When and Where:
I AM POISONED, says on the t-shirt of Ville Laihiala, the guitarist of Poisonblack and the singer of Sentenced, but he looks healthy as hell and living to me. I met up with Ville on a late Friday afternoon in Nosturi before the bands soundcheck and discussed about both bands, while the recorder kept playing tricks on us. Due to the cheap recorder problems some of the interview took a flight elsewhere, but something was saved. Poisonblack was formed back in 2000 and is not a project band, that so many musicians are into these days. As for Sentenced, through such a dark and melancholic band Ville is often seen through the media's as a pretty dark person, but he wasn't like that at all in person. He was really patient, easygoing, sympathic and nice. If you don't get offended with curse words and discussing about killing yourself that is.
Satu - How has the band's name and music gotten fame and glory so far ?
Ville - I don't know about that fame and glory, but we've gotten great feedback. Especially Italy went all nuts. There's this chain of clubs called Transilvania and our album's release was at six clubs there at the same time. They've been praising the album and putting it down, all kinds of things. But we're just starting out, so you can't really talk about fame and glory just yet.
Satu - You're seen as a pretty dark person in the media and JP (the singer of Poisonblack) has a natural temperament. How do these personas work together ?
Ville - We work together well and sometimes really badly. I don't see myself as a dark person, but I guess I have a different way of relating and working with these ups and downs in life. But I think I'm basically a pretty positive person. Maybe a bit inconstant, but anyways. It's really true that JP is ingenuous. He's a total idiot at our rehearsals too. I met him over two years ago. Our taste in music is almost the same, but he wasn't that much involved with writing these songs.
Satu - Do you have that rock attitude with this band that you have with Sentenced where booze keeps flowing and you sometimes find yourself tumbling on your back ?
Ville - I slipped in Wacken (a few years ago, yours truly witnessed). I really did slip ! This is still a young band, but you should ask that in the end of this year, because we've finished our touring then. But from what I know the guys I might end up keeping them in some surveillance. But I'm sure we'll have our own boozing society eventually.
Satu - Since you and JP are the famous guys in this band, where does it leave the other guys, what is their share in all this ?
Ville - People have asked about them too. But it's not like we've kept them in the dark and hiding.
Satu - You're the head of the band ?
Ville - No I'm not ! I enjoy being in the background for once and JP making a fool out of himself on stage every night.
Satu - But you're doing all the interviews now.
Ville - At least with this album, because I've written most of the songs.
Satu - What is the musical background for the rest of the guys, where did they start from ?
Ville - I formed this band with Janne and I've known him since we were kids. We've done punk and all kinds of things. I don't know about JP though, what he could've done. We haven't known our keyboardist that long. He must be really thrilled to see Hammerfall. But we're all friends here. The music circles in Oulu are so small that you can't avoid bumping into everyone.
Satu - How does this all affect the other bands that you guys have, do you go helter skelter ?
Ville - At least yet we haven't. It will take till next autumn to release the next Sentenced album and Charon (JP's band) too. So in a way we've got time until then. But we just have to see how it goes from there on.
Satu - Were you so fed up and frustrated at some point with Sentenced, that you began growing an idea of a different kind of band ?
Ville - I wouldn't say it was about being fed up, I write music all the time. I just got the feeling I want to write some songs and I write lots of all kinds of stories and stuff and it all just clicked together. I asked Janne if we'd put up a band. But it wasn't about being frustrated, it came from a feeling of perceiving something.
Satu - Where do you scoop your ideas from to both bands ?
Ville - Who knows. I recognize it immediately from the songs which band will have it. You get that longing feeling from a Sentenced song. I just feel it. If I make songs for Sentenced I might twist the idea for months in my head, when with Poisonblack its not that serious. Of course there's irony in Sentenced too, but Lopakka takes care of it with that band.
Satu - Have you found a favourite song among the band ?
Ville - I haven't asked the guys what they like. For me it's "All Else Is Hollow" right now, but it keeps changing. There's a couple of songs you're really tired of already, but let's leave them unmentioned.
Satu - Did you have lots of conflicts while making the album or did you mostly agree with everything ?
Ville - It was a helluva fight. Well, not like a fight, but I'm a total prick when I'm in the studio when I can be responsible for everything. There's that certain pressure on you about succeeding. You had to be careful with me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an asshole really. But yeah, we were quite along the same lines, though me and Janne decided about everything eventually. But it does demand this kind of action, like with Sentenced there's five guys everyone sharing their opinions. But it's worth it when you get the album done.
