Reckless Love: Merry Metal instead of Shanghai Express
A year ago, STALKER has drawn a few confessions from Reckless Love frontman Olli Herman, now it was the turn of drummer Hessu Maxx. Backstage before a show in Helsinki, the Merry Metaller told us more about his special relationship with the People`s Republic of China...
Hello Hessu and thank you very much for taking some time for this interview. Last time, about a year ago, Olli told us how you met each other for the first time as you joined the band later than the other guys. It was on Christmas...?
Yeah, it was in my hometown. In Viiala. In 2008. Probably... Maybe... [smiles] I played in a bar on Christmas Day. It`s like a tradition in my hometown as we have a lot of musicians coming from there. But most of the young people move away from Viiala because it`s a small town and in order to study or to work, they usually have to move to bigger cities like Helsinki or Tampere. But during the Christmas holidays, everyone returns to Viiala to spend some days with his or her family. We use this occasion to have a party that everybody can attend. So we were always playing and we still play on every Christmas Day. And back then, Olli was there because he had a girlfriend who is also from Viiala. He saw me playing there and after that he saw me playing in Helsinki, at "Apollo". I was playing coversongs in a coverband. He said that if Reckless Love needed a drummer, he would think of me and give me a call.
Approximately one year later, he called me. And after one audition and two rehearsals, I have been asked if I want to join the band and I said: "Yeah, absolutely!" The first gig was one month later. It was a showcase here in Helsinki for the record companies and, immediately, two of them were interested in us and after the contract negotiations, we decided to sign with Universal Music. And after that it has been very busy... All those things happened at the same time when I joined the band...
And the first album "Reckless Love" was more or less already done when you joined the band, wasn`t it?
Yeah, sort of, but it wasn`t completely done as I have played the drums already on the first album. But the songs and the demos were already done so when I came to the band, we immediately started to work on the first album. For "Sex" and "Romance", I even did some arrangements. Just small things but anyway...
I guess you are more involved in the songs of the second and brand new album "Animal Attraction"...
Yes, I am involved in all of the songs from "Animal Attraction", but the songs are mainly done by the songwriter of the band. and that`s Olli. He writes all the lyrics. And the arrangements, compositions and so on are coming from me and Jalle [Verne, the bass player]... Well, from the whole band. When we recorded the second album, the drum recordings were always the first. There are maybe five songs on the album which we have completed as a demo with small changes and some arrangements, but the other songs were totally unfinished so we had to do a lot of arrangements in the studio while I was playing.
Are you happy with the final result? How were the reviews so far?
I don`t really care about the critics and I guess the critics have been very nice and very kind to us so far. But for me it`s more important that I like what I have done and the first album was, as I said, very well-done already on the demos. And they were very old songs. I didn`t have that much room to move. And we were so busy while making the first album that I more or less just played what I was supposed to play. But now I had more time to think about the songs, what I really want to do with them; to play a part in it. I`m really happy about the release of that new album.
What is your favourite song on "Animal Attraction"?
It changes all the time as with the first album but one of my favourites is "On The Radio". And "Born To Break Your Heart". I love these two a lot.
The second and current single from the album is the same-titled "Animal Attraction" and many fans are wondering why Olli and his fiancée Noora Niemelä are so present in the corresponding music video while the rest of the band is only shown in the beginning and pretty much in the background... Haven`t you been in L.A. when the music video was shot?
We had a very busy schedule at that time and I guess it was just easier to send only Olli there. We were thinking about hiring a girl from L.A. but then Olli suggested that maybe Noora could play that part in the video. It was anyway planned that she flies with him so we said if she wants it and if Olli wants it, it`s ok for us. And that`s the result of it and I think it`s a good one.
First I understood it that way that they shot the music video in L.A. during their holiday while you have been in Egypt, riding camels...
We saw some camels, yeah, but we weren`t in Egypt at the same time. And Olli wasn`t there to holiday. It was a very busy schedule. He was there for a few days only and shot a lot. He had a lot of stuff to do, so no holiday at all for him. But Pepe [The guitarist] and I, we had this holiday weekend in Egypt...
In "Animal Attraction", Olli and Noora are playing different kind of roles and it looks like a parody of amongst others "Baywatch". So, once again, there is popping up that eternal question: What is the difference between Reckless Love and Steel Panther? Reckless Love often state that they don`t belong to the same genre as Steel Panther. Why? What is your opinion about it?
I would say it`s true and it`s obvious to see if you look at it. Have you ever seen them live?
Yes, I have...
So you know it`s like a stand-up comedy show. The whole show is like a comedy club. You go there and see a stand-up. Personally, I love it and we even performed with them and it was nice because they are nice guys but... They are singing about... Well, all the lyrics and so on, it`s just a joke. I don`t mean that they themselves are a joke. They aren`t. They are a great band, great musicians, but it`s totally different from us because we… We are doing the stuff they are making fun of. They are making fun of us, actually. That`s ok - and at the same time, that`s the difference between us.
Have you listen to their brand new album "Balls Out"?
