“FHMF” Interview

by Santtu “Rebel” Kaskela

Today I´m actually very happy… Got the chance to interview my Friend, Sami Sundqvist, who 5 years ago got tired of what FB and different metal music groups had to offer and came up with an idea of a brand new group, Finnish Heavy Metal Fans (FHMF). For 4 years mostly only Finnish members but during this year metalheads all around the world have started noticing and joining the group. Very soon 20000 members enjoying themselves, feeling like home… This man has to do something right, time to find out what. Let’s go…

Hello Sami. Haven’t seen You in a couple of months… How are You doing ?

I´m fine thanx, been pretty busy with FHMF, 5th anniversary this year 2016. Looking forward to next year.

What happened 5 years ago, how did You come up with an idea of a group of Your own?

Well… Actually this whole thing started back in 90s when I started to do some more research to find out what heavy metal with all its subgenres really is about, it´s ideology and what it means to me. After getting to know different bands, music and genres I just wanted to create a group where to share my experiences, do things my way.

I’ve noticed, during these 2 years I’ve been a member in FHMF, You do everything Yourself with a little help from Your wife. Rules are a bit strict, for example no “selfies” and no “memes”, some music genres not allowed except on specific theme-days etc. Tell us more about Your way of doing things and maybe some reasons why You keep things “simple”?

During some years I’ve noticed metal groups have their basic rules but sadly some groups I’ve seen are pretty wild, like having laws of the jungle. I understand it’s inevitable when group gets bigger and bigger the problems also keep growing… Negativity brings more negativity. In FHMF there’s a freedom of speech but I just won´t understand or allow bashing, hostile commenting, attacking against people’s opinions, insulting etc. Of course negative commenting is also welcomed, but it has to be civilized. Keeping things simple and civilized, based on bands and their music, not pictures and memes, is what FHMF is about. Because of this policy we get mostly positive feedback from members but also from musicians and different bands.

How do You come up with the ideas for theme-days, reviews, interviews, just to keep the group interesting, especially now when almost 25% of the members are not Finns ? What are the biggest challenges, since for about 4 years the group had almost no other nationalities other than Finnish ?

Never wanted FHMF to be just a group where people post music links. Making those interviews, live ones, was just a crazy idea at first but when I noticed the positive feedback I got… Started to make those every time I have the chance. Everything else is about a daily routine, album reviews, news, themes, music etc. The biggest challenge will be how to keep FHMF interesting for foreign members. First the language barriers which shouldn’t be a problem but then it´s the way we do things in FMHF with our own rules, could be something people are not used to and may cause some problems, hopefully not.

Everyone knows the world famous bands, everyone is a fan, no one cares about unknown musicians, seems like people like what they are told to like, narrow minded or even scared to try something new… During the years You’ve done Your best to promote, support and advertise underground bands with their music, what do You think ?

That´s the one thing FHMF will continue doing, supporting and promoting “small” and unknown bands with their music, but without forgetting the ones who have done their thing for years or even decades, whether they are underrated or “mainstream”. You’re absolutely right about that mainstream thing, the most famous bands with help from media and masses of fans just try to walk over smaller, unknown bands… But we all can make a difference, it’s just a question of promoting and supporting.

If I’m not mistaken, Annihilator is Your personal number 1 band of all times… What makes it so special ?

It sure is. Annihilator has always been a pretty underrated band when talking about thrash metal. The way I see it it’s because they’re not a 100% pure thrash, every album is different from the others musically. Jeff Waters with his unique talents with his guitars and numerous changes in members always bring something new, refreshing and interesting. I would describe this band as KING OF THE KILL.

We see some big names coming to Finland in 2017, Rammstein, Kiss, Guns n Roses, Kreator, Sepultura, Mayhem, Sabaton, Accept just to mention a few… In Your opinion, are they worth the money people are willing to spend ? Of course my point is with the price of 1 ticket to see 1 of those You get 10 tickets to see some local bands.

What can I say… Someone wants to pay, just go ahead, I won’t. I prefer events and festivals with several bands, whether they’re big names or not.

How do You feel the music industry and the people have changed here in Finland since 80s when we both were just angry little teens ?

Makes me really sad to some changes… Digital copies have replaced physical copies. No one wants to buy, own, listen to CDs or vinyls anymore. The ones who want to buy those albums have no places to go look and decide what to buy, since everything is online. Personally 95% of the music I have and listen to is on vinyls. The other thing I’ve noticed too is that people don’t go to events, gigs, concerts etc so often they used to.

Is there still hope, for new bands, new music, small venues organizing gigs… What happens when those dinosaurs (the most famous bands for ages) finally retire ?

I believe we have some hope left. Remains to be seen who will fill those boots and step out of the line of smaller bands after those dinosaurs are no longer with us. Exciting times are coming…

Any last words (not literally) to people who are reading this, the Family of MHF ?

Let´s keep in mind there are millions of bands around, just waiting to be discovered. Let’s give them a chance, support and promote them. THANK YOU MHF for Your support and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017 TO EVERYONE.

Santtu “Rebel” Kaskela / Metalheads Forever Magazine