The Rasmus to Chaoszine: “If we decide to do something we always do it 110%”

Author Irene Benavides - 26.1.2022

Finnish rock band The Rasmus recently entered Finland’s annual Eurovision selection contest, “Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu” (UMK; The New Music Competition). The band recently released its Eurovision entry bid and new single, “Jezebel“, via Playground Music.

“Jezebel” was co-written and produced by Desmond Child, who collaborated with The Rasmus on their seventh studio album “Black Roses”. Child is responsible for formulating some of rock’s biggest hits, with co-writer and production credits on iconic songs by Kiss, Bon Jovi and Alice Cooper, to name a few.

Chaoszine had the possibility to catch up with the full band on Zoom to discuss how the band ended up into Eurovision selection contest, how Emppu Suhonen was picked as the band’s new guitarist and what does the future hold for the band regarding their upcoming album. You can read the full interview which was originally posted in Finnish by Kaaoszine below:

Hello to all. how did this year start for you?

Eero Heinonen: Yes, it went such a fast-paced year that it hasn’t gone so fast for a while. With the changes in the line up, the competition and all related,…a lot of things happening.

Yes, Corona time in particular has bought exceptionally a kick off for a couple of years now ,at a pretty quiet pace, and then it rushes properly, so to speak.

Lauri Ylönen: Yes, when the situation has been very bad for two years the thing is how could implement the music again, and one idea was that we felt like going to the competition. The fans have been asking for a long time, and now it feels like it is a very good option. Last year I saw how the boys did there (Blind Channel). This is a proper contest with true artists. Maybe it has changed in the last few years.

Yes, maybe during the 90s the competition has been very different as it is nowadays.

Image credit: Venla Shalin

The Rasmus: Yes, exactly

Aki Hakala: I remember from my childhood that the Eurovision contest was a bit different from what it offers now.

But there is still the idea that you are going there as in a trampoline, but you have already experienced it. You are not starting from zero.

Eero Heinonen: Yes, I find it funny that it is a new music contest and there are artists who aren’t familiar to Finns yet. And of course, not everybody knows The Rasmus in Finland either, but many do. So, no problem with the promotion. Maybe it is nice to perform our music to the whole nation, but it is like… where my idea was pointing?… Can someone follow? (laughs)

So, was it a clear decision as a band straight away when Lauri put it on the table, like: “wait a minute, why not?”

Eero Heinonen: Maybe it was like Lauri put the song on the table, well the demo, and he said that here is the song, do we go to the contest? I listened to the song a few times and I said that this is the kind of song that should participate, because it is catchy and a good song, and it has The Rasmus sound.

About the song “Jezebel”, did you bring the song for your upcoming album and then kind of got a twist in the baggage, or was it reserved for the contest?

Lauri Ylönen: This is a good question. Of course at the end it will go to the album. But maybe in this situation we looked for the key song that will show the final direction for the album. I had the idea that I should call Desmond and ask for help: “Can you write the best song to win the Eurovision contest?”; he replied straight that hell yes. He said that come to Greece to make the song, because he was on holiday there. The following day I traveled there from Hawaii. It was a familiar place. We worked there before for the Black Roses album. The song was made in four hours. Good flow.

Why Desmond Child? Was there a particular reason? Was it that kind of song that he would fit the best?

Photo credit: The Rasmus

Lauri Ylönen: well yes. I have that kind of memory, if we go back in time when I was doing my own songs, during school days. I always had Desmond’s book with me. I mean when I was young, very very young, it was Kiss’s I was made for loving you, Heaven’s on Fire… I played those songs with the guitar, also Alice Cooper’s Poison, I had a poster of him on my wall, I was a huge fan. And of course also Bon Jovi’s songs, You give the love a bad name and Living on a prayer… There is a long list of songs written by Desmond which I liked a lot, it was so good music! And then later when he contacted me and we worked together for the first time, because he had listened to our music. We have known each other for a while now. Almost all the songs that I listened to as a boy were done by him.

So basically that he is that kind of looking, like an influencer in that direction.

