DATE OF INTERVIEW:
7th April 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: I was watching the video recently for ‘From Afar’, and it’s a really nicely shot video but how was the filming experience because apart from Petri, the rest of you are kind of motionless for most of it? Was that the director saying – “Just stand there and don’t move”?!
SAMI HINKKA: Yes. We had a few scripts sent to us from the companies where we sent the song and we picked the best one. It was okay; a lot of mosquitos standing in the forest for six hours or whatever! [laughs] Personally, I really don’t like doing videos.
(Sami Hinkka on being mistaken for Amon Amarth frontman Johan Hegg)
"...I don’t know how, but they mix me with Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth. I probably give twenty autographs on this tour and refuse to give a hundred because people come to me with an Amon Amarth CD and I’m like, “I’m not in the band!”"
Sami Hinkka backstage at Rock City, Nottingham, UK, 7th April 2011
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Ensiferum Official Website:
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Lucy Freeman at The Noise Cartel for arranging the interview
Ensiferum Official MySpace:
Victory Songs (2007)
From Afar (2009)
SH: No, it’s…nahhh. For example, in ‘Ahti’ we are there for one second, we’re the dead bodies in the village, the video for the ‘Victory Songs’ album, and that was one thing we wanted – no playing in a video because I think that’s the most stupid thing you can do. You know, to pretend you’re playing. At least for me. Personally, I like to do something way different. For example, I really like Finntroll’s ‘Under Bergets Rot’, the animation thing, and Metsatöll also had this very old Estonian cartoon. I really like stuff like that.
MD: So if you’re gonna do a video, then make it really special rather than just a band playing in a forest.
SH: Yes, that’s so used.
MD: I heard you’re planning for another live DVD and you want to make it more special this time – how are plans progressing with that? Didn’t you film one of the South African shows?
SH: Yes, we did. It’s on hold. We’re the artist; we’re not really there to think about the money, so we had way too big ideas maybe first time and, at some point, they were like “okay, maybe we should go and do some calculations first”. It was actually very good because then we had a really good discussion about - What do we want? What do they want? They obviously want to give all they can but now it’s more important to release a new, good album, so we’ll concentrate on the DVD after that. I really hope we can do it like we wanted because it will be something special. I’ve been told, on many occasions, that we have hundreds of hours of material, even the very first gig of Ensiferum in 1996 and stuff like that.
MD: So it’d be something properly special for the fans.
SH: Yes, because we don’t want to release a DVD every two years.
MD: And you were the first Finnish metal band to play in South Africa?
MD: How was that whole experience in South Africa and how were the fans over there?
SH: It was great. Incredible. It’s a pity that they obviously have a craving for metal there. They have a metal scene…and we didn’t even go to Cape Town and that’s supposed to be the “metal scene” there. But the whole experience was insanely great. The promoter was an eighteen year old guy and his band was playing at every show with us, and his family was helping us. We had a day off between every show and went to safari to see lion cubs, and had a barbeque one day, and it was…
MD: ...like a vacation and a tour then!
SH: Yeah, in a way, and it was also emotional because even though we were in the hotel, the family was always there. It was very emotional.
MD: So is that one of the most memorable tours you’ve done, would you say?
SH: Yes, and I drank way too much Jägermeister! That day was so terrible! We had a barbeque and the next day we went to safari and it was like forty Celsius outside…ahhhh, and a terrible hangover for two hours…clear sky, scorching sun….arrghhh!
MD: Do you ever read much stuff online, like what fans say about the band?
SH: I read our Facebook and I post stuff there, and also our forum, I write there occasionally but not so often anymore because we have a mobile application and use that pretty much.
MD: Well, I’ve written down a few comments people have posted on YouTube about Ensiferum if I can run them by you for your reaction...
SH: Of course.
MD: Somebody said for the ‘Victory Song’ – “I stopped my porn for this”!
MD: Is that a general reaction people have to your music?!
SH: [laughs]…I don’t know…well…[laughs]
MD: I think your laughter says it all!
MD: Underneath the ‘From Afar’ video, somebody posted on there – “the guy with the long hair and huge beard reminds me of Chewbacca from Star Wars”. Have you ever encountered that comparison before?
SH: No! [laughs] They mix me with…I don’t know how, but they mix me with Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth. I probably give twenty autographs on this tour and refuse to give a hundred because people come to me with an Amon Amarth CD and I’m like, “I’m not in the band!”
MD: You should just sign Amon Amarth CDs with your name!
SH: Yeah, I’ve said to people, “I can spoil your CD, but I’m not playing in the band!”
MD: Somebody else said on YouTube for the ‘From Afar’ video – “I think these guys listen to Bal-Sagoth a lot”. I guess that alludes to the big orchestrations. Are they an influence at all?
SH: Oh yes, Bal-Sagoth has had a lot of influence for us…but I don’t have any of their CDs. Shame on me! I know Markus likes them a lot and Jari likes them very much. In the beginning, especially, they were a big influence.
MD: What’s the craziest experience you’ve ever had with a fan? People write some pretty crazy stuff on YouTube about the band and so forth so have you ever encountered any crazy fans?
SH: Let me see…crazy…no…
MD: You haven’t had to sign anything really weird?
SH: Well, CDs and hairy asses, but you know how that is.
SH: Standard, yes. When we go to the merch desk, for example, after the show, people see you’re a normal person with your cell phone or whatever…[laughs] Nobody has really been crazy in a way. They understand it’s a good show and that’s what it’s all about. Escapism, you know.
MD: Mutual respect between fan and band then.
SH: Yes, definitely.
MD: A final question I was going to ask – for people who will be reading this interview and have never bothered to check out Ensiferum before, what’s your selling point for the band? Why should they run out immediately and buy all your CDs…and DVD…and t-shirts…?!
SH: [laughs] I don’t want you to go and buy stuff first but check it out. We are the best band in the world!
SH: How modest?! I don’t know…challenge yourself to try something new. If you haven’t heard any folk metal before, check it out.
MD: Okay, thank you very much for your time.
SH: Thank you.