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SPIHA feat. Anna Paatero: A duet with Nikki Sixx?

"Trevolution" was the name of the event in Helsinki where we met SPIHA frontman Henry Lee Roots and his duet partner Anna Paatero backstage - and "Icebreaker" is the title of their cooperation, which should especially revolutionise the career of SPIHA. Well, the wave of Finnish Gothic Rock has abated almost a decade ago, therefore this remake of the 2005 hit as a romantic duet with Anna Paatero, a former contestant of the Finnish version of "Idols", was rather sceptically anticipated. More about this SPIHA single release later, first Henry and Anna have their say ...

Hello Anna, hello Henry; thanks for taking some time for this interview...
Henry: I guess your first question is why one of our guitar players was missing at tonight`s show. Well, things like this happen but... He has always been a part of our camp so he can`t be kicked out. And actually this spring you are gonna see some more old bandmembers during our shows but I`m not gonna tell you which ones and where. It`s a secret! [laughs] And we will have some big festivals gigs coming up but I`m not gonna tell you more about this either. Not yet. Not before they are published...

So you are now talking about things which are not really confirmed yet?
Henry: They are confirmed but they are gonna be published just next week...

Ok, my first question would have been anyway how did you reach the decision to re-release "Icebreaker" and especially as a duet. By the way: Congratulations on that! It`s a very nice song and a very beautiful music video...
Henry: Thank you! Well, in my opinion, "Icebreaker" didn`t get as much attention as it should have gotten when we released the song the first time back then around 2005. It was and still is a great song and I anyway had this idea of a duet in mind, especially when I met her [points to Anna]. She`s very special.

Where do you know each other from?
Anna: It`s actually a really funny story. I was at their gig in Järvenpää where I live. And I was there just by accident.
Henry: You were in the front row, really drunk and rocking. I noticed that because you were really loud rocking in the front row...
Anna: Yeah, and afterwards, me and my friend visited you in the backstage area...
Henry: And one thing led to another... [grins]

Did you know who she is?
Henry: To be honest: I didn`t. I don`t watch "Idols". But when I saw her, I was thinking: "There is something about this girl..."
Anna: He sort of already decided to do the duet with me although he hadn`t heard me singing yet. That came later at the first band rehearsal...
Henry: Yeah, I didn`t really heard her voice before. [laughs] That`s how it went.
Both: And we are not kidding now!

So your duet partner for "Icebreaker" could have been also someone else like Niki Rock, the singer from the Barbe-Q-Barbies, with whom you recorded already one song for the Sonic Roots?
Henry: Oh, Niki Rock...! I met her a few weeks ago when me and Jussi69 [The drummer of The 69 Eyes] were visiting Michael Monroe`s gig at "Tavastia". Afterwards, we hung around with the guys from the band: Dregen, Steve Conte, Sami Yaffa... Sorry for skipping the question but I must say that these guys from Michael Monroe`s band are all fucking great musicians. Really cool guys. Down to earth. True big rockstars but still you can talk and hang out with them, drinking some champagne with them... Ok, but let`s continue the interview, haha... What was the question again? [Laughter]
Anna: Doing a duet with Nikki Sixx...

Niki Rock!
Henry: [laughs] Yeah, Nikki Sixx! Why not, why not...?
Anna: Nikki Sixx... Why the hell not?
Henry: Well, Niki Rock did some backing vocals on the Sonic Roots album, for the song "Junkie Girl". That was beautiful and she was totally professional when she came to our recordings in Suomenlinna, where Aaro Seppovaara, the singer of Blake, has his studio. We spoke about more collaborations like this after we met there, so why not...

Anna, can you tell us more about you? You participated twice in the Finnish version of "Idols"?
Anna: Yes, I did. First time in 2008 and I almost made it to the semifinals. I was eliminated at the final elimination before the contestants for the semifinals were chosen. But it was good that I participated in it twice because I could grow as a person and as an artist and I knew more about the competition and what is required for the competition when I went there the second time. In the first round I was on the 24th or 23rd position, and last year I made the 10th place which is not bad...
Henry: You have been in the Top 10!

Do you have any former releases?
Anna: No, "Icebreaker" is my first release.

When and where was the music video for "Icebreaker" shot?
Henry: It was shot in Vanhakartano, a district in Espoo, in an old mansion which is probably from the 18th century. It was shot last November, on the 25th. It was a very interesting project and we had a really great team. We shot about 18 hours but it was totally worth it.

