Monday, August 10, 2015

Where´s Wald....uhm, Henri?

Many times I´ve been asked about why I don´t tour with my own bands I´m otherwise very active with. Having a steady job and kids are also very good reasons behind it, but as I had made my decision before I got either, it´s not the sole scapegoat. The real issue behind not seeing me on tours is because I have suffered from depression since the late 90´s and cannot contribute to longer trips due to that. During the years I´ve learn to recognize it, handle it better and accept it´s presence in normal circumstances, but for that I need a "stable" life more than your Average Joe. In order to keep myself in control, being on the road is the worst possible poison.

A part of me is always saddened about knowing my own band is playing our songs without me and I have felt like an asshat many times for not appreciating this awesome possibility life has given me. But I can´t make music either if I´m in a mental hospital and to prevent that happening, I stopped the things that would lead into that instead- so I could continue making that music with my best friends in the future, too.

I started touring in 1998. I had done some casual gig- trips before, but sleeping in a tourbus was a completely new experience for me at the time. I was 20, didn´t have any obligations to anyone except for loose studying and didn´t want to spend time at my lonely flat. I was depressed, broke, and craved for something to do instead of watching the walls collapsing on me. So when I was offered a live keyboardist´s job from a constantly touring Finnish pop/ rock band I didn´t hesitate for a second.
I knew the people in the band vaguely, but we didn´t exactly be close friends. They were hyped teenage idols who acted accordingly... while I was a chubby guy in a Marduk- shirt. I had never felt more like an outsider in my life, but at least it was a better job than handing out newspapers in the mornings. I performed my duties each night with professionality, but the more I spent time on the road the more depressed and introvert I became. When I got home from the gigs, I basically either stayed in bed or went to see any real friends possible- usually consuming large amounts of alcohol and metal music with them. When my assignment with the band ended at early 2000, I was a mental and physical wreckage and the depression had got way worse. I couldn´t study anymore properly. I couldn´t clean my home. I didn´t bother to clean my home. I played video games, consumed music and ate fast food. I only went outside if I had to. I didn´t even realize I was having a depression- I thought it was just normal to feel this miserable all the time. You know, black metal and stuff.

Fast- forwarding into 2001, things were looking a bit better. I had met my girlfriend a year earlier and lived with her, Finntroll was getting gigs abroad and I was actually enthusiastic about touring with my own band and own friends. But two years later, everything started to feel more like a funeral march again and mentally each trip felt consecutively harder to start and to recuperate from. I felt I was being slowly strangled each moment I spent on the road and someone had tied my guts into a knot three days before each departure from home. I just wanted to crawl somewhere and die, and I realized it was not because of the people I travelled with, but because of myself.
While I could manage to keep the depression somehow in control at home with various results, it was impossible after the first days on the road. I just needed much more of those "normal surroundings" to survive the unnormal ones. The doctors recommended medication a couple of times and I even tried it for a month but I turned it eventually down. I was actually quitting Finntroll due to this all, but the other guys convinced me that another live member could replace me on stage. I withdrew myself from all live performances and most social contexts in 2005 and stayed home as much as I could to tip that balance better. However, in spring 2006 that"normal" life started to collapse under my feet due to circumstances not entirely depending on me. Hävitetty was composed at the time, which probably depicts my feelings much better than any words and my girlfriend left me that summer.

Curiously enough, that shock and the aftermath was a turnpoint for my depression, changing it later into a more driving force instead of a paralyzing one. I spent over a year without doing practically any band- activities, trying to patch my abruptly shattered life together and concentrate on my son´s and my own future instead. Due to a lot of thinking and studying, I learned to understand my thoughts and actions better, and realized how to spot the symptoms of depression early enough to rationalize them down or trying to convert them into something creative instead- be it composing music, writing or even drawing. That year later I felt like I had found my own tools to fight and weapons to silence the Demons for most of the time- sometimes even making them work for me. And when least expecting it- met my clearly-meant-to-be-wife afterwards. As my life had begun to rebuild itself in the process, I hadn´t felt better in years.

