Me NaisetMarko from Poets of the Fall:”It doesn’t always have to be great”Marko Saaresto, the vocalist for Poets of the Fall, had to try a dozen different professions, have a burn out and move into his parents’ basement before his career as a musician took flight.
Do you know the type of people whose inner circuits spark with more speed than us ordinary people? The type whose lifestories make us pant with exertion from just listening and who have been able to get an education for about a dozen different professions by they’re fourty? This Marko Saaresto is one of those people.
At 41 years old he’s a former graphic designer, advertisement entrepreneur, judo hobbyist, climbing fanatic, and later on an educated visual artist, sports masseur, lifestyle coach and soon to be acupuncture nurse who’s dreaming of becoming a graffiti artist as long as there would be time for it from his current pop singer work. That is the career he is best known from.
His band Poets of the Fall released their 5th album earlier in the spring and the group once again headed to one of their international tours. There, on the tour bus and on the road Marko Saaresto has time to quiet down and be bored.Everything on one card
-I’m very good at staring at a wall, Marko says.
Life on tour has without mercy molded the musician into a professional of waiting and staring. When you have to spare your voice and stay quiet, Marko goes deep into his thoughts, or sometimes loses himself into movies and books. On a 12-hour bus ride from Helsinki to Northern Finland gigs there’s a lot of time to stare into nothing.
But Marko doesn’t complain. He appreciates every moment spent in the bus, staring. They are parts of a dream he threw himself to turn into reality in 2003. That’s when Marko gave up the advertisement business he owned, gave up his apartment and sold his car to put everything to his career in music.
That nest egg financed Poets’ first album.
-I gave up everything, I didn’t have an income, a place to live or a fridge of my own. I was a 30-year-old guy who moved into his mom and dad’s basement. The biggest thing I gave up was the safeness and sureness. But I thought it was going to be worth the try no matter how it would turn out.
It’s typical for Marko to take controlled and even daring risks and believe that it will all work out in the end.
-A lot of times it’s nerve-wracking and scary as hell, but I want to give myself a chance to succeed. It won’t happen by hiding inside a blanket. It would only bug me if I didn’t even try.
Marko recalls that the most difficult part of the beginning was surprisingly the wait after the recording. When the album was in the can and there was not a penny left, the musicians were left to wait for the public reaction. No money was coming in, but you couldn’t get a job in case your career would take off because you would have to be capable of starting a tour right away.
-I spent my days doing nothing useful, I had to learn how to be useless to the society. It was difficult, we’re brought up to be efficient. I really had to work with my psychological wellbeing, Marko recounts.
Later on the wait has been awarded many times over. Poets’ two first albums have sold platinum, their third and fourth album have been sold well over gold and the latest went to Chart number 3 on its release week. It’s impossible to estimate the international success because of pirate markets: in India they get an audience of 15 000 people who know the songs by heart but the albums haven’t sold at all in official record shops.
Now that the 5th album has come out, Marko has a car again, a newly remodeled apartment, his own fridge and a strong self-esteem.
-Success isn’t making me float. My feet stay on the ground no matter how big it will get. My self-criticism is insanely severe sometimes. To balance that, it’s good to know how to enjoy the moments of success. To realize that guys, there’s some good in us too. Rewarding yourself is important, without that you can’t go on.Suppressive advertisement world
Marko has personal experiences what it’s like when you can’t go on. Listening to your own strength, some kind of a love for oneself has been a part of his daily routine for more than 10 years now, ever since Marko recovered from burn out, a throughout loss of strength in his work at an advertising agency. His eight year in the advertising world he can now crystallize into one word: suppressive.
-I thought I wanted to work in that field, but for most of the time I was in the wrong place. The work came close to what I wanted to do but the environment became suffocating.
Marko defines himself as a creator of ideas, not as someone who would finalize those ideas. Spending time cramped up at a computer with eternal hurry, deadlines and people driven to frazzle by those deadlines turned out to be too much in the end. The fatigue deepened into depression, which was first treated with three months of sick leave and later on with therapy.
-Day to day life was like sloshing through a swamp. It started to feel like it would be easier to just end my days. Then one day I phoned for help. I said that I feel like I don’t know what I’m going to do to myself.
After his sick leave Marko returned to work for another 6 months and came to the conclusion that nothing had changed. He resigned and against all expectations started his own advertisement agency. The pressure didn't lessen, but Marko felt better. Just when the agency was starting to bear fruit, the time to throw himself into world of music arrived. Leaving advertisement was a slow decision, but a right one.
His own burn out experiences awoke an interest in Marko for life style coaching and self help literature. He studies it and reads heaps of books even now and he’s gotten better at knowing how well he’s coping.
-I listen to how I’m doing every day now. I look at myself objectively and think why I feel like this now. And it doesn’t have to be so great all the time. Feeling like shit is important too, because you learn a lot from that.Eternal student of body and mind
Saaresto’s life story has been guided by enormous curiosity and an endless hunger for experiences and a dash of ambition. One experience has always woken an interest to a next one. Most things are connected by a thought to evolve body and mind to help oneself as well as others. Next in line this eternal student will finish his acupuncture education, there are 2 years of school left.
-I think that you can’t fail when writing your life story. You may not get everything you want and not everything will work out but you can try. The failings also add into the life story, Marko says.
Marko doesn’t care if people think he’s a bit far out. He doesn’t make a difference on people getting a treatment with western school surgery or shamanism as long as it works.
-Even though I’m a pragmatic sort of person, I also think that the world would need a good deal more of wizards, Marko grins.
The only thing he will never intend to try is skydiving.
-You’re just asking for trouble with that one.
Marko’s previous side project was his own art exhibition of marker pen works created with meditation technique. The pictures came about in a way that Marko kept his eyes on the model at all times, without so much as a glance on his own drawing hand. The name of the exhibition was Hangover Kitchen.
-Now I’m feeling high with the thought of how great it would be to throw myself into making graffitis. Wearing a beanie, loose pants and a huge amount of cans as work material. I’ve always believed in a motto “Happiness is a great big white wall”, Marko laughs.When you’re tired, you don’t discuss
Before his next side project Marko and the other Poets will get on stages with their fresh music. The vocalist got the flair for entertaining at 3 years old when he improvised songs for the familiar people of different family parties. “This was fun, again!”-feel has carried on to this day. At times performing has been unnerving but never frightening.
-You can learn away from the nervousness. My own way is to imagine that the gig is a party at my own place and the whole audience is my friends who are visiting. Who would feel nervous at their own home?
The homely feeling is increased by the family-like relationship between the band. The whole intense package includes the members’ egos, money and personalities. According to Marko the band members are like brothers.
-With the years the mutual understanding and ability to handle each other have evolved and our fuses have elongated. Nowadays we know pretty much everything about each other. At least we’ve learned that when we’re tired and the situation is difficult we’re not going to go through anything important right there and then in a tour bus. One of our touring drummers wisely said that when you’re pissed off the best thing to do is to keep quiet.