Let's get over the basics first. How do you describe Stam1na to someone unfamiliar with your music? Are there some bands your sound or songs could rightfully be compared with, in your opinion?
H > No other band is like ours. This is a thing I have realized recently. One of the main things is our singing language, it's in Finnish. In general the stuff is labeled under "metal" in the stores.
What bands influence you these days? Are they still the same ones that inspired you in the band's beginning?
H > We as a band give credit to many bands for inspiring us through the years. Some of them are Meshuggah, Slayer, Stone, Sepultura and more random stuff like Tool, Mastodon or Kirka. All exept our keyboard player has grown up with metal music in the backround. He used to be a Jesus boy in the past, I suppose.
The band was founded in 1996. Can you tell us something about the band's early days? What gave you the inspiration and spark to found a band, and what kind of music were you initially aiming to play?
H > The beginning is always messy and includes different stages of developement. We used to play cover songs from Green Day and Black Sabbath, for fuck's sake! The thing was that we started to work on our own shit as soon as we founded our party. We loved to play fast and loud. Technic riff based hazzle was the thing.
You initially sung in English, but on your fourth demo entitled Vihaa ("Hate") you switched to Finnish. Was there any special reason for this?
H > I got bored to write sensless porage. I don't think in English, therefore I am not able to express myself with it that easy. I think the leap across the language barrier was our solo guitarist's idea.
After releasing at least eight demo-releases between the years '97 and '04, you got a contract with the Finnish label Sakara Records. How did you come to score the contract?
H > They had heard our Väkivaltakunta EP and I recon it made the neccessary punch. They called us up and a'vot!
How's Sakara suited and treated you? At least it seems that you're satisfied with their work, as you're still working for the same record label.
H > It seems exactly like that still. They are the best company to work with. And that is a fact for in our perspective 'cause they are the only label we've been on! Hahahah!
Your self-titled debut album was released in 2005, and your already fifth album was released earlier this year. What has changed during the years? Do you still compose and write lyrics the same way, for example?
H > There's just two things changed. First, our band has now five members instead of three. We all work hard with the songs, composing and arranging the shit together beforehand. And then when in studio, this fifth album was produced and mixed by Joe Barresi, one of the coolest dudes on the playfield.
Three of you have been with the band since 1996, but you found a new bass-player in '05, and in '09 you added a synth-player to your line-up. How have these "new" members affected your activity and sound?
H > Lots. They come up with ideas we three founding members wouldn't. Kai-Pekka is a fresh punk rocker, aged only 27 I think... and Emil is the most intelligent and musically educated fucker.
You're very popular in Finland these days. You tour actively, four of your albums have earned gold records (meaning the sales have exceeded 10.000 pieces) and you've received other awards and nominations. How do these awards feel to you? Do they affect your views on working with the band, or do you still see the band as it was in the early days: as doing what you love?
H > I eat money, gold and drugs.
When looking back on your previous records, how do they sound to you these days; is the debut album still a good one? Have you retrospectively noticed any changes or evolution in your style of playing or composing? At least it seems you aren't too ashamed of your past, since you released the most of your demos as a compilation-CD.
H > There's a lot of good in our past, maybe the same amount with the crappy crap. Maybe they balance each other. I don't listen to our debut album in my spare time, if this is what you are after. Sometimes I listen to my own stuff just to remind myself about the lyrics (like when we are touring and planning to play a rare track from the dark past) or such.
What do your lyrics deal with; are there some general themes you explore? How important are the lyrics in your music?
H > This is something I need to tattoo in my forehead... It's in Finnish, so of course you're asking me this. But the thing is so are the Finnish people too! Always I say the one remark, that I get lots of ispiration from TV. I hate that fucking black box. I want to write lyrics that makes me growl and scream like I do. Hate is fuel.
Regarding the lyrics, your earlier album Viimeinen Atlantis ("The Last Atlantis") dealed with global warming and the culture of consumerism that eventually leads to mankind's doom. How did you come to make an album with a strict theme, and how did you choose the theme of consumerism and excess? How was the album and its lyrics received around its release date?
H > Plain and simple: global warming and consumerism had been a chant on media for so long. Therefore it had been in my head for too long too. I wanted a story-based album, I am a storyteller I suppose and I hate lots of things. People think the story & the album is maybe the best Stam1na-stuff there is. It was an instant success.
