Whilst waiting outside the doors at La Belle Angele venue in Edinburgh (14th November, gig review here), the air began to get colder and the night light got dimmer. From out of nowhere the seven foot tall beast, Mr Lordi appeared and approached us. Luckily we had our recording equipment handy and the lovely gentleman agreed to an interview.
How has the tour been thus far?
Good. Could be worse? Could be better? It’s been good, we had approximately 15-20% more people attending the shows than on our last tour – that’s always good! On the other hand, we had to cancel one show in (Sloavkia), the stage was too small and we couldn’t fit in there. All in all, everything is good.
I saw pictures of the stage at that venue, yeah, you can’t fit a Lordi show on a stage that size.
We once did a show in a very tiny space in Ireland. We were so close to cancelling cause ‘how the fuck are we going to fit there? How the hell are we going to fit there?’ But then we did something different – we did a show without a setlist, people just shouted out their requests.
Yeah! We had never done that before. Our front of house said ‘It was a lot of fun – let’s not do it again…’.
As a band are you always ready to pick songs off your back catalogue?
No, no, no, no – not like that. Unfortunately we are not like Prince, his band was famous for knowing the whole catalogue. Whenever, he decided ‘Okay, we are going to play this and that song from the B-side of the ’81 album’. The whole band needed to know that.
Similar to Bruce Springsteen…?
Yeah! Yeah! Well… I think I could do like 99% of the songs. I wouldn’t remember the B-sides and stuff but then again, for example, Mana the drummer and Hella the keyboard player, there are about 100 songs they haven’t played. They have only been in the band for around 3 or 4 years so a lot of our songs they haven’t played.
You’ve recently released your eighth album. For people who may not know Lordi and are reading this interview, in this album half of it is conceptual and the other half is classic Lordi tracks which are 3-4 minute long songs. What was the writing process like for the conceptual side of this album? How did the storyline evolve? Did you face any problems?
That was many questions all in one [Chuckles]. It was like a Kinder Surprise!
Well, the story itself was something older than the band. I think I wrote this story originally in ’91 for a short film when I was doing home horror movies. That’s pretty much the story. The whole idea about the concept side – it’s a half concept album as you know. Our A&R for ten years has been asking ‘You guys should do what KISS did, music from The Elder, you should do your version?’ I was like yeah, I don’t know.
When we decided that we were going to do musically two different sides that was easy for me to say ‘Okay let’s have a conceptual story line on the last six songs’. It makes sense, why not?
Where there any problems? Yeah, yes there were because we had never done this before. Even though I had been writing this kind of material for fucking twenty years, we had just never released any of that stuff. It has always been there but those songs never made it to any of our albums because we felt that it was too far away from the traditional Lordi stuff and the fans might be disappointed or whatever.
Writing was easy but selecting the songs wasn’t that easy because all of the normal priorities for choosing songs were thrown in the trash right away. You cannot choose a song for a conceptual album thinking ‘How good is the chorus?’ or ‘How good is this riff?’, you are telling a story, they all have to serve the story. It was a completely different ball game, for example, Amen said ‘Okay! I am not part of this selection process at all!’ so it was eventually me, I glued it all together otherwise it would not have been possible at all. You need to think about the story and what happens next. We had to cut the story into six parts for the six songs. In the end we had to do one or two extra markers on the CD. SCG8 Part II was not actually SCG8 Part II at all – it was part of the song ‘Demonarchy’ – it just made sense to have a marker there. All kinds of technical stuff…
You have just recently released the ‘Hug You Hardcore’ music video. Why do you think there has been a fan backlash to this video considering the fans are fully aware of the type of band you are? You have never been a PG band that have written PG lyrics, so why would the music video be any different?
Declan: I was thinking about if you had released a video for ‘I Am Bigger Than You’ (this is a song previously released by Lordi which did not raise any controversy online even though it is of a similar theme to Hug Me Hardcore) I would imagine the video for this song to be absolutely horrendous.
Mr Lordi: That would be… Yeah! Thank you for that! Now you have pointed out another song that has lyrics like, well, come on? I don’t know what to say anymore. I have been talking to some of the fans who were kind of like ‘Mehmehmehmeh’ about the video (these fans were obviously not on board with the vision for this video). To me the craziest thing is if you know this band, if you have any kind of… half a brain to understand what the songs actually mean between the lines? Don’t get me wrong I love all my fans but sometimes it feels like they don’t really listen. You know, ‘Rock the Hell Out of You’ is not about rocking the hell out of you – it’s about something completely different… or ‘Wake the Snake’? or ‘Fire in the Hole’?
Okay… to put that thing aside, then nobody should be surprised about the gore and the violent elements on the Lordi songs, in the Lordi World, in the Lorci concept… Come on! We are monsters! It’s horror! While that has been said, it is entertainment – you either like it or you don’t? Easy as that. But with that video, ‘Hug You Hardcore’, it was so stupid that the main problem in the video seemed to be the dildo… up a guy’s ass.
That is the only thing that is not a crime in the video! It is the only thing that is something that actually happens and in my book it’s normal sexual behaviour. It is not a crime and that is the thing that pushed people? What the fuck? Are you living in the 50’s? That really grinds my gears, are you that stupid? Are you that childish? It’s okay to have the violence, cannibalism, and cutting people in half with chainsaws – that’s alright.
You can talk about eating babies or boiling kittens… but don’t you ever put anything up a guy’s ass! That’s wrong, that’s disgusting! Really? Take a look in the mirror. Is this really what you think? The violent fucking crimes and brutal violence – that’s alright – but don’t you dare put anything up a guy’s ass… if it was a girl that would probably be alright! [laughs].
Going into the future here. I have a feeling that the next video will be even more….
…Even more! Absolutely! That’s the way I roll!
Something that has always fascinated me when it comes to Lordi is the small nuances that complement the imagery of the songs. For example, at the end of ‘Happy New Fear’ there is an audible apocalypse, the song, ‘13’ where you hear the sound of a man being burnt in a furnace. Where do you source these sound effects? Or do you record them personally in a studio? Which has been your favourite to record?
Easy questions dude! (Sarcastically) This is a hard one. I don’t really think about it afterwards. If I talk about the stage show for example, how it intertwines with the songs. When I’m writing the demo lyrics for a song, as that is where it starts, I have no idea what the concept is for that song lyrically.
Usually when an album is done and you start selecting the songs for the live set that is when you start to think about what you could add in and to what songs. For example, with ‘Sir, Mr Presideath, Sir!’ it was clear that although it was not my favourite song we knew that we could do something to make that good live on stage. On this new album for example there aren’t that many characters introduced, know what I mean? There’s Dr Sin, the Sandman character, the Clowns… I don’t remember all of them. Well? I don’t know… I’m just babbling here [chuckles].
Sometimes you think about a character that would be cool on stage and this time I was thinking about one but I couldn’t find a way to put it together lyrically – it was a school teacher, like a principal, that would be cool.
Another easy question for you…
Out of everything you have written, what set of lyrics are you most proud of?
There’s quite a few that I like actually. I like ‘Deadache’.
About Ed Gein?
Well… now I have to process through my memory….bbbrrrrrrrr [thinking]. There are some that I have been really proud of, Oh! ‘Schizo Doll’, I like the whole thing there. ‘The devil hides behind her smile…’ I like that thing. I like the ‘Missing Miss Charlene’ story quite a lot. Yeah! There’s actually quite a few that I am proud of.
On the new stuff, I don’t know, you would have to ask me in like two or three years from now. I’m too close to it still. With most of my lyrics, I have a friend, Tracy Lipp, who I brainstorm with and you would think that I am the sick bastard with it, but he is the guy that has the sickest fucking shit usually. For example on ‘Hug You Hardcore’ he was the one who said ‘yeah, write the Hershey Highway’ and ‘face down, ass up’. But then I came in with ‘Tight it for the monster truck… here we come, we wish you luck’. But he is the guy! He is small and so polite looking, really clean and neat guy, you would not think that that fuckface is like ‘Aah! Yeah! Let’s fuck babies… Yeah! What can we do now?’ [Imitates].
