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Guitar God of Violence: Sami Yli Sirnio talks new album, the future of heavy metal, and more! Decibel Magazine tour with Jump Metal.

1.- So you guys have been on tour now in support of the new album, and from what I’ve read you guys went #1 in Germany, congratulations!! That’s a big feat!!

S: Thanks, first time ever!!

2.- How have the fans been reacting to the new material, have they been enjoying it?

S: Well yeah!! We’ve been playing 6 songs from the new album every night, we even wanted to do more! But you know, sometimes people like to hear the older shit as well, which is fine, and we dug up some songs which we have never played with this lineup. Some older stuff to keep things fresh, but at the end of it, the crowd response has been really good. It’s all part of our set. (laughs)

3.- Gods of Violence is a great album, I’ve been listening to it all the way through and it’s fantastic, great follow-up to Phantom Antichrist. Would you say it’s a continuation of what was done on Phantom Antichrist?

S: Thank you! Well yeah, it does in a way, because we used the same producer, Jens Bogren is his name and the same studio back in Orebro and Stockholm, Sweden. (*the name is Fascination Street Studios, owned by Bogren) Now we’ve been working with him for a second time, which was also a bit easier, because you get to know each other better, you cease to be polite with each other, you can state your own opinions more directly.

4.- For sure, you get a little chemistry going, you get used to the little nuances of what people like to do when they work together. That’s understandable.

S: Like knowing things in advance, that’s a good thing about working for the second time with the same producer. The sound is similar too, because it’s the same studio with the same guys playing. This time we put a lot of effort into the songwriting, it was a long process and it took a long time. We really wanted to make sure that the songs were the right ones.

5.- I happened to notice when I listened to the album that had it seemed to have a more, dare I say, melodic element to it, particularly with your guitar playing and your leads, maybe, compared to the last one. Did you feel that when you were writing it, or did you just “go with the groove”.

S: I guess I kinda went with the groove. You don’t think about stuff like that… the only thing you worry about when you’re in the studio with a band that has been recording for such a long time is to worry about not repeating yourself!!

Songwriting is key!! 

S: For that, it is!

6.- The North American tour has been going great, from what you’ve told me. As somebody from Canada, or say, the US, the thrash metal scene seems to be stronger than ever been in North America. Would you agree with that statement?

S: I guess its kind of a second wave, or the third! (laughs) It’s difficult for me to analyze. The only thing I know is that the clubs on this tour have been a little bit better than they were the last time, and more people are showing up obviously!! I’ll take this opportunity to thanks everyone who did!

7.- Would you say the internet has played a particular role in contributing to the notoriety of Kreator in the metal scene?

S: Well it’s a good thing and a bad thing for everyone. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t. Of course it’s easier these days to get your music heard, even for new bands. But the quantity of music is getting bigger and bigger, so there’s that.

There’s the good and the bad I guess.

S: Yeah.

8.- You’ve been in Kreator now since 2001. You’ve been a core part of the band for a long time. What do you attribute to how well you get along with Mille and Ventor? Do you get along with those guys? What is it that has kept you together for so long?

S: Well maybe one secret is that I live in a different country!! (laughs)

Well I could see how that helps!!

S: Well of course we get along, I mean, after 17 years, we’ve toured a lot. You get to know each other when you’re touring, whether you want to, or not!! But of course we always need those breaks in between. Next May, we have 3 weeks off, and we start again with the festivals, then in September we have an Asian tour coming up.

9.- So after the North American tour with Obituary, Horrendous, and Midnight, what do you guys have coming up next for your schedule?

S: Well those are being booked as we speak. We’ll have shows in South America, Japan, you know, I maybe shouldn’t talk about them TOO much because everything isn’t 100% yet, but all kinds of good offers are coming in, and we want to do as much as we can!! Whatever makes sense for us.

10.- What do you have on your play list now? Say, when you’re not touring, and you’re relaxing… what are you listening to? Could be metal or anything.

S: On tour I don’t really listen to music that much, basically not at all. Sometimes though, of course. I mean I checked out the new Opeth, which I like very much, and as you can see I still have many CD’s here still wrapped in plastic. I haven’t even listened to them yet!!

What do you have there?

S: Here’s the new Warbringer which I’ve been meaning to check out, as well as a few others, but like I said, I dont listen to that much on tour. Maybe something a little more relaxed though. (laughs)

Yeah, maybe something a little toned down from the thrash metal.

11.- When it comes to metal, lately, when there is so much variety in metal music, and Kreator being around for 32 years, what are some band names or artists that you can think of that represent the next level of metal? The future of heavy metal music?

S: That’s a very difficult question… and there’s newer, younger bands coming in all the time. Of course I’m still waiting for something that will totally blow the bank, and I hope that will happen soon. In a way, if you think of the negative side, some bands get too stagnant, and so on. We really want to try and progress, and broaden ourselves with every album that we do.

Diversify a little bit.

S: Yeah, diversify and do that best that you can. But like we talked about earlier, the quantity and ...there’s so much quality of music out there that most people never even get to hear… There's just so much, you gotta find it for yourself.

12.- Absolutely. Well if I can speak from experience, in Canada, we don’t get a lot of metal play on the radio or on mainstream media or anything like that, but one band that has taken off here recently is Ghost, who has radio hits in Canada. They’re from Sweden, and I remember when they were underground and now they have reached a mainstream audience. I think that’s a good sign of what’s to come in North America for metal music.

S: A Grammy award winning band!!

That’s an indicator of their success for sure.

S: It is!! And Meliora was a great album.

It was a good one.

S: I like the older ones, too.

13.- When it comes to touring, what do you do to keep yourself, I guess, sane on the road? What do you do to keep yourself enjoying what you do, basically?

S: That changes every day, of course, meeting new people helps, meeting old friends is also good. It’s a good way of keeping in touch with your old friends. Like I told you today, there was this guy George, this older Greek gentleman who invited me in for a game of chess, right here, next to the venue at his barber shop. I said “Why not”!! (laughs)

14.- It’s little things like that that would help you, I guess, stay connected with the world around you when you’re living on a bus, going from city to city.

S: Exactly. It was a nice surprise in Toronto… I’ll look him up when I’m here next time.

Good to hear!! Ok Sami, well it’s been great talking to you. Good luck on the rest of the tour and best of luck to you and Kreator in the future. This is Tony Rachtman for JumpMetal, signing off with Sami, here in Toronto!! Thanks a lot Sami!!
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