The band was found back in 2001 by you, than your brothers joined the project.
Before forming the Von Hertzen Brothers you all have played in different bands.
Was it always your wish to have a band with your brothers?
Mikko: Well, I casually started to write some songs when I moved to India back in 1997. Time passed by and in the year 2000 I decided to send those songs to my brothers as I had the feeling that this songs where very good and I just wanted to know if my brothers would be willing to work on them to put them on a proper CD. So I sent the songs in form of a minidisk from India to Finland and they liked the material . A bit later they flew to India, I rented some gear and a house for two weeks. There we worked on the songs and made a little bit better demo version of them. After returning to Finland my brothers gave the material to a guy who owns a record company, he really liked what he heard, after that I had to fly to Finland and we started to record our first album.
But it was still just some kind of
project at this point?
Mikko: Yeah because I had to fly back to India as I was working there for a charity project. But than we had this kind of family holiday where we all met in Egypt. We had two weeks together, I had some more songs done and we started playing them together. We decided that we really should do something with those songs. I came back to Finland and we released our first album “Approach” which was our breakthrough here in Finland.
How comes a Finnish guy decides to move all the way to India?
Mikko: Well, you know I was 25 when I moved there. I finished school, I didn`t have a girlfriend, I didn`t really have anything in here that kept my interest and I was really inspired to do some charity work over there. I had spent one winter there to check out whether I would like it or not. I used to play in different bands before and I just thought that it is time to do something different than that. So I packed all my belongings and moved to India. It was just a good time to do that.
What was your time in India like?
Mikko: When I got there they gave me a lot of responsibility, I was really engaged there. I worked in this big kind of spiritual centre that does a lot of charity work. I was working at the office of this centre. I was in charge of the “Western World”, so everybody from Germany, Greece or wherever came to me and I had to explain them everything…
Do you miss living in India?
Mikko: Every now and than when I`m not busy I miss it. But than again I`m very busy with the band and we have lots of work most of the time, than I don`t miss being there too much. I still have a home there. I basically can just take my laptop and my jacket and fly over there if I want to. I have a very nice place there close to the ocean.
So it is hard to say what you prefer, your life as an musician or working at
the spiritual centre?
Mikko: It`s kind of a mixture. The hard thing is to find the balance. I want to visit India a bit more maybe. I first planned to spent there two month a year but now that things are going so well with our band I only made it up to three weeks a year. That`s a bit sad.
What about touring in India? The culture there is very different comparing to
the Western one. But do you seen any possibility to do that as rock band?
Mikko: Hanoi Rocks toured there and so did The Rasmus. I was in Bangalore when Rasmus played their gig. They finished their world tour in India and I took Pauli who is a good friend of mine to my home and we spent some time there. It is very difficult for a rockband to play in India. They don`t really do have this kind of a Rock`n Roll scene there. I mean they love the bigger bands like Iron Maiden and all this bigger ones. But they don`t really sell that much Rock Records. They are very into this bollywood soundtracks. That`s kind of the music everybody likes…
Maybe you should do a Bollywood type record mixed with your own style than?
Mikko: Yeah, seriously I think that this would work out. You can find lots of Indian influences in our music. I wouldn`t be surprised if people would like it but the problem is to get it released and all that kind of stuff. Maybe one day… We have already been invited to play a gig there but there is still so much time. This would be in Three years. Let`s see what happens.
When it comes to all the decision making, is it easier to work together as a
family or is it even more difficult?
Mikko: I think it is more difficult actually. Usually you have a band and it`s lead by one or two persons but we are three persons who can decide what we are going to do. We always discuss everything, we have a manager nowadays. So it`s like us three and our manager who are making all the decisions. Everybody has his own opinion and sometimes they don`t match. Let`s say it would be much easier if for example I would run the whole thing on my own but the end result wouldn`t be that good as it is now. Now we have so many people who are working on that band with their hearts. It is a little bit harder sometimes but at the end it is only positive.
I read that you sound like “Foo Fighters play PinkFloyds Greatest Hits”, would
Mikko: I don`t know. Some people can hear the Foo Fighters in it, some Pink Floyd and some do find hints of the Beach Boys in our music. Our music is not that easy to categories, I think that somehow it gives the idea to be a bit different when it comes to its style. Those are great bands and everybody likes and knows them, so someone might get a slide idea what we sound like. I really don`t know how to describe our music. Of course it is rock but that can mean so many different kind of things again that it is really complicated to find the right definition for it. Many people like our music but it is hard to explain it. HIM made up Love Metal so maybe we make up Love Epic Rock or something like that.
