Rastlos: A Hell of a Trip

By: Nick

There’s much going on with Finsterforst. A new label, and of course the amazing album ‘Rastlos’ they released a while ago. Reason enough to get in touch with Olli (vocals) and Simon (guitar) for an interview. A personal and open-hearted conversation.

Not so long ago you signed with your new label Napalm. Did the signing with Napalm have any consequences for the recording of the new album?
Olli: No, since the recordings were already finished before we signed with Napalm. It had an effect on the promo pictures and they made money available to shoot the video for “Nichts als Asche” though.

You had an agreement with Chain of Dogs concerning gigs. What does the accession to Napalm mean for this kind of collaborations?
Olli: Sorry, we can’t disclose the terms of our deal with Napalm, but if you have a band or plan on a concert/festival etc. just ask us or Napalm Events. We’ll work something out for sure. And we’d love to do more with Chain of Dogs, they’re great guys, fun to be around :-)

New deal, new album, new logo? How does this ‘new start’ influence you? And did you have any influences on the changes made with the band?
Olli: Well, I’m the new kid in town so to speak, but from my understanding it all just came together by incidence. The new album was just a matter of time, I think “Stirbt zuletzt” was already written when I joined the band and Simon works on new songs whenever he feels inspired. When we thought about the artwork it became pretty clear that nobody was happy with the old logo and once we saw the first ideas for the cover we felt like ‘the time is now’. Mastering, cover and logo were done almost at the same time, so when we got the deal with Napalm it was all said and done and they seemed to like the whole package. In terms of influence, it just feels great to have that fresh start. To me it wasn’t always easy to kind of maintain the old merits. ‘Rastlos’ is my real start with the band, the songs are ‘mine’, the new logo to me stands for the new chapter in Finsterforsts history and last, but not least a deal with Napalm is a great push for us.

You compose quite long songs, how do you compose such epics, and how do you make sure they can stay interesting throughout the entire duration?
Simon: I can’t make sure that those songs will stay interesting for all the listeners, because different people have different minds and brains than I do. It is difficult to explain detailed how exactly I compose such music. Sometimes I start with a melody and sometimes with some harmonic structure. Let’s say I start with everything somehow at the same time, haha! The composition process happens in my home – in peace and comfortable silence! I sit in my room with my guitar and my computer and start to create the music. Once I found a start with which I am satisfied, everything else comes easier and easier and I can express my musical mind as much as I want to. Such stuff like jamming with the other guys in the rehearsal room wouldn’t work out at all, because probably after 30 minutes we would have talked so much shit instead of even trying to be productive. And due to the addiction to beer and Schnaps we wouldn’t be even able to lead our instruments anymore. So yes, I create the whole music in home; that has led to the best results so far and nobody complained so far, haha! I simply put much effort into the whole creation process and work on the structure and on all the details of each instrument until I am very sure, that everything is on its right place. Because then I think that a song has its adequate meaning and can reach the listeners soul quite easy.

Why is it that on the new album, the accordion is not that prominent as on previous albums? Was this a conscious choice?
Simon: Yes, in my opinion there was too much accordion on the previous works. Especially on Weltenkraft you hear nearly all the time this jumpy and cheery aspect of that so called Folk Metal. We simply didn’t want to proceed like this forever and tried to go into another direction. On “Rastlos” I wanted to have a better balance between all the instrumental elements. I anyway wanted to do more with choirs and also solo melodic vocals. To gain a higher level of deep atmospheric music, I simply had to reduce the accordion and give more space to the flexible vocal appearance on the album. And honestly, it fucking rules! The accordion is still one of our main lead instruments. The fact that it appears now more rarely actually has the effect that it has a much higher attraction to our hearing. The accordion expresses the fitting mood at the totally correct place. And that’s why I say, that we didn’t reduce this instrument on “Rastlos”. Through the well-considered usage, the accordion has in my opinion a stronger, deeper and more thoughtful status within the music.

