Interview with Shiraz Lane — “The world needs more songs instead of just hooks.”


Their story started some years ago, with only an EP released, Shiraz Lane managed to tour the world, hit the festivals and rise up like the rock stars they are. Not much later a debut album followed and was received with great success. Now Shiraz Lane is ready to release their sophomore album “Carnival Days”. In which they have got even more stories for us to tell. 

© Pekka Keränen/Joel Alex

It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m waiting in a bar called Lepakkomies in the midst of Helsinki. Surrounding me are some lonely souls, out for a beer. Luckily, I don’t have to spend the day by myself. I am meeting Hannes Kett and Ana Willman from Shiraz Lane to talk about their upcoming release. After a couple of minutes, I already feel like this interview is going to be quite an interesting one, covering much more deeper topics than just music and indeed, music-talk aside, we end up having existential talks about life in general. And while the conversation progresses, it hits me like a train, these two guys live and breathe for music.

First of all guys, thank you so much for making the time for Tuonela Magazine. Now, I remember when I first came to Finland it was around 2013. Your name was popping up quite much in the underground rock and metal scene in Helsinki. You basically dominated the scene for a while. How would you say the underground scene has changed over the years?

Hannes Well, I would say it’s a bit different nowadays, because a few bands have left the scene. Of course there have been some new bands coming up, but most of the bands have given up in the end.

Ana For the more classical hard rock genre, the underground scene has dried out a bit. Maybe 4 years ago we had tons of different bars to play live and to hang around with the people who play there. Nowadays it’s pretty much gone. There’s not so many new bands. And of course it changes!

Hannes Yeah, of course it changes. I think it’s a pity that nowadays, thinking about Helsinki, you don’t have that many rock bars anymore.

Ana Yeah, a few of them have just died.

Hannes Yeah, they closed their doors. The scene is changing.
Ana But there is still plenty of things going on in Helsinki and I think the underground scene is okay, but it’s in a turning point I guess right now.

Do you still go these local bars to check out local bands? Or is there no time for that anymore?

Ana Not much to be honest. Or at least not in Helsinki. We don’t have that much time to spend the weekends here in Helsinki.
Hannes Yeah, we usually rehearse during the weekends, and yeah if we go to a party it’s more like going to a pub with some friends and hanging out with them. We get to see plenty of bars with what we are doing anyway. (laughs)
Ana We get to see plenty of new bands on festivals or during the gigs outside of Helsinki and outside of Finland even. You know, we don’t want to use our time doing that while we are in here.
Hannes Time is precious.

If I remember correctly you competed in several competitions such as Hard Rock Rising, Emergenza Festival and Wacken Battle. How would you say that these competitions have helped you forward in your career?

Hannes Of course it has helped! I had already forgotten about those (laughs). And actually I’d say the most important thing for us is that we found our manager Heta through Hard Rock Rising. Of course it’s nice to compete in these, but it’s not about competitions!
Ana I think the bigger festivals like Emergenza and Hard Rock Rising are more for the bands to meet managers and recruiting companies more than that’s it about competing and winning. It’s not about the victory. It’s about the people you meet there!

Hannes Yeah, contacts, that’s all what it’s about in the industry.

The reason I’m asking is because you also organized a competition recently for a band to fill up the opening slot for your show at Gong in Turku. As you said these competitions are always good opportunities for young bands to network. Is there any other reason why you decided to have this competition?

Hannes We thought it would be cool because we used to take part in the same kind of stuff, these competitions. It was a good idea for the bands to get to play with a “bigger” band. Even though we’re still a tiny tiny band, but we’re on the rise. We want to help out some other bands.
Ana It’s like passing the torch. We did that couple of years ago ourselves, so it’s nice to be able to do it for others now!

Hannes Yeah we’re helping out other bands!

Do you remember who won the competition in the end?

Ana Vagabond Hearts won the competition. They actually promoted it really really well, so congratulations to them (smiles)!
Hannes In the industry nowadays, it’s really important to promote your band and everything that you’re doing through your social media platforms. Even if you don’t like it, you just have to do it. It’s still work!
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Is that what your advice would be to aspiring bands to break through in the scene as well?

Hannes Yeah, but I think they know it already themselves. I’m still struggling with the whole social media thing. Sometimes I get some shit from the guys that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Because I honestly can say that I’m not doing a good job with that. Whatever… I feel that rock ‘n’ roll is all about mystery, being mysterious and I don’t really see why I’m supposed to tell the world that I’m having coffee right now or so.

