This interview with Ville Laihiala of Poisonblack was done face to face by Juliane John on July 20th, 2006.

Ville Laihiala (ex-Sentenced) is back with his now full-time band Poisonblack. While J.P. Leppšluoto fulfilled the vocal duties on the first release, Ville has now taken over the microphone on the upcoming album ďLust Stained DespairĒ (European release date: August 26th). The band has made a huge progress from mellow gothic rock/metal to a heavier sound. Read on and find out more about the new album, the bandís line up change and the perfect gift you could bring Ville for a party.

First of all, how has the time been for you after Sentencedís last show in October? Did you take up the work with Poisonblack right away?
No, I took almost two months off of music. I spend time with my kids and tried to do stuff to get it out of my head. It was in a way a really relaxing time. It gave me time to mourn Sentenced.

How about the line up change? Why did J.P. and your old bassist leave and why did you decide to take up the vocals again?
The whole situation with J.P. was that in the beginning he was only supposed to sing on the demo. Then we got a record deal and we called up J.P. again and asked him if he wants to do the album and a tour and he said ok. So it wasnít really a surprise for us that he was going to leave because he wants to concentrate on Charon and I totally respect that. Janne, our old bass player, just wanted to do something else with his life and I totally respect that, too. There werenít any fights. Of course, Iím disappointed in a way that they left the band but life goes on. We found a new bass player and also another guitar player and we tried to find a new vocalist. We got a lot of tapes and there were really good voices on them but they were more into this gothic style and we were already rehearsing these heavier and rockier songs. So we just continued rehearsing without the vocals and at some point I started to sing some of the songs just to keep it a bit more interesting Ö and ehh, it just kind of stayed.

You only played two shows so far with you on vocals and guitar. In how far is this different for you compared to gigs with your old band Sentenced?
I canít move so much now. To me it comes naturally because Iíve been playing guitar since I was 14, 15 so that is no problem but of course it feels a bit weird because with Sentenced I wasnít playing guitar. On these two shows I felt very comfortable doing it and I really donít think about it anymore, like what you should do on stage and so on.

How were those first gigs? How did the crowd receive the new songs and what was it like to play for a small audience again?
It doesnít really have to do with a smaller audience but the feeling was kind of strange at first because I know these guys but I have been playing with different guys [Sentenced] for 14 years so it was weird in a way but also a great experience. We played only 4 or 5 new songs because the album isnít out yet so they were more or less just listening to the new songs. I think people liked it because so far weíve only gotten good critic.

Letís talk a bit about the recording of the album. You already had the album recorded and mastered and then decided to go back into the studio. Why?
We recorded it in spring 2004, produced it ourselves and also tried to mix it ourselves. The mixing part didnít work out and it sounded like shit. So thatís one reason why it got postponed. Then there was this whole Sentenced thing and after that we went back to the studio, recorded three new songs and decided to give the whole material to someone to mix it. We sent the song ďrushĒ to Denmark to the Antfarm Studios. This guy Tue Madsen did a test mix with it and we really liked it soÖ

Why did it take two years to release the album?
After the album was finishedÖ eh how do you say that? I opened up a bottle and it stayed open for six months. I was really out of shape and not doing anything. After that was Sentencedís last tour so I didnít feel like I would have enough strength to do things

Now that Poisonblack is your full-time band, were the expectations for the new album higher than last time?
I think our expectations are more tied to the fact that people see us and hear us not just as the extension of Sentenced because it has nothing to do with it. Now that Iím singing it reminds people of Sentenced a lot. Still, we hope that people will see us a band. Weíre just trying to make as good music as possible and enjoy playing live. About our future expectations, we donít want this album to get really big or beat Sentenced, itís not about that. Itís about showing where we come from and this is it.

