Reckless Love can without a doubt be considered as one of Finland’s biggest rock band. Founded back in 2001, the band has already played major festivals like The Download Festival and released four studio albums. Rockbladet called guitarrist Pepe to talk about the rockscene in Finland and upcoming album number five.
– The process of writing songs variates from song to song, it might take me 15 minutes like it did with We Are The Weekend, or months. But that is the beauty of it you never know what direction the songs might take and I always end up surprising myself. The inspiration can come from a good movie or just hit me when I´m out running. But to be honest, when listening to a record we have made, I hardly remember the writing process, because the songs and I are drawn to each other. We did a lot of experimenting on the latest album and just didn´t care about the rules regarding rock and sleazerock. So me, Olli and Ilkka, our producer decided to give everything that came to mind a chance, we were basically living in the studio at the time, Pepe tells with a laughter.
After the release of InVader, the band were on the road for the rest of the year, but decided to take January off to write new songs. New ideas for another album is already starting to surface and even though Pepe can´t say when the album will be released, he reveals that Olli has already come up with a name for it.
– All I can tell you is that it is a really cool name, but the thing is that if you promise something, even though it´s confirmed, it is bound to be late. But we want to keep the ball rolling and release the new album as soon as possible.
One of the songs on the album, We Are The weekend is the bands way of telling the listener to go out and have fun with the free time you have.
– Olli writes the lyrics and I write most of the melodies, but We Are The Weekend is a good example of the 9-5 working lifestyle and also has a good statement regarding the weekend. Because when you get off the treadmill regarding work, you should just go out and have fun, simply just enjoy the weekend.
The producer, Ilkka Wirtanen is according to Pepe considered to be the first member of the band sometimes. He has been the producer of the band´s music since day one, or day three if you ask Pepe.
– We have a really good and productive relationship with each other, even though he has been with us on this journey since day one, or three, every album sounds like it has been made by different producers. I don´t know what the future holds for us, but maybe we will use a new producer on album number five, maybe not. We as a group has been producing a lot on our own too, but I am sure we will still write songs together with Ilkka for the new album and maybe more.
Being a member of Reckless Love means that there is not a lot of time left for anything else. Pepe explains that they are the kind of band that either spends their time on the road touring or songwriting and producing new material. But at the same time, it is important for all of them to have the time to be fathers and husbands.
– We are very lucky and fortunate to survive and not having to have other jobs on the side. But at the same time, we would not be able to since we put pretty much all our time and effort into the band and have done so for seven years. But it is nice to have two different worlds in your life that balance each other on a good way. When Reckless Love is touring, I´m the outrageous guitar player and at home, the loving kind father to my child and wife. My horoscope is a Gemini, so this twin personality suits me well, I put my touring boots on and the tour mood goes on and when I get home, it´s off.
One thing that makes finnish music stand out from the crowd is the ability to balance the weight and power, with the melodies on a higher level, then for example swedish. Despite being so close to each other, the difference between swedish and sinnish bands are huge.
– It´s funny you say that, because in Finland we consider swedish musicians being the masters of melodies. I guess it works both ways, maybe it sounds different to us because it´s somewhat exotic, which is weird since Sweden and Finland is so close to each other, there should not really be anything that makes us so much different from each other. Maybe it is the cultural difference or something else, I don´t really have an answer to that.
Being a rockband in Finland may sound like it´s easy, considering it is named to be one of the biggest scenes within rock and metal. But the challenges musicians face there, are similar to other countries.
– There are a lot of challenges here in Finland as well, I mean of course heavy metal will always survive here, because the fanbase is huge. But the audience numbers have been going down since 2010, which was around the time when heavy metal struck its high tide. Especially after Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest, even the grandmas here were heavy grandmas (laughter). Up to that, it has started to decline a bit. When it comes to Reckless Love, we just do our own thing while waiting for the scene to get big again, I mean, we are lucky to have such a great and supportive fanbase that we do. Our names are often seen in the biggest papers over here, that does not really matter though. It is more important for us to enjoy what we do and will continue to do so.
Even though there is a lot of competition between bands, Finnish musicians seems to be more supportive to another. One good example is Reckless Love and The 69 Eyes decided to join forces for two previous shows in Finland. But it is not only the already established bands that is helping each other, even up and coming bands like Santa Cruz, Shiraz Lane and Lost Society have toured and performed with Reckless Love.
