Interview with Vreth of Finntroll
Borknagar, Boney M and Blodsvept
Finally headlining their own tour again, I got the chance to talk with Mathias (Vreth) from Finntroll about lots of stuff. About Boney M, Grant and Forsyth, why humans are a plague to the planet and of course the new album Blodsvept.
After I Congratulated him with the new album, which is a masterpiece, I ask him how it is been received in the world?
Thank you. It’s funny actually because everybody has been talking so much good about it but for some reason it doesn’t show in the sales. It sold a little bit, you know we thought it would sell more than last album because that’s usually the way it goes but actually it sold quite less this time and on charts position it was also good but not the highest like last time. But still everybody that has been reviewing it or talking about it is like oh it is the best album you have done so far.
And I never got this much praise for an album before. But maybe more people are downloading the album.
Blodsvept sounds like a combination between Borknagar and Boney M. (Which is definitely not meant negative because Boney M was great).
Yes there is really lots of disco on the album. And the combination is probably quite true cause there are some riffs that really sound like Borknagar could have done them, with the melody riffs. And then the disco vibe, the 70s kind of thing. The last album was like Peter Gabriel and Emperor so Borknagar and Boney M this time sounds good.
In Skogsdotter we also hear some country influences.
Yeah there is lots of country influence. That was also on the last two albums, that there was a little bit of country.
But now it is much more. Is it that besides Boney M you also got inspired by Grant and Forsyth?
Well you know, the people in the band, we listen to so much different stuff. So the inspiration comes from everywhere. We don’t have the limitation of when people are saying ‘we are old school black metal’ or something like that and they have to do the old school thing and they can’t expand. We never said that we are folk metal or anything, we are just a metalband. And we can do whatever we want. But yes the country vibe is definitely there.
Do whatever you want
Does the record label give you the freedom to do like whatever you want?
Yeah we got total freedom. If we want to we could do a German techno album. We could do it and they would have to release it.
A third thing I noticed on the album is that there are more brass instruments.
And this time it is actually real brass. Two friends of my came to do it and we could do it live but it wouldn’t sound good with just one saxophone and one trumpet. You would need to have an orchestra. When we recorded it, we did the same thing several times with different harmonics. There is like ten tracks of brass there.
You would need ten instruments and then all the guys on the stage, it is a little bit trouble. It would be cool to do it sometime like a special show for our fifteenth anniversary or something.
Oh wait, that was actually last year.
Well then how do you look back on fifteen years of Finntroll?
I’ve been in the band for a long time, I’m the singer that has been there for the longest. It feels so long because I’ve been around for seven years. It feels like I’ve been there since the birth. It’s cool that the band is still alive and still doing albums and touring.
This time, the lyrics are not from the point of view from the trolls but more from the humans, or am I wrong?
No it is sort of from the nature’s point of view. You can call it the human point but it is like the battle between human and nature. Humans are a plague that come and destroy nature. It is really like punk lyrics this time. Humans show up and do stupid things to nature.
The final result is of course a mix of different styles but the sound gives a rock and roll feeling.
That is sort of the thing we were looking for. When we started writing this album the first three songs were so different. It didn’t really have the red thread going, we had no idea what to do. And then at some point we wrote the Blodsvept song and we were like: Yes, this is how the album should sound like. Those first songs had lots of stuff happening all the time and it started to sound like Nifelvind part two. And we were like: this is not going to work. We started to strip down, taking things away, concentrating more on guitars. We came up with this groovy sound, more like black ‘n roll.
Vreth had to change his looks?
Besides this little change of style you also had a change in your looks. It looks a bit steampunkish.
We’ve been thinking about the steampunk thing for a while and I think we introduced a little bit on nifelvind already. With the suits and stuff. That was already a little bit steampunkish but more steampunk with that twenties godfather thing. Now it’s like full on steampunk.
If you compare it with the Trollhammaren video where your looks are really trollish. Then it is a big change over the years.
Yes but you know, the thing is we got so tired of that. When the Nattfödd album came out, that was when Finntroll really took off, started to go on big tours. On that point, there were so many bands that came up starting to do the same kind of thing. We didn’t want that, doing the same thing over and over.
