Riddare Av Koden: Steven and the Finns

‘I double check that I have everything.  My friend is like, “dude, you have everything. You are going to be late. Lets fucking go already!!

We reach OR Tambo International Airport just after 8.

On the way to ‘International Arrivals’ terminal we walk…

We finally arrived there to be greeted everyone from Riddare Av Koden.   But wait… who was this guy in the suit?  Also just arriving.  I double checked.  Oh yeah, it was Steven, realist and newest member of the Riddare family…’

I caught up with him again once the tour was done and dusted, and this is what he had to say.

Give us a bit of background on yourself?

Well, I’m a senior member of the galactic confederacy, with one goal… World domination! …just Kidding. I’m a History and Language lover, I’m a very proud person, I tend to come across as slightly rude and arrogant but I am a nice and honest guy. I have a hell of a sense of humour- sick, lame and dry. My profession is in both Hospitality and Music – I’m a Chef and I’m a Composer. I love travelling and I travel a lot. I’m very open minded and ‘I love taking long walks on the beach’ – Again just kidding… I’ve always been interested in music and I’ve always involved myself in other forms of art – Painting and drawing; Professional Dancing; Personal Horticulture; etc… However involving myself in the creation and playing of music came at a very late age – When I was 19 or so. The first instrument I learned how to play was an ancient one, the didgeridoo and from there on, I started learning percussive instruments from all around the world (No, I never went full Hippie, haha). After that I started developing more of an interest and taste in melodic instruments and composition – 5 years and 30 instruments later, I now specialise in woodwind instruments, stringed instruments, idiophones and unique sounding music.

What musical experience do you have as an artist – outside of Riddare Av Koden?

I don’t have much experience to be honest. Currently I’m working with Pop/ Jazz/ Opera Lyricist and artist ‘Anne-Marie Cthulow’ on a musical project with much folk, jazz, blues and rock influence. I also have a solo project in which I generally do arrangements of well known musical scores and classical compositions, and I have another musical project with long time friend Shane Greenhough, the project is called ‘IF…’ which tends to be mostly comedy music and cheese/ manic metal. Future projects include writing musical scores for South African Independent films and documentaries and possibly playing classical and original composition in restaurants, hotels and private functions.

What did you think of the tour with Ensiferum?

In all honesty, there were a lot of hiccups throughout the entire tour.  However, I thought it was successful, and Ensiferum were happy. So I personally think it was a good tour, overall.

Was it all that you expected it to be?

I didn’t really know what to expect, as it was the first official tour that I’ve taken part in.

Why Ensiferum?

Well, being an established international metal band, they would bring media coverage to the South African Metal scene – which is always good for the growth.  As Markus Toivonen said, and I quote,  “I think South Africa will see many Finnish Bands coming to tour next year”.  If the South African Metal scene gets international exposure, it’ll give those who are heavily involved in the scene the attention and recognition they deserve. South Africa also has a surprisingly large base of loyal Ensiferum fans. And considering the fact that the band themselves were keen to come to South Africa – it was the right thing to do.

The lineup for each show was very mixed, did you go for selecting bands with the most years playing experience or was there another driving force?

The driving force was more along the lines of popularity, and what would draw an enthusiastic and diverse audience. The South African Metal scene tends to popularise Death Metal, Deathcore, Black Metal, Agro and Strident (Two brilliant bands on their own mission) so it would’ve been an insult to the scene not to include some of South Africa’s favourites – which inevitably gave us the mixed line-ups.

As you have most probably spent a lot of time on tour, what was the general emotion you got from the band, Ensiferum?

Little bit of a difficult question to answer because the band members of Ensiferum are in fact just people. They were very friendly, welcoming, and full of positivity and joy – Brilliant bunch of dudes and dudette.

Did you learn anything new on this tour, like, let’s say maybe: Organizing-wise, new people, artists, etc?

Meeting new people and new artists, definitely… Not as many as I was expecting but the brilliance of the people that I met makes up for that. I learned other things whilst on tour, both from bad mistakes and good deeds.  But overall it was a good learning experience.

