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Music Is My Savior In So Many Ways


Архив интервью | Русская версия

On a pitch dark February night I spent a long time by my pitch-dark phone waiting for this call. Forty minutes passed after the agreed time, and I was already going to give up and go to sleep, but… All of a sudden the silence of my apartment was broken by detestable peeping of the phone, and after pressing the loudspeaker button I heard the long-awaited, “Hi, this is Ville Laihiala of Poisonblack”. That was the beginning of my interview with the most gloomy, but also the most romantic Finnish musician of all I have had the chance of meeting. Making long “thoughtful” pauses in between words, Ville told me in a tired unemotional voice about his new album “Of Rust and Bones”, as well as of his dark outlook of the world, and ended up by wishing the soonest demise for the whole mankind.

You’re about to release your new album – what are your expectations? Will this album be a great step forward in your career, what do you think?

I’m happy about this album and I hope that people will like the new songs. That’s all. If you’re talking about some commercial success, I have nothing to say. The only thing I can say is that I hope we’ll have many good shows with this album.

So you are happy with were you are now, right?

Of course I’m happy with it. I’m playing with four great musicians and doing the thing I love. And I feel that with every new album we’re getting new fans. We’re touring more, playing more shows. I’m really enjoying it all. It’s a different situation now from what we had a few years ago when I felt that this music is too much for me, that it’s like swallowing me. Now I’m having time of my life.

Will this new album sound like good old Poisonblack or will we hear some new tricks on it?

Well, the whole recording process was “new” for us, because we didn’t want to overdub things. We actually played live in the studio and didn’t overdub the guitars or use too many effects. We had a sort of AC/DC spirit. There’s something like the 70s feeling in some songs. There’s a lot of jamming, long musical parts. That’s a kind of new element in our music. We felt really bored with only writing songs with all these standard parts like verse, chorus, solo – this radio stuff. We wanted to have something different and just enjoy playing music. Working in the studio can be boring, you know, especially if you’re doing it the same way every time. When we’re in our rehearsal place we’re laughing and joking and playing music. And this time we wanted to have the same atmosphere in the studio. We wanted to feel like a band, not just people working and recording something. We are quite old guys, you know, and we put a deeper meaning into our music instead of making just great sounds. We want to record how we sound as a band. But I wouldn’t say that style has changed too much. It’s still hard-rock music with some melancholic feeling in it – the way it’s been since our first album. So it will be a traditional Poisonblack album with some new elements. It’s really hard to explain because it’s always up to the listener if he or she hears something special there.

When can you say that an album is finished?

That’s a good question. After everything is recorded and mixed and mastered it’s still not done. I don’t know. Maybe when you tour and play those songs live… But still you can find something new in these songs even if you play them years and years. You can never say that something’s done. That’s a really good question.

I believe the album first of all represents your moods and emotions, because you’re the main songwriter of Poisonblack. So with what kind of feeling you were writing the songs for the album?

There’re lots of things about how I see this world, people and myself in this place we call the Earth. How people are disrespectful to each other and how hypocritical they are. So the main feeling is hate, but there’s also some hidden happiness and hope… You know, I’m not trying to write my music for somebody else, I’m writing it for myself. And that’s how I feel about this world.

So you were angry with somebody while writing these songs, right?

Yes, I was. And I am. I don’t really like people. Most of the people I meet are just fucking idiots, selfish human beings. And the worst thing is that I see myself in those people too. So there’s a lot of self-hate too.

Sounds quite depressive…

Well, it may sound depressive to you, but for me it’s different. I don’t live my everyday life the way I write about it in my lyrics. I’m putting all my shitty emotions into my music, so I don’t have to express them in my real life.

When I see the name of the album “Of Rust and Bones” I think of something rotten. What did you mean by giving the album this title?

Actually, when we were thinking about the title for the album I looked through the lyrics and saw that in almost every song there were these words – rust and bones. That’s why we called the album “Of Rust and Bones”. It’s kind of symbolizing different things – rust symbolizing all the shit you get into your system as all the years go by.

