As The Wildhearts tour draws to an end, we caught up with Mikko Von Hertzen; frontman and guitarist of Von Hertzen Brothers; The Wildhearts main support act and a band much celebrated by Ginger Wildheart himself.

R13: Tonight is the last night of the tour, how has the tour been going so far?
MVH: Fantastic, it has been an absolute pleasure to be on this tour, I never thought it would work so well with those crazy bastards but it has turned out that they are much easier to work with than their reputation makes you think. We are very easy to work with as well.

R13: How did you become involved with The Wildhearts tour?
MVH: I have known Ginger for years, he has been a big help for us in the UK and has been promoting the band, telling everybody how great we are and putting a lot of pressure on our shoulders. While playing at Ginger's birthday gig I mentioned that we were hoping to tour in April in the UK, then much later it dawned on him that they had an empty slot on the tour and I had told him that we were looking to tour at that time. So, he called me and asked us to join the tour.

R13: What can we expect to see from you at tonight's show?
MVH: Some people refer to us as prog rock, but I don't know what you should expect... we're just five guys on stage trying to do our best. We have a long history of playing together; we're pretty tight. Our albums only give you one side of the band, but we are a good live band. Come and see us and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

R13: All three bands on this tour sound very different, do you think the variety of sound has made for a better show for all involved including the audience?
MVH: I think so, I've been to gig where the headline band is a heavy metal band and the three bands on before them are heavy metal bands, I don't think that's a good idea. Your ears are clogged before the main band come onstage. I think people are more likely to stand and listen to stuff if there is variety throughout the evening. Hey! Hello! are light compared to what The Wildhearts do. We come on and people go "What the fuck is this?" and that's a good thing because everybody benefits from that. It means all three bands stand out in their own way.
The reviews I've seen from this tour have been so positive because there have been three different types of bands and music, and they are all kicking ass.
I don't like all bands on the bill to sound exactly the same. If I go and see Soundgarden, I don't want to see Soundgarden opening for Soundgarden, I want to see something interesting and something that leaves room for the main band to be what they are.
R13: I saw Iggy Pop opening for Soundgarden, the mix of the two artists really worked even if the line-up was the wrong way around in my opinion.
MVH: Many people have said that Ginger should be opening for us, but I don't agree!
R13: You never know what might happen in the future.
MVH: Maybe in Finland!

R13: You've toured the UK a few times now and have just released your new EP; 'Flowers And Rust', do you feel like things are starting to progress here?
MVH: I think we are gaining new audiences all the time. We started playing the Jazz Café as a showcase, then we moved onto the Borderline, The Garage and know we're here. We are playing bigger venues all the time and you can see that the audience now knows our songs. We are actually selling records here so things are starting to move. It is great; we've been working here for about four years. We've only released two albums in that time and a Best Of in between. We've had good support from the papers and a few of the radio stations. Things seem to be going in the right direction. I share my time between Helsinki and London but I don't really listen to music while I'm here. I am usually here to write music so I just shut off from the world, I just come to be by myself; write songs and lyrics. I don't get a feeling of what is happening to the band here unless we are playing a show.
R13: Are you starting to see familiar faces in the crowd?
MVH: Yeah, there are people coming up and telling us they've travelled 500 miles to see the show. In that sense, you do get the sense that things are starting to happen like they did seven years ago in Finland when we broke through there. So, there's a small inclination that that may happen at some point, but we'll see.

R13: Was it a conscious decision to take your time and establish yourself in Finland before trying to crack the UK market?
MVH: What actually happened was we were playing the main stages of big festivals in Finland, and we were singing in English. On the same stage were the likes of Lordi, Nightwish and Apocalyptica. People were noting that the other three bands were pretty well known outside of Finland but nobody knows Von Hertzen Brothers. It got to the point where people were asking us why we weren't doing shows in other countries. We'd say that we'd been so busy, then we realised that we should have a manager, and as soon as she was hired, she started looking for shows in different places. We'd never thought about doing that, we just thought that one-day someone might hear our music. As soon as we had a manager people were becoming interested because they actually heard about us.
R13: People hearing about you always helps(!)
MVH: Exactly! We didn't have time to go around sending out demos and albums, somebody had to do it. The UK seemed like the obvious choice as to where to go next; our influences hail from the UK, I don't see us breaking through in a German speaking area. America is too far away, so this is where it is at for us.

