God, eight year olds these days, with their self-referential irony and their over-developed musical palates. They don't want Alvin and the Chipmunks any more, that's for sure. They even think Drake, the biggest millennial pop star on the planet, just dances like their drunk uncle at a wedding. Generation Z, it seems, want music with an edge, something with power chords, razor sharp guitars, pounding drums and fantasy costume themes. They want GWAR basically, but without all the blood, guts, and weird sexual metaphors.
Enter Hevisaurus: four insanely popular Finnish dinosaurs (and a dragon) that play power metal for all the children around the world. The story goes that Herra Hevisaurus, Milli Pilli, Komppi Momppi, Riffi Raffi, and Muffi Puffi hatched from 65 million-year-old metal eggs in 2009, which were unearthed on a mountain by lightning bolts and a witch's spell. They are bloodthirsty warrior beasts yes, but ones that drink milk, eat cookies, and stay in school! And since formation they have become a Finnish institution, selling over 170,000 albums in their home country, and spawning tribute versions in countries around the world (in Argentina they are called Heavisaurios).
Finland is the place for it obviously. The Fins' relationship with metal is a passionate one. Perhaps it's the brutal winters or the dark Norse tales of their spiritual past, but the nation has a rare and particular love and acceptance of heavy music, to the point that their national industries are now power metal, death metal and Viking metal. This is the country that entered Lordi into the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 and owned it so hard they actually won. There is no other place on earth where an idea like Hevisaurus would have been conceived and promoted as genius, and for that we should be thankful.
The costumed gang of 'Jurassic metal' peddlers have released seven albums to date, including a number one. Their first release, Jurahevin Kuninkaat (Kings of Jurassic Metal), remained in the Finnish album charts for ten weeks when it came out. Now, they are signed to Sony, do sell-out tours (capped at a child-friendly 85 decibels), make their own video games and musicals, and have a movie coming out very soon.
Just like other young heavy acts like BabyMetal, Hevisaurus have managed to transcend the initial giggles and turn the LOLs and WTFs into a lasting and effective career. The dedication from the fans is echoed by the passion of the founders and band members. And although the Barney-esque costumes will be swapped for CGI versions of the characters in the movie, the band members who lurk within have had a good six years of jumping around on stage and appearing on talk shows while being trapped inside the massive dinosaur suits.
I got in touch with Nino Laurenne, one of the Hevisaurus creators and the band's producer from the very beginning, to ask how some heavy metal dinosaurs became the Teletubbies.
Noisey: Hi Nino! So, tell me, where did you get the idea for a heavy metal dino band?
Nino: It all began in 08/09 when we had this crazy idea to start up a dinosaur band that plays full-blown melodic heavy metal for kids. We all got very thrilled about this idea and started to make demos immediately. The idea was to compose very catchy songs with production that can be compared with any other "real big" metal bands in Finland, or in the world. Only thing that differs from "real" bands is the lyrics. We are not singing about fighting warriors and dragons, we are singing about warriors and dragons that are drinking milk or doing whatever is interesting for two-seven year olds.
The lyrics interest me a lot.
Yes, well, there are a lot of stories about food and funny animals, and there are "Army of Hevisaurus" songs, which are for the fans to sing HS hymns together. There are also some lines in the lyrics that kids and parents both laugh at at the same time, but both for different reasons.
How did you get to where you are now?
After recording demos, we signed almost immediately with Sony Music Finland, who were very interested in the whole idea. Now, after sox albums, 170,000 copies sold, hundreds of gigs, four musicals, and a full-length movie that will be premiered next month, Hevisaurus is stronger than ever! We also won two Grammys for the "Best Music For Children" in Finland and Argentina, which is something that we can be proud of.
Why heavy metal? Why not gentle narrative hip-hop or acoustic folk?
All the people who were involved with this in the beginning are more or less heavy metal musicians. So we had no other choice. And hey, dinosaurs are cool but HEAVY METAL DINOSAURS!? You cannot beat that.
Who plays the live shows? Are you one of the dinosaurs?
There are a group of very talented musicians who actually play live, so every show is a bit different. No I'm not. I tried the helmet once and got claustrophobic immediately, so I have a HUGE respect for those guys who manage to play live with costumes on! My job is done when the album is mixed and mastered.
Why does Hevisaurus work so well in Finland?
This is the question I've been asked so many times, and I have no idea. Maybe it's the long cold winter nights, who knows? The fact that metal music is mainstream in Finland means that it's easier for people get into the world of Hevisaurus and its Jurassic metal sound.
Hevisaurus' new album Jurahevin ikivihreät is available on Spotify and iTunes now. 'Hevisaurus the Movie' is due in cinemas in Finland in November.