On the new album, you make use of a horns-section. Is this recorded with real horns? And did you have this in mind from the start of the recordings?
Simon: No, those are not real horn sections. To use a real orchestral part probably wouldn’t be possible for us to finance. Further on, I think that we don’t have a very intense use of symphonic elements, so there is not really a need of real sections. But we never know what will be in future, right? ;-) Since those orchestral elements were planned and composed in the very beginning, it was clear that we have to produce them in an amazing way.

The album is with its 77 minutes pretty long. What do you prefer yourself? Long albums, or short albums when you’re listening to music yourself?
Olli: Just good music. It depends on what bands are trying to achieve. If you want to go out and play some ass-kicking Rock’n’Roll there is no need for long and epic songs. If you want to create a certain mood it takes more time. If you look on my mp3, bands like Primordial go hand in hand with the likes of Motörhead and sometimes I listen to stuff like Mortician. I think we’re all pretty open to different music, you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff we listen to in the bus ;-)

Simon: Hell yeah, indeed! Look at me, sometimes I listen to Trance and even Hardcore music. You dutch people know very well about it, right? Haha!
You’re album is titled ‘Rastlos’. Is it based on your own experiences and are you sometimes restless yourself, or is it based on other criteria?

Olli: Well, we had that concept about this guy who left home, has nowhere to go and is searching for a new place to call home, sense in life etc. We were searching for a title that somehow tells the whole story and from my own background I came up with “Rastlos”. I’m not the guy from the lyrics, but I left my home, family and friends when I was 23 and being restless is a feeling I know just too well from that. You don’t know what to do with yourself and if you have any idea you don’t know where to start because you don’t know your new surroundings. It took me some time to figure out my new life and sometimes I’m not sure if I’m really set yet. So the title was just a natural fit for me and when I explained it to the guys they liked it.

Do you ever have troubles making decisions, since you’re with 7 people in the band?
Olli: Not really. Everybody has some area where he is the leading voice in the band and normally the other guys listen and approve. Of course it sometimes takes some discussion, but it never gets really heated since we’re all friends and share the same goals with the band. Create big music and have some fun together doing all the weird things we do on tour ;-)

Your songs are long, atmospheric and epic, but how do you feel about those typical ‘simple happy’ folk-metalsongs from bands like Korpiklaani?
Olli: I’d never listen to these bands at home, but when they’re part of the card on a concert or festival I’m sure drinking a lot of beer while watching their show and I’m just having a good time. I don’t know where you put TrollfesT in that conversation, but if they’re on your ‘simple happy’ list they are the exception to the rule, since we all love their True Norwegian Balkan Metal.

You’re originating from Schwarzwald (Black Forest), so what is your favorite kind of tree?
Olli: I’m originating from Berlin, but my favorite tree is the Christmas tree. I’ve had so many funny nights between Christmas and New Year’s Eve where I took those trees to a train or stuff like that, I just love them for all the crazy memories ;-)
Simon: No matter I love all kinds of trees; I think that my favorite ones are the firs.

What can we expect from Finsterforst in the near future?
Olli: Expect us to get better at all aspects. I love the new album, but I know there are better lyrics in me. There are some parts of the vocals which I think I could have done better and so on. I’m sure the other guys feel similar. We can and will get better. Besides that I expect us to play more shows, do some serious touring and just have a great time together. And expect us to get drunk after the shows!
Simon: I think that we have done a brilliant job for this particular time in which we created and produced “Rastlos”. I can’t criticize anything, but that is because I watch those things different. Of course after some time we will come up with thoughts like “Hmmm, but there and there and this and that we could have done like that!” But the final product of “Rastlos” is in my eyes nearly perfect. In future, as Olli said, we will improve ourselves and simply will get better. It will be a great challenge to top the level of this album; I am more than motivated to compose new shit! ;-)

Do you still have anything to say to the readers of folk-metal.nl or your Dutch fans?
Olli: We hope to be back soon. Had a lot of fun in the Netherlands, you guys just rock. So, what’s left to say? Cheers friends and lose yourself in ‘Rastlos’. I promise the hell of a trip ;-)
Simon: Cheers to Holland, godverdomme!