The Finns are Alright

6 flights and 17 million miles on trains (approximately) later and here we are; a couple of Cape Bretoners who’ve amassed a vast knowledge of a random Scandinavian country. To sum up everything about our 2-week Finnish tour in a thousand words or so would be almost impossible as picking your favorite Spice Girl or flavor or chips – it can’t be done. We saw and experienced more than we could have imagined and met people we’ll call friends for the rest of our lives. Every show in each of the 10 cities we played was a surreal experience with amazing music loving crowds, exceptionally friendly bar staff (if we drank every beer given to us we’d surely have missed our flight back and be in a Russian Detention Center scrubbing mold of Lenin era army Tanks) and some of the best house soundmen we’ve ever encountered. Instead of telling a story of any sort, I’ll just list some random facts we discovered, feelings we experienced and an anecdote or two... if that’s a’ight. Here we go: Every day we were there we walked from our hotel to the train-station to travel to a new city. We logically made sure our backpacks weighed as much as possible, jammed with everything a Canuck needs to survive two weeks in a foreign land, our shoulders faltering, our hands filled with guitars, snares, pedals and whatever else... walk a few miles every day, have strong hands by the time we’re back in Canada, or, just need massages... trek through the snow, the architecture immaculate, the glow and energy of new cities in a foreign land guiding our steps... heated sidewalks... Christmas lights brighter than anywhere you’ve ever seen, Hockey is king, blonde hair, everyone beautiful... get on train, pile gear on lap... Chug, chug, chug, train hits 206Km/hr! That’s pretty cool, better cheer aloud... train stops, another new city, endless possibilities... it’s dark and grey and the sun doesn’t shine but it’s alright because you’re glimmering from the fervor of everything around you, the unknown... Smoked reindeer meat, the hung-over guy who asked us - “Who is the greatest rocker in the world?” and then rolled up his sleeve to reveal a KID ROCK tattoo, everyone buying CDs, interviews, the amazing studio out on the island, the old cougar trying to steal booze from our mini-bar, getting destroyed in a ball hockey game, Bruce's Champagne Birthday, saunas and encores, looking out into the crowd and realizing - “Holy shit... we’re in Finland!”, announcing the awards for the girls roller derby team, the guy who made all the sound-effects like Motor-mouth in Police Academy, and most importantly, Karhu beer.

The only noticeable differences between Finland and Canada are: 1. There’s no bacon, 2. They don’t cut their pizza, 3. Public bathrooms cost (this does not bode well for a man with IBS) and have bedays(I think they're called bedays... something like that), 4. Milk is dirt cheap (literally cheaper than water), and 5. For some reason, aged American astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, is a huge celebrity there.

For the first time in the history of the universe Cape Breton accents were deemed “Sexy”, we discovered that Mexican food is the national food of Finland, even the ugly girls are pretty, and there appears to be no rules to where a person can and can’t drive. You’ll be sitting on a bench in a quiet park and all of a sudden a station wagon will appear out of a vortex and drive by you on a narrow dirt path. Also, push or pull doors are a gamble in Finland. In theory, a fella should be about 50/50 with their push or pull decision at a door, but we were push/pullin’ on about a 95% fail rate. We got the greatest introduction of all time (20 minutes long with the only English words being ‘THE TOWN HEROES!’ and coudln't have made us sound any more like we were two galdiators about to fight) from a cool Finnish dude who liked us so much he kissed us both on the stage before our encore. It was kind of weird, but he used to be married to Miss Finland, so... we basically kissed Miss Finland!

We met a Sound guy that used to tour around Russia and told us a pile of amazing stories about his drinking escapes with an insane Soviet Commander named Boris who shot his 80 year old house-keeper with nerve gas to prove its effectiveness, knocking her unconscious and spilling the potatoes she was carrying all over the floor. He also mentioned the time they threw a lamb (that was to be cooked) out of a helicopter because it was too cute to shoot up close.

And 6000km from home in a place called Hameenlinna, half way through our set, our energy and the energy of the crowd growing in unison, feeding off each other like a chorus of mutual parasites and generous hosts giving and taking all we can, someone in the thick of crowd yells out, “Play Hit Potential!”. And at that moment, getting a request for a song we wrote, in a country we’ve never been to, in a city we’ve never heard of where people’s first language isn’t even English, was as extraordinary as anything you could ever feel. Our music crossed the sea before we even got there, filled the ears of strangers, brought them out to our show, and they stood there and yelled out 3 simple words that meant as much to us as anything ever possibly could. Adrenaline pumped in our blood, the music rushed through us; amps blasting loudly in our ears stealing frequencies we’ll never get back but entirely worth it; the thud of the kick drum shook our chests beautifully, 80 hertz – rattling our bones, as close to thunder as we’ll ever be... “Holy shit...we’re in Finland!”

We met the guy who yelled for the song after the show. Him, along with his friends, were some of the nicest people we’ve ever met, as good as any you’ll ever encounter on this planet. And he told us that we inspired him, that he wanted to do what we do and be on stage. He said that he could see our passion and that he actually started to tear up during our set because he could see how much we loved what we were doing. We might not be the biggest band in the world, or even in our own province or city, but if we can have that kind of effect on someone 6000km from home, then that makes it worth it. It makes everything you’ve ever done to be a musician justified. And when that happens, when you make another human feel something, an emotion powerful enough to make them warm up inside and shed tears, then you’re as big as any band is; every sacrifice you’ve ever made is worth it, every peanut butter and jam sandwich you ate instead of a steak to save money for sticks and strings is right. You might not be rich and famous or even able to afford a jumbo hotdog at the hockey game, but you made someone else out there feel a little more alive, and really, isn’t that all that truly matters? You still might just be a couple guys from little towns in Cape Breton trying to make a go at it, but at least you’re out there, at least you’re getting some mud on your shoes.

So that’s a little blurb about our escapades in Finland. Like I said, impossible to capture it all in a few paragraphs. Hopefully some of what we experienced was justifiably able to transcribe into word.

Thanks to Harri and everyone at the Nem Agency, you guys are as professional as it gets. Thanks to Timo, the greatest tour guide alive, Music Nova Scotia and the Export Development Program (www.musicnovascotia.ca- check ‘em out, join, it’s like having a crew of best friends who know everything about the music industry and want to fill your ears with all the knowledge you need). And most importantly, thanks to all the Finns who we met and came to our shows. You guys are amazing, friendly, and supportive people.

All the best in 2013. We have lots of big plans; new album, lots of videos, tours and the works. Thanks for all the support along the way. Much love, TTH

TTH in Finland
TTH in Finland

Here's what we looked like in Finland

B and W in Finland
B and W in Finland

All of our shows in Finland were played in Black and White

This project is supported by funding from the Nova Scotia Department of Culture, Communities and Heritage through the Music Nova Scotia (MUSIC NOVA SCOTIA) under its Export Development Program for Music.