interview with Monster of Rock himself: Mr. Lordi


Interview By Pete Alander / January 2011

On a cold winter day of February 1974, a baby boy was born in the Northern part of Finland. In the future, that little baby was to become a hideous monster of the heavy metal world. Influenced by comic books, horror movies, Kiss, U.D.O., Twisted Sister and W.A.S.P. that little boy created one of the scariest frontmen, Mr. Lordi, for a band called Lordi.  

The band got together in 1996. Years later the band still kicks hard and has achieved many milestones during their career. Five albums with album sales over 600.000. Lordi has toured around the world, including Ozzfest 2007, and played to millions of metal fans. They´ve won the Eurovision song contest 2006 with “Hard Rock Hallelujah” and starred their own horror movie “The Dark Floors”.

Steel Mill got the honour to chat with the main monster Mr. Lordi himself about monsters, Udo Dirkschneider, Priest, Kiss and blank cd´s. A phone interview was delayed by a day because monsters need to rest too.

Apparently, the touring has been exhausting particularly this fall?

I am so tired I could sleep for a decade. We have been touring so hard this year. Last months have been particularly heavy ´cause we have been sick almost all the time. Our keyboard player Awa has played shows in fever. Luckily, we´ve managed to play all shows without a single cancellation. There have´t been many days off during this tour, and it is hard, but we love it so much. We´ve been playing around the world from smaller clubs to big festivals.

Lordi is very famous for their energetic stage shows. You use a lot of pyrotechnics and other props to create an unique experience for the audience. Sometimes it is not possible to use explosions and fire. How does Lordi´s smaller stages differ from bigger ones? 

We don´t care much about where we play. As long as people are enjoying what they see and hear. Of course we can´t use all the props we want in smaller stages, but the atmosphere is usually much tighter. You connect better with the audience. Personally, I love to have all the explosions and bombs, but you gotta understand it is not possible to use them everywhere.

Lordi has toured around the world for many years now. There are lot of different fans from little kids to grown men and women. Where are the most devoted fans of Lordi?

It is hard to say exactly where they lurk, but I am really happy we have many loyal fans everywhere. Finland, Germany, Austria… Fans from Canada and the United States travel to Europe just to see us play! Isn´t that amazing?

Lordi has been very strict what comes to the dress code. It is forbidden for the members of Lordi to show their “true faces” in publicity. Even though there are some occasional photos in the Internet you still have kept your secrecy quite well. You had to fire your long time drummer Kita for wanting to perform with another band without the mask.

There was no particular drama about Kita leaving the band. Of course he has a lot of fans around the world, and we hope all the best to him, naturally. Luckily we found another monster, Otus, to fill the gap. He has already proved his slot in this band. What comes to the drumming, there is a certain way to play Lordi´s songs, but drummers are different. Otus has a different style to play, and you can hear it live. The whole thing reminds me of when Priest hired Scott Travis and you could hear the difference immediately. The whole Painkiller album starts with this vicious drum intro, and Scott playing live gave Priest a real boost. The same thing was with Kiss when Eric Carr came to fill Peter Criss´s shoes. With Otus, things can also only get better and heavier with Lordi.

© Lordi

Lordi has been around for many years now. You have successfully combined theatrical elements to the hard rock sound of the 80s. Is there any reason to change anything in this “monsterican dream”?

First was the music, then came in the monsters to give something extra to the music. You can hear the sound of Lordi in every album we´ve made, and why should we change that? There just aren’t any reasons for that.

Lordi has also been connected to satanism and thrash music.

Yeah, but as everyone knows by now, we are not from that world, even though we have used bits and pieces from the darker side in our music. There are always people who don´t understand stuff like ours. I mean, who would love a monsterman, haha! You read and hear stuff from various sources and from various critics, who really don´t know a thing about what we do. You just have to handle it.