What were the lyrical themes on your newest album? Was the theme of Nocebo (a harmful and unwanted placebo-effect) as strict as the consumerism-theme on your fourth album?
H > Mortality is one of the key words here. And dental medical surgery, hahaha. I wanted to dig in to the core of rock'n roll, the question of surface and depth, the illusion of immortality amongst the business and people around it. Something like that.
Generally, how does Nocebo differ from your earlier works in your opinion?
H > The production in studio was done in English, that being the biggest change..!
Nocebo was produced by Joe Barresi, who's previously worked with bands such as Kyuss, The Melvins, Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, Bad Religion... the list goes on. How did you choose him, and was it a hard task to make him your producer? How was it like to work with him; was it different that working with your earlier producers?
H > Eicca from Apocalyptica worked on their "7th Symphony"-album with Joe. He recomended us to each other. Everyone is different in the way of any kind of producing... Joe had just his own style. It was more strictly scheduled. We had more food to eat and less alcohol to consume.
You recently scored a contract with the American label Bieler Bros. Records, who'll release Nocebo in U.S.A. and Canada in June. How did this contract come to be? How will the BBR-pressing differ from the Sakara Records-version?
H > Sakara send our master to many many different addresses and Bieler came to be the suitable partner, that's that. They love the album, love the band and did not ask for any English versions of the songs or such. They'll release Nocebo in the way they want it to. Digital, hard copy... It is their choice. I have no experience with their pressing yet.
You've played one gig in Germany, but otherwise you haven't done a lot of gigs outside Finland, correct? Do you have any foreign tour-plans for the future?
H > Wrong. We did a baltic country tour and a German tour with Apocalyptica in 2007. It covered 14 gigs in four different countries. Then we bombed Berlin with a few other gigs and played in Wacken Open Air in 2008. The plans ahead will be informed in time.
You're on the road for a big part of the year. What is it that makes playing live meaningful and rewarding these days, and how do you keep your energies up if you have gigs on many consecutive evenings? How do you choose the set list for each evening? Have you had any quest artists performing with you, and do you have any such visits planned for the future?
H > We drink, use drugs and have intercourses with many different women, aged from 18 to 58. It keeps us vivid. We also carry laptops and tophats. The setlist is basically a lottery of 22 songs we've been practising to play live. We cannot play extempore. We are slow dudes. But horny.
As mentioned earlier, your lyrics are in Finnish except for one track on your newest album. How did you come to make a song mostly in English, and are more to follow?
H > The lingual decision in Nomad was based on the whole consept of Nocebo. Just read the lyrics. I wouldn't sing 'em in Finnish, you'll notice. And also I wanted to try it out.
How's Stam1na generally been received outside Finland, and have the Finnish lyrics been a big problem for foreign listeners - or more so something exotic and intriquing?
H > No, no problem. I translate the ideas of the songs and publish them online in our Forum. And then spend ten minutes per day to explain the same stuff again to media.
Aside of the album Uudet Kymmenen Käskyä ("The New Ten Commandments"), your albums have had really minimalistic artwork; often featuring your tooth-logo. What is the reason for such minimalistic, even tattoo-like artwork? What's the story behind your logo?
H > For me (as the head of the artistic stuff in our band, I suppose...) basic and simple artwork is the most powerful. I studied some graphic design back in the days. So I am not just any nazi singer with an attitude. The tooth came around in 2002 or 2003 with the Väkivaltakunta EP. I recon it stands for a loose tooth, violence but also the hardest thing in our body ripped out.
What are the bands that you yourselves follow these days, and have you recently found any new "crown jewels" within music that you'd like to mention here? Did you recognize any bands that might've had a big effect on what Nocebo ended up sounding like?
H > Tool and Barresi -connection striked my ears when we kicked the Lepositeet song on. Some of the keyboards stuff reminds me of Soilwork, but very little. Otherwise it's all original.
What do you have planned for the band's future?
H > To get myself Skype. It's gonna be stacks of interviews on top of the others. Touring, recording... the same shit as always.
This paragraph is for anything you feel like adding or advertising that we didn't go through above.
H > Sia paska o makujaa parast! Sitä ku panee vakua ni tuluoo potoativarrel kiirus raittise ilmoa!
Thank you for your time!
Photos: Teemu Leinonen