DM: Thanks for doing this with us, how are you guys feeling?
Hannes: Awesome, dude. Feeling great. It’s really great out here in Finland when the sun doesn’t come up. Yeah, that’s full sarcasm. In Finland right now it’s really dark, and it’s cold and it’s pretty depressing. But actually, right now, me and Miki, we’re doing this end-of-the-road cleaning thing for us, because we’re living at the apartment that we share. So, that’s what we’re doing right now.
DM: That sounds fun. Sounds like an exciting day.
Hannes: It’s boring as fuck.
DM: Sounds like it, For our readers that are not familiar with Shiraz Lane, go ahead and describe your style a little bit and what you try to get across with your music.
Miki: Well, I’d say we’re authentic rock with a modern twist or something like that. We try to be true to ourselves, what we like to do, and what we like to listen to. So we kind of bow down to the greats of the past and to their sound but we want to find our own sound, and I think we have. We want to bring the rock and roll to the modern age. So that would be one description of our sound.
Hannes: Yeah, I think that’s perfect.
DM: It makes sense that you described it that way in terms of nodding to the classics but also having a modern sound. I think Carnival Days really did that as well as separating you from the pack in terms of current rock bands. Do you think that the upcoming EP will continue to solidify that kind of separation and originality?
Hannes: Yeah, when it comes to this songwriting, of course. We are going to release two separate EPs. But I’m not going to spoil it too much right now. I feel it’s a natural evolving of our sound right now. And if you heard our new singles like, “Do You” or “Revolution”, you hear it’s really modern, it sounds really huge. That was something that we’re going for with this EP, I think it feels really natural.
Miki: We’re going to do a double EP collection. So the first part is going to be more modern, sounding and maybe for the next part, we’re aiming for a more natural way of doing things or something like that. We’ll see what happens with that, but it would be cool to make some kind of distinction between those two sides of the EP’s.
Hannes: Yeah, songwriting wise and sound wise but we’ll see what happens. I’m really confident and really proud of what we’ve done this time around. Everyone that’s heard the songs are really amazed by it. So, we can’t wait to share it with you guys.
DM: It’s cool to hear that you have an idea of what you want, but are letting it be organic as well. I think the best art comes out unexpectedly. Is there a reason you guys chose EPs for your next releases instead of a full length?
Hannes: Yeah, when I came up with the idea, I was just bored with the idea to record another album. We started out with an EP. Then we came out with two separate albums and you can hear the sound evolving, the songwriting evolving. And this time around, I think to make sure that we can give as much material as possible to our fans, our following, we want to have two separate EPs so we can just come out with single, come out with single, come out with a single. Then at the same time, it’s really exciting for us to write something like this that we’re doing right now because it gives us more time to just concentrate on a few songs that we just feel are going to be on the EPs. Of course, when you write songs you always have some songs that you just feel that it’s not maybe a good song, there’s just something that doesn’t click with the song. So this time around, we get more time to concentrate on all the details.
DM: Yeah. It seems like it’s a good modern approach to just releasing music nowadays.
Hannes: It’s something to change the pattern of just making a cd, then going out on the road and living out the lifespan of a certain cd. Now we have more time for the release to live on itself, to feed on itself. So we get a longer span of doing things and we get material that has been produced better, maybe.
Miki: Yeah, perhaps. We’ll see. It may turn out to be shit, but I don’t think so.
DM: It definitely sounds like a smart idea. And you guys recently switched labels, correct?
DM: Is there any significant reason for that, or are you noticing any big differences between the two that you can talk about.
Hannes: Let’s just say there are many, many reasons but I think that’s something that we should keep inside the family.
DM: Yeah, I understand.
Hannes: Maybe just the direction and what we want to do and what our former label wanted us to do didn’t match really. So it was a no-brainer just to move on to another label that was on board with our ideas.
Miki: Yeah. We’ve never been a group of guys or as a band, as a unit, we’ve never been the kind of guys that could be told what to do. So we’re not going to let that happen. Now we have a great label and the label boss really believes in us. So that helped, to get some quality comments on all the things that you’re doing. We really appreciate it.
DM: That’s very cool. Moving on from the studio side of things, I got to see you guys in Paris with H.E.A.T. and One Desire. You guys arguably came off even stronger live than you do on album. Do you prefer performing the songs live rather than working them out in the studio?
Miki: Well, I think it’s a whole different game.
Hannes: Yeah, you can’t really compare them at all. Because it’s the same if we’re just at our rehearsal space just jamming around and writing songs. You can’t really compare that to playing live or playing in the studio. So, yeah, like Miki said, two completely different games. But I think we all love them both. I think it would be the same thing as if an artist is painting a painting, the process of doing it, it’s much different than just playing at some kind of venue for people to see. Because I think essentially, when you’re performing live, of course you perform it differently live than you do in the studio but essentially the song is ready and you just have to perform it to people, and to sell it to people. The song is done, but in the studio you’re still creating the product.
DM: Yeah, I imagine the creative energy versus the performance energy is definitely different.
DM: Speaking of live stuff, I saw that you guys are on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, which is really cool.
Miki: Hell yeah.
DM: How did that come about, and how are you feeling about that opportunity to play with some huge bands in the genre?
Hannes: I guess people have been wanting us to come around there for a while now and we’re lucky enough to have great, great people working with us. So, then it just happened and now we’re coming there. We’re super excited and to be a part of something like this with lots of legendary bands … I’ve heard when you go there once you want to go back every year, I’ve heard it’s the best week of the year. So, yeah, really excited for that one.
DM: Is there anyone in particular you’re excited to see on the bill?
Miki: I want to catch a Bible.
Hannes: Yeah. There are many, many bands. Actually, I really want to see Stryper perform. But I’d rather hear them perform the album which they came out with but you can’t find it on any streaming services or anything. But that’s why I bought it. Against the Law, which is a great album, I’d like to hear them play that but they haven’t played them in years. I’m looking forward to seeing Steelheart. I’m looking forward to seeing pretty much every band. I really look forward to hanging out with the guys from H.E.A.T. again, because they’re our brothers. And the same with Hardcore Superstar. I’m really, really excited to just see the fan base that everyone’s got there and just be a part of something as big as this. It’s really humbling for us.
DM: Yeah, that’s very cool. Now since you brought up some of the younger bands in the rock scene, what do you think it would take to break into the American market for bands that aren’t as established as Styper or other from that era? Do you think there’s room for this type of music in the current American market?
Hannes: Oh, I don’t think it’s not a matter of if there’s room. It’s just a matter of the fact that when you’re a band from Finland, for you to be able to come tour the states, it’s real expensive. So you really need to have lots of people that support you. And I’m not just meaning your fans. You should have the guys with the money that believe in you, that bring you there. It’s so super expensive. It’s not like nowadays, you really make money with music but that’s not why you do it. That’s never been why you write music, at least for us. We do it because we love it. We do it because it’s an obsession. But we’d love to come there but it’s hard.
Miki: It’s hard.
Hannes: I think it will happen someday.
Miki: For sure it will happen.
Hannes: Man, we’re just taking our first steps there. A couple of weeks ago we came back from Brazil. It was our first time in South America.
Miki: Yeah, it’s a natural progression of playing in Europe first and then going here and there. We’re going to come there.
Hannes: Sooner or later we’re going to do a tour there.
Miki: And I think even if it’s going to take a couple of years, it doesn’t matter. Because in a couple of years we’re just going to get better and better and better, and write more songs. So then our catalog will be bigger so we can play longer shows or whatever.
DM: It makes a lot of sense and it plays with this whole idea that you’ve been saying this whole time, which is you’re just going to let things happen organically but also keep plugging away and keep doing what you do as genuinely as you do it. How was the response in Brazil?
Hannes: Brazil was awesome. I think our reception there was great. The fans that came out to see our show were really enthusiastic to see us live and really it was a great experience. It was amazing. For me, it was a childhood dream come true to go to Brazil. So, when I got there and I got to play my songs and people come there to have a great night with you. They come there to listen to your songs, sing along and just have a good time, and that’s exactly what they did. And the whole culture, it’s just, wow. I can’t wait to get back. It’s going to be awesome, now that we saw that we got a fan base there. I’m real excited, damn.
DM: That sounds awesome. Especially putting all that work in and then being able to have it pay off by traveling to a place you’ve always wanted to go and share your music with those fans. Now, each member of the band made Spotify playlists of songs you chose, all of which have a huge variety, from Slade and Oasis to Children of Bodom and Devin Townsend. In a dream world, if you could make a tour package of anyone, active or not, what bands would you tour with?
Hannes: Well, I think the shows would be months long because we’d have so many epic, legendary bands.
DM: Yeah, take a few, a realistic number…
Hannes: I think the original Guns ’n’ Roses, with the original members being able to play.
Miki: Yeah, that’d be cool.
Hannes: I’d have to say Michael Jackson as well, just because he is my number one. And I’d like to see the whole production. I’m really sad that I never got to see it, even though I’ve watched hundreds of hours of live shows from YouTube, it’s not the same thing. Maybe Led Zeppelin back in the day, as well.
Miki: Yeah, Oasis.
Hannes: You name it, there’s so many bands. I don’t know. It would be one weird package though, because we like so many different kind of bands.
DM: That’s really cool and you can hear that in your songwriting.
Hannes: Yeah, for sure, for sure like when Miki said, we bow down to the legends, to the classics, but we don’t try to sound like anyone. Then if someone hears something else, they feel like it’s something else, that’s cool. You can call us whatever you want. I never been a fan of being called an 80s glam sleaze, hair, whatever, metal band. That doesn’t really matter because that’s just some term that someone came up with. There aren’t enough words that could describe our music or our sound. And it doesn’t really matter because you don’t need words to describe it. You just need to close your eyes and feel it.
DM: I agree and I think you guys have definitely achieved that sound where it’s hard to put a label on it. It just sounds like you, which is really cool.
Miki: Yeah, that’s cool.
DM: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers before we wrap up?
Hannes: Come see us at Monsters of Rock 2020. We’re going to rock the stage and have a great party over there. Keep on listening to good music and rock and roll and check out our new EP when it comes out next year.
Miki: Yeah. I’m not even going to try to sell anything. I’m just going to say this. Whatever you’ve been doing, even if we’re new to you and even if you’re our old friend, it doesn’t matter. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Remember, the essence of life is all about love. It’s all about what you feel in your heart and what you want to do. You can do it. So don’t just live a shitty life just because you feel like you have to do it just because someone told you that you have to do that. Don’t do that. I’d rather see you on a Shiraz Lane show in the future. That’s exactly why we have to continue cleaning our apartment now.
DM: For sure. Honestly, that was a perfect response and I really appreciate you spending some time talking to us and I hope that I can turn a few more people onto your music.
Hannes: Yes. Thank you very much for everything that you’re doing. It’s a blessing for us and we feel really honored to be a part of this. Thank you very much.
DM: Thank you. Have a good day, guys
Interview Conducted by Sean Cantor