Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – The Rasmus

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: frontman Lauri Ylönen takes the ultimate test

How many songs did The Rasmus perform at 2004’s Reading Festival before being bottled off?

“Let’s start with a positive one! [Laughs] Thanks dude! We only performed one song which was called ‘First Day of My Life’. How ironic!”

CORRECT. Apparently there were flags in the hostile crowd emblazoned with: ‘Burn The Rasmus!’…

“It felt really bad. I cried afterwards. We were playing between some very hardcore metal bands, which was not the best slot for us, so I was kind of expecting it. I was excited about that gig for so long because I really like Reading Festival and went there as a tourist before, which was why I was so disappointed we couldn’t play the show. But when our bass player, Eero Heinonen, got hit with a bottle near the eye and started bleeding, I thought: ‘Fuck it! I don’t want anyone losing their eyesight for this!’”

Later in the day, 50 Cent only managed 20 minutes of his set before being forced off by a barrage of bottles, mud and even a deckchair was hurled at him…

“[Laughs] It sounds like a boxing match or something: ‘You guys lasted 30 seconds – well done!’. Reading is the only show we’ve never finished.”

The Rasmus have a new single, ‘Jezebel’, out which you’re hoping to take to Eurovision. What year did Finland win the Eurovision Song Contest?

“2006 – with Lordi. The monsters from Finland!”


“It’s been a really boring and devastating couple of years because of COVID, and I came up with the idea for ‘Jezebel’ and sent the demo to the guys saying: ‘Should we take part in UMK – Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu?’, which is the Finnish Eurovision selection program. We want to try and win Eurovision for Finland again! When you put yourself in a position where you need to conquer something, that’s when good things happen and energy flows – something we need at this point. Our founding guitarist, Pauli Rantasalmi, had left the band, so there was all this confusion and sad things happening. Now we have an unbelievable new guitarist Emilia ‘Emppu’ Suhonen, and this opportunity feels like a new beginning for the band.”

Will you be able to secure Finland’s second-ever victory in the 54 years they’ve competed?

“Yeah! If we win the selection process and make it to Eurovision in May, we have a chance. Our song has the right energy and vibe for the event, and we have a lot of fans in the countries that take part in the show. But I think [after the global success of Måneskin] the competition will be tougher this year, with more artists taking it seriously and putting more effort in.”

For a bonus half-point: which former Eurovision winner covered The Rasmus’ 2003 hit ‘In the Shadows’ live in Helsinki in 2015?

“I don’t know.”

WRONG. It’s Måns Zelmerlöw, who won Eurovision for Sweden in 2015 with the banger ‘Heroes’.

“I haven’t seen his version. ‘In the Shadows’ has been covered a lot, and it’s hard to sing with a jumpy melody. I always watch the covers and think: ‘They do it better than me!’ [Laughs]”

In 2020, Liverpool indie band Circa Waves claimed they’d nicked parts of ‘In the Shadows’ for which of their songs?

“No idea!”

WRONG. It was their 2015 indie-disco anthem ‘T-Shirt Weather’.

“Oh! I’ve had my eyes and ears closed and have missed everything in the last 15 years! I want to hear that song. I remember when we first came up with ‘In the Shadows’, we thought the ‘OhhhHHH-oHHhHH’s’ were really annoying. Like: arrggggh! But there was something in it and we left it there and it was the combination of the song being dark and moody but sounding like a fun party track that made it work.”



Which rock gods once said of The Rasmus: “They remind me of the 1980s and Def Leppard”?

“That was Metallica!”


“We supported Metallica in South Africa, and it was a big moment when [their frontman] James Hetfield came to talk to us. His son is a big fan and he told us they couldn’t find one of our albums in the States. I replied: ‘I have some backstage. Just hold on, Mr. Hetfield!’. He told us liked our stuff and he heard Def Leppard in it and listed all these bands I used to listen to as a kid, which had influenced me. It was special because we played ‘Master of Puppets’ at the first concert we ever played in 1994 at our school.”

“Metallica fans can be a difficult crowd, and we worried we were going to get stoned off the stage by their fans – similar to Reading! However, the audience was really good, and hanging out having drinks with Metallica was a dream come true. [Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich is from Denmark and was like: ‘Yeah, my boys from the North!’”

You also toured with another hero, Alice Cooper

“I was around 10 years old when ‘Poison’ came out, and had his poster on my wall. That song had a big impact on my musical DNA, and obviously with the make-up, we look similar. I’m like Alice Cooper’s bastard son! We toured together in Russia and had a private plane. Getting to know him was my dream come true, but something died too. I had this illusion and wanted him to be un-human. When I finally met him, he talked about normal stuff. He was telling me he’s a shopaholic and has 600 pairs of jeans at home, while I’m just thinking: ‘Show me your snake!’ There was a fucking cool moment where I was next to him backstage and we’re both putting on eyeliner together, like a rock Revlon commercial. [Laughs] We’re worth it!”

