The band formed in 1992, is that right?
Well, not exactly as a band. It was just me then. That was the year when I started doing the demos under the name of Lordi. That was basically just me and a few friends coming in and playing guitar solos but that was a one man project back then for a few years. Actually, two years…a year and a half.
Did you go into it with the idea of wearing such over the top costumes and everything?
No, not at first. The first couple of years I didn’t have any masks or any image. It wasn’t until I think ’95…’94 or ’95- something like that…I was graduating film school and as a final exam I did a music video for one of the songs. I had all my friends in the video and I put them all in prosthetic makeup to make them look like monsters and I was the only one who wasn’t wearing anything there. And when I looked at the final result I said okay…everybody else looks fucking cool except for me, it should be the other way around.
So you had to do it too!
Yeah! It’s so weird that it took so long for me to realize that. Being a KISS fan, being a Twisted Sister fan, Alice…all these bands, and I didn’t think about it. Which is so fucking weird. That was the moment I realized ‘oh fuck, I’ve gotta be in there’.
How long was it between inception, the original idea of the band, and you having an actual solidified band where you could go out and create things and play?
Well from ’92-’96, so it was actually about four years when I moved from Rovaniemi, my hometown, to Helsinki. I met other people and then I started to form this band into what it is now. And Amen, the guitar player, is the only one who is left from those days, you know, from the actual band. He’s the only one left from that group. So yeah, I took like four years to kind of build it as a band. I thought, like before those days, I thought that it’s going to be more like a Nine Inch Nails or something where we won’t be having a drummer, that there’s only going to be a drum machine and shit like that. I was much more artistic back then, maybe I was thinking a little too artsy fartsy. You know, like I don’t want to tie myself into a normal band lineup with bass, drums, guitar and that shit. But then I realized that that’s bullshit and you need to be a band.
Now I know you’re a big Kiss fan, as am I. I read that Gene Simmons offered to publish ‘Get Heavy’ in the United States- is that true?
Hmm, no I don’t remember that. But what he said, he just had his solo album ‘Asshole’ out and I was with a friend in Stockholm doing an interview. I wasn’t the one doing the interview; I was just like the side kick there. My friend is a journalist and he was doing the interview and then ‘Get Heavy’ was just out so I was proudly showing it to him like ‘hey, this is my band’. The cover is really Kiss like and all that shit and he was like alright…kinda like ‘alright, yeah yeah, cool’. But as soon as I said that it we sold platinum then he was like- OH! And after that moment it’s been really awesome because he remembers us and he’s always like ‘yeah, my boys, my boys!’ which is the biggest fucking compliment a Kiss fan and especially a Gene Simmons fan can have.
Throughout the history of the band there have been numerous lineup changes.
Oh, too many!
Do you feel like that’s ever harmed the band?
Yeah, both. Both, definitely. Lineup changes always happen for a reason. Before we got the record deal, the original bass player G-Stealer left the band because he got tired of waiting to get the deal and he moved from Finland to England, so that’s kind of clear. Enary got fired. Magnum, it was kind of weird, he was fired/leaving. It wasn’t really working, although we are still good friends.
It was a mutual thing?
Yeah…actually not really. It’s always different with everybody. With Kalma leaving it was like, we told him don’t go don’t leave but he had kids so for him the touring was kind of hard. Of course, Kita did what he did so we had to fire him. He didn’t want to leave the band, but it happened. And Otus of course, he died. We didn’t want him to go but he did. And so on, I mean, Awa, she had kind of like a tired thing and also at that time she was living in Italy. You always wish that the lineup is the last one, that this is the final one. But so far now, with this lineup, I think we finally have the group together. This is the lineup…I mean, we’ve done three albums already with this lineup. So I hope this one will stick, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t because there’s the best chemistry in the band now than ever. We’ve never had this good of chemistry in the band.
So your latest album…The first half of it is normal Lordi and the second half is a concept. Why’d you decide to do that?
Because in previous albums there was a little more flirting with the modern metal things and the fans kind of started to divide. They were like, one half of the fans were like ‘this is fucking cool, you should do more of this shit’ and the other fans were like ‘no no no no no, stick to your guns’. I write all kinds of stuff and over the years, especially when Kita was in the band, with all due respect to him he wasn’t that great of a drummer playing that kind of style. So the reason was I always wrote that kind of stuff, but we couldn’t use those songs so it’s kind of frustrating for a writer when you write these songs and you already know that when you’re doing the demo it’s not going to make it to the album because it cannot be played by this band. We were pussies. We were too scared to change, and there was always this same fucking line that someone would say- like ‘okay, AC/DC is not going to do a disco album, so why change?’. Then we decided let’s do a split album, let’s do something for the fans who want the classic Lordi shit and let’s do this other stuff too. I’m not saying it’s new stuff because the old Lordi demos from the 90’s sound more like the Demonarchy side, so it’s always been there but it was never released. Well actually, the actual first album ‘Bend Over and Pray the Lord’ that we did in ‘90uhh- something, and got released in 2010 I would love to say- it is more structure wise like the Demonarchy. Yeah, I don’t know. Whatever.
And you guys obviously won Eurovision in 2006. Did you go into that thinking that you were gonna win?
