Signs of Life is full of amazing songs. Lift – so uplifting – cheesy choice of words? Well maybe, but it is true. Lift is the song I go to when I need to be pulled back on my feet and my heart needs lightening. The song brings my mood to such heights, I cannot explain it better than that, Lift is uplifting. This album is so beautiful in many ways and it has many layers that I am still discovering or re-discovering, beautiful! Another favorite is Don’t mess with me, the title says it all, always lights this fire within precisely when I need it – although I don’t always know that I do. Stay, Someone special, Illusion & Dream, Sleep are my gems.
2018, French singer Françoise Hardy adapted Sleep into Dors Mon Ange, and if I am not mistaken, this put the name POETS OF THE FALL on National French Television – at peak viewing times. Was it the reason behind the very first gigs in Paris the year after? I’d like to think it was, or at least it may have had an impact on the fact that they played twice in Paris that year and I was there both times 🙃. I have proof, lookit down below, this is the first gig in Paris 😘.
POETS OF THE FALL‘s music works so brilliantly because they are above all else highly skilled, talented and sensitive musicians, as well as beautiful human beings. They sound like they don’t take anything for granted… one album after the other, there will always be something different in the music and in the way Marko delivers the songs. From day one, they made a statement with their musical identity and never faltered from it. Wordsmith, Marko Saaresto, and Markus Kaarlonen‘s organic approach to music as Olli put it in the Deeper Than Skin interview on the DVD from 2013 – or was it Jani? – give their music a sense of grandeur without any false pretenses. Complex and yet simple, so that anyone can find this little spark they need to get on with their day. Their artistry put together is a match made in Heaven.
I am in great company saying this, none other than our friend, the amazing Larry Sandman sent these words for his friends thus joining our celebration:
“What an awesome thing to be able to wish a Happy 20th Birthday to the MIGHTY Poets Of The Fall!! 20 candles and 9 albums later, their musicality and originality remain untouched. Always a thrill to listen to their words and music, to be able to enter their universe where the Old Gods coexist with the Jealous Gods, a universe made of so many pieces. From Indy Rock to Metal, they have crafted their musical statement by remaining original and being themselves in today’s world of copycats and conformists. What a band!! Rock on brothers 🤘🏽🔥🤘🏽” – Larry Sandman, musician.
Such a testimony, I rest my case 😅…
Carnival of Rust is, to this day, their most popular song and the culprit 😘 that gets most of new listeners hooked on POETS OF THE FALL, and no wonder. The poetry behind the lyrics transcends the music and the music becomes poetry. Adding to that the incredible video by Tuomas “Stobe” Harju bringing this surreal layer of lost love and loss even, make Carnival of Rust probably Poets of the Fall most watched video on YouTube (58 millions viewers) and the most reacted to 🙃. I am mentioning reactions because the most endearing one to me is: “Why have I not heard of this band before, they’re genius!” This is just from a handful of people, what about all the others who do not share that experience? We’ve all been part of them at some point… How did you react when you first listened to Poets of the Fall? 🙃🌞
The album, Carnival of Rust, second part of the first trilogy… Just like its predecessor, the album goes straight to top of the charts and stays 26 weeks in the Top-40. This meant again that you could hear POETS OF THE FALL on Finnish Radio and as I recall, after a while Marko – as he said in an interview – could not listen to the album anymore 😂.
Third comes, Revolution Roulette – 2 letters title – started the second trilogy… I’m getting nerdy, I know… so already, we could have guessed that they’d be a third trilogy as two trilogies would not make much sense. Besides, who would stop a countdown at 2?
Astounding and masterful storytelling
As I said, I was not around when POETS OF THE FALL‘s journey started, but from the start, the band has shown an incredible way of telling stories with depth in bringing their own perspective on life in ours. The imagery of the music brought to screen, combined with many talented directors such as Tuomas “Stobe” Harju, Saku Perintö, or in the more recent years Miika Hakala to name just a few, have produced cinematic videos that all took their flights towards the auditors’ hearts. Not only are they efficient, they are powerful and inspiring as well. I think Miika Hakala agrees with me here, and the words he sent for Poets‘ anniversary illustrate that perfectly:
“Twenty years! There’s a lot of treasured memories wrapped in music that continues to play as the soundtrack to my life. Yes, that’s your music, dear Poets. It’s funny how a certain song can immediately bring back people, places and feelings you thought were forgotten. It all comes back whether you liked it or not. Music is powerful. Music is magic. And you guys are magicians. I could never comprehend how you do what you do but I feel so lucky to be around listening to your art and letting it thrill me, heal me, whatever is needed at any given time. Here’s to the next twenty years!” – Miika Hakala, Filmmaker.
Oddly enough, when I told Captain that they were making magic on stage at a meet & greet somewhere, he chuckled and thanked me, but he did not look convinced of my statement. Gotta love the humility and modesty ❤️.
