Lordi, the interview
We were offered an interview with Lordi, a Finnish hard rock/heavy metal band. The interview is done by Marie-France and Xavier Willems and was offered to us by Marco van Empel through his Headbangers Zine.
We had the pleasure to interview Mr Lordi at De Kreun in Belgium, right after the show. It was a great, upfront conversation with lots of fun moments. This was also very special because it was the first time my son Xavier interviewed an artist and he was only 13 years old! He even got complimented by Mr Lordi! Lordi is famous for hard rock hallelujah but did you expect to win the Eurovision song contest in 2006?
Yes, well the truth is, we didn’t expect to win the Finnish competition when they invited us, you know. I said already then if we win the Finnish part, that’s the harder part. But if we actually go from there, then we have our chance to win the whole thing. I was pretty sure we would be in the top 5. And the reason being is that we already had fans outside Finland, you know. We had been touring for years before that and we a couple of thousand fans. Usually when artists go to the Eurovision they are not known outside their own country, that’s the problem. We had kind of brought our own voters that year so I really knew there was a chance.
(MF) You were confident with it.
Yeah, but it’s not actually even confidence it’s about simple mathematics and simply being realistic in a way. Because whatever artist they send there, is not known at all outside the country. And when you send someone who has already been touring already, it means they already have fans and probably people who will vote. That’s the thing!
(MF) And that was a great thing for the Metal and the Rock!
Yeah, for a short while!
(Xavier) You also had some world record with that, back in Finland?
There was some world’s biggest karaoke thing there were singing, yeah. Only it was not us, it was the people who were doing it.
How did you come up with the famous costumes?
Well I have always been a fan of monsters and horror and Kiss and Twisted Sister. Basically it was a combination of all that. What I always say is we are a combination of our own idols. That’s what it is, really. But for the first 4 years of Lordi, there was no image, no costume and no make-up. It went a kind of slow. Even though I had been a fan of monsters and Kiss and all that shit for al my fucking life and still it took me quite a few years to realise… oooh… That’s the one.
(Xavier) you also had some horror movies so it’s obvious you like horror.
No? Yeah yeah! Of course
What was your reaction when scare force one turned into a comic book?
My reaction was…. Well that was my idea you know, so… Like Demonic you know, it’s also. We did already comic books since the first album really. There was already a comic book with Get Heavy. Then there were a couple of years that we didn’t have any comics. We have actually 3 or 4 big comic books around 2006, 2007 and 2008. And then I guess the next one was Scare Force One. No no no, actually it was already “To Beast or not to Beast”, there was a short introduction comics for new characters Hella and Mana and Otus. There were comic books already back then. And I have a great friend who was actually drawing those because I hadn’t had the time. And even now today the Demonarchy comic book there, the plan was that I would draw that but I don’t have the time. That is the shitty part. But I like his work so you know.
On side A of the new album there is a song: Mary is dead. Is it about someone or just a very good idea?
It’s about Mary who is dead. I don’t know her. It just sounded like a good title. Sometimes you have the title first, sometimes you have the idea first or whatever.
But Mary is dead sounded something. First I had the song and the music with Amen and Mana. That’s a call write. And then I was doing the demo so I had to write demo lyrics like “uhmm mmm, mmm, bah bah, Mary is dead” … So that’s how.
(MF) It came spontaneously
Yeah, yeah, usually many demo of the lyrics come spontaneously.
(MF) And then you go from that part and you write further.
Yeah and if the title is good, then I try to see if I can do something from that. Many times it is the title first, like “None for one” also I like how it looks and how it sounds. I had no fucking clue what it was going to be about but now we know!
(Xavier) First the title then the music
No no first the music and then you are doing the demo lyrics; you are coming up with the title. But also there was another one, the He-man song, “Let’s go slaughter He-man”. That was something; the lyrics were originally for another song. And the He-man song was with a different lyric. So when the music of the He-man song was clearly going to make it to the album and the song with the He-man lyrics wasn’t, then I combined the two.
What is your personal favourite Lordi album?
Right now it’s still the new one “Monstereophonic” but usually it’s “Babez for breakfast”, that’s my favourite usually. Because right now the new album is so new so it is the best, definitely. Babez is my favourite because that is the peak and the combination of stuff I always wanted and that’s sounds like an 80’s band. It’s funny with many fans, they hate the sound of it, they hate the production, they hate the ground sound but that is the ground sound that I wanted, the ground sound that I love. For me that is the coolest fucking sound that we ever had on “Babez for breakfast”. That is the best sound for me. But then again I’m an old fart so that’s why.
