♦♦♦ Aurora Borealis ♦♦♦
Lordi (II)
Interview mit Mr. Lordi [Lordi], 17.01.2013, phoner

Bei den finnischen Monster-Rockern Lordi hat sich das Besetzungskarussell gedreht. So sind nach dem Ausscheiden von Drummer Otus und Keyboarderin Awa nun zwei neue Gruselgestalten mit an Bord, die beide fleißig am jüngsten Studio-Album "To Beast Or Not To Beast" mitgewerkelt haben. Soundtechnisch soll die Hard-Rock-Scheibe aber meilenweit vom Vorgänger entfernt sein, wie Mr. Lordi aus Rovaniemi berichtet.

Mr. Lordi, on the 8th of March you will release your new album entitled "To Beast Or Not To Beast". Does it seamlessly tie in with the previous one "Babez For Breakfast" or does it step into another direction?

Mr. Lordi: It steps like two kilometers in a different direction. It goes a completely other way especially compared to the previous album. We kinda tried to have this funny pattern that first we do a rock party album, then we do a little bit more serious and darker album, but still pretty much in the same style. And the last album was an extreme 80ies party album. Originally we were supposed to do another album like that, because that's the kind of stuff we listen to. But due to the things that happened – Otus died and all that shit – the new one became a very aggressive album. I am really excited to see and hear especially the fans' reactions, because this is a bit different Lordi album. I am pretty sure that everybody who has listened to our last albums will be surprised and ask if this is Lordi. The new album is a lot different and miles away from the last one.

But are you completely satisfied with the final result or did you already find something you would have done in a different way nowadays?

Mr. Lordi: Well, you always have that! When you say that you're completely satisfied, it means that you're 99 percent satisfied. Because every single time you leave the studio, you're probably 100 percent satisfied, but after a few weeks or months you start to think like "Ahh, we should have done this, we should have done that". But that is natural! It happens every time. But those little things are not important at all.

Are you a perfectionist?

Mr. Lordi: Oh yeah.

When did you start writing the new material and what have been your inspiration sources for the lyrics this time?

Mr. Lordi: Wow, a good question or actually two questions. [laughs] This is actually the first time ever in the history of Lordi that I was not the one person who started writing material for the new album. Usually it's me writing the first new songs, and that kind of sets the guideline how the album is gonna be. But this time it was Amen, our guitar player, who wrote three separate riffs. It was in spring or early summer of 2011, I guess. And the funny thing is that Otus, who died in February last year, his drumming was so different from the one of our previous drummer Kita that it inspired us to do something different than usually. So when Amen wrote those three riffs, he was inspired by Otus' drum patterns. And those riffs were the starting point for the new album. They became the guideline when we started writing. So you can say that even though Otus didn't have the chance to play on one of our albums, he in a way changed the band as his playing infected us. Let's put it that way: We suddenly could do stuff that we couldn't do when Kita was still in the band. And about the lyrics: Well, I guess that's the same shit still, [laughs] a couple of horror stories etc. That's always the same for me…

But are the songs connected with each other in a way?

Mr. Lordi: No, they're not. But well, our A&R already said during the last album that we should do a concept album. But it's really difficult, I mean, not to write the story, but it would be difficult to write ten or twelve songs knowing that these songs have to be in a precise order on the album. Maybe someday we will do that.

How does a Lordi-song usually come into being? Is everybody within the band involved in the songwriting process?

Mr. Lordi: We always have this positive problem that I write a lot of stuff all the time, so I had probably 60 songs for this new album. It's not the biggest number we had so far. We already once had close to 100 songs for an album, so we have too much stuff to choose from. So the way we work is, well, I usually write a lot and demo just all the songs that I have the time for to demo. But this time there were even ten or 16 songs I didn't have the time to record the demos for. They are for the next album then, I guess. This time I had around 60 songs while the other guys wrote songs by themselves. Then we usually come together, sit around and start to come up with stuff, like somebody has a riff, maybe someone else has a chorus and we just put them together. And then we start selecting the songs and decide which will be on the album. When those songs are selected, we go to the rehearsal room, otherwise we would have to rehearse like 40 or 50 songs that will never see the light of day. We would do a lot of work all in vain.

With Mana on the drums and Hella on the keyboard there are two new members in the band. Where did you pick the two monsters up and how have they settled in the band?

