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Blind Channel: “One day we want to be in the same pyrotechnic league as Rammstein!”

Ahead of Blind Channel’s first-ever UK headline run, Niko Moilanen and Joel Hokka join Kerrang! from the road to chat about massive production, new music, and their plans to be “super cringy tourists” on tour.

Blind Channel: “One day we want to be in the same pyrotechnic league as Rammstein!”
Words:
Emily Carter
Photo:
Joona Mäki

To say that Blind Channel have had a busy 2022 would be an understatement. With around 100 shows already under their belts, the Finnish ‘violent pop’ stars have hit the road hard in support of their latest album, Lifestyles Of The Sick & Dangerous, and that will continue this month with the band’s first-ever UK headline run.

“Many of the venues are sold-out, so for sure we’re very excited,” vocalist Joel Hokka tells Kerrang! from a balcony in Hamburg, where the European leg of the tour kicks off. “It’s a different thing to be a headliner than a supporting band, like we were back in spring. This is special, and we’re super excited to play packed venues all over the UK, and Germany, and France, and all the European countries.”

“Yeah, we don’t have time for burn out!” agrees vocalist Niko Moilanen, sat beside him and brimming with just as much enthusiasm for everything Blind Channel have achieved – and will continue to achieve – this year.

Here, we catch up with the pair about all they’ve done so far, what they’ve got planned for this tour, and some new music updates…

You’ve been doing a lot of the big European festivals over the summer, but you also had a smaller show in Finland recently. Is there a type of gig you think you’re best at – do you like those massive ones, or do you prefer getting sweaty and in fans’ faces?
Niko:
“Well, there are sides to both of them, but I definitely think that we’re a band for the big stages – that was the idea when we started the band back in 2013, and that’s still the place we’re aiming. Blind Channel is definitely the big production and big stages – that really fits our musical style. But sometimes it’s cool to play a show and go back to our roots in a smaller club, where it’s very intense and the feeling is different. We like them both, but we’re definitely aiming for the big stages all the time.”

Has playing some of these festivals have helped you up your game even more – at an event such as Knotfest Finland with bands like Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon, does that make you go, ‘Right, we need to be at our best because we’re playing with all these amazing bands’?
Niko:
“I think that since the beginning, that has always been the mood. We’ve always wanted to be at our best, and we’re always getting better and better. This is the first year when we’ve played this many shows, so we’re in really good shape as a band, and as performers. It’s been a dream come true to play Knotfest, and we opened the main stage at Wacken – that was crazy. Those audiences are a bit different for us, too. In Finland, some people still see us as a boyband, which is kind of funny! And when we go to those metal festivals, maybe they see us as a boyband as well, but then we start fucking screaming. We need to win the audience over and get them on our side, and that gives us the extra push to make people love what we do, and it makes us perform better.”
Joel:
“We have a lot of plans to go in that direction more – to be a serious metal band, and show people that we’re not that ‘boyband’ anymore. Next year we’re gonna do some awesome tours with big bands, and there’s a lot to come. We’re lucky that we can slowly but steadily move away from that ‘Backstreet Boys of metal’ thing into just ‘a real metal and alternative band’.”

If money or venue size was no object, what would your dream production be?
Joel:
“I would say playing the biggest arenas in Europe and in the States, and have massive fucking screens on the wall, and a lot of pyro, and the CO2 machines! For sure that’s our dream, but right now we’ve got pretty big production for these clubs as well.”
Niko:
“Yeah, I think the production is really good.”
Joel:
“It’s around 500 to 1,000 people for the venues, and it’s still really nice to have that size production.”
Niko:
“But one day we want to be in the same pyrotechnic league as Rammstein!”

What’s your current favourite song to play live from Lifestyles Of The Sick & Dangerous?
Niko:
“With the tour starting here in Europe, we’ll have a lot of new songs in the set. We didn’t play a song called Autopsy – which is kind of the weird, oddball of the album – at the festivals, but it’s going to be in the set now. It’s really different, and it’s kind of scary! It really worked when we tried it at our last show in Finland, so I’m really excited for that one.”

Do you think playing some of these newer songs live will influence future music, in terms of getting a feel onstage for the direction you want to take things?
Niko:
“Absolutely. We’ve noticed that we don’t really listen to the album after it comes out – we listened so much when we recorded it, and when you’re mixing and mastering and all that stuff. When the album comes out, then it’s for the fans and we’re already moving on – and the only place we hear those songs is when we play them live. And that has really given us a new insight. We’re already writing stuff for our next album, because we want to take every opportunity we have to write new music, and we’re thinking about the live shows when we’re in the studio. We want to make bangers that make people jump and mosh – we’ve really been thinking about it, and it’s definitely an influence.”
Joel:
“We want to keep the party going – we want to keep the mayhem and the mosh-pit going all the time.”
Niko:
“We’re really good at writing these beautiful pop melodies and these things that make people cry, but then we saw Slipknot (laughs), and it was like, ‘Fuck those melodies, we want to scream!’”
Joel:
“And it was the same when we supported Electric Callboy too – they had the party going all the time, and it was super nice to see that we could do the same thing in our style. We want to keep that darker and more melancholic party going on, which is something unique to us – that’s our goal for album number five. It has a strong concept already, and it’s going to be something really new from us.”

