Where are you, Jere Haakana?

Some of you might remember the glory days of the internet. This was back when every young person didn’t have 5 websites, a couple of bands and a bunch of casual sex partners met through text conversations. In those days, (a decade or so ago) we had to write our own websites, and host them on crappy free servers like Angelfire and Tripod and Geocities. These servers only offered 2-5 megabytes of web space and were powered by manual labor. You think I’m kidding??! Spoiled punks…

When I was a young kid and getting big into shred guitar, or neoclassical or whatever the hell the kids call it these days, there were only a few people writing about it on the internet. The main people that come to my mind are Jere Haakana, Schuyler Tsuda and Angwie. Jere Haakana, a Finnish guy, was notable in that he transcribed a ton of Steve Vai stuff and posted all the mods he did on his own Ibanez guitars. Jere must’ve been pretty young when he was doing this. In fact, he was only 17 when he released a really proficient and humorous demo. He once posted a song he recorded in one day with his friend, which he called, “Shapeless Two Tone.” It was one of the most beautiful songs I’d heard in my life up to that time. It was a really tasteful and exciting two person lead guitar trade-off song they wrote one afternoon. I searched all over the information superhighways for that song again recently but it seems to have gone the way of the lizardman. That is to say, people now laugh at you when you talk about how it once possessed awesome (in the biblical sense) strength and majesty…

I only ever interacted with Jere briefly through e-mail. His websites were super helpful though and mega inspiring. Schuyler was an online pen-pal of Jere’s. Schuyler posted the first ever online video of the arpeggios from Jason Becker’s “Altitudes.” 10 years ago, posting a video of yourself playing a sick ass guitar piece on a website you hosted yourself was unheard of. I’m super cereal here: these guys were ahead of their time.

Angwie, another Finnish fellow, had a website with every Jason Becker tab on it, mostly tabbed out on his own. There were some errors, but man– what a commitment! When I first found that site I printed out like half of the tabs and still have them in a folder in my room, almost a decade later. I practiced “Concerto” every day like a madman and to this day it’s one of the only songs on earth I can play all the way through, start to finish. The cool thing is that a lot of the tabs you’ll find on the internet of Becker/Friedman songs are actually Angwie’s. I don’t know why he took down his website (he had it before Jason Becker and Marty Friedman even had their own!), maybe it was some copyright thing.

So, recently I was looking for Jere Haakana again because his music rules, and you know what? He’s gotten even better. This guy is the real deal. He’s alive. And he’s only two years older than I am? Jerk. I only was able to find some tracks he did with a project only defined as ‘D.I.G.’, which apparently has already disbanded. Stuff is wicked though. It’s all over the place, with all the classic shred you love but super tasteful. It has the most flawless and well-thought out harmonizing this side of D&D metal. But just when you think it’s going to stay melodic or get overly saturated, they bust out several measures of Meshuggah-esque insanity. Not to mention all the groovy fingerpicking and country twang magic “pulled off” (HAHAHA THAT’S A KNEE SLAPPER) on the electric guitar. And tying it all together are really feel-good riffs and phrases. Like upbeat, inspirational grooves that come full circle and allow the compositions a little room to breathe from all the tight technical finger spells constantly going on throughout the tracks. And do I sense a Marty Friedman influence overriding that classic Vai-influenced insanity? No bones about it, this is the music I wish I could write. Jere really came into his own – and these other musicians are not too shabby themselves.

Download these tracks here. Lemme know if they ever go down and I’ll post ’em.


If anyone knows what Jere (or anyone else) is up to these days, drop me a line and let me know. I would be extremely interested to get in touch with him or just follow what he’s doing.

It’s funny looking back at the way the internet was, because I can’t imagine how I even found things on the internet in those days: websites were spread so far apart! You found stuff by linking from one site to another, like long island chains which had not yet set up a central communication grid. There were tons of search engines and none were better than any other (actually, some were absolute garbage).

What is a little bit bothersome about the internet now is the lack of– “genetic variation,” so to speak. You know the concept: there’s about 5-10 main sites on the internet that filter traffic. Everyone links to and from wikipedia, google/youtube, myspace/facebook and blogspot/wordpress. The internet is getting smaller. So people with similar surface interests are very common and often put little effort into presenting their hobbies on the internet. Eventually it all blends together in a way that can be somewhat disenchanting and not very fresh. It’s beginning to resemble the kind of dependence we have on television, but a little more in the background. It has become this subtler backdrop or background activity to our lives that we rely upon very extensively. It’s the apex of civilization’s aspiration to create a world in which we can always stay in touch. But where do we go from here?

It’s funny when I think about this because Jere immediately appeared when the internet was fresh. And now that everything is so easy to share, I can’t find him!


~ by chaosrexmachinae on August 10, 2007.

7 Responses to “Where are you, Jere Haakana?”

  1. jere is studying in Helsinki (Pop & Jazz Konservatorio )

  2. Hey I found this website because I was thinking exactly what the title is just today, those Jere tracks from 2005 were great to find, thanks.
    This post brings back memories of wasting hours arguing on guitar.com who’s better out of Megadeth and Metallica
    And scrolling up and down to read tabs on really low resolution monitors against an eye-aneurysm inducing background, those were the days indeed!
    At least thee days you don;t need to take out a loan to watch some good guitar videos.

  3. Hey, thanks for the tip on Jere. I actually had been to that myspace site a while back, but it seems like it hasn’t been updated in a long time.

    And here I was, thinking all the old forum action was over at guitarworld.com! Did you also pay like $30+ for crappy 40-minute instructional videos?

  4. I can see Jere playing in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI8egpaU_qQ
    What a tasteful solo there!!

  5. Whoa, nice find! Everything Jere plays manages to blow me away. He’s in the hat, right? And to think I was actually just in Helsinki last week :)

    By the way, that band is young!!

  6. Hi,

    I´m playing a lot with jere. Check out this page wwww.myspace.com/granddiscovery Jere is an amazing player, the best guitarist i´ve played with!

  7. Hey Tuomas! That’s awesome, and thanks for stopping by to let me know! I’ll put up a post about you guys sometime in the near future, as some of those tracks sound really excellent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: