Ensiferum – Interview with Sami Hinkka

25th February 2016
Interview by Demitri Levantis
Photography by Graham Hilling

When the Finnish folk metal force returned to London with support from home grown Symphonic metal band Pythia and Estonians Metstatoll, we caught up with bass player Sammi Hinkka to discuss the band’s new material and what they had in store for the future.

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How do you think 2015 went for Ensiferum?

It was quite a busy year. The latest album came out in February and we’ve been touring as much as we could since then. A lot of excellent shows and met lots of new people so it was fun.

Ensiferum Interview - SAMI HINKKA Ensiferum Interview – SAMI HINKKA

Do you have any interesting anecdotes from touring?

Yes quite a lot but I don’t know how much I can tell as it involves other people.

Do you have any new material from upcoming albums and if so, will we hear any tonight?

Nothing new will come out tonight but we’ve been working with new songs since we left the studio and after this UK tour we go home for a week and do a show in Sweden then have the whole of March to do new songs in the studio then hit the road again. We should be recording them early next year in the studio around February/March time.

How do you find playing in the UK compares to other European countries?

Really good. And we have really good shows, and even though we’ve toured a lot in the last 12 years we haven’t played here a lot. We talked to our management and said we should do something just for the UK and they came up with something which was better than nothing so it was good playing in cities we’ve never done before. So hopefully next time we can plant the seed for when we come again with another tour and play more cities than just London.

Will you be playing any UK festivals this year?

No unfortunately. We were hoping to get Download but didn’t get the chance.

Ensiferum Interview - SAMI HINKKA Ensiferum Interview – SAMI HINKKA

So what kinds of themes and topics are the songs taking on at this point, anything you’ve never touched upon before?

I really love this band because music wise, it’s hard to believe it’s the same band if you listen to the first ever album and the last one. It’s a completely different kind of music and the fans love it, it’s not death metal all the way through. All the themes come from life and I write the lyrics. Topics wise, Ensiferum is quite heroic like how Amon Amarth has a Viking theme. I think the main thing for us is the heroic aspect.

Are there any particular writers or artists or historical moments that influence the lyrics?

It’s hard to say because everything you read or watch; like I watch a lot of documentaries – they give you ideas. And I try to avoid writing about certain battles or moments, that’s not Ensiferum. It’s really interesting to find new metaphors to explain things as English is not my native language. It’s quite hard to find the right expressions or words, and thankfully I have a good friend from the UK and he helps me find the right words. We also proof read all English too as we don’t want ‘Finglish’ in the lyrics too.

Have you ever thought of releasing an album entirely in Finnish?

No.

Is that because it would be too difficult to market it, or would it be well received?

I’ve never really thought about it. It’s really nice to use Finnish in the lyrics because sometimes it’s so much easier to say something and if it’s said perfectly and you translate it, you can lose some of it in English. But at this moment I don’t think so. All my ideas for the next album will be in English.

Ensiferum Interview - SAMI HINKKA Ensiferum Interview – SAMI HINKKA

So have you toured with the other bands you’re playing with tonight before?

Yes, Metsatoll are old friends, we did a few shows in Poland with them once. And we were talking about going to the UK and they said let’s unite forces so here we are. It’s been a great tour so far and they’re old geezers like us so it’s really relaxed most of the time, even though there’s vodka barrels opened every night.

So how have you found this tour compared to others?

Short. But so far so good. We don’t have the full production and normal crew members this time as they have other issues to take care of and everything is going well. When you’re run by good people all goes well. One guitar guy has worked with Blind Guardian and he said, when you’re on tour it feels like you’re on vacation with friends, it doesn’t feel like you’re working. That’s how this tour feels.

Ensiferum Interview - SAMI HINKKA Ensiferum Interview – SAMI HINKKA

So why have you named it the Burden of the Fallen tour?

Was it about the track on the last album? Yes, this tour is still promoting ‘One Man Army’, so it links to that so people don’t think we’ll come here and play something new.

Are there any bands you’re listening to at this moment whom you would recommend people to check out?

Tough one. Lately, we’ve been listening to Manowar backstage, which we can always recommend.

If you could give any advice to your fans who want to start their own bands, what would you say?

Just surround yourself with good people.If you have the right, similar minded people around you who love the same music, you’ll be alright. In Ensiferum we all have our own opinions about many things but we’re not clones of each other. Music background wise we’re all different but when we go to the studio we’re all good together. We trust each other so much, this line up has been together over 10 years so it’s proper friendship. When I come up with a new idea I want to make a demo to show the others but now I just pick up a guitar and play and the others get it. We trust each other really well.

Finally, what do you like most about being in a band?

Playing live. With good friends, playing live is the best, sharing the moment with friends feels so great, the show sometimes feels like you’re watching yourself play it gets that enjoyable. Well thanks so much for talking to us and good luck tonight.

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