(MF) Ah you’re not that old!
Well you know, comparing, to many of the fans who are not used to this sound. Of course in the 80’s if somebody played me something that was 20 or 30 years old music, the sound was not that good; you know from the 50’s or 60’s, it sounds odd. To me 80’s sound, the ground sound and everything that is the best fucking sound there is. And there is no way ever that that can be topped in my head. That is the sound. I don’t like the sound of today in music, the production.
(MF) It’s too clean maybe.
It’s clean and it’s too clinical. The sound is too small; you see in the 80’s it sounded like huge.
How did you come up with the idea to split up the new album: side A songs in traditional Lordi style and side B a story about The Undead Son and more?
Because there was these 2 directions already. In the past 2 albums, well actually when Kita was kicked out of the band, the original drummer, then Otus came to the band and he brought the new style of playing. And then he died and Mana came into the band and it made it possible to write a little bit more metal kind of songs. And then for 2 albums we were kind of flirting with the whole metal and more modern things. And sometimes we liked it and sometimes we really hated it. So now before we started doing this new album, I said, listen guys, let’s split the whole fucking thing up. Let’s do 6 songs in this really classic Lordi style but then let’s do the other side of Lordi too. Because I had been writing that kind of stuff like on the Demonarchy side from the early 90’s. It’s kind of frustrating when you know you’re writing a song and you know it’s not gonna make the album. I said, well this time let’s take a risk and let’s do it. And so far it looks like a lot of fans are actually liking the Demonarchy side too. But I met some people who don’t like it. It doesn’t sound like “Would you like a monsterman” at all, it doesn’t sound like Get Heavy. People who think we should do only the kind of stuff that’s on the A side. Then again there are 6 songs like that.
How is it to perform in the Benelux (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg) and is it true Finland is the only country in the world where Slayer is played at the local supermarket?
I have no idea about that Slayer thing, I am not a Slayer fan at all. I have no idea, it could be.
How is it to play here? Awesome! It’s actually awesome to play anywhere. It’s not shitty to play anywhere. Whenever you are lucky and fortunate enough to be actually playing somewhere, it’s awesome. I mean nothing to complain!
The first song is about the He-man, but why him you could have chosen so many cartoons but you chose him, why?
Well I could have done Incredible Hulk ‘cause he’s my favourite but then again Master’s of the Universe and the He-man… I don’t see it as a cartoon; I see it as a toy figures because that’s what it was originally. It was invented by Mattel Toy Company as a counter act of Star Wars in the early 80’s when Star Wars was a huge merchandising thing, ’77 and 80. But it was the first huge action figure merchandising ever. Mattel thought we need something as cool as Star Wars, you know and that was the real birth of action figures. So for me as an 80’s kid I am a huge Masters of the Universe fan.
(Xavier) you just had to pick him.
No actually when I was writing the demo’s, the lyrics, I was looking around and I have a lot of shit everywhere, a lot of toys and a lot of monster figures and Kiss shit and all kind of stuff and I was looking around and thinking, well what the hell am I going to write about? I have Castle Grey Skull from Masters of the Universe on my table and the He-man figure. Ok I write a song and what do I write about Masters of the Universe, what do I want to say about Masters of the Universe? Well fuck He-man because I have always been the fan of the bad guys like Darth Vader. He’s much cooler than wimpy pussy Luke Skywalker. And when I was a kid I never got my friends. You were playing out something in the forest. “I wanna be Luke Skywalker” and I was like, yeah you can be the pussy, I’m gonna be Darth or Chewbacca.
So same thing with Masters of the Universe, really you wanna be He-man well I’m gonna be the fucking Beastman. I always thought they were much cooler. And I thought it was about time for somebody to help Skeletor now a little bit. Finally I get the bastard.
(Xavier) It was funny with the head on the stage.
What was the meaning of the video from Hug you hardcore? Was it really trying to find out how people would react?
No, no but the song is not a paranormal song. Many times the Lordi songs felt like horror stories and they have something supernatural or paranormal in them. This song doesn’t. This song is about sex. It’s about extreme fucking fisting. So you cannot really do a video for a song like that like “woehoeh”. But then again we are Lordi so we were going to experiment something with the horror genre, you know. So that was a subject we had never touched in our videos which is like a slasher, the modern slasher movies like “Hostile”, “Saw” and there is nothing supernatural, it is only about extreme violence. That’s what it is about. So what’s the meaning of it? There’s no really meaning of it. I was actually disappointed a little bit because I wanted it to be much more harder, much, much more.
