Ant May from Festivalphoto spoke with Olli Herman and Hessu Maxx from Reckless love shortly before their show at Islington Academy in London on 26th November 2011
Festivalphoto: First of all, welcome to London - first night of your UK tour.
Olli: Thank you. Second time we're here, or doing a full tour here, and it was more than a year ago that we last played on British soil so it's a bit exciting to tell the truth, a bit nerve-wracking as well - do they still remember us.
Festivalphoto: Well the queue outside the venue started around 2 hours before the doors open so I think they do remember you.
Olli: Really, thanks for sharing this information, a load just came off my heart.
Festivalphoto: Your UK tour ends at the Hard Rock Hell festival. Have you heard anything about the festival?
Olli: We've heard about it plenty. It's sort of like an '80s revival going on. Ace Frehley's the main star of the show, Michael Monroe, Tyketto, plenty of legends there.
Festivalphoto: I know a lot of people who are looking forward to seeing you there - including a lot of the ladies.
Olli: That's good, we have nothing bad to say about that. It seems to be Glam rock, hair metal, merry metal or whatever we call ourselves, it seems to be a thing for this genre that women are the first ones to pick up on the new bands, but I think in Finland the guys have found us also
Hessu: yeah yeah
Olli: I think the girls are more into new stuff, and aware of new bands and they fall in love with new stuff like new bands more easily, quickly, and the guys are just playing hard to get.
Hessu: There's a good example in Finland, when we came with Yalle, to the airport by train, there was this one fan coming over to me and she said "Hessu Hessu it's really nice to see you, haven't seen you for a long time", and she had her boyfriend with her and she forced him to take like ten pictures at least, One should be good but take ten, and the boyfriend was like "for fucks sake" taking the pictures. I think the girls are taking the boys with them to shows.
Olli: And I think that after six months, he's going to like our band as well. People think of us as the girl-looking guys - "they look really feminine, they don't know how to play, it's not really rock and roll, just makeup and dressing up nicely", but when they come to the show and they see Pepe shredding his guitar, Hessu banging the shit out of his drums, me screaming like, I don't know, a siren, and Yalle, he's really rock solid on bass, and some of the guys see "ok maybe these guys aren't just camp, maybe they can play a little bit"
Festivalphoto: The image might attract some people to come and see you, but if you can't play, they won't stay.
Olli: Exactly, but I think that's the ultimate reward, you think you're getting somewhere when the guys start to roll in. Of course plenty of guys say that they first got into the band because of the girls, well..
Hessu: Might be true
Olli: Because girls are looking for new bands, but if you want to stay at that level...we want to please the guys as well, and I'm not being gay or anything.
Festivalphoto: After the UK you're due to play a few shows in Europe including one on New Years Eve in Finland I believe.
Olli: Yeah in Finland. Actually two shows, the day before New Years eve, and the New Years Eve gig, in Northern Finland. It's quite common in Finland to play New Years eve gigs in the North, it's huge with all the skiing and plenty of tourists these days, but it's the first time for us because last year we were in Pisa, Italy.
Festivalphoto: What's the atmosphere like at a New years eve gig?
Hessu: It's a great party
Olli: It's great. We keep comparing it every time we go up North, well there's this one place called Hullu Poro
Hessu: The Crazy Reindeer
Olli: Yeah Crazy Reindeer is the word for word translation. It's a huge arena, takes in 2000 people or something, and it's a bar at the same time that we keep referring to. They run these boats or ferries between Sweden and Finland, and those things are like whorehouses, I mean people are just drinking and fucking and doing nothing else, there's huge parties all over, and this place is like the ferry but it's on land. There's one bar. Last time we were there I asked "how many of you guys" (because there were plenty, it was like 40% guys), "how many of you guys are going to get some pussy tonight?", and everybody raised their hands, so then I asked, "How about you women, how many of you are going to give these guys some pussy?" and all of them raised their hands, and I was like "Shit, I'm in the wrong place".
Festivalphoto: Your new album, Animal Attraction was released recently. How would you describe it for anyone who hasn't listened to it yet?
Olli: Well it's the alpha and omega of life
Hessu: One of the best albums ever
Olli: One of the best albums ever done yes. Well its certainly the best Reckless love album there is. It's a step up from the first album, of course we're really satisfied with the first one too. Lyrically it's the alpha and omega of life - I mean animal attraction, everything starts with it, so that's our record, it covers everything, I mean it's got it all. It's got some anthemic songs, really up-tempo classic rock and roll songs, it's got a ballad, it's the cheesiest ballad ever written I mean Michael Bolton would be jealous of that, but it's straight from the heart. We've topped ourselves in every level I think, we've just sharpened every edge of the band, we're not smooth, we're really really fucking in your face about it. We've written a song called "Dance" and its a really danceable tune, it's almost like going to a rock'n'roll rave or something.
Festivalphoto: I presume there will be some songs from the new album in tonights set?
Olli: Oh yeah, we try to include as many new songs as possible, so there are going to be plenty of new songs, but we pick the best of the first album as well so no worries you're going to hear some familiar old tunes as well.
Festivalphoto: Which do you prefer and why - CD or legal mp3 downloads ?
Olli: Definitely CD's, or preferably vinyl if possible. I've got a collection of vinyls, about 2000 vinyls. I've storaged them at my parents place because I've got no room. Five hundred of them are my fathers, I've already inherited them although he's still alive but he never listens to vinyl anymore so I'm just taking care of them. I've also got hundreds of CD's, four or five hundred CD's, but Pepe, he's a freak, I mean half of his flat is filled with records, if you go to his place, from the floor to the ceiling it's just filled with albums. He's like a musical library that you go to. Most of the new bands I've ever found, Van Halen, I borrowed Van Halen's 1984 and Van Halen 1 from Pepe originally and fell in love with them, so he's like a fucking library, he's got it all.
