ENSIFERUM Bassist SAMI HINKKA: 'Folk Metal Brought Fun Back To Metal'

March 24, 2019

Australia's Double Kick recently conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist Sami Hinkka of Finnish folk metallers ENSIFERUM. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the "energetic" nature of folk metal shows:

Sami: "Somebody said it very well — I think it was several years ago I was doing interviews in the U.K. and this one journalist, I think he was from Metal Hammer [magazine]. The way he sees it, 'Folk metal brought fun back to metal.' What hair metal and maybe power metal had, then thrash, death and black metal came in between and there was maybe a little bit more gloomier genres. Folk metal brought fun back to metal. I thought to myself: that's actually very true."

On integrating folk music into metal:

Sami: "There are bands who literally have folk instruments onstage and they draw a lot of inspiration from the actual folklore and so on, but for ENSIFERUM, well, of course, the foundation is there when Markus Toivonen [guitar] started the band, when he founded it back in '95. He was very much inspired by Finnish and Scandinavian, Irish folk music, especially the melodies, because they had a really sad, longing vibe in it which fits metal music very well. I guess it's ENSIFERUM, it's more about that and of course, certain folk instruments are really pleasing to our ears. We get labeled as 'folk metal,' 'Viking metal,' whatever. [Laughs] 'Battle metal.' In the very essence, it's a melodic metal band with a little bit of roots in folk music. Of course, if you think about, the themes ENSIFERUM sings about — we always had these very strong, heroic, also fantasy-like world where we tell the stories."

On ENSIFERUM never running out of lyrical topics:

Sami: "That's the thing, because like this labeling us as a Viking metal band is a little bit misleading because we only have two songs that actually refer to Edda, the Viking sagas. It's understandable if you come from Finland. We're right next to Scandinavia, so we never mind what people label us. Yeah, we never run out of topics because we never painted ourselves in a corner where we just have one topic that we can or allowed to write songs [about]. That would be terrible. Of course, ENSIFERUM, we have a heroic, kind of fantasy theme. I doubt there will be an ENSIFERUM album where the theme will be space. [Laughs] I love astrology on a personal level; I love that stuff. For ENSIFERUM, I think we are going to stick with swords and might and magic aspects. [Laughs]"

On the need for so many sub-genres within metal:

Sami: "It's understandable. Like I said, the Viking metal label — it's very misleading, but on the other hand, we come from northern Europe and we have swords and this kind of heroic aspect in it. It might give some kind of picture to people what kind of music it might be. Instead of stressing about the label, I just always listen to music or come to shows to see the interaction with the crowd and the band and see the fun that people are having there. That's much more important than putting a label on a band."

On taking part in fan meet-and-greets:

Sami: "I always enjoy that. I always like to talk with people. It really comes down to the way I see the world. You should never look up to any human being as a superior and I love breaking the illusion. We're all human beings and that's what I really like. I also like to have the opportunity to say thank-you to the fans, literally face-to-face. Without them, we wouldn't be able to do this. I really enjoy meet-and-greets. Usually when we're on tour, sometimes we try to do them when the doors are open. We go there and hang around at the bar and merch booth and talk to people. It's super-nice."

ENSIFERUM recently completed a North American tour with SEPTICFLESH.

ENSIFERUM's seventh album, "Two Paths", was released in September 2017 via Metal Blade Records. Produced by Anssi Kippo, the disc was recorded on tape, for a true analog experience.

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