After releasing your eighth studio album, is it harder to choose songs for the live set? Do you feel obliged to play certain songs live to please the fans?
I’m a huge KISS fan and for years I couldn’t understand why those guys aren’t changing the setlist. Why aren’t you playing songs like ‘Saint and Sinner’? Why aren’t you playing ‘Almost Human’? Why aren’t you playing… you know, weird songs. But then I remember Paul and Gene always explaining for years and years that it is the diehard fans that want that but you have to understand that in an audience of let’s say 100 people the diehards are 10 people. Ninety other people have no fucking clue! They want to hear ‘Rock And Roll All Night’, ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’, they wanna hear ‘Love Gun’ and that’s the thing. You have to be able to serve the whole audience.
I didn’t accept that explanation back then, I didn’t understand it. Now… I understand it. We are on stage and we can see the whole audience, if we play a song B-side from some single we see 90% of the audience yawning and looking around. They are like what the hell is this? And then they go to the toilet or they go to the bar because they are not interested. But when we play ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ the first two rows are like ‘Yeah, okay…’ but the rest are like ‘Yeah! This is why I paid for the ticket, this is what I wanted to hear’.
Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those diehards for so many bands – KISS, Twisted Sister, Alice, U.D.O. I am a diehard so I would like to hear those obscure songs too. I have to say that when we get this criticism from our diehards, we are one of those bands that actually play those obscure songs – something for the diehards – although on this tour there is not a B-side that we have done, like something really rare.
Basically it is me that chooses the whole setlist but we had a couple of B-sides in mind but we dropped them. We thought ‘Icon of Dominance’, ‘Cadaver Lover’ and ‘Hellbender Turbulence’ that’s already three songs that are kind of obscure already – Oh! And also ‘Children of the Night’. So if we added another B-side from some fucking single from 10 years ago it doesn’t really matter to 90% of the audience. They haven’t heard it – they don’t care. We are trying to play those obscure songs but they cannot be the full set. And let’s face it! Even the front rows enjoy ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ when it comes.
As you are a diehard KISS fan yourself, out of the four solo albums released by KISS members, which one is your favourite?
Musically, I would say Paul’s, definitely the strongest one. Feeling-wise, Ace, it’s the most rocking one! But Ace has some weird shit there [chuckles]. There’s also too much strange stuff, I mean great stuff – but weird. Some ‘Uhhh? Skip!’ moments there. But then again I would love to say Gene’s is the best… even though it’s not. Unfortunately. But it has the best intro of any KISS album! ‘Radioactive’ intro is the best fucking intro of any KISS album by far!
Last question. We don’t see Lordi play a lot of UK festivals. Is this because it is not feasible for you guys to come over to play one show?
No, this is usually a big misconception held by people. Any band, any artist pretty much, would want to play anywhere they are invited to play. We are not invited, nobody asks us, that’s the thing. It’s not because we wouldn’t want to do it. Here’s the thing with booking bands… the booking agency announces ‘My band is going on tour’ and he gives the info to all the promoters around the world and then the promoters are like ‘Uhh, I’ll pass’ or ‘Ooh! I’m going to take that!’ – that’s how it goes.
So the only way for us to come to the UK festivals is that there is a promoter who hears from the public who are most likely to come to the festival. It’s not enough that there are two people writing ten e-mails a day, there needs to be hundreds of people doing that. Then the promoter says ‘Alright, I hate that fucking stupid band but maybe there is something to it? Maybe that will bring in people?’ That’s how it goes, that’s the thing.
Unfortunately with the UK festivals we have played Download and that is it. It’s not that we wouldn’t want to play, it’s just that the promoters are not really aware of us or maybe they are aware of us but they don’t think that people would want to come and see us. If there are only two people asking for us, unfortunately it is not enough – you need one hundred people to write. In many cases – and I know this to be true, not necessarily in the UK – there are some fanatics that actually make the situation worse, when they are bugging promoters by sending e-mails every day. Or every week. Or even every month.
All photos by Lowrey Photography.