You just released your fourth record. It hit the stores just some days ago.
That means it is very fresh and there is a lot to talk about. What can you tell
us about “Stars Aligned”?
Mikko: That`s true it just hit the stores. The band is really happy with the record. You know, let`s face it we are no youngsters anymore. We all had different bands before that and we all celebrated our successes with this bands. It is a challenge for us to make things new. You have to find something new all the time because otherwise it`s getting pretty boring for yourself. You have to brake your patterns to find a new way to express. I`m really happy with the album and I`m also very proud cause we managed to find this new ways of doing things. I`m sure everybody in the band would say the same because it`s their latest album and that always feels great to have it out. For me personally this was the most difficult record so far. I had to start all over again to create something new. That can be very painful at some point. It`s like you paint something and you burn the painting right after you finish it. It`s a lot of hard work before you find the right, the new direction. The feedback has been good so far.
You recorded it here in Finland?
Mikko: Yes, I`m so envious of the bands who go abroad to record their album. So we have this hard winter here and they go to some studio in Los Angeles or some other nice places. I`d like to do that as well. It would be great to enjoy the sun while recording. I have this feeling that we should do something like that, too. If we get any successes out of this record we definitely should consider to produce the next one maybe in Spain. In Spain you get cheaper places and I have some connections there…
That sounds like you are still waiting for your albums to become successful but
your 2nd and your 3rd album already gained gold here in
Finland…Your expectations are not so high than?
Mikko *smiles*: You never know. No, of course they are high. The album will do well…
What about the songs? You said that “Stars Alligned” is different from your
Mikko: The big difference is that we never used to pay attention to particular sounds. Our producer was that kind of guy who has a totally different way of thinking. He`s a little bit of a sound nerd, you can imagine him like that mad professor type of guy. He is really deep in that kind of sound and effects. When we recorded our previous albums we just went to the studio and played our guitars like we wanted and so on. Of course, we tried our best but we didn`t have the opportunities to really look into all this details. This time we had and we did. I would say now it sounds much more lifely. We have this pattern when it comes to the songwriting. All our songs are getting very big. But this time we have different kind of songs. The melodies are still us but if you look at the structure of the songs, it`s quite new.
You have some different of inspiration when it comes to the songwriting than
most of the bands usually do have. You take your influences for example for
Mikko: True. I usually take my inspiration from Poems, stories, a lot of my own life. When I was living in India I for example wrote a lot of lyrics about my own spiritual struggle. The songs usually also dealing with themes like hope, longing. It`s about love as well but it´s a little different level than writing about how I like your ass or some nice stuff like that. I don`t mind if other bands express things that way but I can`t really sing about that and stand fully behind it. That`s just impossible for me personally. It has to mean something to me. That`s the only way I can put all the needed energy into it.
Who writes all the songs? Is it like a family project or how can we imagine
Mikko: I used to be the one who wrote all the songs but Kiire is also writing. I told him already two albums ago that he wrotes a part of the songs and I do the other half maybe. Now it`s pretty balanced.
Your name is your surname and the name of your band same time. Was it always
clear that you will name the project like this? Where does your name actually
Mikko: I`m not so sure about that. We are not completely sure if the name comes from Holland or Germany. But it came from there to Sweden and than to Finland. All of our relatives are Swedish. It is really hard to trace back where the name comes from as our family history was in a book and that book got burned in a church. We can`t really trace back our roots. We didn`t think at all that we will name the band like that. People already knew us from our previous bands so we used our family name to show that this is our band now. We are not trying to find any fancy bandnames, this is just us.
You will be very busy when it comes to touring. You will rock the finish clubs
pretty soon. Will we see you on other European stages as well?
Mikko: We will play many many shows here in Finland, than some gig in Tallin, than the festivals are coming up. Apart from the Finish festivals we have this festival in London confirmed but I think there will be some additions to that. Our British agent is really into bringing us to the UK for example. Let`s see how the album goes.
Your future plans for the rest of the year?
Mikko: We are trying to get some kind of opening slot for one of the bigger bands that leads us to Europe. So we can get the opportunity to gain more fans outside of Finland. We are doing very well here in our home country but it would be great to tour Europe some day as well.