To be completely honest, I was quite nervous to get to interview Stam1na. To many of you outside of Finland, the name might be unfamiliar, but they’re quite huge in Finland. To give you a bit of an idea of their popularity as a metal band: all of their releases except for the first 2, reached number 1 in the Finnish album charts. I got picked up by Heta Hyttinen and taken to a promo van parked in the main backstage next to a cool skating rink. In the van 2 of the founding members were waiting for me: Antti ”Hyrde” Hyyrynen (vocals & guitar) and Pekka ”Pexi” Olkkonen (lead guitar). What followed you can read below yourself…
Hey guys, over here you’re pretty huge, selling your albums every time to gold without any problem. Which is pretty impressive, I think. But for instance in Belgium, I don’t know that much people that actually know of Stam1na. Do you have any idea how come?
Antti: I don’t think that’s a weird thing, because there’s only one time we’ve been there.
Pekka: Yeah, with Insomnium, 3 years ago.
Antti: And that was good laughs, good times, really. (laughs)
Pekka: I don’t remember the city exactly…
Antti: Yeah, I think memories might be mixing up, but was that where we were bicycling around the city?
Pekka: I’m not sure… like Bie…Biebob
Oh, in Antwerp then.
Pekka: Yeah! That’s the place!
Antti: So yeah, our promotion stuff in your country is…
Antti: … there is none. But we are eager to tour in Europe as much as possible. But it’s quite rare and you know, we have to do our main stuff here in Finland. For the reasons that this is of course the best place for our albums.
Pekka: Actually I have a question for you, how do you know Stam1na?
Well, I’m married with a Finnish girl and dug into Finnish music even more because of that. And when I discovered you guys, I really got into your music. So I’m kinda happy that I can put you guys a bit more in the spotlight in other countries…
Pekka: Thank you for that! (laughs)
And do you think that the fact that you sing in only Finnish plays a part in not really being well-known outside of Finland? Even though there are bands like for instance Finntroll singing in only Swedish that are really popular in Belgium…
Antti: We don’t see any problems in that, in the language question. I think we’re going to stay a Finnish singing band as long as we are around. We have a couple of songs, new songs, in English. But… I think this is our stuff.
Pekka: Yeah, we don’t have a Finntroll folk kinda thing going on. But I think this should be enough, this is what we do.
Yeah well, the fact that you sing in Finnish, to me is an extra thing I like.
Pekka: Yeah, it’s probably exotic.
Yes, it gives it an extra different vibe.
Pekka: Yeah, definitely…
And even on the new album, there are a few songs where I catch myself singing along even though I don’t know that much Finnish really, like “Pala Palalta”.
Pekka: Well, it really shouldn’t matter in what language it’s in.
I’ve read -and heard in your music- that you guys are really big fans of the work of Devin Townsend. When you write music, do you go in that direction deliberately or does it just naturally happen?
Pekka: I don’t know, probably the influences come from just listening to Devin‘s stuff so much. I probably have all of his records, but I never like intentionally try to copy anybody. If there’s something that reminds you to Devin -and there definitely is- it’s only natural. It’s a part of how we express ourselves musically.
Antti: Yeah, everybody in the band at some point have been liking the stuff that Devin has made, even if it was Strapping Young Lad or the other stuff.
Pekka: And actually, I think Hyrdde‘s voice (Antti, FYI) somewhat reminds a little bit to Devin‘s, so it’s kind of easy to compare.
Well, it’s also a little bit what attracted me in your music…
Pekka: Yeah sure, Devin is awesome!
I’m guessing you’re looking forward to Devin’s new record that is coming in September then?
Pekka: (laughs) Oh yeah! What was it again? “Transcendence”? Yeah, I should check it out then!
Now, about your last release “Elokuutio”. I wrote a review for it some time ago. And I tried to interpret the album title and lyrics with the help of my wife. We got the title translated as “box of life” or something like that. Is that sort of what you wanted?
Antti: Might be, yeah. “Elokuutio” in English is “eloquent”, so it’s a matter of speaking politely. And the ‘elokuutio’ is a device, the album is about this miracle device. Which is actually a phone for me, originally. But then different kind of stuff came up with that word. It sounds like ‘evolution’ and ‘elokuva’ which is a movie, cinema. And all this kind of stuff, other meanings that came up with the word. Yeah, it’s a kind of ‘box of life’
Well, it seemed like the translation was fitting, cause this (pointing at my smartphone) is for many people their life…
Antti: Yeah, that’s the stuff. And of course there are different themes there on the record also, but I think the mobile phone stuff has been my goal.
So do you have something against the “overuse” of phones then?
Antti: You could say that, yes. It has a lot of negative influences for our everyday life. It’s such a huge part of people, everybody is carrying that kind of machinery. So it’s really weird, these are really weird times.
Though on the other hand we read just before we came here today that Facebook and such played a big part in getting you even to higher places…
Antti: Yeah exactly, it’s a big part of our business. And we thank Facebook and everybody get our fans together and express the stuff we want to pretty fast. But euhm… “back in the old days” people didn’t need that kind of stuff. Or they were replaced by some kind of snail mail, fan club stuff. But I don’t think it’s totally necessary to concentrate on fucking selfies all the time…
Don’t like them either! But you just talked about “back in the old days” that people came outside to discover a band and meet others. Our organization right now is kind of trying to create more of a community in real life and support our music scene. How do you see that? Do you think there needs to be more support?
Pekka: Well, any support for metal music is good… and necessary…
Antti: Yeah, I remember being a huge fan of this band called Stone. And I was a kid living in Lammi, which is a pretty small place. Lappenranta was a big city for me. And we went there every now and then. And I went to the old book store to find these old music magazines. I looked them all through and tried to find anything concerning Stone. And if there was Stone in some text, I had to buy the magazine and cut out the word. I think that kind of fan culture might be disappeared… Because everything is so at hand all the time. And our shows are on the web… it’s good for some people who don’t have the money. They can find out what Stam1na‘s work and such is all about. But I’m not sure gives the same kind of… pleasure.
Pekka: It’s really hard to like… impress anybody these days.
Antti: Nothing is secret kind of.
Pekka: Yeah, it’s a shame…
Talking about impressing people. I think you did a really nice job with your last album with all the technological gimmicks you put in there. Like the app with which you could scan things in the booklet, see things in 3D,… and the 360° view YouTube video clip. How did you come to decide doing that?
Antti: Euhm, we thought it over, that is should be like ‘up-to-date’, really in the highest technology there is. Just to give people some bonus for being a fan. But also it’s a sort of irony, self-irony, on purpose.
Pekka: Cause it’s the whole theme of the album of course. But we’ve always tried to come up with something new and do something that probably now one has.
Yeah, it was something I thought was pretty cool.
Now, earlier you mentioned that you were in Belgium some time ago… you’re Finns… so I’m guessing you like to drink, did you try some Belgian beers back then?
Pekka: I think so, we’ve had some…
Antti: What… there was some fucking cheap beer in the backstage, the worst beer I have ever tasted!
Pekka: Yeah! They told us it was the cheapest you can get in the market.
Antti: I almost didn’t drink it…
By any chance was it called ‘Cara Pils’ or something?
Pekka: It was probably that, yes. It was with white on the can… Sounds like it, yeah.
With a bit of red on it too, but yeah, it’s pretty disgusting…
Even Finnish beer is better.
Pekka: Yeah, but that’s what they offered, so that’s what we drank.
Antti: But we had some glasses of something better during the Insomnium gig… It was good! So points to you! (laughs)
Well thank you! Now, I’m guessing you’re looking forward to your gig later today, closing down the Helsinki stage?
Pekka: Yeah sure! It’s always fun to play at Tuska.
Do you prefer playing in a tent stage or rather an open air stage?
Pekka: They’re both fine…
Antti: Well, on this kind of a totally hot, infernal day, it’s painful to be in the direct sunshine for an hour during the day. So maybe the tent will be good for today…
And does it have much influence on your show, I can imagine that the tent works better for the light show and such?
Pekka: Yeah, it’s definitely better for the lights and such.
Well, I’ll be looking forward to it!
Antti: Yeah, this is our “Cube Libre”. This is our vision of heavy metal… It’s nice to be at Tuska!
Pekka: Yeah, it’s a really calm, really relaxed festival.
Yeah, it is! I’ve been to quite some metal festivals in Belgium, but I do like the atmosphere a bit better here.
Pekka: Do you have any metal festivals in Belgium?
Yeah, our biggest one is Graspop Metal Meeting, a pretty huge festival with about 120 bands every weekend with a double main stage and several other smaller stages…
Pekka: Alright! We should definitely go there! (laughs) Next year…
Sure, would be awesome!
So, do you have any future plans besides touring over here?
Pekka: Yeah, it’s touring…
Antti: We’ll be quite busy.
Pekka: Yeah, for the rest of the year. Touring mainly.
Antti: Everybody has his own life and other jobs and such. We don’t keep contact that much (Pekka laughs) since we live in different cities. But everybody does a bit of this and a bit of that. I have a couple of other band stuff out there and such. And now we’ve actually started to plan the next year, so we have some really good news coming up…
Pekka: And I’m just teaching the guitar during the week, that’s my… I love it! It’s really fun, teaching. But we’re going to tour this year and then we’ll see what we’re going to do maybe next time life.
Yeah, we’ll see!
Antti: Well, at least something concerning touring abroad. We’ll be in fact… we can’t really say anything yet… but we’ll set out our sails and… go (in the mean time we know that at least one destination will be 70,000 Tons of Metal).
Pekka: Far beyond! (laughs)
Well, I don’t need details, that already sounds really good! ‘Cause there are some really good Finnish bands that rarely go outside Finland, which is a pity I think. Like the one that is playing right now, Turmion…
Pekka: Oh yeah! “Disko metal” (laughs)
(We get interrupted a bit by Heta, coming to refill the water bottles with Pekka asking “Where’s the beer?” getting the answer “Where’s the beer? There is no beer!”)
Antti: But yeah, it’s going to be a really busy year, 42 shows or so.
Well, that’s good. So when you guys can release more news, let us know so we can write an article about it, to support you guys!
Pekka: Yeah, sure.
One thing still that suddenly comes to mind now, on your latest release, I found quite some Meshuggah in the song ‘D.S.M.’ in it, which I thought was a nice thing…
Antti: We love Meshuggah, but…
Pekka: I don’t know in that song…
Antti: Or Strapping Young Lad…
I don’t know, there was just certain parts of the song that hit me and reminded me of Meshuggah. That similar kind of intricate and complexity in the riffs and such.
Pekka: Could be (laughs) Yeah, we have some of that influence too.
But it indeed like you said could just as well be Strapping Young Lad, cause they have a similar crazy complexity going.
Antti: We like to every now and then do some complex composing. We like… it’s challenging and it keeps us on our toes, that’s good.
Ok! Well, to conclude our talk, as always I’d like to give you the last words. Anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Antti: Belgium… hmm
Belgium and beyond! We seem to have gathered quite a reach all over the world already…
Pekka: Don’t be scared of Finnish lyrics! (laughs hard)
Antti: Yeah, just go with the flow and the feeling… (using a classic advertising voice)
Pekka: Yeah, feel the energy, man! (tries to sound American)
Antti: Feeling is good! This is pure Finnish metal! (continuing the voice) So it’s kind of a really Finnish production. Like we did the Nosebo album with Joe Baressi, that was really interesting. Also because of the lyrics, cause we had Joe there recording and Emil (Lähteenmäki, keyboards, FYI) was there sitting, being our interpreter and I was singing. So there was 3 guys trying to fix this thing up, so that was really great… But yeah, a Finnish production.
Alright! Hope to see you again some time and thank you for the talk!
On which Heta showed up with the message that we had to leave the van because Anthrax needed it next. We went outside where I took a few pics of the 2 guys with Antti clearly showing that he wasn’t happy about the ‘no beer’… Great guys to talk with and go check their music out!