What do you think of when you hear the words ‘folk metal?’ Dragons? Vikings? Mead? Well the genre has all this and more (but mainly mead). For Finnish act Ensiferum, folk metal is dressing up, putting on war paint and singing their mighty medieval themed songs to their fans.
In between shows on Ensiferum’s current tour through Russia, bassist Sami Hinkka took the time to chat to HEAVY before he got too stuck into reading The Hunger Games. Ensiferum have been on tour for the most part of the last few years, most recently to promote their album Unsung Heroes which was released in August last year. As they say though, no rest for the wicked, because the band have already started working on their next album while still on the road.
“We actually started working on it a few days ago. We already have some songs from previous sessions that we couldn’t finish, so we already have some material to start working on.”
Along with the release of their latest album comes their new video for the song In My Sword I Trust. Epic name, don’t you think?
“The castle where we shot the video is a real tourist attraction,” says Hinkka, “There were tourists every now and then walking around and families who were like ‘what’s going on here? There are bearded guys shouting and listening to metal’… The rest of the people in the video were from a Polish medieval re-enactment group. They were so nice. It would have been nice to have a real party with them afterwards but we only had one day there. Luckily we managed to film everything that we needed, but it meant we had to leave pretty much straight after we had shot everything. Personally I don’t really like making music videos, but this was definitely something different. I really enjoyed this experience.”
For someone who doesn’t like making music videos, Hinkka pulled it off pretty well – pretending to sing and shout with strangers staring could have gotten pretty awkward.
“Yeah, that’s the thing,” laughs Hinkka, “It would be nice to have a really professional music video, but that costs thousands and tens of thousands of Euros – and that’s not really possible with our status. I would rather not make a video at all! But that’s just my opinion.”
Concerts of folk metal bands tend to roll a little differently than the norm sometimes. Oh, there’s the usual moshing, don’t worry about that, but there can also be a lot of people linking arms while skipping in circles. It’s jolly, to say the least.
“Everywhere we go people are in a good mood at the shows and are enjoying themselves,” says Hinkka.
Ensiferum last toured to Australia in 2009 as a support act for Sonata Arctica and they returning in March 2013.
“We have gotten so many fan emails from Australia during all these years, so we’re really interested to see [what it will be like again]… We hope that we can bring some new crowds to our shows. It would be really interesting to see what the folk metal scene is like there. Some of us are coming there earlier to enjoy the fun.”
To those diehard fans who love to get in character for the shows, I asked Hinkka what he thought of people dressing up in medieval gear and painting their faces for the show.
“I think it’s really cool that people do that, it gives us a different mood on stage when people are prepared in some way. It gives us an extra boost.”
So if you plan on seeing Ensiferum on their Unsung Heroes Australian tour, you might want to start stocking up on your war paint.