Popular Finnish heavy metallers, BATTLE BEAST, just released their fourth studio album, “Bringer of Pain,” on February 17th. With their new tour starting up, the Helsinki natives started up at the Virgin Oil Co., so we took the opportunity to grab Noora Louhimo (vocals) and Janne Björkroth (keyboards) to talk about the new album and the upcoming tours.
I hear there’s a North American tour coming up – is there anything you’re looking forward to?
Janne: Yeah with Sabaton.
Noora: We will be there about 5 weeks starting in April.
That’s quite exciting.
J: Yeah, First time.
N: Let’s do the European tour first, there is also thirty-six dates there.
So it’s really good to get out there with the new songs?
J: It is really nice to have the new songs now.
N: I feel like there is a new energy in the band; everyone is really excited about bringing out the new material.
Congratulations on the release of your latest album. What was it like to write music with your new line-up, and how collaborative was the writing process?
J: Making this album, there are six song writers, so everyone has to find their own role in this process.
N: I feel like it was really great, this whole process, because we learned so much about each other and how we want to work things out and what are the ways people like to do things. It was a learning experience also. Of course it is never easy to do an album, but I think we managed really well.
We really need to thank Janne, as he was the producer and he kept the package and schedules together; without him this wouldn’t have been as professional as it is.
What was it like working with Tomi Joutsen? What was it about him that made you want to include him?
J: He is a really nice guy; it was an easy day with him. I just asked, “Hey, can you sing this?” and he said, “Yeah, yeah, of course.” It was no problem at all and he was really easy going, a great singer, and great to have him.
Why did you want a guest vocalist in that song, specifically?
J: I wanted to do a duo song and I wasn’t sure who was going to sing it but when I called Tomi and he said, “Of course I can come.”
N: We didn’t have to persuade him.
J: When I wrote the song, I didn’t know that Tomi was going to be the singer, but I knew that Tomi’s low voice is really cool so I decided to do this low speaking part and asked him. He was in mind from the start when I wrote the song. I also thought about Till Lindeman…
N: But he didn’t have the time.
J: We can say he didn’t have the time.
It’s probably safe to say that the single “King for a Day” sounds like it was written about politicians in general. Was this a coincidence or was that something you were influenced by?
J: It was kind of a coincidence. Many people are saying, “is it a song about Trump?” but we had already written the song way before Trump was elected. It’s not a specific person, it can be whoever. Anywhere in the world are people who fit to the lyrics.
N: And anybody can have a bad boss at their workplace or something, so for me, the song represents a common evil or a bad person who just uses power in the wrong way.
Do you have any strong political feelings, as a band, that you wanted to express in this album?
J: We try to stay away from political themes but of course power and those types of themes are nice to write songs about.
N: It’s a cool way to deal with these different problems in life no matter what is the issue. “King for a Day” actually sounds cheery and [has] positive vibes that make you feel like you want to dance, but we also deal with something pretty serious. But I think it makes it easier for people and listeners to approach those types of issues, if you don’t do it so seriously.
What other influences did you have when writing this album?
N: I think we had different influences. As we had more than one songwriter, everyone has their own influences. Even if you are only just one person, you have many different influences over the years [as] you have grown.
J: We didn’t want to have an overall theme so we wrote about whatever came to mind.
Your music videos also seem to have very strong themes to them. Can you tell us a bit about the background for “Familiar Hell”? Do you design your videos yourselves, or do the directors do that?
J: We sent the song and the lyrics to the director, Markus, and most of the ideas came from him.
N: The whole thing about the song was this person is lost and stuck in a world where they are afraid to get out of there. In the music video, Markus wanted to express that happening. It was really cool that Markus wanted to do it which such an effort and that I could do some acting in all the music videos we have had. It has been something I have always dreamed about.
Lastly, apart from the touring, is there anything you’re looking forward to, both in the next year and the future in general?
J: We are really focusing on the touring right now. It is really hard to think further.
N: We just go with the flow.
J: During the tour we will already be thinking about new songs during any free time.
Are there any places that you are looking forward to playing over the next year?
N: I think the whole of North America, as this is all new for us. We have read all the comments asking to come there.
J: I hope after the summer we would be able to visit South America and even Japan and play shows there.
N: Also Australia, they are really waiting for us. That would be cool.
Interview by Bear Wiseman
Conducted by Tom Benjamin