Latest release: Unsung Heroes (Spinefarm/Universal)

Armed with new album Unsung Heroes featuring the longest track they’ve ever done, Finnish epic metallers return to Australia this week for their second visit after Screamfest back in 2009. During a break between tour legs earlier in the year, Loud chatted with vocalist Petri Lindroos about very long songs, Finland’s metal heritage and more.

Good morning Petri, it’s great to be talking with you. You’re going to be down here in Australia once again very soon. What do you have on between now and then?
I just returned back from Miami, USA last Saturday. We got a couple of weeks at home here before the Australian part, so it’s kind of like a winter vacation in the land of cold and snow.

It’s going to be very different coming down to Australia in March. It will be like the complete opposite of where you are now.
I would say very much the opposite! I am very much looking forward to coming back over there.

What are you expecting from us here in Australia this time around?
Well last time we did the festival pacakge shows over there. The turn out was very nice. A lot of people having a good time. So this time we’re gonna do the headlining spot so, well, if the turn out is anything like that, well we’re gonna have a good time over there.

Ensiferum likes to follow a theme on each album, so what is the story behind Unsung Heroes?
Umm… pretty much, not so much battling going on, on this album compared to a couple of previous ones. Maybe a little bit more grown-up stuff? (laughs). A little bit more adult taste on it, I guess. We are getting older, and it really feels like that sometimes too.

Is it then that you felt you had to progress from Afar? That came out quite a while ago now.
Yes, From Afar came out three… three and a half years ago now. The songs from Unsung Heroes just turned out to be a little more down-tempo, a little bit more heavier. Except for the one faster song that we put in between.

“Passion, Proof, Power” is by far the longest song you’ve done. It takes up about half the album. How does a song like that come about? You’ve done long songs before, but this one surpasses any of those.
Yes it does, in many different ways. We started to work on that one… we did some demo recordings of that one in our rehearsal place and we already noticed that it was eight, nine minutes with all the new parts. We thought, “Until we hit the studio, let’s see how long it’s gonna be.” And it turned out to be seventeen minute epic track. At one point it also became obvious that we needed to write the longest song ever!

So does that come about by jamming on things and discovering they turn out to be very long?
We had some parts left over from other songs that didn’t fit together. So we tried to put these loose parts together somehow. That’s how the song got started. With a little modification, we can fix them together. Then just, different parts and riffs started to fall into the right places and then the longest song happened.

Is there a particular song on Unsung Heroes that you enjoy playing live the most?
Well I like to play them all. One of my favourites is definitely “Unsung Heroes”. It’s just a cool song. There’s a lot of melodies and stuff on the song. That’s what I love about it to play.

You mentioned before that this album has a darker, more down-tempo feel to it. Without looking too far, do you think the next album might carry on in that direction?
Probably! Kinda hard to say yet. We have a few songs kind of done already for the next album. But it’s hard to say yet. We’re still working on that one.

You’re up to five albums now and a lot of your songs are very long. How hard is it to fit them into a set list now?
That is a good question. That is always a problem, setting out the set list. It depends on which part of the world we’re playing. We’re gonna have a long sitdown about what songs we’ll be playing over there. But I’d say the set is gonna be minimum ninety minutes, maximum hundred, hundred and ten minutes. It’s gonna be a good long set.

It seems to me that Finland has a proud metal heritage. Looking at it from Australia where we see so many bands coming from there, but is it really like that in your country. Is it a really healthy scene with a lot of bands?
Yes, it actually is! Finland is actually full of different style of metal bands. And you can see it on the charts almost on a weekly basis. There is between ten to twenty hard rock or metal bands on the charts all the time over here. Finland is very exceptional in that kind of way.

What do you think it is about Finland that produced so many metal bands? Back in the 90s I didn’t really know any Finnish bands except probably Impaled Nazarene, and now I could rattle off ten or fifteen quite easily.
That is a really good question. I don’t know where it comes from, that Finnish people like heavy metal so much. Half of the year we live in darkness, cold and snow, so there’s not so much to do so you just pick up a guitar and start playing some sad stuff, add some distortion and then you have a metal band!

That actually makes a lot of sense. It is music that sort of fits with that weather and climate.
Yes, that’s true. It’s minus 30 outside; you don’t wanna go outside.

Can you share with us one of your favourite moments from touring over the last few years?
Definitely our first tour over there. That was really great. Everybody loved it very much. And on the same tour we stopped by China. We did four shows over there. It was a very, very interesting trip. The turn out was very, very good. There was so many people turning up to the shows that they didn’t even fit inside the venue. There were people with tickets who were left outside. The local promoters tell us, “No, no, we’re not sold out!” Well, if people can’t fit in, you have to be sold out in some kind of way. That was very much fun.

Have you had a chance to go back since?
We would like to. It’s a little tricky also. You’ve got to include it with a trip to Australia again, because it’s along the way. It would be really nice to stop by over there. Hopefully we can do that again this year or next year.

Is there anywhere else that you haven’t taken the band to yet that you’d really like to get to?
Well the only continent we haven’t played on yet is South America. For some reason we just cannot fit the schedule to make it happen. That one is on our to-do list, definitely.

Thanks Petri. Is there anything final you’d like to say to Australia before you get here?
Be prepared. We are gonna put a lot of metal up your asses!

Ensiferum tour Australia this month with Bane of Isildur at the following shows:

15/3: HiFi Bar, Sydney NSW  (A/A)
16/3: Esplanade Hotel, Melbourne VIC
17/3: Coniston Lane, Brisbane QLD