Interview with guitaristvocalist Ville Laihiala by Socke and Sankarihauta at Century Media office in Dortmund
How are you doing?
Having a hangover but in a good mood.
There were always news when the new Poisonblack album would come out and then the next news said that it would be postponed. Why did it take so long to release the second output?
There are several reasons, three actually.
We already recorded it like in spring 2004. I produced it and I took too much responsibility for myself, I tried to also mix it, and I kind of found out that when the mixing starts I should leave the studio 'cause the way I mixed it it sounded like shit. Then I had some issues in my personal life, I opened a bottle - which stayed open for six months. That kind of postponed it, too. After that was the Sentenced funeral thing, so that postponed it, too. I really have to give a lot of respect to the friendship and patience of the people that had the patience to wait and also to my band mates in Poisonblack to endure my selfishness or whatever I was drowning myself into. But still, those issues are done and dealt with, and I can actually smile when I wake up in the morning. (grins)
Long story short, the Sentenced thing is done, I took like two months off from the music completely and then we went back to the studio with Poisonblack, recording three new songs and some keyboards for the old ones. I went to Denmark and mixed it with Tue Madsen who just put this sound on the songs that we were actually searching for.
You mentioned that Sentenced funeral. Do you still think it was the right decision to end that all?
Yes. There have been some people that have blamed me that Sentenced was ended, so that I could concentrate on Poisonblack. That's total bullshit, there were five guys in the band and everyone had his own reasons why we should stop it. It didn't come within one week, we talked about it for two years, so it was the right decision. But the best thing about that was like now, when I look back, I don't feel sadness or anything like that, I can, you know, miss the whole thing but with kind of a good feeling and pride of what we have accomplished together. But still it was the right decision.
Has there already been any response to your new album for example from the media? If so, how was this feedback?
So far everybody seems to like it - or they are lying to me... I don't know. Friends of ours told us that it's good drinking music. Okay, that sounds okay, too. We'll see when it truly comes out and people listen to it what they think about it but... yeah, we'll see what happens. I hope that they will listen to it not just as a project band or Sentenced left-over songs, there are five guys doing what they truly believe in and the rest is up to you.
Who was the first person that you made the new album listen to when it was ready and what did he or she say?
The first person was my wife and she liked it. I don't know which persons the other band mates played the album to but like I said, so far everybody seems to like it. They said it gives them a good feeling after they listen to it.
Are you satisfied with the final result yourself? More than with the last album?
Yes, I am. The issue is the same, getting rid of stuff through sex. On the first one it was more like the sweeter side or something and on this one it's more releasing anger. I am really happy about the way both albums sound because to me they sound the way I want the emotions to come out. So I'm really really happy about it.
"Lust stained despair": Who came up with the idea of the album title?
The person whom I have written the whole album for. It was my idea but she knows me that well that she came up with it. I don't wanna say anything more to this.
If you only take the first letter of every word of this album title, you get LSD. The name of your last album almost sounded like “ecstasy” - is that just a “weird” coincidence, a simple play with words or is there any deeper meaning behind that?
It has nothing to do with drugs. Like I said, to me sex and alcohol -alcohol not that much anymore- have always been the only two channels to get out of stuff, so I consider them being drugs. This “fucking like a bunny” thing has nothing to do with the actual thing but what happens here. (points to his head) And that's the reason for the words ecstasy and LSD, but it has nothing to do with drugs. I know that it is a cliché to symbolize sex with drugs and blablabla, but still...
Were there any differences making this album compared to the last one?
Obviously, because JP left the band, that's the main difference. And also the attitude, the feeling there was when we were writing songs back then and now. I guess the vocal thing is the main point but if you listen to it soundwise and attitudewise, the first album is more atmospheric if you compare it to this one. This is more like in your face stuff.
Vesa Ranta from Sentenced did the artwork and photos for your last album. Will he continue that on the upcoming album as well? If not, who did it this time?
About the new line-up, you already mentioned that JP left the band. What was actually the reason for that?
When I asked JP to join the band the first thing was about doing a demo. I sent the demo around and we got a record deal. I called JP if he wants to do the album, he agreed on this and doing one tour and that's it. I know that he has Charon. When everything was done with the first album I asked him if he wanted to continue and do another one but he said no, he wants to concentrate on Charon, so that was the reason. There haven't been any fights or anything, it was all agreed before, I knew that he was going to leave.
Have there been any other candidates for the job of the band's singer?
