Interview with Petri Lindroos of Ensiferum
Interviewed on March 21 2015 @ O2 Islington, London
by Demitri Levantis
Finland’s folk metal force Ensiferum dropped by London’s O2 Islington Academy on Tuesday 24 March to promote their sixth album, One Man Army. I caught up with their vocalist/ guitarist Petri Lindroos to discuss the album, upcoming shows, touring and the state of the metal world and the music industry today.
How is One Man Army different from other Ensiferum albums?
First of all we went back to the analogue sound on this one and we wanted to have more traditional metal riffs which you don’t hear on albums like ‘Unsung Heroes’. And we wanted just to make good new material so it’s hard to say, ‘how does it differ’ from previous ones.
Have you taken any influences from particular bands/artists?
Not really. The only thing that’s really changing are the melodies and riffs.
Is One Man Army influenced by any mythologies or stories or folklore?
This album, no. They’re all individual stories and the lyrics all come from our bass player, Sami Hinkka, so he’s the person to answer that. Our lyrics are all the same as the other albums. Is there a concept to this album? No. We’ve been asked if we’re ever going to do a concept album but I think that’ll take a lot of work. So let’s see what the future holds.
What direction do you see the band going in these days, like a difference in sound or themes?
Hopefully forwards, as going backwards is only good if you’re driving a car. Sound wise I think we’re keeping up with the modern technology which is good but also sucks because the more modern stuff you use, the more easily they break. That’s why we don’t use any multi effects on the guitars. We just use tube amps, from there you get the clean sound, distortion and lead and that’s it.
Say a young up-and-coming metalhead picks up One Man Army, and it’s the first Ensiferum album they’ve ever heard, what impression are you hoping they’d get of the band?
When the album is fully played out, I hope they’d press the play button again. That’s the best impression – you can’t get enough of it.
Where have you been to on tour so far this year?
So far we’ve been on tour two weeks now so it’s mostly central Europe: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary – the usual countries. Before that we did two weekends in Finland promoting the new album and after this one we still have about 13 shows left. Then we go home for a week and we’re going to stop by Russia and in beginning of May we’ll join Korpiklaani on a USA tour.
Do you have a favourite country where you like to play?
Not really. No matter where you go it’s the people that make the show. For example, yesterday it was Monday night in Paris, we had almost a thousand people come to the show and it was brilliant, all these people were fucking insane. Unbelievable to see this on a Monday night because people on a Monday usually stand arms folded waiting for the last song to come on but this was totally different. Pretty much every place we go to we have so much fun.
Have you played any festivals this year? If so, which has been the best?
Not yet but we’ll be doing Bloodstock this year. We last played there in 2010. And then we have Wacken and Hellfest coming up and a few others I can’t remember. I’m not sure which festivals are the best to play as we’ve been playing all the regular ones for the past 10 years.
Do you prefer playing indoor shows or open air?
Both is good. Indoors is more intimate, you can actually see the people watching you. For example, at the Wacken main stage the front line is only ten metres from you and you can hardly see who’s there you just see a crowd of 40,000 people. So both is good, you can have a lot of fun.
Some people say some metal is best enjoyed indoors, is Ensiferum best enjoyed indoors or outside?
I think it depends on the music style. We work very well on both.
What do you make of the global metal scene today, what impression do you get when you travel the world and see so many fans? Is it stronger than ever or changing to you?
You can see from everywhere we go that there is a ground level. Once a metalhead, you’re always a metalhead. So the younger generation are picking up from their parents which is cool but I can’t see it going down or up because the ground level is always there and that never goes away. There are these new waves of other music like Hip Hop that gets popular for about a week then vanishes, so I think metal will be here forever and I think it’ll just get better and better in the future.
With lots of people downloading and pirating music, have you noticed it having an effect on the sales of your records?
Yes, a lot. I think in about 5 to 10 years it’s going to be a massive problem for bands to get the budget to go to a real studio to write and record an album because the expenses are so high. So I hope that won’t happen and people realise that if you buy the album you’re actually supporting this business so you get better quality material. We could also begin to write the new album in our rehearsal place but I don’t think everybody is going to like that. Good music needs good studios and good studios need a budget. Plus, when record labels start to die because they can’t support themselves then how is your band going to release things?
Do you think you could ever start your own record label just for Ensiferum?
I have no idea. I don’t know anything about that side of the business so I guess that’ll just be a last resort.
Finally, people say because of pirating music and how the industry is today, artists earn more from doing live shows. Would you say metal bands are doing more shows today because of this?
If you want to pay your bills, you have to. Metal is also very limited music because not every average guy goes to a show and says ‘I’ll buy that new album.’ Because of album sales being affected we’re not earning that much money so the money that comes in pretty much all comes from the shows so that’s why we’re here today – to promote the album. Hopefully this gig will boost the sales and get us back on track, so playing live shows is bringing the food to my table.
I hope tonight is a good show and thank you for this interview, see you at Bloodstock.