Ana Yeah, there’s something that dies, the mystery dies a bit when you put pictures of your morning routines or stuff like that online, there’s gotta be some mystery left in your life. But still promoting the band is one of the most crucial things when it comes to making it.

How about some other things?

Hannes Rehearse a lot. Write songs and hang out with your band. Because you’re in a band together. We’ve got five guys plus our friends that are working with us, but the core is five guys and we’re best friends, that’s what makes us Shiraz Lane.
Ana So the chemistry is like really good there, because we know all the guys so well, both musically and mentally.
Hannes Hang out a lot and if you wanna make money then, well… Do something else (laughs).
Ana And then actually you should go to play gigs and do a lot of stuff. Record before you think you’re ready. Just start doing it right away. Don’t worry about being ready for it or not, don’t wait, just do it! We did our first show and we didn’t have any clue how to do it and how to play, we just went there and we learnt on the way.
Hannes Yeah, it was my first show ever and I just kind of stared at the floor, I was just so scared, it was so awkward and…
Ana It was really awkward, but well it gets better.

Do you still remember where that was?

Hannes It was in a youth centre in Oulunkylä.

Ana 2011
Hannes We were like what 16?
Ana Yeah, 16-17 years old.

So you talked about the fact that it’s in the first place also very important to be friends and hang out. You are all very good friends, it shows especially in all your studio diaries and such. Is it difficult to differentiate your professional relationship from your friendship? Has it ever been difficult to work with one another?

Hannes Professional level, we don’t see this as professional (laughs). We’re blessed that we get to do the thing we love the most.
Ana It’s not a problem, we have managed to pass that problem many many years ago, it’s not like that there is difficulties between balancing the friendship and the work.
Hannes It’s all the same.
Ana Yeah, it really is for us. Friendship is part of the music and the music is part of the friendship. They are like some symbiosis.
Hannes Yeah, that’s true. There’s not one without the other.

© Pekka Keränen/Joel Alex


Let’s talk a little bit about your upcoming album “Carnival Days”. How do you feel about the release being so close?

Hannes I’m excited!
Ana Yes, really excited!

You have had two, three singles right now?

Hannes Three.
Ana Actually the new single [TM: The Crown] is coming out this Friday 16 February 2018.

How have the reactions been so far?

Hannes People are loving it!

Was that expected?

Hannes Well of course! I love it, we’re super proud.

Ana It’s a great album and we did a great job. We’re really happy with it. We don’t see any reason why other people would feel different (laughs).

Hannes If you don’t like it, get the funk out. (laughs) Of course if you think about “For Crying Out Loud” and then this album. This album is so much bigger and sounds more modern, which is exactly what we wanted. We wanted it to sound big and we wanted it to be produced the way we wanted it to sound like. When we found this guy, Per Aldeheim from Sweden, we knew he was the guy for the job, because he was one of us. I feel like he actually joined our Shiraz Lane family, he’s one of our friends now. It was just a pleasure working with him, he knew what we wanted and we kept pushing each other, throwing ideas around and the final product is huge!
Ana I think it was a blessing that the recording was in Stockholm. That way we needed to travel to Stockholm during the springtime. I think we went there 9 or 10 times to spend three days in Stockholm, just to work on the songs and the preproduction. We spent like 4 weeks of recording the instruments and stuff like that. When you’re out of your home, you’re in a different country, you can focus completely, 100% on the music and being in the studio, rather than driving to the studio, spending eight hours there and driving back home. It’s much better to be somewhere else than home.
Hannes If we recorded in Finland, we’d have had many distractions. Now it was just work mode on and go with the flow and do your best.

How long did the entire process take?

Hannes All-in-all? From when we started writing the songs?

Ana We started writing the songs when we finished the first European tour with Lordi, which was November 2016. So 15-16 months ago or something, we started writing the songs and a few months after we started doing the preproduction. We started recording in June and now it’s going to be released. So it’s been like 15 months since we started writing the songs.

You’ve been talking about it in months, so it’s kind of like the new album is your baby?

Ana Yeah, exactly (laughs)!
Hannes  We played the album for our friends and associates and everyone is loving it, so and so are we.
Ana Why wouldn’t we?
Hannes Yeah, why wouldn’t we, it’s amazing, it’s one of the best sophomore albums from a Finnish band ever. You know it! (smiles)

You already mentioned that you have used a different producer for this album. Is there any other differences with your previous release?