We got a lot of tapes, and there was this really amazing singer from Canada. We were already close to taking him but the music was already going to this kind of more rocking way and his voice was like really gothic. We felt that it doesn't really fit because his voice wasn't able to express anger or frustration. We just kept on rehearsing without a singer, and I just started to sing the songs in our rehearsal place just to keep it interesting for us to have the vocals. The guys were like we should do the vocals, I was like “no, I only play guitar”. We did a two song demo, I sang them and they kind of talked me into it and then I took over the vocals.
Did you have to get used to playing guitar and singing at the same time?
Not really, I have been playing and singing since I was 13, back then it was death metal vocals or whatever but still that's easy.
I knew if I sang the album it would bring Sentenced to people's mind because I can't escape my voice or whatever. But then again I thought “what the hell?”. Now when I was singing the album I got the feeling that it feels very natural to shout out my own lyrics and really, you know, put the thing behind them what I am trying to sing.
There have already been some live shows recently. How did they work with the new line-up?
We have played three or four shows, not really any tours or anything because the new album wasn't out, so we played like four new songs and the rest was from the first album. It has been great, I mean one show corresponds to twenty rehearsals, so the band is coming together. I know the more shows we play the more together we will come. We have a long road ahead of us but I think it will be fun, because there is a lot of this energy in there which you can feel, we just have to find the right way to channel it, the five of us, but it just has to come, you can't really push it.
Are there any plans for a Poisonblack tour?
Actually we have a meeting here on Friday about touring. I can't really tell you the band which we are supportedly touring with because it's not confirmed but it will be something at the end of this year and also in the beginning of next year. I would like to say the name of the band but it's not confirmed, so I can't.
How important is it to you to be seen as a totally independent band from your former bands?
It's important in a way that people don't put the cd in their player and say “that is the old Sentenced lad, whatever is his project blablabla” and don't even give a chance for the music. In that way it's important. But otherwise I don't really think about it. If I think about it I go crazy because I know that people know me from Sentenced and that's gonna hang around my head, I don't know how long but whatever, I don't want to think about it, just do this Poisonblack thing and that's it. Like I said, I hope people can take it as Poisonblack and not just as some kind of a bastard child from Sentenced or whatever.
What kind of influences do you draw your inspiration from?
I listen to a lot of different types of music, but in Poisonblack I try to take something from gothic, from metal and from rock and put them together because those are the music types which I really like. Some parts of every aspect there. Basically I play the music that I like, listen to it, but still try to do something personal. But those three things are the main influences.
So how personal is your music? Has it any kind of autobiographical tendencies?
I don't really think about stuff like that because I have been involved in music since I was 12 years old, so it always has been a big part of my life. Right there I don't separate it for myself, so...
How do you actually write the songs?
Hm, just sit on the sofa and take an acoustic guitar and something comes out. I bought this little amplifier and this effect pedal and I play with the distortion, but still I go back to the same acoustic guitar because every song starts like a song and then I start to make riffs and whatever. Always the same. First comes the melody and you build the song from there.
As you're from Oulu and played in the probably best-known metal band coming from there, some general questions about the metal scene there. Although Oulu is considered being one of the “metal cities” in Finland , you don't hear much about bands hailing from there. Do you think it is more difficult for bands from this city to become known anywhere else because this area is far away from Helsinki where most of the “metal happening” takes place?
Yeah, Helsinki is superficial in that way that they want to put out only the bands who come from there for example on the radio and when they play videos, even though they would suck. I don't mean like my personal opinion but the opinion of most of the metal heads in Finland. I guess the whole “metal town” label comes from the people, because every time there is a metal show in Oulu it's always packed, people enjoy that kind of music. And there is a lot of good bands that are coming from there but because Helsinki, which we should sell to Sweden, kind of blotch it out. And that's really fucking stupid, I don't understand it. For example our promoter in Finland sent "Rush", our single song, to every radio. I really knew that they wouldn't play it and every answer from every radio was “It doesn't fit, it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit” but still they play similar kind of stuff from the bands that come from Helsinki. But I don't really care about it because I'm so used to it.
Have you seen some gig of any band there recently which could impress you? Any name one should keep in mind?
I have three little boys, so I don't really have time to go. The last show that I saw was Soilwork, I guess, but that was like three months ago. But not like any new bands.
We are through with our questions, do you have anything to add to the interview?
Not really. (thinks) Maybe something about what you said in the beginning about this ongoing discussion on the website when the album is coming out and things like that... so I thank the people for their patience and hopefully it was worthwhile waiting for.
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