Festivalphoto: It's always useful to know someone like that.
Olli: Yeah and the range that he listens to, he's got everything from black metal to pop music, it's great, but of course classic hard rock is his love so plenty of Led Zeppelin, Beatles, stuff like that, classic stuff.
Festivalphoto: What was the last album you bought?
Olli: The last album? Steel Panther's "Balls out"
Hessu: For me, probably the same.
Olli: Steel Panther's "Balls out", but the first album I ever bought was The Spaghetti incident" (Guns'n'Roses), and I'm ashamed of that, but anyway it's better than the second one I bought.
Festivalphoto: Which was?
Olli: Green Day's "Dookie".
Festivalphoto: I see what you mean - The Spaghetti incident is definitely better than that.
Olli: Since then I've grown as a human being, I'm a better human being now - I only buy good albums
Hessu: It's easy to download some shitty songs and try the new music or listen to spotify or something like that, but when you know it's going to be good, you buy a CD
Olli: It's like it's so easy to download and so easy to listen to stuff on spotify it's annoying
Hessu: Yeah for me too.
Olli: At that same time that it's an advantage for people more like me, I go to spotify just to listen to a new song, "fuck this is great", I'm going to go and buy the album, but then again there are plenty of people just living through spotify or YouTube and they never go out and buy the album, they just keep listening to it on spotify or YouTube.
Hessu: And the music business is slowing down because of that because there is no money in those places, the money is in the CD's
Olli: The industry kept telling people that no the internet hasn't affected sales that much, well when you look at the figures...in 1990 or 1991 you needed 200,000 sold units to get to the Billboard top ten, and nowadays you need 20,000, so that's just 10 percent, so record sales are down like 90 percent, but no it's got nothing to do with the internet (laughs)
Festivalphoto: What bands do you think have influenced your music?
Olli: Kiss, Def Leppard, Van Halen, the big three.
Festivalphoto: Good choices.
Olli: We all have our own favourites apart from those. As I told you, Pepe has records that range from black metal to pop music, he's got his own style of listening too.
Hessu: I think it's when you want to grow as a musician, you take whatever you get, you listen to Jazz, you listen to maybe heavy metal, or whatever you want. As a drummer you can speed things up and learn new things
Olli: That's like the technical side of things
Hesu: Yeah the technical side, and its totally up what you want, but as a band you have to realise the whole big picture, for example for me, if I hadn't heard any of KISS, Def leppard, Van Halen, it would be impossible to play decently in this band
Olli: That's the common ground for us. For myself, I consider myself as the 80s hair metal freak so I've got everything from Danger Danger to Stryper, Ratt, Britny Fox and stuff like that, I listen to them all, but these guys have got a wider range, but I listen to some pop music as well. I really like, well who doesn't like, Lady Gaga, I still haven't found anyone, if you start singing to her songs everyone can sing along, and it might sound a bit weird, but Katy Perry and Britney Spears actually, they do really good songs as well.
Festivalphoto: I think quite a lot of people have the attitude "I'm a metal fan" and don't consider listening to other types of music which is a shame.
Olli: Yeah I think it is, I mean we've been criticised about being too poppy and too much of this or too much of that, and some of the criticism of "Animal attraction" has been about what's the genre, because you're going from Dance to Fight, I mean those two songs are back to back, the first one is a really slow dancing tune that's got a real dance beat to it and the next song is pure sleaze rock, hard rock song with drop D tuning and its really heavy, it's probably the heaviest, the most metal song from Reckless Love ever, and the critics say "you have to choose", but why? Why do you have to choose? You don't and you just make it work
Hessu: We were talking with Pepe that someone told us what genre are you, and we said Queen had one so we're going to have one. I like to think that we're like pop-rock.
Olli: Queen is actually up there like Van Halen, KISS, Def Leppard. I mean huge songs, huge anthems, great rock songs, great pop songs. You've got rock songs like "I want it all", you've got "Tie your mother down", "One vision", these are great rock songs but then you've got "Radio gaga" or "I want to break free", it's a pop song, it's not like a hard rock song, but who gives a shit, it's a good song and it touched people's hearts, it got out to the people and they liked it and appreciated it and that's the most important thing.
Festivalphoto: I think a lot of people like a nice neat genre to label a band with because its easy, but personally I don't care what genre a band is as long as I like the music.
Ollie: Yeah exactly, and at the moment the genre is like a joke because youngsters are inventing new genres all the time, they're popping up, if it's not sleaze and it's not glam but something in between then they just make up a name, so it's hard to follow.
Hessu: If you label yourself too tightly you just tie yourself down, it restricts you and that's not a good thing. You have to have freedom to write songs and you have to have like no limits at all because I mean that's how we do it. We don't set limits for ourselves when we start writing songs because you have to follow the song. The song is the most important thing when you start writing it. If it's a good song but it's not rock music, it's pop music well forget it then. If it's pop music then make it work. Motley Crue's "Girls girls girls" could easily have been sung by Michael Jackson or some other pop star, I mean if you take out the distorted guitars its a pop song, really poppy.
Olli: Yeah not necessarily what Michael Jackson would do.
Hessu: Ok but that was just an example, if you think about the melody...
Olli: Yeah and 80s hair metal is more like pop music dressed up as metal.
Festivalphoto: Ok guys, thanks for your time.