– I do believe that we are some what competitive as well, but at the same time it would not make any sense in not supporting each other. Right now, it´s all about finnish rapmusic and electronic pop here in Finland and that is also what you hear on the radio, so it would be very unwise not to support each other. Something I truly believe in is that the rock-scene needs to find a common interest that benefits us all to lift each other and not put each other down. Rock N´´Roll will never go big again if the rock bands don´t join forces and work together. Also if it´s not happening for you and the band you’re in get the big break through the mainstream channels, then you need to make the move yourself through the underground scene.
Pepe tells me that he has faith in the rockscene and that its bound to come back, but that being competitive is healthier if your competing with yourself in order to get better and not with other bands. Reckless Love is one of few bands that are so established that they can live out of music only, but Pepe still believes you can still learn how to develop your music.
– You never get to established as a musician to get better or try new things in order to develop your music. There are times on tour, like if it´s a long one and you play seven times in a row, then the eight might not make you as excited as the first. But the thing with us is that we never have anything planned when we step onto the stage, of course we have ways of ending songs and how to start them, but anything can happen. It´s a leap of faith and it inspires us to write new music, the thing you need to remember as a musician is that everything has its ups and downs, just like life itself. Now, writing new music feels like a fresh new thing and the start of something new for Reckless Love.
Tavastia klubi is a re-occurring venue in a lot of band´s music videos, among them the one for “We are The Weekend” and performing there is also considered being a sign of having made it as a band.
– In reality, it is just another club and the backstage area is small, but very practical since you can enter the stage directly. I think it gained a legendary status because it was the first rock club that opened and it´s something people my age, but also young kids remember from movies and such. If you´re able to play there, then it´s a sign that you have made it as a band or musician. When I was a kid, we would watch this Finnish movie called A Long Hot Summer, made back in 1990´s and it´s about this finnish band trying to break through and in the end, they end up playing at the club. And I was playing guitar already then, so that was one thing I really wanted to do. After releasing the debut album with Reckless Love in 2010, I think we played there three times just that first year and of course it´s a stage we go back to when able to.
But it is not only at legendary finnish club´s Reckless Love has played, during their first year after releasing the debut album, they also managed to play at The Download Festival and House of Blues.
– We have been very fortunate to play at the House of Blues in Los Angeles as the opening act for Steel Panther. But we also played at other big festivals like Loud Park in Japan and opened up for Ozzy Osbourne, all this in 2010. It felt like all the hard work we had put into creating our music since 2001 finally payed of and also releasing the album. Since then, it´s only been more and more work, but we like it that way and we will of course return to those places again soon. There is just no way we would ever stop the process from going forward, so don´t worry, I promise we won´t go away.
One thing everyone in the music industry, but also in other careers aims for is the big break. Pepe explains that after the tour taking place in Finland during the first years, felt like the big break through finally had happened.
– Suddenly we released the album in the UK and went on a tour there, but I think we realized that we had made it for real when 10.000 people were singing along to our songs at the Download festival. It was such a huge accomplishment, but we did also tell each other that yes, it might feel like we have made it, but let´s keep our fingers crossed we are not dreaming. On a personal level, I am really looking for the next episodes of touring and making new music. You know, here in Finland everyone has their own memories from their childhood, when it comes to when and how you fell in love with music. But something that is really common here, is that Metallica and Guns N´ Roses are the two first bands you discovered as a kid. Probably because they are the last, truly majorly big rockbands that ever existed. Music today however, don´t really include that many phenomena’s like they used to. We all share that same passion for them, whenever I talk about music with other bands, like Santa Cruz, I can see the same spark in them like the one we had in our twenties. Too be honest, I really do hope small kids out there will pick up guitars or play other instruments in the near future, instead of using their laptops in order to make music.
The mark that Pepe hopes Reckless Love will leave when their time comes to an end, is the memory of a band that created a healing force through their music. One thing that is really important to the band is that people remember the good times and celebrate life.
– Today, there are so many dark bands out there, but Reckless Love is the antidote, like the sunshine in the dark. Music should be an escape from the harsh reality of the world we live in, so you can gain strength to change it.
Skribent: Gabi Mattsson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo: Press/ Ville Juurikkala