Shiraz Lane, Silver Dust and Lordi – The Scene, Swansea
For LORDI Army UK and Ireland/Jace Media, Niki Flynn caught up with Hella – the keyboardist for Lordi – on the penultimate UK tour date at Bristol Bierkeller for a girl-to-girl chat about life on the road as a new mom, Primark and stripping on stage (honestly!)
Many thanks to Hella for her time, Tour Manager Mark Nowak for fitting us in and Mike Exley for the opportunity.
Hey Hella, so how are you feeling today?
Hella: Like usual, there always some kind of a flu going on in our bus and that’s the same thing at the moment, so, there is like a choir of coughs going on during the night, so yeah it’s just regular lungs full of dusty bus air.
How are you finding the UK tour so far?
H: Well its too bad that its the end of the tour, ‘cos everybody is getting a bit tired already. [laughs] I mean like it’s been a long tour, and always touring in the winter when it’s getting colder, and the venues are big halls, they’re cold and especially here there’s not much of a heating thing, so when we’re all sick it’s quite exhausting always at this point, but then again of course it’s nice to be here. After touring countries you don’t understand the language around you, it’s really nice [laughs] to then finish in England and Ireland where you can actually talk to anybody and know what you’re saying. If you have to deal with stuff like, go to a doctor or something, it’s really difficult if you have to go in Bulgaria and you have no idea, they don’t necessarily speak much English or something.
Like finding someone that might actually be able to help, if they don’t speak much English and you need help!
H: For example today, I got lost and I didn’t have Wi-Fi in my phone, I couldn’t find any internet so then I’m able to actually ask a person what I can do, [laughs] where the hell am I? It’s nice. And what I love about England as well, you saw me carrying the huge bags of shopping, it’s like, oh I got wild at Primark! [laughs]
Primark is actually amazing.
H: It is. Like all this novelty stuff like star wars pyjamas and shit like that, it’s like, I go crazy. I got wild with mens department and kids department for Christmas gifts.
Good shout! So you were back in the UK in 2015, whilst you were pregnant with your daughter – what is it like being a relatively new mom on the road?
H: It’s totally like, doing something that you have no idea what you’re doing, cos first of all I didn’t know what its like to be pregnant on tour, still I jumped on the tour-bus. I’ve never been pregnant before, as well as not really having like, any knowledge about it. So I totally jumped into unknown with that, as well as now being on the road having a small child at home, like, I know that so many moms would fucking slaughter me by saying ‘you can’t do that’, you can’t leave a child at home, you’re damaging her, whatever, psychological development being away from mom and all that kind of shit. So of course that scares me as well, I don’t know, I just gotta do it and see what happens…[brief chat to a crew member in Finnish] So yeah, it is a little bit of a, how would I say, something when you don’t have experience, you have no idea, you just gotta do it and see what happens. And of course there is always the fear in me that what if, something happens; like let’s say what if my child would all of a sudden get really sick and have to stay in a hospital for weeks or something like that, I couldn’t go, then I would really have to skip the tour, so then these kind of things are of course then. Like now it’s no longer all about me, I have somebody else to think before my own stuff, so of course it changes your whole life not just being a musician, so yeah it’s still a huge question mark like, all the time. Not knowing what’s going to happen, I’m going just day by day and tour by tour and see what’s happening, but so far it’s been surprisingly good, I think my kid’s personality’s the biggest thing that makes this possible because she’s so good at home with her dad and her grandparents and like, so she is the tough one. [laughs]
That probably makes you tough, knowing that she’s going to be OK. I understand she actually visited you on a couple of gigs?
H: Exactly. Yeah. She did yeah, she joined the tour for a little while, and yeah that was fun. Almost every show she watched from the beginning to the end, and yeah she still at home always asks for wanting to see Lordi shows on YouTube, and there she’s dancing in the living room, going crazy. Pointing at me in the TV screen, saying “There she is!” It’s so funny that she totally knows, even though we wear the masks, she knows exactly whose behind there and she’s not afraid of us at all you know.
Well that’s good though, I guess if she isn’t frightened of you guys then she won’t be afraid of much scarier stuff in the future!