Have you dropped the love theme you had on your previous records? Maybe there’s no place for love on such a gloomy record…

Well, there’s a song “Down the Drain”, for example. That’s a love song. But yes, almost all the songs are dark, angry and melancholic. But that’s just because I was writing them in those days of my life, when I had a big load of shit within my heart. If I hadn’t had music then I might be dead. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not a really depressed person all the time, I can actually smile.

Have you chosen the single for this album?

The first single and the only one, I guess, is called “Buried Alive”. We’ve didn’t choose it by ourselves, we let other people decide. We played this album to our friends and everyone said that “Buried Alive” is a great song and blah blah blah. So we decided it should be the single. We have to see if we’ll make a video for it. Videos cost money, and we don’t have money – but we’ll see.

Actually, I’ve got a question about this very song. You had a live DVD with your ex-band Sentenced, and it was called “Buried Alive” too. Is there any kind of bond between this song and the video?

It has nothing to do with Sentenced, it’s just a song title. The song is about a person who’s so frustrated with everything that he feels like he’s buried alive. Nothing more.

You called the final song on the album “The Last Song” and your fans were really nervous, because they thought you’re saying goodbye to them and there won’t be Poisonblack anymore. So why did you do it?

The song is called “The Last Song” for the reason that it’s about alcohol. About a person who’s always complaining about his life and drowning himself in alcohol and playing the same old song all the time. That’s why it’s the last song. And it’s the last song on the album, but it’s not the last song we’ve ever written. Actually it’s a six-year-old song, it’s not new. I’ve been playing it acoustically at home just for myself and then someone said that we should make a song for the album out of it. But it’s not definitely the last song we’ll do.

Is this “alcohol theme” quite familiar to you?

I’m from Finland, so alcohol is a big part of my life. It’s always been and it will always be. But it’s up to me to control it. And the reason why many Finnish bands write about alcohol is that… It’s just the way we are. Finnish men can communicate only with alcohol, they don’t really talk when they’re sober.

You have a special voice timbre and your appearance is quite remarkable, so it’s easy to recognize you. But for other artists it may be quite a problem to be “special”. How important in your opinion is image for a musician? What do you think about dressing up in a weird way, applying make-up and so on?

I think as long as you do something you can be totally honest about… I really know that kind of bands who see that some other band is getting successful and try to do the same stuff. But… I can really understand when a young kid starts playing music if he likes some band. For example when I heard Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” I wanted to be James Hetfield. Sometimes I still do. (laughs) But I think any art – music, poetry, literature – has to be self-expressing. You have to do it just the way you wanna do it. I don’t think I have any “image”. I think as long as my hair is clean and I have clean clothes on that should be enough. If you put make-up on this face I’d look like transvestite, I tell you. If you create something really special, why should you bother about the so called image?

You were touring with many different bands. Lacuna Coil, for example. Is there another band you’d really love to share stage with?

I’d like to tour with In Flames again. I kind of miss them, they’re really cool guys. But there are lots of bands I’d like to tour with. It’s hard to name any right here right now… Too many of them.

In some of your previous interviews you said that you’re trying not to tour that often now, because you want to have more or less “normal” life. So do you manage to find some free time and how do you spend it?

Yeah, I’ve been doing it exactly as I said. Of course we’re playing as many shows as possible, but I’m not gonna be on the road more than two months long. I can’t be that long away from my family. Even if we get more fans and have to go out and play more, I won’t sacrifice my family.

You are a good father, I believe.

I try to be. (pause) But what is a good parent? I don’t know what it is.

If you were not a musician and were able to choose any other profession, then what?

If I wasn’t a musician I would be 24 hours drunk. I know that. Music is my savior in so many ways. I can’t think of any other profession… I don’t know, I haven’t ever thought about that. I think I’ll be making music until the day I die.

