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Interview: Sunrise Avenue
Even in my long-awaited vacation Finland (with Joanne A) I could not let it be "defenseless" Finns, as Samu Haber and Janne Kärkkäinen to tug on my tape recorder ...

 U.C., 06.04.2007, Rev. M.K., 31.07.2007

 How does it come that youīre making a quite positive sounding music because other finnish bands are just doing melancholic and depressive music?

Samu: The ones you know probably… there are a lot of bands singing about positive stuff and itīs the first band like HIM, The Rasmus, Nightwish or whatever, who made it through to other countries and thereīs this second wave coming. All the happy gay finnish…(laughing)
Janne: Making slight careers in Cologne (note: Cologne is known for the good acceptance of gays and lesbians)...
Samu: Starting up from Cologne in the gay-bars...

What were your experiences in Germany like? Was ist just what you thought it would be or was it better?

Samu: I think, itīs been what we expected, basically. I mean, do you mean those tiny bits of success or …we believed in our music all the way and in our performance and everything, sure. Itīs a bit surprising that the album went already gold there and the tour was completely sold out and everything worked. Looking at the team weīre working with itīs not amazing because theyīre doing a terrific job...
Janne: You can really dream about stuff thatīs like what you dreamed about as a kid. When you go up on stage, in Cologne for example, there were like 2000 people screaming and itīs like - you canīt really prepare yourself for that.

And did you do any sightseeing or did you just do the gigs?

Samu: We went to the tower in Frankfurt once. Thatīs all.

Did you tour alongside Tokio Hotel?

Samu: Just for a show...

Having read on your official homepage that you got quite a few trophies- how much do those mean to you?

Samu: There a two sides. The most important thing is to see a happy face or a personīs hands up in the audience, thatīs the whole thing. Thatīs the biggest thing there is. But we would sound pretty stupid if weīd say we donīt care about "Energy Music Award"-trophies or the grammies or whatever. Our gold and platinum album records, it is really really great. And in a way we know itīs easier to measure your trip youīve already taken with your music and like those small mile-stones help you, you know, tell you that we actually have archieved something already. I mean, if you just play a show after a show after a show, sure itīs the same, you get the same "now we are on this level" or whatever. It is really really really huge.

Youīre travelling quite much, and was it just like before, did you travel much in your freetime already or did it change since you are famous?

Janne: Yes, it changed a lot.
Samu: Sure, weīve been doing our life the way - you have to do your work where you are, where you are from, and you have to do that first. So the travelling is not so much. Iīve been taking a hundred flights during the last year and thatīs a flight every third day. In Germany we flew there a lot, like we flew there for promotional things or whatever. But itīs cool, I mean, it is freetime in a way - we just enjoy! No, but it has changed, sure. Itīs like - you have a driver waiting for you at the airport and they take you, you actually don't know whatīs happening, itīs like, "when do you pick us up in the morning ?", "do I have to have my acoustic guitar with me or not?"-"no you don't have to have your acoustic guitar with you" and blah blah blah - there you go. And dinners are arranged and everything, should be of course, if you think itīs like some bands they have to travel to Germany everywhere on their own with the bus or whatever. We are really really lucky to have this big big company behind us, especially after those tiny steps of success, that they really believe in us now and put a lot of time and effort in us.

Being famous has many good sides, what about the bad ones? What would you consider a bad one?

Samu: When you have a birthday you donīt know where to put all the red-wine bottles, thatīs really ... Samu: ...sad...
Janne: Tough job!
Samu: Itīs like a game you play. But itīs a thing you choose and sure, itīs a bit annoying that there are people sitting outside your house in the morning. When we have a show in Finland, especially when we have a show in Helsinki, and we live in Helsinki area, and it can be like…there was one first morning, it happened, morning, it was two oīclock in the afternoon, I made some coffee for myself and had a cigarette in my mouth and I was gonna go to the balcony. And my balcony is to the parking area side and I walk out with my cigarette and my coffee like "uuh, who is playing Fairytale gone bad like really loud?!". And they had this huge ghetto-blaster. I crowled around the balcony and smoked my cigarette and ordered a taxi behind the house and went to the laundry-rooms and everything. And itīs been like that for quite many months now. So sure you don't wanna have that when youīre a bit tired or so, and …but well, I donīt know, I really don't mind. Before your phone number gets somewhere …itīs ups and downs. But we don't have make-up, we donīt play any games, we just play our music and we are these guys who we are so we can really be ourselves everywhere. Our fans, the few fans that we have, have taken us really really wonderfully. They accepted us the way we are.
Janne: And thatīs some kind of blessing to have. You can go to the supermarket and buy your milk or something else, and you don't have to have your "change" and make-up on.
Samu: And especially we came up and we sold platin in Finland and we really came from zero to a hundred really really fast and pretty fast also in Germany. In the beginning, you donīt really realize it. You should probably not take a public bus in the evening, because itīs like half of the guys wanna kick your ass because they think the girls might think to want to get laid by this guy after having drunk. And you really donīt wanna go to the really teeny discos or whatever. It once happened to me. I put my jacket away and turned and the whole bar was looking at me and I was like "shit, thatīs gonna be a lot of fun". And some guys were like "aah, gotta get stand by my sisters…". But both are the downsides and the upside is that you can travel with your best friends and play your music with your best friends and be with our lovely crew and staff…I mean, weīve been flying around Europe. Now weīre going to Japan and USA, Canada - everywhere. And letīs go there and see whatīs happening. Australia, South Africa…the album is out in Africa, you can listen to us all over, yeah, the upside is bigger than the downsides- that you canīt buy your salami without being recognize.

