The popularity that Lordi obtained right after their success at Eurovision 2006 has been a blessing and a course. While it catapulted them to popularity, it also made purists see them as just a gimmick or, worse, “a Eurovision act.” Many didn’t know, however, that Lordi existed before the festival and that, despite the rotten pop sounds emanating from Eurovision, they have stayed true to their own brand of heavy metal. Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s undeniable that they are serious about what they do.
Read our interview with Mr. Lordi below, or just go to our Youtube channel to watch our chat
Metal Blast: This is the kind of thing that always comes up. The band reached a lot of success thanks to the Eurovision victory in 2006; Finland became for Lordi what the US was for Kiss in the 70’s, with merchandising everywhere. From a business point of view I’m sure that it was great but do you think that it was also a challenge? That it then the band had the task of showing that it wasn’t just that “Eurovision novelty act”?
Lordi: You have no idea how right you are. What we got from Eurovision was the media exposure, of course, not many bands in our genre can say that they are this well known pretty much all over the world because of just one fucking TV show.
So, as you say, the financial things… for a moment it really improves things. But, God, if I could go back in time I’d tell the 10-years younger version of me: “Don’t sign that paper.” There was a LOT of cash going into completely different pockets than ours!
The Eurovision backlash is really weird, and we just experienced when we realized the new video, for “Hug You Hardcore.” We have never changed anything within the band; I mean, this is what it is. But it seems like people have a tendency to create their own illusions (or delusions) about how a band is or should be, without actually really knowing the band.
Right after Eurovision, that one song and that one fucking 3-minute performance on TV was everything they based their knowledge on. Because of this, on the following tours, people came to see us thinking that it was good ole’ family fun, “just scary monsters playing hard rock hallelujah,” and brought their small fucking children to the venues. Then the headlines would say that children would leave our concerts crying, so people started complaining about “why did Lordi change?!” “why are they changing their family issue to this terrible thing”?
MB: Oh God, really?
Lordi: I was like: “Are you fucking kidding me!?”. And now, 10 years later, after we released the new video, we get the same backlash, juuuust because of a little bit of butt sex. There’s blood and violence, sure, sexual violence, but it’s nothing new.
MB: Exactly, it’s nothing new for Lordi. If you are somebody who hates Lordi, and plenty of people do, you can’t really point at a moment when they “sold out.” For better or worse, the material has remained consistent. There wasn’t a move to become family friendly, or vice versa. It’s an absurd reaction!
Lordi: I was shocked to see that the reaction to the video was coming from our fans! Not from the people outside of our fandom, but from our loyal fans! “Why are you doing this? this is embarrassing, this is disgusting?!”
I had no idea that some of our fans, a surprisingly large amount, even long time fans, were shocked by the contents of the video. “Why are they doing this kind of stuff? Why are they putting this sex and violence in the video?” I mean, haven’t they read my lyrics in the past 10+ years? Haven’t they read the comics? If they know the band shouldn’t they, well, know me by now?
It is the first video that we-
MB: I hadn’t seen it, I’m playing it now and… yeah, it IS the first time you make a video in which a lady is forcefully sodomizing someone. That’s definitely a first.
Lordi: But it’s nothing new or shocking in the Lordi world. There’s nothing really new, except that it’s a video.
MB: What might also be the problem is that, for some people, it is one thing to show violence, especially sexual violence, against women, but showing a man being penetrated anally people react in a much more visceral way.
Lordi: Yeah! And I am shocked and I am embarrassed of my fans for this. I mean, I thought they were more open-minded than this.
I mean, if you don’t approve— never mind, I mean, I don’t approve that somebody doesn’t approve. That’s my Achilles hell. That’s where I get angry and I get really, really [growl] It’s OK not to like it, but if you get shocked and if you have the balls to open your mouth and say that is disgusting, or that it’s tasteless, or whatever… are you that stupid?
I was shocked by the reaction of some of my fans, really. This is too much you? You don’t me, you don’t know this band. [laughs] There are other fans who are telling the others “I mean, come on, it’s Lordi, have you read the lyrics?“
MB: Well, the video has more likes than dislikes, but the things people are saying are not super positive.
