Music Interviews

The Rasmus: “No other band sounds exactly like us” – Interview

The Rasmus

The Rasmus

Lauri Ylnen, diminutive frontman of Finnish pop-rock superstars The Rasmus, is a busy man. The band’s new album, Hide From The Sun, is out in three days, having already gone platinum in Finland on pre-sales alone.

Lauri found time to share a few thoughts with musicOMH on the new album, the launch party and a few crossed wires regarding certain large-winged colourful insects…

In about an hour, The Rasmus are due to leave for France and despite the last minute packing, Lauri’s buzzing with energy today, raving about the grand launch party The Rasmus staged for the new album. “We had our own little festival!” he enthuses, in fluent but slightly broken English.

“We had a real surprise for everybody! We had, like, 200 people, it was really dark in the surroundings of an old mansion. So there was this little stage, and everyone was expecting us to play a boring acoustic set on that small stage. Then, all of a sudden, the bombs start flashing, and there were thunder-rolls coming down and you could see this huge square and there was like 150 metres to this big stage at the end!”

It’s no surprise that The Rasmus were already celebrating that night. They received Gold and Platinum discs at the event in Espoo, Finland, based on pre-sales alone, so they already know that the record is a hit. They were also spending some valuable time at home.

“We have been away from Finland so much, with all the success abroad, it’s just so good to have all this support from the Finnish fans. I miss Finland a lot – the more we have been travelling, the more I started to respect my home country. I like the Finnish mentality – the Finnish are very honest and very… rude! They speak what they think!”

“I like the Finnish mentality – they are very honest and very… rude!” – Lauri Ylnen on Finnish national characteristics

It’s been a long haul to where The Rasmus are now of course, six albums down the line, and to finally find a sound of their own. “In the first five years we were trying lots of different music styles on the albums – for me, some of the first albums sound like they would be five different bands. There would be one reggae song, one punk song, one rap song, it’s like ‘what the fuck is going on here’? But I think it was necessary to try those things because that was the only way to find our own sound.”

Find their own sound they did of course – something Lauri likes to call ‘positive sadness.’ “I think the reason for me to write quite depressed lyrics is that I need to get rid of these feelings. My way is to write them into poetry, and then it’s somebody else’s problem.”

Apparently the songs are also full of hidden messages, though Lauri clearly hasn’t hidden them as well as he thinks he has. “The hidden message in No Fear is like, starting a new life, leaving the shit behind and clearing the table – that’s pretty much the theme of the album.” Maybe it was just the title that gave it away, eh?

“We can’t just change every time somebody wants us to.” – Lauri hits back at the band’s detractors

In fairness to Lauri, though, the first thing you notice about the new single No Fear, is not the words but the formidable catchy ooh-oh-ooh refrain. So how does he feel about going back into the musical territory that saw them bottled off stage at least year’s Carling Weekend? Lauri is defiant:

“We couldn’t change because of that one show. We’ve been together for 11 years, so we have quite a strong fucking feeling about what we’re doing. That kind of thing, it puts you down for a week or something, but then you realise what it’s all about. We can’t just change every time somebody wants us to! I think our music has quite a special place in the world right now. There’s no other band that sounds exactly like us and we think we should really do our own thing.”

Their own thing still crosses genres quite dramatically. The band are often quoted on their rock influences: Muse, System Of A Down, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica are all oft mentioned. I asked Lauri to tell me more about the other music that’s influenced his writing.

“I listen to a lot of Leonard Cohen,” he ponders. “I just love it – it’s very depressed, but it’s very beautiful, I just love the way he plays guitar. I also like singer songwriters like Edie Brickell and even Heather Nova. Soft as hell – but sometimes it’s hard.”

“We’re like Beauty And The Beast!.” – Lauri Ylnen hits on the perfect way to describe The Rasmus’ music

Back to the new album, and there been a few crossed wires between The Rasmus and good mates HIM recently. The cover for Hide From The Sun is based on a central image of a butterfly – so how did Lauri react when he heard HIM’s latest single Wings of a Butterfly? Sounds like I’m not the first person to ask…

“I was talking to Ville (Valo) about this on the phone, it was like, fucking hell we need to talk more!” he laughs. Explaining why The Rasmus have also become butterfly fans, Lauri continues.

“It was Pauli, our guitar player who was behind the artwork. We wanted to do this butterfly thing, like this rotten butterfly, destroyed, because this butterfly is such a beautiful but fragile creature – then again there’s something twisted in the picture, it’s kinda burned. It’s a bit like our music – beautiful but with the heavier arrangements. We’re a bit like Beauty And The Beast!”

I don’t know about Beauty and the Beast, but certainly butterflies would do well to avoid pupating in Finland this year. They could end up set on fire, twisted up and then getting their wings ripped off. As Lauri returns to packing his bags and getting ready for the launch of Hide From the Sun, one wonders if these poor insects have anywhere else to hide? In the Shadows, perhaps?

As for the rest of us, there will be nowhere to hide – expect a whole new host of Rasmus anthems to be buried in your skulls for the foreseeable future. Lauri’s counting on it…

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