Even if you haven't heard Lordi's music, you've heard of Lordi or at least seen their picture. After they won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, a distinction that approximates winning American Idol, the Finnish group became a media sensation. Who can resist a band that performs songs like "Hard Rock Hallelujah" with copious pyrotechnics while dressed in head-to-toe monster outfits? Nobody in Finland, where Lordi's members are national heroes. Besides musical fame, the band has a postage stamp, a "rocktaurant" (on the menu: chili-sautéed reindeer), and its signature Lordi Cola.
Back in March, on what was to be the eve of a Slim's gig, I spoke to bass player Ox the Hellbull (the band's other members, who never publicly appear out of character, are lead monster Mr. Lordi, mummy guitarist Amen-Ra, vampire keyboardist Awa, and alien drummer Kita). Soon after, Lordi's club tour was scrapped in favor of a main-stage slot at Ozzfest. The band's latest album, The Arockalypse (The End), is a jubilant celebration of fist-pumping rawk that wouldn't have been out of place on Headbangers Ball. Like you'd expect anything less from rock 'n' roll monsters.
Initially, Ox said, folks didn't know what to make of their act. "People thought we were like crazy Satan worshipers or something, but we're not," he explained before noting that Lordi is heavily influenced by KISS, Alice Cooper, and "my personal favorite, Mötley Crüe."
In fact, the Crüe is the reason for Ox's bass-playing ambitions. As a kid, "I saw a picture of Mötley Crüe in the paper, and I hadn't heard them yet," the 31-year-old remembered. "But I decided that this was the coolest band in the world. Then I bought the album, and it was the coolest band. And I decided this is what I want to do: I want to play rock."
However, band mastermind Mr. Lordi who makes all of the band's monstrous apparel is the reason for the Ox. "At the first rehearsal we had, Mr. Lordi looked at me and said, 'You look like a raging bull when you play.' "
Inside the costume "it's hot as hell. I start sweating when I put the mask on," Ox said, adding that he's not bothered by the fact that the group is so defined by its theatrical image. "There are all kinds of fans. Some like the music first. Some like the outfits. It doesn't matter really."
And, being a wiseass, I had to ask: what are the signs of the Arockalypse? Ox laughed. "Everyone's gonna turn into monsters!"
July 19, noon, free (sold out) Shoreline Amphitheatre 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View (650) 967-3000