Mr. Lordi: Oh, they have fitted in the band perfectly. They might be a little bit younger in the years than we are, but they are a way more professional. And we are the kids, you know, especially me. [laughs] They are really funny people, especially Mana. He cracks me up all the time. And referring to music it was a good deal with them, because they were just fucking perfect. We found Hella first. It was in May 2012, because we already knew at that time that Awa is gonna leaving the band, even though we didn't announce it until July. But we knew already in February that Awa is leaving. So we found Hella in May and she was already in the band in June, even though we didn't stop playing shows with Awa. Both became friends and Awa gave some pointers to Hella how she can survive with us. [laughs] With Mana it was a bit more difficult story. When we started thinking about tour stuff and a new drummer, we didn't want to make a big number out of that. It took like six weeks – after Otus died –and then the band started to ask quietly around for drummers. We had a lot of people that I spoke on the phone with. We met a couple of people. People sent us Mp3s. Many times there were awesome people, but their playing wasn't really right for us. A difficult part was that they had to know Twisted Sisters, Accepts and Alice Cooper, too. They had to be able to play in the same style as Otus did, because of the new material. There were a lot of people, but they couldn't play that. Or there were people who played perfectly, but they didn't really fit into the group. I think it was actually in July, when we found Mana.

So it was a longer process to find him…

Mr. Lordi: Yeah, it was. And we luckily had a friend who helped us out during the summer shows. It was an old friend from a legendary Finnish metal band of the 80ies who was just mysteriously named as "The Drummer" for the summer, so we didn't have to cancel all the shows. Last year was supposed to be our 10th year anniversary and it was really sad that Otus died. Everything was rescheduled and we thought that we have to cancel everything. So the whole drummer thing was really difficult.

I can imagine. But to what extend have the two new band members influenced the creating process of the new album?

Mr. Lordi: Oh, a lot actually, but not the songs, because we already had them when they both came in. But during the rehearsal and in the studio – when we were doing the pre-production – everybody brought in their own unique style of playing. We didn't tell them how to play the songs. Of course when we stopped rehearsing the songs, we had the demos, but in the end they were the masters of their own instruments.

Where and with which producer did you record the new album?

Mr. Lordi: We went to Nashville, Tennessee, again like on the last album to work with the same producer Michael Wagener. And this is also funny for Michael, because he is known for producing 80ies hair metal bands and artists like Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Bonfire and Accept. So he is a big 80ies dude. Well, he did "Master Of Puppets" by Metallica, too, but as I said he's done a lot of that hair metal stuff. So our last album fit to him perfectly and now it was funny for Michael that we were not making another 80ies sounding album, but we wanted to make a harder and aggressive album. Michael was really excited about that.

What have been the challenges during the recording process? Did you have any problems?

Mr. Lordi: You always do. [laughs] The most challenging part of a recording process always for us is to decide which songs we gonna do. Now there are a couple of those more traditional Lordi songs, a few ones that could have also be on one of our previous albums, but the most hardest, metallic and aggressive songs didn't make it on the album. We could have easily made an album which sounds exactly like the style we had before or we could have made an album that doesn't sound like Lordi at all. But we kinda took the midway. Well, ACDC is not gonna do a disco album as the fans would be disappointed. And we, of course, have really die hard fans we have to think about, even though we do this all for ourselves. We don't wanna fuck up with the fans or get them disappointed. If we change completely our music style, it would be a great fuck you to them. So it was the most difficult part ever to choose the songs for the album.

I have heard, that at first the album was called "Upgradead", but later on you changed the title into "To Beast Or Not To Beast". What's the background for that?

Mr. Lordi: [laughs loudly] Usually we know the album title or at least the working title a year before we hit the studio. But when Otus died we didn't think about the title for a long time. Then, as there were so many changes within the band – like the line-up changed and the music was a bit updated in a way –, I really wanted to have the meaning of change or transformation within the album title. That's why the title was called "Upgradead" for a damned long time. The actual music master went to the factory already with the name "Upgradead" on it. And I painted the album cover, but I didn't like it as there was something wrong with the whole positioning of the album cover. So I did different versions of it. Well, have you seen the album cover?

Yeah, I have.

Mr. Lordi: There you can see a 60ies pin-up girl with a Lordi skull. It's actually only a detail of a bigger painting and I had the title "Upgradead" on it. But then Amen was looking at it and said that he doesn't understand the "Upgradead" thing. This looks like Hamlet, it should be more like "To Be Or Not To Be". Then we came up with the title "To Beast Or Not To Beast". Of Course we have to have those word plays, because we're Lordi. [laughs] And the Hamlet thing "To Be Or Not To Be" has the meaning of change already in the question. We had difficult times since the last album and there were questions like "To Be Or Not To Be". Amen for example wanted to put the band on hold for a year, because he felt so bad. But I felt like we had to go on immediately. So in the end it took like six weeks, before we started moving again. That's why the "To Be Or Not To Be" question was perfect for the album title. And the answer is when you have the album in your hands. The answer is "To Be".

