We discovered the young “violent poppers” of Blind Channel at the beginning of this year as a band that holds a lot of potential to become a big thing all over ther world. They bring a mix of metal and rock heavily infused by pop, electronica and rap, which induces a high dose of catchyness and hit potential. We’re always up for supporting a promising band or artist, so a few hours before their show supporting Machinae Supremacy at Nosturi in Helsinki, we met up with Joel Hokka (vocals & guitar) and Niko Moilanen (vocals & programming) to have a chat about their music, band and future plans!
Nice to see you again, guys! You’ve been busy lately, how are you?
Joel: Really good, thanks!
Niko: Yeah, and we’re been busy. It’s been a busy spring for us. First we did a tour with Royal Republic, then we did a tour with Amaranthe and then our first European tour with Smash Into Pieces… Like, we’ve been touring a lot… with a lot of Swedish bands (everyone laughs)
It’s actually again a Swedish band tonight…
(they both have to think on that for a few seconds)
Joel: Yeah, it is! (laughs)
Niko: It’s always the same! (laughs)
We say you guys with Royal Republic and we liked your show, but we noticed that the crowd maybe wasn’t that much into your music… because Royal Republic’s music and your music…
Niko: Yeah, it’s a bit a different audience I think…
But you were able to tour with Amaranthe, so that’s already a bit more in your direction in style!
Niko: Yeah! That was a really good tour, because I think the audience is kind of the same. Though I think Amaranthe‘s audience is a bit older. We did out first big support tour with Simple Plan on their Baltic tour one year ago and there were these teenage girls and I think they were really into our stuff. ‘Cause when we play like “heavy metal” music, I think many of our fans still see us as a boy band. So I really think that the Simple Plan audience, even though very different music, was perfect for us.
Yeah, I can imagine so. I think that tonight might be more fitting for you too, playing between One Morning Left and Machinae Supremacy…
Joel: Yeah, we will see what happens!
Niko: We’ve been supporting Machinae Supremacy once before.
Joel: And it was the same venue I think… so the same venue and the same band…
Niko: And I think that one was also kind of good, so tonight’s going to be good too!
That’s good, something to look forward to! You earlier mentioned people seeing you a bit like a boy band. In a way I guess you can’t deny that you sort of have that kind of attraction. Like at the Royal Republic gig, our photographer got her ears screamed off by your “squad”…
(everyone laughs hard)
Niko: Yeah! Our “Blind Channel Squad”!
Joel: They will be here tonight too, yeah.
I noticed that they’re almost everywhere you guys go…
Niko: Yeah! Great girls…
… and I was just wondering: do you always feel like having them around?
Niko: We love the Blind Channel squad, it’s amazing and wherever they are, they make the show better. Always the first songs, when we just start our show the audience is a bit like “what’s this?”, but when there are a bunch of girls who go crazy straight from the beginning… So everyone else is more like “oh yeah, let’s do this!” and everyone goes along a bit more. So I think they have that nice influence on people, so I really like it! But there have been times that we go somewhere… like we went to Europe, to Cologne and we see the Blind Channel Squad and we were like “what the fuck is wrong with these girls?!” (everyone laughs hard) There have been situations like that…
Joel: Yeah, pretty much…
Niko: But it’s good to have them around.
So, you had your first proper European tour now. How was the response there, outside of Finland?
Joel: It was good! Actually in Germany they were kind of crazy. In the UK it was not as crazy, but in Germany there was a good hype. There were actually already fans of us in Germany, so that was a nice surprise! But yeah, in the UK we still have some work to do…
Niko: UK is really challenging I think, there are a lot of really really good artists there. And everything started there…
Joel: The whole rock ‘n’ roll and pop and stuff…
Niko: … The Beatles and stuff like that, they have everything. So it’s really challenging, but I think if you are able to get through in the UK, I think you get yourself through to almost anywhere.
Joel: It’s like “worldwide” from the UK, sort of the main or center point for everything.
Niko: Like we talked with our label boss that we had a lot of fans in Germany, but that if you’re big in Germany, that doesn’t mean you’re big anywhere else, it’s still only in Germany. But it’s not the same thing in the UK, if you’re big in the UK, you can be a big star around the world. So that’s why I think it’s so hard to get through in that scene.
Well, we foresee a good future for you guys and notice that you are still progressing and evolving constantly in your music and shows. Like for the Amaranthe tour we saw that you all started to wear white, how did that come to be?
Joel: Yeah, the white thing!
Niko: It came with our latest single Alone Against All, for which we decided to do the “all white” for the music video. I remember when we started… when Joel asked me to join the band, he told me that “it’s going to be a band and we’re going to be wearing all white”
Joel: Yeah, that was my first idea.
Niko: So the idea is already like 4 years old or something… But we just couldn’t pull it off, our first show…
Joel: We were all wearing like normal jeans and white t-shirts and we looked like some kind of farmer boys… (laughing) so it wasn’t that cool…
Niko: And then we dumped the idea, but now almost 4 years later we know how to do it right. And I think it has been really cool, the people have been like “the band that wears white clothes” and it looks really good. And I think that… Well, we didn’t come up with the “boy band”, we’ve never been saying we’re a “boy band”. But everyone else seems to been saying it even before we had the white clothes. So now it sort of “maximizes” the boy band act and such (laughs)
Yeah, it’s nice too see that you think about those kind of thing, that’s how people remember you even better I think…
Niko: Today it’s really important that you have that kind of stuff, because it’s not cool anymore to just go on stage to just play your songs and then say bye. It has to be a performance.
Joel: Yeah, its a whole thing…
Niko: Yeah, at least that’s what we think, you have to have some show elements.
Now you play heavily with the tag “#violentpoprevolution”…
Joel: Yeah, it’s our “trademark” quote for the whole thing.
Niko: Yeah, since the beginning…
… and I know that there are a few other bands around already that have the kind of “pop metal” style, some more popular like Dead By April for interesting. What do you think makes your stuff different from those bands? What makes Blind Channel “the revolution”?
Joel: I think it’s more modern and more “urban” than the others. Like Amaranthe is the more “older pop” and we are the “modern pop”, so in that we’re different.
Niko: And it’s really fun to be operating under the term “violent pop”. I mean, we came up with the term, we can basically do anything we want, we can go anywhere we want. Who knows? We could go a bit heavier, or we could go a bit more pop. It really allows you to be more creative when you have that kind of genre thing of your own.
That’s probably indeed really cool. Now, we saw you got the headlining spot for one of the Tuska after parties this year. Are you planning to do something special planned since it’s a headline show?
Joel: I’m not sure yet!
Niko: We talked about it and we definitely should do something special, but we don’t know what it’s going to be yet!
Yeah, it’s cool if you’d add something more spectacular still to your show for that. Like I remember seeing the Shiraz Lane show at last year’s Heatseeker and they had some bubble canons and such…
Niko: Oh, the bubbles! Yeah, I saw pictures and that looked great!
Well, I guess we’ll see, we’ll try to be there! So, you toured with a few bands already now, are there any bands you would love to play with sometime?
Joel: Probably Linkin Park would be a dream for us… ’cause they’ve been a big influence for us. Also, Bring Me The Horizon and Twenty One Pilots and such… all the more modern rock bands.
Niko: Yeah, the really big ones!
Joel: But yeah, we’ll see what happens, maybe next year or the year after or something like that… everything is possible…
Yeah! There are also a few covers that you do where you put your own spin to it, how did you come to pick those songs?
Niko: The first one was Don’t by Ed Sheeran, that was like almost an accident. I was just being bored at home and I started to sort of recreate it at home just for fun. And it turned out kind of cool and showed it the guys and we were like “oh my god, we need to do this one!”. That was also the time Don’t was number one in charts everywhere, it was played all over, so it was a good time to do that one…
Joel: And it’s also one of the most popular songs on our Spotify, it has like over 1 million streams right now. So it’s like the “blockbuster” for us, it’s the song that took us off on the Spotify. So it was the accident that need to happen (laughs)
Niko: Yeah… and the Macklemore one… Like, our first shows we always had one cover in our sets and at first it was Lose Yourself of Eminem. We played that at a few shows or something and then we changed that to the Macklemore one, it was different than it is now. And then years later our label wanted us to do one more since the Don’t single was so successful, so we decided to do Can’t Hold Us. It made sense to us since we already had it. I mean, we don’t want to be a cover band of course.
Yeah, of course. Though I think it’s fun to now and then do a cover to just do something cool with it, like Children of Bodom has a whole album of covers, so why not?
Joel: Yeah, indeed. Why not?
Niko: Yeah, every now and then I think it’s fun and cool.
So, any nearby future plans you can already share with us now?
Joel: I think the main plan is album number two. And it’s going to be a huge step for us because we really need to do a good album. Since our first album was so great and got so good response from everywhere. So it’s going to be challenging for us…
Niko: Yeah, people liked it, the critics like it,… So now the second album defines if it was just luck on a great first album or can we do it all over again? I think for most bands it’s the most important… But yeah, album number 2 and then we want to get back to Europe. We don’t know yet how we’re going to do that, but we definitely want to go back as soon as possible!
So any last words for our readers?
Niko: Yeah! Everyone check us out and those who know us already: we’re coming to you as soon as possible!
Joel: We wanna tour the world… we wanna go to Canada, Asia, the USA,… we wanna go everywhere. It just takes time… but we’re definitely going to get there!
Well, thanks for the talk and lots of luck with your stuff!