Hannes As an artist you always wanna try to evolve. That’s what we’ve done, you can hear all the miles we’ve been on the road. And you can hear all the accomplished shows we have played. It’s more focused in a way, more mature as well I would say and just like…
Ana We’ve grown up in like every level. Of music.
Hannes Even though, I think that we’re always gonna be a bunch of teenagers (laughs). But I think that’s what being a man is all about (laughs). You never really grow up. And when you’re in a rock band that’s like double.
Ana Trying to be as 14 year old as you can.
Hannes Yeah! (laughs) You don’t even have to try that hard. What can I say? It’s just so much bigger and so much better. For me thinking about the melodies and thinking about lyrics, it’s more personal this time around. This time I even co-wrote lyrics with Miki, our guitar player. He’s always been amazing. I had some troubles getting my feelings out. I was feeling really drained at one point. He helped me out because he knew what I was struggling with, going through, all the demons in my head, all that shit. So he just came up with something and then we started writing from there. It’s like really, looking into my diary and checking out what’s going on in my head.
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The new sound is a much more mature version of yourselves. It has your own typical style, but you have evolved so much. So talking about the new album in that sense, the lyrics often seem to be about challenges, risks, taking the road less traveled. Many of the songs sound very motivational with a can-do and nothing’s-gonna-stop-us-attitude. Did you draw inspiration from your career with the band?

Hannes Everything is happening in my and our lives. It’s like I said literally looking into my diary. It’s what we’ve been going through. When we write, we write about ourselves. Of course we can come up with some fiction, but that’s not what we’ve done this time around, it’s really personal to me. Think about “Shangri-La” for example. It’s exactly what I’ve been going through. I’ve been thinking about life lately (laughs). Is this what it’s all about?

Can you talk a little bit about the concept behind “Shangri-La”? It’s about some form of a Utopia?

Hannes Shangri-La is a Utopia. It’s a place this one dude came up with, I don’t remember his name (laughs). It’s pretty much the perfect city, perfect place, perfect world, Utopia or whatever. For me it’s a metaphor for peace-of-mind, because that’s what I was traveling with most of the time. I want to be on the move all the time, but at the same time I’m stressing about different things: what I’m supposed to do, what I’ve done and then I think about whether I made the right choices in my life and all that. For me when I think about Shangri-La, well… It’s about peace-of-mind. And actually for me, Shangri-La is also my summer cottage in Finland that we have and I actually took Ana there, last summer.
Ana Yeah, it’s wonderful there.
Hannes It’s like paradise on earth. That’s where I came up with the chorus for the song. But it was way back in the day. It was with our first bass player. Back in 2012 or something like that. I woke up from a dream where Shiraz Lane was on a big stage, huge arena, like just a big-ass stage. We were playing this chorus and I got so syked that when I woke up from the dream I recorded it immediately on my iPhone (sings part of Shangri-La).
Ana We actually tried to arrange the song fitting to that melody for quite a long time, until it found its natural course.
Hannes It was meant to be at that point.
Ana We weren’t ready to do it, two or three years ago. We just didn’t have the experience.
Hannes We tried to have it ready for the first album, but that’s actually how we came up with “Begging For Mercy”.
Ana But I’m so glad we didn’t push it too hard back in the days, because now it’s perfect.

Hannes It’s perfect, it’s natural. Because now I can truly speak from experience. I’ve been thinking about life lately and now I’m feeling free. That wasn’t the case a few years ago.

And how about you Ana? How do you write the drum parts? To be honest I don’t know anything about drums (laughs). I don’t even know or understand how you can write a rhythm…

