Ahead of Ensiferum’s show in Manchester (our review of which can be read here), we sat down with the band’s bassist Sami for a rather unique group interview with two fellow journalists. Here’s the questions we asked.
On your new album, the song Two Of Spades features the singer Frederick, who is arguably the king of Finnish disco. How easy was it for you to get him involved on the track?
He’s actually a family friend of Markus so not too difficult. It was another of these crazy ideas that somehow…I can’t remember the rehearsals where we came up with the whole disco part but I imagine that it was probably just me and Janne grooving away, and realising it sounded really good and we had to do it! I remember I wrote the lyrics for that part, I had this really raw demo down, and we were going to some show in Finland. We were sitting in the bus at about 6am in the morning and I basically went “hey, I have this idea, listen to this!” so I played it for them from my phone and everyone just started laughing and saying that it was a hilarious idea and we had to do it! Then we started talking that maybe we should ask someone to sing that bit and Frederik was by far the craziest idea!
It really works though!
Yeah! On the last albums we’ve had some remarkable people too as well – on Unsung Heroes we had Vesa-Matti Loiri, who’s a really big acting star in Finland and on From Afar we had Olli Ahvenlahti, who is a really legendary piano player and played the solo in Stone Cold Metal. So I guess we’ll see what will happen with the next album too! We all really like being able to feature people such as these on our albums…some people may think it’s not so cool but we really like it! (laughs) If we have an idea and think someone can do it better than us, then why not ask them?
As Netta has been touring with you quite a bit recently, would you consider making her a full-time member or will Emmi be coming back?
For now, Netta is a live member and a dear friend of ours. Maybe if things escalate – if that’s the right word to use, as it sounds so dramatic! – as Emmi is having family issues, but Netta is just helping us out right now.
I quite like the different twist she gives the music, as of course it sounds a little different on accordion than keyboards. Is it much different for you onstage as well, playing with someone new?
It’s really weird having four people in the front row after ten years of there being three! Tonight we’re playing on a fairly small stage, so it’s a bit of a tight squeeze and we’ll need to be a bit more careful. But yeah, Netta is doing excellent and she’s a great musician. She never complains, either, and actually it’s the same with Emmi too – she never complains either! I think us guys do a lot more complaining than them!
Do you ever prank your fellow bandmates or crew on tour?
Well, I think there are some things better left unsaid…! (laughs) We are actually really nice to each other and we also have a really cool crew who are really professional.
Would you feel mean pranking them then?
Well, they really know how to have fun as well! Some of them have been with us for ten years, too. In general, we have a rule – I know this is going to sound really cliché, but your own bunk is basically like a haven and nobody can touch you if you’re in there. But if you pass out in the downstairs and there’s a marker…! There was a pretty funny occasion in North America where we had a driving day and were going to do a border crossing to Canada. Sometimes they can be really strict and some member of the band passed out and some people thought it would be a good idea to paint him, even though the border crossing was going to be in two hours. (laughs)
There was all the cliches of genitals being drawn, and a certain kind of moustache from the 40’s. When we went to the border, we were like “hey, wake up! We’re at the border” and luckily, this person went to the toilet before he went inside with his passport. He came out and was like “what the fuck did you do?!” But we were nice – it wasn’t drawn with a permanent marker and could be washed off with water. Usually these things are done with permanent markers!
Imagine if it was permanent marker! You would have had to draw a little moustache on his passport picture, along with whatever else you drew on his face.
(laughs) That’s a great idea! We’d be standing with the passport at the mirror, trying to make sure everything matched. I know it’s pretty lame, but I suppose I shouldn’t reveal too much more as it involves other people!