After their debut album “Berserker”, Finnish metal act Beast In Black had a very successful year filled with touring and festivals. The band somehow managed to even get us new material. As a result “From Hell With Love” is coming out early February 2019. We had a chance to interview Anton and Kasperi in between an exciting game of UNO.
Watch the video interview here, or read the complete text below.
Hi, guys! Thank you for taking the time for this promo tour. How are you guys doing? You just finished the tour with Nightwish, hopefully, you were able to take a small break.
Anton: Good, thank you! For Christmas, yeah.
Kasperi: For New Year’s a few days of rest and recreation and now we’re ready to start rocking the New Year.
You’re releasing “From Hell With Love” early February. How are you feeling about it?
Anton: Well, lots of work going on in the background: preparations for the headline tour. So, no time to feel really hyped that it’s coming out because I’m a practical guy in a way. I’m always thinking about what needs to be done, what to do tomorrow, the day after, next week. There are lots of things happening.
Last year when we did the interview you mentioned that writing a new album for you is basically scrolling through your back catalogue of material that you have previously written. Was it a similar process this time around?
Anton: It was more or less the same. The main difference in this production was the time. I had less time now. Lyric-wise, a friend of mine, Paolo Ribaldini helped to co-write the songs. I think we co-wrote five songs, and one song, the sixth one [Unlimited Sin] was entirely written by him. The rest are my lyrics. So, the lyrics and the schedule were probably the biggest differences.
How about the sound? How different is it from “Berserker”?
Kasperi: It’s more eighties style in my opinion. The album is a lot more keyboard driven, maybe. There are also a couple of tracks that are maybe heavier than anything on the first album, so it’s kinda like a mixed bag with different kinds of songs, lots of variety there, but still, it works together as a whole at least in my opinion.
I’ve read a lot of reactions online about the singles that you have released so far. People are comparing it with a mix of Abba, Judas Priest, and Bonnie Tyler.
Anton. Well, like Kasperi told at some point today, people have the tendency to categorize things. They always have to find some reference points when they get something new. They want to find something they can relate to. It’s normal, but it’s not about whether we should feel happy about it or not that they mention those names. It’s just how it is.
Kasperi: People just like to have something that they can compare it to, something that they are already familiar with. Of course, it makes it easier for them to find some connections to some other artists or bands from the past if they are like: “Okay, this reminds me of this band and that reminds me of that band”. It’s just how human mind works. It’s always easier to compare it to something that has happened or been there earlier. It’s just human nature.
So, let’s talk about the lyrics a bit more. Are they still about the “Berserk” comics?
Anton: Five songs are based on “Berserk”, one song is based on “Fist Of A North Star”, also an anime and manga from the 80s. The rest of the songs are lighter lyric-wise. They are based on personal matters, or fictional stuff or some of them are statements. “No Surrender”, for example, is not based on any specific personal thing, but it’s more of a statement type of song.
What is it about as a statement?
Anton: About not giving up. It’s very corny and cliche, but I just wanted to write about it this way. Actually, you always write about the same things that have already been written about by someone else, but you give it your own twist and touch, the way how you feel about a certain topic. Maybe that song is also about hope. Some people might get a boost from that song, it can give them hope to fight for something they find important to themselves.
What are the other songs about? Are there any other themes?
Anton: Unfortunately I don’t have the tracklist in front of me, but “This Is War” is about Band Of The Hawk, “Unlimited Sin” is about when the God Hand offers a deal to a person, who has the behelit. “Die By The Blade” is a psychological song, even though it has a straight forward title, it’s not really about being in a battle and just fighting, it’s more of a psychological thing. You have some kind of inner demon inside you, or a twin personality or something, for example, there is the main character Guts, who has his inner demon, this darkness inside of him. It deals with that, the struggle with himself, his inner self basically.
How was the tour in general with Nightwish? You have achieved quite much for a relatively young band, playing in Wembley and such.