7 years later, I´m still struggling with depression time to time. This destructive part will always continue living inside me, but I feel I am much more in control of it that I used to be. But I can´t go touring with my best friends because I WILL lose that control. I´ve tried it a couple of times and it didn´t exactly go "by the book". Unless you prefer The Call of Cthulhu, of course.
Even at home, sometimes it keeps strangling me for weeks or even months but I know I´ll eventually survive: escaping into my own worlds and surroundings meanwhile is a precaution for me not to lose it or be a monster to the people who deserve it the least. I just need to stay away from the things that cause this as much as possible, and touring is proven to be toxic in my case.
Having been seeing emotions within the audience ranging from sheer enthusiastic berserking into just standing there and crying, I am painfully aware how my music has given people moments every artist would kill to witness personally- and I miss that. I miss that a lot. My choice of dropping out from the stage wasn´t that much of a choice than a necessity- and given the life I live now going back there is also much harder than ten years ago. But whenever I occasionally join the stage, you can be sure I appreciate the situation as much as I appreciate the people coming to see us and showing me that the choices I have made have still given them the moments I live to create. 


It took me six months to finish this text and it was the hardest thing I´ve ever written in my life. The more I went back in time writing it, the more I realized there are still a lot of things I need to work with as of today. Despite of the eternal ongoing battles inside my head, I am still alive even in the days I wouldn´t necessarily want to be. And the biggest thanks for that goes to my wonderful wife, who has been there for me all the time- especially in the days I certainly wouldn´t deserve it.

I will never be something one would refer as "normal". The melancholic and gloomy thoughts, anxiety, the feeling of being an outsider and the longing for some dimension else will always be there but due to my family, friends and meaningful work I find so much joy in my life that I can live with it. I will find my peace when I´m dead....and quite likely I´d find it dull as hell within the next two hours anyway. Meanwhile, I´ll stick around and try to make the best out of this all without that touring! And yeah, finish that Moonsorrow album on time.


  1. First of all, it takes great courage to share things like that, and I appreciate it.
    Second, although being a public person, you never owe any actions to anyone but yourself. If some activity makes you sick, it's a question of mental and physical health not to continue. And health is the most important thing there is.

    Still, what about touring bothered you worse? I mean I understood there were depression issues, but what in tours was the biggest trigger? Seeing many people? Travel itself? Schedules?

    1. I find the constant "erratic lifestyle" not fitting my mental health at all. That, and too many people I have to socialize with. And the fact that I am away from my own "safe haven", a.k.a home.

      The depression gets a +100 boost everytime I have been on the road for more than two days and that´s why it´s so hard to make any longer trips. And of course you "medicate" it with alcohol, which just makes things worse- like a vicious circle. The travelling wasn´t that bad- in fact, I enjoyed the nights in the silent, humming tourbus in the static road and slept very well there. But everything else when I wasn´t sleeping made me feel extremely anxious, agitated and sad/ depressed. It´s very hard to explain.

    2. Okay, I was going to ask "what about summer festivals which are mostly 1-gig, there-and-back trips," but I guess I have my answer there as well.

  2. Valid point, but that´s more a matter of convenience and fairness. I couldn´t really tell Janne that "Ok, I´ll take these Wacken and Hellfest and you can have this 3- day bustrip to southern Germany and the one- off gig at Iceland". Or, I could... but then I´d be doing them all from then on I guess. :D

    To be honest, it´s sometimes a blessing as well- this summer has been busier than EVER with the new album and other stuff, so even if it might be hard to believe, those imaginery two days working instead of travelling to a festival makes a difference between day and night for me. Then again, this is only temporary workload so don´t take it as a reason for all gigs!

  3. I'm sure you've heard before that a lot of artists "aren't right in the head." They're disturbed in some way(s), and their art emerges from that dark place. Some are consumed by the darkness, as happened with the great writer Robert E. Howard. It's good that you can manage your depression, and channel it towards your art, without being dragged under.

    Now, with that said, please stay busy channeling and finish the new Moonsorrow album ;-) Thanks in advance :-)

  4. Oh right, forgot to take into account the Janne factor. Actually, having now that in mind, it gave me an idea for the documentary, gotta note it down. However, there's an easy solution for that: it's time to re-arrange those songs for 3 guitars or 2 keyboards! No excuses! :D

    By the way, thank you for changing the blog layout to English. :P

  5. Uhm, no problem- I didn´t know it affected anything but as I was trying to switch my own language into English, I accidentally stumbled across "another setting" and thought "well, more English doesn´t really harm anything in this context". :D

