|Finntroll and Ensiferum came to Los Angeles on February 8th 2011, to play together on “The Finnish Metal Tour 2”. Spirit of Metal had the opportunity to do an interview with both bands. Sami Hinkka represented Ensiferum (E) and Mathias “Vreth” Lillmån represented Finntroll (F). Check it out!|First of all thank you for this interview! The tour has started a few weeks ago. You have played in the 70.000 tons of metal end of January. How was that experience?
F: Ohh it was really cool!
F: Warm, nice. The only bad thing for us is that we had both our gigs really late. They were, like, at 3 am and 1:30 am.
E: We had a good time. We had like two 2 pm gigs, hanged out in Jacuzzis… I had a terrible hangover because of the Finntroll guys…
F: Yes, all the bands had like two days off where we could, like, just lie on the deck and drink beer.Was the cruise in Mexico?
F: Oh yes, Mexico! That was fun!
E: Yes!We were jealous out here!
E: Well, I’m sure they are going to arrange it again because it was sold out and they sold more alcohol before the cruise ship even left the port of Miami than they normally sell in a whole four day cruise (laughs). They were obviously very, very happy. We all behaved very well.
F: Yeah nothing got broken. I saw only one fight during the whole thing.
E: Only argue…
F: No! There were blood and fists …
E: Really? No way!
F: Actually it was a friendly kind of thing… (laughs) because one hit the other one in the face and the other one split his eyebrow, but afterwards they were hugging each other. I guess it must be a male bonding thing…(laughs) And nobody drowned… We saw some guy floating face down in the pool but they got him up on time (laughs).Besides the 70.000 tons of metal… how has the rest of the tour turned out to be so far? You had to cancel your concerts in Texas, but anything interesting or different besides that?
F: Central America was really, really nice. Really warm, nice, lots of people. The only bad thing is that you couldn’t go anywhere because people were attacking you all the time (laughs). They were really cool shows. And actually, I think that in this tour we were surprised about the amount of people coming. Usually in Florida there were nobody coming to shows but this time it was very full.
E: Very good start … you know, despite all those cancelled gigs.So, there is no plan to go back to Texas?
E: It’s pretty impossible because of the whole schedule that we made.
F: Yeah… feels a little bit bad though…
E: Yes, it does…You are playing in LA tonight and Santa Ana tomorrow. You have been in California before. How do you like playing here?
E: We like it very much. The weather is always nice.
F: Yeah… it’s not like when we go to Canada (laughs). Yes, this is nice. The only thing is that the audience can be, I heard for some, just standing around with their arms crossed. But, last time we were here, we were really satisfied. It’s been good every time.
E: I don’t know where the rumor comes from…
F: I guess it’s more for local bands…American bands…
E: Yeah because we saw some really wild crowds here.Any plans to visit LA between tonight’s concert and the concert tomorrow?
E: We leave at 6am, so it is Rainbow bar and straight to the bus.
F: Yes!I’m going to ask the same question that I asked to Turisas last Saturday…tonight they are playing here in LA. Do you think that the crowd and fans will split up a little?
F: No, actually not because the other bands that are on that tour are not really…
E: Folkmetal… Cradle of Filth is the headliner and Turisas is like the second support band. I don’t think it is going to split out the crowd… and I heard that it is going to be sold out tonight [Finntroll and Ensiferum’s concert at the Key Club].Changing the subject a little bit… You both have released your latest album a year or a year and a half ago. Are you satisfied with the results of this album?
E: Yes, Absolutely.
F: Yes. Really nice… you know, we switched record company this time. The whole promotion thing… it was totally different. Also the sales have been really good and people like the album. I heard some really good stuff about it.
E: It’s a great album.
F: I like it too (laughs).
E: For ours also, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, for the whole album. Very big surprise in a way... We tried something different, we had this huge orchestration going on. It worked out very well. I think we kind of did it already [different elements and orchestration] so it can be something
different next.Are you going to work on something new in 2011?
F: Not really, for us, at least. We have been discussing on a time frame. We have to release another album, but nothing is really set. But, I guess we are gonna be mostly on tour this year. It is not going to be as much as last year, but still… it’s going to be a lot. Spring and summer are getting booked now and I hope to get a couple of months off in fall. It would be nice to be home for once (laughs).
E: We are going to do this tour then we are gonna go home to wash the laundry for a couple of weeks, and then we are going on an 8 week tour with Children of Bodom in Europe. We will try to go to Japan and China, and then summer festivals, and after that we will concentrate on the new album. We already have like 5 songs and we have the ideas for the other songs also; we just need time to arrange them.I know Finntroll will play in South America this year. Is Ensiferum going to play in some “new” territories as well?
E: We had a plan to go to South America this year but it’s just not possible. We tried to schedule it for September but there is Rock in Rio and a few other big bands playing there. So it’s not possible for promoters to do it then and we can’t do it any later, we need to concentrate on the album. We will try to go there in the beginning of 2012.Both bands have passed though a lot of changes, lineup wise. Do you think that the bands have finally come to a more stable lineup?
F: Well, for us I guess it is the first time in Finntroll that we had the same lineup for over 4 years, so this is the most stable one so far (laughs).
E: See... for us it’s been the same lineup for 3… 4 years?
F: Yeah, something like that (laughs).
E: So, it’s very lined out. Even though you may be very good friends with someone and things may work very well in studio, when you are having 250 gigs per year, you need a certain [specific] kind of people [in the band].Personally, I think that folk metal is getting more and more popular every year. Do you think that this is a fair statement?
F: Yeah and especially here in America, I think.
