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Battle Beast

Battle Beast
We Will Fight


Архив интервью | Русская версия

When Finland’s Battle Beast fired their guitarist and mastermind Anton Kabanen, this was viewed by many as a very risky move. Anton was the sole songwriter on three excellent albums, and matching that quality level without him seemed extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, with the release of their fourth studio CD, “Bringer Of Pain”, Battle Beast prove very strongly that they actually know what they are doing and that they are capable of making great music on their own. The record is very different, though it’s no less fantastic than its predecessor, “Unholy Savior”, and it has received a very warm chart response. In order to find more details about this transition, we arranged an interview with singer Noora Louhimo, and were quite surprised when she appointed it at 9 a.m. Quite expectedly, nobody answered the phone in due time, but a quarter of an hour later the confusion was cleared…

We’re happy to have you online, Noora! It’s the first time we’re interviewing someone at 9 o’clock in the morning…

I’m sorry, I know we were supposed to do it 15 minutes ago, but I was kept a bit too long at the embassy, and I couldn’t answer the phone… But now they’ve approved by application, and I can actually go on tour.

Great! On top of that, your new album was released last Friday. How is it doing? Do you already know any sales figures?

Actually I’ve heard some rumors that in Finland it’s the best selling album, it’s been taken very well. We’re gonna get the information about German charts tomorrow (it actually debuted at number 14, the band’s best performance in Germany so far – ed.), and the charts in Finland on Sunday. I’m very excited to hear what the verdict is, so to say. (laughs)

Was “Bringer Of Pain” an easier or a more difficult album to make than “Unholy Savior”?

I think emotionally this one was much easier, because we didn’t have that kind of conflict that we had with Anton during “Unholy Savior”. Now we have a new kind of atmosphere in the band. Of course, we had a bit of pressure on us, people were in doubt if we could deliver an album or not, but on the other hand, we had such a good bond with the guys nowadays, and the atmosphere is so good, we can take care of each other, and working is much easier this way.

Can you say a few words about the songwriting process for the new album? Did everyone come with completed songs, or was it more of collaboration?

We had a lot of different approaches. Some of us wrote in solitude, they did independent work, and there was also co-writing. It wasn’t just one way or the other, there were different approaches. This time everyone could bring their whole potential into the album as a songwriter, artist and performer, and everyone could also bring their opinions, say what they wanted. That kind of freedom we never had before in this band, and I think that’s something that has improved us as a band. We have the freedom to bring ourselves in the band in the best way possible. Songwriting was really a team process this time. Of course, on the previous albums Anton was the only one doing the songwriting, and we weren’t included. We didn’t feel like a band, and that is a problematic thing. But this time I felt that during the songwriting process we were becoming closer friends than before.

Why “Bringer Of Pain”, by the way? Why did you give the album such a title?

Well, it’s a good title! (everybody laughs) It’s a catchy punchline, everyone can memorize it right away, and it’s very heavy metal kind of title. Then, of course, the character in the title song is the Bringer Of Pain, and it can also symbolize a kind power, bringing all your cards on the table. It’s got a lot of different meanings, but in this album particularly it’s the character from the song “Bringer Of Pain”, and it’s also characteristic of the atmosphere that is present a lot in Battle Beast: we do everything and give our everything to continue as a band.

You have filmed three videos for the new album. Who comes up with their concept - is it the band or the director?

We worked in cooperation with the directors. We actually filmed these three videos with two different companies: “King For A Day” and “Familiar Hell” were done with the Routafilmi company, and because Janne (Björkroth), our keyboardist, had written those two songs, he had the main say in deciding what kind of video we were going to do, but he took into consideration all the ideas from the band, too. Then the filming company made the final script, and the director made the final cut. Yeah, it was a cooperation, but the final result came from the filming company. “Bringer Of Pain” is a song written by me and Joona Bjorkroth, the new guitar player, and we had the final say in deciding what the video was gonna be. In the end I ended up deciding what the idea would be in the music video, and Dark Noise, the other company that was making the “Bringer Of Pain” video did the final script and cut.

