Today I have the big pleasure to interview the Finnish Folk Metal Pioneers Korpiklaani and first of all I would like to give congrats to your latest release Jylhä. How has this album so far been received by your fan-base?
“Thank you! After the long wait the album is finally released and feedback has been very positive. Though we already got some clue about people’s thoughts through the music videos, which we’ve been releasing since September. Still it’s more important for us to know what they think about the record as a whole than just one song from it. I know, we are pretty old-school with that kind of thinking, but albums have always been a one piece for us.”
Since your bands history you were going through a lot of developments and especially for me your two latest releases are coming much more mature with a much bigger focus on the “story-telling” approach of the releases. Of course you are keeping musically your roots in the famous “Folk Metal” genre, however it seems to me that you are as well much more open to experiment and the same is creating much different soundscapes. Can you tell us a little bit more about this development?
“I think it’s all just natural evolution. It’s always been our style to try something new instead of repeating the things we’ve already done. Of course a lot of things have changed also during the years like some band members, lyricists, producers etc. All those things affect the overall sound somehow even though we sound like Korpiklaani whatever we do. The other side of the thing is that the listener has changed and now sees the band in a different light and probably hears something one never paid attention to.”
Due to Korpiklaani is a six headed band, how was the process during such difficult times as in the current pandemic. Did you face a lot of restrictions during the creation-period and recording of the album?
“No, we didn’t. Songwriting process was mostly done when the pandemic started and the pre-production we did at Jonne’s home studio, so we didn’t have to worry about other people around. Only thing we had to change was the studio as Petrax Studio closed their doors. Luckily we had a chance to use our producer’s, Janne Saksa’s, Sound Supreme studio in Hämeenlinna. Some instruments like guitars were still recorded in Lahti at Jonne’s.”
In general I would be interested how is the creation process of a Korpiklaani song? Is there already a theme set for each song or is the first the composition and later on the lyrics for the songs are set? As especially all the new songs are in Finnish and to be honest my understanding of this language is very limited, I assume that the lyrical topics did not changed. I guess that they are most likely still about nature, deep forests, shamanic themes, maybe some myths of the Finish National Epos “Kalevala”? Please give us a little bit insight into this whole procedure.
“First of all our lyricist, Tuomas Keskimäki, writes a lot and sometimes he sends the texts which he thinks will suit the band to Jonne or then Jonne gives him a subject to work on. On this new album he got free hands to write the texts and he got quite deep this time. He had been devouring books about old Finnish murder cases and death in folklore so the topics on Jylhä are inspired pretty much by these subjects, not forgetting two party tracks. Kalevala we want to leave to our friends in Amorphis. Most of the time Jonne comes up with a riff or a chord progression and starts to work on that as he has been the main songwriter from the beginning. Then he picks the text that suits for the melody or the atmosphere of the song. He makes the demo and sends that to the others. Everyone can then give their suggestions and ideas the track. That’s the way it goes for the others too, we don’t compose together at all I can say.”
A lot of bands just decided during this pandemic to postpone their releases, as usually after a release an dedicated tour is following, which is simply nearly impossible these times. All countries have different regulations and I guess the planning of such a tour with daily concerts in different cities is simply not possible. Had there been even a thought holding back the release in the hope that the situation will change for the better or was this never a consideration within the band?
“No, it wasn’t. The album was recorded almost a year ago and we never thought this situation would last this long. We were thinking that things would be normal by the end of the year and we would be able to do the release tours normally.”
I think in general the music industry changed a lot in the last decade, streaming services replaced a lot the demand in buying physical releases as CDs or Vinyl and Touring and Merchandise was becoming one of the main incomes of the bands. Is it even possible nowadays to live from music only? The second question in this respect is as you now nearly had not been able to tour for over 1 year and I would say the perspective for the first half of the year 2021 is also not quite promising, how much are you missing playing live and being on tour?
“Yeah, things have changed a bit. Record sales made a huge deal back in the days. Today it’s not something to live from for a band like ours. Like you said the income comes from the touring and merchandise. You asked do we miss touring, hell yeah we do. We’ve been touring constantly for 15 years and when it stops it’s something that is hard to handle. We are a live band more than anything and now when the new album is out we want to play it to the audience. We just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope we can get back on the road soon, nothing much more we can do.”
As I can see on your homepage already some gigs are scheduled in September 2021 in Finland only, are there any plans for a “Jylhä – Tour” throughout Europe or North America in 2021/2022 ?
“Yes, we have been planning a tour for autumn and next year but cannot reveal much about those yet. Looks pretty bad right now for this year but you never know what’s going to happen. We just have to keep scheduling shows like everything would be normal soon, that’s the only way to get back on tour as soon as possible.”
Any last shout outs for our Folk-Metal.nl community?
“Listen to Jylhä and watch all the five music videos we made for it! We’ll play all the songs for you live as soon as possible! Until then stay healthy and folk metal! Cheers!”
“Thanks a lot for the interview! Stay safe! Stay healthy! Stay Folk!Thanks! You too!” -Cane