“I drank snake poison on live TV”: 13 Questions with The Rasmus’ Lauri Ylönen

The Rasmus vocalist Lauri Ylönen is an open-minded and curious artist – and, as you’ll learn, the perfect candidate for our completely random 13 Questions series. Dig in…

“I drank snake poison on live TV”: 13 Questions with The Rasmus’ Lauri Ylönen
Emily Carter
Venla Shalin

From architecture to trees to – indeed – snake poison, Lauri Ylönen is a fascinating chap. As he gears up to return to the UK on tour with The Rasmus, the singer faces Kerrang!’s randomly-generated 13 Questions to discuss fellow famous Finns, being a “control freak”, and hotel room visits from ghosts…

1If you were in Slipknot, what would your mask be?

“I’ve had this solo project and I did an album some years ago, and I had this alter-ego character – she is called Amanda, and she’s this cute skull puppet (laughs). So I think that would be me. She’s been my alter-ego and she does all the things that I want to do but I’m too scared to!”

2When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I’ve actually always wanted to be an architect. Ever since I was a kid, I used to love floor plans for some reason – I thought they looked like maps. And I have practiced architecture a little bit myself later in life, as a hobby. I’ve had visions and I can draw, but I was never good enough at maths to actually be an architect.”

3What happens when we die?

“I think it’s just the beginning of something. I’m not very religious but I’m kind of superstitious, and I love this way of thinking with spirits. I want to believe in a lot of things!”

4Where’s the best place you’ve ever been?

“Sometimes, if I’m really stressed or anxious, or I need a place to hide away, there’s this summer house in Finland that I go to. It has a really, really hot sauna, which I love to go to just by myself, dispelling all the bad spirits! It’s very Finnish, and I like the tradition of it; I have my roots in Finland, and it’s something I’ve done almost daily ever since I was a kid. That’s a good place to be! I’ve lived in different places and I consider myself more of a habitant of planet earth (laughs), but I’m still a Finn – my heart belongs there.”

5What is the funniest rumour you’ve heard about yourself?

“When I was 17 and we had just started the band, I was living with my sister in the same flat, and there were rumours that I was dating her! People didn’t realise that she was my sister, so that was kinda gross (laughs). It somehow ends up being me who’s the target of rumours, so the guys always make jokes about it – they’re like, ‘The singer of The Rasmus did this and that!’ It’s always me – I take the blame. Does it bother me? No, I think it’s just funny!”

6What is your worst habit?

“I don’t drink or do drugs – that was a bad habit a long time ago. But I think maybe I’m a bit of a control freak sometimes. It can be a good habit because it shows that I’m passionate about things, but it can be exhausting for others! But if you have drive then you should use it.”

7What is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?

“I was in Taiwan once on a TV show, and I had said in some interviews before that I like to eat local things. They had prepared a little snack for me which was three little shots with snake poison, snake blood, and snake saliva – and that would kill the poison. So you had to first drink the poison, then the rest to neutralise it. It just tasted like alcohol, it was bitter and almost like vodka or something – it didn’t taste like chicken! It was on live TV, and it was intense.”

8What is your party trick?

“Well, at actual parties, I always used to be the DJ – when there was no Spotify, I used to carry this huge collection of CDs, and I’d have certain songs that I’d play for different vibes. I always started the night with a song called Finlandia, which is this instrumental, and then I’d end with System Of A Down’s Aerials and everybody would know: ‘Okay, it’s time to leave the house now and go to the bar!’ It became a tradition. I love house parties, and I had one where I gave everyone spray cans and markers so they could draw and paint whatever they wanted on my walls, which was wild. But the next morning I woke up and saw all this stuff right in front of my eyes and I thought, ‘What have I done?! This wasn’t such a great idea!’ And then I had to paint over it when I moved out, which wasn’t that easy…”

9Have you ever seen a ghost?

“Oh yeah, I have. I keep my senses open and I always want to experience things like that – especially on tour. I’ve had experiences in hotel rooms where I’ll be half-asleep and half-awake with little ghosts coming to me sometimes, which is nice! I’m not scared of that at all, and I’m actually just curious.”

10Who is the most famous person in your phonebook?

“I’ve got who I hope to be the next president of Finland – he’s a friend of mine, and he’s been running for president a few times, and he’s always number two. He’s a great guy, very liberal, from the Green party. We have good talks, and it’s nice to know someone who has a real job who is an adult (laughs). And then of course I have the all Finnish stars – Ville Valo, and the Apocalyptica and Nightwish guys. I hope nobody steals my phone now!”

11If your house was on fire, what one thing would you save?

“I have this big plant, which I bought it 20 years ago or something. It was as tall as me, maybe, when I got it, and it grew and grew, so I needed a bigger house! And so when I was designing the house for myself, I started with the plant, and I made a big space so it would fit in, and then I built the house around that. And now it’s about four or five metres tall, it’s so cool. I don’t have many belongings that I really need – I have a lot of memories in my brain, and that’s more important. But my tree has a soul, and it has to live on.”

12If you had the power to turn the internet off, would you do it?

“I would – for two hours in a day! If you go backstage, you could have 10 people there and they’re all just looking at their screens – and I do it, too – but it’s like, ‘What happened to us?!’ Sometimes it would just be nice to have those moments without the internet. We had a session in Spain at this beautiful villa to record our latest album, and we had a basket that you would put your phones in – it was like, ‘Okay everybody, phones in the basket, it’s time to rock out!’ It was funny, but it worked.”

13Why should people come to The Rasmus’ UK tour?

“Well, if you’re tired of listening to the album, you should come and see us live because it’s even better (laughs). We’ve had some fantastic shows so far in Europe, and the UK shows will be amazing.”

The Rasmus’ UK tour begins on October 30 at Nottingham Rock City, and will wrap up at London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town on November 3. New album Rise is out now.

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