The Rasmus’ Lauri Ylönen: “I Realised That I Love This So Much That I Just Can’t Let It Go”

“I didn’t give up, and I am proud of myself for that”

The Rasmus are gearing up to release their new album ‘Rise’ on September 23. 

An album brimming with huge choruses and theatric poise, it tells the story of the last two years for the band, with every up and down catalogued perfectly. From member changes and doubts on the future to Eurovision and remembering the things that have kept them going for the last 30 years, it is a chronicle of a unique period of time delivered by a band unlike any other. 

To discuss how it all came to be, we had a little catch-up with vocalist Lauri Ylönen…

How does it feel, after everything the last couple of years have represented for the band, to be at this point with this new album?
“When I got the album in my hands for the first time recently, it was still as much a moment as the first time it happened. It means so much after all of these years. It’s pretty old-fashioned to think of albums in this way, but I feel like they put an end to an era of your life. It’s not written in stone, and it’s a part of your history, but it’s still relevant to who we are now. 

“It was a long and hard process putting this record together because of COVID and all of the other things that happened. At the start of the process, we were supposed to have a studio session in Eastbourne, have a chance to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. Around that time, we felt there was tension within the band, so we wanted to do something that we could enjoy and remember why we do this. The same when we booked a beautiful villa in Spain, which we pencilled in twice. We really wanted to heal the relationships, but then COVID started. We were separated from each other and didn’t see each other for a year, which was very strange. It was like being taken away from our family. But the problems we had on the inside made everything harder, and we actually ended up breaking up in a way. When Pauli [Rantasalmi, Guitarist] left, I was thinking of leaving too. It just felt like nothing was working, and we didn’t know how long this situation would last. So we were no more for a moment. 

“But I feel as though in the aftermath of that, it allowed me the space to let myself become something and someone that I always wanted to be, and the same with the band. I started getting visions and new ideas and writing songs again suddenly. That’s when the idea to take part in Eurovision first came about. That ended up being a saviour because we then had a plan for the next year. Then Emilia [Suhonen} joined, and we then had something to try and conquer for the first time in a long time. So the album tells the story of all that we have been through. From the happy times to the shit back to the happy note at the end.”

When something you love is so threatened, it makes you feel so strongly about it. But then, when things work out, that feeling you felt doesn’t go away. It drives you forwards…
“It was a case of trying to remind myself to enjoy the life I have today and all the things it allows me to do. That’s why we wrote the song ‘Live And Never Die’, because it’s about those moments. I was living for the future and the past, and I forgot to live for this moment now. Not thinking about all the things this life allows me right now. But for a while, I wasn’t so hooked on it that I was mentally falling apart. In the space of six months, I suffered badly, and I was really scared of what was happening to me. But it’s now that I realised that I love this so much that I just can’t let it go. The cure for me was to keep going and do more, because that makes me happy. I’m really happy to be busy.” 

It’s much like what Eurovision must have represented for you. To go out there and do it, no matter what the result was, you could be proud that you did it. It’s something you will always remember, and it makes you hungrier for whatever could be next…
“Absolutely. At least now, when I look back, I can’t see anything bad about it. Sometimes I feel like how far we went out of our comfort zone felt a little too far, but it was all still things that meant a lot to us. When Emilia joined, I think she brought back the humour in us very strongly. That’s always been our thing, despite the melancholy of our music. This is supposed to be about having fun. We have good times all the time, and she has emphasised that. For years I was looking at numbers and stressing over improving on them or beating them. It becomes almost like running a business, and that’s when things start going wrong. You need to have that fun.”

And being able to show that you are having fun allows the darker songs that you write to have even deeper meaning and importance. They feel more vital than they did before…
“I feel like those songs show now how I overcame my troubles. But when I was writing a song like ‘Fireflies’, which is about a guy whose world is collapsing and is very introverted, I remember how it was writing it so closely about me and remember just how in the shit I was. But now, it is part of the story of the album as well as the story of my life. I got over it. I didn’t give up, and I am proud of myself for that. These moments come, and they have come along a lot of times over the last 30 years we have been together, but they are needed. They are the eye-openers. They are the moments that help you to understand things. You have to suffer sometimes, you have to shed some tears.”

When that feeling has kept you going for the past 30 years, it must make you excited to imagine what it can do to help keep on going for another 30…
“There was a point in my life when I thought I knew a lot. But I didn’t. I’ve been learning more and more with every year that has passed. I’ve got a better attitude toward life and am more open-minded to new ideas and adventures. I think it’s a good thing. I’m just finding inspiration from all over. After writing 200 songs, I started to consider whether this would just end and I would stop getting new ideas. But I do, and they keep on coming. It’s a beautiful thing.”

And what does it feel like as you do look to the future? What excites you about what is possible?
“It’s all I think about. Where are the next adventures going to be? Who do we want to work with? Where do we want to go? We are already writing like crazy for the next album and have studio time. But that’s because there is this urge to do a lot and the most we can. And being on the road again, that’s what it’s all about. Being out on tour with my best friends and meeting new people. How amazing is that?”

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