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Fireworks Magazine Online 78 - Interview with Battle Beast
19 March 2017
Interview by Dave Scott
Battle Beast is a Female-Fronted six-piece Power Metal band hailing from Finland. The band has so far released three albums since their formation in 2008, the last two with Noora Louhimo as vocalist. 2017 sees Battle Beast return with their fourth album and Fireworks sat down for a chat with their charismatic singer to discuss the new record and recent changes in the band's line-up.
Since your last album there's been a major change in band personnel with the departure of Anton Kabanen (the main song-writer). Can you explain why this change occurred?
One important thing to point out is that he didn't leave the band, we actually had to remove him. The reason for this was because, long story short, we had a lot of artistic and personal issues as well as disagreements and even though we tried for a very long time to fix our relationship, it just didn't get any better. It was the only solution for continuing Battle Beast, otherwise the whole band would have just broken up. Of course, everybody was considering different stuff but the point was that we wanted to stick together because other members came along and we got on very well. We considered this for a very long time before we made a final decision. We considered if we'd be able to do songs for Battle Beast, and when we made the final decision we were ready for the challenge. Of course, we were really sad but we were also relieved and felt the freedom, because we want to do this as a band and make the decisions together and not have them made by just one person.
Kabanen has since been replaced by new guitarist Joona Björkroth; did you have him fill in straight away?
Actually, it wasn't clear from the beginning who was going to be the new guitar player. First we had two extra guitarists who were filling in during the 2015 shows. At the end of the year we had to decide who was going to be the next member because we wanted that person to equally participate in the process of the new album. So when we approached that time we decided together that we were going to ask Joona Björkroth and he agreed. It was really good because I feel like our chemistry works very well in both work and personal situations. He is the little brother of our keyboard player and has been watching us from the beginning so he knew everything about us, ha-ha.
You have a new album out called 'Bringer Of Pain'. Was this always planned to be the title, given some might assume it relates to the difficult recent past, or did you have any other ideas beforehand?
That was actually pretty much one of the last decisions we made. We considered other options too but that was, in the end, we felt a really good name for an album. It's got the right kind of punch in it.
I know the writing process was very much Kabanen's for the previous albums. How has his departure changed the song-writing aspect within the band?
For this album we all participated in the song-writing but the major work was done by Janne and Joona Björkroth. We could see that they are a talented couple when making music as well as being very productive; they put together a lot of songs in a little amount of time. Of course we all did some songs and did some drafts and gave our ideas and input in other ways. For example, most of my input was during the recording sessions when we changed some stuff like melodies, or the rhythm of the lyrics if they didn't work with me, or fit my style.
Who wrote the majority of the lyrics?
Mostly it went along the lines of the one who wrote the song was writing the lyrics also. So when I wrote '...Pain' with Joona Björkroth, he did the music and I did the melody and the lyrics for that song.
I am guessing the new way of doing things was both a breath of fresh air, yet something that also created new pressures. Did you like having that added responsibility?
I think that this was the right decision and I feel like now that we all can give input and use everybody's potential, that it is much better than just one person doing it or having just one person's perspective. Battle Beast is a band and not someone's solo project. I think this works very well and now everyone is giving their input, you can hear that we have developed that Battle Beast signature sound and the music has moved forward compared to what it was before.
What themes have you explored lyrically on the new release?
Janne Björkroth wrote 'King For A Day' and 'Familiar Hell' so he knows much more about the content but what I can tell you is that they really are about human nature and also about how we can be manipulated. For example, in '...Hell', how you can be manipulated by the media and how you act because of that. '...Day', it is about power and how you can use it, some people use that power wrong and then they get judged by Battle Beast, ha-ha. As for the title track that Joona Björkroth and I wrote, I had this idea about this new fantasy world called "The Glow" and '...Pain' is a female character in that world, a female soldier who is kicking everybody's ass. I will most probably do some more songs about that world because I got really interested in creating something that is not real that no one else has created already; something totally new. That is very intriguing for me and I will definitely continue that story. I can reveal to you that '...Pain' is going to be the third music video coming out and it is going to be a little bit of an opening about the world I have created for the character.
You have already released videos for '...Day' and '...Hell'; did you enjoy doing them as I read that you weren't happy with the overall outcome for the 'Madness' video from the previous album?
Ha-ha... yeah I wasn't. Totally not. That is one thing that I, and we, have learned. Never do a music video without planning it well first. Of course, the situation with Kabanen was going on back then when we were doing that...
'...Day' and '...Hell' were a lot of fun. There was a really good crew making the videos and we had a lot of different ideas for them but in the end the filming company who did them made the final scripts and production designs for them.
I take it with you now having more of an input and those problems now gone, you were much more able to get what you wanted from those videos?
Yes, definitely. I was in touch with the editor and the guys shooting the materials for these music videos so I could give my ideas. The final cut was, of course, made by the director as he is the artist there but he took Janne Björkroth's and my ideas in and made it the best way he could see it. I really enjoyed doing these new videos because I could do a little bit more acting and I do enjoy that, ha-ha.
Are you looking forward to hitting the road to promote the new album?
I am so excited, you can't imagine how excited I am. I love touring and being on the road. Being at home is nice for a while but then the tour bug bites me and I am like "I need to get on the road". The British people have always taken us very warmly in their embrace so I am really excited about "bringing the pain", bringing the new show and the new songs to the UK. It is going to be awesome. I am just excited to meet our fans again and hopefully get some news ones. I just can't wait to "release the beast". What I am looking forward to is helping people to release their own beast. They can let themselves free at our shows, even though they are not drunk or whatever, you can still let yourself free and scream, shout and bang your head. That is always the goal for me, I want to make sure everyone is screaming, jumping and banging their head by the end.
With regards to touring, has anything changed with Kabanen not being there?
It's totally different because now we have a really relaxed, laid back atmosphere. Everyone has a sense of humour, which is really needed. It is hard work and you have to be together twenty-four/seven in the bus for weeks, maybe months, so the most important thing is that we get along. Joona Björkroth has become a really good friend for me as well as a workmate and I think he fits very well in this band. His work ethics are very high, he rehearses a lot, he does music a lot but then he also has this goofy side to him... joking around. We are going to release some "making of" videos and you will see his personality there and how funny he is.
What have you learnt about yourselves and how have you grown in that period?
The most important thing we learned was that you should never give up if you believe in something. Of course we learnt that no matter how much you sometimes try to fix some relationships with someone, if the other party isn't willing to make any change to make it better then you have to know when to give up. As for growth, I feel like we have grown a lot more together in the last two years than before and especially now we have finished and worked on this new album. This has pulled us together. When some doors close, other doors open.