March 16, 2015 Interview – Petri Lindroos of Ensiferum
Though its inspiration is rooted in centuries-old Norse, Pagan, and Medieval lore, the creation and worldwide development of Folk Metal has transpired relatively recently, and the genre is only gaining traction. This is no surprise, as whether one is into bagpipes or electric guitars, fantasy or actuality, simple melodies or bombastic walls of sound, tradition or innovation, there is truly something for everyone in this creatively musical outlet. Credited as being some of the first to the scene, Finnish Melodic Folk Metal stalwarts Ensiferum now close in on two decades of flag wielding, sword bearing, storytelling, and face melting sounds. The band has proven consistent in their delivery over the years between their unforgettable live shows and technically gorgeous studio albums. One Man Army, their sixth studio offering, is an epic addition to the band’s heroic chronicle, featuring the elaborate storytelling we all expect with even more technicality, musicianship, and ingenuity. Recently, guitarist and vocalist Petri Lindroos spoke with us about the band’s newest release, the creative process, and his own personal trajectory.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in Metal for almost two decades now. In 2004 you started touring with Ensiferum and stayed with the band. Tell us how you became a full-time member of the band?
Petri Lindroos – That happened when Ensiferum parted ways with their former singer Jari, he wanted to do the first Wintersun album recordings at the same time when Ensiferum got offered their first European tour. They were overlapping, so things happened, Jari left, and the guys asked me to fill in for the tour. I had nothing else to do at the moment so I said, “Yes,” and it was probably two years after that when they asked, “Would you like to stay in the band?”
CrypticRock.com – So it just made sense and it was the right fit at that point?
Petri Lindroos – Yes, well after that spring European tour they booked some festivals for the summer and asked, “Can you do these ?” I said, “Sure.” Then there was another tour coming up after that one and so on. It just went on step by step.
CrypticRock.com – Sounds like it was a seamless and natural progression. As mentioned, you have had a long career in Metal. In 1996, you started with Norther and the band had a strong run over the course of the years. You parted ways with the band in 2009. Was that a difficult time for yourself considering you had helped build Norther from the ground up with the other members?
Petri Lindroos – It was actually pretty shitty, in the end. The guys kicked me out and they gave me a weird reasoning that I did not have enough time for Norther anymore. I honestly did not get that kind of reason since Norther never was that busy of a band. In the end there was only a couple of European tours that we did over all the years and not that much shows. We probably did a dozen a year, or maybe twenty. I do not consider that to be too busy. What can you do?
CrypticRock.com – That is rather unfortunate that happened seeing all the hard work you put into the band. Since Norther disbanded in 2012, you continue on with Ensiferum. Clearly Norther and Ensiferum are two different bands. With that said, what has your time in Ensiferum been like?
Petri Lindroos – Personally, for the guitar part, it was pretty interesting to notice that Ensiferum uses shitloads of chords in one riff . With Norther, we got the basic four… maybe if we were lucky we have five chords in a riff, or something like that. These guys can add something like twenty! I was stunned and felt how will I ever be able to remember all this? Even just learning a half a song took me a while at that point. Nowadays, I am used to it, but yes it is a different kind of style playing guitar and that is always good.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is good to challenge yourself and expand your repertoire. Ensiferum are considered to be one of the leaders of Folk Metal. Folk Metal has become a very popular sub-genre of Metal. Are you at all surprised to see how the style of music has caught on internationally like it has?
Petri Lindroos – Pretty much, yes. It started around 2006 or so, and the major breakthrough came in 2008 when we were doing the first Paganfest tour. We did that one in Europe as well as the United States. Europe was really nice, there was around twenty-one shows and twenty of them were totally sold out. The USA turnout was also really nice for that package at that point. It is good, people like this style of music all over the world.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly has become quite popular and an acceptable sub-genre of Metal. Ensiferum recently released their sixth overall album, One Man Army, on February 20th. This was the fourth overall album with you on vocals. What was the writing and recording process like for this album?
Petri Lindroos – Obviously we are growing older, so probably also getting a little bit wiser with that. I think we take the songwriting process actually a little bit seriously nowadays. We do that by being a little bit more calculating, more what we want to do, what kind of songs we need for the albums, and stuff like that.
CrypticRock.com – When you say “calculating,” do you mean almost more… trying to appeal to the masses, or more commercial?
Petri Lindroos – No, not at all. We do not think of the public opinion when writing the music because the music is for us, mainly. So we do it for ourselves and we are just very lucky with that. It is a nice bonus that people like it.