(MF) Much more, how?
Well I can tell you. We actually shot material whereon I’m with my axe and I am chopping the whole family in pieces. And I wanted the family to be much more crazy like eat their fucking ears out of persons, really rip the fucking teeth out, really like come on …
(Xavier) messed up?
Yeah! But ok it was a toned down version of what I had in mind because the director was like, this is as extreme as I can get. And I said “really?” Well ok. And then we got the reaction… And also the thing is the world does not need any more metal videos with the band, you know, just like headbanging in an empty warehouse somewhere. There are hundred of thousand videos like that everyday on You Tube, coming new ones. I mean you’ve got to do something, and let’s face it, today you can’t really shock anybody anymore. Because in my book that video is not shocking. No it’s not shocking. Come on!
(MF) People will say it’s shocking because they don’t want to admit that they think about it maybe or like it but nevertheless they look at it and if they look at it, they like it.
Yes exactly, it’s all about entertainment. Either you like it, good if you don’t …
(MF) well skip it!
Yes exactly! But the most fucked up thing about the video was the response that we got from some of the fans. And that had got me a bit angry. The most fucked up thing was that the negative feed-back that we got was not about the family eating human flesh, it was not about the girl chopping someone with a chainsaw, it was not about any of the violence there. The only thing that was really disturbing people was the dildo up the ass of a guy. Ok it is a rape in the video but that is the only thing that is not a violent fucking crime in the video. And that is why people got crazy, and that is like: really? Because that’s a sex act, that’s not a crime! Such fucking hypocrites: because there was a girl fucking a guy up the ass! And that was the big problem! For me in my world that is not a problem. I don’t see how could anybody be upset about it? Nobody said “oh my god, it’s a rape”, nobody was concerned about that. No “a dildo up the ass”. Are you fucking serious, it’s 2016! It’s like, are you from the 50’s or something, from the Bible Belt, are you from Texas in the 50’s? What the hell is going on? Anyway this gets me wind up this situation! Next question! Haha!
Are you working on something new?
All the time! I already have some ideas for the next album. We actually talked about it with Hella for the next stage show, which is probably gonna be 2 years from now. I have already some riffs, you know. And we are working all the time, constantly.
(MF) Always new ideas. But do you know which kind of music you are going to make now? Are you going to keep on doing like you did now?
We are going not gonna change because I write the stuff that I write. The good thing about the whole Monstereophonic is that we got accepted. So far it looks like we are accepted by our fans that we can do a little bit more of that stuff too which helps me as a writer. It opens up some windows more. I know there are no boundaries, not that much. We are not gonna do a full album in that Demonarchy style, we are not gonna make a full album without that. It means that there might be songs more metal, progressive or what you want to call it for songs on the future album. It’s always songs / music first. If we have good songs like that, they’ll make it to the album and if they suck ass they won’t. Because I write so much material! If there are 10 songs on an album, it means that at least 30 to 40 songs didn’t make it to the album, like full demos. So we have a little list of 1000 songs already demoed that are not released over the years. This one is the first album that doesn’t have any songs from the previous albums. Sometimes a good song doesn’t make it to the album at the time because it doesn’t fit in with the other songs. But this is the first time that everything is actually written for this album. There’s nothing from old times. For example Discoevil from Babez for Breakfast is probably from 1995 or something; Who’s your daddy, the main riff is already from the first Lordi demo from 1992 and stuff like that. We usually go back and check out the songs.
(MF) That’s what I wanted to ask if you do that sometimes because you write so much you can’t all use it. Then later you think I wrote something like that, what was it and then you rework or something like that.
Yes absolutely. You go back to your archives and you check it out, ok this one works. And many times at certain points of writing new material, I go back and I listen to all of those songs, all these demos. Oh this will fit now to the kind of stuff we’re doing right now!
(MF) Ok I can imagine. (to Xavier) Are you ready, you asked everything you wanted to ask? No more questions?
(Xavier) Not on the paper but will you take a picture with me?
(MF) He prepared it well and it was his first interview. How did you think it went?
It went really fucking well. Good questions too!
Marie-France and Xavier Willems
Live pictures © Dirk van den Heuvel