“Babez for Breakfast” is the fifth album from Lordi. It is a true and honest hard rock album with a bunch of great songs. (Just read the freakin´ review from Steel Mill´s review section) In the album you have Bruce Kulick envolved, and behind the producers desk you have Michael Wagener. A pretty cool package there…

This is the best Lordi album so far! We were in a position where we wanted to create something like this after our previous album “Deadache”. I mean big keyboars, stadium sounds and Los Angeles 1984! Michael Wagener made the album sound very American and very big. The songs made it brilliant, and there are some occasional humouristic elements as well. It has some similarities to “Get Heavy” album. I made 50 to 60 rough demos for this album, and together with the band we chose the best bits from my ideas. I usually create a truckload of demos, and the band eliminates all the weird stuff. Sometimes I create so weird songs I don´t know where they come from, haha. But, all in all, I am very satisfied with this album. I hope people will love it too.

So the next album might have Michael envolved with it as well?

Hell yeah, why not! I´m also looking forward to put Otus in a real drumming test! We need to do our “Painkiller”.

© Lordi

Album artwork is an important part of Lordi´s visual world. All the covers (except “Arockalypse”) are illustrated by Mr. Lordi himself. Besides creating the artwork for your albums you have done some outside work, too. How´s that mixing with the busy life on the road?

I love using just pens and paper. I also paint with acrylic colours. I had an exhibition in Helsinki in 2009, it was a very pleasant experience, though I was too busy to take part in the opening. I was on tour then.

So, do we see Lordi still playing after 20 years, or do you want to make a living as a painter instead?

Lordi will torture the poor human souls as long as I´m breathing. Yes, I wanna be in this band as long as possible. It is such an important part of my life, and I don´t want to let it go. On the side I also want to do my own art, but most likely I would not make a living out of it. I should stick with the music.

I hope we still have record companies, though. The music industry has changed dramatically since the early days of Lordi. Back then we used to follow the amounts of sold albums, later on everyone was checking how many blank cd’s people were buying! Now everything is on the Internet, and it is harder to follow how “popular” you are among the illegal downloaders. Nowadays it is harder and harder to make a living as a musician, and I don´t believe it will change in near future. When you are “hip”, and trust me I know what it is like, it is easier to sell stuff, but sometimes it is not easy, for big bands either. I mean, poor Mariah Carey got fired from her record company for selling only a few million albums…

Also Lordi got pretty big during 2006 (with the victory in the Eurovision Song Contest -ed.)…

Yep, we got big in 2006 and everyone loved us which, of course, was a positive thing. It was a good thing for the whole band, and we were very popular. The downside with these things is that it is just as easy to be forgotten. People can act like a herd of souls, they do what the media expects them to do. For what I believe, true people dare to be different, if they want to.

There have been many special guests on Lordi albums, Bruce Kulick, Udo Dirkschneider… Who should be on the next ones?

I would love to have big G on our album (Gene Simmons, in case Joe didn´t know this. -P.A). That’dbekind of a dream come true. Otherwise a certain blond guitarist from Judas Priest could also join in. I would not say no to that.

Do visitors really give something extra to the music?

Absolutely yes. We really like to have cool visitors on our albums. Due to the busy schedules everything happens by an accident or with luck. It is also great fun. With Bruce we just jammed and made songs. Also with Udo and Stefan Kaufmann it was a real blast to jam with. With Udo we might still do something together in the future. He is a really cool guy.

Speak of the devil, how does the new Accept sound without Udo?

To be honest, I haven´t heard the album yet. I´ve heard some really good comments on it, but I haven´t had the time to get it. Funny thing, at one festival this year we drank beer with Udo while Accept was playing on stage at the same time.

I will get the new album though, but to be honest, I believe Udo is the original voice of Accept. Luckily he kept the whole thing going on with U.D.O, which is one of the best bands around. In my early days I had much respect for frontmen like Udo and Rob Halford for not looking the same as rest of the bands. I mean they dared to have short hair, hah! Both of them play a big role in my book of best frontmen.

Steel Mill wishes to thank you for this interview, got any final words for K.K. and our readers?

Huge respect points to all the readers of the Steel Mill, it is an amazing website, and I´m proud to be part of it!

I would really like to meet K.K. sometime and have a talk with him. Priest has played a big role also in my life. I was in Helsinki Hartwall Arena in 2005 when Priest played their reunion tour. It was a big deal and one of the best shows I´ve ever seen! I love Turbo, Ram It Down, Defenders of the Faith… “Love Bites” is one of the best songs, and we´ve been using it as a reference in the studio while recording. K.K., please tell me how you did the weird sound after the bass intro…?