Finnish heavy metallers Battle Beast are about to release their latest effort in “Bringer Of Pain”, a groove oriented classic metal record with ties to the hard rock music of the 80’s. Singer Noora Louhimo’s soaring voice that reminds you of powerful vocals like Doro Pesch and Bruce Dickinson drives the guitar riddled tracks to foot stomping beats in a very upbeat way, we spoke to the front woman about the news songs as well as some of her own influences that made her want to sing.
Andrew: How are you going?
Noora: I’m good thank you! Just doing my job here doing interviews and checking out my calendar on facebook [laughs].
Andrew: Busy times obviously getting ready for the album release in a couple of weeks!
Noora: Yeah we actually have the first show today in my hometown Tampere and it’s really exciting. It feels incredible that we actually are in this point right now because when we started doing the album, it seemed so far away from this moment [laughs]. But now it’s here and I’m super excited.
Andrew: How was the process for the album then? Was it an easy process or was it difficult?
Noora: It had it’s moments of being hard and easy, it kind of changed a lot. Some of the songs were easy to write and some of them weren’t and we all had different kinds of approaching to the song writing but it’s always like that when you are doing your art, that you have to give birth to the songs and it’s never easy. But there are these great rewarding moments when you get something done and when it’s done it’s done and it’s also good to have these deadlines because otherwise you would get stuck and not do the decisions to continue. In the end I feel really grateful and I got this really rewarding feeling already!
Andrew: Yeah I guess that’s the point is that you get to experience some of that accolations that fans will give you in return. I listened to some of the new songs recently and I have to say that I hadn’t heard much of your stuff beforehand and I kinda get some 80’s hard rock vibe in there, do you have some of those influences in your music?
Noora: Yeah I feel it’s been all through Battle Beast’s history like the 80’s kind of influences. But now on this particular album you can hear it even more and especially the hard rock kind of vibes. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not but Janne (Björkroth, keyboards) who wrote most of the songs on this album, he had in mind that he wants to add that kind of vibe in there and I think he did it very well [laughs].
Andrew: It sounds great and has a nice groove tempo to it, something that you can both headbang and dance to I guess!
Noora: Yeah and that is something that Battle Beast wants to do for their audience, that you actually get energized and want to dance with our music. Having fun and feeling good is the most important thing.
Andrew: Yeah definitely. When I was watching some of your videos, it definitely seems like you guys are all about having fun. Is that one of the mantras of the band?
Noora: Yeah that is the most important thing and I’m really glad that it reflects outside also. We also want to keep that kind of atmosphere in the band behind the scenes, so to say also. I feel like during these last couple of years we have grown more together than ever and all the time we are developing the relationship between each other and it’s getting better all the time. Even though the atmosphere got better a couple of years ago but now it’s like even more and we got relieved of that stress doing this new album and everybody is getting more laid back and not stressing too much, you can feel that there are good vibes going on!
Andrew: Does that have anything to do with the change of your guitar player recently?
Noora: Yes of course it does because that was one of the crushing things in this whole thing a couple of years ago when we had to go our separate ways with Anton (Kabanen). We just had an infected relationship with him that there was no way back other than we either had to resign him or we would of walked away from this.
Andrew: I guess there were some fans that were maybe concerned that would affect the sound and style of your music but that’s not really the case is it? The new guy you have now (Joona Björkroth) seems to fit really nicely with the band.
Noora: Yeah and of course the band had also that fear of how are we going to make it through but when we did the decision to kick Anton out, we also discussed a lot about, ‘Are we ready to deliver the songs for this band’. And then when we agreed that yes we can, then we did the decision to go our separate ways with Anton. But I think through this process, the whole sound and music-wise it’s developed forward in the band and of course we had this kind of pressure that now that we don’t have our original songwriter, we have to do as good songs or even better songs than before so there was really high stakes there.
