Ensiferum are back with “Thalassic”, three years after “Two Paths”. They has also added a new member on their ranks, Pekka Montin (synth, clean vocals) that has given a rather boost to the band in every part. Grande Rock had a chat with Sami Hinkka (bass, vocals) about the new album, the new member, the pandemic among several other interesting things… do read below for more…
Ensiferum band pic
Hi Sami, it’s great to have you on Grande Rock. First of all, congrats on you new album “Thalassic” – it’s indeed one of the top metal releases of 2020!
S: Thank you very much!!!
What happened in the meantime between the new album and the previous one, “Two Paths”?
S: Pretty much the usual stuff like touring and playing festivals and also getting new band member Pekka Montin on keyboard and clean vocals, so it was busy times unlike right now.
When exactly the idea to add a new member Pekka Montin (synth, clean vocals) came on your mind and which were the main reasons for that?
S: We started the search right after Netta Skogg left the band and we asked for an audition and he nailed it, Pekka was the new breath what this band needed and you can hear this on the “Thalassic” album. It was time to have a strong clean vocalist in Ensiferum and he brought that and we are really happy about that.
What has changed in your songwriting formula or the way you approached the songs this time? Did the addition of Pekka Montin play a major role on that as well?
S: In the end our songwriting stayed the same, but of course then came a lot more clean vocal parts since Pekka joined the band and we felt very good about that, like I said before it was just what Ensiferum needed and no need to hide that voice of his.
What does the album title “Thalassic” declare? And how did you decide to deal with the “sea” in general on this album?
S: The title is kinda cool because it doesn’t point to anything in particular, just water related so it stays very open to everything. Sami Hinkka is behind this idea and he came up with the title too and all lyrics. It felt like a good idea to us all and we never had this kinda theme album before so we decided to go with it.
Which are the similarities and the differences between the new album and the previous couple ones?
S: Besides the obvious ones like new member in the band and new songs, I think our fans can provide far better answer to this.
I think that “Thalassic” showcases a “return to the roots” in a way, but in a more melodic way. What say you?
S: Yeah, I agree with this and we tried to get that older vibe back into our music and we succeeded with that really well, these new songs flow like a river and they are really nice to play too every time.
Do give us a hint about each track (just a line)…
S: “Seafarer’s Dream”: Calm before the storm…
“Rum, Women, Victory”: Storm hits your face…
“Andromeda”: Great melodies make this song stand out…
“The Defence of the Sampo”: Get the treasure…
“Run from the Crushing Tide”: Power to the Metal…
“For Sirens”: Unchain my heart…
“One with the Sea”: Power ballad…
“Midsummer Magic”: Party time is magical…
“Cold Northland (Väinämöinen Part III)”: Grande finale, epic song…
“Merille Lahteva” (bonus track): A medley of melodies throughout the album with a spoken poem.
How did you decide to work with the producer Janne Joutsenniemi (Entwine, Stam1na, Tracedawn, etc.) for the album’s recordings and production? How was the whole procedure? Also you’ve worked with the famous Jens Bogren (Amorphis, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir, etc.) for the album’s mixing and mastering, right?
S: We already worked with Janne Joutsenniemi before on “Victory Songs” and “From a Far” albums so we asked if he would be interested working with us again and he said yes. We knew he could bring new sound and new ideas into our songs what we were looking for now and he delivered just that. Also getting Bogren to mix this album was really great and he made “Thalassic” complete with his magical mixing.
Do you have any special expectations from “Thalassic” in general?
S: We hope this album will open new doors for us in the future when it comes to touring with other bands.
Since all the touring has been postponed… what do you think of the virtual live shows in general?
S: In our stream show it was kinda weird to be playing in front of people who are not there physically and we love to play on stage and interact with the crowd so we hope to get back on real stages soon. Virtual shows are better than no shows at all, but I personally don’t care much for these.
What do you think about this corona-virus thing? How much has affected the music business and people’s lives so far?
S: This pandemic is really killing music business on all sides right now, not just bands but venue’s, road crews, tour bus companies etc. Will see how many are left standing by next summer. Hope many will be standing.
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Ensiferum initially?
S: The story what I’ve heard is that the guys took a Latin dictionary and opened a page randomly and pointed a finger on that page.
Top 3 fantasy movies of any era?
S: “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings” and “Conan the Barbarian”.
What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
S: I recommend you join in this business and find out yourself.
What do you think about the “downloading & streaming issue” of our time? Do you prefer the streaming services better or not?
S: This has its pros and cons. Good is that music is available pretty much everywhere just not in physical form. I don’t use streaming to listen to music, I prefer my CDs and Vinyl, so I guess I’m a bit old school then and I have cassettes too.
Which are the best 3 Metal albums according to you?
S: King Diamond’s “Conspiracy”, Megadeth’s “Rust in Piece” and Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss”.
Fill in the phrase… “Metal music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
S: That one guy who wanted more distortion to this guitar sound…
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
S: I don’t feel like I can actually answer to this, so I’ll just admire other’s work.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
S: Jimi Hendrix.
Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in metal history?
S: Sebastian Bach and Fernanda Lira.
Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
S: Fernanda Lira.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
S: “Bad” from Michael Jackson.
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
S: To the future 500 years from now and just to see how fucked up this planet will be then.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, Sami. Say anything you feel like saying before we close. Take care dude!
S: Stay safe and take care everybody and hope see you all soon on live shows.