With every new album you 're also giving the monsters a fresh and new look. Are you still the one who's responsible for the creations?

Mr. Lordi: Yes.

Are the other band members also involved in the designing process?

Mr. Lordi: Oh yeah, they are. Some of them are more, some of them less. It depends on the person, of course. When you have a character that you are supposed to portrait, you have to be that character and you cannot act. If you would join Lordi and I wouldn't know anything about what you like or how you are as a person, I couldn't just decide that you're a Vampire, for example. What if you're nothing like a Vampire? It wouldn't work! That's why I always ask Lordi's members which kind of character they wanna be, if they have any favorite horror genre, if they like Werewolves, Zombies etc. Especially with Hella it was really easy. I had that idea already, when Awa was leaving, that it would be cool the new keyboard player would be like a Barbie Girl. And when I asked Hella what she wanna be, one of the things she said was being a doll. But with Mana it was really difficult, it took a lot of time. [laughs] He was listening me all these Star Wars characters and I said: "You cannot really be Darth Vader!"

The thing is in fact no one should know the faces behind the monster masks, but during the years people found out your civil names etc. How will you keep Mana and Hella from getting unmasked?

Mr. Lordi: I hope they won't do what Kita did – revealing their faces themselves. [laughs] I mean, what can you do? You can only do your best. We just try to keep the real identities as a secret. That's the main key. Let's put it that way: It's been seven years soon since the Eurovision competition, but it's not the music or rock media that wants to reveal our real identities that much. It's always been the fucking bullshit media, the mainstream yellow press – those wanna reveal something. But as it's already so long since Eurovision, I think that the yellow press doesn't really care anymore.

In April and May you'll be on European tour. What can we expect from the shows?

Mr. Lordi: Well, monsters playing heavy metal. [laughs loudly]

Do you have any show elements again?

Mr. Lordi: Yeah, of course we always have! We're planning a new show and this time the whole setlist will be really different than it has been before. We always play a lot of songs from a new album. This time we maybe play six, seven or eight songs from the new CD. But we're also changing the set a lot. In the past years we've been pretty much playing the same songs all the time. But now we're putting songs away that we've been playing a lot. So now we won't play songs like "Biomechanic Man" or "Get Heavy". We put those songs away and will bring some other songs from the albums that we haven't played the last years. And of course there will be a lot of tricks during the shows. I'm just not yet sure what they gonna be…

So it's also something new for the die hard fans of Lordi…

Mr. Lordi: Oh yeah and for the band, too, because we easily get bored. That's why we wanna change a lot of things, so that it's also exciting for us. And we always try to play one song a night which is from a single B-side or really weird bonus track, so that the die hard fans get something really special. The rest of the people in the audience necessarily don't know that song.

How do you prepare yourself for the shows? Do you also rehearse in costumes?

Mr. Lordi: Me, Amen and Ox don't have to do that anymore. But those two new guys will go through hell this February, when we start the rehearsals for the tour. [laughs] They have to rehearse in the costumes. There have been a lot of line-up changes within this band and every time each new guy or girl said that it won't be any problem to wear the costume. But every single time, when we forced them to play the whole setlist in the rehearsal where is no hot light, no pyro etc., it was usually on song number three that they stopped playing. Well, it's easy to jump in the costume and you can easily play one song, but a whole setlist is hard.

Are the costumes so heavy?

Mr. Lordi: Well, I try to make them lighter every time. I think my costume is now at least three or four kilos lighter than the last one. But nevertheless it feels like 20 kilos at least. It's heavy. Well, now Hella and Mana still feel okay, but after a week they will feel terrible. It's not a pleasure to wear the costumes.

So you will need holidays after the tour, I guess…

Mr. Lordi: Yeah, at least for a couple of weeks, but then the festival season starts.

One last question for you: How would you continue the sentence "Music is…"?

Mr. Lordi: …not Hip Hop. [laughs] I don't like it at all. I don't consider it as music, it's just rhythm and talk. But where is the melody? Okay, well, music is a way of life.

Interview: Lea S.
Fotos: taken from lordi.fi
Website Band: www.lordi.fi

(c) Zillo Musikmagazin / Ausgabe 03/13 / www.zillo.de

copyright: Aurora Borealis 2007-2015
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