LORDI – The United Rocking Dead
Lordi (l-r): Mana, Amen, Mr. Lordi, Hella and Ox
Finnish hard rock outfit Lordi embarked upon a European trek from February 2015. Christened Tour Force One, the dates were plotted in support of October 2014 studio full-length Scare Force One – the group’s seventh, in all. Under that umbrella, a ten-date UK jaunt was scheduled to begin on March 24th, 2015 at the Lemon Grove in Exeter, England, and draw to a conclusion on April 6th at Brighton, England’s Concorde 2.
“The UK audiences are usually really great,” observes Mr. Lordi, vocalist and co-founder of the assortment. “The problem of course here is usually all of the laws and restrictions and rules and regulations that none of the other countries have. That always brings us in all sorts of trouble, and problems, and dilemmas, and paradoxes. We aren’t allowed to use this and that, and the schedules of the venues are really difficult for us in a way. Then there’s putting on the make-up for three hours, and having to eat before that, and soundcheck, and all of that stuff. We’re not a normal rock band in that sense, because we need way more time and space to prepare for the show. In many cases that doesn’t really go well with all of the laws and regulations and curfews, but the crowds are usually really damn good.”
Should a given UK venue wish to stage a performance of live music between 11pm and 8am, a license is required. “In most places, you stop playing after 11pm, so it feels like a different world,” the mainman laments. “After being on tour for a few months, when your daily routine and your daily cycle is that you wake up at three or four in the afternoon but then you come to the UK and you have to wake up five hours earlier or something, it’s kind of hard (laughs).”
Much graft is involved in the creation of Lordi’s elaborate horror-themed costumes. “It starts with the idea, and then I do some sketches of that,” Mr. Lordi divulges. “Then I take a big clump of clay, and I sculpt whatever costume is about to be made. I take plastic moulds of that, and then I mould latex into that. I have some latex pieces and I paint them, and I patch them to the fabrics, or clothing, or whatever that is underneath. Then there’s the paint job. For the whole band, to actually make the costumes it takes six to eight weeks, and I mean long days – like 12-18 hour days. That’s what it takes, but on tour, it’s around three hours. It takes two-and-a-half hours for me, for the face alone, before every show. The other guys are a little bit faster with getting ready for the show. They’re a bit faster than that, but I think normal is about an hour and a half to get ready for a show.”
Lordi sport the same attire during live commitments. “The characters and the way they look for every album, they look exactly the same in the photoshoots and the videos,” the composer clarifies. “Then onstage, it’s exactly the same of course. That’s the thing. That’s Lordi. We don’t have any toned down versions of the costumes. That is a lot of what it is; what you see in the pictures, that’s what you’re gonna see in live shows too.”
Devising a live setlist is “hard,” Mr. Lordi chuckles. “It’s certainly getting harder, but I guess that goes for any band that has more albums. It’s getting more and more difficult. For example, on this tour, we had a setlist that we decided before the tour obviously. We rehearsed the songs, and then eventually when you actually play those songs live in front of an audience, you see that some of the songs just don’t work live as well as they might work in the rehearsal space. You look at the reaction of the audience, and you look at the feel of the band while you’re actually doing it live. For example, this time we have cut two or three songs from the setlist that we did at the beginning of February, at the beginning of the tour. Now we have cut those songs, because they just didn’t work for one reason or another.
“It’s getting more and more difficult every time, because you have to play certain songs, and then you wanna play certain songs, and then there are fans who wanna hear certain songs. The thing is though, you really cannot play much longer than 90 minutes, but at the beginning of the tour we played for like two hours. Now it’s closer to 90 minutes, but it’s getting harder and harder. I don’t envy bands like Kiss, or AC/DC, or whoever, who have a gazillion albums in their catalogue and have to choose what they’re gonna play plus the new songs from the new album – whatever is current at the time. It’s difficult, it’s hard. There’s less and less room for new songs from the new album every time of course.”
Several of Scare Force One’s tracks feature among the setlist, although certain compositions have since been jettisoned. “Originally we started with five songs from the new album, but now we’re down to four I think,” the frontman informs. “I could be wrong, but I think we have four songs from the new album in the setlist. ‘Monster Is My Name’ was dropped. We only played that twice – that didn’t really work for some reason. We played ‘Sir, Mr. Presideath, Sir’ for quite a long time, and then we had to drop it. I don’t even remember what was the actual reason for that, but we dropped it. Those were the two songs that we dropped from the set during the tour from the new album. We also dropped a song called ‘Horrifiction’ from the previous album (March 2013’s To Beast Or Not To Beast). We only played that a couple of times; although it’s a great song and it works great on the album and it was okay even at rehearsals, live it doesn’t really work.
