INTERVIEW WITH JONNE JÄRVELÄ OF KORPIKLAANI
Korpiklaani has been folking since 2003 by conquering the folk metal world with the Finnish culture and nature. Being one of the heaviest and hardest working bands with the nine albums out by now proves Korpiklaani’s folk metal machine is unstoppable. The ninth album called NOITA is another fine slap of the catchy folk metal with the obvious ancient Finnish myth and culture of the past. Some water has flown under the bridge since the previous Korpiklaani interview, therefore it was about to have a conversation of the mastermind of Korpiklaani, Jonne Järvelä.
Interview and live pictures by Arto Lehtinen
Good day – how does the touring life look in the Korpiklaani camp ?
We are just now in Hamburg at Heidenfest 2015 and everything is fine. Ten days behind and about the same still left.
NOITA – NEW ALBUM
The Petrax studio has been a home studio cave for Korpiklaani for a while, Do you view that finding the right Korpiklaani sound is easier and natural progress there at the Petrax studio with the essential know-how how to carry out a good sounding album with the catchy hooks ?
Absolutely. Petrax is good place to record because it is farm place at countryside. There is its own peaceful atmosphere and we really like to record there. Also it is one of the best studios in Finland and near my home, so it is easy choice.
Noita being the 9th album in a row in the Korpikaani catalogue, that proves Korpiklaani is one hell of working band around, you don’t rest on your laurels at that much – where do you find that much energy and inspiration to keep going on ?
I don’t know actually. This is fun thing to do and at least for me this is the only thing that I can do, so maybe that drives us to keep going on.
You have systematically released new album every year or every second year, as for the time gap between NOITA and MANALA, there is a three year gap, how come it took a bit longer to have the ninth album out ?
We toured even more than usually, so we couldn’t find the time for song writing so much than before. Also I wrote, recorded and produced my “solo” album JONNE, which is not actually a solo album because I got help so much from many musician friends of mine. Then I produced, mixed and partly recorded Oceanwake new “Sunless” album, which also took some time.
How did you start working on the material for the NOITA album ? Do the lyrics come first before the music ?
Tuomas Keskimäki wrote most of the lyrics again, so there were lyrics first but I don’t put my focus on lyrics yet when writing music. When the main structure of the song is ready I start to think which of the Tuomas’s lyrics would fit to the character of the song.
What was the most challenging part of the whole writing and composing process of the NOITA album ?
Find the time to do it. The songs came very easy and naturally and we actually dropped some songs away from the album whole.
What does the title of the album originally come from ?
There are some songs about witch what Noita means in English and one of the key songs on the album is Ämmänhauta. It’s about one finnish folklore that lives strong in one little village, called Vesilahti, where I’m from with our bass player Jarkko. One powerful witch lived there and when she noticed that the end of her lifetime in here will be over soon her last wish was to be buried into the sacred ground of the church. So she managed to find four men to carry him to there secretly because during those times pagans were not allowed to be buried to the “holy” ground. Before their journey begun she had one important rule for those four men; If she would die before they reach their destination she must be buried straight to the place where that happens. They didn’t manage to get to the church’s graveyard and when the witch took her last breath those four men could not move her anymore because of her spell. So they buried her immediately to that place and threw birches on her grave to hide the body. Later on the story started to spread from mouth to mouth and people started to throw birches on the witches grave because they feared that witch will curse them if they would not do that everytime they passed her grave. So even nowadays there is a great pile of birches on the same place where the witch was buried.
The Korpiklaani figure known as Vaari did the first appearance on the front cover of TALES ALONG THIS ROAD and since then it has been an expected figure on covers. How did this come about ? Did you find it a good idea to have a mascot of your own ?
Exactly. I like the idea how for example Megadeth or Iron Maiden has their mascot adventuring always on the album covers. I wanted something similar and Vaari is our Eddie in a way.
FOLKING SINCE 2003
The main core of the line-up of Korpiklaani have soldiered up as a united team for about ten years, whereas the violinist got changed as well as the accordionist, as for finding these replacements – was it an easy going process to audit and find right guys with the suitable background and attitude to Korpiklaani ?
We have been lucky because every time when people changed in this band we’ve getting stronger. I don’t mean to put anyone down because we are really good friend with every ex-Korpiklaani members still but it is a fact. There always been a reason for the changes and it’s been both way deal. Some people got enough this kind of life style and they might to want to do something else in their lives. It was easy to find first Tuomas about four years ago and now Sami three years ago…time flies. Sami is still a new guy in our books J
Since the VOICE OF THE WILDERNESS album the guitarist, bassist have been in the band beside you and drummer Matson, apparently this has created the bond between you to take further steps for Korpiklaani and focus on building the band’s success ?
I think it is important to keep the band as stable as it is possible. That’s how we all can develop together as a band because this is teamwork if something.
When some member has departed, is it like the end of the marriage, that’s it and goodbye – or do you maintain some sort of contact to each other ?
Yes we are still contacted and friends with ex-members.
