Naming themselves the “Backstreet Boys of the metal scene”, Finnish band Blind Channel are going from strength to strength this year, building up to their tenth anniversary of being together this autumn. Impact’s Tabitha Smith had the chance to chat with the band’s vocalists Niko Moilanen and Joel Hokka to discuss their new single FLATLINE and their upcoming European tour.
Entering the Zoom call, I could tell the bandmates were enjoying some well-deserved downtime ahead of their gig at Tilburg’s Poppodium 013 that evening, with Niko even donning some sunglasses while we spoke about the tour. Despite what must have been an exhausting run of shows, playing across Germany and also Belgium in the last week, the pair remained passionate while discussing their latest performances.
This enthusiasm particularly shone through when I asked them if they were enjoying supporting iconic band, I Prevail, on their current tour, responding with a triumphant “f*** yeah!”. This union was a “really big honour” according to Joel, who said he’d been following the band for several years now and that the tour has been an amazing opportunity to expand their fanbase across Europe.
with a crowd of four thousand people moshing to their music
After the Tilburg show, Blind Channel were heading for the UK, something that they seemed very excited about, particularly as they’d be playing in venues that are brand new to them, with all but two shows having sold out completely.
However, it appears that these dates have tough competition as, when I asked the pair what their favourite show had been so far, Joel responded instantly with “Cologne”. This comes as no surprise, with a crowd of four thousand people moshing to their music, the videos on their Instagram show the incredible response the band have been getting, winning over every I Prevail fan present.
Speaking about their new single FLATLINE, the band talked about their “wild” experience collaborating with song-writing duo BLYNE to make this unique, electronically inspired track. Niko shared how different this process felt after having written and toured their fourth album ‘Lifestyles of the Sick & Dangerous’, a project they undertook with no outside contributions. The band credit their newest member Alex as giving “a fresh touch to the song-writing” at that point in time, attributing how organically the album came about to the amazing chemistry the group has.
It’s their openness to whatever their future may hold that makes Blind Channel really exciting
Detailing how their collaboration with BLYNE allowed them to create a demo of FLATLINE in just two days, it is understandable that the band want to work with more bands and artists in the future. “We would love to do stuff with I Prevail in the future”, Joel explained, also citing big names like Oly Sykes, Machine Gun Kelly and Mike Shinoda as dream collaborations for their heavier music, as the band become an even bigger name on the scene. “But we’re down for anything”, Niko added, “not only the metal and the rock scene […] someone from the rap scene or the pop scene – whatever!” It’s their openness to whatever their future may hold that makes Blind Channel really exciting to watch.
Despite this enthusiasm for collaboration across many different genres, Blind Channel have a clear trajectory towards heavier metal music in the future, something which their appearance in Eurovision in 2021 greatly conflicts with. “We don’t talk about Eurovision that much”, Niko told me, describing the whole experience of competing in the competition as “traumatic”, something which the three of us were able to laugh about. The whole situation is completely understandable; the band have come a long way from that point in time.
“It’s sad for the Finnish bands but we’ve just got to get out from home and do our shit”
However, they admit that “[they] have a lot to thank [Eurovision] for because that was a big deal”. Their standout performance of Dark Side catapulted their careers, receiving a lot of attention from wider audiences that weren’t necessarily acquainted with nu-metal. “We are aiming to build our career outside Finland […] it’s sad for the Finnish bands but we’ve just got to get out from home and do our shit”, Joel explained.
Blind Channel’s current tour with I Prevail has really enabled them to get exposure to heavier metal fans, something which the band have found important for the new musical direction they are taking. “FLATLINE is a good song to make an impression”, Niko said as he recounted the humorous reaction the band have been getting when playing their new single on tour. Leaning into their Backstreet Boys reputation, the band have come up with a dance to accompany the electronic beat of the single, something which is initially “the perfect shocker” for this new audience. Niko says how reassuring it is, however, that “by the end of the song, most of them are jumping and partying with us”.
“When you get to play Wembley arena, I think there’s only a few bands from Finland who have played this arena”
Upon asking about their rumoured fifth album, Joel summed it up nicely by saying that “it is time to aim for the devil horns”. It’s impressive that the band have such a huge project in the works right now in the midst of these shows, their next headline tour in April and all the festivals they have lined up for the summer.
The band appear to be in high demand at the moment, but seemed the most excited about playing Wembley arena at the end of the month. “As a band from northern Europe, from a small country, when you get to play Wembley arena, I think there’s only a few bands from Finland who have played this arena”, Joel tells me and, after thinking for a second, reveals that he can only think of one other Finnish band, Nightwish, who have had this honour.
With all this on the calendar, as well as teasing the next few singles for their album, I asked the band if they had any big events planned for the end of this year and into 2024. The band celebrate their tenth anniversary this autumn, something which the pair said they hadn’t really planned too much for. “We were planning on playing the Helsinki Ice Hall […] but we already did that, so we don’t really have anything, which feels weird.”
I’m sure we’ll be hearing great things from Blind Channel very soon
The band’s greatest ambition is to organise a tour of the USA for the end of the year, potentially supporting I Prevail again as the perfect full-circle moment. Whatever they manage to organise, they have an incredible line-up of shows over the next few months, the highlight of which appears to be “losing [their] Download virginity”. Playing such a huge metal festival in the UK is “a dream come true” for the group, who have their eyes set on Reading and Leeds festival in the coming years, something which they are certainly on target for.
Blind Channel are playing a sold-out show in support of I Prevail at Nottingham’s Rock City on 28th March, before setting off on their own tour around Germany, Poland and parts of Scandinavia. Whilst current information about album five remains vague, I’m sure we’ll be hearing great things from Blind Channel very soon.
Featured image courtesy of Ian Cheek. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @blindchannel via Instagram.com. No changes were made to these images.
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