Lordi interview (06/2004)
|With:||the Chef Monster himself|
|Conducted by:||Melanie Haack|
The monsters are back! After the debut "Get Heavy" (2002) the Finnish monster rocker Lordi have just released their second album "The Monsterican Dream" and those who miss the times of 80's-heroes such as Kiss, Alice Cooper, Twisted Sister and co. should have found the suitable medicine in Lordi. However, there can be no talk of copying those bands. Chef monster Lordi - by the way chairmen of the Finnish Kiss fanclub - was on promo tour, in order to tell more of his 'monsterican dreams'.
- Lordi and nightmares - that somehow fits together! But what's your personal nightmare?
- That somebody would cut my hair, I would have to turn into a vegetarian and that somebody would steal all my Kiss stuff… The worst thing that could happen is if I couldn't see anymore, if I would be blind. That would be so hard! You could still write music if you couldn't hear it 'cause you know about it, you can feel it… so that wouldn't be as hard as loosing my eyesight.
- Let's start talking about the new record: I personally love musicals and some songs, as for example "Blood Red Sandman" or "The Children Of The Night" have a bit of a musical touch in my opinion.
- That's a fine and funny point of view. Well, you could be right! You are actually the first one who is mentioning that! Musical… hmm… well… yes, you could be right! I haven't thought about it yet. I can't really say that I like musicals but just because I haven't really listened to any of them so far.
- Creating a horror rock musical and writing the songs for it - wouldn't that be cool?
- Yeah, and it's funny that you bring it up because we actually have been talking about that: Doing some kind of a show comparable to a musical, to a stage play. But not now and not next year. At one time or another in some Finnish theatres.
- With songs already existing or would you write new songs?
- I think we would have to write some in-between-material to put it between our songs. There would have to be a script, there would have to be a story line and of course, in that point of view it could be hard to make all our songs fit in that whole thing but it's not impossible. We are actually thinking about it!
- "The Children Of The Night" starts with nice piano sounds, "Magistra Nocte" is nothing but piano - did you wrote that passages? So can you play the piano?
- Poorly! But nevertheless, "Children Of The Night" is my song. When I write songs I write them with my guitar and then I use the computer. I do it with keyboards but I am really lousy at it... But our keyboardist is good at playing the piano, of course. She actually teaches piano. So she takes my silly keyboard parts and then she's like: 'Okay, this is what you mean, right?'
- The beginning of "Fire In The Hole" is great - I like that, the very beginning first gives the impression it's one of those 80s dark wave / electro stuff like Camouflage did… well that impression changes when the song develops but anyway…
- Yeah, and there were even people who said that it sounds like Abba. Yes, with that cool 80s computer sound in the beginning it sounds like 80s - you're right. But I must that I am into the 80s hard rock stuff say - I would be stupid to deny it -, but not that much into the 80s synthie stuff. Depeche Mode have for sure good sounds and songs! The hard rock stuff tends to be a bit happier and the pop side tends to be a bit more melancholic and sad. I never really got to that sad stuff.
- When you started working on the album: Did you have a vision in mind about the sound or did it just develop?
- Yes, actually we had a really clear vision this time. And that's why we got Hiili Hiilesmaa as producer. He was even the first choice for our first album but we couldn't get him then. We wanted him for we knew that he is really good with computers, with loops and synths and stuff like that. We wanted the album to sound movie-like with lots of sound-effects and so on. I think the result sounds pretty much the way it was supposed to.
- There'll be a limited edition of that album where we find some kind of a movie - what is that exactly?
- It's 30 minutes long. It's really hard to explain what it is like. It's a surrealistic, really weird film… The story line is hard to describe - you really have to see it! It's not really for children I can say. If you like David Cronenberg's films then it's a piece of cake for you and you understand it immediately. Me and the other band members are just in small parts there. Just for few seconds here and there because we didn't want to do it like a Spice Girls movie… I did some story boards, the special effects and make-ups for that movie. I also did the original script - of course, it has changed a bit. When you make a movie it is always a compromise for there are lots of people involved in it.
- Do you still work as special effects and make-up artist?
- No, I don't have the time anymore. It's funny… I tried to have make-up jobs for years and I couldn't get them. Well, I did some here and there for TV spots, movies and music clips but in Finland there is not that much need for special effects and make-up artists. But now when I don't have the time to do it everybody calls me.
- Maybe that's what comes again after the music when you have time for all those offers.
