Henkka as we want to remember him, always ready for a laugh and a good time - Ähtäri zoo, May 2007.
On Saturday, September 20th 2008, we lost one of the best people we've ever had the privilege of knowing, one of our greatest personal friends and a huge essential part of Viola as Henry "Henkka" Waldén died tragically at age 30, years and years and years ahead of his time.
As some - or hopefully all - of you know, Henkka has been our sound engineer since the release of Tearcandy in April 2004. Since then I think there's been about 5 Viola-shows where he hasn't been making sure what we try to accomplish on stage comes through as at least remotely coherent to the audience. This literally means thousands of hours spent and thousands of kilometers of road consumed in a small car together and if that doesn't bring you close to a person, nothing will.
The president of Beaver Patrol Records! - Ähtäri zoo, May 2007.
This piece of news is just simply devastating to us. We can't imagine that there
just won't be a next time that we get to hear Henkka loudly insisting us to "turn off the crap" as we're bugging him with obscure Finnish turkey oldies, or that we can't drive for hours on end obsessing together with various insignificant tidbits of obscure pop trivia. For all these years Henkka was so much more than just a sound engineer. He was the third member of our band.
Henkka will be most sorely missed obviously by all his hordes of friends. Seriously, this guy was loved by all who've crossed paths with him. Then again, how could you not love that guy? Communities that'll miss him include not only the bands he put his soul into (Varjo and Angelica Kult), but also the bands he worked and toured with (most importantly Pepe De Luxe, Underwater Sleeping Society, I Walked The Line, Viola and many more) and the clubs where he was "the house dude" (Semifinal, Kuudes Linja, Belly, Oranssi and Gloria). As a sound engineer his dedication to the task at hand was always unprecedented. No matter how hung over, sleep-deprived or whatever, he was always the one grabbing the heaviest cases and trying to solve the nastiest problems. No matter how harsh the conditions, no matter how little the pay (oh how I wish we could've afforded to really always compensate him as much as he deserved!) he NEVER complained or acted like a diva. I've seen punk and diy people from Croatia to Midwest USA, but I've never met a dude who's been more punk at heart than Henkka. He did EVERYTHING he did with a huge heart and an enthusiasm and passion that was so contagious that no matter how crappy things have gotten at some points, more often than not it was Henkka's pushing the urged us to not give a crap. How many times must I reiterate: that dude has been ESSENTIAL!
Our last soundcheck with Henkka, Semifinal, Helsinki, June 2008.
Another thing I need to emphasize is a side of Henkka I personally felt the biggest connection with: his sense of humour. It's easy to get a really dark and melancholic perception of Henkka through his music, his looks and the image of his bands, but for me, he was one of the funniest dudes on the planet. Always up for a laugh, even when things were sticky, like the time our van decided to part ways with a tire in 80km/h speed on our way to Oulu with Black Audio in November 2006. We almost died and had to stand around for hours in sleet and freezing weather, but thanks in no small amount to Henkka, never lost spirit. That's the side of Henkka I really want to keep as my preferred memory of him.
Henkka, performing with Varjo at Semifinal, May 2007.
Man this is painful. I'm really sorry that I can't be a more coherent writer here. Things are just too huge and too unreal. I just felt we needed to "officially" acknowledge our immeasurable debt to this beautiful human being to let at least a tiny bit of the world know a thing that should be nothing short of obvious: we've lost one of the few amazing people that should never ever be lost. They're a rare breed and they need to be cherished. Although after a few days of sorrowful deliberation I've come to the conclusion that we've only lost the physical manifestation of Henkka. This man was so loved that his legacy - whether artistic or purely social - will never die. Ever.
Oh well, farewell, darling friend. I hope you went on with your journey with full knowledge of the love you have in this place. Our lives will never be the same.
Until we meet again.
Tommi on behalf of Viola, September 23rd 2008