Satu - What kind of comments have you gotten from the fans and the guys from Sentenced ?
Ville - Lopakka and Ranta are into it, which is cool 'cos we've known each other for so long. I don't know about Tenkula, because we haven't spoken much, he doesn't comment much anyways. The guys support me on this, they know how important this is for me.
Satu - How long do you think you can keep up with this band, what is the inspiration with the other guys ?
Ville - Right now I feel like everyone's totally in it.
Satu - Do you think you have the need for background tapes on your shows and what do you think about them ?
Ville - No. It depends, if you're not bringing out the vocals then it's ok, because live is always live. We left background tapes out with Sentenced on this tour. But of course you can have some background singing coming from tapes.
Satu - What kind of energy has there been in Poisonblack's gigs so far, both with the band and the crowd ?
Ville - This is only our sixth gig, so we're just beginning. We're still looking for our livesound and style. I can't really say how it all looks. If I'm feeling good and I've got good sounds and I can hear myself then I don't stare at the crowd much, I just enjoy it all.
Satu - I heard some nasty things about your lyrics what you said in the finnish Inferno magazine.
Ville - F**k !! I was in about six and a half per mille intoxication when that interview was done ! It was fun then.
Satu - You've written all the lyrics yourself. How many guys are responsible for the songs ?
Ville - I've done seven songs from the album and Janne three. We produced it together and so we'll be the ones who get all the complaints then.
Satu - You're a family man. Don't you think there's this certain artistic difficulty when writing the lyrics and music, like "do I dare to do this and that", prepared to hear some nagging ?
Ville - YYYEEAH RIGHHHT ! (He says, looking at me in huge awe and some smile, nearly dropping his eyeballs out of their sockets like this is the last question on earth he'll ever answer)
TO BE OR NOT TO BE ?
Satu - Which one is the most important element for you, singing or guitar ?
Ville - I knew you would ask that. It's guitar absolutely. It's kind of hard to explain, because I've played the guitar since I was eleven years old. But singing is also important in a different way. I love both, but I'm definately a better guitarist than a singer. But don't take it the wrong way, that I'm disparaging singing. But if I had to choose it would be guitar.
Satu - Do you think you can bring out your emotions through guitar better than with the lyrics and singing ?
Ville - You can do that with singing too, but if you're just lying there and feeling annoyed I usually just tend to grab my guitar.
Satu - Did the future musician show from you when you were a kid, did that guitar just slip in your hands like nothing and were you yelling your tonsils out along those metal tunes ?
Ville - I was nine years old when I found my dad's Kiss album, but I didn't pick up the guitar then. I can't exactly recall where my playing started, but I've done all the clichés. Tennis racket and stuff. I've always had that urge to make a fool out of me though.
THE NEXT ALBUM
Satu - You've got a few songs ready for the next album. What can we expect from it and how does it differ from your debut ?
Ville - It's more balanced. Not that quiltlike as this and the sound will come closer to this day, it's not that eighties and not that gothic. And the guitar won't be as soft as here.
THE TRUE VILLE LAIHIALA
Satu - Does the darkness of Sentenced or the gothic melancholy of Poisonblack either have a harder grip on you in real life, though there's not much difference ?
Ville - Both of them reflect a certain side, but not really. I'm a really inconstant person, there's the other extreme end and the other and you're trying to stay in between. But don't bother guessing about it, it's just a way of getting it out of your system. They both make me feel purified and good about myself.
Satu - There are these musicians who act way differently when you meet them outside the music business. Have you noticed having two kinds of personas in you, the other one is for the media and the other one is for real life ?
Ville - Nah, I'm always like this. As long as you stay true to yourself at what you do and you're able to live with that.
Satu - What is the eternal dream of yours, that you haven't reached yet and might never reach ?
Ville - To be able to be happy.
Satu - Will you ever grow into a lighter person, how do you think you've changed along the years ?
Ville - I hate myself and I hate the human kind. It shows from me. But essentially I hate myself. But of course not that much that I would end up killing myself.
And off he ran to the soundcheck apologizing me for having to leave when I still had questions left. And his mobile kept ringing all through the interview. What a busy, beer-drinking Poison bee ! Thank you for that ghost cider anyhows, Ville !
by Satu Reunanen,