Interview with Sami from Kreator
With Phantom Antichrist ended up as one of my favorite releases of this year. I was very happy to get the change to meet and interview Sami, guitarplayer of Kreator!. Together with Imke van Rossum we interviewed the nice Fin in Leeuwarden at the Romein XL Party!
Imke: Welcome at Leeuwarden, how are things going?
Sami:Thank you. We where in Holland at the beginning of the tour, that was in November, we did Eindhoven. The tour is going great! Only one show we had to cancel. In Turky because they just didn’t let us cross the border. One border guy just said “NJET” Even though the paperwork and everything was in order. I think he just was showing his POWER!
We are going to reschedule that show and do it some time later. But all in all general it was a good tour! I will be home for Xmas !
Imke : It must be fine to meet your family and all?
Sami: Yeah I will go to Helsinki. That’s where I live.
Imke: You are on tour with Morbid Angel, Nile and Feuled by Fire, how is it to tour with them?
Sami: Feuled by Fire are young guys. They play and have a real energy of youth coming of them. Which is cool. Nile, we toured with them before in the States a couple of years ago so I know them from before. Morbid Angel I think is a very cool band. I think they got a very charismatic presence on stage. It’s definitely worth checking them out! I think this package is quite good in my opinion. It was a long one, but I enjoyed it.
Ronald: I think it’s the best of two genres, Morbid Angel and Kreator, two total difference genres but both strong.
Sami: wow , thank you!
Imke: Phantom AntiChrist is the latest record of Kreator, how do you look back at this album?
Sami: We got a good time making it. It took a lot of time. Because the music isn’t written in paper. So it was a lot of time with the band. A lot in rehearsal room. A bit of the old school way. Throwing riffs out. Arranging stuff and finally got to Sweden and record it with a guy called Jens Borgen. It was a nice experience! If you ask me I would say to do the next album with him. Not that we talked about a new album yet but it would make sense. He was the right guy for us. He knew what the band was about. It was the right choice!
Imke: Did the album got the support and result you guys where hoping for?
Sami: Well as a musician you try to do your best. It’s always a long process and in the studio you always play as good as you can. Try to get as much depth in the music as you can. But after that it is out of your hands! You can’t do a lot anymore.
Imke: You hope for the best.
Sami: Yeah well not even hope. It doesn’t help if you hope for the best! You just have to see how the reactions are. And luckily enough people liked it! It was a success. For example in Germany it got the highest chart position the band ever had. That was even beyond expectation! So we are pretty happy about it for sure!
Ronald: I think the sound of the album went in a sort of power thrash direction. A sort of combination between power metal and thrash. Was it something you guys where looking for?
Sami: No No Noooo it all came by itself. It’s hard for me to put it in some category. Because we spent so much time with it. Of course I can’t listen to it anymore. It was so much work hahaha.
Imke: You did join Kreator in 2001. How did you become a member?
Sami: Well it had to do something with replacing in the late nineties a guy called Tommy Vetterli he played in the band before me . He is doing a comeback with his band now from the earlier days called Coroner . He quit for some reason during the millennium. I don’t know why he did it. When he quit they where start thinking about making a new album. And I guess they called me because we knew each other from before. I knew a couple of the songs already. I guess I was the easiest choice. The silly thing was I just moved back to Finland from Germany. It really was a weird timing. But then I thought in the end:” What the hell it’s only one and half our flight, these days it doesn’t even cost much. It’s completely doable”!
Ronald: And when you tour you see the whole world too.
Sami: Yeah but I meant more for the rehearsing and getting stuff together.
Imke: Do all of the members have some sort of input when it comes to writing songs?
Sami: Yeah. Mille is the main songwriter, but everybody has to do arrangements. Like is said earlier, there is a lot of time spent in the rehearsal room the old school way. So it’s not only like exchanging files what a lot of people do. There is four people in the band. If it comes to arranging everybody is just as important.
Imke: Besides the guitar you also play sitar for Tiamat and Grip Inc. How was it playing with them?
Sami: A lot of fun. Of course I knew Waldemar (Grip Inc.) from other circles. Back from the day I was living in Dortmund for a while. I also did for Nightwish the album once. Tiamat, I did not know the guys. They just called me cause I probably was one of the few guys who played the sitar. But the thing was I got it as a present from my cousins wife who is in Delhi. I started practising it and read a book about and I guess I was a bit of hippie back in that day! It’s made of a pumpkin. The whole pumpkin! It’s actually broken now… I have to go and buy a new one.
Imke: aaaw, but it was a nice experience.
Sami: Yeah it’s really cool. It’s based on improvisation. It’s kind a stroke of luck if it works or not. What I do is that I don’t play it in a traditional way like the Indian people do. I guess I play more of a western style. No not like the American States western style, but a Western way of approach to play the instrument. I am interested in their music theory for sure. It had to do with micro intervals. For example there is a an extra note between a major note and a minor note. It’s interesting for me but I got to get a new one.
Imke and Ronald : Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw 🙁
Ronald: It’s almost Xmas.