POETS OF THE FALL‘s discography is filled with examples of mind blowing storytelling… come to think of Change for some reasons… ahahah, I know why – won’t tell you though… It is freaky because whatever I go through in life – and I’ve written about it before for other songs – when I least expect it, Marko‘s voice starts humming a tune in my head. When it becomes the full blown song, it paints exactly what my life is about at that point in time. More than just descriptions, it opens reflections – no matter how small – that hadn’t occurred to me. For that to happen though, you need to be a masterful storyteller, and beyond the words even.
The unforgettable Stay/ Stay Forever is such a song that it never needs an invite from my life to nudge me constantly… I won’t repeat what I wrote about both versions of the song (see the links below if you wanna read). When I talk about storytelling, Stay is the ultimate illustration. It feels like nothing’s left to chance, in the lyrics, the choices of chords and melodies. I believe Poets have this innate and organic relation to music that they do not have to think about such things when they compose… they feel the stories they wanna tell, they follow this craving of being true to themselves all the way. Beyond the music and the lyrics, their work with Miika Hakala on the video Stay Forever got my mind racing. As I see it, they did not redo the story, they continued it but from another perspective. Beautifully done, what can I write that I haven’t written already? Genius!
For each album, a new path, a new type of story that I am following gladly no matter the destination. The intensity of the stories goes crescendo with every new music the band puts out there. What a rare gift! In such an occasion as POETS OF THE FALL 20th Anniversary, I cannot not mention the trilogy of trilogies to which I have not so subtly hinted throughout this article … The amount of work behind the 9 studio albums the band has released, it is not just the music, mixing and lyrics writing… it is also all the nooks and crannies they had to explore to link all of them together. Insane hard work!
Marko – as a wordsmith prodigy – keeps the coherence of the storytelling through the band’s entire work… he blows my mind with his creations. I have so much respect and admiration for his artistry, and together with the brilliance of his brothers Olli, Captain, Jani, Jaska and Jari, man these 20 years have been a rollercoaster of emotions. Here’s to 20 more 🥂.
No matter where we stand in life, POETS OF THE FALL‘s music always offers a perspective that can unlock the most stuck of situations we are in, provided we let it. The Poets of the Fall effect never fails!
Most powerful lines
The most amazing creative minds will always manage to reach us in a timeless manner and remind us of the simplest truly essential things in life. In a world growing increasingly unhappy, where people struggle to make ends meet, where loneliness and appearances are key words to a society dangerously closing in on some sort of dystopia… Poets of the Fall remind us that – just like Galadriel or Dumbledore – wherever there is darkness there is also light. To me Poets of the Fall are that light ❤️.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.
“May It Be a Light to You in Dark Places, When All Other Lights Go Out.” – Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
On my personal journey, the quotes below are those that unfailingly hit home. My pick-me up and self-reflections on where I want my feet to take me along the path I’m on. It is hard to pick just one quote from each album, but today, those were shining as bright as ever.
“It’s the little things, the little things, the little things that make the world.” – Poets of the Fall, Signs of Life, Stay / Stay Forever.
“And more than ever, I hope to never fall, where enough is not the same it was before” – Poets of the Fall, Carnival of Rust, Carnival of Rust.
“And if words should fail here, I’ll just read the way you sound” – Poets of the Fall, Temple of Thought, Temple of Thought.
“Time isn’t made for waiting
Past isn’t worth debating” – Poets of the Fall, Revolution Roulette, Clevermind.
“And it’s bending your will like a willow tree twisting” – Poets of the Fall, Twilight Theater, Change.
“There’s a joy for every hurt” – Poets of the Fall, Jealous Gods, Jealous Gods.
“A dream’s a deed unsigned
A nameless ghost of yesterday defied” – Poets of the Fall, Clearview, Center Stage.
“First step after the fall
So many more to take till I’m done with’em all” – Poets of the Fall, Ultraviolet, Standstill.
“Now it’s a brand new day for running with the wolves.” – Poets of the Fall, Ghostlight, Hello Cabaret.
That last one alone brings tears to my eyes… so imagine when I listen to Hello Cabaret, I am an overflowing fountain… and yet, in no way is it sadness. Sometimes it feels like relief, I even felt joy as there is “joy for every hurt”. I am not going to psycho-babble here, I just want to show how powerful the lines combined with the music and the singing – though the singing is part of the music 😅 – can become, when you allow yourself to feel it without fear. It is truly beautiful. About Ghostlight, there isn’t a song that does not deeply touch me on that album – and that is an understatement! Yet, Hello Cabaret stole my heart for good. Just like Jealous Gods did a few years back.
Poets of the Fall are here today to celebrate with us
Curveballs and icy roads, life is not always easy… but then again, there are days when the stars align and people, whoever they are, surprise you in the best of ways. When such people are POETS OF THE FALL and friends… well, I can’t dance, but I dance a jig in my head anyway. 20 years is an amazing milestone for the band and here they are – taking a few minutes from their busy agendas to answer our three questions, which Marko has so skillfully compiled.
