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In my not so long journalist´s career this has been the hardest interview to manage. Even though Ville supposedly had a holiday since last year´s big funeral and now is starting a new chapter of his musical career, which should be exciting as anything new is, yet still he seemed so very tired, quiet, burnout and a lot more melancholic than this music genre suggests.
At the same time being so calm could be a sign of security and firm confidence in band´s new work and successful future, which for sure Poisonblack has all the potential for! Still, I got the feeling it will take a much longer time and many-many new songs for him to recover from the suicidal depression (even in a black-humorous way, as Ville puts it) Sentenced has been living for almost 10 past years…
You wanted to have some break after your last band finally quit, but then the new Poisonblack album and now promo and tour etc. so did you manage to rest at all?...
Yes I did, like two months.
And was it enough?
Yes, because actually this album “Lust Stained Despair” was done in spring 2004, two years ago, so we didn´t really have to go into the studio again and do things like that, so after the last Sentenced show it was like 2,5 months just doing nothing, staying at home, kicking ball with my sons…
So the album was ready and there wasn´t much else you´d wanted to change since the last two years?
We just went to the studio to record 3 new songs for the album and then mix the whole thing again, because the first mix didn´t really go as planned, because we were after this kind of band sound, almost live sound, but we stripped the music off almost every effect, so it ended up almost like a demo, so we had to find some other guy to do it.
I believe the last time you stepped onto Tavastia stage, it was last year with your other band. Now you´ve a new band, new sound, music style is different also… How does it feel to go back there?
Obviously it´s different because there´re different people doing music with me, so it´s kind of growing experience to get this band-chemistry going, so I´m very looking forward to it, because those other guys have new energy in them, so to me it´s in a way kind if new beginning, but still it´s not, because I´ve been doing this for almost ten years, but it should be a lot of fun.
For your audience this will be also a big change, as they remember you from another band and now you´ve almost have to win them over again, from scratch…
I can´t do much about their expectations, how they see me or see Poisonblack now, the only thing we can do as a band and I can do is just go there and play our hearts out and be honest to our music and what we do and not trying to win anyone over, but if we´ll enjoy playing there, the people will enjoy too, and hopefully they´ll enjoy the show and the music without all the expectations and things like that.
And have you already had a chance to play those songs live?
Yeah, a couple of times.
…so you aren´t as nervous to play them live again?
Well, nervous like before every show, but not like in a state of panic or anything, it´s all the positive excitement and anticipation and so on…
And when Poisonblack started, it was on a project-basis?
No, to me it was never a project, even though it seemed like that, because there were JP from Charon and myself, so it might´ve looked like a project to the outside, but to me it was never like that and I hope that at least now people see it as a band with solid lineup, but I totally understand that I might´ve looked like this.
Now it´s your fulltime band, so no other side-projects or other ideas?
No, because the reason why I started to do this band was to play the guitar, so even then it was never a project. I never let Poisonblack interfere with Sentenced, because it was the main thing at that time, but this is a fulltime thing now, we do this to the fullest or not at all.
But if at the beginning you just wanted to play the guitar and someone does the vocals, now you´ve taken that as well, so will this stay or is it temporary?
After JP left I was still only wanting to play the guitar, but searches for the new vocalist didn´t really turn out that great, so I just started to sing at the rehearsals to keep it interesting for ourselves also. We made a two song demo and found out that my voice actually fits to the songs, so basically then we´ve decided that I do the vocals and let´s stop the search.
Do you feel your career as a guitarist has changed somehow since Poisonblack?
I really see it separate, that part, that I have to show people my guitar skills or whatever, I see myself more as a songwriter, so I´m just this one more person in the band with an instrument and it´s not like important to show people that I can play, it´s more important if I can do good songs.
And now you´re going on an 8-weeks tour with Lacuna Coil. Have you played together before?
Yeah, we did one short tour with them with Poisonblack and then another with Sentenced, so I know the guys very well. Yeah, it´s gonna be really great opportunity for us, because Lacuna Coil will draw a lot of people, so we´ll get to play around Europe to a lot of new people too.
This means, Poisonblack is leaving the Finnish underground?
Well, obviously we want to let people known about the music around the world, because we´re making music in English, but at the moment the main goal isn´t focused on how successful we will be; the goal is to tour and get all the guys in the band to stick together and get this family-thing going and build up the chemistry and find our own sound and things like that, then the success will come.
What about the US?
The album will be released there too, but there isn´t any plans to actually go there yet. If and when we go there, we don´t want to do it the way like driving through the whole country in a van and play to 10-15 people every night, so it should be something that makes sense, like supporting some bigger band or playing at some festival, to get our name out.
