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Shiraz Lane

Shiraz Lane
New Sheriff On Helsinki Scene


Архив интервью | Русская версия

Finnish hard rockers Shiraz Lane are steadily upping their are and are not going to stop until they reach the top of their game. Their second album "Carnival Days", released earlier this year, was given a very warm welcome by both critics and fans, but the band do not intent to rest on their laurels. They have gigs and summer festivals next, and world domination further down the road. And the world will indeed be dominated, but while the process is underway, we met with Hannes Kett (vocals) and Jani Laine (guitar) in informal surroundings of a Finnish cafe.

You have two full-length albums under your belts already. How can you describe your music? How did you change from your first album to the second one?

Hannes: On the EP ("Be The Slave Or Be The Charge", 2015) we were just a bunch of guys working on some songs and producing them by ourselves. And it took a lot of time to do that. Thinking about the album “For Crying Out Loud” (2016) we had a lot less time to do that. Like 5 or 6 months.

Jani: So all the songwriting, recording and mastering was a big rush.

Hannes: Of course I’m really proud of it. There are some really great songs on that release but I feel like every song could be even better. With the second album we could take all the time that we wanted to take and do everything the right way, the proper way. And we had a great producer (Per Adelheim) who worked with us. Thinking about the songs, I still think that the songwriting became so much better. We changed, but hey, we are still Shiraz Lane! It still sounds like us, sounds like I feel we sound.

Jani: When we started the whole process we had the ideas like how we should do the songs, how we should do the melodies. They became more melodic but still have the vibe.

Hannes: Yeah, I mean the “anthem-sing-along” vibe and I think we got it as we wanted it to be.

So, how can you describe your second release in three words then?

Jani: This is a really tough question… Epic, huge and…

Hannes: Yeah, epic and theatrical. There are a lot of different emotions in that album.

What is your favorite song on “Carnival Days”?

Hannes: Well, for me personally it's “Shangri La” or “Reincarnation”. “Shangri La” for me is even more personal because the idea came to me like so many years ago with our first bass player who had left the band later. I came up with the melody for the chorus  in 2012. I was sleeping in our summer house and I had a dream like I was on a huge stage. We just started playing those years and yes, I saw us on a huuuuge stage and I saw us playing the chorus but the bass player didn’t have a face. It was black. I woke up from that dream and recorded the melody on my phone. We tried to get it on our first album but it didn’t work and we came up with the idea of the song that became “Begging For Mercy”. We tried to get that chorus into “Begging For Mercy” but it didn’t work again! For me this song is like picking up the pieces of my mind and thinking about what I’ve been through in my life and embracing the future. Shit happens, but whatever happens – it happens for a reason. But you know, the whole album is filled with the songs that I love and I really love every song. It’s hard to choose and I think the favorite songs could change from time to time.

Jani: I gotta say that my favorite song is probably “Gotta Be Real”.

And what is the hardest song to play live for you?

Hannes: “War Of Mine” for me because I have to switch between registers and this is really hard to get the sound that I want to have. When you are singing there is a voice that is low and a high voice and for some point you have to change your voice from one register to another. It might be three or four notes but it’s really hard. But that’s why I love it - because of how it sounds. I love it even if it’s hard.

Jani: I have to say that maybe “The Crown” or “Reincarnation”. “The Crown” has a lot of riffs and “Reincarnation” is really long. And we have some things… some bonus stuff while playing it live, like a longer guitar solo. You have to concentrate to play this song.

Hannes: And we always give 101% while playing the songs live.

Do you have a favorite lyric line or a music line from your second release?

Hannes: Yes! “Live each day like it’s your last. Forgive n’ forget to find your path”. It’s from “Shangri La”. That’s the way of life that I try to live. It was really, really hard for me to get back to writing. During the recording and writing sessions of our second album I found so many new things about myself and I was suddenly ashamed of my feelings and I was really afraid to tell the world what I’m feeling. I decided just to go for it. For example, “War Of Mine” is about depression but it’s the thing that everyone feels. It’s just natural. Writing with Miki (Kalske, guitar) was easy for me because he really knows what I want to sing and how I want to sing. It was like two guys had one mind and it was really amazing. Jani, do you have your favorite line?