“Also, there is the question that they might be in the wrong place in the setlist. A song might work better at the beginning of the set and another song could work better at the end of the set, but once we’ve got the setlist done at rehearsals, we have the show numbers and everything attached to all that, so we cannot really change the order of the songs any more while on tour. We either add them or we cut them out, but we cannot really change the order of the songs any more. Well, we could, but it would be a big hassle for the light guys and the sound guys. That would be a big, big hassle if we ever tried to do that.”
The aforementioned light technicians and sound technicians are arguably given more to sink their teeth into than when working on behalf of the average musical ensemble, a theatrical element existing within Lordi’s live presentation. “We try to offer something for the eyes, too,” Mr. Lordi acknowledges. “If you go to a concert of a band, I don’t think that in any language you say ‘I’m going to listen to a band.’ You say ‘I’m going to see a band. I’m going to watch a show.’ It means that there’s something for the eyes too, and that’s the reason that we’re trying to create something that the other bands don’t have.
“We’re trying to create something on the original side too, and that of course is a bit of a problem sometimes. Like I said, about how it really gets us scratching our heads, especially here in the UK with all of the regulations. It’s sometimes like ‘Aaargghh.’ It really drives me mad, but yeah, there are quite a lot of show elements happening onstage, even though there are things that you cannot do in certain venues and certain cities and certain countries. Yeah though, we try to entertain. That’s our job.”
Lead Scare Force One single ‘Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein’ is among the compositions to remain a part of the live setlist from studio album seven. “‘Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein’ is actually the opening song of the set,” the singer discloses. “Then we’re playing ‘Scare Force One’, the title song of the album. We’re playing ‘Hell Sent In The Clowns’, and ‘How To Slice A Whore’. Those are the songs that we’re playing, and they’re being received pretty good. Of course, it depends on the night. ‘Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein’ is an opening song, so obviously, you can play whatever song as an opening song, and then the people like it (laughs).
“‘Hell Sent In The Clowns’ is a bit of a show number – it wouldn’t be that familiar to many of the people in the audience. We actually have clowns onstage who are squirting blood and confetti at the people in the audience, so that creates a little bit of a reaction from the audience (laughs). ‘How To Slice A Whore’ is probably one of the hardest songs we’ve ever done, and ‘Scare Force One’ is the first song for the encore. So yeah, they are actually in really good places in the set right now, and all four seem to work really well.”
Where to place a given track among a live setlist order is an important decision. “You just have to gamble,” Mr. Lordi reasons. “That’s the shitty part of it, because you cannot really test. There are the tuning issues, and that’s where you start because we use two different tunings. That means Amen has to change his guitar between the songs, so it means that we have to have a long intro tape for a song, or it needs to have a speech from me, or something else, or that it needs to have a drum solo or something, so we’re able to change the guitar. That is where we actually start. We start from the artistic point of view obviously, so we try to put all of the songs that uses the B tuning in a row and play them in a row. Then the normal E tuned songs, we try to play in a row.
“That’s where it starts, but other than that, it’s just about thinking about trying to somehow place the songs you think that are more familiar to most of the people in the audience. That obviously means the single cuts, the video songs, you’re spreading them around. You end with a song they know, and you don’t wait too long at the beginning of the set to play the first song that most likely more people would know, and stuff like that. On this tour, we play ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ as the third song (from March 2010’s The Arockalypse, which won Lordi the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest), which is just a little bit of a statement there that that song isn’t that important to the band than it might be for many people (laughs).”
Lordi have no immediate plans, although further touring and recording is on the longterm horizon. “There’s hopefully nothing coming for a month after the tour, so we can have a little bit of a vacation here,” the lyricist laughs. “There’s summer festivals, and then there are plans for the fall. There are talks about a Russian tour, a South American tour, and a Japan tour at some point. I have lots of plans and ideas for the next album. This train is not gonna stop any time soon (laughs).”
Scare Force One was released in Finland on October 31st, 2014 via Sony Music. The album underwent issue on the same date in the rest of Europe and subsequently on November 3rd in North America, all through AFM Records. Scare Force One’s Japanese issue occurred on November 26th via Metal Frontier.
Interview published in March 2015.
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