Lots of people like the new style and lots of people hate it. They say: This is not the Trollhamaren epic, this is just gay. But you can’t stay in the trollish thing forever. You need to evolve.
Especially now when there are so many bands out there, why would we want to do the same album over and over? The whole folk metal scene is going down. It think it was when we released Ur Jordens Djup when the scene was on its peak.
Funny thing is that in Europe it is going down but this scene is going up in America. So that’s the new market. We probably going to play more in America this year than in Europe.
I always find it a bit strange when an American band sings about Vikings.
Yes I think it is already as a Finnish band to be singing about Vikings. There were like three Vikings in Finland. We were slaves to the Vikings
So what is it then with the fact that you sing in Swedish. Wasn’t it always that the Swedes and the Fins have this sort of battle.
Well, I come from a Swedish minority in Finland. That’s also why we did it, because the first singer Katla is also from a Swedish minority.
So it is not a problem for you at all?
I didn’t know any Finnish before I joined Finntroll, I didn’t need to. But then when I joined the band I had to learn Finnish.
Do you still use old stories as inspiration, even though you look from a different point of view this time?
Yes a little bit. Some of them are really old stories, for example Midvinterdraken, that is and old eastern Finnish legend.
I missed the priests on the album. They are already dead but there was not even a reference to them.
I think they died on the Nattfödd album. There was a reference album to them on the Ur Jordens Djup album. You know that would be a horrible joke to continue. They just died and are buried. They have suffered enough already.
You guys have made a lot of songs about trolls but in my opinion there is only one ultimate troll song: I Dovregubbens Hall by Edvard Grieg. I’ve never heard a Finntroll cover of that one.
Yeah that’s true. You know with the trolls it is actually not really trolls like most know them. People are confusing the stories a little bit. The trolls is not about physical trolls. It’s more like reference to primitive undeveloped human beings. That’s what we call troll.
But yeah we should incorporate in the middle of a song. That would be cool.
When you look back on the recording process of Blodsvept, are there things you would like to change now?
I’m really satisfied with the result but if I could go back and change, I would change the process how we did everything because it was so fucked up. I never been this stressed in my life. We had one week less than usual and everything was against us the whole time.
Everything that could go wrong went wrong. With the equipment, with the physical stuff, in the studio, everything was against us. This time everybody knew the songs and it was not a problem because we rehearsed them a lot before but it was the whole technical side playing tricks.
In an old interview you said that the first Finntroll album will always be the best.
Yes, but now it changed. When I was talking about that, that was usually when I hadn’t been in the band for such a long time. Of course I look in a different way to the first album and I will always like that album. It is the only Finntroll I heard before I joined the band, it was a friend from Israel that sent me the album. He said: you’re from Finland you haven’t heard Finntroll. That was like ‘99, you need to have this album. But I’ve changed my opinion.
There was a poll for the fans where you asked them which songs you had to play. Weren’t you a bit afraid that the fans would ask for songs you haven’t played in years and you have no idea how to play them?
Yep, and that’s what happened. The one that has been asked most for all concerts was En Mäktig Här from Ur Jordens Djup. We haven’t played that song since we released that album and that was I think in 2007. Maybe 2008, but it’s a long time ago. We had to learn it from scratch.
And for example, our keyboardplayer has changed keyboard two times since, so he hadn’t done the sounds. So he had to make new ones for everything. But we have played it much live so it didn’t take that long. Yesterday in Belgium we played this song called Vätteanda, nobody wanted to hear in years and suddenly it was there.
Were there more surprising results per country?
In Germany they want all this happy dancing tunes, In The Netherlands and in Belgium more metal songs and London they really want the more black metal songs.
And how is it to have your own show again instead of tours like paganfest?
It is so nice to be back. The festival tours destroy the whole scene. People they don’t want to come to shows anymore when it is like oh there is only three bands why am I paying so many euro’s for this. This is like going back to the roots.
Closer to your audience?
Yeah and with smaller venues. This (Dordrecht) is the biggest in the tour.
So that’s pretty much it. Is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
Actually I want to because we are coming back to Europe. I want everybody to have their eyes open ‘cause we are going to announce the presale tickets soonish. I don’t remember which cities but definitely Holland.