A combination of heavy metal with pop music may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you dig that stuff you're surely familiar with Battle Beast's work by now. With tunes catchier than the plague and unmistakable, powerful vocals, it's easy to understand why this lot are getting more and more attention and are rapidly expanding their fanbase. Currently on tour promoting their latest output called "No More Hollywood Endings", the young Finns finally made it to Scotland, and before they hit the stage I got a chance to have a quick chat with the band's frontwoman Noora Louhimo.
I suppose it wasn't easy for you to follow up on your success with "Bringer of Pain". Were you nervous reading the reviews of the new album or is it something you don't really care about?
Actually, when you do a new album it's always nerve-racking. We didn't attempt to do a repetition of "Bringer of Pain". We really wanted to try something new, something different this time, but still keep the Battle Beast essence on the album. We wanted to make more theatrical stuff and I think we have more hard rock influences on this album. But yeah, it's always nerve-racking. Every time we do music it's like giving a birth to something new. But fortunately, we've had a really good response and people have taken the new album very well.
Was it easier for you to write the album this time around, with everyone bringing ideas to the table? I mean, you've only had one main songwriter in the past.
No, it's never easy, because even though we've had everyone in the band writing the music, you have to collect the right songs for the album. And everyone's got different opinion which ones should be on the album. So, it's always a big conversation, and fighting also, ha-ha! Sometimes everyone is agreeing like, "Yeah, this is the song we should really have as a single." For example, "No More Hollywood Endings" was definitely like everyone in the band wanted it to be the first single.
You have always mixed metal with pop melodies, but this time I would say your music is even more on the pop side, especially in the vocal department. Are you tired of screaming?
Well, it's always like you have to go with the song. You know, if the song is written in a certain way, you have to serve the song, you can't start screaming everything just because of screaming. I think of myself as a storyteller and I want to give the right expression and emotions of the song. So, it depends on the song. If every song was power metal, then it's a different thing, but it's always about telling the story and that's why I used different sounds on the new album.
As far as I'm concerned it's the first time you've used the real string section, as opposed to just keyboards. Is the band making more money now, so you can afford stuff like that?
Yeah, it's definitely the result of being more successful. We all agree that we really want to use more and more real instruments. The world is full of music made with computers only and we really need to remind people that there are actual real human beings doing that, you know, playing the music. It's a very important legacy to keep.
Did you write the string arrangements yourselves?
Yeah, Janne who wrote the songs with the strings did some arrangements, but we also had one person who was kind of connection between the string section people and our band and he did some arrangements too.
I've read you've actually had a chance to perform as a singer with a full symphonic orchestra?
That's true. It's called Vantaan Viihdeorkesteri, it means Vantaa Orchestra and it's a collection of various people from various big orchestras. It was a one-off special show where I was doing legendary rock and heavy metal songs. It was one of the best experiences of my life because of the feeling that you get with like 50 people playing behind you. It's something unique and I really hope I can get to do that more often.
"Endless Summer" has a strong arena rock vibe, you can hear echoes of Whitesnake or Journey in that tune. Who came up with the idea for that song?
Janne did write it, our keyboard player. I said to him that I would really love to have a song with this feeling of Whitesnake or Skid Row, whatever. And I'm really glad to hear that actually those influences come through. And also as a singer, I can play around with that song, it's a really cool song to sing live.
"The Golden Horde" lyrics are about the Mongol Empire. Is anyone in the band into medieval history?
Yeah, Joona, our guitar player, he's a history nerd, ha-ha! He wrote that song, he wanted to make a song about Mongolia.
Talking about the lyrics, you've got quite a lot of stuff about real life problems on the new album, which wasn't the case on the previous ones. So, where did it come from?
Well, it comes from real life, ha-ha! We also have songs that are imaginary and fantasy stuff too. But now we have more songwriters, Janne, Joona and Eero and I can see that especially Joona and Eero, they like to write songs about real issues in life. And I think it's very important. And for me, it's also important to deal with the real issues in the world or in your life or someone else's lives through music because it's much easier to approach those problems, you know? So it's just about who is writing the songs but we still want to keep other stuff, you know, as open door. We don't say that, "OK, now this band is only writing songs about real life issues," but it really depends on the mood and who is writing the songs.
I think you weren't into metal before you joined the band? So, how easy was it for you to assimilate with the whole culture?
Well, actually I have been into heavy metal since I was 15 years old. The first heavy metal bands I listened to were Iron Maiden and Ronnie James Dio and I really loved that music and I really do still love that music. But I didn't have that rasp in my voice back then and I didn't believe that I could be a heavy metal singer back then. Heavy metal has been part of my life since the teenage years, but yeah, before Battle Beast I used to sing all these other genres and develop myself as a singer that way. And it's actually been very useful with this heavy metal thing because when I started my first band, I was about 19 or 20, I sang Janis Joplin and we wrote songs which were similar to Janis's music and then I found the rasp in my voice and developed it. And then I actually started to believe that, "OK, now I could do some rock stuff," and then it happened - the guys found me through YouTube singing Janis Joplin and asked me to join the band, ha-ha!
Our time's up, so let me ask you the last question. The band was founded in 2008, a couple of years later you were on the biggest metal label in the world and now you've got five albums out and are doing headlining tours. What would you say has contributed to your success the most, apart from good songs?
I think we are a really good live band, people really like our live performances. And I really love performing and I really love connecting with people. So I think the thing is that we're really love to do this and it's not even work, it's love of our lives to do music and perform and entertain. So I think that is something that really reflects to people. And also the people who actually can make us more successful, like managers and agencies and so on, they like us and they like our music. We are very easy to work with, we are not divas. We just do our job and try to enjoy the ride.