Lauri Ylönen: Yes, and because he knows so much, when an idea comes, when a song comes… Desmond has to make it. During the last few years I have made those kinds of decisions, like… Emppu Suhonen! Now let’s call Emppu! What are we waiting for? Do we consider different options or do we use our intuition and we take the first intuitive feeling? And it was also that very fast after the song was ready, we didn’t have to wait to do more songs.

Eero Heinonen: No tries, let’s do this!

Lauri Ylönen: Now everything is ready, so now we can already play it. I went to Nashville to Desmond’s studio, I was sitting on the sofa with the laptop open and they were in Sipoo in the studio.

Aki Hakala: I was in Sipoo in the studio and everything went so fast, we asked Joonas Parkkonen to record it and Kaasu from HIM, the drummer tech, was also there. It was an amazing moment, we started to record there and it worked. Lauri and Desmond were at the other side of the laptop in front of me and we did the song quite fast. And we were on time to take part in the contest. Everything happened too fast but with a great feeling. We had that feeling that we were going in the right direction. Right situation when everything flows and hits as it should. And then of course we just had a background bomb about Pauli leaving the band, so how we should continue and do after that. But then at a time we put it all together.

Lauri Ylönen: We did this song with Emppu, who has just joined the band. It was the first song and at the same time we had the idea to go to the contest together to build something. It is really good because we have been doing good together.

Emppu Suhonen: A lot of things came very fast, the audition in the rehearsal place and in the same week I played the guitar, we had photoshoots,… Everything happened very fast.

It is nice to put all the bombs on the table at once. Then there is not so many left for the following week. (laughs)

Aki Hakala: It is very exciting. I have to go back again to when we called Emppu. There was a huge line outside the rehearsal place.There, outside was Emppu with her guitar. In a way it was already decided, if this worked the next step would be to meet and have a chat. So Emppu was The Rasmus’ new guitarist. We have intuition there. Emppu was very nervous, but what did you say? You said that, if there would have been a very long line you would have gone before?

Emppu Suhonen: I personally value intuition a lot, the intuition in the sure things, it was very important for me that you considered me as an option, really as an option. There was a very long line there

Excuse me, I interrupt you. How did you come up with Emppu’s name if there was no previous history together?

Lauri Ylönen: Well, I knew your work (to Emppu)

Emppu Suhonen: There was something, yes, but we were not friends.

Lauri Ylönen: I know you from your band Alavala, also my friend Antti checked your sound and he played your demos for me. So without seeing but I listened to your music and I knew you as a musician. Our mothers know each other too (laughs). We are both from Suutarila in Helsinki, we went to the same school. In that area of Helsinki there are a lot of music bands: Tik Tak,The Rasmus and also Haloo Helsinki.

There is something in the water maybe?

Aki Hakala: We eat something different at school.

Let’s go back to Pauli. At what point did he tell you that he wanted to do something different from The Rasmus?

Eero Heinonen: Pauli has long been a bit of a retreat from the spotlight and from the energy that the band requires to push forward. We could say that he already stepped aside a few years back. But I guess that he has also been influenced by the Corona years. Now it has been really quiet and maybe it felt like he really wanted to do other things that are really important for his life. It was very sad news for us too when it happened, but that was more than six months ago, so it is not recent for us anymore.

Aki Hakala: It was his decision to make, he has to do what he wants to. Take his own instructions and go to try something else.

Emppu Suhonen: This tells a bit about the amount of drama. Pauli invited me for a weekend lunch as a guitar colleague. I had the feeling that I had been knighted. It was really important to me, and I appreciate him so much. I think that deep feelings are very important, and here there are good feelings in every direction.

This Corona time has been the right time for many people to think about their own lifes.

Emppu Suhonen: And to think about what they don’t want, too.

I myself wonder if there has been relatively little news about this, there has been almost no news about musicians quitting completely. Like, I have been at home for a couple of years and it has been a lot of fun to leave. At least all the veterans. Surprising that there hasn’t been a lot of news like that.