- Maybe. I'm not really good at working for somebody. If somebody tells me to do something I'm really like: grrrrrr! I wanna do it in my way 'cause otherwise it gets boring for me. It's better the way it is nowadays. I can do what I want.
- When we look at "Get Heavy" it was somehow a best of album of the previous years. What was it like this time? Are there still some parts that come from the 90s?
- Yes! I think the oldest song on the new record is "Wake The Snake" which was originally from 1991 - at least the riff and the chorus. Then there is the main riff in "My Heaven Is Your Hell" which is from 1997, the main riff from "Bring It On" is also from about 1997. We have so much material from former years! When you write songs and think that the one riff you come up with isn't really that good you listen to old demos and then it's like: 'Oh, here is a good riff. I have totally forgotten about this. Could it fit?'
- And how much is it a band album? I mean are all the song ideas coming from you? In which way are the others involved?
- It's really very much a band album! "Get Heavy" was a band album, too but still, all the songs were mine, written by me. But this time everybody did songs. But it was not the decision that everybody has to have one song at least on the album - it just happened. If it's a good song, it is a good song, it is a good song and it doesn't matter who wrote it. We didn't tell anybody, not our manager, not the record company who wrote which song. We decided as a group which songs should be on the album and luckily everybody got his songs there.
- What about the lyrics. Guess it's you who is writing them all: Is it that you try to create lyrics that fit to that rock'n roll, hard rock, horror image or…
- Yes, it's me writing them. Yeah! When you think of "Get Heavy" it was more like heavy metal anthems, like 'I wanna rock'. "Get Heavy" had two songs with horror stories ("Not The Nicest Guy", "Last Kiss Goodbye") and I really love those lyrics because they have a story line and I had a vision in my mind what is happening. So I thought this time it could be nice to write all the lyrics in this way. Some of them are more clear then others. "Wake The Snake" f.ex. - there is not a clear story line. But I drew pictures for the booklet to help out. My original idea was to draw a full comic book for the lyrics of that album but then I calculated that one song contains about 20 or 30 lines of text and when you do that in comic form it is like at least three or four pages… and as we have thirteen songs we would have a hundred page comic book for the album. There wouldn't have been any time for me to draw all those pages and the record company would have been like 'No fucking way! We are not going to do that!' But it was a nice idea. Now we have just one, two or three pics for each song… I've been drawing a full Lordi comic book for many years but it's still like a sketch… But unfortunately, at this time when I look at my calendar I see no time to go on with this stuff.
- You started Lordi as a solo project. The first demo is from 1992. What was your intention in the beginning?
- To write music that I like. I was a member of a local band and I couldn't get my songs through the other members. They thought that my songs were stupid and too simple. I didn't have any problems shouting the lyrics and being in this band but I wanted to have my own songs. I started to get bored so I began making demos under the name Lordi and sent them to labels. It was more industrial-like in the beginning. One of the reasons for that was that for the first few years Lordi was a one-man-project. I did it all by myself!
- Lordi already exists since more than 10 years and the debut came out in 2002 - why did it take so long, wasn't there any lable that was interested?
- They were interested but the most common answer when we were hunting for a deal was either 'okay, the music is good but the image is stupid - so if you lose the image we will sign you' or 'okay, your image is so cool but you should play black metal. Your music sucks. If you play black metal…'. We didn't want neither the first nor the second opportunity. In between we did like tons of demos, fixed our costumes, experienced more with the make-up and we had some members coming and going because of course, people were starting to get tired as there was still no deal. I did some story board and make-up stuff to bring some food on the table. Basically we just banged our head to wall so long that eventually the wall brakes down and luckily it wasn't our heads that broke - the wall was softer.
- Music and image or in general the visual part are two things that go together. Was it the love for horror movies, the fact that you are a special effect and make-up artist or the love for that 80s bands that gave you the idea of creating Lordi's image?
- Of course, Kiss are a big reason… Basically the big thing behind our music and our image is that those are the things I love: Horror films, monsters stuff like this and melodic hard rock!
- Unfortunately I haven't seen you live so far. Must be a mix of a horror show, rock'n roll and fun/entertainment?
- Yes! In almost every song we have some kind of a theatric part. Also fire, pyros, the bass player shooting with the shotgun to the mixing board, blowing it up in "Karmageddon"… Unfortunately those shows are pretty expensive to do but of course, we want to do a full show every time. It's pretty hard to find for example five big places where we can do our shows.
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