Ana (starts laughing) That’s a different thing of course. People have different perspective on that. Some people might just compose the song, with the exact drum parts, but for us it’s been like, it’s mostly jamming. From the first riff that comes to Miki’s or Jani’s mind. It’s just jamming basically. I don’t happen to have a different or exact drum part in my mind, even in the studio. I just go with the flow and sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad.
Hannes Well it’s never bad. It’s just that then it’s not perfect.
Ana But I don’t do it. I don’t write notes or write anything down. I just go with the flow and figure things out.
Hannes I think that’s the beauty of it. Ana has been my best friend since we were 7 years old and I’ve always been into rhythms.  Being a singer is really important to me and the connection we have together is crazy and that’s why I feel I can have the right rhythm with the vocals as well.
Ana Yeah of course, it affects everything, when you feel connected with the other person.
Hannes And like I said, I can’t play the drums, I can’t. I can’t play the guitar, I can play some.
Ana … But you can beatbox! (laughs)
Hannes Yeah, I was just coming to that (laughs). And like if I have an idea, which I’d like to work on with Ana, I record it with my phone, the beatbox is like (shows his beatboxing skills). Because I love Michael Jackson and that’s where that comes from (laughs). And then I send it to him and he starts working on it and he comes with something similar to that, but so much better.
Ana It’s always different of course when it comes to beatboxing and rock ‘n’ roll drumming.
Hannes And well, I can’t really beatbox. But I can do some stuff. At least that’s good enough for me because I can do the big beats, and then I can add some percussions with my voice. That’s it.
Ana Yeah, everything that you need to.

I would like to talk about one song in particular, because it really is so much different from everything else you have done so far. I’m talking about the last song on the album “Reincarnation”. Can you tell more about the song? What is it about and is it something that you plan to explore more in the future?

Hannes I’d say so. It’s a song that we had the bass for it. We’ve had it for a few years already. Three years already. Like with “Shangri-La” we weren’t really ready for it to be on the first album. Plus looking back at the album, it wouldn’t have fit the whole thing.

Ana I remember, it was probably about three years ago when Miki came to our rehearsal room and he was like really excited about this new idea he had. He wanted to make a song about life. The circle of life, about how it begins and it ends and he really wanted it to start with a heartbeat and to end with a heartbeat. And go through different phases of your life, both musically and lyrically. I think he had the idea in his head before even having a chord or lyrics or anything. He had this idea of we need to do this and he was working on it. The groove in that song is amazing. It was pretty similar actually, three years ago, the foundation of it. But we weren’t ready to play it.
Hannes No, we weren’t ready. Exactly, like Ana said. The concept of reincarnation. The concept of dying, but not dying. What’s happening after life. Because I have no idea. People talk about god, in different forms, I just feel that we are all one. We’re all connected. I don’t know what we’re connected with, but I feel we’re connected to each other. We’re all just energy, vibes, just flowing. And I think we’re connected to the universe, because there is so many things the human race doesn’t understand. Even though we try to. That’s what we’re singing about in there and it’s actually one of my favorite songs to sing. I love the groove with the drums and the chord progression, the melodies… I just think it’s magical and I think that’s something a rock band nowadays wouldn’t do. Bands are just thinking about hooks and…
Ana Shorts songs, with as much hooks you can.
Hannes Three minutes, a chorus, a verse, then two times the chorus and then they come up with something super annoying so that it gets stuck in your head. I think the world needs more songs instead of just hooks.
Ana In a way, that song is our middle finger to maybe the entire music industry or the concept of fast food music that is going on nowadays.
Hannes It’s been going on for years.
Ana And then it’s our chance to be really creative and really artistic in that song, because we just threw the concept of a normal pop song in the trash and we just can do whatever we want, we can choose whatever tempo we went, we can change the key, we can have it as long as it needs to be. We don’t have any rules to that song and that’s the beauty of it.
Hannes Just yesterday I thought about like, I’d like to have a song that gets into the history books and I think we’ve got some already with this album. And actually I think one of the songs from our EP “Story To Tell” is one of those as well.
Ana Yeah, it is.
Hannes Because it’s different as well. In a good way. And all-in-all in general, I feel that everything that we have on the new album, it sounds like us. Of course we’ve tried different styles. But that’s always what Shiraz Lane has been about. We write songs without thinking about genres. Of course we have a lead guitar, we have rhythm guitar, we’ve got bass, we’ve got drums, we’ve got the lead vocals and a shit load of harmonies. That’s pretty much the foundation.

Ana Obviously, we have our influences. And you can hear them. But it’s not like we think of ourselves that we are in one genre.
Hannes That’s actually what I think is a bit problematic. Because  I feel the industry in general is trying to put bands in one box. You have to do this or you can’t do this if you have a rock band. What the fuck? I can do what the hell I want. It’s our band, it’s our music, it’s our life. Why should we be writing the same song all over again? Thinking about the future, I say within the next three years I hope that we’re gonna have an acoustic, MTV unplugged kind of EP out. That’s my dream. That’s what I’m gonna force down everyone’s throats and that’s what I think is gonna be cool (laughs). We can have the new album, I mean the next new album (laughs), we’re gonna be writing that, we’re gonna be recording that and we’re gonna have it out. And I have no idea what’s gonna be on that.
Ana No one knows when that’s gonna happen and what’s gonna happen.
Hannes You never know what happens in life. So we just have to live in the moment. And enjoy it as much as we can. Because life is short, but at the same time you never know when you are gonna die. I believe in Reincarnation. So Karma is coming, so be nice to everyone. Because otherwise, you’re fucked.

