Discussing Monsters And Movies With Lordi's Drummer, Mana
Since their inception, Finland's Lordi has become one of the flag bearers for old school heavy metal. Their use of costumes, theatrics and pop culture references has made them a favourite for many who enjoyed the style which was most prominent in the eighties, while others have not warmed to the group quite so much. Over the cource of their career, the band has gained a significant fan base in Germany, the Balkans and the United Kingdom. During their stop in Bristol (reviewed here,) as part of their extensive tour of Great Britain, I was able to sit down and speak with the band's drummer, Mana, with whom I discussed a variety of subjects from their recent album, "Monstereophonic," where they find the most success and why they continue to make such use of the classic heavy metal stage show.
Diamond Oz: You've been on a very long tour of the United Kindom. What's the reason for such a long tour?
Mana: I don't know. I think we have done this size tour Europe previously.
Oz: I see. Would you say you have a very big fan base in Britain?
Mana: I don't know. Maybe.
Oz: How long have you been with the band now?
Mana: I have been with the band for four and a half years.
Oz: So something of a veteran now then?
Mana: Yeah, I'm starting to see it in my face. (laughs) I love it. It's great.
Oz: Well the latest album has been out for a few months now. How's the reception been so far?
Mana: I think it's been really good. People are liking the whole concept thing. The A side is like basic Lordi stuff and the B side has more of a story. People are really fucking digging it.
Oz: Is this the first Lordi concept album?
Mana: Yes, it is.
Oz: Why the decision to do a concept album now?
Mana: Well, I think Mr. Lordi had been thinking about it for a long time because he's a big King Diamond fan. But it's really hard to make a concept album, so you have to think about the story and of course the lyrics and how to piece it all together. It's a hard job and it's hard to play as well! Some very technical stuff compared to the old records.
Oz: Are they any plans to perform the (concept side) of the album in full at some point?
Mana: Of course there are always plans but we don't know when that would be. Maybe a special show one time for whoever wants to hear it (laughs) Maybe even Bristol! (laughs)
Oz: Yeah, why not?! Could you tell us a little bit behind the concept itself and the story?
Mana: No, because they are not my lyrics (laughs) Well, I guess there are four monsters and then they kind of go on an adventure and in the end they all die or something.
Oz: Well, like you said, you've been in the band for four and a half years now, coming on five, how did it feel to join a band which has such a reputation and already something of a legacy, having done all sorts of products in Finland such as Lordi Cola, postage stamps and so on?
Mana: Well, it was kind of weird but I already knew some of the older members. I knew Kita, the former drummer, he was my friend... Still is! (laughs) And I knew people around the band so it was not that weird but then, it's always weird to wear latex. I didn't have any clue how it would feel to play with a costume like that on, I feel like I'm having a heart attack after every show! You get used to it though. You have to be in shape.
Oz: I guess what the band are most famous for is winning the Eurovision Song Contest ten years ago. Do you ever get people come up to you saying that they saw you on the show, not realising it was a different drummer?
Mana: Uhh, all the time. The Eurovision people don't really follow the band, or who played on what album. They just say, "Oh it's Lordi. They're the guys who won the Eurovision," so they just think it's always been the same guys.
Oz: I'm not sure if you were in the band at this stage, but Lordi have done film work before including your own film, "Dark Floors." Are there any plans in the future to make another movie?
Mana: I wasn't in the band at that time but as far as I know, there are no plans for another movie.
Oz: It's not something that would appeal to you?
Mana: Sure but I like to play drums. That's my life. I'm not interested in acting. Of course I would do it if the opportunity came up, but I'd probably be more like, "... Fuck it." But of course I'd do it for the band, though I just like to play drums on stage. Theatre maybe... No. Just music. I hate musicals.
Oz: As far as the monster designs themselves go, they've become very recognisable, at least to rock fans. How would you say the legacy of the characters themselves are? Would you say these are perhaps the first monsters that are so well known since the likes of Dracula or the Wolf Man.
Mana: Well, not in Scandinavia. That's a pretty quiet area for us but maybe in Germany, Czech Republic, that's where more of our fan base are. And in the UK of course! But I wouldn't compare myself to Dracula.
Oz: Because unlike Dracula, you don't suck?
Mana: (laughs) Very good.
Oz: So, with the costumes comes a lot of theatrics. How do you see the use of theatrics in modern rock music? Obviously, it used to be quite common with the likes of Judas Priest and the like putting on huge shows, nowadays not so much. Do you see yourself as carrying on the legacy of the likes of King Diamond?
Mana: Of course. My favourite bands are Alice Cooper and KISS so for me it's like living the dream. The music is also like these bands so I think it's a very good fit. Obviously, it depends on the bands, not everybody can have chainsaws on stage slicing up people. It really does depend on the band but of course if you wear a costume, you also have to have something else on the stage. It's a shame because the venues here in the UK are quite small so we can't do all the things we'd like to.
Oz: Yeah, they're very compact. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us!
Mana: Thank you!
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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