How was the turnout at all the shows? Was it what you expected to be.

The turnout in Durban was disappointing.  Both Cool Runnings and Rumours was what I expected it to be, but Black Dahlia was full – and I was not expecting that at all! The energy and enthusiasm of the Black Dahlia audience also exceeded my expectations.  The fact is that: it’s not only the artists and people involved in organising who make the lasting impression – it’s the audience as well. If there is poor attendance at something as grand as this, why would the band or any other international band want to come back here? I must say that overall I was impressed with the audience’s interaction with Ensiferum – There was that together ‘Brothers of Metal’ feeling, and that makes one feel really proud.

Do you think more artists should be as foremost and friendly as Sami?

Definately! I think more artists need to have an identity, and not be consumed by rock star mentality or the ‘God’ complex. I thought the entire band was foremost and friendly, but they all had defining aspects of it.

Petri was known to be the random guy?  Tell us a story

Well I didn’t witness it – or rather; hear it – but Petri apparently had Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella Song’ as his mobile phone’s ring tone. I personally don’t see a problem with it and although it is random – You have to take that they’re musicians into consideration. Even from the sound of Ensiferum’s music, you can tell they appreciate music and disregard genres.

Petri also wrote in our Elegy book in Finnish, which when translated is a bunch of random words like sausage, eggs, beans, salad, etc etc

Emmi get her wish to pet a lion cub?

Yes, she did. It was very clear, Emmi enjoyed herself at the Nature Reserve – And obviously for most European citizens, touching a lion cub must be a surreal experience.

Markus seemed to take quite a liking to black label (Local S.A beer) even on stage?

If I’m not mistaken Black Label is a North American beer… It seemed the entire band took a liking to Black Label, but throughout the tour and through my observation, Markus seemed to take more of a liking to wine.

Janne (Drummer) gave Daniel (R.A.K) some toiletry utensils. Do you think he would use them on his drum set? (You know those brush thingies he used each time for ‘stone cold metal’)

Well Daniel is a fantastic drummer, and very interested in musical progression – So I think he’s very open to trying new things especially on a drum or kit. So yes, I do think he would want use them on his drum set, whether it may be on stage or at home.

Best and worst memory of the tour…

Best: The Private Braai Riddare av Koden and Ensiferum had after all sets had been played. Getting to know Ensiferum’s band members better and sharing a memorable evening with them was truly enjoyable.

Worst: Possibly the embarrassment after our set at Cool Runnings – The set was called off abruptly after some technical difficulties. It was unfortunate and demoralising, however things like that happen…

The jokes antic on the road/tour was, to say the least, very entertaining? Do you think we would have all survived without it?

Indeed it was entertaining, to take the piss out of everything – especially in stressful situations – makes life enjoyable. And realistically, yes, we all would’ve survived but we possibly would’ve all been grouchy, edgy and soap opera stars. The real question is: what is life without a good laugh?

Janne: “In Finland we have more than 10 000 metal bands”.  Its mainstream music for them.  What’s your take on this?

I personally wouldn’t go so far as to say Metal in general is mainstream in Finland, because I do still believe most of it is underground. However if we take bands like Children of Bodom, who on many occasions have hit top numbers in the Finnish pop charts; Nightwish with Tarja Turunen being called the voice of Finland by President Tarja Halonen; Apocalyptica being named a revolution in metal and crossing boundaries into many other genres and charts, and Lordi being Eurovision’s song contest winners… then yes, it possibly is mainstream for them. I have no doubt that Metal is far more popular in Finland in comparison to South Africa, but I personally don’t think the majority of the Finnish folk are metalheads or lovers of metal. Respectively I feel using a number like ’10 000’ is irrelevant – how many bands out of that 10 000 have achieved Nationwide or International success? Or made it out of the confines of their garage walls?

Thanks you for your time Steve

Interview conducted by

Tyranic Assault


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