Yes, yes and no. The thing was that the Finnish Eurovision…okay well, Eurovision is Eurovision. It’s like every country in Europe sends their artist there and like half of Europe is watching and the thing is usually every country sends an artist that is only known in their own country so nobody gives a fuck outside your own country, you know? And that year the head of the Finnish Eurovision board had an idea that maybe we should send a band or artist that is already known outside Finland. And by that time we had already been touring in Europe for years and had a few albums out, we had a fan base there. It was simple mathematics that if we can make it through the Finnish finals and semi-finals, that if we can actually make it through the Finnish glass roof, then we will probably end up at least within the top three. And that is exactly what happened. It is really simple when you think about it. We already had fans in Europe and those people are rock or metal fans, and even if you wouldn’t be necessarily a fan of Lordi you would still vote for the genre. And Eurovision is a pop song contest; we would bring our own voters. Those people who are, you know, rock people- they are not admitting that they are watching the show, and even if they’re admitting they are watching they are definitely not voting. But that year they did. It was this whole thing like ‘yeah, we’ll vote for the genre or for the band’- so yeah, we kind of knew it.
I’ve kind of followed Eurovision for a little while and I’ve noticed that the artists who have won have really only been known for the one song or the one thing. Was that a fear of yours going into it?
No because for us, the thing is, this is how we see it. We were invited; we had nothing better to do- so sure! Why not? We can do it. It was more of a thing like, I mean, we didn’t think that much of it. The bigger surprise was the reactions afterwards, both positive and negative responses. Like a year, year and a half after that we had a backlash especially from our diehard fans…not diehard fans, but the old Lordi fans who abandoned us.
Yeah, yeah because of Eurovision- ‘it wasn’t real anymore’. Which was fucking stupid because we didn’t change anything for Eurovision, we didn’t do anything different than we would have done.
I’m sure, like you said, it was because of the theme of the contest and how the show is usually run.
For a short moment it got a little bit too big and mainstream in Europe. I have, me personally, have never understood how it’s any artist or bands fault if they get into the mainstream. I don’t get it. Why is it all of a sudden a bad thing? Why does the music all of a sudden suck? You buy the album, you dig the album and then it gets into the mainstream and then all of a sudden your friends like the album too and you’re like ‘I don’t like it anymore’. That is so fucking dumb.
I feel like that’s such a rock and metal thing because it’s like, our music, and then once other people start liking it you resent it.
What does that tell about those people? It’s so childish and naïve.
Looking back at all your albums, do any of them stand out to you as a favorite or as one you might not like as much?
Yeah. ‘Babez for Breakfast’ is my favorite. That is my favorite album because that was the sound, well I’m an 80’s kid, so that was the sound that I always thought Lordi should sound like- like an 80’s hair metal band. So on that album we got producer Michael Waegner to do that, and that was the thing for us. That was the thing for me. I finally got that snare sound that I wanted, that I always wanted. ‘Babez’ is our fifth album or something, I don’t know- fourth, fifth, whatever. I always told producers before that that I wanted to have a snare sound that the echo, the delay, is still on even after you take out the CD from the tray. You’ll still hear the end of the snare. Nobody wanted to do it; all the producers were like ‘no no no’. But Michael said fuck yeah.
That’s Michael’s sound!
Coincidentally, many of the younger Lordi fans, they hate the sound of ‘Babez’. They hate the sound, to them it sounds like a demo. But for me, that is the sound. That’s how it should sound. So for me, ‘Babez’ is my favorite. I’m not saying that ‘Babez’ has necessarily the best songs, or the best writing or whatever, but for me it is my favorite. ‘Deadache’ on the other hand, who for many people that is their favorite, for me it’s an emotional thing why ‘Deadache’ I don’t like so much. The whole album was written and recorded in a huge fucking burn out. I had a really severe burn out while I was doing it and you can see it, you can hear it, you can see it in the lyrics. There’s the song “Monsters Keep Me Company” which is like really, I think it was the first really open…I’m writing not as a monster, I’m writing as me and that was some hard shit. I was going crazy. Well, not crazy. Just fucking depressed and burned out. So that’s why we are not doing that many songs from ‘Deadache’ because it’s got a really weird feel to it, all the songs. When you listen to it, it’s just ugh- it’s so depressing to us.
Is it hard for you to write as you versus as a monster? How do you differentiate that?
No, no it’s not. I mean, I wish it would sometimes be a little bit harder to write but I write all the time and that is usually a problem. It is a positive problem, but it is a problem when you have too much to choose from. For every album, if there’s ten songs on an album, that means there’s at least thirty songs that didn’t make it. So there’s like hundreds and hundreds of songs and demos that have never seen the light of day.
So you guys are touring the states for the first time in almost ten years, after this what are you planning on doing?
I hope I have at least a month, maybe two months- nothing. Nothing! Just staying home…oh yeah. I think we have the first shows and festivals starting in June. So in May KISS comes to Europe, haha, so there’s at least three shows I’m gonna go see. It’s a nice little spring break for me and for everybody else too. The next things we have in the calendar after this tour, they are in June I think.
Are you guys gonna plan on coming back to the states any time soon?
I hope so, but here’s the thing. It’s usually never the artists’ decision. I mean, all the artists and all the bands would want to play everywhere all the time. But it’s not the bands decision. It’s like you have to be first, there has to be a demand for a band to come over and then it has to be enough demand for promoters and venues and whoever to be convinced that it’s worth taking this band.
It’s a money thing.
It is a financial thing. And when you’re bringing a band from Europe to the States it’s already the flights, you know, it’s not cheap. There’s ten thousand euros right there. Even now when we came here and we brought ourselves, the costumes, one small drop of the production that we have back home and only two technicians that we brought from Europe with us- it’s the bare minimum. It costs a lot. I hope that the next time that we come over it won’t take another nine years. I hope.
I hope so too!
I hope so. But it is what it is. If it would be easy, we would be here all the time.