CrypticRock.com – Right, most musicians who create would agree they make their best work when they are being true to themselves. One Man Army is definitely dynamic and keeps your attention all the way through. What are your biggest challenges trying to keep the creative process fresh and new album to album?
Petri Lindroos – You need to pretty much step out from the box where you have been labeled in. You need to take a little bit of a risk in a certain way, but do not step to far out from the box. You need to pick up some new elements for the music, things you have not done before, just to keep it interesting for you, and also for the fans. If we would make a completely identical album to, let’s say, to compare to 2009’s From Afar, then the world would just think, “OK, they just repeated that album.” Yes, we want to keep it fresh, do always something a little bit new. Not too radical, but still something.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. That makes sense. The band’s style is their style, but it is nice to explore different elements as you stated. The band is in the midst of a European tour through April before you head to North America in May to tour with Korpiklaani and Trollfest. How exciting is it for you to be out there performing this new material?
Petri Lindroos – We are very excited to get back on the road to perform the new songs. We have been playing old songs a long time now so it is also a good time to put out an album so we can get some changes to the setlist. The European run started in Finland where we did a couple of acoustic shows at a record shop in Helsinki and Tampere. That was something completely new for us. We cannot wait to get back to North America too!
CrypticRock.com – Excellent! It has been a couple of years since you toured the North American region so fans are very excited. What are some of your major musical influences?
CrypticRock.com – Those are certainly the classics and some of the best when it comes to Metal. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Petri Lindroos – (laughs) That is the toughest question yet! The one I remember is really old, it was called April Fool’s Day (1986). It was the one where a girl is inviting a lot of friends over to this island where she has a house. The people all start dying one by one, but in the end it is all just a big hoax on one person’s account. That one is kind of freaky. When you are young, you should not be watching that kind of stuff (laughs).
3/16/2015 Szene – Wien, AT *
3/18/2015 Live Club – Milan, IT *
3/19/2015 Les Docks – Lausanne, CH *
3/20/2015 La Laiterie – Strasbourg, FR *
3/21/2015 Z7 – Pratteln, CH *
3/22/2015 Ninkasi Kao – Lyon, FR *
3/23/2015 Le Bataclan – Paris, FR *
3/24/2015 O2 Academy Islington- London, UK *
3/25/2015 Patronaat – Haarlem, NL *
3/26/2015 Hedon – Zwolle, NL *
3/27/2015 Biebob – Vosselaar, BE *
3/28/2015 Tivoli – Bremen, DE *
3/29/2015 Grünspan – Hamburg, DE *
3/30/2015 Vega – Copenhagen, DK *
3/31/2015 Göta Källare – Stockholm, SE *
4/01/2015 Sticky Fingers – Gothenburg, SE *
4/02/2015 Inferno Metal Festival – Oslo, NO *
5/06/2015 House of Blues – Los Angeles, CA **
5/07/2015 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA **
5/08/2015 Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR **
5/09/2015 El Corazon – Seattle, WA **
5/10/2015 Rickshaw Theatre Vancouver, BC **
5/12/2015 Republik – Calgary, AB **
5/13/2015 Union Hall – Edmonton, AB **
5/15/2015 Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO **
5/16/2015 Bourbon Theater – Lincoln, NE **
5/17/2015 Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN **
5/18/2015 Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL **
5/19/2015 Agora Theater – Cleveland, OH **
5/20/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON **
5/21/2015 Mavericks – Ottawa, ON **
5/22/2015 Club Soda – Montreal, QC **
5/23/2015 Imperial de Quebec – Quebec City, QC **
5/24/2015 Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA **
5/26/2015 Mr. Small’s Theater – Pittsburgh, PA **
5/27/2015 Baltimore Soundstage – Baltimore, MD **
5/28/2015 Theatre of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA **
5/29/2015 Irving Plaza – New York, NY **
8/13/2015 Rockstadt Extremefest – Rasnov, DE
6/19-21/2015 Hellfest – Clisson, FR
7/30-8/1/2015 Wacken Open Air – Wacken, DE
8/06-08/2015 Party San Open Air – Schlotheim, DE
8/08/2015 IntoThe Grave Festival – Leeuwarden, NL
8/09/2015 Bloodstock Open Air – Walton-On-Trent, GB
8/13-15/2015 Summer Breeze – Dinkelsbühl, DE
*w/ Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum
**w/ Korpiklaani, Trollfest