You sort of answered my next question already. I was going to ask how you deal with people often labeling you as hard rock, glam rock, sleaze rock.

Hannes It’s this classic “glam metal”,”hair metal”, “sleaze rock” stuff. Which is okay. You can call our music whatever, as long as you listen to that! I find it actually funny, we’ve had some comments about the new album already, because it’s so different from the first album. The first album was like 80s, sleaze rock, glam, hair, whatever and this is not and some people were actually like “What is this? This is not sleaze anymore? This is not eighties?” No shit. We never were. We are just Shiraz Lane and that’s a good comment. In our books.

Ana And who knows what the future will bring. Maybe we’ll have like a saxophone. And a trumpet.

Hannes A keyboard player, and a child choir with 12 kids.
Ana A violin, a cello, stuff like that.
Hannes Arena tour (laughs).
Ana Sure! (laughs)

Hannes That’s our plans! What are yours? (laughs) That’s what I want. And for example now with this new album, Ana is not gonna sing the backing vocals anymore, because then he can just focus on the drumming, which is the most important part. But then we have Miki and Jani joining with the backing vocals. We’re just starting out with that, but already it sounds better than it used to sound. My future plans, during some special gig I’m gonna have a big ass choir…
Ana Like the London symphonic.
Hannes Yeah! Oh momma! I’d love that.

Let’s talk a bit about the artwork about the new album. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Hannes That’s a funny story. We were on tour with Brother Firetribe. Thinking about what we want, the album art, the cover. And like I said earlier it’s been like looking at my journal, looking at my diary. And that’s exactly what it felt like for the whole band. We wanted the album to look like an old journal of sorts, with leather cover and all. But we had no idea how we’d do that. But then Joel who comes up with most of the artwork, of course with some ideas from the band, but he puts them in place, came up with something. There was this leather jeacket on tour. It belonged to the bass player from Brother Firetribe.

Ana I thought it was the mixing guy. Anyway.
Hannes Well anyway, that leather jacket is basically the cover. We took a picture of the jacket, from really up close. The artwork is made from the materials we had on the tour bus. And then it came out great.

Ana But yeah, Joel is doing a great job, doing the artwork. Both in social media, both in physical albums, he does it all, and he’s really good at it!

He’s also doing your music videos, right?

Ana Yeah, he’s filming the music videos, editing them and doing photography.
Hannes That’s what he does, the major thing he does.
Ana He’s good at it.
Hannes He joined the band in 2014. And we had been in the band with the guys for four years already. And…
Ana We had no idea how to do the Instagram thing, the Facebook thing, and to make it look cool. Our pictures sucked. They were usually just taken with a phone.
Hannes Yeah, taken with a shitty iPhone camera.
Ana It didn’t work out, but when Joel came, he took good pictures and he photographed them well.
Hannes He is the master of all the editing and all that. Without him and without what he does, we wouldn’t be here as well!
Ana Yeah, for real.
Hannes And that’s really good, everyone has a part in this band. Everyone has a place and a job. When you write a song then you get money from that, profits. We had this idea right from the start that everyone gets an equal share in our band. We’re five guys, so we get 20% each. Looking back at other bands, there’s usually a songwriter, he gets 20% and then the singer gets 80%, the rest gets nothing. For us, even if you didn’t really do anything or wrote anything for one song, you’re still getting your percentage, because you’re still part of the band, of the family.
Ana I think for us, each member of our band is irreplaceable. That’s why we want it to be fifty-fifty for everyone. It’s different for other bands, for example, sometimes when the singer or the guitar player writes the whole song and already has done everything and he goes out to a band like let’s play it. Of course I understand that he wants it to be his song, rather than the band’s, but for us because we jam a lot and do the work together it’s important for us to be equals.
Hannes But I still feel like that that wouldn’t happen with us. When someone comes up with a whole song, I still think we would divide it equally. That’s the basis of our family. Everyone gets an equal share, we’re all equal in the band, we all got our jobs and we all work on our instruments.

