Uber Rock at Steelhouse Festival 2016 - Mikko von Hertzen - Von Hertzen Brothers - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Rob Watkins   
Sunday, 14 August 2016 03:00



A few weekends ago Finnish progressive rockers the Von Hertzen Brothers had just finished a warmly received set at this year’s Steelhouse Festival when singer guitarist Mikko von Hertzen was suddenly faced with an even more daunting task than ascending the Arael Mountain to play. He was about to come face to face with Uber Rock’s Rob Watkins and right here you can read all about what happened next as we get the exclusive on the next Von Hertzen Brothers album and why it’s sometimes better to be in a band with your brothers…..even if you don’t always see eye to eye.


Well first off thank you for doing this for Uber Rock.


Mikko von Hertzen: Uber, Uber, Uber Rock. (Laughing)


And that`s Gaz over there (sat in VIP area at Steelhouse Festival) one of the main Ubers.


Oh yeah, I know that guy, I’ve seen him around.


And of course well done on a great performance earlier here at Steelhouse Festival, the crowd totally got your musical vibe here in the sunshine.


Yeah it was so good today.


Whenever your name is mentioned I hear the term “prog rock” mentioned in the same sentence, but is that a fair assumption? How would you personally sum up the group, musically speaking?


I would actually call ourselves a rock band but in the way a rock band used to be a rock band in the 70s. I mean in the 70s people weren’t concerned about what it was, it was just like the music done with an attitude, such as Led Zeppelin or whoever it was. The prog thing was for bands who were learned musicians, and yeah in a way we are that, but we think a technical performance is something that is the core of our music, it`s more about songs and attitude. Yeah we do have those influences but I think we are just influenced by all the great rock bands, and “crossover prog” is quite close as a definition and it’s quite easy to grasp in that it has its roots in great choruses. Its pop orientated but it still has all those prog elements and so forth.


Is it hard working alongside each other as brothers, or is it actually an advantage?


Both to be honest, it’s sometimes hard work because it sometimes lacks the diplomacy of conversation. Sometimes it`s like “Fuck You” you know if you don`t like what the other person is saying. I mean we used to play in other bands too and you’re always aware in how you should say things, like when somebody comes up with an idea, you treat it with respect but when it`s my brothers, it`s like “hey that idea sucks” you know. (Laughing)


Yeah that does sound like an advantage in a way, being very open with each other.


Oh yeah, and also the advantage of being in a band with your brothers is that you achieve something together and there’s always a connection between the three of us. It`s the same aura and the same energy and when you can direct that to the crowd it has a lot of tremendous power you know, and basically because we’re from the same family we share many things.




So here you are at the Steelhouse festival in sunny/wet Wales and it`s actually sunny for once, yesterday you were in Finland, today Wales, tomorrow England at Ramblin’ Man Fair, how was yesterday and are you looking forward to this weekend, and are you tired yet? (Laughing)


Yesterday was a festival that was arranged for the first time - The John Smith Rock Festival - and they did really well for the first time because it’s difficult to get the people to acknowledge you because every week in Finland there are loads of Festivals. Big ones and small ones, but they did such a good job streamlining the bands, you know metal, rock and so on, and many people turned up. It was a great venue, the location was great and I think they have a long life ahead of them and tomorrow Ramblin` Man of course is one of the main festivals here in the UK and some of the bands here today and tomorrow are playing such as Thunder.


I first caught you live about two years ago - I think - supporting The Wildhearts, how did that tour go for you with Ginger and Co?


I mean Ginger, everyone knows Ginger is a genius, he`s one of the best songwriters on the planet in my eyes, and he’s ever so likable and he’s such a funny guy and he loves our band. He rang me up and said “I have a tour coming up and I really want you guys to jump on the tour,” like when he was in Michael Monroe’s band he came to see us in Finland and he raging about us on YouTube and on his own sites and I love him because of that and he was one of the key people involved in bringing Von Hertzen Brothers to England and found a lot of bands through him by touring with him, he`s such a great guy I have nothing but respect for him.


What, or who, influenced and inspired you to originally become a musician, and what bands did you listen to growing up?


When I was really, really young we had photos in our family pretending to be Elvis, I was listening Elvis, Little Richard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eagles and then shortly afterwards I discovered Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd and all the big British bands of the day. The thing was our father used to travel a lot in the States, he was working in insurance and he was on the board of a big company, so he had a lot of business in the South in places like Austin and he was bringing us stuff from all around and that’s where it all started with all the harmonies ,our music is the Eagles basically that’s where it’s from and ABBA you know our neighbours, our mother was into ABBA so there’s the pop thing and the rock thing came from our dad.


I think you can mix it all in, that`s where originality comes from.


Yeah that’s the Von Hertzen Brothers.




So after the critical acclaim of the `New Day Rising’ record what does the future hold for you guys on the recording and touring front?


Well this week we have these shows and then one in Helsinki, we’re actually writing material and stuff and we have a deadline of 1st Sept to come together and see what we have individually and together, and then we`ll start playing around with the ideas together and I’d say, the latest would be November we will then be hitting the studio with the material and if everything goes well and we are happy with the songs, we’ll hopefully release an album next May. You never know, I mean we have to put out a real kickass album, if it takes time it takes time.


And is there anything you’d like to achieve in the future musically speaking.


Musically it`s always about the songs, you have an idea from scratch and then maybe two days later, you can see it coming together and that’s a beautiful thing and that’s the rewarding thing and then if people love it too and it doesn’t matter if it`s 10 or 10,000 people, that’s the actual thing we strive for and hopefully I’d like to do this for the rest of my life, that`s what I’d like to achieve.


Okay to finish off let’s have some fun, which 5 alive, dead or dysfunctional bands would you put on a bill with your band headlining a festival?


(Laughing) I would have The Doors, I would have Pink Floyd, that line up with all the guys, I would have maybe The Who and this comes from nowhere I would also have Sigur Ros. I love Sigur Ros, every time I see them live they`re always uplifting and lastly Genesis with Peter Gabriel in their heyday.


And what`s on your rider for it?


Just water, towels, beer and I’d love somebody to maybe give me a massage, that`s about it really. (Laughing)




Thank you so much for doing this interview from all of us at Uber Rock.


Thank you so much Rob.





Photography by http://www.russellprothero.co.uk/


To visit the Von Hertzen Brothers store on Amazon – CLICK HERE!