Interview date

11 Janvier 2011




Interview Jarkko Aaltonen (by phoners)

This is your fourth album with a Finnish title, and all the songs are also in Finnish. Doesn't the English language fit with Korpiklaani anymore?

(Hesitant) We didn't think about that that much. It's one of the things we never really think about. We don't really think about what kind of album we are going to do, which language we are going to use. This time, it just happened that all the songs were written in Finnish. Our previous record company, for example, demanded that we had more songs in English. But now, with Nuclear Blast, we are free. And for this album, when all the songs were ready to be recorded, when we knew which songs we wanted to record, we actually contacted the record company and told them that we had a little problem, all the songs were actually in Finnish. And they said that it was not a problem and we recorded the album. This is how it happened this time, and now all the songs are in Finnish but it doesn't mean that on the next album there won't be an English song.

But even if you didn't plan it, to you, is Finnish more respectful for the legends you talk about in the songs?

That's true. It's much better to do it that way. I think it fits better to the music and to the atmosphere. And we also think that musically, it works better than with the English language. But as I said, this time, it's in Finnish but we will see what we are going to do next time.

What can be the translation of the title of this new album and what does it mean?

It's actually not really translatable. This Ukon Wacka has different names in the different parts of the country. And it's an old feast. It was an evil sacrifice for the supreme god. They were hoping to get a good weather, to have a good crop for the summer and so on... It was the biggest part and for everybody it was a real pagan feast, including a lot of drinking, a sort of free banquet.

You know, Tuomari Nurmio isn't known in France. So can you introduce the guest you have on this album?

Tuomari isn't actually a name. Tuomari means "judge" like in a court. He is actually now a judge. He is not working as a judge, but... anyway. He is sixty now and he has a brilliant career in the Finnish music. He does a lot of different stuffs. He always does his own thing, he is on his own way, and he never thinks about what other think. He is respected by almost everybody in the Finnish music. It doesn't matter if you are a heavy metal or a jazz player or whatever, everybody knows who he is. He is really liked and respected.

Is it the only reason why you ask him to sing on this album?

No, actually, we had a demo on this song, when Jonne sang that demo, he was joking about that "Do you realise that he sounds like Tuomari Nurmio?". And that became a joke in the band and a guy had actually worked with him. I think he was mixing or recording, or something like that. So, we just asked if he wanted to sing that and then, Tuomari Nurmio said "send me that demo and send a couple of albums, just to be into the mood". And he was really into it so... And he is coming with us now. We have a few album release shows, so we will actually play with him. And we will also do some Tuomari Nurmio songs.

"Beer, Beer", "Vodka" and now "Tequila"... It seems to be a tradition now. Is it because you realised that it pleases your fans or just because you like to have those kind of hymns that everybody can sing during the shows?

No, we don't really think about that so much. The song "Tequila" was written as a tribute to our South American fans. It is just a kind of a tribute to them, to the people down there. By the way, it's a bit different from the other songs that we did before. There are some new technical stuffs, we used different rhythms and instruments.

But these songs are also your singles or they are used for a video-clip. Why then?

Yeah, but it is always a record company's decision. We don't really have so much to say about that.

So, what new instruments did you use on this new album?

Actually, we went to a heavier direction (laughs). We actually preferred to use a baritone-guitar, a seven strings guitar. And we had, whatever that is, a baritone mandolin, like a mandolin but a way bigger. And on the song "Tequila", we have traditional Mexican instruments... It is not really a traditional use, but we used it anyway. (Laughs).

You only play the bass in the band. Aren't you interested in trying to play some new instruments, maybe folk instruments?

I do have flutes at home for example, and I do play them. But there is no plan that I will do that on the albums. And I can't play it because of the bass anyway.

For this album, did you search for new Finnish legends for the lyrics?

No, no... I don't think that we searched for anything! (Laughs). I think, the texts of the songs are not that old, or based on old legends. They have some connections with more modern Finnish stuffs.

