The Stadium shows in Helsinki were five weeks ago. Everywhere I went in my city the last weeks, people came to talk to me about the evenings and I’ve just been floating in the most beautiful stadium afterglow all this time with my heart pumping warm. Both nights were more perfect than Ed Sheeran’s song and this time the home town pressure and panic wasn’t there. Just pure love and amazing moments. Even the crew guys who always give us and you a 110% somehow found an extra drop of love for each moment. I’m so glad we still have many nights with them too before the curtain finally goes down.
I’ve never seen crowds that loud and emotional in Finland before. We also had our friends Janne, both Jukkas and Tommy with us on stage on Friday. The Jukkas have produced most of our music and Tommy is the only feat we ever had on stage, but having Janne there that night was something that made this world a bit better.
I had to let Janne go from the band after our first successful years and that took us both to hundreds of sleepless nights and expensive and painful court rooms. I never ever in my wildest dreams thought we’d be friends again and I never thought we’d fit on the same stage again in this life. It must have been harder for him than the rest of us can ever imagine but it was also probably the heaviest decision I ever had to make. I have broken a couple of hearts in my life and that feels always worse than awful, but this one hit even deeper. I knew what I had to do, but to actually send someone away and to take his dream away from him just as it’s coming true felt like a duty that’s a bit too heavy to carry. I have never felt that guilty, bad and small in my life. Of course writing these lines today in an airplane (where else do I write) I’m feeling thankful that I had the strength and courage to act back then even though I was so damn afraid. Not making the right decisions in life because you’re scared will eventually take you to a place where you don’t wanna be. But knowing this didn’t ease the pain then.
Days go by. And months and years and there’s always a chance people can hear and understand each other even though things feel huge. The fact that we played together again and that Janne even gently pushed me off my microphone with his loving butt (I told him to do so if he feels like it ;) feels amazing. And the miracle that we’re friends again after years of war and cold silence feels like a gift from the Universe. We both understand each other and there’s nothing left to forgive. Now it actually feels like there never was. And damn it was great playing together – with all our friends. On and off stage. This life is just way too short and unique to carry bad stuff with you. I love you forever brother and thank you for coming back into my life. It’s often difficult and I also fail sometimes, but the “listen-accept-digest-understand-forgive” would not be a bad exercise in many situations.
I drove to the stadium both nights with my motorbike. It was the coolest feeling seeing people with Sunrise Avenue & Finnish & other flags walking towards the entrance already as I drove to the sound check in the afternoon. After the shows I drove to the sea and jumped in the water. Floating there in the moonlight and the second night in rain with all the love in my heart we received from the crowd was just a wow. Could have floated there forever.
Thank you everybody and friendly weather Gods for the unforgettable two nights. And thank you all who visited Finland for our big moment. Hope this beautiful country treated you fine.
Deutschland. I don’t even know where to start.
In 2006 we played a showcase in Helsinki at Semifinal club, the small basement of the legendary Tavastia club for some local and international music industry people after I had been in Cannes, France playing them our music and talking their heads around for a week at the Midem music expo. The show went well and I flew to Germany after it to meet some record companies in Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne with our then manager Bob Cunningham. I have probably been on 20.000 flights in my life, but that flight must be the most important I ever took. Helsinki- Düsseldorf, Finnair. It changed my life and it also changed the band guys lives and many lives around us too. At the first meeting I met A&R Daniel Schmidt from EMI Capitol Music at the Hilton hotel lobby bar and he told me that Fairytale Gone Bad could be a huge hit in Germany. It all sounded a bit too good to be true. But there was something great and right about this guy and his words too. I didn’t know then we’d become lifelong friends.
Back then I knew nothing about Germany. I knew they make the best cars in the world and that they play football pretty well. My father’s ancestors come from there, but we never spoke German at home and I never visited the country for relatives or anything else. I only drove through Germany once on my way home to Finland from Spain as I wanted to bring my BMW (!) with me. My friends were jealous. Ocean blue year -91 525i with electric windows and air conditioning. Blaupunkt Modena CD player with a blue screen saying the song name with moving text “Britney Spears – Ooops, I did it again…” Luxus ;) I remember how cool it felt to drive 200+ Km/h on the autobahn legally. I had a day room at a hotel in Travemünde as I was waiting for my ship to depart to Helsinki. So I had stayed one night in Germany before the trip with Bob.