H: But then again you never know, she starts being afraid of lollipops or something like that [laughs], they might become the instantly most scariest things in the world.
Well it’s a possibility, lollipops are pretty frightening! Sounds like she is coping well as a tour-baby though.
H: Yeah, she’s doing really well. And she was so happy the whole time, like didn’t mind sitting in the car for long drives, that’s really good.
She sounds so well-behaved.
H: She is, she’s a little miracle. She’s really cool.
What is your favourite part being on tour – I know things are different now your daughter is involved – but just being on tour?
H: The shows. Yeah. Even if you have a completely shitty day, I’ve been in a high fever, and all that kind of stuff, you don’t feel like doing anything; like you’re grumpy and tired and sick and all that, but the moment you go on stage you always, always somehow find the sparkle and it’s always a lot of fun.
You do look like you have a lot of fun on stage.
H: It’s always like that. Even though you think that how the hell am I gonna do it today, but every time you walk there it always works. It’s always fun to see people there, and every show you give it all; it doesn’t matter if it is the first show of the tour or the last show of the tour there, they are the same. Its always the show. That’s what we’re here for.
I wanted to speak a little about Monstereophonic. I know you came up with the idea for your costume, how did Mr Lordi react to it – was he happy with it? Did he want to change it at all?
H: Yeah yeah, no. Actually, this one especially, is like that I did almost everything, it were my ideas, and he was like “Yeah, go for it, sounds good!”
I guess that makes it easier for him, if you have the idea already.
H: Exactly. And of course he was the one then actually doing it, but he was good with the idea, it worked out. And we were really like-minded with that.
Hella has always been sexy, but this costume is a whole different realm of sexy – especially the ‘Walk this Way’ [I mime riff] thing. That’s so good. I didn’t realise that was going to be a thing.
H: Oh yeah, that thing. [laughs] Well to be honest with you, that was something that was never planned, that wasn’t any kind of a part of the show in the beginning. It was totally, I can’t remember where was it when Mr Lordi told me that “You should take the vest off at some point that people can see your costume” and then, I said OK, let’s do it. I’ll take maybe in the beginning of Hard Rock Hallelujah or something, I’ll take it off and so then people can see it. I can’t remember where was it the first time but it was totally like, non planned. Just pop in my head that I go and little bit tease Amen in the front of the stage, and then take the vest off, and then little by little it developed, and people were like “Way, that was cool!” It was completely improvised at first, originally it was just going to be happening that one time, but then when people seemed to like it then we just kept doing it, but it totally wasn’t a planned trick.
It seems to be going down really well, so I think that was good judgement!
H: Well, best ideas come when you are drunk enough! [laughs]
Drunk ideas are always good! Is this new costume one of your favourites to wear?
H: Looks wise, yes. But it’s hell of a work to have a pee in it [laughs] I have to take literally fucking everything off! Look wise, yes for sure.
It does look amazing, one of my favourites. It matches to the new level of daring Lordi has shown with Monstereophonic – cos obviously Monstereophonic is a whole new direction for Lordi to go into. I think the costumes have gone a new daring level too – would you tend to agree?
H: Yeah, I do. And also I’ve seen so many more details in these than any of the previous ones on my time, on my era, has been that yeah, these ones are the costumes that I think have been put the most effort on, we had more time and all that stuff.
I think these are my favourite costumes too.
H: Yeah, hopefully it shows for the audience as well that these had really put thought into.
I think it does, and Monstereophonic is definitely proving popular with the audiences – going to Southampton and Reading last year, and the audiences weren’t nearly as big then as they are this year.
H: Yeah. We feel like as well, that we are going strong and loving it.
Well for my final question, I just wanted to ask who your biggest influence was in terms of making you start with keyboards?
H: There is a lot of influences. But I think even though I’m a totally different kind of player in keyboards but I really love the Children of Bodom Janne Wirman guy, I can tell that his background I think is in Jazz music, and he’s like, totally wild when he plays. I wish at some point I could have, like, that we would write a song where it would be like keyboards solos and shit like that, but I need to practice a lot to get even close to his level [laughs], but he is inspiring cos you can, what he does is you can see the keyboard can be so much more than just like strings and an atmosphere creating instrument.
