Shiraz Lane Interview

Pete Devine was very fortunate to have a quick interview with Hannes Kett (v) and Miki Kalske (rg) from Shiraz Lane, before their recent gig at Cardiff’s Fuel Rock Club. The band were over here for the HRH Sleaze Festival in Sheffield, but added dates in Cardiff, Stafford and London for the Carnival Days Over UK Mini Tour 2018.

PD: Nice to see you in Wales, tell us about how it all started for Shiraz Lane?

HK: Well, to be honest it all began back in the day when I met Ana (Willman d) when we were 7 years old. That’s when it happened, because he is my best friend. Then years later he started playing drums and I started singing and we decided to form a band. Then we found Miki (Kalske rg) and Jani (Laine lg) and Joel (Alexb). We played our first gig in 2011 and now we’re here.

PD: I’ve read many great comments about you, but to be called ‘the genuine article’ by your peers must be cool?

MK: Yeah of course….we’re us I think that’s really important for a band to be authentic, otherwise the audience can see through your masquerade. What’s the point being something you’re not?

HK: I think that in life you should be proud of what you are doing, proud of what you are going to do in the future, proud of everything you’ve done. All the mistakes you’ve made, be proud of them too because that’s made you what you are.

PD: Moving on to the early releases, You had success with the EP “Be The Slave Or Be The Change” and then things really took off with the release of the first album, 2016’s “For Crying Out Loud”. Were you surprised with the success of the album?

HK: Well, I wouldn’t say I was surprised about it, but, you know, it was nice to see that things started happening after we released the album.

PD: So all the hard work was paying off.

MK: Yeah, surprised is the wrong word. In our heads we saw it and in our heads we are going step by step upwards towards our goal.

PD: So more proud that everything was going to plan?

MK: Yes, definitely.

PD: It was around that time that you had the European tour with Lordi. How did that go?

MK: It was lovely

HK: It was awesome. It was the first real tour we ever did, so it was a great experience for us to learn how to perform on a proper tour and how to do it every day.

MK: Every day yeah.

PD: And loads of new countries got to see what you are about?

HK: It was amazing. The guys from Lordi and the whole crew and Silver Dust, which was the other support band were just amazing. All we have is great memories of that tour.

PD: Getting more up to date now. Were there any changes made in the approach to making 2018’s “Carnival Days”?

HK: Yeah, definitely.

MK: Yeah, there was actually. After we did “For Crying Out Loud” it felt like we wanted to do something a bit more modern sounding on our next release, so we kinda started thinking about that idea and we hooked up with Per Aldeheim, the producer of the album and we had the same kind of mind-set about it. We just started working with him and came up with a real great album.

HK: I don’t know if you’ve heard our EP “Be The Slave Or Be The Change”? Well you could say that the EP sounded bigger than the album and that was something that we tried to achieve with the mixing and all the process. But then with this album we took all the time we needed, all the time we felt we needed and now it sounds exactly the way we wanted it to be. I’m really looking forward to working with Per in the future again.

PD: Who came up with the idea for “The Crown” video? It’s a bit different to the normal rock video.

HK: We all did, we all…

MK: We had taken the boat to Sweden, we were doing some production work or something like that and we were just throwing out ideas about with what we could do with the music video and we kind of collaborated on the idea and brainstormed about it.

HK: We just wanted something different, something that looked like us, sure, all our videos look like us, but this time we wanted to show the audience a different side of us. We’re five guys having fun and that’s what you see in the video.

MK: And we wanted to break the basic rules of making a hard rock video. The band playing, the big solo, the bad boy rock thing. We wanted to show the fun part about us.

HK: Because the song is about never giving up. How the chorus came up to be is like having a gym song, you know, you guys go to the gym, you want to bench-press, you need something to pump you up and I asked our fans on Facebook to give us some songs, send us songs that do this. So they sent them in and some of them were good, some not so good, so I thought F$$k it, I’m gonna write my own and that’s why the video is all about pumping and getting ready for the gig show.

PD: Go for that goal?

HK: Exactly.

PD: “Carnival Days” is such a diverse album, I especially like the track “Reincarnation”. It has quite a different sound for you guys. Is that the kind of direction that you want to go in?

HK: Well that’s one direction we want to go in……

MK: …not ‘One Direction’ (laughs)

HK: We want to go everywhere. We’ve been jamming with this song before “For Crying Out Loud” so we had the whole concept, the whole idea. But we weren’t ready to …

MK: …do it on our first album…

HK: Because we were’t mature enough. The whole theme is about reincarnation and if you’re a young kid playing this teenage rock ‘n’ roll, which is cool of course, you can’t play these things and really mean it. You have to live the life, play hundreds of shows, you have to see the world to truly feel the words you’re singing.