Do you plan to release more videos for the new album? Did you actually enjoy the shooting process?  

I love being on camera! (laughs) I love acting, and my dream came true in these new music videos: I had dreamed about us having a kind of story in them and me doing some acting – that is something I also really love to do. I think music videos are always more interesting when there is some kind of storytelling in them. And of course, music videos should be about the song they’re visualizing. I think we managed to do it this time with all of those videos. We have also got a lot of lyric videos that were released last Friday on YouTube, you can go and check them out. They contain lyrics, as well as our photos, and are professionally done. Then we have a track-by-track video. We have really put a lot of effort in giving the audience more videos and more behind-the-scenes material, and we have got a lot more coming! We will see! (laughs)

OK, we’re looking forward to it! Now, could you say a couple of words about the new guitarist, Joona Bjorkroth? What made him the perfect choice for Battle Beast?

First of all, he’s a really good guitarist and songwriter, and he’s got a strong history. Before Battle Beast he used to play in a band called For The Imperium, and he is still an active member of Brymir. They’ve got a Japanese tour coming, but Joona, of course, can’t participate, because he’s touring with us, but, anyway, he’s active there. And the second reason is that he showed a lot of potential during the time we asked him to help us after we went separate ways with Anton. He was doing shows with us in 2015 as a session guitarist, and he actually started writing music for Battle Beast before we even knew that we were gonna ask him to join us. He showed the kind of devotion that should be there if you wanna be a member. And also the thing is that he’s actually a brother of our keyboardist, a younger brother of Janne. He’s been following the band since the beginning, he’s been watching the band from the side, so he knows the band and us. He really could play the songs perfectly after two weeks of practice, it’s amazing! So I think there’s plenty of good reasons to take him in.

Your touring schedule is very impressive – it starts tomorrow and goes basically nonstop until the end of summer. How does the band manage to cope with such an intensive touring life? What’s your secret of escaping a burnout?

Well, maybe a little bit of being crazy! (everybody laughs) Of course, we try to keep ourselves in good health. It’s not quite sex, drugs and rock’n’roll nowadays, people like rock stars to be healthy, to exercise, and to eat healthy, and I think that’s the case with our band, too. We try to keep ourselves healthy, and we love to perform, that is something that gives us energy. We know that people are accepting us, we love our fans, and this is the reason who we do our music: to be able to perform it to our fans. I think the more shows we have, the better. (laughs) For me personally, since I was a little kid, I thought that it’s the aim of my life to perform to people and to entertain people. It feels really good!

How much is your stage persona different from yourself in real life? Are these two sides close or maybe a bit apart?

Yes, they are different. Right now I have my jogging clothes on, walking outside, enjoying the weather and nature, not wearing make-up almost at all. And on stage I can release the beast! (laughs) But I feel that it’s the right balance for me: I can actually be very natural in everyday life at home, and when I’m on tour I can take on this strong character that I like to be. Everyone has different sides in life, I just put out the different sides in different situations.

Not so much is known about your life prior to Battle Beast. Did you play in any bands, and how did you get the job with Battle Beast?

Before Battle Beast I didn’t sing heavy metal at all. (laughs) I started my career with ballet, and my first singing idol was Whitney Houston. Through the years my musical taste stated to develop: apart from pop music, there was blues and jazz and rock and hard rock. When I was 19, I started singing Janice Joplin, and that was the moment when I realized that I could sing something more rock, some harder music than jazz or pop. That’s when my rock’n’roll life started. (laughs) I was doing some solo gigs in my home town for a couple of years, and then I got the call from Battle Beast. They had actually seen me singing Janice Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart” on YouTube by accident, and that was the reason why they established contact. They asked me to join the band, they had actually booked the tour with Sonata Artica without a singer, because Nitte (Valo) had left the band, so they asked me to save the band, to be honest. (laughs) Even though I had not sang heavy metal before, as a teenager I already started to listen to heavy metal. My first love in heavy metal was, of course, Iron Maiden, and Bruce Dickinson with his voice and performance has always been the biggest idol for me. Now I got the opportunity to use the influences I had got from heavy metal since I was a teenager and also combine them with the other stuff that I learned through the years. That was the opportunity I had been waiting for, even though I didn’t know that it was coming. I didn’t know the guys before, and they didn’t know me, it was really like a blind date. I actually started to get to know the guys during my first tour with them. It’s not a regular way to get to know your bandmates, but we managed it, and here I am after four years.
The band has recently reconnected with Nitte, and she has performed with Battle Beast again a few times lately. How did it happen? As far as we understand, the band was originally not so happy with her sudden departure…

