On Sunday 11th September, Backstage Secrets welcomed Mikko 'Linde' Lindstrom (H.I.M. & Daniel Lioneye) and his guitar tech Kimmo Aroluoma to St Petersburg for an incredible 4 hour guitar masterclass. Eager fans from around the world turned up to the event, as well as people watching at home via live streaming of the whole event. During the master class, Linde and Kimmo covered a wide variety of topics about Linde's guitar rig, and revealed many secrets to achieving his incredible and unique guitar tone. Throughout the session, Linde played along to backing tracks of HIM and Daniel Lioneye songs (including the newly released Vol III) and answered a variety of questions from the audience, both at St Petersburg, and people watching on the internet.
Adam Jessop from the Backstage Secrets team had the pleasure to interview Linde after the event, to find out Linde's thoughts on presenting the master class, and working with Backstage Secrets. He also took the opportunity to ask some more questions about his guitar rig, the recently released Daniel Lioneye album (and his current European tour) and his guitar life outside of a band context.
Backstage Secrets: Hi Linde! How do you feel?
Linde: I'm good! We just finished the master class, which went well.
BS: That's great. So you've just finished your guitar master class with Backstage Secrets. How does it feel to be doing these?
Linde: Oh it was great. I was surprised how quickly it actually went! It was 4 hours of stuff and it felt like nothing!
BS: Yeah same, I was watching it and it all went pretty quick. So does it feel like quite a big step in your career? To be suddenly not just playing guitar, but providing classes on it, lessons, stuff like that. How does it feel?
Linde: Yeah, to be honest it does feel quite weird! You know, me giving guitar lectures, but thank god I have my guitar tech with me here doing most of the talking!
BS: So how did you actually get on board with the Backstage Secrets program? What was the preparation for it?
Linde: Tim Palmer suggested I become a Backstage Secrets’ resident. So I met Konstantin in Helsinki, and then it all started from there. We did that one masterclass in Finnvox with Brian Virtue, and then we also did a little session in Kimmo's shop in Helsinki. And now this is the third one. So it's not like I've been doing this forever, but still - it's kind of fresh.
BS: So how does it feel to actually reveal your guitar secrets to the public? Are you happy for people to get nearer to your tone? Or do you feel like a magician who has just revealed his secrets?
Linde: No, I think knowledge is there to be shared, it's not to be hidden. And anyway, you don't really want to copy anybodies gear or anybodies things anyway. So the information might as well be out there. You're not going to be able to sound like me, or anybody else even if you try. It's not about gear, the sound is all in your fingers basically.
BS: Yeah that's the main thing I took away from the class actually; before any pedals or amps are involved, it's all about your fingers from the beginning. Okay, so I've got a few questions actually on your guitar rig itself. A lot was answered during the master class but I still have a few more I'd like to discuss. So how often does your rig actually change? Over the years you've gone from Marshall, to Laney, and now the 5150 recently. What influences your changes?
Linde: Yeah, well the 5150 I wanted to add for more sustain and more punch, and I think my gear and rig changes with every tour basically. After every album, when you have to go back to the rehearsal and you try to reproduce the sound live, you have to think about stuff like 'what needs to be changed' and so on.
BS: Do you do that yourself? Or is that what Kimmo does? Does he find you pedals to try out? Or do you find stuff yourself and think "Ooh I like this! Let's try and fit this in somewhere".
Linde: Well the last time I went to his shop, I took like 40 fucking fuzz pedals from there and took them to the studio, just to try everything out. We might have an idea of what kind of sound we're looking for, so we talk to Kimmo who will find how to achieve and produce that sound.
BS: So how much do you actually listen to Kimmo? Do you follow his advice on everything in terms of things like gain staging and effects order? Or do you sometimes just say "Nah I'm going to do this my way, I like this".
Linde: Well sometimes yeah, but normally the best idea is to listen to him. He's way more advanced than I am!
BS: Have you heard of a term called GAS before? 'Guitar Acquisition Syndrome' - This thing where guitarists are like "Ooo I've got to get that, I want this, I need that" Do you get this?
Linde: Yeah, it's easy to get into that. With home recording, you have your own little studio and you end up trying about a million plugins and not actually concentrating on the music. You get easily lost with all the gear and shit yes.
BS: Yeah definitely, you always have to have a little play around with what you've got. I remember you saying during the class about the 'Mickey Mouse' fuzz and stuff like that. You have to just play around with it. Okay, right let's move onto a bit of Daniel Lioneye itself. The general opinion is that Vol III is your most polished work yet - Do you agree with that?
Linde: Well I think it's the best out of our 3 albums definitely, and I think we have finally found 'that' sound.
BS: From the older albums, does anything from them still sit up there in your top tracks?
