Recently, Jamie grabbed a few words with ENSIFERUM bassist, Sami Hinkka.
After initial greetings, Jamie’s thoughts were on the common practice these days, of band members playing in more than one band concurrently, Enisferum included…
Hi Sami, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Various members play with, or have played with, other bands with different styles of music. Is it a better way of exploring music, than putting an album out that crosses over into other sub-genres?
“I think composers shouldn’t over-analyze what kind of material he/she is creating. Just trust your instincts, and even if it crosses genre borders but it sounds good and you can stand behind every note, then keep it.”
You have said previously, that you write and compose to please yourselves before anyone else. With a lot of pop music all sounding the same, how does it feel for you having the freedom to experiment, being able to modify the bands sound, album after album, and still maintain a level of commercial success?
“Even though composing is hard and rewarding work, and with five people in the band it means that everyone has to make compromises every now and then, but because we have such wide musical horizons, composing is really fun. We have a policy that every idea, no matter how crazy it may sound, has to be tried at least once. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones which sound insane at first.”
Crazy ideas aside, you took a slightly different approach to writing ‘Unsung Heroes’, in that you wanted to strip it back to a more raw sound. Will ‘One Man Army’ continue in that vein, or will it be something slightly different again?
“We continued on that path, and took it even further. We cut down the amount of tracks, and used lots of analogue equipment to get real organic sound and natural groove on the album. We wanted it to sound more like a live album than regular over-produced studio album.”
In a host of interviews from 2013, you said you had already starting working on new material for the next album. How much did the material change over those 18 months, or so, before entering the studio?
“A lot! Of course, some melodies and riffs have stayed almost the same, but we polish every note and detail, so that we are sure that the result is the best possible. But it’s nice that we work so slowly, because we always have tons of raw ideas that we can work on so that again I can tell you that we have some raw material for the next album already!”
There’s a guest appearance on the album by Týr vocalist Heri Joensen. How did that come about?
“Heri is a dear friend, and he was the first who came to my mind when I realized that the lyrics of ‘Heathen Horde’ will include some spoken old Norse. We have done many tours with Tyr… great guys… And Heri is very gifted gentleman, and extremely talented musician so it’s so easy to work with him.”
So the track wasn’t written with a guest appearance in mind?
“Not in the first place, but when I finished the lyrics, then it was obvious that we need someone to help us with those few lines.”
In your mind, what do want the fans to take away with them after listening to the new album? What do think will stick in their mind after hearing for the first time?
“I hope they think “Wow, I want to listen it again!” Of course it’s impossible to please everyone, and that’s not even what we aim for.”
You’re not long back on dry land after 70000 Tons of Metal. How does that compare to playing other festivals? Does it give you more opportunity to kick back, party and watch the other bands?
“70000 Tons of Metal is wonderful event. This was our third time there, and it just keeps getting better every time. The atmosphere on board is really relaxed. Caribbean sun, cold drinks, friendly people, and great bands. Sounds perfect to me!”
Indeed it does. The ‘One Man Army’ Tour is fast approaching! Only one Date in UK! Was this intentional, as you’re playing Bloodstock this year?
“We have a really busy schedule for next few years, and I promise you that we haven’t forgotten our UK fans. We have some special plans that will be revealed later!”
Intriguing. We can’t wait to hear those plans! Do you enjoy the writing and recording process or the touring side more? There must pros and cons to each?
“I really like to compose stuff with my band mates. Like I said earlier, that we have lots of fun composing stuff – of course there are days that you just wanna sell your instrument because nothing seems to work – but for me, Ensiferum is definitely a live band. I live to play live. The interaction with crowd, spit, sweat, tears and that overwhelming energy you get from seeing how audience goes crazy, sings along and have great time. Simply, the best thing in life.”
Do you ever get an interview like this and think, “Argggggghhhh, I’ve answered this question 30 times today already! I’m off for a jam”?
“Hehe! Of course. When you promote a new album, you have to answer same kind of questions many times but I don’t mind it. In a way it clarifies your own thoughts about many things. Also because we don’t plan any answers ahead.”
What’s the weirdest thing Ensiferum have ever requested on a rider?
“Dishbrushes! Janne (Parviainen – Drums) uses them on ‘Stone Cold Metal’s bridge. Promoters thought that it was a joke, and didn’t get them, so we made our own dishbrushes with Ensiferum-logo!”
Haha! Brilliant! We talked earlier about the material for this album coming together as you were releasing your last album. Can the same be said now? Are there any plans towards the next album? Has writing this album left you with material that NEEDS to be recorded?
“Yes, there are some riffs and even raw songs waiting for a tour break, so we will start working on those probably after the summer festivals.”
Obviously, the tour is there to promote the new album. What advice would you give to emerging bands, regarding promotion of their band and music?
“Most of all, write songs that you enjoy to play. Try to find your own thing that separates you from others. Play live shows as much as possible. And surround yourself with good, loyal and professional people because the music business is full of greedy and selfish assholes!”
Any final words for the fans and our readers?
“Enjoy the new album and see you on the road! Folk on!”
Ensiferum are touring Europe throughout March, and are set to play at Bloodstock Open Air, Hellfest and Wacken Open Air festivals, among others.
One Man Army is released February 20th via Metal Blade Records and is available for Pre-order now
Interview: Jamie Sweetlove]]>