Von Hertzen Brothers interview (Mikko Von Hertzen)

"I'm much happier with staying open to all kinds of influences rather than restricting our writing to certain kind of songs"

19/03/2013 @ 13:12
The Von Hertzen Brothers introduced themselves to a broader audience with the stellar "Stars Aligned" and now the much anticipated follow-up is here. "Nine Lives" is an album that is anything but safe and Mikko Von Hertzen, the main singer of the band, finds once again some time to answer to our questions regarding the direction of the album, the potential of "Flowers And Rust", the comparison with Chris Cornell and the attitude towards life as it's presented through their music.

Von Hertzen BrothersHi again Mikko from Greece and Rocking.gr. It's less than one year and a half since the last time we talked and I'm really glad that you have a new album out and I have this opportunity again. How are you?
Hey. Doing fine, thank you. So many things happening at the same time now.

Last time I started by claiming that "Stars Aligned" was your best album, which inevitably leads to the conclusion that "Nine Lives" is your more anticipated album so far. Is this true, from the feedback you get so far?
Well, of course there is a lot of anticipation for the new album. Both from the audience and ourselves. But, whether it's the best Von Hertzen Brothers album to date remains to be seen. We feel that we have made an excellent job though.

Von Hertzen BrothersAlso, you mentioned that it took some time to people to adapt to your new style on "Stars Align" yet I think you dare to change once again for "Nine Lives". Do you agree? If yes, was this change on purpose? Is it important for you to keep it adventurous by changing a little bit here and there?
We did make a conscious decision to re-invent the sound a little. But, actually it was the individual songs that dictated how the album should sound like. So, there is a lot of variety on the album this time.

What was generally different in the making of the new album, in comparison to "Stars Aligned"?
First of all we decided to make the album fully at our own studio. That was a big step. Then we learned how to engineer the studio ourselves. Sure, we have made demo recordings by ourselves before, but now we took charge of the over all recording process. We also took things in our own hands more production wise.

Von Hertzen BrothersThen, I'd like to talk about the leading single that you released. "Flowers And Rust" has to become your biggest hit. It's the best single you've put out and the most commercial one (by any good means). It really made me to look forward even more to listen to the whole album and I think that’s most important role of a lead single. Is the response as good as it should be?
It is a very potential song, even to be played on the more mainstream radios. We hope that it will find its way to the playlists. But, you never know with these things, do you?

Correct me if I'm wrong but your performance, especially on this song, reminds a bit of the mighty Chris Cornell, which can only be a compliment from me. Could he really be an influence on you or is it my mind playing tricks?
I've been hearing that a lot last few weeks. I'm a big fan of early Soundgarden, but I never thought that I would be compared to Chris. I mean, he is by far the best rock voice on this planet... If you ask me.

Von Hertzen BrothersThen, on the other hand, when I got to listen to the full album I kept searching for a similar track, but there was none. How come this song was the exception? If I was at your label I'd lock you in a room until you come out with a bunch more in its vein, haha...
Sure, I wouldn't mind writing more songs with that potential either... But, seriously speaking, I'm much happier with staying open to all kinds of influences rather than restricting our writing to certain kind of songs.

"Insomniac" is quite an opener and maybe the one closer to the sound of "Stars Aligned". Guess it’s gonna be the second single, right?
Yes, "Insomniac" will be the second single. It has maybe some correlation with songs from the previous albums, but honestly I feel it's the most grunge-like song we ever wrote.

Mikko Von Hertzen (Von Hertzen Brothers)"Coming Home" is a track that took me by surprise. It brought to my mind bands from your country with a more gothic aesthetic like The 69 Eyes or HIM or even Billy Idol. No matter what, it’s diverse and one of the most interesting tracks on the album. I really like it. How did you come up with it?
"Coming Home" is pretty much entirely Kie's doing. He has a very low register if he wants to. So, that might bring those kinds of connotations. Some of the songs of Billy Idol were played a lot at our family home in the 80s, so maybe he got the mood for the song from there.

Another track that is maybe the point of reference of the album is "World Without". It leaves me with this bittersweet feeling that "The Willing Victim" has. Because I guess it comes from something painful, but manages somehow to focus on the positive side of hope. At least that's what I get. What is this song about anyway?
You're right. It's a big song with a simple meaning. Basically it deals with the attitude we have towards life. If we don't live our life from the heart it leads to a life without hope. So we better listen to our hearts...

Von Hertzen BrothersMy main objection is about the three tracks in the middle of the album, ("Lost In Time", "Separate Forevers" and "One May Never Know"), because I think they are a little bit more down tempo than I'd want for three tracks in a row. Was this kind of middle section made in such way on purpose?
Yes, while we considered the song order, it became apparent that we need to wind it down a bit there. We had a few really rocking songs that we could have used there, but the overall balance of the album would have not been so artistically interesting.

Also, with the exception of the three opening tracks, I’d say this is a less commercial album than its predecessor.
The songs are simpler than on the previous albums. But there is really a lot of variety now. Each song has its completely own mood. I guess this album need a few more rounds of listening before opening up, so maybe you right. But on the other hand, I feel it's a very simple album. At least that's how it feels from my perspective.

Von Hertzen BrothersI noticed something that made me quite happy, while watching some of your clips on your VEVO channel on youtube. There were raving comments in Greek or by Greek people and combined with the feedback I got from our previous interview it’s a clear indication that you are building a fanbase here. Do you get any feedback from Greece? Should we hope for a headline show?
We do get messages from Greece every now and then. If everything goes well, I'm also hoping for a headline show or two there. But time will tell how the album is received in the beautiful Hellas.

Mikko Von Hertzen (Von Hertzen Brothers)Now something else that really was a pleasant surprise to me. When your show in Greece with Pain Of Salvation was announced, the Finnish embassy in Greece took a part of my (raving) review and posted it on its site, so as to promote your concert. You can't imagine how far our country is from such an approach. Is Finland supporting rock bands to promote their work?
They are. The cultural export of Finland is in really good hands and the officials support us a lot. That has really been an important aspect for making the tours happens, that we have done so far.

Von Hertzen BrothersLast year you celebrated your 10th anniversary and you told me that you were planning to play your whole back catalogue live. Did you do it? Is there a DVD coming out of it? Do you have any plans for a live DVD?
We did. We played four nights in a row at Tavastia Club here in Helsinki. Each night we played a different set. Each night dedicated to each of the four albums we had done. We did record the gigs but honestly I don't even remember if we filmed them...

Now, I really want to have your albums on vinyl, but when I search for them on Amazon the price is very high. Why is it that difficult to find them on logical prices? Are there any thoughts to re-release them so as to make them more easily available?
They are not that expensive to get if you get them from the Finnish online-shops. But the problem is that they are almost out of print.

Von Hertzen BrothersWell, what is the future holding for the band? Any big plans?
We start our tour now with gig that is streamed worldwide via YouTube. Then we hit the road and tour as much as we can in 2013. We hope to get to play to new audiences and old ones.

Thank you for your time. Keep up creating great and interesting music. Hope to see you soon in Greece again.
Thanks Chris!