Few hours before the show at Trabendo, RockUrLife had the chance to meet Lauri Ylönen from The Rasmus. In the intimacy of The Rasmus’ tour bus, we talked about the band’s comeback, but also about Lauri’s personal life, Finland and many other things.
“Dark Matters” is already your ninth album in more than 20 years of existence. It has been quite a long journey. How do you feel about it?
Lauri Ylönen (vocals): Indeed, it’s a long story. We started in 1994, so it’s 23 years now and it’s starting to feel really great because it’s a really long friendship. We have been friends forever. I met Eero on the 3rd grade, I was 10 years old. I have never had friends like these guys. They are so closed to me, almost like brothers. It’s a great thing to have and we still enjoy a lot being together. We had a little break for 5 years but it was very easy to come back because we know each other so well. It feels like yesterday.
So you kind of answered to our next question which was about The Rasmus line up that is stable since 1998. (laughs)
Lauri: You have to have respect to each other, just like in a family or in a good relationship. You respect your wife, you respect her ideas. If she has some other dreams, you have to give her space to do it. Myself, I have for example a passion for architecture and I have my own TV show about architecture in Finland. I build houses, I have my company and it takes a lot of time and effort but the guys know that I am so happy when doing it. Same thing with Eero, he studies film in Australia. It’s good to have other things in life.
The new album title reminds me of “Dead Letters” (2003) which is a key album to your carrier. Is there any link between this album and the new one?
Lauri: Yes. When we came up with the name, we thought it was indeed very similar to “Dead Letters” and then we decided to have the album cover with the same sort of mood. We also put back the old logo with the leaves.
And apart from that, the two albums are musically very different from each other.
Lauri: After some time, you realize things and it’s easier to say and look at your band with the distance you have thanks to a 5 years break. It’s interesting for us to change and try out different things. Lot of people are asking “why don’t you do “In The Shadows” number 2?” I don’t think I could do it. But in all the songs background, there is this The Rasmus DNA. It’s just that sometimes, the production is different but The Rasmus essence remains.
We did watch the music videos from “Dark Matters” and I felt that there is some kind of story behind it. Can you tell us more about it?
Lauri: For “Paradise”, I am walking through a burning door that you can also find on the album cover. It’s a sort of metaphor for taking the chance, making some sacrifice maybe, being brave in life. And also, it’s more personal. For instance, I got divorced about two years ago and it was not an easy decision to make because I have a child. To get over it, you need courage and maybe you need to walk through that burning door. (laughs)
We must admit that we were surprised by some electronic elements from the new album. Is it something you may keep in the future?
Lauri: I don’t know what we will gonna do. It’s just something that we thought interesting at that time. We tried to play some songs that were more electronic in the normal way and it it sounded so slow. Sometimes with keyboards, you can do some minimalistic but very cool sounds. And we decided just to keep it like this. I think it’s important to like yourself when you are making music. And you have also to be brave to release it if you like it, even though it was something that you did not do before.
No matter what the people will think about it?
Lauri: Exactly. You can’t make music thinking what the fans will think about it. If you’re attending tonight’s show, when we will play the new songs and now that we have those keyboards and new elements, you will see that it sounds pretty awesome. It really rocks even though its electronic. We are learning all the time! We already started to write new songs but last album came five years ago so we still have time! (laughs)
You must know or you won’t be surprised to know that Finland is the country with the highest amount of rock / metal bands per capita. How can you explain this?
Lauri: When I was a teenager, everybody in Finland was playing guitar, drums and trying different instruments. In school, we also had the chance to play in a band. We also had a lot of support from the government. When there is a chance to try something like this, I think something will come up out of this. Sometimes, in some countries, its more sports. For instance, we go to Brazil and we were wondering why there are no rock / metal bands from Brazil… there is Sepultura (laughs) but it’s because they are more into football, they play it all day long. Maybe it’s also the climate, the good weather while in Finland it’s better to stay inside! (laughs) And in some countries, some cities, there are also some kind of a “scene”, like when we started and even before us. The finnish metal scene is still very active for instance.
Still regarding Finland, the country will celebrate its 100 year independence anniversary in december. How do you feel about this? Is it something finnish people are talking about this year?
Lauri: It’s a big thing for sure. There will be a big celebration on that day. I will be in Los Angeles because I live there for 3 years but also I have been invited to the Ambassy of Finland. They will have a party and the main party will be in the president’s palace. It will start at 8AM for me in LA and it will be screened, so everybody will be dressed up except me. (laughs) They will have some finnish food and drinks. It’s very nice feeling, I feel patriotic when I am away from Finland because in Los Angeles, I have met a lot of talented finnish people. I have been in contact not only with musicians but also photographers, filmmakers, people who made video games like “Angry Bird”s. I am so proud of our country in so many ways.
Lauri: Yes, it’s a small country but lot of good things came out of it.
Last week marked the 2 years anniversary of the tragic events in the Bataclan venue. Weren’t you afraid of playing and coming back in Paris or do you feel that no matter what, the show must go on?
Lauri: The second option of course. You can’t live like that. I mean, I can’t think that horrible things like that could happen because I would just lose my mind. I am a very sensitive guy, I have good imagination and if I give it too much space, it’s not gonna be good. What happened is really horrible and I feel very sorry.
We kind of cheated and checked the setlist of this tour and we were really surprised that you are still playing songs from every album since “Into”. Is it important for you to do so?
Lauri: We don’t play from each album. For instance, I think the first three albums are not so well known here. In Finland it’s different, we can play songs from those albums even though it’s a different kind of music because we got really famous in Finland with those songs. Here, people want to hear songs they know and it’s normal. I just met some fans and they said they were so nostalgic of our gig, they remember how different they were at the time. So tonight we’re gonna play songs from different albums but also five songs from the new one!
Are there bands from France you like to listen to?
Lauri: Daft Punk is one of my favorite! I love them from the “Homework” album (1999). Some years ago, I actually made a solo album where I tried more electronic things because I have that passion for this of music too. There is also this band called The Do.
The French/finnish duo? They are really famous in here!
Lauri: Yes, it’s awesome! I met the girl, a long time ago, she was a fan of The Rasmus. I talked to her many times before she starts the band and now, all of a sudden, she is famous! I am very happy for her.
To conclude, our media is named “RockUrLife”. What rocks your life Lauri?
Lauri: I has to be The Rasmus! I have so many greats things in my life, I have a family, I have my architecture program, I am building houses… but the most important thing is still the band! So many great things happened thanks to the band, I am so grateful! Touring is so much fun and it feels good to leave all the responsibilities, to jump in a bus… and to wake up in Paris!