I haven't updated this blog in over a month and I'm running on about 5 hours of sleep right now, but last night was just so awesome and surreal that I have to write a blog post about it. I still can't fully believe that I was shaking hands and talking with Wintersun. They're all a bunch of great and down to earth guys who just happen to be Finnish and make amazing music.
I'm still not sure why I was picked over everyone else. I sent in my submission only a couple days before the winners were announced and I just look weird in my picture. The only info I got about the process was when Kai told me that their manager, Florian, was picking the winners all the way from Finland. Kai isn't picking them because he'd just choose the people here that he already knows, and what fun is there in that? Here's the picture of my ugly mug that got me picked. It was the best out of the 30 or so that I took.
We were told to be at the venue at 3 and text the tour manager to let us in. I got there about 10 minutes early and met Brett, the other winner, waiting outside. I have to admit, we were both extremely anxious. 3 came and left with no sign of the band, but it gave us a chance to talk about Wintersun and metal in general. A couple of other guys joined us as well, about to wait in line for 4 hours. They were from out of town and had nowhere to go before the show so they decided to just wait in line. They were nice guys but I question some of their decisions. There were also guys from the bands just walking around getting supper and stuff. One of the guys from Fleshgod even asked us where the nearest Starbucks was. I don't think there were any in the area though, unfortunately for them.
After about 40 minutes of waiting (and asking Jukka to let us in when he walked by), we were each handed an awesome backstage pass with a Wintersun "W" and escorted inside. Everyone was busy working to set everything up. There were 2 sets of drum kits and a piano on the floor along with a ton of amps. Kai was sitting at his drum kit on the stage just messing around. Even seeing him play random crap was entertaining. Him Jukka and Teemu started playing riffs and trying out some new sounds. I'm pretty sure they were playing a new song from Time II, I know you're all extremely jealous. Jari came out shortly afterwards and gave us a big wave (he really is the nicest guy ever). Then they ran through part of Sons of Winter and Stars and Sadness and Hate while we watched from the floor.
After everything was perfect, they all came out and shook our hands. We just stood in the middle of the Opera House chatting it up with Wintersun. We talked about a bunch of random crap like Canada, touring and everyone's old bands. They even handed us a bit of swag like signed drumsticks from Kai, a Wintersun flag and Wintersun picks. We of course did the usual things like getting our albums signed and taking a picture with the band, but only after Kai kept reminding us. We were so star-struck that we just kept forgetting all the stuff we wanted to do. I tried to be the level headed one (Brett must have thanked them at least 20 times), but the whole thing was just surreal.
Yeah, Teemu really is that short. For comparison, I'm a little under 6 feet. I won't hold that against him though, he's a pretty cool guy. So is Jukka, he just gives off an aura of cool. Everything from his voice to his sunglasses. Jari is just as you'd expect if you've watched any interviews with him. He also has the smallest hands of the group, which is a little interesting tidbit for all of you. And Kai is probably the most conversational. He seemed to genuinely enjoy talking to us and was really humble considering all the compliments we were giving him and the band as a whole. The whole band was just happy that we enjoyed their music so much.
When we were finished talking, Brett and I headed over to the merch booths (who were still setting everything up) to see if we could buy some things in advance. Kai and Jukka came over with us and even shuffled around the boxes a little bit to see if they could find what we were looking for. I bought a Wintersun wristband which I've wanted for at least a couple years now. They had some really cool merch too, like a Wintersun hat and shorts. If only I had unlimited money... Kai even hung around with us for a bit longer after we probably should have been kicked out and just talked about drumming.
I really can't compare this experience to anything else. Just a week ago I was listening to the debut album every single day on my drive to work and now I can say I've met the band. They are the nicest rockstars you'll ever meet and they put on a spectacular show afterwards. Thank you so much to Wintersun and all the management staff for putting this together, you guys rock!
You can find my full concert impressions right here.