Well we are out of time, but thank you very much for your time Hella; enjoy sound check and your penultimate gig in the UK.
Lordi, Shiraz Lane and Silver Dust – O2 Academy Islington, London
The anticipation was high for the final gig of the UK leg of the Lordi tour, and I really hoped it would be the best gig yet.
The night did not start great, with queue jumpers in the O2 Priority line, security who were less than flummoxed about said queue-jumpers and then getting into the venue was a whole other debacle. I had to wait for my photo pass for ages, and once I got to my friends, we had been relegated to the side of the stage at the front; with a speaker cabinet dominating our view.
Once Silver Dust started, I took my shots and headed back to my friends – much to the disdain of the pitbull woman who had been standing behind me and my friends. Again they did not disappoint, with the actors and the magic mirror back on stage once again, adapting to the smaller stage with ease; putting on another cracking show.
Shiraz Lane fired onto the stage for their final show, and delivered another jaw-dropping performance, with Hannes once again talking to the audience and meeting every one; delivering another bombastic performance – not once have Shiraz Lane disappointed this tour, and they were not about to let us down for the final show.
Shiraz Lane are absolutely fantastic and show real potential – I wish these beautiful friendly Finns all the luck in the future, they deserve all the good fortune they will surely get.
Finally it was time for headliners Lordi to take the stage for their last UK date. For the seventh time in a row, I heard KISS God of Thunder bring on the band, and Skeletor do the introduction for the monsters of universe for final time; and still I was full of joy and excitement.
Lordi blasted onto the stage with Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man and still I was like a kid at Christmas – I could watch this band one thousand times and still not get bored.
Mr Lordi and the rest of the bands interactions with my friends and I was just fabulous, from Mr L turning his head upside down whilst we were upside down over the barrier for It Snows in Hell; to calling us his babes during Babez for Breakfast and entertaining us the whole night.
It was a spectacular last gig, and one I was so glad to see considering I almost gave up in Doncaster. The evening was topped off by getting a picture with Mr Lordi in costume and saying goodbye to the bands and crew for one last time, until the next…
Lordi, Shiraz Lane and Silver Dust – Bierkeller, Bristol
The Bierkeller in Bristol showed promised straight away, not taking long before the crowds were beginning to grow in wait – queuing from as early as 17:00 whilst I interviewed Hella from Lordi (interview will be posted soon).
The venue is a decent size with a nice big – though still not as big as Newcastle – and quite low stage, so the sight level was really good all show.
First, Silver Dust come on, once again gracing the stage with their electrifying presence and finally having their magic mirror back today – really added to the show as always. Today we even had characters on stage, which feature in the videos shown on the magic mirror – such as the plague doctor and the black veiled witch. Another fabulous show from Silver Dust on their penultimate date and it really makes me look forward to seeing more of them in the future.
Shiraz Lane once again raised the roof, with another energetic performance and seeming to thoroughly enjoy the show tonight. I chatted to them after the show and they said the venue was amazing, and one of the best shows they played.
When Lordi came on stage, it was already apparent that they were keen to top the Liverpool gig the night before. They bounded onto the set with insurmountable energy and pummeled through the set with ease, and feeling like it was no time at all after they had come on stage and then were leaving it again. There was a small surging in the crowd, but tonight I held my place, adamant not to give in like I had in Doncaster.
In summary, it was awesome show and a step closer to the finale in London tomorrow.
Lordi, Shiraz Lane and Silver Dust – Hangar 34, Liverpool
Another Lordi UK tour date, another city – this time Liverpool. It was a strange one considering there was a last minute venue change from The Krazyhouse right around the corner from my hotel, to the Hangar 34 by the docks… which was not. It was not necessarily a bad thing however, and it meant Lordi were popping the cherry of the recently refurbished venue. Queuing was very, very cold, and even with two pairs of socks and several layers I was still frozen half to death by the time the doors opened at 19:30.
Silver Dust opened again, and did not disappoint, even if the stage was not quite as big as they really needed; but still they made best of it as they could, with all members interacting a lot with the audience. At one point, Lord Campbell was stood at the front row on two monitors and was serenading the crowd – something really awesome to see.