Lordi: And the people commenting negatively are the fans! The fans! They are disappointed, embarrassed, shocked, disgusted… I mean, this is where you draw the line? It’s OK for me to cut up babies, and it’s OK to gut a child and–
MB: To murder women
Lordi: Yeah, and it’s alright to do whatever I fucking want, but to have a girl put on a strap on and fuck some dude in the ass, THAT’s your limit. Really? I mean, I hate to break this to you but that’s what some people do! Many people do! [laughs] I mean, is this bizarro world? Where is this coming from? Are these Lordi fans religious or something?
Of course, I love my fans, obviously, but I’m very shocked by their reaction, that it was too much for them. They don’t know the concept of the band!
MB: Well, I can see why some people would find the video shocking, if they don’t know anything about Lordi; but it’s not surprising if you know the band. It’s like listening to Watain and, 5 albums in going “WOAH-WOAH-WOAH THESE DUDES ARE SATANIC?!” Yeah, they’ve always been!
Lordi: [laughs] Yeah
MB: I mean, they’re not dressed up like monsters because it’s a fucking children’s show. It’s a homage to grindhouse films.
Lordi: It’s true that it’s the first time that we have this kind of graphic stuff in a video, but the reason is that this time I told the label that they should back off. There have been so many times in which my videos have been toned down and “Disneyfied” because of the label requests. So many times we’ve had video shoots where we’ve had to tone down the shit that I want to have because “no, no, no, this is too much.”
Once it happened with an album cover, where they said it was too much porn.
MB: Alright, you gotta tell me what album that was.
Lordi: Babez for Breakfast. Originally the painting was larger, so you could see more of the tittie, but the label had a problem with the tits being so large and oily being squeezed by the “baby.” That was too pornographic for them, so I had to crop the image to put away parts of it. That was a huge fucking problem.
MB: It’s fascinating; the kind of things where they draw the line.
Lordi: And there are other examples of stuff like that. Sometimes I start to paint or start to do the graphics for something, and before I finish somebody tells me that it can’t be done. I hate that; I hate it when somebody tries to put restrictions on me. This time I told Uwe Lingvall, the director of the video from the beginning, that there were certain things that the song needed for the video, since it needed to be extreme in some sense. It cannot be another Lordi video with fucking ghosts flying around. I mean, the song itself has nothing to do with anything supernatural; it’s about anal fisting!
MB: Definitely an untapped market. Not a lot of songs dealing with that.
Lordi: [laughs] No, not that many. Fisters of the world unite!
I told him that the video needed to have some balls, and that it couldn’t be the normal kind of horror video that we always do.
MB: It has a vibe that really reminds me of stuff like The Last House on the Left or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Lordi: EXACTLY! Thank you!
When I saw the first cut of the video I complained that they had cut all the good shit. I also used the term “Disneyfied” with him, since it also seemed to be too soft. We even shot material where I was chopping one of the girls in the video with an axe, but he didn’t use it.
I thought that with the girl with the chainsaw we should have had more gore and guts and to make it even more graphic!
MB: You know, I imagine that if the strapon scene had not been included, and you just had violence against these girls, I’m sure that the complaints would have been that you’re just being misogynistic. Sometimes you just can’t win, and the story you wanna tell with your music and your videos, the homage to exploitation horror films of the 70’s and 80’s, will always piss someone off.
Lordi: You’re right, but you wouldn’t think that you’d get these criticisms from your fans, that they are the ones who don’t get it. I mean, this isn’t our first video, it’s not our first album; it’s something that our fans should have expected. I think most of them get it, but it surprises me to see how many were so close-minded.
I think that if we had removed the strapon scene most people wouldn’t have had a problem. The strapon thing, in itself, isn’t horror. Of course in this case it’s rape, and that’s horror in a way, but the actual act is not something that I consider unnatural. I mean, eating human beings or putting them through meat grinders, or cutting them with chainsaws, that is something that doesn’t happen at all.
MB: You know, when somebody reads this interview the only take-away they’ll get is that you really want to defend strapons and guys getting fucked by them.
Lordi: [laughs] That’s not what I mean! [laughs] But for me it’s so weird that the one controversy comes from the sex act…
I mean, you’re in Holland, so everything goes there. I remember my first time there, in 95 or 96, and I got a normal newspaper that, on the same page, had puzzles on one side and an erotic ad on the other. And it was completely open.
