Does the Lordi story begin in 2006, when they won the Eurovision contest? Or maybe in 1996, when Lordi was formed? Some would say it began when KISS donned makeup, when Alice Cooper climbed on stage, or when Ozzy did that thing with the bat...
For our purposes, we will begin in 2006, when Lordi won the Eurovision contest. The winning song “Hard Rock Hallelujah!” is a new international rock anthem. Their performance (easily found on YouTube) is proudly filled with pyrotechnics and pomposity.
We were fortunate enough to have Amen, the guitarist for the mighty Lordi, answer a few of our questions. The other notorious members are Mr. Lordi (vocals), Ox (bass), Awa (keyboards), and Kita (drums).
“The Eurovision song contest is an annual pop song competition,” Amen explains. “There are something like 40 contestants, and you perform your song in front of a live audience. At the same time, it is broadcasted to millions of viewers--usually there's over 100 million viewers. It is one of the most-watched non-sporting events in the world, so it's a great opportunity to bring your message to millions of people in only three minutes!
“People in different countries vote, and the country that gets the most points wins the competition. It is a competition where you usually can't see rock bands, so we were really a 'bizarre vision' in the middle of all those the-less-I-use-clothes-the-more-I-get-votes artists. It's a place no one ever expected to see a band like us, but that's the reason we wanted to participate, because we do things that normal bands don't do.”
And just how has winning the Eurovision contest change things for the band?
“We got more reputation and more work,” remarks Amen. “It opened many doors for us. We got a lot of new fans, and because of that we have a chance to play in bigger arenas. During the last year-and-a-half we were really busy, and we have to thank Eurovision for that… But we've already moved on, and our focus is on the future. ”
Lordi wear latex masks and makeup. How did the costumes come about? “Mr. Lordi got this crazy idea back in early '90s, and all of the mask design comes pretty much from him--other members also take part in design sessions, giving ideas, etc., but Mr. Lordi is the one who makes the masks from sketches to final product.”
And, each member's monster costume portrays a different persona. “There's a different story behind every monster,” says Amen. “For me it was kind of obvious to be a mummy, because I have always loved ancient Egypt and its history. It was ten years ago when I jumped in Mr. Lordi's train, and back then we discussed the character of the guitarist. The first idea was some kind of redneck porno Caesar, but nowadays I'm really happy that we thought about it twice!”
Wearing costumes means many long hours spent in makeup. How much time is typically spent in costume? “It depends on how many shows we have,” muses Amen. “During the craziest weeks it would be easier to sleep in your costume and not take it off, but the average is something like 10-20 hours per week.” However, just to get into their costumes “it takes something like three hours for Mr. Lordi, and like an hour for rest of us.”
How do you describe Lordi to the uninitiated? “Five monsters that play heavy rock and are influenced by horror movies.” As for the inevitable comparisons to GWAR, Amen counters, “Well, personally, I don't know their music so well, but I think they look cool! It's great to have different kind of bands and music in the world. I hope to meet them one day. I guess they must be distant family members for us...”
Lordi is fortunate enough to be playing Ozzfest this summer. Are there any surprises planned? “I think the biggest surprise will be if none of us pass out from the heat,” he chuckles. “This time we couldn't bring all the props we wanted because it is a festival, and changing times between the bands are very short. But we do have pyro, so I'm sure we're gonna bring a lot of good times.
“Ozzfest is a really great opportunity for us. For two months we have a chance to play for thousands and thousands of rock fans and have a good time with them. It's gonna be so cool! I just can't wait to meet all the new fans and long-time fans. We just hope that Ozzfest will open more doors for us, and that we can spread the monster word in the States for decades! We already have diehard fans here, so I just can't wait to meet them, face-to-face, mask-to-mask!”
Ozzfest will stop at Alpine Valley Music Theatre Aug. 12.