Next were Shiraz Lane, and they put on another fantastic show – again. They were brimming full of energy tonight, and were pumping it into the room, getting the crowd jumping in the reasonable sized venue. This band never cease to amaze, and tonight was just another night to add to their repertoire of strong stage presence.
Of course, Lordi were the finishers, and today I felt it was a much better show. Although Mr Lordi was still not well as he told us so, coughing every so often and his voice occasionally breaking; he and the band still put on a spectacular show and made tonight one of the most memorable nights. The interaction was back on form, the performances were spot on and not a thing went wrong for the whole night – the crowd were much better behaved and everyone just had a really good show.
The frozen feet were a mere memory by the end of the night, having danced a lot to warm them back up – that was however, until we went back outside again!
In summary, a great night apart from the coldness and thankfully managed to put Doncaster in the shade as just an unfortunate blip on the radar of live performances from Lordi.
Lordi, Shiraz Lane and Silver Dust – Diamond Live Lounge, Doncaster
At first sight, Diamond Live Lounge in Doncaster was a beautiful if not a little off-beat venue for the monsters of rock to play in – considering it was a repropriated church, which has been transformed from its religious roots into a gay bar, into its current iteration of rock venue.
Initially, it did look like all bands would struggle to fit into the compact venue – and indeed I was not wrong. There was gear everywhere during the gig due to little space for the props and flight cases, and the set up of the stage was harkening back to the Scene in Swansea – too much kit in too small of a space.
Silver Dust were first in the running again, and managed to put on another stellar show considering they had so many space constraints – the magic mirror screen however did not make an appearance tonight.
Shiraz Lane put on another great show, again considering the space constraints, and I am really starting to enjoy their live shows – though their massive Guns ‘N’ Roses approach fits to the bigger stages better. They have just such an abundant amount of energy, it is infectious – and so it shows in the reactions of the audience.
When Lordi took to the stage however, the atmosphere soured quickly. Straight away, the crowd became too over-excited, almost violent, and started surging forward; crushing my friend and I as people fought tooth and nail to get to the front.
I really struggled to get into the show of Lordi, and did not find myself enjoying it too much – the sparkle was just not there that night. Maybe it was brought on by the surging of the crowd, or maybe the lack of interaction the band was showing the audience that night; but I was not feeling it.
Very few props were brought onto stage considering the lack of space – we did not see the Hella’s baby segment, or Cadaver Lover props with the autopsy table. It also appeared that Mr Lordi was having a lot of costume trouble that night, getting the prop girl to check his contact lenses a lot and generally keeping on top of things. I later learned that the band were sick, which probably made the show quite stressful and difficult for them as they are most definitely more used to larger stages.
All in all, I did not wholeheartedly enjoy tonight’s concert. Although the venue had promise, it fell short in the delivery with lack of space for a band like Lordi being the main issue, and the crowd were unfortunately one of the worst I have ever seen at a Lordi concert – not least to mention the drunk guy tipping his full pint of beer onto my new camera gear. Yeah, that was not fun… However, the crowd being unruly was not any of the bands’ faults, and not the venue’s either but it did however take the shine off what could have been a great show. A real shame to see, however the manager of the venue was an extremely decent guy and helped me out a hell of a lot that night – shout out to Steve, thank you for your help that night.
Lordi, Shiraz Lane and Silver Dust – O2 Academy Newcastle
soon as I walked into the venue at O2 Academy Newcastle, i knew straight away it would be an amazing show. The stage was huge, the audience would be huge and and maybe we would finally get to see the full Lordi stage show considering the previous venues had been so small – and we were not disappointed.
Silver Dust were first on the roster again, and with such a massive stage on offer they clearly felt at home. The magic mirror made an appearance again and for another night, the opening act impressed the audience immensely straight from the off.
Next in the running order was Shiraz Lane, who were absolutely incredible on the large stage. They filled the room with abundant energy, and fully utilised everything they had at the venue – including floor space when lead singer Hannes, rhythm guitarist Miki and bassist Joel took to the floor and ran between the crowds. Shiraz Lane never fail to entertain crowds, and they were truly at home on this bigger stage and I can only hope that the other venues still to come can offer them the same space.