Andrew: Yeah there’s always a risk when there’s a change of band members I guess as you hear a lot of bands where it either fails or works so it’s good it managed to work for you guys. I’m interested to know how you got into music in the first place and when I hear your voice and your style I kinda get a sense that you were maybe influenced by people like Doro Pesch and people like that. Who are your main influences?
Noora: Actually I really appreciate Doro but is not one of my biggest idols but I really appreciate the ground work that she’s done for female heavy metal singers that I will always appreciate. But actually my biggest influences in heavy metal are guys like Bruce Dickinson who is number 1 and then there is Ronnie James Dio and Rob Halford and then there are also females like Lita Ford, Lee Aaron and from hard rock Anne Wilson from Heart. If we go outside heavy metal there are like Tina Turner, Bonnie Tyler, Janis Joplin – Janis Joplin is probably the biggest influence that has ever been to me because I can really kinda relate to her personally and also when I found her music, the rasp in my voice, it was the magic that I needed to go forward in my career. But my first idol ever was Whitney Houston [laughs]. When I heard her singing the song “I Will Always Love You”, something snapped in my head like that is something that I really want to know how to sing that song exactly how Whitney did it and that was when I was in fifth grade. I was so driven by that and that was the reason why I learned to sing with a big soulful sound. It’s been a long way to this point and there has been hundreds of different influences musically but that’s a few [laughs].
Andrew: I’ve spoken to quite a few female rock singers including Doro herself actually and it’s amazing in the last 20 years I would say that there is a lot more female singers now than what there used to be which comes down to some of those pioneers from back in the 80’s I guess.
Noora: Yeah and the thing is with the male idols is I haven’t heard so many female singers doing it with such balls [laughs]. And that is something that I really appreciate, that even though you are female you don’t have to try and be some kind of woman that is feminine and sing like an angel but that you can sing with some balls.
Andrew: How important do you think it is aside from the voice to present yourself in such a manner that would convey a rock attitude towards your fans?
Noora: I think the thing that I do is something that feels very natural for me. When I got into the band when they asked me to join the band, I had never sung heavy metal before Battle Beast. But still I felt when I started doing this it felt like I found my place in the world, it felt so natural and I can do the things that I had felt like I had been longing for. Things like being theatrical and dressing up in the not so usual way and having the make-up the way that I liked and put my hair as high as possible, doing all this stuff with drama in it, that is something that I really like. Also that all reflects what I want to do with my voice, it has to have theater elements and big sound and a lot of dynamics and that sort of stuff.
Andrew: Is there anything in particular you do to maintain and look after your voice?
Noora: These are the basic stuff – taking care of yourself! Basic health, I excercise physically, aerobics and also sometimes I go boxing [laughs]. Actually my grandfather used to be a boxer in his early years and that is something that I always admired in him and later on I went to a sports store and bought myself boxing gloves and went to the boxing gym and that is really something that I started as a kind of nostalgic thing towards my grandfather, then I realized I actually really like it! But it’s really good excercise, it’s something for me as a performer that is very useful because I jump a lot on stage so in boxing you jump all the time, so it helps me to also excercise the same thing that I’m doing on stage and also the breathing technique is different when you jump and sing at the same time so it won’t start affecting the voice. Also of course all these voice excercises and drinking a lot of water and resting is very important and what I try to avoid is drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. I actually started this ‘strike’ in alcohol last August, a year break from alcohol and now I’ve been 115 days without cigarettes [laughs].
Andrew: Obviously not smoking cigarettes helps but how much does alcohol impact your voice?
Noora: It’s the side effects, it dries everything up. Of course when you are under the influence of alcohol you start yelling more and of course if you smoke, you smoke even more than before! So all those side effects will affect [you] and I’m very sensitive with that so I would rather avoid it [laughs].
Andrew: Yeah that seems to be the golden rule, that smoking and drinking are the 2 biggest killers for the voice. The new album sounds fantastic anyway, congratulations on the new release and thanks for your time today, really appreciate it!
Noora: Thank you so much!