The Finnish language has been the big role in the lyrics, leaving the English kind of aside. The whole lyrics or could I say the poetry is fascinating, tending to go deep in the Finnish ancient culture, but do you feel it is kind of odd to have lyrics written in Finnish as the foreigner fans may miss the point in the meaning of the lyrics ?
I don’t feel it odd because nowadays it is easy to translate the lyrics if you want. Internet makes it very easy. Also we have explanations of each song on our booklet of the albums.
Do you feel kind of natural to sing the lyrics in Finnish on tours or do you have to switch it to the English after all ?
It is way more easy for me to sing in Finnish, my native language. Also it is easier to catch and share the feelings of the lyrics using Finnish.
SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
How much do you spend time exploring and studying the Finnish ancient mythology and culture to ladle them for the lyrics and ideas to develop the soundworld of Korpiklaani ?
I don’t study about mythology or culture but being in this band has been teaches me a lot and still doing it all the time.
When penning the lyrics, do you have to have some certain place and atmosphere to reach the need mood for coming up ideas on papers ?
I’m not writing lyrics so much but when I do, I can be anywhere when I got an idea. I’ve been driving car when I got an idea and then just pulled over and writes it down. I’ve been sitting, when suddenly got inspired and just walking outside. You never know when it hits you.
You have traveled all over the world, have other cultures and social aspects brought more new ideas, visions and influences on the creation of the musical ideas ?
Absolutely. In the end everything is about your lived life. Met people and places. Being in the band is extremely good chance to meet lot of people and travel around the world.
The four Korpiklaani albums came out on the Austrian Napalm rec, which was a home for Korpiklaani for a long time, nowadays you are at Nuclear Blast. What is the biggest difference between these two labels from your point of view ?
Nuclear Blast is bigger and they can load a little bit more volume on marketing. Of course it would be easier and good to be on some of the Finnish label because being on contact would be easier but unfortunately “know how” and contacts are better at record labels abroad. That’s why most of the Finnish metal bands that are doing international career are on the lists of some record label from abroad. But in our case the interest of the record companies stands at abroad. Finnish record labels are not interest or ready to invest to band like Korpiklaani for some reason, which is sad.
I can’t help asking what was the main factor making you thinking of switching to Nuclear Blast ?
They offered the best deal and they have worked already some Finnish bands like Amorphis and Nightwish, so Blast just convinced us about a good business relationship. We signed again to Nuclear Blast filling second deal with them just before Noita.
KEEP ON GALLOPING
I have paid attention to the behavior and acting of the crowd at Korpiklaani’s gig, the people usually go utter beserk and the feeling is like getting catapulted thru the ceiling especially during the fastest tunes, being played. Do you try to set the place on fire and get people nuts on gigs or do you have to calm the moshing and pitting and surfing down time to time ?
We like to see when people gets crazy. Maybe that’s why we have so many up-tempo songs but to keep the feeling and drama of the show it is important to play also some mid tempo or even slow songs. That’s how the fast songs sounds even faster.
Where is the strongest and loyalist fanbase as well as wildest ones ?
Germany and Europe over all is at least most loyal because we can see the familiar faces on every gig for example on this tour now but North America and Canada are rising and rising for us all the time. The most wild audience is definitely in South America.
The videos of Korpiklaani seem to have been an important role. Do you view videos are the one way to catch some attention for Korpiklaani ? Obviously there will be a new video from the NOITA album ?
Now when TV doesn’t show music videos anymore, videos are in the web nowadays. Like on Youtube but I think it is in big role as before. At first we put out a video of Tein mina pillin pajupuusta, which shows us on stage. It’s filmed in Moscow, Russia. Now just a while ago we released a video to Ämmänhauta song.
When Korpiklaani was interviewed back in 2003, the whole thing was in the early stage of kicking the whole on as apparently it was based on the DIY attitude, how do you coordinate and keep your eyes on the business and so on and how do you make the last call what comes to booking festivals and gigs ? Btw are you still involved in Natural Born Records ?
We have a good management to take care about our booking and record label business, so we can put our focus for the music more but of course we are speaking everything through our management, so we know all the time more or less what is going on. Natural Born Records is JonneMusic nowadays and it handles my producer works, some part of merchandise works and publishing for Korpiklaani and JONNE bands.
Speaking of your solo, in my opinion the stuff on the solo album differs quite obviously from the Korpiklaani stuff, was it a conscious choice to separate the stuff from Korpiklaani by working them on the solo output ?
It was the reason for the solo album and band because those songs were so different, than Korpiklaani style. I didn’t have any need to put out a solo album but the songs were asking it if you know what I mean.
Can we expect more solo stuff from you ?
Yes, next album is already under work. JONNE is also real touring band, not just my solo project anymore but because there are also very busy musicians for example Santeri Kallio and Jan Rechberger from Amorphis we can’t play live so often.
All right I thank you for your time to do the interview for Metal-Rules.Com and wish all the best and I let you conclude the interview ….
Thank you so much and see you on gigs
The official KORPIKLAANI sites :
The Official Korpiklaani Facebook
The Official Korpiklaani Homepage
The Official Korpiklaani YouTube Channel