MB: We’re very open people. In fact, I’m sitting on a buttplug right now.
Lordi: [laughs] There you go!
MB: When you speak about the “Disneyfication” of your music and visuals; do you feel that, for example, your film Dark Floors was a “victim” of that?
Lordi: Yes, unfortunately it was. That was the first big moment of realization for me that showed me that I can’t call the shots all the time. When someone is higher in the hierarchy than me, even though it’s my band, the movie is based on my idea, and I oversee the project with my best friend, the director, things change.
It wasn’t even the producers who wanted to change things while we were filming, it was the financiers who had a problem. They wanted a film that was suitable for all ages, just like the Kiss film. They wanted just a little bit of “scary” horror, but not too much, so that it’s suitable for everyone older than 6 years of age. We were doing a horror, a slasher film!
We couldn’t even shoot the scenes that we wanted with lots of blood splatter and guts, because the financiers said no. We even had to change the final scene, the lines, everything, because they said that “the ending is too hopeless and too sad.”
The original story was that the Lordi monsters were actually trying to protect everyone from the little girl, who was the real Satan of the film. All of a sudden we had to change everything within a few days. All of the story lines that we had carefully prepared, because it isn’t an easy movie to follow, would have been explained in the original version, but now we had to come up with something really fucking stupid. THAT was Disneyfication at its “best,” because they wanted to have the youngest audiences possible, while we wanted to aim for an 18+ or 21+ film!
MB: You know, when it comes to that KISS comparison… unlike Kiss, Lordi didn’t go for a family-friendly route once you realized there was more money there.
Lordi: Absolutely but, then again, it isn’t a choice. Everything I do within the framework of this band; the music, the lyrics, the masks, the stage shows; it’s all something that I need to be doing, and nobody could change that. There’s only one way of doing it, and that’s being honest with yourself. I’m not doing stuff for the fans or for anyone else; I’m doing it to please myself. It’s great if other people like it, but we won’t change for anybody.
I know that if we were to tone down there might be a better financial thing. But it wouldn’t be real.
MB: I was wondering how aware you were of the fact that, back in the days of the Lordi ice-cream and all that, there was this opportunity to milk this shit by being more family friendly.
Lordi: There was that opportunity, but we didn’t want to do it, and we actually fought against it. The media and everybody outside of the band were doing it for us, even though we weren’t doing it. While we did what we had been doing for years, they were filtering it all and making things worse for the people that came to the shows.
After Eurovision, when people brought kids to the concerts, the only thing they knew about the band were pictures in the magazines, the posters, the newspapers, and they got the one album and checked our performance at Eurovision. In our show it’s a long hour and a half, if you don’t like blood and guts, before that Eurovision song is played. It was their own mistake. Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups.
MB:If you take your kid to a show that is too shocking for him, well, you’re a shitty parent. You should look shit up first.
Lordi: Exactly! Now, while saying that, I don’t think that any art should have age limits. I know it sounds funny, and people laugh when I say this, but I’ve been watching horror films since I was like 8 or 7 year olds. I’ve been into the blood and guts ever since. The first things I started drawing were monsters when I was like 4. And I turned out to be just fine.
MB: But you should know your damn kids! You know if he’ll start crying or if he won’t be fine in that environment.
Lordi: Exactly, and you should do your homework before you make a plan to take them to watch the new Hostel movie!
MB: At the beginning of your band you were all very secretive about your identities, but now your identity is pretty much known. How do you feel about that? Is it still an issue?
Lordi: I don’t like it. I do not like it. If I go to a supermarket nobody knows who I am. At the venues, the shows, sure, the fans know who we are, but if I go to the supermarket nobody has a clue about who I am. I’m just one more fat, long-haired dude.
MB: We blend in easily, I know.
Lordi: Last week I went to the doctor but, since they saw my name, they immediately knew who I was. I’m not saying that you get a bad treatment because they know, it’s usually the opposite, but it’s not nice. Once they know my name they think they know who I am and what I’m about. As a civil person I’m completely different from my stage-persona. I don’t really want to boil kids and eat babies for breakfast.
MB: I’m afraid that we’re out of time, so thank you very much for a great conversation!
Lordi: Same to you!