In 2004, ‘In the Shadows’ reached Number Three in the UK charts. Name either of the two artists who pipped you to the top spot.

“I can’t! This quiz is going really bad! [Laughs]”

WRONG. McFly were Number One with ‘5 Colours In Her Hair’; ‘Yeah!’ by Usher featuring  Lil Jon and Ludacris was Number Two.

“Cool! Nice company!  That song was obviously huge for us in the UK. Our first gig in the UK had been supporting an Oasis covers band with only 35 people watching the show, drinking beer and burping. We’d collected money in Finland to fund the trip by flyposting for other artists like Black Sabbath. So we had to pay to get here and then pay to play. So when ‘In the Shadows’ went Top Three, and we were being both asked and paid to come to the UK, it felt like an important, proud moment.”

You duetted on The Rasmus’ 2009 song ‘October & April’ with Anette Olzon from Finnish metal band Nightwish. But, according to an alleged earlier leaked recording, which chart-topping pop star’s vocals was she a replacement for?

“Oh, has it leaked?! It must be t.A.T.u.”

CORRECT. The Russian pop duo.

“I didn’t realise it had leaked. I can’t remember what happened there and why that version didn’t get released. Maybe it was something behind the scenes, like getting the record label’s agreement on something. But I really like t.A.T.u. Every time I hear ‘All the Things She Said’, I find it very moving and unique. But I also love Anette and it always feels good to collaborate with artists from Finland – especially because I know people have moved to our country and learnt the language because of our music.”

What chart position did The Rasmus’ breakthrough 2003 album ‘Dead Letters’ reach in France?

“Ugh! Five?”

WRONG. Three.

“I remember seeing the queue at a Paris venue around that time and there were hundreds of people all with feathers in their hair like me. I thought: Can this be happening?! It was so surreal.”

What’s the most surreal offer you’ve ever turned down?

“We turned down a lot of money for allowing our music for a hair product advert – I really regret that now! I should have taken that meal ticket! [Laughs]”



Name all four tracks – in order! – from Rasmus’ 1995 ‘1st’ EP.

“Phew!  ‘Frog’…’Funky Jam’, ‘Myself’ and… ‘Rakkauslaulu’?”


“Yes! That was the first EP we did and paid for ourselves before we had a record deal. We booked a tiny studio near Helsinki for a half-day session and pretty much played the songs live. We only made 1,000 copies and they sold out really fast, because we had this quick success in the Helsinki area after one of our songs ‘Funky Jam’ got on the radio. It was a really fast, Red Hot Chilli Peppers-influenced crazy song. A hyper-energetic nonsense track [Laughs]. Now those EPs are collectors’ items. The original ones had a lollipop taped on the cover. Don’t ask me why!”


In 2015, The Rasmus were immortalised on a Finnish postage stamp. How much did the stamp cost on the day of issue?


CORRECT-ISH. Close enough – it’s €1.10

“It’s an honour, but who even uses stamps anymore?! [Laughs]”

Complete the following lyrics: ‘I won’t give up / I’m possessed by her / I’m bearing a cross…’?

‘She’s turned into my curse’. It’s been a while! [Laughs]”

CORRECT.  From the 2004 Apocalyptica song ‘Bittersweet’ featuring you and Ville Valo of HIM.

“We spent so long writing that song. We were drinking together for weeks instead of writing it. It was easy to talk to Ville because he was in the same position as me and I felt he was the only guy who understood what I was talking about. I brought a book about witchcraft that happened in the Northern countries , which inspired the line in the chorus: ‘Break this bittersweet spell on me / Guide me to my destiny’. We had the same passion for mythical things that happened where a lot of people got killed!”

Cheery! In terms of new Rasmus music, are the recent singles – ‘Venomous Moon’ (feat. Apocalyptica), ‘Bones’ and ‘Jezebel’ indicative of how your upcoming album sounds?

“With the addition of our new guitarist, we have super high-energy at the moment, which is bound to generate something. We’ve been making the album remotely for almost two years now, but we’re going to work on it a little more because the song ‘Jezebel’ was written recently and feels like a key song. Right now, something feels like it’s changing and that song is showing us the way forward.”

Why did Pauli Rantasalmi depart the band?

“You’d have to ask him. He said he’s ran out of inspiration and can’t keep up with our energy. But we remain friends; we talked just yesterday, so I’m not crying about it. It felt sad, because he’s like a brother, but we’re ready for the new chapter to begin!”

The verdict: 7/10 

“A solid seven – I’m happy with that score!”

– The Rasmus’ single ‘Jezebel’ is out now. The band will perform it live at UMK on February 26th. The band tour the UK from October 30th 2022