F: It is “rising” over here. Let’s say... let’s give it 2 or 3 years and it is going to have the same state as in Europe at this point. Because I think probably soon it’s going to go down in Europe, I think we are at the peak.
E: It might be, because there are so many bands coming every time… so…
F: At least I’m getting a little bit fed up with the scene (laughs).
E: Well, I don’t follow the scene, just the amount of pagan festivals and stuff like that… they are kind of over doing it.
F: Yeah. I guess that people are getting a little bit tired of this kind of music. So I guess America is the new big market for us.
E: New Continent!
F: Yes!Do you have any ideas of “why” this is happening in America now? What do you think has contributed to that?
F: I think it was just a couple of years ago that this kind of bands started to be promoted over here.
E: I know that in Japan there are a few promoters who won’t …
F: Yeah, still…
E: They know the thing but they are waiting for the right time to expose it.
F: Yeah we have the same thing now because we are gonna… I don’t know if it’s booked already but… there was talk about us going back to Japan this year. The promoter said last year when the album came: No, nobody listens to this kind of music over here. Then we went to China and he saw the response that we had there, so he was like: Ok, let’s do Japan again.
E: Yeah, China was crazy. We did 5 shows there and it was so full, everybody was crazy. That is also one of our future markets. It’s very good that bands have many territories on where to tour.
F: Same thing with us. We have toured too much in Europe. So we need to, you know, not do an European tour for a while. It is not useful to do it unless you are going on a promotional [tour] and go with a bigger band like they do [Ensiferum]. Us doing a headlining tour in Europe… it’s not gonna be any good for us… People won’t show up I guess…You are both bands that were “found” in Finland. As everybody knows, many metal bands are from this country. The fact of being a Finnish band has certainly an impact on fans. We know them as really good bands in general. Do you think that this is an advantage to you (in the eyes of not only fans but also labels, producers) or is it a disadvantage, since some other bands have raised the “bar” so high up?<
F: I don’t know.
E: I actually don’t know… I really don’t know…
F: Well, some… you know… Oh… how to say this…(laughs). People that know Finnish bands, of course, they are gonna react and say: Ohh this is another Finnish band and they sound like my favorite band. Of course it’s gonna have an impact at some point. But I don’t really think that, you know, just because you are Finnish it means that you are good.
E: There are also a lot of crappy bands in Finland (laughs).
F: Yeah.So, more of a personal question now: what do you guys listen to?
F: It depends, because for example, now when I get off this tour, I’m probably not gonna listen to anything for a couple of days (laughs) because it’s noisy here all the time
E: Some mellow stuff…Bjork… something like that. No metal.
F: Yeah, something like that. It is not going to be metal for a couple of weeks. Usually at home I’m a huge black metal guy. So, I listen to that usually. But I’m also into different kind of music like, a little bit of electronic music, death metal, 70’s prog and stuff like that.Any new bands that you have seen in festivals or concerts that have caught your eyes?
F: Barren Earth.
E: Yeah, I agree.
F: That’s a good band.
E: Is that their first tour?
F: Yes, their first ever tour.
E: Yeah, you know… as Barren Earth. They are all very talented musicians
F: … and they have played in bigger bands. Really good stuff. You have to check them out.We will! Tonight!! So… what do you guys do during your free time?
E: Yeah!!! (laughs) I read pretty much.
F: So do I sometimes.
E: And I do yoga. And try to see friends and family.
F: Yeah, that’s the usual thing. Me being in seven bands at the moment (laughs), when I get home after this tour I will go with another band to Russia then we go straight to Australia for a week with Finntroll. I get back home and have a show in Finland with one of my other bands then we go to South America [Finntroll]. When I get home I will have about 1.5 hour there and then I will start a supporting tour with one of my other bands. I’m basically fucked (laughs).
But you know, if I have time off I really enjoy sleeping and swimming. If it’s summer, I just started playing golf… so…
E: I’m going to join you guys.
F: You have to!You guys already travel a lot. Do you still like traveling in your free time for tourism? Any new destinations in mind?
F: Yeah I do.
E: Yes, I like taking vacations in foreign countries. Some musicians don’t like to go. When they get home they just stay in the living room watching TV.
F: When all this touring craziness is over I’m gonna go to the Airport, after a week or two at home, then I’m going to the Airport and see what’s there.
E: Just get some shorts and flip-flops (laughs).
F: Yeah… and go some place warm, for two weeks. Some beach, somewhere… and just sleep. That’s my plan (laughs).
E: I like traveling also. Go to Portugal!
F: Portugal would be nice. I’m actually thinking about some little island outside Greece.
E: Greece is awesome. Go there. My two favorites.If you can think of anything… what would you still like to accomplish with the band in the next 2 or 3 years?
E: … and hopefully we will be able to keep doing this at this level. It’s all about the fans. If people like our music this will be possible.
F: Get the DVD out [released]. That’s been going on since 2008 (laughs)
E: Good luck!
F: Thank you!
E: We are just starting the DVD project. Maybe we will do that in 2020? (laughs)
… I’m not hugely ambitious to be like… the next Metallica.
F: Yeah… me neither.
E: I just want to keep it pure as possible. Just you know: be with good people, write music…
F: Also for me, I don’t want to do that either. I don’t like those big shows. I like the small clubs…
E: Yes, I agree. Sweat…
F: Smelly people…
E: Yes, in front of you! I prefer those very much. Also… better than playing for 20.000 people.So, you rather play in a little club than in a festival?
F: Yes... most definitely!
E: But it is nice also to play festivals, you know? You have thousand of people shouting there, doing sing along…but still emotionally, I like small ones better. You get much more energy from the audience.