Brothers Mikko, Jonne and Kie Von Hertzen originally played in their own individual bands, each enjoying varying amounts of success before joining together as afamily unit in the tour de force that is the Von Hertzen Brothers in 2000.
By the time their 2nd album Approach topped the Finnish chart, its unique blend of progressive guitar driven rock combined with rich layered vocal harmonies, it was obvious that this band was both something very unique and special.
Since then the band has had three Number 1 albums and a Number 2 album domestically with Love Remains The Same (2008), Stars Aligned (2011), Nine Lives (2013) and New Day Rising (2015). This success has made them one of the most influential and important rock acts to of emerged from Finland in recent times.
WAR IS OVER 2017
War Is Over follows on from 2015’s acclaimed New Day Rising and saw the band take a new approach to their songwriting technique. Brothers Mikko, Kie and Jonne von Hertzen took time to write separately. “Our family has a summer cottage outside Helsinki”, explains Kie. “All three of us would take turns to withdraw and head up there to write music. It’s a beautiful place in the inner Archipelago of the Eastern Sea. It’s where we used to spend our childhood summer’s, so all of us have a deep and personal connection to the place. The main part of composing happens there in total peace and quiet.”
While seeking to build on the bands long standing domestic success, the band has looked to assemble a new team around them globally to help them replicate this internationally The recent appointments include of both new management & booking agents while also most recently signing a new worldwide deal with Mascot Label Group, home to Joe Bonamassa, Black Stone Cherry, Black Country Communion, Monster Truck, Ayreon & Beth Hart to name but a few.
Following New Day Rising the trio wanted to invert themselves, strip everything back and except for drums, play all of the instruments and produce the record themselves. “We wanted to re-invent the inspiration and energy in our doing. We had a discussion between us about if we still have it in us, and whether we are still up for this?” Kie ponders. “We wanted to break everything we’ve built into pieces and start again afresh. After doing this for years, we had to ask ourselves whether we still have the passion and music within us? After the last tour, we planned in having an open-ended break before starting to dig deep in writing new music. To our relief songs started to sprout” he reveals. After getting inspired by each other’s new songs, we realized that we are on a VHB mission, we’re not going to bend and break.”
Mikko wrote most of his lyrics whilst on a one month break in India during January 2017. A connection worth mentioning considering his long association with the country. Back in the day, he spent seven years living in an Ashram with the spiritual guru and leader Amma, also known as ‘The Hugging Saint’. During his twenty years long association with the country and its music, one can hear the influences seeped to the VHB songs. As an example, one of the songs of the new album called To The End of the World brings in these was written in an Indian scale.
The album was produced by all three brothers between Helsinki and Porvoo. Each one of the brothers produced their ‘own’ songs; Mikko wore the producers hat on songs To The End of the World, The Arsonist, Frozen Butterflies and Beyond Horizon. Jonne on Blindsight and Kie on War Is Over, Who Are You?, Long Lost Sailor, Wanderlust and Jerusalem – which also features Janne ‘Burton’ Puurtinen of Finnish rockser s HIM on keys.
For the new and fresh War is Over the band drafted in an old friend and welcomed back drummer Sami Kuoppamäki; one of Finlands finest drummers, who played on the 2006 Emma Award winning Approach album. Known as the drummer for the acclaimed Finnish cult band Kingston Wall, his talents have been used also for the Finnish metal giants Apocalyptica and Stratovarius.
Mikko said “We wanted to record our most musically ambitious album to date and in order achieve this, we really needed a drummer that could raise the bar higher still. We all knew there was really only one man for the job. We were all extremely excited when Sami said yes as he is practically like family to us. It was like having a the “long lost” fourth Brother involved who musically and spiritually understands us and possesses the ability and talent which helped us to make the record we all really wanted.”
He adds. “Now when the album is ready, we couldn’t be more excited about people getting to hear it and taking the new songs to the stages. We are also pleased to announce that Sami and our Swedish friend and amazing keyboard player, Robert Engstrand, will be joining us for both of our upcoming tours.” Robert is best known for his work with Turisas and the Swedish prog band The Flower Kings.
“Knowing that we had Sami involved also helped us make our decision as to who was best to engineer the album. We all really wanted someone fresh in the studio who was great at both recording and capturing Sami’s drum performances. We approached engineer/mixing engineer Tommi Vainikainen, who had previously recorded and mixed a live studio recording with us in 2011. We were all really impressed with his work then, so he seemed like the right person to bring in to the team. Once the recording process got underway, we knew we had all the ingredients and know-how to make the best album possible.” Mikko explains.
The band’s music has always been expansive and layered with underlining concepts and themes but they have always kept away from any politically leaning subjects, “but over the last 5 years or so” Kie begins, “the social tensions in the western world, the structural changes due to the European refugee crisis, not to mention the growing inequality, protectionism and flourishing hate speech, has hit the world with a force so strong it becomes impossible for it not to affect your art.”
War Is Over isn’t a concept album, but the War theme does run through key songs. “There is this underlying texture throughout the album, which I see as a huge question mark: ‘what are we as humans doing to preserve a loving and kind world? Why are we fighting every day and blaming others for our problems?’” Mikko remarks before adding there is “anxiety and the constant struggle, so, come and join this movement, let’s not succumb to fear.”
“In order to get rid of War or Wars, whatever that might mean to us” Kie begins. “The starting point is to first visualize and contemplate the state of peace. Even if it just starts with baby steps within your mind and heart. Only then can we slowly start to move towards it until it eventually happens.”
Reflecting the nature and tone of the record, the art work soon followed. A cover was needed to be as plain and simple as possible. “We wanted a Dove of Peace” Kie adds. “Our own Dove of Peace, a VHB Dove of Peace.” So they enlisted the help of Tero Ahonen, an enthusiastic graphic designer and photographer from Helsinki to take over the concept. Listening to the album and it’s atmosphere, he came up with the mosaic idea and spent a week painstakingly putting together the mosaic design piece by piece to create the wonderful cover.
Video – War is over
For more details and information on the Von Hertzen Brothers go to.
Mascot Label group – http://mlgpress.com/von-hertzen-brothers/war-is-over