Occasionally, we stumbled across the Finnish culture when we weren't even trying. Six years ago, a friend of ours and a huge fan of the British rock band, AC/DC, showed A a video of a band covering an AC/DC hit called Thunderstruck. Fast forward to 2020 while browsing YouTube, we came across the same video, so we decided to watch. Find out why in this series.
It was the first week of the pandemic shutdown. While browsing YouTube, we came across a video that A had seen before and decided to watch. In the video was a band dressed like the stepped out of the mountains of West Virginia and featured a man playing the banjo unlike anything we had ever see. Intrigued, so we decided to watch another video by this unknown band that was automatically queued up by YouTube. This next song was a cover of a Metallica song called, Nothing Else Matters, which we were both fans of. While the song was known by both of us, it was the landscape in the video that struck M as familiar.
The video opened up with us (the viewer) hovering low over an open campfire while light banjo and bass tones filled our speakers. But as this familiar song unfolds in an unfamiliar manner, the video pans up and around in a continuous motion. The setting of this music video is idyllic, shot from the shoreline of a tranquil lake surrounded by the majesty of a mature pine and birch forest in some yet unknown location. Our most experienced Finn, M, immediately senses something familiar, but can’t quite figure what it is.
The music continued and was cool and unique. Nothing Else Matters was released by the American heavy metal band Metallica in 1992 and is arguably one of the group’s best known hits. The Metallica version of the song peaked to #11 on the Billboard Rock charts, and hit top 10 positions across several of the European charts, with a #1 in Denmark. While we were singing along, this was NOT Metallica. Unbeknownst to us at the time, THIS was Steve ’N’ Seagulls. This group had turned one of the all-time best heavy metal band’s most popular power ballads into a minimalistic and thoughtful bluegrass hit. But it was more than just the music, the acoustic sounds accompanied by the majestic scenery in the video made ‘turning it off’ impossible. We were enthralled.
In this modern age, we can’t go 15 seconds without knowing something, so it was time to reference the Google machine. We not only wanted to understand ‘who’ these guy were, but M had been stuck on finding out ‘where’ they were. So she grabbed her phone and ‘googled’ their name. Within milliseconds we were reading about the band, the songs and albums in their discography, and where they were from. It was this piece of information that helped M understand why the video scenery was so familiar to her. “Jyväskylä!” she said with a smile. “That’s why it looked familiar.” Our Finnish readers will understand what this meant, but for those of you who are still wondering, Jyväskylä is a city in central Finland in the western part of the Finnish lakeland. M had spent several summers in the Finnish lakeland region during her childhood and later as an adult bringing A, C, and E there to visit her cousins near the city of Joensuu, on the eastern side of the region. Even though Jyväskylä and Joensuu are separated by nearly 300km, the topography is very similar, with networks of thousands of lakes separated by hilly forested countryside. It was this topography that M recognized. While we immediately liked Steve ’N’ Seagulls’ taste in and style of music, it was this Finnish connection that solidified our fandom.
Over the next year, our interest in their music grew. In this section, we will continue to share our experiences and enthusiasm with the band known as Steve ’N’ Seagulls. Stay tuned!
A & M: An April sunset listening to Steve 'N' Seagulls
Check out the Nothing Else Matters video by Steve ’N’ Seagulls for yourself…