Even if all your songs are not connected with that, I've noticed that your songs are often based on legends, but also alcohol and women. Did you ever think of other main subjects for an album?

No, I don't think we have thought about that. But the fact is that we don't really think about what we are writing! (Laughs). We basically do what we want to do and then, in the end, we see what the result is.

On the limited edition of this new album, there is the cover of "Iron Fist" originally by Motörhead. Why did you choose this song? Because we don't really imagine Korpiklaani performing Motörhead songs!

The fact is that Matti and Jonne are listening to Motörhead. That was for us all the best band in the world when we were teenagers. And still, it's the best band in the world. Originally, we had this idea when we were touring in the UK, a couple of years ago. We had been a few times to London but, it was our first sort of UK tour, we had seven or eight shows there. We had this idea that we should do something special there. As Motörhead is from England, we decided to do this cover there. And Matti said "Let's do Iron Fist". And we thought that in every English show, we would do "Iron Fist" and after that, we recorded it. And as we needed one more song, and as we knew how to play "Iron Fist", we decided to put it on the album.

Is covering songs something that you could do again in the future?

No, we can never say that we are going to do this or we are not going to do that. Because we really don't know what we will do next time.

You work pretty fast between two albums, because, seven albums in seven/eight years, that's a lot! Do you think that your creativity can totally express itself, or that if you would take more time to compose, you might experiment new things?

I don't know. It is how we work. I don't think that the album would be any different or even better if we would had taken more time. And for us, it's a normal thing. And for the band it's cool to work like this. If you think of Iron Maiden or all the bands that we grew up with, they always released albums every year. If you think about the first albums of Iron Maiden, they all have been released in five years and they are all classics so... So time is not that important!

I read you change your way of work for the composition. Are you still writing the lyrics before the music or have you changed your way of work again?

No, in the beginning it was always the music first and then the lyrics. Now, it's like, whatever! So now, it's different and we are open to everything.

So you feel freer when you compose...

Yeah, and more experienced. It's easier to do that now. We feel better when we are writing music. And we don't know how to work differently, this is how we always work.

Since 2006, we've always seen the same character on your covers, but in different places. What is the importance of this character, does he contribute to accompany the music with some images?

Actually, on the first two albums, on the Shaman albums, we used to have an ancient logo on the cover. And it was not enough for the band. So we decided to have something else than that and we decided to create this old man you see now on every cover. And there is basically the same symbol on the cover.

I looked for it on the cover, but I didn't find it!

Actually, I don't even know where it is! (Laughs). And that's true!

You are going to tour with the Paganfest again. Aren't you afraid of being trapped in this kind of show structure?

I'm sure that a tour like that is a good opportunity for a band. By now, we just did a tour with Eluveitie, which was really good, and went well and we've been talking about how it's better than the Paganfest. But... I think it's the same for all the bands. I don't know how many Paganfests we've already done, but it is basically always the same bands who play there. We will see that, but we have nothing to complain about right now. For example, we get to play for people who came to see Unleashed and those people wouldn't be there if we were the only band. It gives us the chance to have a new audience, and the same goes for all the bands.

As we are talking about shows, you've done seven albums and no DVD. Is it something you plan to do?

Yeah, we do. We've thought about it a lot of times. We have recorded shows, filmed shows. We had decided to release the album before a DVD. We filmed two shows in Germany last year, it was the Wacken Open Air Festival and then we filmed this acoustic show that we did in Germany. We were working on this DVD but then, someone accidentally destroyed the recording of that show... So we have tried that!

If you had to give advice to someone who wants to discover the band, which album would you choose?

(Hesitant). I would advise him the newest one, I think... I don't know! Some people think we always play the same music and do the same album, that we don't change at all. And still, they also say that they don't like when a band changes too much... But I would say, try the album you want. If you compare the first album to the last one, you will feel that it's really different!

And is it better to discover you on CD or on live shows?

Both are good. I think it's different. It's totally different to play live and to play for a CD. And during a tour, it's always different.

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