The crew managed to turn the stage around really quickly, and it was 9.30 when Lordi got on stage – the earliest yet on this UK tour so far.
Skeletor introduced the band, and they slammed onto stage with Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man from their latest album Monstereophonic. The band entertained the audience throughout the night with Mr Lordi interacting with us all – he especially liked my tricks for Hug You Hardcore and Down with the Devil – and with a big stage on offer we were finally treated to the prop show extravaganza Lordi are so well known for. We had Cadaver Lover, with Mr Lordi chainsawing Silver Dust’s drummer Mr Killjoy in two, the dancing skeletons to Demonarchy and the casket in which prop girl Jessica discovers Amen. All in all, a top night – the best one yet.
Lordi, Shiraz Lane and Silver Dust
Walking into La Belle Angele in Edinburgh is like walking into a tardis – it really is quite a deceivingly sized venue. And with a bigger venue, comes a better show – the show starting off with Silver Dust once more who were able to finally put on their usual theatrics. The legendary magic mirror finally made and appearance and the band now had the space to move about and utilise it.
Silver Dust once again filled the venue with a ton of energy, completing their set with bundles of charisma and panache from all the members. Once again Mr Killjoy the drummer was able to entertain the crowd with his techniques, his antics and mind-blowing solo.
With a bigger stage, the Finnish five piece Shiraz Lane were able to exercise their energetic stage performance to the maximum with much more ease, continuing to deliver the slab of energy as they belted out their catchy guitar riffs, and 80’s glam rock influenced vocals.
The headlining five piece monster band Lordi were also able to stretch their creative theatrical legs too, having a slightly bigger stage in order to entertain with their shenanigans and dominating stage precense. I unfortunately missed some of the show as my friend had a funny turn, but I managed to see the first three and last three songs Who’s Your Daddy and Would You Love a Monsterman from side of stage thanks to the helpful security guard who had helped my friend. Mr Lordi was happy to see me back to watch the show, so treated me to a full face of CO2 during WYD to round off an extremely eventful evening.
Shiraz Lane, Silver Dust and Lordi – The Scene, Swansea
The atmosphere outside The Scene in Swansea was palpable as we awaited the doors opening for Lordi – the first time they had played in Wales. The venue was not the biggest place, and for a massive theatrical band like Lordi that is quite a big problem.
The disappointment that spread through the line of people was obvious when it was announced the doors would be opening 45 minutes late because one of the support bands had shown up late and still had a sound-check to do. And as it turns out it would not be the only disappointment that night.
Silver Dust were on first and they were incredible – they really opened the show with a bang and soon made the audience forget about the initial annoyance of late doors. They were extremely interactive with the audience and I even managed to get 4 plectrums and a drumstick. The set was short however due to the time delay and they only played about six or seven songs, but they still managed to do that with an air of pure steampunk class. They coped with the small stage as well as they could, however I did learn from the band later on in the evening that they had had to cut the show down drastically to fit the diminutive space they had on offer.
Next were Shiraz Lane who fired onto the small stage with a big atmospheric intro, who were again a class act and followed on from Silver Dust by interacting with the audience just as well. The frontman has an aura of Axl Rose in him, with screaming high vocals and a wonderfully fetching flowery shirt, and the guitars seemingly influenced by a mix of Slash, Leopard and Faith No More. Their set was about eight songs and all were delivered with finesse, whilst also clearly showing that they were having a lot of fun.
Lastly was the main act Lordi, who unfortunately came onto stage around an hour and a half late to an impatient baying crowd; due to the frontman Mr Lordi having an ill-timed bout of sickness. He was quick to apologise for the delay and wholeheartedly accepted he was to blame for choosing the Indian food, and the crowd soon forgave the monster rockers; as they belted out a few of their classic tour fodder and some more unusual songs like Children of the Night and Hellbender Turbulence. They rounded off the night with their foil-proof classic, Would You Love a Monsterman?
All in all, it was a night that started on a low ebb, only to be finalised on high spirits for the headlining act’s debut UK date for 2016, after an initial cancellation of the original debut date. It ended up being a spectacular show, and I hope it can be topped in Edinburgh tonight…