Sami: Yeah but its’s hard to find a decent one in Europe. It’s better to go to India. They are cheap there. If I had the time I would start importing them.
Imke : How are things going with Waltari?
Sami: I did 5 gigs with them in October just before this tour. I did some shows with them after a long time. But I’m more of the replacement guy these days. Because I don’t have the time. I would hate it if they wouldn’t be able to do shows because I ain’t there. I found this guy in Finland called Kimmo who is ten years younger then me and an excellent guitarist! But maybe we want to do a new album, it’s still not sure. But if we do I’ll sure get involved with it.
Imke: On the website of Waltari you say “Life Without Love” is your favourite Waltari song. Do you have one with Kreator too?
Sami: Hahaha that was asked in the time just before the single got released ! So haha there was a reason for it.
Ronald: So you now gonna say “Phantom Antichrist“ is your favourite haha
Sami: Haha exactly ! When it comes to music which I am involved with, or an album that I play on, I can not listen to it. It’s impossible. I can not tell which is better or worse. It’s impossible. When you are so concentrated on one thing it usually takes a year. I can’t enjoy it sorry!
Imke: Yeah I understand.
Sami: It’s understandable for sure. A lot of people say it I believe.
Imke: You’ve seen a great part of the world. Which one gave you the best memories?
Sami: Well the fact is when you are touring, you really don’t see much. Because it’s always one day somewhere. But if I can talk about shows and gigs and places that I maybe wouldn’t go to when I wasn’t in a band, I guess South American countries are interesting. Because the crowds are very fanatic! When you talk about this tour, going to Minsk I didn’t see anything… because we had to stay for 9 hours at the border. But sometimes you got the time to check out.
Imke: So being in a band means that you see more from the inside of a tourbus then the outside?
Sami: Yeah or the airport. But sometimes we stay for one day longer. Like Istanbul and see some things. But mostly there is no time for that. But okay what the hell it’s fun! Like holiday is a different thing. I love to travel in my spare time as well.
Imke: Germany is metalcountry number 1. What is the best crowd you witnessed in Germany?
Sami:Germany. Well on this tour in Hamburg was very good. Then we had this Spiegelonline thing, They did a live stream for Berlin. That was kinda lame. I don’t know why. They where okay , the show was allright. But for some reason Hamburg is better this time! Maybe the people where drunk haha.
Imke: You are on the road now with Kreator, what is the next milestone you wish to achieve?
Sami: Hahaha I don’t know about “milestone”. That’s a very big word. Next year we’re going to do a lot of shows. A gig in Israel we are going to do. We got that cruise 70 ton of metal
Ronald: Yeah lot of bands love that one !
Sami: Yeah friends of mine told me it’s really great. There is also a European version. Full Metal Cruise that will be in May. It starts in Hamburg end comes to Amsterdam, France?
Imke: Yes some of mine friends are going!
Sami: It’s also like a week. I never did metalcruises like that before. I guess it will be fun.
For the rest is just a lot of touring! The album is still pretty new. So I don’t know about any milestones.
Ronald: Perhaps a DVD of this tour?
Sami: Yeah the last gig we will do will be in Oberhausen next week and it will be filmed. If it turns out good we will put it out on DVD.
Ronald: Interesting have to check it out !
Imke: Which artist/ band made you decide to pick up the guitar?
Sami: Well my very first guitar I got as a present from my grandfather when I was 12. So I started with classical guitar back then. Maybe when I was 15 I think it was “Perfect Strangers “ ( Deep Purple) came up. It was mid – eighties. Thought it was interesting and after that of course I started listening to the early stuff of Purple. “Child In Time“ I heard the guitar solo and was like wow I got to get some distortion too. After that came bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer all that harder stuff who were responsible for me picking up the guitar hmmmm?
Ronald: I guess your grandfather!
Sami: Yeah probably haha!
Imke: What is the gear you use ?
Sami: Well we got a deal with this German amplifier company called ENGL. They are from the south of Germany, from a small village there. I got an Ibanez deal with guitars. Mille plays Jackson. He got his own signature model out now. It’s called Jackson Phobia. It is a V guitar with one pick up. Very simple and fits his style very easily. And what comes to effects some TC electronics. Rack delay for stuff. And then a wah wah pedal. That’s about it. Very simple.
Imke: It don’t need much to create good music.
Sami: Well that depends on your approach.
Imke: Yeah but the equipment does not create the good sound
Sami: No no I mean Kreator’s music is kinda aggressive and primitive in a way. So we make a kinda primitive approach.
Imke: Are there artists you wish to collaborate with?
Sami: Well I can’t think of any right now. The world is full with people. Like heroes .. Like Dave Gilmour… Whoever I don’t know. There are so many. Right now we are just concentrated on touring
Imke: We asked all our questions, is there something you wish to share?
Sami: Thanks for your interest and hopefully people will come to the show
Ronald and Imke : Thank you!
Interviewers Imke van Rossum en Ronald van de Baan