Yeah, well… The band has always had a good relationship with Nitte actually after the first shock. There was a lot of misunderstanding between the band members and Nitte: the band first thought that Nitte had kind of vague or bad reasons for leaving the band, but actually she had very good reasons, and she had warned them during the Nightwish tour already, but somehow they didn’t want to believe that she was actually meaning it. (laughs) It was a shock to them. They felt that it was really sudden, even though they had been warned. But it didn’t take long after correcting this misunderstanding that they started restoring their relationship. And I was also very open-minded to it, because I don’t want to be in a bad relationship with anyone, and one of the biggest reasons why I took the job is that I like Nitte’s voice. I really wanted to get to know her, and when we asked her to be our guest of honor at last three shows of a tour a couple of years ago, it was really great to meet her. We talked a lot, and she actually seemed very much of the same kind of person that I am. We got along very well, and we are still keeping contact. It’s very nice to have this kind of relationship with the previous singer. I don’t like it when people are put up against each other, like, “Yeah, which one is better?” I feel it’s much better that we are working together. Female singers in heavy metal are still a minority, and I feel that we should stick together and not have a catfight or anything like that.

We were recently watching an interview with Mr. Lordi, and we were quite surprised when he said that heavy metal is not so big in Finland as it used to be, and that hip hop is now everywhere in Finland. Do you agree with him? And if yes, why is this happening, in your opinion?

I don’t know. I think it’s about a trend that is coming and going. It’s not about bands getting worse. Those deciding on a trend are actually the labels and very few persons in the music business, it’s not in the musicians’ hands. (laughs) I feel that heavy metal is rising again in Finland, as you can see in the charts – our new album is the best selling one at the moment, and that’s quite unexpected, as in Finland the most popular music is pop music with Finnish singing people. I think this is something really great, and I believe that we will bring metal to the top! (laughs) I feel like I want to talk to the world and to Finland on behalf of Finnish heavy metal, because in the Finnish music business people don’t understand how valuable heavy metal music as a product is abroad. In Europe and in the world we are better known for our heavy metal music, not for our pop music. I really feel it’s one of my tasks to get Finnish labels to understand the value of heavy metal music in Finland.

Back to touring, even though your touring life is so intensive, we didn’t find Moscow or St. Petersburg on your schedule. Are there any plans to come back to Russia?

Yes, there are, we just don’t have the dates yet. We will definitely come there, we love your country, and the audience has always been so warm and welcoming to us. I love your language actually, and I really want to learn it, but so far I don’t know anything but ‘kak dela’ and ‘spasibo’. (laughs) But I will try my best!

What are your memories of Russia, by the way? We heard that last time in St. Petersburg the show was quite wild, so to say…

Yeah! I remember last time in Moscow we played in a venue called Volta, and the show was so great, with so many fans. I love it that Russian fans are so passionate, you bring out your emotions very strongly, and I appreciate it, because this is something I really wanna encourage. We as a band want to encourage that at our shows people just release the Beast! (laughs)

Battle Beast on the Internet: http://battlebeast.fi

Special thanks to Maxim Bylkin (Soyuz Music) for arranging this interview

Roman Patrashov, Natalia “Snakeheart” Patrashova
February 23, 2017
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