Interview with Sami Hinkka of ENSIFERUM
By: Terry Bunch
Date: Aug, 2010
1. Your current release "From Afar" is getting great reviews. What has been your favorite reaction to the album?
Sami Hinkka: Yes that's true, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Obviously our favorite reaction comes from fans at gigs. We are kinda surprised that every song works so well live. But definitely the funniest comment about the album was in one review where journalist compared From Afarīs over-melodic arrangements to scenario where ice cream vans were driving rally.
2. Which track off of "From Afar" is your favorite to play live, and why?
Sami Hinkka: Impossible to say. I love every single song on the album and I enjoy playing them all very much. Maybe Stone Cold Metal at the moment because people seem to really like it and that always gives an extra boost for us on the stage.
3. You are about to start your European tour. What can fans expect from those shows?
Sami Hinkka: We played on 16 summer festivals this summer and there are many fans in Europe who have seen us many times so we included to set few rare songs. Heidenfest is going to be great festival and we have been talking about it for months with high expectation so everyone are eager to get back on the road and kick ass every night.
4. This November, you are playing your first show in Israel. How does it feel to get to play in a place where you haven't played before?
Sami Hinkka: Its always very exciting to play in new countries. We fly to Israel few days earlier so we have time to really see something this time. That sucks on touring usually, you get to visit lots of new cities/countries but usually all you see is highways and airports so when ever its possible Im off to sightseeing. Our fellow bands have already played in israel and they all said that crowd is crazy there and the promoter told that ticket selling is going great so expectations for the gig are high!
5. The Finnish Metal Tour returns to the US in 2011. Does it feel different to tour with fellow countrymen than just touring with other bands?
Sami Hinkka: 99,9% of bands at this level are professionals so usually tours go well and I cant expect any less from upcoming North-America tour with our countrymen. Finland is a small country and metal circle are small also so we are all friends together so Im sure that this tour will be hilarious and I guess the of pile empty vodka bottles in the end of the tour will be higher than usually. I think the line up is perfect for fans because all the bands are so different from each other. There is no point to have 4 same genres band to play in a row and of course its good for bands also that they can reach new people with their music.
6. You're going to playing on the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise in January. That will be a drastic difference in weather from Finland that time of year. Which other bands on that cruise are you most excited to be playing and partying with?
Sami Hinkka: 70000 Tons of Metal is once in a life time experience and we are really looking forward to it! And the fact that cruise is at the end of January which is probably the coldest time of the year in Finland doesn't bother me at all, hehe. The line up is incredible!! It will be nice to meet Amon Amarth guys again, I think we haven't seen them since the North-America tour we did together in 2008.
7. Heavy metal in Finland is a mainstream genre of music versus a more underground musical form in other countries. Why do you think that heavy metal is so widely accepted in Finland? new drummer, how will his style affect the sound of the band?
Sami Hinkka: I have no idea. Some people say it fits Finnish melancholy well but I honestly donīt know. Metal music has been in my life as long as I remember because my big brothers used to play in bands when they were young and I grew up with Iron Maiden, ACDC, Metallica etc. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that most of kids have their own band at some point and schools and government supports this kind of activity.
8. You have described your music as "heroic folk metal". For the benefit those poor souls who have not yet heard your music, what does "heroic folk metal" sound like?
Sami Hinkka: Very heroic! For Ensiferum melodies are the most important thing music-wise so I guess we sound a bit like melodic death metal spiced with majestic orchestral and folk elements. But we donīt want to set too many barriers for ourselves and good example is Stone Cold Metal with its western part and banjo solo.
9. Our magazine focuses on the hobbies and interests of heavy metal fans, like video games, movies, etc. What are some of your favorite things to do when you have free time?
Sami Hinkka: I love movies and books and i even try to read as much as possible while I'm on tour, sorry to spoil the illusion but you simply cant get drunk 24/7 especially after you have turned thirty, hehe. Of course while we are not on the road I try to keep in shape by swimming and jogging,
10. Are there any plans for a new DVD?
Sami Hinkka: Yes, the plan was to record 15th anniversary live this year but schedules were simply impossible and venues were also already booked so maybe we do 16th anniversary next year. We have very good idea for the DVD, so it wont be just the gig plus traditional photo-gallery etc. But we will post more info to our website later.
11. After the touring is over, what are your plans for the next album?
Sami Hinkka: We are already working with new material and we have three complete songs for the next album already plus we have pretty clear picture of the albums "theme/story line". We will continue composing also on tours because there is lots of spare time. Hopefully we can hit the studio next Spring.
12. Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?