R13: English isn't your first language; do you write songs in English or Finnish?
MVH: I've always written my songs in English even though it is not my first language. When I started writing I was reading a lot of English literature, I never even considered writing in Finnish. I've written two songs in Finnish for other people, that's all. I also never really listened to Finnish music; I listened to classic rock albums.
R13: Have you ever come up with funny lyrics because you've tried to use a phrase but got the wording the wrong way around?
MVH: Oh yeah! Nowadays I get someone to check my lyrics for mistakes. I lived in India for seven years; I used English for 12 hours every single day because I was working in a reception so my English was much better back then. Now when I go back to Finland I have to remind myself of words, my mouth doesn't work the same way anymore but spending more time here is helping.
R13: I think you're doing very well.
MVH: Thank you, I think so too. I usually only read English books so that helps the vocabulary.

R13: Why did you decide to cover Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now'?
MVH: We were asked to do a concert in Helsinki; the Helsinki Week of Celebration. They asked us to do an event with another band, so there were two bands playing cover songs. The concert was sold out and people were raving about it afterwards, we really enjoyed playing Don't Stop Me Now. Dante (Bonutto of Universal) kept saying we should play Don't Stop Me Now, we played it once, someone mixed it and Dante wanted to put it out. We don't really do covers but if we do, we have to feel like we're bringing someone to the song.
R13: For the most part, covers make me nervous.
MVH: Oh yeah, mostly they are horrible – really! We did a version of 21st Century Schziod Man that was pretty awesome; we changed a lot of things. We took away the stuff we didn't like and added something else.
R13: You made it better?
MVH: Well, we made it more like a VHB song. We have to feel that there's some point in doing it, not just because it might get more people interested in us. We were hesitant to cover 21st Century Schziod Man because we went online and looked at other cover versions of that song and they were all quite horrible. There was definitely nothing that beat the original version so we felt like we were taking a risk by doing it. We tried anyway, originally we were planning to release it but it turned out to be a good version so we did.

R13: You briefly mentioned earlier that people label you as prog-rock, how would you compare prog-rock today to that of the 70's?
MVH: There is this one area of prog-rock which I really don't like which is the mathematical side of it – I just can't stand it. It is for people who think of music in their heads and not from their hearts, it's not for me.
For me, Prog is Pink Floyd, early Yes, Porcupine Tree. I like Queen's proggier stuff. It doesn't matter how long a song is, if a song is good, it is good. Something in the song has to resonate in my heart not my brain. If I want something to resonate in my brain, it's not music. Music has to fully penetrate you. You don't get goosebumps from mathematical equations, you get them from a feeling, a melody, something you can actually sense.
For me prog is beauty and epicness. It is something that deals with phenomena beyond what we see with our eyes. It is experiencing something beautiful and big. Love, maybe? That's the prog I can advocate for.
We do have songs that are long, but they're not long because we want to be prog. We don't want to be anything other than a good band. If the songs are long, then there is a reason for it. There could be a long build up to hit something that creates the feeling of fulfilment. It's like sex, in my opinion if you build it up, you have longer, nicer sex and that's better than a quickie.
R13: In my opinion, there's a time and a place for both and longer is not always better.
MVH: Not always but it maybe has more beauty, more tenderness and that's just the way it is.

R13: And finally, what can we expect to see from you for the rest of 2014?
MVH: We will be back in a few weeks to play Great Escape and then we have a week off before heading to Japan to do some gigs. We are doing a few festivals but the rest of the time we'll be working on new material. By the end of July we will be starting pre-production with the producer and in September we'll head into the studio. New single out in November and new album out in March 2015. That's the plan, anything can happen but we are pretty good at keeping to our plans.
R13: Will you be recording here or back in Finland?
MVH: Well, that's still open for discussion. We might do it here, or even in America or Canada. We are still playing around with who is going to produce it. We have a few guys that would love to do it but we are still negotiating and trying to find a similar vision of what we want to do. I think by the end of the month we will have decided what we want to do and everything else will follow.

R13: Thank you very much for your time and we wish you all the best.