Helsinki’s an­gels

Lordi, Lordi. Last year a Fin­nish thrash metal band in la­tex mon­ster suits stole the Euro­vi­sion show. Th­ese strange rock beasts are now a world­wide hit. As we gird our loins for an­other year of Euro boom bang-a-bang, Karen Fricker asks whether Lordi wil

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

THEY were among the most un­likely vic­tors in the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test’s 51-year his­tory. And yet win­ning the 2006 con­test has turned the Fin­nish­mon­ster band Lordi into in­ter­na­tional stars. Pre­vi­ously known only in heavy metal cir­cles and in their na­tive Fin­land, Lordi’s fourth album, The Arock­a­lypse, has charted in coun­tries across Europe and in Ja­pan. On the back of their Euro­vi­sion win, they scored a lu­cra­tive se­ries of pro­mo­tions in­clud­ing Lordi-branded cola, boiled sweets and credit cards; and played live at the MTV Euro­pean Mu­sic Awards. A square has been re­named in Lordi’s hon­our in the La­p­land city of Ro­vaniemi; a Lordi-themed postage stamp will be is­sued soon in Fin­land and the group is soon to star in its first film, called Dark Floors.

Most im­por­tantly – and uniquely, for a re­cent Euro­vi­sion act – Lordi have cracked the Amer­i­can mu­sic scene: they make their US de­but at the Bam­boo­zle Fes­ti­val in New Jer­sey to­mor­row , and will play more than 20 dates along­side Ozzy Os­bourne as part of his tour­ing Oz­zfest later in the sum­mer.

The key to Lordi’s suc­cess, un­doubt­edly, is their unique­ness: they are the first heavy metal act towin a con­test his­tor­i­cally dom­i­nated by tra­di­tional pop (though most mu­sic ex­perts agree that Lordi’s sound is on the lite side of the metal spec­trum), and their highly the­atri­cal stage schtick – head-to-toe mon­ster cos­tumes, la­tex masks, and py­rotech­nics – in­evitably grabbed au­di­ences’ at­ten­tion.

While the mem­bers of Lordi ap­pear to have been as sur­prised as ev­ery­one else by their vic­tory in Athens last May – their lead singer, Tomi Pu­taan­suu, has called win­ning “an un­ex­pected strike of luck” – they re­sponded quickly and can­nily to their win. “There was a huge well of in­ter­est in Lordi, and they milked it for all its was worth,” says Keith Mills, web­mas­ter of the Ir­ish Euro­vi­sion fan­site All Kinds of Ev­ery­thing (www.kei­thm.utv­in­ter­net. com). “They didn’t want to be in a Euro­vi­sion ghetto – they used the con­test to break through.”

That break­through now in­cludes high­pro­file new man­age­ment, in the form of Bill Au­coin of New York-based Au­coin Globe, who steered KISS to the heights of head-banger fame and for­tune in the 1970s.

“In gen­eral, I haven’t been watch­ing Euro­vi­sion lately be­cause I find it a lit­tle dull, but a friend told me I should watch last year to check out this group,” Au­coin re­counts. “I couldn’t be­lieve how much at­ten­tion they were get­ting, and it was like KISS – peo­ple ei­ther loved or hated them.”

Dis­cov­er­ing in Pu­taan­suu a kin­dred spirit – the singer is pres­i­dent of the Fin­land branch of the KISS fan club – Au­coin called the band to con­grat­u­late them soon af­ter their Euro­vi­sion win, and found that they were look­ing for new man­age­ment. “My busi­ness part­ner and I flew over and went on tour with them – we slept in the tour bus, which we haven’t done in 25 years. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween them and the au­di­ence was re­ally great; they had real fans and a rock’n’roll sen­si­bil­ity. To me it was very real.”

Had it been up to him, Au­coin says, he would not have let the band sign so many pro­mo­tional con­tracts so quickly: “Ev­ery­one was say­ing that this wouldn’t come around again, and that they had to grab it. Peo­ple used to won­der how long KISS would stay to­gether – I said they would go for as long as they want, and I say the same of Lordi.”

Sur­pris­ingly, given the rel­a­tive light­ness of their sound and the fact that they used the pop-ori­ented Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test as their spring­board to world fame, even metal fans cel­e­brate Lordi’s suc­cess, ac­cord­ing to Paul Brana­gan, ed­i­tor of Ker­rang! mag­a­zine. “Peo­ple have a lot of time for them be­cause they are clearly metal fans them­selves – they are in on

the fact that metal cel­e­brates ridicu­lous­ness,” says Brana­gan.

Bless­edly, no act is di­rectly copy­ing Lordi for the 2007 con­test, though there is a dis­tinct in­crease in rock-styled songs, and ref­er­ence to the un­der­world in the Swiss en­try, Chief among those who cel­e­brate Lordi’s suc­cess must be the Euro­vi­sion or­gan­is­ers: the group’s head­line-grab­bing win has brought new cred­i­bil­ity to the con­test, par­tic­u­larly among younger au­di­ences. “Ev­ery so of­ten, Euro­vi­sion needs a kick up its pants to re­mind it­self it’s rel­e­vant,” says Mills. Hard Rock Hal­lelu­jah, in­deed.

Vam­pires are Alive.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.