Korpiklaani interview

By: Nick
Photo’s: Metalshots.com

Korpiklaani, the band which is always busy. When they’re not on the road, they’re working on an album, releasing one almost every year. This year they could be found on stage, this time with the Heidenfest-tour. Bassplayer Jarkko spared some time (though it seemed like he didn’t really enjoyed it), to speak with us. While Jarkko clearly isn’t a generous speaker, we still managed to have an interesting conversation.

How are you doing right now? And how is the tour going so far?
It’s just the 3rd day, so the tour hasn’t really started. We already had a lot of parties, and have been drinking too much though. This is the last show we’re playing with Finntroll, so after they leave it will be easier for us. When Finntroll is around, we’re always in the party-mood.

How is the audience so far?
The past two shows were (almost) sold-out. It was nice.

You really have a busy schedule; recording, a tour through America, and immediately thereafter the Heidenfest-tour. Don’t you ever get tired of this?
Yes, it’s very tiring. And this is even though the album already came out in August, and it even was recorded at the start of the year. It stays tiring. It is at times like this, when touring, when you start to think how nice it would be if you could sleep in your own bed. But when you’re at home, after a week you start looking to the calendar, looking when the next tour will start.

So you’re still not wanting to stop, or to take a break from all the extensive playing?
No, though we are taking a break after this tour. After this tour we still have a couple of shows in Russia, and after that we’re taking a break of 2 months.

Recently you toured through America, what was it like?
It was just like always; shitty venues, nice people, great country. We had quite descent shows. Normally in the US you end up playing on Mondays or Tuesdays in the strangest places. Furthermore, we sold out the New York show, which was nice.

Do you notice a lot of differences between European and American crowds?
No, not really. They’re pretty much the same.

You just released the album ‘Manala’. How went the recording?
We planned to record the album in January, but then Jonne send a demotrack of one song to the eurovision songfestival. For some reason the national broadcasting company in Finland wanted to use that song to promote the competition. So we quickly needed to book a studio to record a proper version of that. Therefore we’ve finished that song in September already. Furthermore, all the drum tracks for the album were also recorded during that time. We continued recording in January, to finish up the rest of the album. In this break, we also changed our violin-player, so all recorded violin-parts needed to be re-recorded as well. Other than that, it was basically the same as the other times we went into the studio. We work with a pretty tight schedule, so there was no time for heavy drinking or anything.

This time, you drew inspiration from the Kalevala, which is the Finnish national epic. Why have you picked this work as your inspiration?
Because there is a lot to take from the Kalevala. However, the album and the lyrics aren’t that much about the Kalevala, though everybody seems to think that. It’s all about finish stories, finish folklore or whatever, not just about the Kalevala. In the beginning, this was the idea, but it changed a bit.

As mentioned before, you just have new violin-player. Has there been a lot of changes in the band when he joined?
I don’t know if the sound of Korpiklaani changed, but he has a different style of playing.

On the new album, you sound a lot more serious, is this the general direction of Korpiklaani?
We can’t say anything about that. We still haven’t planned anything for the next album. However, we decided that won’t record any drinking songs for the new album. It’s very annoying when everybody only knows you from those drinking songs.

Is that why those drinking songs are no longer played live?
The previous European and American tour, we already played most of our drinking songs. Furthermore, we only have a one-hour set this tour, so we needed to leave out some songs anyway. They may return on the setlist during upcoming tours though. We’ve been touring quite extensively through Europe for the past 5 or 6 years, and, for example, how many times do the same people want to hear the same song like Happy Little Boozer?

But on the other hand, it’s a favorite of the audience, an all time Korpiklaani classic. Why don’t you please the audience, in that way?
This is not about pleasing the audience, this is about pleasing ourselves.

And what is your favorite song from your own repertoire?
I don’t know if I really have a favorite song. When you have so many songs you tend to forget about all the songs you’ve recorded. There are some songs from which I can clearly say that I don’t like them, which I’m not going to mention here.. But it’s a completely different thing to listen to a song, and to play a song.

Are the drinking songs maybe the songs you don’t like, since you said you aren’t going to play them live?
It’s not about ‘liking’ the song. I would like that the audience won’t forget the other stuff we are doing, besides the drinking songs. The label isn’t really helping with this, since they always promote the drinking songs.

On the latest albums, a druid keeps appearing on the covers of these. Who is he, and how did he came into existence?
On the first two albums, we had had the Shaman-symbol on the covers. Thereafter, we had the idea to create a living person out of it. This was the idea we gave to the artist, and he came up with this.

What do you prefer? These big tours like Heidenfest with many bands, or a regular tour with only Korpiklaani?
They both have their good sides, but I don’t know which I prefer. The Heidenfest-tour is especially nice, since we’re not headlining. Because if you’re headlining, and you’re finished, everyone else already left so there’s no one to hang out with and have a drink with.

You are one of the first folk-metalbands.. How do you feel about the new generation of folk-metalbands, so for example Krampus, or Skálmöld?
With these bands, it’s clear that they’ve been inspired by the greater bands like Eluveitie or Finntroll. However, it’s funny that there aren’t that many bands that are trying to copy us. Of course, it’s quite obvious that when a new musical genre pops up, there are going to be followers. However, I don’t really follow these bands.

Since you said that bands are so greatly inspired by some folk-metalbands, what are the main musical influences of Korpiklaani?
Inspiration is a difficult thing, I don’t know where our inspiration comes from. Everything you’ve heard or seen affects you in some way, so how can you say where the hell you picked up certain aspects?

You have achieved so much with Korpiklaani. Are there still things you want to achieve?
We’re still not millionaires, so that’s what we want to achieve. Though I think I will have more luck with some lottery tickets than with our band.

Ok, that were all the questions, is there still something you want to say to your fans, or to the readers of folk-metal.nl?