Kasperi: It was great. We didn’t really know what to expect when we started the tour, we were being treated extremely well by Nightwish and the crew and you know the audience as well! The audience’s response was just amazing almost at every show. We were just the support band, so of course we didn’t know how it would turn out, but eventually, it was just great the whole 6 weeks that we did. It was just amazing, from start to finish pretty much, of course, it sucked that we had to go home after that whole run, but great memories, great experience and I hope that a lot of new people found us and checked out our music. Let’s see how it will be when we start the headlining tour this year. Just a great experience overall.
If you think about your first gigs from the album, so, for example, the one at Nosturi, and the last ones you had. What has changed?
Kasperi: I would say it is just the routine, the positive routine. When we played the first couple of shows like the Nosturi show for example, of course, we were a little bit nervous, because we were pretty new with the whole setlist, choreographies and stuff like that. Of course, we need to think about every move that we make. They were good shows, they were not necessarily that relaxed, when we played most of the shows on the Nightwish tour and summer festivals there was this positive routine going on. Everybody knew what was gonna happen and you know, we didn’t have to think about it, we were just there to entertain the people, it was just awesome.
Anton: It was easier to enjoy.
Kasperi: Yeah, it was.
Anton: You don’t have to think anymore. You can really smile more and enjoy the feeling.
Kasperi: It kind of becomes automatic, not in a negative way, but you can just enjoy the whole thing and you don’t have to think and you can’t just enjoy the ride.
Are you looking forward to the headlining shows, because during summer I guess you played only 40 minutes slots?
Kasperi: Yeah, well for the headlining tour, of course, we will have to play longer sets, I think it’s going to be close to 90 minutes or something.
Kasperi: So, basically we will have to play most of the songs from the first album, and also from the new album. Of course, we will still think about what we can come up with to make it more interesting for the audience. Maybe make some different live arrangements, or just have some jams or crowd singing parts or something like that. We haven’t really figured it out yet. The plan is that we will practice all the songs from the new album and we will see how they will work in a live situation, because of course when you have the album and you record songs for the album, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will work in a live situation. We will just practice all the songs and see which ones work the best, then we can just start building up the whole list for the headlining tour, let’s see.
Are you also gonna have some props there, during “Crazy, Mad, Insane” you always had some stage gimmicks?
Anton: Well, like Kasperi said. We still don’t know ourselves fully what to do. Hopefully, probably there will be some extra things, that will make people surprised. Not big or huge surprised, but small things, some nuances.
Kasperi: Yeah, something that makes it more interesting for the audience. Of course, we don’t have a million euro budget or anything to put into the production, but we will just have to think about some little things here and there how we can make it more interesting and loose it up a little bit.
If you had an unlimited budget for performances. What would you do?
Anton: I dunno, a buffet?
What kind of a buffet?
Kasperi: Beer buffet for everyone who is attending.
Anton: So we could share it with the audience as well.
Kasperi: And a giant robot. A beer robot.
What is a beer robot though? Does it shoot beer out of its arms?
Kasperi: Well a robot that is giving beer to everyone in the audience.
Anton: It has two big eyes like lightbulbs, and his hands are moving like this [moves like a robot] and there is beer and it’s always pouring.
Kasperi: Of course, like you know Iron Maiden has Eddie, so we could have some kind of a giant Robot as well that would we walking on stage. Lots of lasers and lots of pyros and more lasers and shit like that. Totally over the top!
Is this a goal?
Anton: Well, it’s great when you don’t really calculate if you can afford something or not. The best thing is when you have an idea and you can work it out and make it happen, like with music.
What has so far been the best experience on tour for you guys?
Anton: To me, it’s too hard to answer, because in their own ways the Nightwish tour and the Japan tour were different, even venue wise, in Japan, we played in smaller clubs, but it’s still like a dream to come true to play there for them. So, all these things are highlights. I can’t choose what’s my favorite star in the night sky they all look great.