Emppu Suhonen: You are completely right. I have to say that during the Corona years, at least the younger musicians have started families or they have gone to try another profession. It is very sad but natural. So, only the ones that continue are those who really want to do this and tour.

Eero Heinonen: And the Corona years have been hard for many artists, but we started so long ago that we have seen all the good sides from an artist’s life. How you can create your own stuff, play your own music and organize your schedules. It is a very great feeling when you are your own boss. But not everybody has the same chances, or not the same as before Corona, at least to try how it is to be a musician and live from your music. In that way we play with advantage, we have seen that before and we want to continue. This is so beloved to us that we don’t want to end it all, even now there are difficulties.

Let’s go back to Emppu joining the band. Lauri called you to come and play, how did you feel about that? Did you decide immediately that you would join the band if you would be the chosen one?

The Rasmus: It was a very exciting moment, I was at home, I don’t remember exactly where, but at home and I remember that moment. I said that I wanted to think about it for a while, because it was such a big deal!

Yes, long tours, long trips. It is not a small decision to make.

Emppu Suhonen: Exactly. But at the same time it was a very clear decision.. I wanted a moment to breathe, and when I hung up the phone I told my couple that this is that kind of thing when I said yes. It was clear but I didn’t want to rush and just see what happened.

Aki Hakala: I think that you are that kind of person that you do things for sure, that you don’t go just to try. Near you there are also guys like that (pointing Lauri, Eero and himself). We don’t try things, we just go to them fully.

Emppu Suhonen: But at the same time it seems natural that the same night I already had you songs in my hand. I started playing Immortal because I didn’t know what song it was. I didn’t listen to your music much, but that was a big hit.

Was it the first song that you played at the rehearsal?

The Rasmus: Yes

Eero Heinonen: I have to say also about Emppu, that it is a very lucky thing that she has already done long tours and big happenings before. Because if that would not be the case, a lot of things would come at the same time, and you know already….

It was a good choice because she has already experienced it. It is not like playing onec a week at some weird pub.

Eero Heinonen: If someone doesn’t want this kind of thing, they easily are annoyed about the fact that we have to do things all the time.

Emppu Suhonen: Yes, Eero has said it really well. That was exactly the reason why I wanted a moment to breathe before saying yes. I had to examine all the parts, in the 99% I was sure about joining, but it was very important to think about it. And more because when the tour starts, then it would have already been too late.

You had planned to release a new album during the spring, but are there some changes? And more now that you will concentrate in the contest full time.

Eero Heinonen: Neutral comment, I want to say that I liked a lot what Lauri and Pauli did last summer, and when Lauri asked Desmond if there was still time for a collaboration. We have a lot of songs that are ready to release. But I would also like to hear if there would be any more gems that could be put in there. Because we are that kind of band who likes to release albums, not a song at a time in Spotify, as many others do.

Lauri Ylönen: It is supposed that you have to release an album and go on tour, but it is not going like that for us. Preferably we do this now. We have already confirmed some dates and surely more are coming. So let’s see now how much we can do without publishing . Let’s do a lot of this song and let’s put all our energy there now, and from here we get more.

Emppu Suhonen: So the album can be a bit wasted if we release it at the wrong time.

Aki Hakala: It is also interesting that we are up against 7 other artists in the battle for representing Finland, so we want to do our best to go to Italy to represent Finland. That would be a great thing, so we have to stay completely focused on that.

Lauri Ylönen: If everything goes fine, and we go there,straight to the next step, and that will push us a lot.

And then the album is coming sometime later, if you think about the future like going that far. There are a lot of starges open and that is really good for sure. Thank you all for the interview and good luck in the contest. Do you want to end up by saying something more to Chaoszine readers through this video interview?

Lauri Ylönen: Hopefully the new song will fascinate you all. It feels really great to be here. After a long time, we are doing a great team with YLE and now we will start playing in Finland.

Eero Heinonen: We are finnish, we are from Finland, but we haven’t done many things in Finland, and it feels great.

Yes, sure. Big thank you to all of you and good luck in the contest and in the future.

The Rasmus: Thank you.