Hit The Floor spoke to frontman Olli Herman of Reckless Love ahead of their new album release ‘Spirit’ due out on August 30. The Finnish singer chatted about reality TV shows, small town vibes and, of course, hair metal.
HTF: I read somewhere that you were in a reality TV show in Finland. What was that?
OH: I did this Choir War thing after the first album came out. I couldn’t say no to it, cos it was for a charity. They asked me to do it. It was such good publicity in Finland and TV’s always a big thing. And again, it was for a charity. I got to choose a charity to do it for.
HTF: What charity did you choose?
OH:I picked the youth centre for my hometown, cos they were about to close it down. I used to go there and if that place hadn’t existed, I would have ended up probably being in the wrong kind of company and Reckless Love wouldn’t be here. We didn’t win it, I think we did four episodes of it.
HTF: How do you feel about shows like the X Factor launching pop stars?
OH: At least in Finland, there’s always been talent competitions throughout the history of the music business. Nowadays with the media and the ways of the media, these new stars, they are quickly born and quickly fade away. So the X Factors and Idols, they rarely produce stars that are gonna last. And some of them do, and I really do tip my hat for those people, because they’ve understood that its a tough job. And it really is a tough job.
The danger with those programs is that young people get the impression that that’s the life of a rockstar, that’s the reality of a musician. Which is not true at all, you have to start at the bottom to learn to appreciate big stages. With Idols and X Factors, you’re immediately taken to a huge stage. After that, you still have to work your way from the bottom to the top, even though you have all that publicity. So its a load of work.
HTF: You’ve been going quite a while now, how many years?
OH: The first album came in 2010, this is the third year as a recording artist in Reckless Love. Its the first we ever put together, so the band has existed since 2001. So that’s a long period of time, twelve years.
It took us ten years to write the first album. This was the first band I was in. Usually when you start writing music in a band, after a month or two the promising guitarist goes into another band and maybe ten years later he’s a successful artist. I just come to think that wasn’t anybody of us that promising? We just stuck to each other.
HTF: Why did it take you ten years to become a recording band?
OH: We started playing covers, we didn’t really know how to be a band. We were very young when we started. Sometimes it takes time. We knew we weren’t ready for it. We didn’t want to do an album until 2010. If we’d done our first album in 2008, it would’ve sucked. About the X Factor’s and that stuff, you have to work your way to the top. Since 2004, we started actively doing shows in our hometown, a little town in Eastern Finland. Gradually we worked our way from the youth centres and cafeterias to rock and roll clubs. We started to learn how to do it, how to be a rock band.
HTF: Is it hard starting out in such a small town?
OH: Hard growing up there? Yeah, we really had a tough time back in the day. When you look like me, you’re constantly being bullied about how you look. It wasn’t fun. There’s actually a song about that on the new album, its the UK bonus track. Its called ‘Die Hard’. That’s pretty much the spirit of me, the spirit of Reckless Love. We are kind of ‘Die Hards’, we never give up. The song’s about integrity. I was bullied as a kid and so many of our fans experience the same thing. That’s the message, never give up. Be proud of who you are and embrace it.
There were people who tried to beat me up, some of them succeeded. You know, they can kill me, but I’m still gonna look like a girl.
HTF: When I think of Scandinavian bands, I mostly think they’re quite depressing, like HIM or Children Of Bodom, they’re quite dark. You’re quite a happy sounding band, does that make you stand out quite a lot?
OH: It makes us stand out quite a lot. Every coin has a flip side to it. HIM and Children of Bodom always tell about the long, cold dark winter of Finland. But the flip side of that coin is the short, really intensive summer of Finland. The sun pretty much never goes down, you can get a tan at midnight. The summer up in the north is really short and intense. The people realise it and they’re out to have fun. They want to make the most out of the short and intense summer. That’s pretty much the way Reckless Love lives throughout the year.
HTF: What was the first gig you went to?
OH: I think the first real rock and roll show that I went to was in my hometown. I think it was a band called Tarot. Its more on the heavy metal, its kind of like Children of Bodom and HIM. The bass player and singer of Nightwish is actually the singer of that band, Tarot was his first band. He’s from the same town that I was from.
HTF: Is there a venue you’ve always wanted to play?
OH: No really. Whisky a go-go maybe. But I’ve been there and its not really that special. Its just another venue. Of course its got legendary stories, but we’ll play anywhere our fans are. The venue does not make a better show, the people make the show. We’ll play in the lobby if that’s the place where people want us.
HTF: Your sound is quite 80s influenced, are you listening to any new bands?
OH: Definitely. We supported Black Veil Brides a year and a half ago, on a British tour. I definitely listen to them. Falling In Reverse, i really like that band as well. Kerrang! is an awesome magazine, i really keep track of that magazine. Its a kind of the magazine that comes out in Finland as well, that’s one of the few big rock and roll magazines that I keep track of. They’ve got great reviews of great bands. I’m an older gentleman by now, compared to some of the younger audience that we’ve got. I try to keep up with you kids!
HTF: Is that how you find new music to listen to then, in magazines?
OH: I suppose Internet has the biggest part in that. Just finding out about new artists. Just going to work in this business, you get to meet a lot of new bands. Back in 2010 we played at the same festival with this new band called Halestorm. We had never heard of it. We saw Halestorm live at Loudpark, I was really impressesed with how they played and how they performed.
We fell in love with Lizzi’s voice immediately.
HTF: How has your sound changed since you started out?
OH: Not much! We always have been fans of the tradition of hair metal. We try to incorporate quite a lot of fresh elements as well. ‘Animal Attraction’ was leaning on the pop side of things. For the third album, we decided to bring in a new guy for the production. I think he brought a great deal of freshness for the sound. I can’t put my finger on it, I think it sounds more metallic, a bit heavier than before. It sounds bigger.
HTF: What can we expect from the new album?
OH: Well its a bona fide Reckless Love album. Its hair metal with an exclamation mark. Its entertaining to listen to. I hope that you cannot listen to it without a smile on your face. We did an album that we would buy ourselves. Its everything we love to listen to and updated into 2013 and 2014. The next chapter in hair metal.
Its by far the best piece of work that we’ve done so far. Its the more metallic side of Reckless Love. We’ve basically covered every aspect of hair metal that we can do, we’ve got a couple of soft ballads in there, we’ve got really heavy, fast stuff in there as well. The reason that we call it ‘Spirit’ is because the album is a perfect picture of Reckless Love. We are a hair metal band, period. That’s it. This record is showing you the extremes of hair metal that Reckless Love can deliver. And everything in between as well.
Interview by: Natalie Gardiner