28 Nov 2019
»I slept with my guitar« - Interview
During my solo shows in Germany, I was interviewed for a newspaper. I told some stories you might not know yet, so here's the translation (original article can be found right here):
The guitarist of former ESC winners Lordi is playing live in Selb on saturday, November 2nd. In this interview monsterman Amen-Ra talks about self-doubt, horror movies and getting older.
Hello Amen, which horror movies should our readers absolutely watch now during fall? Are you, as a monster, interested in such movies at all?
My absolute favorite is »The Shining«, maybe not a classic horror movie, but if you haven't watched it, you should do it now. Other than that, I really like the movies of Rob Zombie. And also the uber-classics such as »Texas Chainsaw Massacre«, »A Nightmare on Elm Street« and »It«. At least once a year I have to watch »Dracula« and movies like »The Ring«, »The Excorcist« and »The Omen« are true horror for me. Sometimes I only want to enjoy good entertainment with popcorn watching »Zombieland« or »Shaun of the Dead«. I could go on forever. So, I'd say I like horror films (laughs).
You have spent half of your life playing a horror character on stage. How do you survive a whole concert under that mask? Even monsters age.
It's the first time, that someone actually confronted me with the fact that even monsters get older. A very good point! Well, Lordi shows are very well-planned. We're no fans of solo turns during the gig, but it's neccessary to give the other members at least a bit of a break. I personally always have lots of ice cubes against hand cramps on stage. Cooling fans are also a must. I commonly sleep quite late on a concert day. It's hard for me, when I wake up at 9pm. 15 years ago that used to be way easier (laughs).
As a child you suffered from stagefright, when you learned to play the guitar. Does it free you from feelings of fear to play a role on stage?
Haha, yes. As a kid I was really shy. That's probably part of my personality. The first Lordi shows really scared me, that's how nervous I was. And then our first show in Helsinki was even sold out. After that we were already on the road touring German ice rinks as the opening act of Nightwish. As a kid I stopped playing guitar for a few years, because I was supposed to pass a test and I was afraid to fail. I must have been five years old (laughs). To play a role on stage is easier, because then it's not you, who goes to the supermarket the day after. Nowadays I don't suffer from stagefright anymore. I enjoy every second.
What is your advice for young people, who really doubt themselves?
I had a postcard hanging next to my bed when I was a teenager. On it was a little boy with a guitar, who stood in front of thousands of people. Next to it the sentence »Believe in yourself«. Every night, every morning I looked at the image and it gave me a lot of self-esteem. Everybody should find such an incentive for self-confidence. That could be parents, friends, or teachers. But ultimately, there's only you. If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will.
To become a professional musician requires a lot of practice. How do you practice?
As a teenager I pretty much slept with my guitar. When you go to school, you still have to feel the guitar on your body. It has to be part of you. Nowadays I mostly practice during the writing of new songs or riffs. But sometimes it's good to just put up a metronome and freshen up your timing.
What can people who go to your solo-show in Selb expect?
I have playbacks without guitar tracks and will play live to them. We usually don't play these songs live with Lordi. But of course I also have some famous songs on my setlist. I'll answer questions, tell stories and after playing there's time for photos, talks and autographs. It's gonna be a relaxed and intimate evening.
In the early Lordi days you always dreamt of performing in Germany. Did we meet your expectations?
Germany is one of the biggest music markets worldwide. To play there sounded like a goal that you would want to reach. It was like a dream. »One day I want to board a plane with my guitar and fly to a show there.« I expected true, honest music fans and my expectations were fulfilled completely. To play in Germany is still exciting for me.
Lordi was immensly popular when you won the Eurovision Songcontest in 2006. Your popularity is now on a more moderate level. How are you dealing with that?
Something like a victory in ESC would have an aggravating impact on every artist's life. It gives your life a new order for a while. It was a huge thing - so enormous, that there was only one way out of it. And we knew that. If you're having a huge party, you'll have to pay the price afterwards. Recently the ESC hangover vanished from Finland and we are accepted on big festivals again, we sell out clubs. That feels good. Really good.
So be it, it shall be done,