Sunrise Avenue would not exist without Germany. And the German fans. I have 88 gold and platinum awards today from different countries, many of them from Germany but I guess there would be none without the Germans. Without Germany we would not have gotten the international band’s image in Finland in the beginning and therefore the demand for the band would have been much lower. And from Germany destiny, love and hard work took us all over Europe and even Japan to play at total of 31 countries. We’ve seen millions of people singing our choruses, jumping and clapping hands. This international trip started in Germany. It changed our lives.
In the very beginning we also signed a deal with Contra Promotion live agency in Bochum Germany and already before we had anything, they started pushing us to all kinds of events and festivals all over Germany and we had a chance to prove ourselves on stages of many kind. Especially our own agent Enrico Karolczak took us under his wings and I remember sitting a hundred nights with him planning the steps and possibilities even though there was no real light at the end of the long tunnel. Enrico had heard about this strange Finnish band and he flew to Tampere to see us at this pizzeria in 2006. Seriously, there was a stage, but some people had pizza while we played. Enrico used to say “You belong to the fucking stadiums…” already in the early years and I kind of wanted to believe his words but the dream then seemed distant. Enrico and the whole Contra family have been with us from the very start and they also operate this final trip with us and it means the world to me that we never split up even though there were many moments when the world tried to come between us. The whole contra team are friends for life.
And the fans. It all started at club Underground in Cologne – the first show ever outside Finland. There were less than ten people waiting for us after the show and we took photos with them and signed autographs. It felt unreal. Autographs and camera moments in a foreign country, the first fans. I didn’t know then that there would be tens of thousands of fans we would photo shoot and spend time with everywhere we go as years go by. Where ever we went, you were there. And you never left us. Never. We grew and the band grew a lot, but you still came to every show, club, arena, fernsehgarten or festival field, everywhere. You were there every single night cueing and waiting for hours and giving us everything you got night after night. I know many fans from many countries by name, but most of them are from Germany.
And after all the experiences in Germany also on prime time TV I must feel much more German than my father ever did. There were moments when I wasn’t the biggest fan of my role as the tall blonde clown, but now looking back to that too, the memories are golden. Hühnerhaut Zugtoilette Ding Dong forever! The Voice and all TV stuff in Germany have given me and us so much and I have learnt so much about myself and my limits doing these shows and I met so many beautiful people on the way.
The plan was to end this tour in Helsinki at our home town. But actually I’m happy sitting on this plane seat on my way to the next show. Into the country and to the people who gave us so much. I fully understand that we wouldn’t be who we are and be living the lives we live without you. We can never thank you enough. So it’s the final run. And we have never been this ready. The final tour show works like a car built in Munich or Stuttgart and the crowds have been like the audience of the final game of the Bundesliga. Or better and louder. It will be huge. One more night.
Right after the Staduim weekend in Helsinki I received a phone call that truly broke my heart and stopped the world around for some time. Our dear friend and agent Enrico had passed away. I haven’t made many deep friendships these years in the business, but this one was one of the purest and most loving and as years went by, our moments were less and less about show business and more about the lives we have outside it. This tour, like all the tours and shows we’ve had is booked by Enrico and his great team.
We send all available angels to your family and also to your colleagues and we will miss you for as long as we live. This tour has already been more emotional than I thought it would be, but now we have an extra reason to rock the house even louder because we know you’ll be watching us from where you are now. Sleep well dear friend and thank you for being in our lives these years and for making them so much better. Your laughter, wise words and passion will be echoing at our back stages forever, where ever we go <3
So. This is it. There’s 12 shows left. Bags are packed. Jeans, jackets, shirts, boxing gloves and a motorcycle helmet. This is the best tour we’ve ever had. There’s no rush, it’s all perfect. Letting go is always hard but it's one part of life and obviously it can be beautiful too. I can’t wait for Sunday and the weeks after. We’re gonna play and sing out hearts and lungs out with you. This life is an amazing gift.
Biggest love and the biggest hug. See you all very soon.