Vocalist Olli Herman
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
Transcription, translation and on/offstage pics by Terhi Pihlaja
The year 2010 was a very successful year for these relatively sensational and hard rockin´ Finnish glamsters named Reckless Love. The band got their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album out on Universal Music (Finland), toured hard around the globe (this including for example a memorable one-off show at Loud Park in Tokyo, Japan on October 17th) – and were basically getting their name around for all the hard work the guys had put into the band over the years.
Before the year 2010 had come to its end, Reckless Love had a couple of shows to be done; one at Dante´s Highlight in Helsinki on December 17th – and culminating the band´s very well going year at Borderline Club in Pisa, Italy on 31st of December.
Metal-Rules.com caught up with Reckless Love´s vocalist Olli Herman briefly at the backstage of the venue before the show at Dante´s in Helsinki, inquiring sort of a roundup about the ongoing year from the smiling and polite band´s frontman, about his short stint in the Swedish sleaze/glam rock act Crashdïet – and about plans the Reckless Love camp have in their pockets for 2011, especially when it comes down to their follow-up album that they are going to record during the summer 2011.
To start things with, let´s place Olli straight against the corner by asking one serious question from him:
How´s it going, Olli?
Not bad. I’ve got my belly full, we just had a bite to eat. We have been quite busy, but it doesn’t matter at all, that’s why we have been working so hard.
SUMMING UP 2010 FOR RECKLESS LOVE
Year 2010 is soon coming to an end and you have had a great year as a whole. You have been busy in many places and touring a lot. How would you wrap up this year, how was this year for Reckless Love?
The beginning of the year was easy, we were just scratching our balls, nothing really happened. Even after the album release in February, we were still like “What? This was it?”. Towards the end of the year there was a nice change of pace. If I pinpoint some highlights, the Download festival was one of them. Loud Park in Tokyo was too. This year those were the two biggest gigs so they stick in my mind.
You also had a showcase gig in London on May 24th…
Yeah, we played at Barfly. The first gig in Britain and a sold-out set. It was also awesome. But then the Download festival a couple of weeks after the showcase gig kind of erased those memories. Well, not really erased but…
Getting back to your debut album. It was released by Universal Music and it had quite a lot of hype everywhere. It is also being played on the radio a lot, at least in Finland. The album was released also in Germany and in many other countries, too. Was it in a way some sort of a surprise that you do your debut album and it’s such a success?
Actually no, we dared to hope it. But I must say that from our first album we did not expect quite that much hype than it got for example in Britain. But we did try for a long time to seek and work on the common thread so that the first album would have an effect that leaves no questions. And I assume this happened, because it had so much success. It wasn’t a surprise but it was maybe a bit more than we expected.
MADE OF BIG CHORUSES FOR BIG STADIUMS
Talking about your debut album a bit more detailed way, the first thing that came to my mind was that you have spotted very well the thing that was THE thing in Hard Rock and Glam Rock music in the ‘80s: strong choruses and the structure of the songs to stick in your mind. Was it your intention to glorify the spirit of the ‘80s, the thing that for example Mötley Crüe, Poison, Tesla and Warrant are doing, i.e. strong choruses and big stadiums?
Of course! A big chorus was the first thing where we started from with every song. A good chorus always underlines a good song, the rest of the song doesn’t matter so much… (laughs). Just kidding. I don’t know if we even know how to do something else. We have tried to do all kinds of things though, but we have been brainwashed to ‘80s Hard Rock and Heavy music. We will not change much.
Did you actually face a dilemma with all the material, was it difficult to decide what to pick out to the new album?
Of course, but at a quite early stage. We always have quite a clear vision about the song. And at an early stage we separate the wheat from the chaff, i.e. we can hear clearly which songs will be damn good if we just keep on working on them. Then again, some songs have all the ingredients, but nonetheless something is missing. We might try to work on them but they never get to the stage where they would be even close to end up being on the album. I would say that the songs that we initially wanted to put there, are there. A few gems, which were maybe finished at a late stage, may be nominated to the next album.
Do you have any personal favorites that are nice to play onstage? Or let’s say you hear the songs on the radio, do you have any songs in particular which stand out and you still like yourself?
I have said it from the beginning, it still… When the album was released, it still changes daily, sometimes weekly. One favorite stays for awhile, but then it changes again. At the moment my favorite is maybe “Badass”.
Good choice. You actually started as a cover band. The cover songs are now also in your show repertory. You do for example “Living After Midnight” from Judas Priest, and “Panama” and “Jump” from Van Halen. What other cover songs have you played, or have you done something new that we will hear for example at the gig tonight?