  6. Dear Henri,
    I am deeply moved by your post, very passionate and emotional. It is really hard to pour one’s heart out like you did.
    Maybe my words are useless, but I feel like telling you that fans follow bands for what they are as a whole, not for some single member in them. Your bands are a whole with you and be sure that people know how much work and effort you put to make our musical emotions possible. Be always proud to take credit of it, especially because you don’t work under the spotlight.
    You are an excellent composer, truly gifted and able to inspire deep emotions within those who listen, you create pieces that go beyond music, sublime art. Never doubt this, ever. Not even when the darkest times drag you down. Aina pysy lujana ;)
    Thank you for entrusting us with your experience, take very good care of yourself and keep up the good work with the next Moonsorrow album, I’m looking forward to the moment it’ll come to light.
    A big hug!

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  8. I never imagined that the reason for his absence in the concerts was due to depression, in my case I feel very identified with your text, just two years ago I lost my job, my girlfriend, I became very ill and I fell into a sudden depression, It was very frustrating where my anxiety is increasingly gripped me and felt I could never get out of this shit.

    I spent many weeks locked in my house no desire to see anyone, at all times I refused to go to psychologists so I figured my own way out and found my inspiration in nature, since late last year i started doing walks woods and mountains, I need to be by myself and get my head together, I never read anything, nor knew anything about depression and so I started to rescue old pictures of the good times with my friends and glue them to the walls, later I returned to resume contact with my friends, also incidentally make new friendships they and my family are what keep me sober mind.

    I'm still recovering but I know I'm on the right path, of course metal music and especially Moonsorrow has accompanied me all this time, for more than 10 years; so for my part I am I only wish you my best wishes to thank Henri and his sincerity and openness in such a delicate issue as depression.

  9. This was great to read, Henri. As hard as this must have been to write about, I feel like there's always been an aspect of Moonsorrow's music that hasn't been really acknowledged in interviews and stuff like that. Whenever you or another member of the band are doing interviews there seem to be good vibes and excitement and jokes. And that's GREAT - it's exactly how people should be when they're traveling and playing music with their friends.

    But there's an incredible sense of... anxiety and pain and a struggle to find hope that comes through Moonsorrow's music, ESPECIALLY on Havitetty. That resonates so much with me (like many other Moonsorrow fans I'm sure) and this is the first I've really gotten to hear about that aspect of Moonsorrow. Thank you.

  10. Thanks for your kind words, peeps! It´s really hard to explain depression to someone who doesn´t know what it is, but I hope that people who know what it is can relate to this text somehow. And those who can´t- there´s nothing wrong with that either.
    At the end of the day I just try to channel it into my art while trying to live that normal life with my family in a peaceful suburbia (while still being "that chubby guy in a Marduk shirt", but now with my wife who is also wearing one :D) and balance between my inner Jekyll and Hyde constantly. It´s hard, but whoever thought life should be easy should be kicked down for once to learn something, haha!

    I actually found a picture which depicts my original text better than the too many words I used:

    And you know what? It´s time to hit the workroom again. The kids are asleep and the almost- finished arrangement of that Moonsorrow song isn´t compiling itself. ^^

  11. Henri,
    I appreciate the courage it must have taken to post this. Creativity and depression seem to go hand in hand and there's a long list of musicians especially who have come to a tragic end because of the pressures of 'The Business' and often their self-medication of drink and drugs.
    In my 50s now, I have also suffered with episodes of depression and it's taken a lifetime for me to recognise the warning signs and become familiar with the triggers, so count yourself lucky that you have learned them at an earlier age.
    If you know that being safe and comfortable at home is how you stay well and maintain your creativity, then that's what you must do and don't let anybody pressure you into touring. Cherish your family and your home life, because they are your safety net whenever you have a wobble, as you surely will.
    I was lucky enough to see you back in the days of The Potato Sack, and I had no idea then that you weren't perfectly happy being up there on stage in London, but your absence won't stop me going to Fintroll gigs or buying Moonsorrow music.
    Stay well,

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  13. I know it's not my place to say this, but I a musician myself since I was 7 years old I can perhaps relate to your experience. On top of the solutions you mentioned I noticed I got moved by art a lot and the inspiration it creates can really affect your mood. That's why I stopped listening and even creating stuff that I felt was depressing. If I have something depressing that could bring me down, I immediately find a way to deal with it but without shutting down inspiration. Just my experience.