Inteview with Sami Hinkka from Ensiferum

@ Brutal Assault 2010, Josefov, Czech Republic

Reporter: Wintertale

Q: How do you see your today’s performance?

A: Well, it was very good. I was kind of scared as we used to have a lot of problems with my bass in the last few shows and when I came on stage I saw the massive audience, people were cheering, I was like: “yeah fuck it, I’m not going to stress about it”. It was very good. The audience really gave us some extra power.

Q: Yes, it was visible, it was very nice. Is there something you would like to change when you are now looking back at the show?

image - see following caption
Photo: Wintertale / Studiorock

A: Yeah, to have more time would be very nice. Well, playing less than an hour is …you really have to think about… “ok, what songs are we gonna play”. Because there are always new people in the audience and there are always the good fans that saw like… ten gigs. It has to be something for them also. But especially on festivals you really have to check out the clock all the time because when you are not headlining, you know that the bigger bands fuck up the schedule and it’s not a big time because the worse case scenario would be the headliner to cut some songs and that’s not an option. So you really have to be careful.

Q: I saw few of your shows so I can compare between having your own gig and playing on a festival. When you are making the playlist for a festival- are you choosing some greatest hits or what is the difference between a concert and a festival playlist? A: Yeah, there’s difference. Especially in Czech we haven’t played many times…actually once in Brutal Assault. Oh no no no no, I think we played some shows also…like two or so. We haven’t played here so many shows like for example in Germany. Of course we choose more like hit sets, here will be some new people. In Germany might be some more special songs or something you know…not so big hits but something special for the audience.

Q: How satisfied were you with the sound on the gig? A: Oh, very much. Some problems with subwoofers (Yes, this I noticed, that’s why I’m asking). Yeah, well, that’s not only up to us and our front guy, poor guy, he was – “I can’t hear the subwoofers” and he boosted up “uuuuu”, it was very difficult for him.

_Q: What’s your general impression about this festival? _

A: It’s an honor to be here. I really liked it last time we were here. I really liked the area, it’s very special.

_ Q: If you compare it with other festivals you played this summer- I saw you for example in Slovenia on Metalcamp. _ A: Yeah, that’s also very unique place. Beautiful river is going out there, small town. That’s something you really remember, something special.

Q: Last year in September you released a new album. How was it with the writing and composing process for this album?

A: It’s a lot different from the last albums. Obviously things have changed a lot since first album and the other album because the lineup has changed a lot. During the first albums Markus used to write almost everything there and Jari used to like… add the solos and that was it. But nowadays we, Markus is the heart and soul of Ensiferum and he writes like most of the stuff. (speaking Finnish with others) But we arrange everything together as a band nowadays. The album “From Afar” we composed on tour. That was very fun. In 2008 we did a tour with Amon Amarth in North America. Because we were a support band playing like 45 minutes every evening we had like 23 hours a day time. So we took guitars, a small Marshall and sit in the back lounge. I had my cell phone there and if we came on with some ideas we recorded them and when we come back home we had tons of ideas. So we are gonna do that also on Heidenfest tour- we are the headliner but there will still gonna be a lot of time. It’s gonna be like the first few days we have to be there doing sound checks and after that the crew can do the sound checks and we can compose stuff. So I really hope we can go to studio on next April or so.

Q: So are you just composing or do you have some basic ideas ready for the next album?

A: We have actually three complete songs for it. And we have like… well, I have the idea of the lyrics but I don’t want to call it like theme album yet. We have like the idea for the whole album already.

Q: So should it be something like a conceptual album?

A: Let’s see, let’s see. It will be definitely something different than the previous albums because there is no point of repeating ourselves. Plus that I really hope we can get a little bit more thashy, more metal in there because “From Afar” it was so big album especially when we added the orchestrations there. It was…different. I think the next album will be again something different.

Q: When you were composing the last album- the orchestration came after as arrangement or did you count with it from the beginning?

A: Ahh… The idea for orchestration came in the very beginning because we were writing stuff, we noticed that it’s like very majestic; we can’t do those songs you know just like: guitar, drum and bass. They required orchestrations so it was very obvious that we’re gonna use them. And that we’re gonna have some little bit more different songs.

Q: From the time you are in the band if you compare: how the band changed, progressed in time?

A: Well, I’m in the band for five-six years and we are becoming older and more fat (laugh). Well, obviously nowadays we are in a very privileged situation to be full time musicians. So obviously that has changed a lot because you really… well, we are gonna always, of course we are always giving 100 percent on the gigs but nowadays there are so many bands… I’m sorry I just can’t find the right words… there are so many bands that have to do it like their jobs and all on tours so you really have to be humble and appreciate what you have achieved and appreciate every person you meet, every fan…they are making it possible. I think we have become more humble.

Q: So playing in Ensiferum is your full-time job?

A: Yes. For the last… near over a year.

Q: So that’s great!

A: Yeah, but you know, on the other hand things can change. If people will not like our next album…

Q: Let’s hope it will do great in the future.

A: Yeah! You know that’s again something that you can’t think when you are writing music. Do you know the people are gonna like this? You have to be true. That’s also the cliché about it but that’s a fact. That’s why it’s a cliché.

Q: Yes. Because it’s true- if you are writing an album with the intention to be successful people will feel it.

A: Yeah, you are like following a train - what’s up? - you know that’s totally one way. You know… Ensiferum is Markus’s life job so he will be always true. He will never sell out. So I respect it very much.

Q: Are there any present bands that you like? In general… What do you actually listen, like or appreciate?

A: I like good music, that’s all I can say. I love grease 70’s funky music and actually last night we were in Prague, we came one day earlier and went to see a church concert. There was like chamber orchestra with violins and cello and there were playing, you know…church organs, there were playing classical stuff, it was awesome. I love Björk for example, I love Moonsorrow very much. Well, this might put my seen points to zero but I really like Nightwish also nowadays. Yep, Tuomas Holopainen is also one person I really admire and respect.

_ Q: I know that you are now planning several gigs- Heidenfest. I know you will be playing in Vienna, Bratislava, Prague… Are you planning some stops in Romania as well?_

A: It’s not truly up to us. That what sucks because we always said that, you know…if somebody books a gig we will be there and we have said to our booking agency that we also want to do other countries than Germany (even though German fans have a really big place in our hearts but we also wanna go to other countries because we know there are a lot of fans). From Croatia we already have a few, Romanian also. A lot of emails are coming from there. Well, I’m usually replying, you know… keep the pressure on the local promoters. They have to contact our booking agency because that’s the only way. Things can change.

Q: Is there something you would like to say to your fans from Romania? On behalf of the band or only from your side…

A: Yeah, rock on and I really hope that we can come there, soon. Hopefully next year. We already planned this year to do this like… Eastern Europe and go all the way to Greece also. But it did not happen. And we were so angry. And we have said to our manager we wanna do that at some point, you know. So, hopefully next year. I really hope. That’s always a challenge for us also to face a new crowd, because you never know, you really have to win them on your side. So that’s also a challenge. And also gives like extra boost you know… give your best on them.

Q: Thanks a lot, hope to see you soon on Heidenfest or possibly in Romania.

A: Yeah, hopefully. Enjoy the festival, see you, bye.

image - see following caption
Photo: Wintertale / Studiorock