Jani: I gotta say that for me it’s the whole chorus on “Reincarnation”.

Hannes: That’s the second thing that I was thinking about! It’s a beautiful line. Good choice, man, good choice!

How can you describe your cooperation with producer Per Aldeheim?

Hannes: It was amazing to work with him!

Jani: We had so much fun, he is a nice dude to work with and I think we found a connection, a balance between work and friendship. We had ideas for the songs and he had ideas and we always found something in between.

Hannes: It was so much fun to work with Per! It’s really important to have that connection between people in music and in life in general. Like you know, in Shiraz Lane we all are friends and that’s how it works for us.

Jani: Per was in Stockholm with us for the whole summer. He recorded the whole album with us and he’s not spending even holidays with his family.

Hannes: The way how he thinks about melodies… You know, there are so many things that I learnt from him during this summer! And about working in the studio in general. It was so weird: he can sing a melody and I could sing a harmony for that and the way his melody was going was the way that my melody was going. I could come to him with a harmony and ask, “What is the natural harmony for this line” and sing and he could say that it was the harmony that he thought about. And we did it. We sang together. We were super connected. You know, he is 45 or 50 and he is still like a kid, like us. I hope that we will work with him in the near future again.

How many songs did you record for “Carnival Days” and how hard was it to choose only 11 songs?

Hannes: I think we recorded 12 songs…

Jani: …but we recorded drums for 13 songs.

Hannes: Yes, we recorded 12 songs and 11 got their places on the album.

Jani: But we had ideas for other songs and we have something like demo songs.

Hannes: “Gotta Be Real” was one of the first songs when we started the songwriting process. And there were two other songs that didn’t make it to the album.

Jani: We really discussed just the songs that had to go to the Japanese version as bonus tracks.

When we started to jam around with “Hope”, I was feeling really, really down and I need to feel hope. And when the guys started playing the melody (singing the melody), I was just like “All right, this song is about this!” . I closed my eyes and started to sing the melody that was pretty much the same that is on the album now. And then I decided to write the lyrics for that. From the first moment that we started to write this song I wanted it to be on the album because I felt like it’s that kind of song that people can get empowered by. Even if you’re feeling down there is always hope. But we had another song that was pretty cool as well.

Jani: It didn’t fit on the album. It was too different.

It had a really good chorus but it didn’t fit the whole album. After recording the vocals for “Hope” I called Ana (Willman, drums). I said that we needed a ballad on an album and I wanted “Hope”. But if you Google the bonus song from the Japanese version you’ll fing it on Youtube. This song is called “Song Of Redemption”. It was written like a vision of a teenage kid. It worked out fine but I can’t feel it. It doesn’t feel right for me but I love this song anyways and I love the chorus.

Sounds like recording and writing songs is like a combination of magic and hard working…

Hannes: It is! But if you love working hard on the things that you love, it’s easy.

Jani: Of course if you wanna be better you have to write songs and make rehearsals and do it again, and again, and again… So you gotta be better.

Hannes: I’m a perfectionist and everything should sound the way I want it to sound and some things that were done might be not good enough for me. I think we had to work 10 or 13 hours a day because I wanted to be huge.

Jani: Before recording the songs we used to spend time in our rehearsal place just jamming around. Because of gigs you can’t really concentrate on songwriting.

Hannes: That’s why we didn’t have too many gigs during the summer. We live with the idea that a song has to be great. It’s all about the songs.

Fans and reporters really appreciated your work. Of all the kind words that you heard about the album, what were the ones that stuck in your mind?

Hannes: I can’t actually choose… You know, we got a lot of reviews about the album that were really great but some reviews were about like, “It’s not sleaze or glam enough, it’s not 80s enough”, and we never thought about us like sleaze. But I think that we’ve done something really right because now we have something unique. We sound like Shiraz Lane. Pleasing some critics is nice but for me it’s all about the fans but not critics. Because the fans are the ones that come to the shows, buy the album and merch. The fans are the ones that support you and we have the best fans in the world!

Jani: I think there was a review in Finnish and the words were like, “We have a new sheriff on the hard rock scene in Helsinki”. (laughs)

Hannes: Yeah, that’s fun! (laughs)

How do you feel playing as a support band or playing your very own show?