With Sentenced you were almost always the headliner and now you´re a supporting act to somebody else. Isn´t quite a step down for you?
In a way yes, but in a way no, because you know, we´ve to start from the bottom, it´s the way things go when you really think about it. The only thing that´s kind of annoying is that when supporting we don´t get to play a long set we don´t get to play a long set, like over an hour, now it´s like 35 minutes, so that´s the downside of it, other than that, I don´t feel that my ego is violated.
Except the first single “Rush”, I´ve not had a chance to hear the new album, as it only came out a few hours ago, so how would you describe it to me? What should I expect?
I guess the main source of ideas is still the same as in the first album, but this time the feelings and emotions needed to be expressed a bit more dirtier and rougher way, so that´s the reason the music will be a bit more straightforward, a bit more rocking. I think it´s a mixture of a gothic vibe, rock vibe and also a metal vibe. So you can expect a lot of up-tempos songs and a lot of feeling!
Do you feel “Lust Stained Despair” is more advanced than “Escapextasy”?
Production-wise – yes, it is, but if going to basics just of writing music, then I don´t think it´s anyway more advanced. The new sound, the whole lineup of the band is more tight and solid so there´s some elements which make this album more advanced, but the whole source of music is the same.
How would you identify the theme behind the new album?
It´s self-searching, lyrically I mean, there´s more or less like a diary… it´s easier to eternalize stuff when you see them before you written down, so there´s lot of self-hate and a lot of love songs and it´s just basically three ideas which go throughout the album and they´re in the title, so find those elements in there.
What kind of mood and state of mind were you, when wrote this album?
Feeling of worthlessness… clinging onto something that isn´t necessarily real… being addicted to emotions that only did harm to me…
But how is it still possible to feel worthless, when you´ve such successful career, so many albums sold, so many dedicated fans worldwide?
In my case, when you reach a certain kind of selflessness… Well, I´ve always felt like shit, so this album to me is letting go of a lot of those feelings, selflessness and shit, maybe making myself a bit more of a better person and not just always whine about everything.
Then what else would you like to achieve?
To write an album, musically and lyrically that I can speak my mind what I´m thinking and not hide it behind kind of metaphors or symbols, but just say what I want to say.
What does the cover of the album mean? How much did you participate in the design process?
Not really, I mean our label found this artist, Natalie Shau, and her pictures in the internet and she sent me some pictures and I really loved them, they´re really beautiful, the whole atmosphere those pictures create, even though some people have said that it´s really-really gothic cover, but to me it isn´t. If you cover the girl´s face, then the picture is just dark and mysterious. Well, there´re gothic elements in the music also.
From what we know, you´re a happy family-person, yet still your lyrics are so sad, dark and twisted in a way – how does this fit?
Well, it didn´t fit that well, as this twisted person who is in this lyrics started to be a part of the family life also, but thank god I ended that and took my head up from my own ass and now look at all this twisted-ness with a healthier way. It´s great that I can have this kind of way to release stuff and put it here and not take it home anymore. I have learnt some lessons in life.
Are you overall pleased with this album?
Yes, we couldn´t have done anything better. The whole essence is there that we wanted to express. Always only try your best.
What about members of the band, how much did they contribute to the writing or is it all purely your work?
The Song “The Darkest Lie” is written by our guitarist and the song that has Finnish title “Raivotar”, the lyrics are in English, but the title translates ´female in heat´, it´s not meant to be taken so seriously.
Why did you do the mixing in Denmark?
We were searching for a guy to mix it, so we´ve sent one song to Tue Madsen to mix and he basically understood what we were after.
What sort of feelings do you have now for Sentenced, now that it´s almost a year after the big funeral?
It was and it will be a big part of my life, and always proud of the things we did together, but it´s over and done. It took us year and a half almost to end it, you know, talking about it, the reasons, all that shit is done and dealt with, so I can look back with a good feeling, instead of just dwelling in the past. Obviously I miss a lot of stuff from there, but not enough to dig up the corpse.
This must be very annoying for you to be asked all the time about Sentenced and the past, now when you´ve just started a new chapter…
NO NO NO!!! Because for almost ten years it was basically my life.
Because the lyrical content is also very much different in Sentenced and in Poisonblack, not so much suicide and death anymore…
Not at the moment, I don´t know if sometimes in the future this feeling comes that I have to write about misery and things like that, but maybe it´s not that present in my life now, those feelings, and in Sentenced it was also more down to earth, this black humor and a bit more serious than Poisonblack is. Maybe sometime in the future, but not at the moment it´s something that I really miss.
