Finnish melodic rock sensation, The Von Hertzen Brothers, are back in the UK to do a few gigs and a bit of promotion for their new album, ‘Nine Lives’, just released through Spinefarm Records . I managed to catch a few words with the guys about the album, tour and their dislike of British plumbing…
You have just released your latest album ‘Nine Lives’ which is your fifth studio album. Listening to the album it still has the traditional Von Hertzen prog overtones, but also manages to be accessible to non prog rock fans as well, are you happy with the results ?
VHB – We are indeed. We started out the whole process by taking a glimpse in the drawers. In there, we found all together maybe 25 songs or ideas that we found worthy of taking out on the desk. That’s why the music on the album has traits that are maybe 10 years old, and thus can be said to have those ‘traditional VHB overtones’ to them. But of course most of the ideas are new and fresh to ourselves as well.
Was there a different approach to this release in terms of song writing and recording compared to previous albums, and if so, was it a conscious move or a natural progression ?
VHB – We took the responsibilty of recording, editing and producing in our own hands and shoulders. James Spectrum, who produced the previous album had less time to play around in the studio this time around, so we recorded the album at our rehearsing studio learning the tricks as we went. It was a very demanding and challenging task, but even more so, now that the album is out, we can be proud of what we came up with.
Lead song ‘Flowers & Rust’ is getting a lot of airplay and interest at the moment around the UK, was the track the obvious choice for the first release?
VHB – That’s of course great news for us. Yea, it stood out as the opening single pretty early on. The record company guys knew that we could maybe reach a wider audience with that one. And luckily we did.
Listening through the album I was reminded on more than one occasion of Soundgarden both musically and vocally. Were they an early influence on the band ?
VHB – That’s something I hear a lot. I had a continuous cough and a lump in my throat during the whole recording process… So that’s why. No, honestly speaking, Chris Cornell is one of a kind and a great rock singer. Maybe one of the greatest rock voices of all times. Soundgarden is one of my favourite bands and definitely the one that I liked the most from “The Grunge” phenomenon. So I take these comparisons as great compliments.
When you were younger what music were you exposed to in the Von Hertzen household as you appear to encompass many musical styles and come up with musical combinations that may not be immediately obvious?
VHB – Well, that’s just the thing isn’t it? First we put on AC/DC and the next album might have been an ABBA album after which we put on Elvis. I guess the “many faces” of our music has a lot to do with the broad music taste that we have. Our father played a big role in this as well. He used to carry LP’s for us to listen to from his business trips. I remember him bringing us Lynyrd Skynyrds complete works as well as everything by Queen. Our mom and dad sang in the same choir and thus the harmony thing became such an important aspect in our music as well.
Do you feel there are any limits to what you can and can’t do when writing ? Have you ever thought that maybe you have pushed the boundaries to their limits or do you always strive to push yourselves and your abilities ?
VHB – Of course there are limits. But those limits are to be pushed and tried. We just try to stay true to the songs that want to take shape. Sometimes we have the capabilities to make the song work and many times we don’t. Those songs then never become anything you would want to share.
You are back in the UK for a few dates which included a slot at the HRH Prog festival, how did that one go ?
VHB – We had fun. Good crowds and good venues. People showed up. I think the UK might just be ready for some serious brothers action over there.
Can we expect further UK dates sometime later in the year ?
VHB – Sure. But guys, try to finally understand that the hot and cold water in the loo CAN be joined in one faucet. We have proof it can. Then we’ll have no problems playing around your sunny country. Next fall we’ll be around. And that’s a promise.
You have had phenomenal success over the years in your home country of Finland. I have often wondered what it is in the Finnish nature and culture that makes them embrace rock music so readily, is it all about long, dark nights and heavy, dark music ?
VHB – There ain’t no better thing than good rock music to vent your frustration with is there? Honestly I have no idea why we are this big. I guess we make music that people over here like. That’s all…
Whilst doing some research for the interview I happened to notice a new product line in the Von Hertzen merchandise catalogue namely ‘Nine Lives Tiger Balm’. Where did the idea come from for that one, not even Kiss have come up with that marketing idea ?
VHB – Hahhaa. A few years back I had something wrong with my body. I don’t quite remember if I had dislocated my shoulder or broken my heelbone (I’m accident prone you know) but one of our fans brought me tiger balm made by a Finnish producer. It was all organic herbs and stuff. I was reminded of this when we decided on the CD cover with tiger, etc… So we contacted the firm and they happily started a line of VHB production. Tadaa: VHB tiger balm. Kiss my ass Kiss! Hehee.
Thanks for talking to Get Ready To ROCK! and I wish you every success with the new album and hope to catch you live at some point soon.
VHB – Sure brother! No problem at all and see you next time!
Interview by David Wilson
In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)
Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)
THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)
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