For tonight we have had no time to do anything new. It has been so busy that I haven’t even had much time to go to our rehearsal place, which is a pity per se. Now that we have started to do new material for the new album, there is a reason to go to rehearse new stuff. We might play a cover song tonight, but I don’t think anything new and mind-blowing will be played. We’ll see if we play some of the good old ones. In a way a cover band is a lot of fun. Before we started to do the album, we envisioned that our own songs should basically sound like it was a damn good cover band playing hits of the ‘80s. The songs should sound like “These songs cannot be their own, they are too good to be their own”.
Dedicated fans of the band that have been following you since the beginning know that you have songs that never made it to the album, like “Speed Princess” and “Easy Absolution”. Have you given any thought to re-warm those old songs that are also being demanded by your fans in your forum? Would you by any chance do any re-warm versions for your new album?
I don’t think that we will have any of those songs in the new album. If it will be a disappointment, I can promise that there will be a couple of new and more kick-ass material coming. Those old songs have been done in such a phase of Reckless Love’s history that we do not even want to re-warm them. And I don’t think that they would fit the new material well, but it has not been set in stone that we wouldn’t ever play them on tours. We have played a few times with the idea to play them sometimes as a surprise in our coming shows in order to give some treat for the long-term fans.
Now that you mentioned the new material… You have apparently recording some demos for your own use already?
Actually for the past couple of days I have been demoing with the producer to four different songs. We have been seeking extremities, and trying to get the vibe on the session, we took kind of a first touch to it. Pete has co-written some songs with the producer, there are very raw acoustic guitar demo versions – “A man with his guitar” spirit – also Pete’s own. Jalle and Hessu have recordedsome demos in the rehearsal place as well. We have a lot of material where to choose from. But as said, we will do the early stage elimination now. As long as we can hear the idea in the song, we do know if it will be a good Reckless Love or not.
SETTING BARS HIGH AND TAKING PRESSURE
How would you compare this debut album of yours to your newer material that the band has started working with? I bet a pretty strong material is surely coming on its way from the Reckless Love camp – again with big choruses and everything, right?
In a way we built a safety net to ourselves, we set the bar so high with the first album that we cannot do any worse now, otherwise it will be a disappointment. The bar is indeed damn high, anything just close to it will not pass. In that sense there is kind of pressure, but we will not stress too much about it. We will just write good songs. It is too early to say how the new album will be different. I guess we might broaden the repertory of Reckless Love, you might find more contrasts, maybe darker tones, but at the same time, if possible, even happier tones.
“You should hammer your iron, while it is glowing hot”… If we think from the record label’s point, most likely they want to have you in the studio the earliest possible. You have probably discussed what could be a good time to get you to the studio. Now you have a strong debut album out, and the release of the next album in 2-3 years would surely not be an ideal situation.
We would lose our nerves if we had to wait for the recording of the new material for so long. We will record a new album during the spring time. If something in the music industry holds true, the schedule will always be postponed and delayed, so it cannot be set in stone yet that it would be ready after spring. But we’re aiming to have the new album in stores after summer, at some point in autumn.
Apparently there is a good chemistry between Reckless Love and the representatives of Universal Music. They understand they cannot ask you to go to the studio say in June, and the songs must be ready and the album out say in September. Apparently you have been given free hands in a sense that you cannot do the songs the way the record label pushes you to do?
Actually we practically set the deadline together with our record label. A deadline is in a way the best motivation and the source of inspiration. If we had to be ready “Now!”, a knife held to your throat like that would cause some very upsetting songs. At least for me it is a very motivating factor. I think the record label is more like holding us back. We would like to be in the studio and ready much earlier. I guess they have to hold us back like “Hey hold on, let’s take it easy!”.
How much does Universal Music want to have an impact on how you look like? Is there for example a stylist who tells you how to look like in promo pictures?
There is no stylist, we are quite a self-made band. Nobody has ever said anything about our appearance. We are bitching more to each other about it… (laughs).
So you do have some kind of a dress-code within the band?
Absolutely. We have to have some sane bitching with each other, like “You can’t wear THAT in this photo!”.
You have done interviews with other media too, not only music media. I´ve read that you have almost graduated to be a teacher, or have you graduated already?
I have actually not graduated, but I have done the work. I have studied English as my major.
How do you succeed to balance between your studies and the band, Reckless Love is now the main thing after all?
Yeah, there is no need to balance. The studies are actually forgotten. I’m still at the University as an absent student though. If at some God given day in the future I decide I’d like to study English again, I could go back there without too much trouble. But it’s quite impossible at the moment, all the time is being spent on hard work for the band.
FRONTING SLEAZE ROCKERS CRASHDÏET
If we go back to 2007-2008, you were the vocalist of Crashdïet, after the regrettable incident with the previous vocalist. What were the main reasons that you wanted to try your wings as a vocalist of Crashdïet, even though you had also Reckless Love all the time?