ďLust Stained DespairĒ sounds a lot rockier than the last album. Why did you go into that direction instead of for example emphasizing the gothic elements from ďEscapexstacyĒ?
The whole theme is pretty much the same as on the first album but itís now more about expressing feelings through anger and frustration so of course the music is also bit heavier and faster now. On the first one we were trying to be more atmospheric and melancholic but to express anger, frustration and things like that we also had to create the music in that way so it fits together.

With the heavier sound some of the new songs actually remind me of Sentenced. Arenít you afraid that Poisonblack is now going to be a Sentenced replacement for many fans?
We canít really affect how people think about us. Weíre not afraid of things like that because that would be kind of stupid, just a waste of time worrying about that. I just want to concentrate on this band as Poisonblack and I think this Sentenced thing will be hanging over our heads for a while at least but you canít really help it.

The cover art of both albums shows a woman. Is this some sort of trademark or just a coincidence?
I think so (laughs). When it was time to do the covers a person from the record company sent me pictures from this young artist, Natalie Shau. I thought the pictures were really beautiful so thatís the main reason why ended up doing the covers. Itís sort of a habit that thereís a woman on the cover but maybe it changes with the next album.

Is there any deeper meaning behind it?
I think everyone can interpret it in their own way. To me itís a beautiful picture, dark and gloomy so in a way it really fits to the music because weíre taking elements from gothic, metal and rock and throw them together and thereís also this kind of depressive mood on the picture even though itís beautiful.

You founded the band. So how can we imagine your song writing, is everyone involved equally?
At the moment Iím doing most of the music. Itís not like I have to do everything. Our guitar player wrote one song for the album, ďThe Darkest LieĒ and he will be writing music also in the future. In a way itís a relief for me so I donít have to do all the music. Thereís this band democracy going on. Even if I bring a song that is already done to the rehearsing we still work out the arrangements together. Still I think that in the future I will be the main composer. Thatís just the way it is.

Can you tell us a bit about the lyrics of the new album and where the inspiration comes from?
Itís pretty much the same theme as on the first album, getting rid of feelings through sex. I donít mean like the actual thing, you can have sex in your head. Itís not like I sit down and write on a song for several months, they just come out.

Do you need to be in a certain mood to write your music and lyrics?
No, it can happen whenever driving a car, going to buy milk and then I get the idea in my head. You canít really control it and sit down and force out a song. It doesnít work that way, at least not with me.

Which song of the album is your favourite and why?
At the moment my favourites are the ďHollow be My NameĒ and the last one, ďThe Living DeadĒ. The latter because it is a pretty personal song and I just love the attitude on ďHollow be my NameĒ but if you ask me again in two weeks it could be two other songs.

Your voice sounds a lot more emotional on this album compared to Sentenced. Was that something you focussed on or did that just happen during the recording?
I didnít really do anything different than with Sentenced singing wise. I just close my eyes and try to give the lyrics some feelings. I just sing my heart out. If it sounds very emotional then I guess I succeeded. But I still like to think that there was also a lot of emotion in the Sentenced songs.

What makes ďRushĒ in your eyes representative for the album that it is released as a single?
I think that song gives you a good picture of what youíre about to hear on the album. It has elements from almost every song. For that reason we decided that it should be the first single so people can hear at least something and expect what the album is like. We know that there really isnít a hit single on the album so it was more important to pick a song that would give you a good idea.

One of the reasons why Sentenced quit was because of the all touring. So what about Poisonblack, will we see you on stage in the rest of Europe?
Yes, you will. One of the reasons we ended Sentenced was touring and how it affected us. Touring with Poisonblack will be different in a way because this time I donít want to go out there and fuck up my head. We wonít tour like 2 months on a row. Weíll let things go smoothly so that for example my family doesnít have to suffer too much.

Is there a country that you/your management will focus on when it comes to promoting the band?
Not really a certain country but first weíll try to tour Europe and see what happens and how it goes. We have to see how it pays out once the album is out.

Letís say someone throws a party for you. What would be the best gift he could give you?
[thinks for a while] A piece of mind!

Links of interest:

Century Media