We’ve already covered quite much, we talked about the past a little bit, we talked a lot about the new album. Let’s talk a little bit about the tour now. You must be really excited to hit the road again. What has been your most rock ‘n’ roll moment and is there going to be anything different now during the shows?

Hannes Well, lots of new songs of course.

Ana We have this theme going on, which is going to be seen, but we’re not gonna tell it yet.
Hannes But yeah, it’s gonna be better in every way.
Ana Nothing major, but we’re focusing on making the concept of “Carnival Days” look good on stage and look good live. So it’s a carnival. (laughs).
Hannes You’re gonna see it. About the future tour and everything, I can’t really answer that right now. We got some plans in works. But we’ll see what happens. It’s not in our hands right now. Because if it would be in our hands, we would be touring all the time. Right now, I would be in Tokyo or something, or somewhere in South America, rocking on stage. But it’s not up to me.
Ana We have some Finnish shows coming up during the spring season. Hopefully some festivals during summer. We’ll see.
Hannes Good things are happening and people have been loving the album so. That means we get to tour.

It must be fun to see the world and discover so many cultures. Is there any cultural differences between the different audiences?

Ana That’s hard to say. But the Spanish crowd is really different. They are really into it and they come straight to your skin, and yell and dance a lot. Then they don’t speak English that well, so lots of times when they sing along, they don’t really know the lyrics, so they just go “pa pa pa pa pa”, but they’re still singing along. Without any words, so it’s fun, in Spain. It’s really fun. It’s different.
Hannes Of course, it’s a bit different, we’re talking about different cultures and you asked before about our most rock ‘n’ roll moment on tour. I think it was when we were in Tokyo. First of all Japan, wow, amazing country. Beautiful. Tokyo, especially coming from Finland.
Ana It was unbelievable.
Hannes It’s something you have to see and experience, it blows your mind and it takes a few days when you get used to all the hassle around you. But we played a show there, big ass crowd, like 2000 people or something like that.
Ana Something like that yes.
Hannes They sang along screaming and it was super intense. But in between shows, they sat down. They sat down and they were super quiet.
Ana That’s their culture you know, they were really wild during the gig, but after the gig, they were just silent.
Hannes Really polite. When we were walking down the street in Shibuya in Tokyo, they were too polite to look you in the eye. Which for me is kind of a natural thing. The most rock ‘n’ roll moment was when we were going to the hotel from the show and we had some fans there waiting. They wanted to get stuff signed, they wanted to take pictures with us. There was like 50 people in total. Some of them stayed for the whole trip, the 3-4 days that we were there.
Ana Yeah, they were in the hotel lounge sitting and waiting for us. Every time we were going past them. They would wave or take photos and stuff like that. It was wild for us. We had just been discovered. It was our first EP. We didn’t have much of shows and not that kind of glory. So that was like very surreal.
Hannes All-in-all, that was like in 2015. Joel had joined the band 2014. When the EP came out, we got to play a lot of summer festivals in Finland. We got to play a lot of shows and we got to support a few Finnish bands that were on the rise that time. It was really amazing. And then we got to play at Tokyo, which was like: ”What?!”
Ana Yeah, that was quite something.
Hannes Yeah, it was truly amazing, I love that. Actually, a fun fact is that we met this one woman in Tokyo. Me and Miki were lost, looking for some beer and asking people “Beer? Where do we get some beer?” But they don’t talk English. There was one woman who understood us though and she was like “There’s no beer here, but I think you need a taxi boys!” So she bought us a taxi and she paid for the whole bill. And then we drove back to the hotel, because the two of us, we had taken a taxi, because the other guys were in some bar. Me and Miki wanted to go there, but the taxi driver had no clue what we were saying.
Ana They couldn’t find it.
Hannes He drove us somewhere and we gave him €100 to just drive anywhere. We ended up in the middle of nowhere, no idea where the fuck we are. She helped us out. Then we got back to the hotel and the guys came back there. But long story short, we met this same woman in Germany, in Wacken. She was singing in a band, in the Wacken Battle. And she was like “Hey I remember you guys! Do you remember me? I bought you a taxi in Tokyo!” And we were like “What the fuck is going on?”

The world is such an incredibly small place…

Hannes Yeah it really is. But like… Tokyo, it’s huge.
Ana And there’s like 20 million people or something.
Hannes Then we meet this one girl there, and then we meet her in Wacken and we were like “What?!”… Amazing!