Hannes: It’s great to be a headlining band and it’s great to be a supporting band if you have a cool band to support. If you are an opening act for a band that you don’t respect for one reason or another, it’s not the same.

Jani: But when you have to play for 30 minutes as a supporting act it’s hard to choose the songs.

Hannes: And when you are a headliner you can get a dynamics and get intros between the songs and create a show. But I love both ways of playing anyway. I hope that we will open for great bands this year again.

If you could travel around the world with any band, who it will be?

Hannes: I’d go on tour with Guns N' Roses right now… I would be happy to open for Michael Jackson but it’s impossible. Halestorm is the band that I want to play with. It’s a great band with SUPER great people.

Jani: We played a couple of shows with them like I think two years ago. But I’d say Guns N' Roses as well.

Hannes: Which band you want us to play with?

Bon Jovi!

Hannes: Oh, yeah, Bon Jovi… But there is no Bon Jovi without Richie Sambora!

What do you guys think about such kind of thing as endorsement?

I think that it is a good thing because it gets some more PR for musicians.

Unfortunately I’m not actually endorsed. But if you find a good brand that you really want to work with…

Hannes: …then it’s a really good thing. And a singer I would like to endorse some ear monitor company like Ultimate Ears.

It’s a really good thing if you go abroad.

Hannes: Of course a company won’t give the stuff to you in that case but if you are an endorser it might give it to you for a tour. It’s so much easier because all that stuff is really expensive.  What do you think?

I’m not a musician, but I think that it is really good for PR.

It is! If you are an endorser of a good firm that you want to work with, it’s huge, it’s great!

Talking about fans and not only fans, what is the most inspiring and the most disappointed thing for you in people?

Hannes: Oh, it’s easy! You know I can look you in the eye and see the way you are. I see in your eyes if you are a nice person or not. If you are a nice person than I want to get to know you. If you are not a nice person I can still hug you but I really don’t want to know you. It is so it is. But I respect and what I found interesting in people is the curiosity in general, curiosity about life. I like it when people are interested in things beyond life. And I respect kindness in people. If I see a person who lives will all these ideas, it’s huge.

Jani: I do like honesty and being easy-going. I like to hang around with fun people.

We are lucky because we have 5 guys to do that in the band! But I don’t like dicks. And life is too short to hang out with people that you don’t like.

Is it difficult for you to treat people with kindness? Even if they don’t deserve it.

No. I think I have it from my mother. She always wants to help people. That’s the same with me. For me being kind is something that comes natural. If you have a girl or a guy that is being a dick to you… You still could be nice and only hope that they will realize that they could be kind as well. But of course sometimes it’s hard. We’ve been raised in a way that if you are nice to people they’ll be nice to you. If they are not nice to you then you still could be nice to them but you don’t have to have them in your life. It’s so easy to be kind, it’s so easy to give a smile and be polite. If it’s easy for you then you should do it because you might teach other persons to be nice as well.

What is music for you in general?

Hannes: It’s the same as breathing. You have to breathe to live. And without music I won’t live. I can’t live. Music is natural, just as natural as breathing. Whatever I’m doing I’m having it in my mind.

Jani: It’s a really big part of my life, it’s like a part of my personality.

I think that music is like a universal language. You don’t have to understand the language that someone is singing in to appreciate the music.

What do you wanna say to your fans in Russia?

To be honest even if we have not so many fans in Russia, we appreciate the support and all the things that you are doing for us. Keep spreading the message! We are going to come to Russia sooner or later anyway! And I want all of you to come to the show and then we will have fun! Support is the most important thing because without your fans you are nothing. We are super blessed to play for our fans. People are coming to our shows because they want to listen to our songs. They love our songs as much as we love our songs.

And we all hope to be in your country soon.

Soon. Better sooner than later. Maybe we will do it this year. We’ll see! I've heard that Russian fans are really crazy. But if you aren’t crazy enough I’ll be disappointed so be fucking ready for us!

Shiraz Lane on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShirazLane/

Elena "Linn" Pavlova
March 19, 2018
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