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Goths from the north
For most 'rock' fans - especially those in India, specifically New Delhi - Poets Of The Fall's Carnival Of Rust has a hallowed place on a playlist that sports songs like Guns N Roses' Sweet Child of Mine, Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name Of and System Of A Down's Chop Suey. Ask any DJ.
Indian fans have a special soft spot for the Finnish rockers, who first came to India in 2007. The Poets of the Fall or POTF - the name has Biblical roots, referring to man's fall from grace - are in the middle of their third India tour. Tickets for the three concerts were snapped up like dresses on sale at Zara. The affection is mutual, says the band's lead vocalist Marko Saaresto. "We love the country. We get a lot of fan mail from India and even our Facebook page is just full of Indian fans. We've always had a great experience here. "
Saaresto, with Olli Tukiainen and Markus 'Captain' Kaarlonen (keyboards, production) make up POTF. The band hit the big time in 2003 with their first single, Late Goodbye, a song about fate and the choices we make. It was made specifically for the video game Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. The song was used as the closing theme of the game as well as a recurring motif.
Some say the video game industry can save rock 'n' roll music. From Metallica to GNR to The Ramones and even Johnny Cash, rock classics accentuate game play in a way that Super Mario's beeps just can't.
But commercials, for most musicians, are still a big no. The Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, who died recently at 47, famously rapped that he wouldn't "sell my songs for no TV ad". Saaresto may not be as unyielding as Yauch, but says that advertising is too political a world to enter.
"Sure POTF have been asked to license their music for commercials a few times and if it's for a good cause then why not. But I used to work in advertising earlier and it's too complicated a world for me. "
Saaresto, 41, grew up listening to Prince - "the groovy stuff" - and went through the customary goth phase when he dressed in black and listened to Metallica and Megadeath. The bands still wears black and kohl and has passionate and stormy music videos. But when it came down to making music, it wasn't metal Saaresto turned to, like the rest of his country. "Finnish people like gnarly, gruff and tough sounds. They're a bit stiff and need something strong to move to. There were times when Finland wasn't all about metal. Once we were a disco nation, " he laughs. "But the music scene in Finland is very vibrant. POTF is just POTF. We could sing about anything, make any kind of music that appeals to us. "
Saaresto has said that "man is the architect of his own demise" and the lyrics of a song like Fire echo this apocalyptic outlook.
Did you think that I'd blink, that I'd go and take the ink to your control, that I'd sell my soul and does it ring any bells that it sells that we're living out of shells in a shotgun, if we couldn't shoot, we'd have to run/ and finally the cerebral fantasy, better genes and machines, so we can die looking like we're teens, like snapshot scenes in smithereens.
In the middle of releasing their fifth studio album - Temple of Thought released in India earlier this month - on their independently owned small label, POTF don't enjoy the perks that big rock outfits do, but Saaresto and his mates don't let things like money get in the way of having a good time with their fans. One of the band's favourite videos is the one of Ultimate Fling, which consists of edited footage recorded by fans from various gigs. "That was so cool, " says Saaresto. "It's exciting being a rock star. It may not be for everyone but it works for us. "
VH1 Handpicked Poets of The Fall tour, after Bangalore and New Delhi, travels to Hard Rock Cafê, Pune, on August 25
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