And did there ever happen anything embarassing on stage, any embarassing moments?

Samu: No, no, nothing, never. We are always perfect, nothing ever happens.
Samu: Yeah, there is a lot of…like, but doesnīt really matter...
Janne: Itīs not that serious. If something breaks down or you play a tone wrong or...
Samu: It was cool: In Nürnberg, it was really big energy concert and yeah, the song "Forever yours". I didnīt play in the song at the beginning, now I do. But it was like, we didnīt really know how to perform it because itīs a big song and actually I should only be singing. And I was supposed to give my guitar away, it was the first big show in Germany. You know, I had this microphone standing in front of me and I was supposed to take my guitar off and give it to the guitar-tec so…sure, I put the guitar strap around the microphon-stand and itīs like stuck there. I just said to the microphone "Gut gemacht" and it was really like we were struggling together. It was a funny thing but, anything can happen.
Janne: Like yesterday when you started the wrong song...
Samu: Yeah, we were supposed to play this "Nanana"-song and I just started another singing.
Janne: And I was telling him he got the things wrong and then we started the right song.
Samu: A lot of stuff happens, and actually you donīt even see 99% of the stuff what really happens. You know, we have this belt-bags where we have our hearing-systems. The batteries might die, but itīs harmless against loosing even the whole package, the whole belt-bag. And then there are like ten guys running around the stage with flashlights, looking for that thing, like "is there something wrong with your hearing?"- "no, I LOST it, itīs somewhere ON stage…" and they were just on their knees.
Janne: Like in Berlin…I went off stage like in the middle of the set and something grabbed in the wire, and it fell somewhere...
Samu: In Chemnitz actually...
Janne: Yeah, in Chemnitz...
Janne: I had to play a few songs without the package because no one did find it.

"Forever yours"- you have the tattoo of the song title. How comes?

Samu: Yes, I do…It is a pretty strong comittement in a way, it was supposed to be for this girl, and about this engagement thing and then the fairytale went bad and whatever…so, itīs a cool song.

Are your lyrics based on imagination, own experience or a mixture of both?

Samu: Well, itīs gotta be both. If you write songs about that you went to the supermarket today and bought this butter, bread and salami and happy gays on the way there...
Janne: And what is going on on TV tonight...
Samu: Is it the battle of the idols of Finland. Itīs your experience for sure, itīs that if your about something, like this fiction or whatever could work like this spiders from mars or whatever. Sounds pretty weird. In our cases it is really always what has really happened to us, or someone close to us.

What would be your personal "Wonderland" ["On the way to wonderland" is the title of their album]- how would it look like?

Samu: Itīs pretty much like this. Itīs not a place, you know, thereīs no gate…it is a state of mind. I hope we never get there because being on the way to wonderland is the whole thing. If you get to wonderland theyīll get to shake hand and say "It was fun…take care" like, make more babies or whatever. Thatīs the thing. Itīs the thing that youīre on the way with these guys and my brother having to bring all the beer (everyone is laughing). You know, going towards something you donīt know what it is really is and the experiences and adventures - it is really, really cool.

More and more the success of a band is based on the looks of the band members and music getīs a little in the background…What you you think about it?

Samu: Fuck that! Okay, if we look at the videos of Modern Talking and The Bross from the 90es or The Beatles: Whenever this stuff had been released, itīs really, really well thought how they look like and you know, we are living through and weīre just like these normal guys from my country and thatīs really, really cool. And we don't really feel like idiots on most of the posters and thatīs really cool. Itīs like, I don't know, sure, the competition is harder and harder and harder. But itīs always been like this and the piracy and everyhing is making the music industry suffer…fuck it. People want to hear music and they wanna hear stories. They wanna hear that these fat guys from Finland had to go to record companies for 102 times and they really fought through it and really got it finally. And now they can be proud on themselves and thatīs the story.
Janne: Thatīs kind of a different thing. They are more interested in the stuff around the music. I donīt believe that there still is the big crowd always being interested in the music.

And which three things would you take to a lonely island (not including planes or boats)?

