Interview with Ensiferum bassist Sami Hinkka

- Sep 25, 2009 at 10:19AM
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Ensiferum are hitting the road again with a whole batch of new material off their recently released, fourth album, From Afar. The upcoming months are going to be non-stop for the band as they start off their huge European and North American tours, bringing their folk-infused metal to an anticipating audience. With dates set from now up until the early days of the new year, chances are they’ll be tearing through a city close by and you probably don’t want to miss out.

Congrats on the release of From Afar. How’s the response been so far?
Sami: Thank you very much. Feed has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

How would you compare the new album to your last, Victory Songs?
Sami: I think Victory Songs was a natural evolution from early albums toward From Afar which is definitely the biggest, most ambitious, most solid and overall the best album we have made so far.

Did it come out the way everyone was hoping it to?
Sami: I think it topped our expectations in every possible way.

What do you think From Afar says about the band right now?
Sami: We have finally found perfect line up for live gigs and studio recordings. We have played almost 200 gigs with this line up and that’s something that you can hear from the album.

It seems like you guys are going to be touring non-stop right into the new year. What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming tours?
Sami: Of course it’s nice to visit new countries like we are doing new year’s gig in Australia, but I’m just so excited to play new stuff live and be on the road again. So every upcoming gig is like Christmas for me. [laughs]

Is there any country or city in particular that you’re looking forward to playing?
Sami: So far we have had great audiences in every country we have visited so it’s impossible to say just one, but I have to mention Montreal fans, they are insane (in a good way).

Touring for that long must take a toll on all of you, but your live shows are always completely explosive. How do you keep up that high energy throughout the length of your tours?
Sami: I have never had any problems to get in the right mood for gigs, they are the best thing in life for me. Of course traveling is very exhausting time to time and you can’t get drunk all the time so I think the best way to survive touring is to do something useful every now and then. For example I read as much as possible; on last tour I read two books. And most of all, if you have good people around you, then the spirit will stay high all the time.

I would imagine that your audiences help you out with that. It seems like your fans always bring it full force to your shows.
Sami: That’s so true. Fans really give us the extra boost on gigs and hopefully we can get them in to a frenzy also.

I’m going to take you back in time a little bit. What was it like first bringing Ensiferum and your style if music to North America?
Sami: We did 6 show mini-tour in Eastern Canada in 2007. At that time our albums weren't even officially released there and I was expecting like 20-50 to show up just to check out "crazy Finns," but we ended up to have sold out shows night after night. And last year we headlined Paganfest tour which was also a great experience. So North America has been very good place for us always.

The band has been together for close to 15 years now. What has kept this band alive for so long?
Sami: Markus is the founder of the band and the heart and soul of our music. I believe that it is his ambition and love for music that has helped Ensiferum through some rough times.

Naturally, the band’s gone through many changes over the years. But what’s been the most memorable thing that this current lineup has experienced so far?
Sami: There are so many good moments, but let’s say Wacken 2008.

You guys seem to have done it all. What’s left to conquer?
Sami: [laughs] I hope that we can keep writing good music and keep touring as long as possible.
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