© Pekka Keränen/Joel Alex

Now that we have talked about more serious matters, I only have some less serious questions left for you guys. What would you say is the clumsiest thing that has ever happened to you on tour or during your time with the band?

Ana I need to think about that.

Maybe you’re just not clumsy though? (laughs)

Ana (laughs) No that can’t be.
Hannes No we are. We just…
Ana Is there a limit between when you are being clumsy or just really drunk? (laughs)
Hannes (laughs)

Drunk stories are fine too you know! (laughs)

Hannes I’m totally blank.
Ana Well, there’s always when you fall down, during the Lordi tour for example, Joel actually hurt his arm pretty badly. It was like covered in blood and all.  Because we were going to McDonald’s actually!
Hannes (laughs) Oh yeah!
Ana We needed to go through the drive-in, because it was past midnight or something. We would just walk through the drive-in and we were like “One Big Mac and six chicken McNuggets” and well whatever and Joel, was peeing on some bushes nearby and he came like “Whaaa food” and he ran towards us and then he fell. There was some rocks or something that he hadn’t seen. So he tripped, it actually looked really bad. (laughs) But he was hungry so.
Hannes Yeah well he got his Big Mac and nuggets so!
Ana Yeah yeah, happy kid!
Hannes Clumsy moments? I think that’s a hard question. It’s really harder than anything else. Cause when you’re on tour you’re in this kind of bubble you know. So like whatever happens, it comes and goes. You get to a new venue every day or a new city and you forget pretty much about the one before. Of course you remember some of it.
Ana Yeah of course you remember some things.
Hannes We’ve been on two tours now.
Ana When you come back home, maybe  3 or 4 days after the tour, it starts to feel as if the whole tour has been only a dream. It kind of vanishes, cause you don’t live in the same bubble anymore. On tour you live in a bubble and when you get back home all of these things disappear and you have different routines and you don’t play shows and it’s like a completely different life. It’s almost as if you’re like a different person.
Hannes Yeah, unfortunately. And you might even get a bit depressed.
Ana Yeah, after you have been gone for a long time, it’s pretty hard.
Hannes Every tour we’ve done, it’s like it takes a few weeks to get back to “normal”, but still it’s like “What the fuck am I supposed to do now?” because you wake up and…
Ana You feel as if you don’t have a purpose.
Hannes You feel lost.
Ana It’s hard.
Hannes Yeah and it’s actually funny because I heard some stories about that happening that it’s a real thing, but after our first tour that actually happened to me. I was fucking depressed, just sitting at home, like at 10 pm I started to feel like I had to play a show, but instead you’re home watching some shitty TV and you’re like…
Ana Your body really, pushes the adrenaline through you when it’s show time and even though the tour is over, your body still memorizes it. So when it’s like 9 pm or 10 pm, the adrenaline kicks in and you’re wandering around at home, because you’re used to the fact that you need to play. After the first tour, it was really hard to get back home, because it was the first tour for us ever and it was 7 weeks long. It’s a lot longer than normal tours. We had this really small camper car, which was really intense. We had to literally sleep next to each other, all the time. So it was really intense and it was really long. And it’s the first tour we’ve ever done. So when you get back home from that, it’s like we were completely messed up you know.
Hannes Yeah, it takes a toll on you.
Ana But I guess you get used to coming home from the tours as well.
Hannes I don’t know, I’m just waiting to tour right now. Anxiously waiting to see the world again, because during the first tour I actually realized that we’re so lucky we get to see more, we got to see more than ordinary people – I’m not saying that in any bad way. But we got to see more than what some people get to see during their whole life time.
Ana Touring is like…
Hannes I just love it, that’s all.
Ana It’s the greatest thing about this job, it’s always really cool.
Hannes You get to meet amazing people, you get to play amazing shows you get to see amazing places, you just… Well, I love traveling, we all do. So we get to travel but we get to play rock music at the same time.
Ana Best of both worlds!
Hannes It makes me emotional, just thinking about it.
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If you wouldn’t end up as a musician and Shiraz Lane wouldn’t have existed. What would you have ended up as and what would you be doing right now?

