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Friday, March 30, 2007
The monster behind the mask
With their explosive metal sound and monstrous good looks, Lordi have become Finland's prime music export over the last year. Following a decade of grueling efforts, Lordi broke through internationally with their fourth album "The Arockalypse" after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, marking Finland's first-ever victory at the pan-European competition. Viewers, used to enduring ear-battering bad pop and folk music entries, voted in droves for Lordi after witnessing their pyrotechnic stage show and hearing their anthemic tune, "Hard Rock Hallelujah," which netted a record 292 points.
The rest, as they say, is history. "The Arockalypse" features songs with titles like "The Night Of The Loving Dead" and "Bringing Back The Balls To Rock"; a DVD of high-budget horror videos; and guest appearances from Kiss' fourth lead guitarist Bruce Kulick and Twisted Sister's Dee Snider and Jay Jay French, was rereleased, going Top 20 in nine countries and catapulting the band to international success.
We caught up with front-ghoul Mr. Lordi to find out what to expect from their first Japan tour, which starts next week.
One thing we're curious to know: does Lordi ever play weddings?
(Laughs) I can't imagine a situation where a couple would like us as a wedding band. But of course if somebody has the distorted brain to ask for something like that and if the couple has money, sure, I don't see why not. That would definitely be a wedding day to remember -- not necessarily in a good way.
Did Eurovision invite you to compete or did you pitch for the chance to perform?
That is the last thing on the list for any rock band, to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. But Finland was famous for always coming last, and the Finnish board decided that for 2006 they would try something different. So they invited us. Our guitar player Amen was like, "No way in hell, that's the last f**king thing we should ever do." But after a few days he said, "I've come to the conclusion that if there is any rock band in the world who should do it, it should be either Kiss or us. And since Kiss are American and cannot enter, it has to be us."
What was it like playing at such a camp event?
We were like meat-eaters in a vegetarian cafe. We're heavy metal dudes, so the whole time we felt out of place. I spend three hours for my face when I put it on, because it's prosthetic makeup, but there were girls and even guys who were spending 12 hours on their hair alone! I thought, "You're not gonna look as cool as we do, so why bother?"
Finland seems proud of Lordi's victory. They're releasing Lordi postage stamps in May.
Usually in Finland you have to die and you have to have been a really great artist or sportsman to be on a stamp. We're a band that sings about rock 'n' roll and monsters and blood and guts and violence and f**king, all the dirty stuff, and we look like creatures from hell, and we're national heroes!
"Hard Rock Hallelujah" now holds the Guinness World Record for group karaoke after being sung by over 80,000 people at your Helsinki's Market Square gig in May 2006. Were you singing too?
No, no. We were just standing in awe with our jaws wide-open, like, "What the f**k is happening?" We were actually backstage listening to it. That many people make a lot of noise. It was really weird -- weird but good."
Will you be doing some karaoke during your Japan tour?
I think our drummer (Kita) will. He's nuts for karaoke. For some reason Finland has taken to it big time -- we have karaoke bars on almost every street corner.
What can the Japanese audience expect to see at your show?
Well, there'll be monsters playing hard rock, that's for sure! We look pretty and play loud. We're trying to bring as much of our show as we can, although it's difficult by plane. But it'll be a night to remember.
Is it hot on stage under those suits?
It is damn hot. But we're Finns, so we are carrying our saunas with us. We're sweating our balls off.
Do you look better with the mask or without?
Definitely with the mask! In my eyes, monsters always look beautiful -- the prettiest guy in the world is Freddy Krueger. Our fans are fans of the monsters, not the people inside.
When you were making "The Arockalypse," your fourth album, did you expect that this would be the one to break through?
No. Of course we were hoping for that with every album, but it was a coincidence really. Eurovision opened so many windows for us, but then again, we were already on our way, slowly but surely. Our drummer said that with Eurovision we did five years of work in one night. It's like playing a board game and you roll the dice and get to the spot where it says you can move five steps forward.
How was playing with Bruce Kulick?
Great! We're huge Kiss fans, so it was amazing. Bruce was the first person we asked and he said yeah, so when he said yeah we thought about asking these other guys, like Dee Snider and Jay Jay French. It's a dream come true, really, to have your idols sing your lyrics and play your songs. Once again, weird but good.
"The Arockalypse" is out now, and the DVD "Market Square Massacre Live" will follow on May 23. Lordi play: April 9 & 11 at Shibuya O-AST, Tokyo; April 12 at Matsushita IMP Hall, Osaka; and April 13 at Nagoya Shimin Kaikan Chu-Hall, Nagoya; tickets 6,500 yen. For more information call (03) 3401-9999 or visit www.udo.jp