Wasn`t it cold in the mansion?
Anna: It was! [Laughter]
Henry: And it was really dusty... But let`s not talk about that. Let`s keep the illusion that we were really floating there and so on...

Why took it so long until the music video for "Icebreaker" has been released? The "Single & Video Release Party" in the "Green Room" of "Bar Bäkkäri" took place already one month before everyone could see the music video...
Henry: Because we wanted "Icebreaker" to be shown first on TV before putting it on youtube. And the difference was three weeks and two days.

Where on TV was the premiere of "Icebreaker"?
Henry: "The Voice: 100% Rock"!

What was the reason that SPIHA split and how come that you are back now?
Henry: Back then it was just coming to an end. It couldn`t work anymore with these guys and what we had. There were so many different things influencing this. I cannot describe it in one or two sentences. But I`m really glad that we could come back. It was a very hard decision back then in 2005 to say: "Now it`s over!"

But in between you had another band, the Sonic Roots...
Henry: Sonic Roots were already there before SPIHA split up. The guitar player, Mister Sonic Warland, and I formed Sonic Roots before SPIHA split up. First it was like a side project for us but when SPIHA split up and things went how they went... I remember I was at the "Ilves" bar, next to "Tavastia", calling Nalle: "Hey motherfucker, wanna come to play drums in my new band?" And he was like: "Yeah!" And that was it. We had good times with Sonic Roots as well. For a few years, we were touring in Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Estonia, Sweden... It was pretty much fun, but then things went a little bit downhill...

Does the band still exist?
Henry: Not at the moment.

And how about The Weed Amigos, your third band?
Henry: Well, you never know when The Weed Amigos are gonna have their next gig. It could happen tomorrow. You never know.

How about a new album from SPIHA?
Henry: As soon as it`s ready.

Are you currently working on it?
Henry: Yeah, we are currently at the "Mankku Stereo Studio" where we are gonna do the whole album. We have many songs coming up. Really cool songs! We also want to do nice tours and stuff but we need the right people to do it when we go somewhere...

Like in Berlin where you know the "Berlin Glampires" Tom and Corinna and played at the famous "Wild At Heart"?
Henry: Yeah, but the Glampires don`t exist anymore. Tom and Corinna got divorced; they are not together anymore. Tom is now with another woman and Corinna lives somewhere else, not even in Berlin anymore. And, yeah, we were a few times at "Wild At Heart".

Opaque Buff are planning to play in Berlin this summer. Maybe you should join them...
Henry: Yeah, maybe we should stick with them. I know Johnny Scum, the guitar player. He is cool. A nice guy.

Personally, I think the music of SPIHA is better and much more original than from many other Finnish rockbands like The Rasmus or Negative. Still, SPIHA never became as big as those bands are. What do you think is the reason that they made it and SPIHA didn`t?
Henry: Because we split up in between, you know.

Yeah, but all the years before? Before the split of SPIHA?
Henry: Well, now we are back and more fucking alive and kicking than ever!

Ok, let`s talk about jobs then. Are you doing anything else beside the music? How about your work as a model for the Finnish gothic chain store "Back Street Clothing"?
Henry: Well, this is more like a promo thing for me. And to get free clothes from them.

Was that the same reason why you have been a model for condoms back in the days?
Henry: Yeah, that was a cool thing! I did that next to other musicians like Jussi69. And, of course, I got free condoms for doing that... [grins]

And it`s a good thing anyway to promote the use of condoms. We are almost done so it`s time for the "Famous last words"...
Henry: We are SPIHA and we are still alive and kicking! God bless you!

And now as promised a few remarks to the “Icebraker” single:
As for the song itself, the new version of "Icebreaker" not only contains the female vocals of Anna but also the arrangements have been changed. In fact, the rocking semi-ballad has become a melancholic-tinged duet and the atmosphere of both versions is so different from each other that it`s hard to say which is the better one. And so the score is even. Both versions are great. Especially great about this version is the fact that this is the musical debut of the 21-year-old Anna. If she succeeds in coming up with similar music projects after this impressive start, we certainly might hear much more from this young lady in the future! This 1-track-digi-EP – which also includes the music video for "Icebreaker" – is available via band website. Welcome back, SPIHA!

Website of SPIHA: http://www.reverbnation.com/spihaofficial
Website of Anna Paatero: http://www.facebook.com/AnnaPaatero

Author: Stefanie Singh Photos: Stefanie Singh, SPIHA
Date: 2012-06-10

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