Ana I wanted to be a pilot when I was like 8 or 9 years old, that was my only other dream profession, that I remember. But then I have a really bad eyesight, so it’s impossible for me, to do so. But that’s like the only thing that I remember of that I wanted to be, a pilot. But for now, if it wasn’t for Shiraz Lane, I think I would travel a lot. I would go to Asia and just do some hippie things and you know climb Mount Everest, well that’s in Nepal, but it doesn’t matter.
Hannes Well I didn’t really feel or have any purpose before Shiraz Lane. We’re best friends so (looks at Ana), I had heard him play the drums years before I started singing. But I didn’t really feel that I had anything that I wanted to follow or would pursue. I didn’t really feel like I had a path at all, but then we decided we’d form a band and now we’re here. But I think without Shiraz Lane, I’d be pretty much doing what one of our friends is doing. He’s backpacking abroad and working. I just saw him a few weeks ago. He came to Finland for a few days, I got to say hi, it had been like two years or so since we had seen each other. Because he’s been touring the world, with his backpack. I’d be doing that. I don’t think I’d have any profession but I think I’d just be on the road, doing whatever. And I guess I’d be with him (points at Ana).

So basically you’d be doing the same thing, but without the music (laughs).

Ana Yeah exactly! (laughs) The same without but without playing music. So not that different.
Hannes Being on tour! (laughs)

European tour 2018. (laughs)

Hannes South America, Asia tour. (laughs)
Ana You know it.

If you could assign a spirit animal to each one of your band, which would it be and why?

Ana I need to think this through. I want to give good answers to this one.

Hannes Miki would be an owl I think.

Ana That’s good.
Hannes He’s really super smart. And he’s like watching…
Ana Yeah, that’s actually really good. I think Jani would be like a male lion. Because they don’t hunt for food, the females are hunting their food. They’re kind of really big, but still kinda chilling out on the background.
Hannes Joel would be something that gets pet a lot. He’d be like a dog.
Ana Yeah, a dog could be. Or maybe a fox?
Hannes Yeah, I’d think he’d be a dog. Because he’s like “a good boy” (pretends Ana is Joel and pets him on the head) I know I’d be a fox, because well…
Ana Yeah, it’s in your last name. But I think Hannes would be like some kind of bird.
Hannes Yeah, I think that might be right, something like…
Ana An eagle.
Hannes Yes, an eagle!
Ana The eagle has landed.
Hannes That would be nice, because I get to see the world. Yet again. I think you’d be some kind of bird as well. Because you want to “tour”. (laughs) 
Ana I think I would be, how do you say it in some way a herd animal, which travels in herds, not individually.
Hannes Yeah, that’s true. Birds have that as well.
Ana They have their flock. So, Jani is a male lion, Miki is an owl, Joel is a dog.
Hannes But not like a usual dog, but something really cool.
Ana He’s like this German Shepherd, or something like that.
Hannes I don’t know which kind of bird I’d be though, cause I’m like, with Ana, we’re really pretty much the same in so many ways. Like we want this herd, but at the same time sometimes we need privacy. I couldn’t be just like alone, but I can’t be somewhere all the time with a lot of people. Spirit animal, that’s like the first time someone has asked us that.
Ana But that’s a good question actually.

What was yours again?

Ana I don’t know. Hannes needs to tell you, cause I can’t tell you myself!

Or what do you think yourself?

Ana I just know that I’m like a herd animal, in some ways.
Hannes Some kind of herd animal. Well I’d figure that we’d be in the same herd. So some animal that lives with the whole herd, that goes like hunting alone or something.
Ana I don’t know, maybe I’d be some kind of monkey. Cause to be honest playing the drums (starts drumming in the air), is kind of like a primitive thing. Kind of like a monkey. It’s pretty animalistic you know.
Hannes But I. Oh “satakieli”. What’s that in English? 
Ana Like a hummingbird, or something?
Hannes I guess I could be a hummingbird. The one bird that sings in many different ways. I feel like I’d be that.
Ana So you’re a hummingbird!
Hannes I love it. During the summer, whenever I hear birds singing, it makes me so happy. So at peace. And actually I have this one recording from the summer when I heard this hummingbird sing and it’s singing in so many different ways. And I recorded it, so that I could listen to it when I feel like shit. Remember this moment, Hannes, remember this.

Thank you for your time guys! But before we wrap this up is there still anything you’d like to share or mention to our readers?

Ana Go for it (looks at Hannes)
Hannes Go for it! (laughs)
Ana Go for it! Wherever you are, whatever you do. Go for it!

Hannes And remember everything is meant to be. Shit happens, it’s up to you how you react to it. You can get stronger or then you can just lie down and die.

Ana Don’t be too hard on yourself! Take it easy!
Hannes Peace!
Watch some highlights of the interview here: