In some recent years Finnish hard rock/heavy metal scene went through a lot of bad luck. Generally Finland is not that big but it always managed to produce high class musicians though possibly they were not overpromoted or sold out for a quick buck. Major grands were Hanoi Rocks, which split up just a few months ago, Nightwish, which changed their legendary female singer, and Stratovarius, which also went a major change last year. However, the scene is still alive and kicking and a recent show of American glam/hard rock legend Motley Crue kicked off with an uprising Finnish all-girl band, Stalingrad Cowgirls, with Enni Kivela (lead vocals/guitar), Henna Vaarala (bass) and Riina Kivela (drums). So here comes Enni - on with the show! Well, not every day a Finnish band featuring three teenage girls comes up on stage before Motley Crue.

Enni: Yeah, we were really nervous about it. We never played in Russia before and to start it all as an opening band for a band like Motley Crue! Thankfully the audience seemed to like what we did and we felt a lot better on stage after a couple of songs. OK, but in my opinion a band like yours is a real rarity in Finland.

Enni: You're right, most of the bands play this heavy and dark metal music and there's almost nobody playing straight-ahead rock'n'roll these days. What about this weird name? I guess, you're not fans of World War II or something! (laughs)

Enni: (laughs) Of course not! You know, there was an old punk rock band in Finland called Leningrad Cowboys. And we're not cowboys, we're cowgirls. And the name of that city, Stalingrad, was just a stylistic change to avoid direct comparisons. What about influences? What bands did you listen to when growing up?

Enni: Of course, we're from Finland and the most popular band here is Hanoi Rocks. Our parents grew up at the time when Hanoi Rocks were playing around and we certainly listened to them a lot. Also American bands like Motley Crue and KISS. Surely, punk was a big influence on our music. Classic punk like Sex Pistols. And why exactly did you decide to play rock'n'roll and not, for example, gothic music?

Enni: Well, we all grew up in a small town in the north of Finland and basically there was nothing to do in the free time! (laughs) So we decided to start a band and play rock'n'roll music since it's very easy to play, it's not too technical or complicated. I see that your lyrics are mostly about partying and having good time. Do you personally write all the lyrics?

Enni: Yes, most of the lyrics are mine. So what about the song "You Won't Get It"?

Enni: Well, it's probably the only song I didn't write lyrics to but I can easily relate to it since there are lots of men out there that consider girls to be just pieces of meat for their satisfaction and don't think of them as persons with their own minds and decisions. Your drummer Riina, she's your sister, right?

Enni: Yeah, she's my big sister and she takes care of me! (laughs) How long did it take for the band to become more or less know in the neighborhood?

Enni: Basically all these four years! (laughs) We started in 2005 and were playing mostly local gigs in Finland. Soon we got a bit more famous, got a management and they landed us a deal with "Warner Music Finland", which released our debut album "Somewhere High" in 2007. Will the album be released internationally?

Enni: We're working on it. We want to make it available in Germany, Japan, hopefully United States and Russia. Did you play gigs only in Finland or not?

Enni: Mostly we play in Finland but we did some gigs in the whole Scandinavia, I mean, Sweden, Norway, Denmark. We also played in Germany and just before the Moscow show we had a date in Tokyo, Japan. How did you like playing in Japan and how did the Japanese people reacted to your music?

Enni: Oh, they are real fans - they clap, dance, scream and shout all the time! Very enthusiastic. And we were lucky because we played that show with Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks and he's a huge star in Japan. By my personal experience, Michael is a very down-to-earth person, very friendly and sincere. Did he say anything about your music?

Enni: Yeah, I am totally agree with the fact that he's a very nice person. He wished us luck and he said that he liked our music. How do you consider life on the road while touring? Is it fun, say, 'sex, drugs, rock'n'roll' or not?

Enni: So far it's just hard work! (laughs) We don't take drugs so I'd say that it's a lot of rock'n'roll, some sex and lots of hard work! I have to say that looking at your band on stage it seems to be a very democratic organization since all of you talk into the microphone and there's not one particular leader.

Enni: Well, there are three leaders in this band! Nobody is trying to steal the focus on herself, we always change roles when introducing songs on stage. Sometimes we're fighting each other especially when we're out on the road for a long time but in general, we're really like you say a democratic band. Do you get recognized on the street? If yes, how does it feel for a young band?

Enni: We're getting more recognized especially in Finland and it's really interesting when people come up to us for autographs or just to talk about our band and our music. In Japan, for instance, fans were waiting for us even in the hotel lobby, which is completely shocking and never happens in Finland. As far as I know, you're all about 18 years old. So what are the plans for normal life for the future?

Enni: Well, we just finished high school and so far none of us entered the university or started a family (laughs). Nowadays we all live in Helsinki and just playing everywhere we can. Possibly if nothing works out for a long time, we will continue studying or start families but right now it's all about the band and rock'n'roll! What are the plans for the future?

Enni: We're going to play more gigs and start writing a new album. Also there will be a slight change in the lyrics of our songs, this time they won't be just about partying and having fun. Well, good luck to you in all your projects and hopefully you'll come back to Russia some other day again!

Enni: Thanks for this interview! Thanks for all the nice words! We will do our best!

Dead Ripper
(June, 2009)

Big thanks to band manager Juha Juoni for perfect communication
and enormous help in organizing this interview

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