When you write those lyrics, do you have to concentrate what band you´re writing for?
I just write and sometimes there comes out a song that I already feel that this would´ve been a song for Sentenced, so I leave that song alone, maybe play it to myself, but I don´t really think about it that much, they just comes out and I do the selection in my head, which song needs to be there.
How did you create your best songs, what kind of mood does it best for you?
Best… The songs that always grow up to be really important to me are songs like when I´m writing them, I can think of them for weeks, I can´t get them out of my head, you know, and that way I add more feeling into the song, that I´m constantly thinking about. But what mood… the inspiration just come out of somewhere… like I said, it´s always in my head. Sometimes I´m talking to my wife, she´s looking at my eyes and I´m like present, but I´m somewhere else. Some songs take a week and some can be like a… for example the last song, “The Living Dead” is six years old.
Which songs are you the most proud of?
The one on Sentenced album “Cold White Light” called “Everything Is Nothing” and on the new album it´s this “The Living Dead”.
What is this song about?
It´s about the love of my life.
Do you still believe that “to live is to love the pain” and “pleasure and pain are the same”?
It is if I let it be that way, but at the moment I try to find the balance in between, but sometimes it´s just good to let things be that twisted, “pleasure and pain are the same”, but you can´t really live your whole life like with that thought, there has to be a balance.
What is overall your vision of music, the message behind all this?
I guess the thing is that I have this channel to get rid of stuff and express stuff, because I´m a Finnish man and Finnish men don´t speak, so music is my way to talk.
The song “Darkest Lie” was written by your guitarist, but the lyrics are yours. What is your own darkest lie?
If I say, it won´t be the darkest anymore, but it was bout being dishonest.
What about the newest video to “Rush”, whose idea was it?
The whole vision came from the director, he wanted to basically make the whole atmosphere like the album´s main cover, so we shot it at a small lake in our home town, but still I´m the last person to ask about this video, because to me it´s not really important, I´ve always felt very uncomfortable doing them. I don´t mean like putting it down, but the whole process is very unpleasant. I know it´s the promotion and people want to see videos, but still to me it doesn´t play a role. I´d rather watch live stuff.
So the music should be left by itself without any additional visuals?
It´s really great to have the visual side of the music too, it´s really important, I just don´t like the whole making of it, it always feels strange. But when I saw the final version, I really liked it, so it´s just the making part.
What was the story behind the video?
It´s a song about sex, about battling good and evil, and things like that, what goes through your head.
What about the band members, some of them are new or you knew them from before?
Yeah, but they´re still old friends, and it´s important not to have just good musicians, but also good personalities that you get along.
So could you tell us a few things about them, for example the cutest thing about guitarist Janne?
The innocence which will be destroyed after this long tour!
And what´s the most annoying thing about the keyboarder Marco?
He´s into early 90´s disco-pop
Does he do the dance too?!
I don´t want to see it!
The funniest thing about the bassist Antti?
I don´t know if there´s any funny things about Antti, he just basically lives rock´n´roll 24 hours a day, maybe it´s funny to some people…
The weirdest thing about drummer Tarmo?
We actually saw it yesterday in the bus, when we drove here, he has never worn a necklace, and now he had a necklace, so we gave him some hard times. So this was the weird thing - Tarmo goes gothic!
And what is the most unexpected thing about yourself, something we might never guess?...
(long pause) I don´t know… I really don´t know.
The last album is very sensual and revolves around great power of a woman. Just how powerful a woman is in your eyes?
I truly learnt it when I´ve met my wife, maybe I don´t want to go too deeply into that, but being a true eye-opener and showing what some things in this life really mean.
Other than the new Poisonblack album, what else exciting and different going on in your life?
I truly have been enjoying being with my kids, because I´ve been so much away from their life, touring and also drinking, and now truly being there present, gaining their trust and things like that, that has been pretty exciting and important.
Would you mind your kids going into music business?
Well, as long as they´re happy and you know, don´t fuck up their lives, we´ll see what they´ll do… I´m totally trying to support whatever they´ll decide, but still, if one of them goes into music I can warn them about certain stuff, but I guess they´ve got to go through things themselves to learn…
On the whole, do you enjoy being famous and being recognized?
Let´s just say that the shine is gone and I´ve a different way of looking at it instead of just going with the flow and playing some kind of role. Sometimes it´s really disturbing when you´re just buying milk or going to the movies with m wife and someone comes there and doesn´t leave me alone. I live in a small town, have been living there my whole life, so I know a lot of people there, so it´s not like it´s too present in my life.
Would you ever move some place else?
Not to a bigger city, but maybe more into the countryside, but I don´t want to move away from Finland.