Kasperi: There are always some good things about when you go to play in some place where you have never played before, and just maybe seeing some new faces there in the audience. For me just playing live in general, that’s the highlight. There’s so much waiting around and so much hassle when it comes to touring when you actually get to play the show on stage and see the smiling faces in the audience and see that they are actually enjoying it, that’s the best highlight for me at least.
How have the reactions been during this whole year? Did you gain a lot more fans during the tour?
Anton: Definitely, we got very positive feedback after every show, there were so many surprised people. They often are surprised, they tell us we smile so much on stage or then say that they have never heard about us guys, but we’re totally fans now, that’s the best feedback we can get. That’s been happening after every show.
What are like the plans now you will release the album and?
Kasperi: The album will be released at the beginning of February. We will start with four headlining shows in Finland at the end of February, and then we will do two weeks in Europe, and we will have some more shows in Finland after that. I think there are three or four weekends that we do more shows in Finland, so that’s gonna be April, then the summer festival season starts, we already have around 10 festivals already that we’re gonna be doing throughout the summer and that’s gonna keep us busy, for the rest of the year. There are some plans at the moment but it’s too early to say anything about that, maybe we will find a good tour that we can do somewhere maybe in Europe, maybe somewhere else, but like I said it’s too early to say anything about it at this moment.
It seems like you guys have a busy schedule again. During the previous tour you were also working on “From Hell With Love”. I think everyone is wondering where you found the time to do that. How was it for your guys to combine the working process and the writing process?
Anton: It was hard work, tough times because there was no social life at all for me the last year with some exceptions, basically it was just work or gigs, and more gigs. The weekends were shows and weekdays recording, it just continued that way as long as we had to and at some point, it was finally done the recording. Then the mixing took one month, then the mastering it was ready a few days before the Nightwish tour. So really no break between the gigs and the album making. Christmas holidays were the first real break normal break for me.
The result is almost ready. You have so far released two singles. Your first single “Sweet True Lies” has your second music video ever. Whose idea was it to do it that way?
Anton: Well, it was my idea and I went to meet the director and we brainstormed together. Later his production manager joined us. The three of us were thinking, we had group chats, or we’d write to each other, or I’d call them and then it was done at some point. But, based on the music I clearly knew that it had to be a very eighties music video. When you hear the song it has this vibe, so that’s why the music video is very eighties and has this pinkish and neon light vibe going on.
Were you also involved with the casting and stuff like that or is it just friends participating?
Anton: Well, Katri [the production manager] sent alternatives for the main actors and we talked about those, and then, in the end, we would always agree in the lead acts. But she had the main responsibility in casting.
The reason why I’m asking is that both the atmosphere and the casting is very on point.
Anton: Ville and Katri are great. It was good to work with them, they always do good results with the videos, you can always trust them with the videos.
Our time is almost running out, but I have still one question burning inside. Before I came in I was interrupting an exciting game of Uno. Who is winning?
Anton: Ah, well. At the moment I have only one card left.
Kasperi: I have a few more. (laughs)
Do you guys play any of these games on tour?
Anton: This is the first time we ever played Uno.
Kasperi. During the last tour, for example, we just went to the store and we bought reissues of the old Nintendo consoles, and they have some built-in games in them, so there’s the Mini NES, which is like the 8bit Nintendo and the Mini SNES which is like the Mini Super Nintendo so we were just pretty much playing those throughout the whole tour, you know, all those classic games, of course, there are some guys in the band who also enjoy the more modern games like PS4.
Anton: Yeah, I don’t get that.
Kasperi: That’s too new and I don’t understand anything about it. I just enjoy when we can play some Super Mario or Megaman.
Kasperi: Castlevania. That’s the best stuff.
Can we in the future expect also some music about Nintendo games?
Anton: Sure, why not? (laughs)
Thank you guys, and good luck in the last minutes of your Uno round. Do you guys have any last thoughts to share with the viewers?
Anton: Thanks for having us. And check out the album when it comes out. Always stay tuned for Beast In Black music.
Kasperi: And come to the shows!
Anton: Yeah, indeed! See you!
Kasperi: Or else!