But as far as I know some of your bandmates have another job…

Yes, they have. I don’t know what they do, but they do something.

Do you think it’s possible to combine “normal” life and “normal” job with artistic life? Don’t you have to give all your time and all of your personality to music if you’re making it?

It’s really hard. I know that some people can manage it, but if you have too many things to do it’s too hard to do it 100 percent good. I tried it and was so fucking frustrated. I couldn’t do anything.

They say that if you think or talk about some things really often they happen. Aren’t you scared to sing about dying and use some images connected with funeral in your music?

I believe in karma, but… That’s also a good question. You know, I’m not scared of writing about death or thinking about death. In our music it’s always been more or less like a metaphor, not like actual physical death. I’m not really afraid that something bad can happen than. I mean, we all are gonna die anyway.

You have a song called “My World” on the album. How does “your world” look like?

My world is the same to anybody else’s world, we all are here, we all dig in shit with the sun shining through every now and then. But basically I don’t like the world I’m living in. But I have to deal with it.

And if you could change it what would be the first thing you do for it?

Put an end to the human race, because obviously people have shown that we don’t deserve to be on this planet. That’s the one thing I would change.

St. Valentine’s Day is quite close. I’m sure we have to talk about love too, we just can’t skip the subject… So tell me, what’s “a perfect love” for you and what one should do to get it?

A perfect love… It’s when after 50 years spent with somebody you still think about them every day and miss them when they’re not here. That’s perfect love. To be able to share thoughts unconditionally and share your soul. What to do to get that? I don’t know. Somehow I believe that there’s someone for everyone in this world. Maybe you meet someone you’ve already met in another life… That’s also fucking weird, but anyway…

But still you believe that this so called “perfect love” exists, don’t you?

Yes, I do. I do believe. I know it exists.

I’ve seen some of your bandmates answering fans’ questions on your website. Do you do it too and do you try to communicate with your audience in any other ways?

Some guys from the band answer those questions, but I usually don’t use the computer that much. The Internet is really strange to me, I’m really bad with computers. So I don’t go to our website and check what’s happening there. If I talk to people I do it face to face, like after the show. If I meet someone in a bar, I’d rather talk to them instead of kissing the computer.

How do you like the things your fans say to you?

If they’re talking about how they’ve experienced our music, that’s really important for me. Even if someone says that this music is shit… When they say something like “we feel this and that about it” it’s really great. I’m not against discussing things like that. But if someone comes too close thinking that they’re my friends or whatever… Thinking that I’m a public person and they can treat me anyway they want and ask me whatever they want and I have to answer and shit like that… That’s the part I hate. But thank God the most of the people I talk to are usually really nice.

What’s the main aim of making music for you?

To get rid of feelings, to express feelings, to know myself better and to paint the landscape of what’s in my mind and in my heart. That’s the main goal.

And what about fame and fortune?

Fame in that way that people come to see us playing live – that’s an important part of my life. But being a famous person… It’s so far from who I am. I don’t really care about that stuff that much. And money is a necessary thing, you need it to buy food and stuff. Still I wouldn’t make music for money. I don’t think, “I have to write a song to get money”. No, never.

How do you imagine your life, for example, in 20 years?

I don’t really imagine it. I’m just living day by day, week by week. I don’t really have any expectations. I’ll just go with the flow and see what happens. Hope I’ll be alive at least 10 years more to see my kids grow up and to make more music. But after that I don’t really care what happens.

Are you going to visit Russia?

I think so. We already have some plans to come, but I’m not sure when. But we’re looking forward to come there. The shows there are always really good. Have a little bit more patience, because we’ll come there again and play. Hopefully you’ll get a good show and get away from this everyday shit. So please come up and see us play.

Poisonblack on the Internet: http://www.poisonblack.com 

Special thanks to Nasrin (Century Media Records) for arranging this interview

Ksenia Artamonova
February 9, 2010
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