You’ve been to London already this year supporting Electric Callboy, but before that, you hadn’t played the UK since 2018. How different did it feel coming back this time?
Joel:
“There were a lot of fans – I think the first nine to 10 rows were full of our fans, who I think had found us from Eurovision. It blew up and people were really excited to see us. We’ve sold a lot of tickets already for our headline show in London, and there’s a big fanbase in the UK which is amazing. The last time we played in the UK in 2018 we were supporting Sevendust.”
Niko: “It was nice to return. Early on in our career we played shows there, and we carried the gear by ourselves to the subway, going from one place to another – we were such a small band back then, of course, and you’ve got to do that grind! But now we’re coming back with a big bus, and the sun was shining – which wasn’t the case the first few times! It’s so cool to come back and play our headline shows there.”

Do any of you have pre-show rituals?
Joel:
“White wine for me, always! A small glass of white wine, and I stretch a bit, and then I just listen to Limp Bizkit and I’m ready to go!”
Niko:
“We have a pre-show playlist which has a lot of powerful music on – we like to listen to that and sing along, and really get in the mood for the show – that’s what we do together.”

It’s a very high-energy gig and performance – have you ever woken up the next day with any weird injuries from the night before?
Niko:
“Oh yeah, from all the moshing. There’s fucking bruises everywhere and you don’t know where you got them!”
Joel:
“Someone will smash you on the head with a guitar or something like that (laughs).”
Niko:
“There’s not been anything too serious.”
Joel:
“Not yet!”
Niko:
“There was a festival in Finland last summer where we had this big riser with the drums, and where Aleksi was DJing, and I don’t know what he was doing but he jumped and fell from the back of the riser – it was two metres up, and he fell to the ground. That was pretty crazy, but there’s nothing more serious that’s happened.”

What’s your favourite thing to do during downtime on tour?
Joel:
“On this tour, I really want to see new places – I want to wake up and go and see all the different cities. We don’t drink that much anymore after the shows, so we’re super fresh in the morning to go and see all these places. My goal is to see as many places and try to be a tourist on Instagram!”
Niko:
“Yeah, it’s more about the culture now, and it’s also good for your mental health that immediately when you wake up you get out of that bus – it’s easy to stay in the bus and not do anything, but we had a serious discussion about not doing that. We want to wake up and exit the bus, and just roll around the town before we go back to the venue for soundcheck. We’re going to do a lot of sightseeing!”
Joel:
“It’s going to be super cringy tourist stuff (laughs).”

Without giving too much away, what can UK fans expect from these shows?
Niko:
“It’s going to be a longer set than we’ve played before.”
Joel:
“And there’s some really old songs in the setlist.”
Niko:
“Plus new songs from the new album – it’s going to be a full performance, and of course there’s going to be songs the fans are familiar with, and our intense way of performing, but there’s also going to be different parts during the tour. We’re really excited, and it’s the next step for us – we’re headlining, so it’s a headliner set with lots of surprises. Like any Blind Channel show, there’s room for improvising, and nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen!”
Joel:
“And we really want to interact with the fans as much as possible, because the fans are the thing that makes this happen. It’s super important for us to give the fans what they want, and that’s why we have a lot of special stuff planned – we want to give them an experience that will make them want to come back and see us again next time. That’s super important.”

What are your plans for the rest of the year after this?
Niko:
“After this tour we’ll have our first holiday of the year! We haven’t had one yet, so we’re going to take a few weeks off. And then we’ll hit the studio and keep making music. We’ll do a couple of trips – we’re doing one to Los Angeles to write new music over there, and then we’re going to come back to Finland to start preparing for our biggest show to date, which is at the Helsinki Ice Hall.”
Joel:
“It’s an arena with 7,000 people coming, which is our biggest headline show. We’re going to prepare the production and there’s a lot to do – and there’s also already a lot of plans for next year. We’re going to keep busy all the time!”
Niko:
“The Helsinki show is supposed to be for our 10-year anniversary but it looks like we’re one year early – but we don’t mind (laughs).”
Joel:
“It’s the nine-year anniversary, but we’ll call it 10!”

Blind Channel’s UK tour kicks off in Bristol on September 12

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