No, I`m sorry, but I haven`t. They are on the same label like us and actually today we got copies of it from Universal Music, but there were only two copies and Jalle and Pepe have ordered them. I didn`t know that we can get the copies today, so I missed it to order my own one. I`ll catch up on it!
You just mentioned your performance with Steel Panther in L.A.. How did that happen, through your mutual record company?
No, we were just introduced to each other and then they asked us: "Hey fuckers, are you coming to see our show?" And we replied: "Hell, yeah, if we are on the guest list!" We were just making fun of it, but then we really had the time to go there. So we went there and, immediately, they said: "Hey, the guys from Reckless Love are here! Give them applause!" And after one or two songs, they asked us if we would like to come on stage. After we did so, they suggested to play something together and the result was Van Halen`s "Panama". It wasn`t planned at all, so we improvised. It was funny. We had so much fun. It was great.
Do you think you will repeat that some day?
Yeah, I think so. Soon, they are coming to Finland. We were supposed to be their support-act but I think we won`t have the time to do it. But if we have the time, we will at least go to see their show and probably join them on stage again. If possible. Who knows...
So we can hope for a tour with you and Steel Panther?
Yeah, you never know...
How about a tour with Michael Monroe?
I don`t know. Michael Monroe... Tomorrow, we are probably going to see his gig at "Tavastia". At least some of the guys. But I doubt that Michael would like to mix his music with our music. It`s not the same kind of style. And no offence but it`s maybe also a little bit too close to "two bands from Finland, two bands with this kind of blond singers"... It might look like watching the same band twice on the same event... [Laughter] No, it`s not but... You never know what happens but I think that they have their own stuff and we are doing our own stuff and we couldn`t support each other or something like that. It`s not that easy. You have to think about the whole picture.
Well, I think it would fit perfectly, that`s why I asked about a tour with Michael Monroe in particular. So if not with him, with whom would you like to tour?
Hard to decide. It doesn`t really matter, but if we are supporting, it has to be a very big band. [grins] Currently, I`m looking forward to the UK tour where we will have a support-act called "The Dirty Youth".
How about coming to Germany? The fans over there are still waiting for you...
Yeah, there are plans and soon you will probably hear more about them but I cannot say anything else at the moment. You have to have an album released there and it`s still not the case. The things are working very slow. Even if you have a record company like Universal Music behind you, the wheels are moving very slowly. Everyone wants a piece of us, but it`s hard to do everything at the same time. We are trying our best but it`s not only up to us... It was funny when we just played in Spain. Our albums aren`t released there either but there were 900 people waiting for us. They knew all the lyrics not only from the first album but also from the second album. So they obviously downloaded them from somewhere because, as I said, the albums are not released there. I don`t know why because there are a lot of people who want us and they are listening to our albums anyway so: What the fuck is going on!?! I don`t know it. Things in music business or show business in general are always not that simple. We would like to do more work but in this case our hands are tied.
Are you still teaching kids how to play drums at the "Leather Factory"?
Yes. Every Tuesday. At least. It`s only one day a week, so... It`s a nice job. I love it. It`s nice to see how the kids learn the stuff; so fucking fast...
Are you doing this job because of your profession as a drummer or did you even study to become a teacher?
No, no, no. I have an education in music and music business. I studied at a music academy, so I know all about music theory, therefore it`s not a problem for me to teach it. But I`m not a teacher. I`ve been a music teacher at a high school and that`s probably the time when I fell in love with that job, so it`s easy for me. I can also teach how to play guitar, bass and maybe also how to sing, but at the moment I only teach drummers, because it`s more close to my heart.
Which drummers are your role models?
There are a lot of drummers who are like idols for me but no one particularly. There are a lot of good drummers and I like to follow them all. It`s hard to name only one person. And also in general, I have a lot of role models. My father is one of them.
We talked a lot about your hometown Viiala and your commitments there. Could you imagine to move away from there? Have you ever lived somewhere else?
I have lived nearby Shanghai. In China. In 2007. I liked it and I could move to somewhere else, yes, but within Finland: No! Maybe one day I will have a house in L.A. or a house somewhere in the south where it is very warm. Maybe in Australia. But within Finland, I just love my hometown. It`s the place where I have some peace and quiet, all my own things are there and if I wanna go to a city, it`s very close to Helsinki, Tampere and so on. It`s nice. I love it.
How come that you lived nearby Shanghai?
I was working there for six months as a technical engineer.
Was your tattoo of a Chinese symbol inspired by that experience? What does the symbol mean?
The Chinese symbol stands for music, but it also means happiness. Chinese symbols are funny because they can mean many things at the same time. Also one word can mean a lot of other things if you pronounce it in a different way. The pronunciation can change the whole meaning of a word.
Do you speak Chinese?
Not that much anymore, but I learned Chinese when I was there because no-one speaks English or Finnish over there so I had to learn it. I also attended some Chinese courses at the university.
Could you imagine to live there permanently?
Yes. Actually, if I wouldn`t be a musician, I would probably move there and work there. At least for a while. Maybe for a few years. It`s a nice place. I like it.
Before that happens, we are looking forward to many years in which Reckless Love will release further albums and play a lot of shows. On that note: Rock the stage as usual!
Website of Reckless Love: http://www.recklesslove.com