With their first official US release in the form of Victory Songs, an exciting blend of Viking metal, folk, and progressive elements, Finland's Ensiferum are ready to take their brand of upbeat and quirky music to the masses worldwide. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo had a quick chat with bassist Sami Hinkka, getting some inside info on the band, the new label (Candlelight Records) and their live plans.
Read on for the interview!
Sea of Tranquility: There seems to be a lot of activity on the extreme metal front in Finland these days, with bands like Children of Bodom, Finntroll, Moonsorrow, Korpiklaani, Swallow the Sun, Amorphis, the more gothic tinged acts like HIM and The 69 Eyes, to more progressive power metal bands like Nightwish, Stratovarius, Sonata Arctiva. How do you feel Ensiferum fits into the Finnish metal picture these days?
Sami: We don't really think things like that but I think we fit into the Finnish scene well, although we are more popular in other countries.
SoT: Your latest release Victory Songs sees you on Candlelight Records-how did you hook up with the label?
Sami: They made a good offering for Spinefarm and that was it.
SoT: Your music brings a lot of folk & symphonic elements to the mix, which draws comparisons to Finntroll and Korpiklaani. How would you best describe the music of Ensiferum to someone who has never heard your music?
Sami: I would say heroic-ironic-fantasy-folk metal. That sums it up pretty well! (laughs)
SoT: Can you talk a little bit about the band's history?
Sami: It all started over 11 years ago when Markus Toivonen (guitar) was inspired by Dark Tranquility, Amorphis etc. and he wanted to have a band of his own, which he put together. Now, after few lineup changes, 3 albums, 1 DVD and 1 EP here we are, still going strong. People wanting to read more in-depth history of us can check out details also on our website ( http://www.ensiferum.com/e_html/e_history.htm )
SoT: How did Petri Lindroos (ex-Norther) come to join the band?
Sami: After the Iron album former singer Jari was kind of kicked out from the band because he wanted to focus on his own project Wintersun, and that would have meant that Ensiferum wouldn't have been able to make tours, etc. So Petri joined as a session musician for the tour in 2004 and everything went so well that he became a steady member.
SoT: How difficult is it to incorporate traditional Finnish folk elements into a metal song structure?
Sami: For us iit has been pretty easy because we have a pretty good idea of what Ensiferum should sound like.
SoT: Do you have any touring plans in support of Victory Songs?
Sami: We already did a one month long tour in Europe, hopefully we can do another tour later this year. We are working on it.
SoT: What types of live scenarios does the music of Ensiferum go down best-in a small club, or at a large festival atmosphere with larger crowds?
Sami: Everything works very well as long as people are having a good time! The size of the crowd doesn't really matter.
SoT: How do your fans react to your music? Is it more moshing & crowd surfing, or do the folk elements bring about a different type of dancing and participation?
Sami: Dancing, head banging, singing along, moshpitting, crowdsurfing… you name it we got it! (laughs)
SoT: Any plans to play shows here in the US in the near future?
Sami: There is something top secret going on behind the scenes…lets hope everything goes as planned!
SoT: Great! Well, we hope it happens and we look forward to seeing you over here sometime soon.
(Click here to read our review of Victory Songs)