I would say there are many reasons. Maybe the biggest reason was the frustration over my studies. I really wanted to become a professional musician, and Reckless Love was in a situation where we were really not achieving anything. I still remember the situation, it was autumn, my studies had just begun and I was so frustrated. Reckless Love had only been at a demo band level for 2-3 years, we had worked hard without achieving anything, so there was a lack of motivation too. It all first started as a joke, like all good things with my study mates: “Hey, you look the same as those guys, why would you not apply for the position, you have the same style and everything!”. I was in the band for 1.5 years and I left the band with many good experiences.
You also made album and toured around the venues in Europe with ´em. How do you think you were able to benefit from this experience? How did all the experience with CrashdÏet bring positive vibe for Reckless Love?
Maybe always the best lesson is to see how other people are doing the same things as what you have done already yourself, too. You can find new things what to try yourself. But most importantly, you can find things that you would never do yourself. You’re kind of a substitute learner: they do it like that, but it wouldn’t work for us.
If we think about the situation today, you apparently came from the bushes in Finland as a strong Glam Rock band, and I believe in Finland there is currently no such band that plays as strong Glam Rock as you guys do, and with so much success…
A correction, actually there´s no such band anywhere in the world… (laughs).
Okay then, I believe wiser words… Do you think that you coming from Finland is an advantage, and that you are kind of the king of the hill, there are no other such bands, or do you think it would be fun if there were other bands like you and with the same success?
In my opinion it is the coolest thing that we are starting to see here. For example from Helsinki there is a band called Santa Cruz, and they have all that young and talented strength. If those guys will work hard, they can become something real cool. I do like without a doubt anything influenced by the ‘80s. I see it as a very positive thing if we had it more.
GETTING COMPARED TO BIG BROTHERS
When people are comparing you with the Glam Rock bands from the ‘80s, like Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Warrant, do you think it’s an advantage that people understand what you are all about, or you do not necessarily want to be compared to anything, but you are just doing your own thing?
If we didn’t want to be compared to anything, we would be in a wrong business, because Rock and Heavy music in general is very conservative, everything goes around, many times. I’ve always used our “Love Machine” song as an example. There are millions of songs that are basically all the same, almost the same tones and notes, (starts singing) “I love Rock ‘n Roll”…, “Pour some sugar on me”…, “She’s my cherry pie”…, “She’s my love machine”… It is basically the same song done many times, but nobody cares. It is not plagiarism. It is the genre and culture as its best. The same thing can be done in so many different ways. It is the best.
You will have a New Year’s gig in Italy, at Borderline Club in Pisa. Many famous Glam and Hard Rock bands have played there, like L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat. How did you actually get to go there, did they show interest from their side?
There is an Italian promoter who arranges those shows. Actually we played a showcase gig in Italy, in Venice, at the Slam! Summer Night festival, it was a festival cruise. It was a great success, and the same promoter wanted us there again. He had a wild idea to arrange a New Year’s party with Reckless Love, and what could be better than that. A British agency found this guy. They book gigs all around the world except for Finland and USA, and they found this Italian promoter.
HOTSPOTS OF RECKLESS LOVE
Where do you think that you have the biggest fans? Your name has spread all over the world and you receive a lot of fan mail for sure, and you are asked to perform in many places. What are the best countries for Reckless Love at the moment, where it would be worthwhile to go?
Surely the most loyal fans are in Finland, but Britain is clearly a hotspot, the whole island on fire. It is unbelievable how well they have taken us, and the enthusiasm they have… and of course Italy. It is a strange and hysterical country, a helter-skelter to anyone who’s used to the Finnish polite fan culture. They tear your hair out of your head, it is so unbelievable.
Do you think that in the Finnish Glam and Hard Rock history the biggest pioneer is Hanoi Rocks, that maybe didn’t have such a big influence on you, but do you think it’s one of the reasons why you have so big success in Britain?
Could be but I think, based on the feedback from there and all the signs indicate, that they have missed a long time… The Darkness was clearly the first tip of the iceberg that showed what kind of mentality they have. They are really ready to forget all the gloominess… well… not forget, but they clearly want some counterbalance. Based on feedback, Rock music has been too serious for the past 15 years and now they want to party again “like it was in 1984”. This is the feedback, so we have to believe it is like that, and we have also seen it in our shows.
If we talk about your personal goals, do you have any dreams where you’d like to see Reckless Love, for example, in 2-3 years?
Definitely doing the same as what we do now but in bigger places. Hopefully in a couple of years also doing our third album.
I bet you wouldn’t mind either if you get to play somewhere at a stadium as a support band for some big famous band, too?
Yeah, why not.
You wouldn’t be afraid of playing at a stadium environment with this band, I guess?
Not at all. We got a touch to it in Loud Park, about 15’000 people in Saitama Super Arena. The place holds like 20’000 people, and when 15’000 people are partying out there, it does feel good.
Well, I think our time is pretty much up, so I wanna sincerely thank you Olli for this nice chat and wish you all the best for tonight´s show.