PD: Has the song changed because of those life experiences.

MK: Yeah, for sure. It followed life in general. In my opinion a person who might be younger can still feel and sing it, but on the other hand a person with great age can also relate to the song.

HK: And for me, I just know that if we’d done that song on the first album it wouldn’t have been as good as it is now.

PD: You can do the song more justice now.

HK: Yeah, I was too young, it wouldn’t have felt right.

PD: As mentioned earlier, “Carnival Days” is quite a diverse album regarding its musical style. For me the stand out tracks are “Gotta Be Real”, “Harder To Breathe”, “People like Us”, “Reincarnation”. hell, they’re all good, tomorrow I’d probably list a different four. Man, I forgot “Tidal Wave”, now that really grabbed me from first listen.

HK: Yeah, that’s a banger, a real banger

PD: and the title track, that is so catchy, I mean that really stays in your head.

HK: I think there’s a song for everyone on there.

MK: I also think that it’s an album that doesn’t grow old, the more you listen to it the more you’ll find.

PD: What would you consider to be your stand out track, which song best describes Shiraz Lane? 

MK: Well I will say maybe “Carnival Days”, because it has different elements inside it. It has that sort of poppy chorus, but it also has that jazzy verse.

PD: and it really sticks in your head?

MK: Yeah it sticks in your head, it has different vibes in it enthused, so maybe that one.

HK: I would go with “People Like Us” I love the song. I love to make the crowd sing along with me, I force them to, even if they don’t want to (laughs) shove it down their throats and then they sing it. That’s the one I’d go with.

PD: What has the response been like to “Carnival Days”?

HK: People love it. It’s been just amazing Our fans love it, our new fans  love it, the critics love it so I guess we did something right. It feels like something weird, because if everyone likes it, it’s like hey!! what’s going on?

PD: That’s good, that’s a good thing.

HK: We are so happy for that.

PD: Does that make things harder for the next one?

HK: Nooo it doesn’t (laughs) we don’t even know what the next one is going to sound like. That’s just how it is.

PD: Okay, a couple of quick questions now. What song do you wish you had written?

HK: I would have to say “Stairway To Heaven” or “The Show Must Go On” or there’s so many songs….. Dude, this isn’t something you can ask.

MK: I’d say “Telegraph Road” Dire Straits.

PD: Interesting, they are all iconic songs for those bands. I remember being blown away by the “Love Over Gold” album when it first came out.

HK: Many years ago now, when Miki first showed that song to me, I was really sick and we were studying in this school in Finland. We were actually living together at that point, writing songs and he showed me how to write songs, because before that I didn’t write songs. I thought “oh my these are shit and no one is supposed to hear them.” But Miki told me “Come on, use your voice, show me what you got.” like I said, I was really sick and he just put that song on and it’s still one of my favourites of all time.

PD: Who is your Rock God?

HK: I think that would be Michael Jackson, because he goes through all the genres.

MK: I’d say, well there’s a cliche about Slash, or if you mean for the music only it would be Mark Knopfler.

HK: There are so many amazing singers that I love, but I would have to go with Michael Jackson, he’s the one that influences me a lot. He gives me the rhythm, he gives me so much.

PD: What has been your proudest moment in music?

BOTH: Releasing our second album.

MK: And that after our second European tour we got to open up for Deep Purple that was pretty amazing.

PD: Wow, where was that?

BOTH: Helsinki

MK: We were in Paris, a bit hungover because we had a day off, our manager called us and told us the Deep Purple gig is on.

PD: Was that the “Infinite” tour or “Now! What?” ?

BOTH: “Infinite”

HK: We didn’t even know that there was a possibility of this, we were told it’s on, we went “What’s on?” they said “when you came home you have two days off and then you open up for Deep Purple.” We went “WTF?”

PD: Did you manage to spend any time with them.

MK: Well actually, just before they went on stage they came to out backstage area and asked how the gig went, you know casually talking with us and then they went off to do their thing.

PD: So what’s next for you after these UK dates?

HK: After this we go back home and next Wednesday we are going to be on this TV show we are doing in Finland. Long story short, they wanted a rock band for the show and we got this dead poet and I chose this one poem and then we wrote a song around it and it’s in Finnish and I’ve never sung in Finnish before, we’ve never played in Finnish before, so that’s something completely new. After that we just do some Finnish gigs and then we’re off to Europe again. We’re pretty much looking forward to everything.

PD: Final question. Have you got a message for your supporters out there?

HK: Just keep doing what you are doing.

MK: Keep on listening to our music, spread the word around.

HK: Yeah, the next time we come to the UK, we hope to play more than four gigs and it’s up to you guys to make it happen, because we’re coming here if you guys want us to come. Peace, love and rock ‘n’roll


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