Samu: Iīd take myself and then the singer of the band and then the voice of the lead singer probably... No, I take a guitar and a bottle red wine.
Janne: Iīd take swimming trousers.
Samu: Because there are so many watching you...sure...
Janne: I am shy…I don't know, maybe a truck-load of good food, three trucks.
Samu: Oh yeah, you canīt do this fishing.
Janne: Because I am slow.
Samu: There are gonna be so many people around there, realizing this guy playing guitar and drinking wine. Itīs this kind of bottle that never gets empty.
Janne: But there is no internet.
Samu: It is everywhere, of course. 3G fast, super lanes.

And where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Samu: Jailed probably...
Janne: I think we are kind of guys that we don't really look like. People are asking us what we are doing in 5 years but you actually don't know.
Samu: You shouldn't make plans! If you make a tight plan what youīre gonna do it might damage you, because then you have the plan and you follow…just follow your heart!
Janne: I think, we know what we gonna do like in a year or two...
Samu: But if you ask - we have released four albums, weīve just played our first big world-tour, and, one of us has been in jail, and two of us are married, three, hopefully I have a kid as well, or two, or three, or even four, or fiveteen that I know of. But I think we will be on our way to wonderland, doesn't matter how the whole looks like.

What are you preferring - playing small club gigs or big festivals?

Samu: No, we only want to play for 200.000 people, nothing else. It doesn't matter, it depends on the audienceīs reaction. I mean, it could be really, really boring to play in front of 15.000 braindead idiots…and it can be really cool to play for 300 listeners in Berlin in Magnet Club - it was cool. 300 - it was actually full, a really small club. You can smell the sweat in the air.

Youīre playing Austria, at Novarock...

Samu: Sure... And have you been to Austria before?

Samu: Yes, it was good. We were in Vienna actually only, just the two of us. Promotional things, we did like 38 interviews during those two days. One day actually. I was also there for Christmas, this Christmas and I went to the records shops and there was no Sunrise Avenue CDs out there. But now itīs going really well there. Itīs a nice country, very kind.

Do you do any kind of rituals before your shows?

Samu: No, pretty nothing. We drink a little water, that's it. Sure you have to warm up a little bit and right before we walk up we just come together.

What did your family think about the band at the beginning and how did their opinion change time by time?

Janne: Sure they were sceptic.
Samu: But it didn't take anything away from anything else: It didn't take the time away from them, or didn't take time away from schools or whatever. We wouldn't have done that anyway, and as soon as it started giving something to us, like first enjoyment to be playing concerts or whatever. There was an input for us, what the hell. Itīs never been a problem. My dad still asks "how much is your salary? Do you get your monthly salary?"- yeah, yeah, I do. It never was like we were skipping anything or doing drugs and were throwing TVs out of the windows or whatsoever. We love music and we do it- so whatīs wrong with that?!

In your new video for "Forever yours" there is the German moderator Collien Fernandez appearing. How did it happen?

Samu: We met in Leipzig at the Dome. She was doing some stuff for Viva. We played before Tokio Hotel and then our record company said that Collien might be there. We didn't do the script already and they asked if it was alright. And yeah, it was alright! I guess they wanted someone whoīs already a bit known in Germany. Janne: And you had that wallpaper on your
Samu: Yeah! Itīs so cool! I had her wallpaper and I was like "where the fuck did I hear that name before?!"- I was like "Collien, Collien, Collien Fernandez..!?" and itīs been like "aaah, youīre the girl who I was lying on the bed with…". Itīs cool. She was nice.

What would you call the biggest difference between German and Finnish fans?

Samu: Again, we spoke about this last night. They are just a bit cooler in Germany, canīt help, sorry.
Janne: We don't have a culture in Finland like go to a club and see the band and enjoy. We go to a club and drink the beer.
Janne: If you do the same thing in Helsinki, on Wednesday night, and do one, letīs say in Hamburg at Tuesday night, itīs like day and night.
Samu: It was this huge drop: We did that four city-tour now, in Germany, and when we came back to Helsinki, we played at Tavastia which is like THE place to play at in Finland. I felt so weird, so bad…at the fourth song I just thought "Am I THIS bad?!", because they were like standing there. Sure, they were singing with us and were clapping but it was soo different. We have our halls full and the concerts in Germany were so cool. But again last night, we played two shows yesterday in Kuopi o- the first one was for all ages, which was really, really cool. The atmosphere is different. At the second one, there were people with beers. It was like cigarette in one hand and beer in the other one so you canīt clap your hands. I mean, there are a lot of cool people every time. But the show in Hamburg and Cologne were the best things that Iīve ever felt! Better than any orgas and I had two already and those were really nice.

Ein ganz großes "Paljon Kiitoksia"(vielen Dank) an Mikko, und besonders an Janne und Samu!!!!!


    ¬ Sunrise Avenue
    ¬ 06.04.2007 eng | deu
    ¬ 16.06.2007

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