[Misfit] The music scene has changed quite drastically since you started 20 years ago, what are the challenges (old or new) you are facing today when releasing new music and planning tours?
[Poets] As musicians who have been in the industry for the past two decades, well, longer than that, if you count in our previous foibles, which we won’t go into here, we have certainly witnessed a lot of changes in the music scene. One might count as challenges anything and everything from the increased competition in the industry, the rise of digital platforms and social media, the saturation in the market, the changes in consumer habits and the changes in the music industry, Covid and the rising touring costs.
However, all that this also means it’s easier than ever for artists to promote their music and connect with fans online. Any obstacle can also be viewed in a different light. Perhaps it’s not really an obstacle, maybe it’s just an unexpected curveball. Maybe we’re supposed to learn something from it all. Like adaptation and creative problem-solving. Possibly to take better care of ourselves. Always a good point, that. Of course you might have to get a good night’s sleep to turn a challenge into a positive one. But it’s doable. In this as probably any other industry, one has to be flexible and open to new approaches.
Despite the challenges, we have gained enough perspective over the years to take things in stride and go with the flow. We feel much more relaxed in whatever we do, knowing that the world is forever changing and that the trick is to become adaptive. We’re just happy to continue making music and connecting with our fans in whatever ways we can.
[Misfit] You have set the bar very high, artistically speaking, with your 9 studio albums. What and how do you want to play now?
[Poets] As artists, we always strive to set the bar higher and push ourselves creatively. With our nine studio albums, we have set a high standard for ourselves and now more than ever, we want to continue exceeding it with each new release. We are constantly looking for new ways to challenge ourselves musically and explore different sounds and styles, just to keep things interesting. After all, we’ve been at it with Poets for quite a long time. It’s an uncanny kind of miracle that we are still in love with what we do.
At the same time, we are also focused on doing what we want to do musically, whether it’s in a live setting or when recording. While we appreciate all media coverage and radio play, we are less hung up on it when making decisions nowadays than we may have been earlier in our career. Our focus is on creating music that we feel passionate about and that resonates with us and hopefully with our fans.
We want to continue to evolve as artists and explore new musical territories while staying true to our sound and vision. Whether it’s experimenting with new production techniques, collaborating with other artists, or exploring new genres, we are always open to new possibilities. Ultimately, our goal is to create music that speaks to people on a deep level and connects with them emotionally and leaves a lasting, positive impact.
[Misfit] Last question: What are the best and worse touring memories from this past decade?
[Poets] Okay, good one, tough one. As musicians who have been touring for the past decades, we have certainly had our fair share of memorable experiences, both good and bad.
On the positive side, some of our best touring memories have been interacting with our fans. We have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people who come to our shows and share their love for our music. Seeing the joy on their faces and hearing their stories is incredibly rewarding and inspiring. We feel grateful to have such awesome fans who support us and make our tours so enjoyable.
On the other hand, some of our worst touring memories have also come down to interactions with other people. We have had some bizarre and surreal experiences with individuals who have no manners or respect for others. Dealing with difficult people and unexpected challenges while on the road can be stressful and draining. Luckily, these are the the rare exception, and we have learned to be aware and ready for these situations. We try to maintain a positive attitude no matter what comes our way.
Another aspect of touring that can be challenging is the physical toll it takes on you. Being on a tight schedule and constantly traveling can leave you tired, sick, and run down. But as a performer, you still have to give your all on stage every night, regardless of how you feel. It’s a lot of hard work, but afterwards, there’s a sense of pride in knowing that you gave it your all and put on an amazing show, even if nobody else sees the effort that went into it.
Despite the challenges, touring is an incredible experience that allows us to connect with our fans on a deeper level and share our music with the world. It’s a privilege to be able to do what we love and we are grateful for every opportunity we get to go out on the road and perform.
Thank you so much for the interview,
[Misfit] You are most welcome Marko, Poets of the Fall! Thank you for taking the time in your busy schedules. See you in Copenhagen and Stockholm – at the very least ❤️
POETS OF THE FALL latest album Ghostlight closes the final countdown of an amazing musical journey through the band’s trilogy of trilogies. We are all looking forward to embarking on a brand new adventure with you soon… until then, POETS OF THE FALL, we wish you a very Happy 20th Anniversary filled with loads of memorable celebrations. 🌹🥰 Here’s to you and to another 20 more such years 🥂!
We love you loads! ❤️🎶
POETS OF THE FALL DISCOGRAPHY
- Signs of Life
- Carnival of Rust
- Revolution Roulette
- Twilight Theatre
- Temple of Thought
- Jealous Gods
but then, there’s also
- Alchemy Vol. 1
- Live in Moscow 2013
- Alexander Theatre Sessions
Most of these can be purchased in Poets of the Fall Official Shop – at Backstage Rock Shop
I’ll leave you with one of my absolute favorite Poets of the Fall‘ song from these two decades… ❤️❤️❤️🎶❤️❤️❤️