Linde: Yeah, from the first album i still love King of Rock and Roll, and International Pussy Lover is still one of my all time favourites. From Volume 2, the mentat; We still play that live.
BS: Yeah I noticed you played that live recently, was nice to see that thrown in. Do you plan to bring in any other classics?
Linde: From volume 2 we had a few songs in mind, but... uh... I can't remember the fucking names anymore.... uh.... shit....
BS: Kiss of the Cannibal? I Saw Myself?
Linde: Yes! Kiss of the Cannibal was one of those, but I realised the riff is pretty similar to Aetherside, so I wanted to drop that off.
BS: So with the new album, your famous 'wah' sound is pretty much non-existent - What's the reason behind that? Did you want to do something different, or did you feel it just didn't fit?
Linde: Well the thing was, I made demo versions of all the songs. Prototype demos of them, with programmed drums, and I recorded the solos on the first takes and I liked the first takes so much that I didn't want to do them again. They were recorded without a wah pedal. So I stuck with the demos. That happens to me a lot with solos, the first take is always the best one, and when I start to polish it, it goes to shit!
BS: Yeah, you kind of lose the initial 'essence' and passion after the first take. Okay, so you're touring at the moment; How does it feel to play to smaller crowds compared to big festivals and arenas. Is it more intimate or more intimidating?
Linde: I'd say the smaller places and smaller audiences are more intimidating than these big 20,000 people venues; it doesn't feel real anymore. Also the audience is a lot further, and nobody is in your face, but when you're playing in a small club, everyone is right up to your face. It's really personal.
BS: Have you had any overly eager fans recently at your gigs?
Linde: Well, of course there's always eager fans, but you know... people know how to behave!
BS: So is there anything you're taking away from your work on Daniel Lioneye at the moment back to HIM? Are you taking this 'heavier' metal approach back to it?
Linde: Well... I don't know what the future HIM sound will be. Always when you have a break and you do something different in between, it's going to affect the HIM stuff as well. Sub-consciously or even if you don't think about it, it's going to happen.
BS: Okay, so lets move onto a few questions about your guitar life away from bands, like at home. How do you practice at home? Do you play to backing tracks or just practice techniques on your own?
Linde: I play my own stuff. I play an acoustic guitar because the strings are a lot thicker and they're higher and it's heavier to play. When I practice with that, it's a lot easier to play with the electric again, so I find that quite useful.
BS: Okay, and at home, how much do you experiment? Just sitting there with pedals and settings, are you quite into that?
Linde: Yeah of course. I get very carried away with that. And it's great fun!
BS: Yeah definitely! So how much time do you spend on the internet looking at guitar stuff? Do you look at reviews, forums, Youtube videos?
Linde: I do watch some of my favourite SYL shows on Youtube, or my favourite Iggy shows. I sometimes go to Gearslutz and stuff like that when I'm looking for certain info on some pedal or whatever kind of thingy. And it's great because everything is on the internet these days; If you want to know something you can find it out very quickly.
BS: Yeah the internet's good for that. So speaking about Youtube, do you look into covers of your own stuff? Do you like hearing people's takes on it, or do you not want to hear your songs brutally murdered?
Linde: No, no at all! I think it's great when people make covers. It's always fun to watch them. It's never like "how dare he break my song" it's not like that at all.
BS: Yeah, sometimes you get people with their own take on it. It's not how you play it, or something you might interpret as 'played wrong' but it must be nice to hear a different 'version' of it.
Linde: Yeah it's not about that. When someone does a cover of your song, I appreciate it a lot.
BS: Okay, one final question... The dreadlocks... What's the future of them?
Linde: Haha! Well, yeah they are still growing. They've got quite big!
BS: Yeah I remember you started growing them around the time of Deep Shadows, and then about 7 or 8 years ago you chopped them.
Linde: Yeah, they were getting too long, too heavy and then one day I got fed up and took a knife and cut them.
BS: And what's with pushing them back now? Are your days of them dangling in front of your face over now?
Linde: Well, it looks cooler... but it's so fucking annoying having them in front of your face.
BS: Yeah I can imagine them getting in the way while playing. Did you have any accidents while playing live? Like them getting stuck in the strings?
Linde: Yeah, a lot back in the day. That's another reason why they're round the back now haha.
BS: Okay, well it's been an absolute pleasure to speak to you Linde. Thanks for doing the master class with us at Backstage Secrets, and we hope to work with you again in the future.
Linde: Yes, thank you Adam. All the best!
BS: All the best. Thank you Linde!
The full review of Backstage Secrets’ guitar master class with Linde Lindstrom is coming soon! Keep an eye out!
Interview was conducted by Adam Jessop (Backstage Secrets)