THE DEMO CORNER
Jonne Jšrvelš: Vocals & Guitars
Kalle "Cane" Savijšrvi: Guitars
Jarkko Aaltonen: Bass
Matti Johansson: Drums
Juho Kauppinen: Accordion
Jaakko "Hittavainen" Lemmetty:
Violin, Jouhikko, Bagpipes, Flute
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Folk Metal
Korpiklaani's Jarkko Aaltonen
June 12, 2009
Interviewer & Photographer: Peter
Spirit of the Forest (2003)
Voice of Wilderness (2005)
Tales Along This Road (2006)
Korven Kuningas (2008)
The Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani needs no introduction. Since their formation from the ashes of Shaman, the band almost instantly found success with their 2003 debut album, Spirit of the Forest. Their work ethic when it comes to songwriting is evident on all of their albums and in the number of releases since 2003. Signed to Nuclear Blast Records last year, their first album on that label, Korven Kuningas, had its share of praises and criticisms. Now, having just recently completed their first North American tour as headliners on the second edition of the Pagan Fest USA tour in May, the band is ready to hit the touring circuit once again. Bassist Jarkko was kind enough to take some time during the Seattle stop on the Pagan Fest tour to offer an update on how things are going on the road, as well as shed some light on the new album, Karkelo, and even give tips on how to enjoy drinking without paying a heavy price for it later.
Peter: First, would you like to give us an update on how Pagan Fest is going so far here in the United States?
Jarkko: Itís been going very well. Last night, we were in Vancouver for the show and this past week, we were in Canada the whole week. Generally speaking, North America has been good to us, which is surprising, since we really havenít been here before. Last year, we were in Calgary, but thatís it. Primordial played one show in North America (the first Heathen Crusade) a few years ago. Now, we are the top two bands on the Pagan Fest bill and we get really good responses and good audiences almost every night, so itís been really good. We had no idea what to expect; we were kind of worried about it, as well, because we were tabbed to headline the festival and we were a band that had never been to this area before. But so far, itís been really good because we have come to realize that we do have a fan base in North America that we didnít know about. We always got some messages through our forums or our guestbook such as ďPlease, come to the U.S.A.Ē and things like that. I didnít realize that there was so much demand.
Peter: When the Pagan Fest lineup for this year was announced, you were named. How did you react to the news of it and what were your expectations going into it?
Jarkko: As I said, we were surprised that we were headliners, really, and we knew that a North American tour was going to happen at some point. It was just that we were surprised that we were made headliners of the tour because on the same bill, we have Moonsorrow, who have been to the United States many times and everybody knew that they had fans here. However, they are third on the bill after us and Primordial, which is a bit strange. I also liked the original Pagan Fest a little better because it still had Eluveitie from Switzerland, but they dropped off and now, I think thereís something missing from that lineup, but I guess itís okay.
Peter: Of course, Korpiklaani is coming out with a new album in a month or so called Karkelo. Is there anything you would like to say about it right now?
Jarkko: About the album?
Jarkko: Every band says their last album, the newest album, is their best album. You canít really say anything else, but this one is a really good one. We did the three albums before this one with the same producer and the same studio. For this album, we decided to try something else and we changed both the producer and the studio. It was a really good thing to do, since the album was definitely better produced; it sounds better and the producer also produced the music. He was always telling us to try different things and asking things such as, ďDo you really want it to be like that?Ē Always questioning everything we did, which was a bit annoying, but it also made the album better in the end. Of course, he was more into this rock sound, not so much into the traditional folk sound, but the album is more guitar-driven and more guitar riffs dominating on this album than before, but itís still a really melodic, rock-solid album. It has some fast, up-tempo, fun drinking songs and it has some slow doom stuff, also. I like it a lot, and with the previous albums, I never really listened to them after they were finished, and the new album is something Iíve actually been listening to after itís been done, so I guess itís better.
Peter: Karkelo is the bandís fifth album in as many years for the band. Do you subscribe to the theory of ďstriking while the iron is hot,Ē so to speak?
Jarkko: No, itís not about that. Itís about the fact that we write songs a lot and every year, we have 20 songs to choose from, and thereís no point in writing the songs and not recording them. Why would you want to write the song if you donít want to record it? We donít really plan these things so far ahead; when we have enough songs, we go to the studio regardless of what kind of year it is or how long it is between albums. People always seem to forget the fact that, for example, Black Sabbath released their first five albums in three years. Kiss released two albums every year in the í70s, and Thin Lizzy did that, too. Iron Maiden released five albums in five years, and they are all classics, so why canít we do the same?
Peter: Karkelo features an old man on the cover, the same man thatís been on the most of the bandís releases. Is he going to be Korpiklaaniís official mascot and if so, does he have a name?
Jarkko: I think he already is the mascot and every cool band has a mascot. Iron Maiden has a mascot, and Motorhead sort of has a mascot. We actually call him Waari, which is like a grandpa.
Peter: Since this is the bandís first time in the United States, have you had much time to sample the alcohol here, and if so, what are your thoughts?
Jarkko: Well, the vodka is the same, the Jšgermeister is the same, but the beer is different. We have been drinking on the tour, but this has been, quite honestly, a sober tour. We have been drunk, but not really that much. We have had so much worse tours in Europe in the past; everyone was constantly drunk all the time, but now, itís all sophisticated. (An unidentified person enters the room and Jarkko turns to talk to the person.) And you will have never thought that you will hear the word ďsophisticatedĒ when talking about Korpiklaani.
Unidentified person: Never in the same sentence.
Peter: Now, for Americans such as myself, is there any Finnish liquor that you would recommend personally?
Jarkko: Not really. I donít think thereís really that much alcohol that is purely Finnish. We have different vodkas in Finland, but you can pretty much get the same liquor there that you can here. We have the same beer, same wine, same liquor that everyone else has. Thereís only one alcoholic drink that I know is truly Finnish. Itís a really strong beer called Sahti, but I canít really consume it anymore. It is the oldest one there is in the world and it is still made with the same recipe as it has been for a few thousand years already. I canít really consume it because thatís dangerous stuff. It goes to your legs, not your head.
Peter: Iíll keep that in mind.
Jarkko: If you drink, you should always walk every now and then just to see if you still can because you can feel totally sober sitting down, but when you get up from the chair, you can just fall on your face because your legs arenít working.
Peter: Now, are there any other shows planned in the future?
Jarkko: You mean in the U.S. or in general?
Peter: In general.
Jarkko: Yes, quite a lot. After this tour is done in a week, we have a small break of three weeks or so, and then starts the summer festival season in Europe. We are playing somewhere every weekend until September. Thereís going to be many shows. There will be a Pagan Fest 2 in Europe that we will be a part of, and that will be twenty-something dates, and then thereís a small break. There will be another American tour probably, but thatís not for sure. So after this tour, there will probably be around 90 shows this year.
All content © 2013 Metal Psalter Webzine | Bands, labels, artists and photographers retain their respective © to their logos, artwork and photos | Design and Layout © 2013 Dynamico Designs