Ensiferum Interview

By Mario Pareja-Lecaros

Published on Thursday, June 6, 2013

I had the opportunity to venture to Baltimore Soundstage to see Paganfest America and speak with members of Ensiferum and Týr. Since both bands have been around for quite a while I figured I would just have fun with the interview and see what I could get out of each of them.

My first interview was with bassist Sami Hinkka from Ensiferum.

 

So before we begin would you mind introducing yourself and your role in the band?

Sami: Hey folks, this is Sami from Ensiferum. I am the bass player and I also do backing vocals.

First question, why did you choose to play the bass?

Sami: I got my first bass when I was 11. I have two older brothers and one of them was a really good guitar player at the time and they got me into hard rock. AC/DC, Dio, Iron Maiden, stuff like that. I kinda grew up with that kind of stuff. I don’t know, it was just so cool seeing my brother play stuff from Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd and I just wanted to jam with them so they suggested I get a bass.

I noticed that you are the primary lyricist for the band, apart from the folk lore elements where do you draw your inspiration from?

Well, yes the Finnish folk lore is a source of inspiration. Uh..

Is it a process you actively research?

Oh no no. I think for the latest album I got the inspiration for all the lyrics from real life, like something that happened to me or to someone close to me.

Ok so you apply the folk theme to personal experiences

Yes! That’s always it, finding metaphors that fit the Ensiferum heroic theme. But I really like that there are different levels in lyrics. At least for me, there has to be something meaningful also.

Of course.  Would you be able to tell us about your experience on the road? What do you guys do for fun?

Well of course, we have a few drinks every now and then. But of course now older and wiser, maybe we don’t drink so much as before. We check out movies, I read a lot personally, play game on the laptop or tablet.

On the topic of drinks. What is your favorite drink?

Personally I’m not that big fan of beer. I prefer good single malt whiskey, the smoked flavored and uh good red wine. *Laughs* As I said we are getting older. But vodka also always works.

 On a more personal level, do you have any idea what you may be doing now professionally if you had not gotten into music?

Actually I have another profession. I am a kindergarten teacher.

Do you have any non-metal guilty pleasures?

Ah yea, lots. When I’m at home I don’t listen to so much metal. If I do it’s something old school, like At the Gates or Old Dark Tranquility, Iron Maiden. But usually I listen to totally different stuff, I like Bjork very much and actually I was visiting the drummer from Finntroll some time ago and he introduced me to some choral music, just human voices and it was just so beautiful. I really enjoyed listening to that. Of course, pop stuff too every now and again.

So in regards to entering the studio, do you guys solidify everything beforehand or develop in the studio?

Actually we are really slow when it comes to composing and arranging slow. We try to go to the studio when everything is ready. That’s why it takes so much time so we don’t leave so much space for improvisation. Of course there is some improvisation, if there comes a great idea we use that, but we like to go in when everything is ready

So do you guys get together to compose?

Well Marcus is the main composer, and we have full democracy in the band. Everyone can bring ideas and that’s what we do.  We sit together in the rehearsal room as a full band and arrange stuff, even though it takes a lot of time, that’s still the cooler part of writing music. Everyone gets to say their ideas and even though you have an idea of a song in your head somebody might say if we twist and turn the whole rhythm, like Janne has really good point of views for drum sections obviously and kind of things involving rhythm. It might change the whole thing upside down and we’ll say “I never thought of that” and it might be totally 100% better than the original idea. Everyone brings something

Any particular difficulties recording?

Actually it was a really smooth studio session. I think we were really well prepared, in every studio session you learn something and we did pre-production much better this time and of course there are lots of things we can do better but that’s something we learned this time and we can do better next time. The guy who produced, recorded and mixed the whole album, Hiili Hiilesmaa, he’s such a great person. Really calm, down to earth guy and somehow he managed to keep the atmosphere really relaxed but really supportive and we managed to stay on schedule all the time, he did a really good job.

Ok fantastic, now on to the crazy questions. If Ensiferum were an energy drink, and it had some sort of crazy side-effect, what would it be?

*laughs* Hm…I guess it would make you headbang until your neck is so sore…

Maybe headbang decapitation?

Hah, exactly that’s a perfect name.

Well to wrap up, anything interesting happen on this tour?

Well since the problems in the beginning the tour has been really good, really smooth. We share a bus with Týr they are old friends. It’s really cozy here, we can just focus on what we are doing. It’s been a really nice tour, all the bands, even though we are from the same genre, everyone is bringing something new music wise. So I don’t know, it’s been really relaxed, it’s weird.

Great to hear, thank you so much for your time and I can’t wait to see your set.

Thank you, have a great evening.

We then proceeded to try to exit the tour bus with incoming Baltimore traffic.

 

Check out Mario’s review of this year’s Paganfest America along with concert photos here.  Additionally, check out his interview with Týr here.

For more information on Ensiferum, visit their website at http://www.ensiferum.com.

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