Interview with Jonne
Interviewed by Arto Lehtinen
Korpiklaani may sound a little bit weird as well as exotic in ears of
readers. Korpiklaani, meaning WoodClan, definitely share the same
playground along with their land mates Finntroll, by combining the metal
elements together with the folk influences and putting out great sounding
stuff. Even though Korpiklaani as a band is a new name in the
genre, the background of the members lead all the way back to the
early 90's when they used to be under the moniker Shaman (until former Angra members went on by forming a band called
Shaman). The front man of the Finnish forestclan, Jonne, sheds some light on the band's
day Jonne, how is it going there, what have you done lately?
Just fine thanks. I'm fighting here with the new songs. Some home
recordings and things like that. I'm also trying to get some festival
gigs for us from Europe and here in Finland.
Korpiklaani, sounds quite weird and exotic to some. But before going any further with Korpiklaani, I find it
reasonable to take a look back at the past and how everything started out
and led to the formation of Korpiklaani. The saga started with the
Shaman moniker in the late 90's when a couple of full length outputs
were put out and the band kinda gained the name more among the ethno and
folk music public, or….Could you shed some light on this background
Yes, in the beginning it was basic ethno or folk whatever...and year
was '93 and I lived in north-Finland, Lappland. The first album was
under the name Shamaani duo and year was '96. After that I got the
feeling that I wanted to electrify the sound and I wanted to make a bit
stronger music. That's how the Shaman was born. Shaman made albums
"Idja" '99 and "Shamaniac" '02. Korpiklaani is straight
continuation to that.
If I have understood things right, Shaman was quite an odd and eccentric
band in the Finnish metal genre. People didn't know how to react and
classify your sami and more shamanish based background. Did you find
it to difficult to get metalheads convinced about Shaman's style?
It was difficult that's true. Those albums were released only in
Finland and Shaman was as marginal as it can be but I don't look at making
music how much I will sell the records and how much I make the money.
This music comes from my life what I live. Of course it's great if I can
some day live only from making music but it's not the reason to do this.
Shaman did mostly ethno festivals and occasionally gigs with
different types of metal bands. Was it somehow weird to play in front of
all kinds and different sorts of audiences? Did you view that as one kind
of advantage for Shaman, to expand the audience base and conqueror other
types of crowds who are not being into the pure metal stuff?
We did all kind of weird gigs and happenings then and it was kinda
fun. It was only way then because here in Finland it's typical metal
people doesn`t dare to say out loud that they liked us. Maybe we were
too weird....One reason to that was our management. It was far from the
what made a young lad get interested in the cultural and folk-ish music by
bringing in the metal elements? Any guy at
your age would have gone to the flourishing power metal genre or the
utter brutal death metal approach dominating in the early 90's?
I lived far from the cities out in the middle of the forest and hills and
the only job to me was playing and singing in ski resorts. There you can't
play death metal :), as you know. It was just an accident that our first
album anyway. Some guy came to me after the gig and asked me if I
wanted to come to the studio and record some stuff. I said "yes, if you'll
pay the plane tickets." A few months after that there was our album
around in the fucking little food shops. After that we released our
Shaman albums through our own, or actually my wife's, record company.
But then you were forced to change the name to avoid
possible lawsuits from the former Angra members forming a new band under
the same name. Did you just voluntary agree about changing the band's
name and were you ever approached by them regarding this name dispute?
I think that it was good timing to change our name because our music
and record label changed too. Korpiklaani collects our musical line and
nationality perfectly. The name is as yokel as our music and we
ourselves. I think that even Brazzes doesn't dare to steal name like
that anymore :)
Shaman was your "baby" since the early stage of your
career, apparently giving up the moniker must have been heart
Ten years as Shaman was enough. I don't know, maybe I got the new
start and it freshened the air. At first it was weird because the
"spirit of the forest" album was already recorded when we
still were under the flag of Shaman but now it feels like a good choice.
Because the Shaman name was blocked by these Brazilian fellows,
you didn't have any other choice but to find a new name? Where
the heck was the name discovered, and for non Finnish speaking people
trying to pronounce the Korpiklaani moniker, and trying to
figure out what it exactly stands for, may have some avoidable troubles,
so go ahead and tell us now!!
There was a lot of name candidates but what was good sounding name to
me it was not that to other guys in the band or our new record label.
Anyway, final name candidates was Woodstribe and Woodsclan but in
Napalm Records they thought that the name could be in Finnish, so they
asked from me that what Woodsclan is in Finnish. I said Korpiklaani.
They liked it, so here we are...
In which major way does Korpiklaani differ from Shaman in terms of
the music as well the image and what is the least major change between
the two bands beside you (used to) front both the bands?!
Using yoik is the biggest difference and of course using the Sámi
language before. Those things was kind of trademark of Shaman. Like I
said, my own life seems to affect so much to my music and it was rolling
so many years from Lappland times that yoik songs are not coming
anymore. I thought that it's stupid to still try to make it as forced, so
I let the the music come naturally. The new Korpiklaani album
is that. Of course we now have real violin and flutes. The violin now
more important role in Korpiklaani because of Hittavainen who joined
us two years ago. Earlier those "folk" instruments was from
the synthesizer but now all instruments are real and original
The debut album of Korpiklaani titled "Spirit Of The
Forest" was unleashed by the Austrian based label Napalm Records
which kinda focused on not so typical extreme metal stuff as the label
features for example the mysterious Falkenbach. What made you decide to
sign the deal with them, and I can't help wonder if there were a whole
bunch of other labels that showed interest in Korpiklaani?
We were in the very bad situation between the album recordings. We
had a deal with some German company but they wanted to change our
musical line but I didn't. So they left us in the studio and didn't pay
the bill. I had a hard job to find a new record deal quickly and I sent
the songs from the "Spirit of the forest" album around. Here
in Finland nobody answered to me from any of those record companies but
from the abroad came a few offers. Napalm Records feels best to us in
every way. It was easy to talk with them about things. There was little
helpers too who recommended Napalm to me. One of these was Ásmegin`s
Marius. Napalm Records just let the good feelings to me and I always do
things what feels good...like beer drinking ...
Shaman's products came out through a small independent label
called Natural Born Records. Why didn't you continue with the same
independent publisher with Korpiklaani, or was it about time to
have a proper distribution for the folkish stuff influenced by the
spirit of the Finnish forest and is this Natural Born Records
somehow involved in Korpiklaani?!
I got the taste some touring in bigger stages and in abroad with
Finntroll so it made me hungry to get back there. Finland is so tiny
that here is no more than a few places to play. I just wanted to widen
the area because playing the gigs is our biggest influence to do this.
It is the thing what I want to do with my life. My wife's little Natural
born Records of course can't publish the records in world wide so we
decided to find this one. Natural Born Records is still our publishing
Shaman was more inspired by the cultural background
as well as the music of Lapland, whereas Korpiklaani's material could be
associated with the modern style folk troll by including these metal
elements. Was your main purpose to add more updated folk elements to the
approach of Korpiklaani by leaving these sami influences to the
The Korpiklaani line-up is different than Shaman's so those guys gave
lots of it but as I said, life affect to the music and my two years with
Finntroll affected a lot too. Life goes forward and music also with it.
When checking out your music for the
first time I got fooled into thinking it was Germany's In Extremo. Do
you think Korpiklaani might have something in common with In Extremo and
other so called kindred spirit bands ala Finntroll, Battlelore, SkyClad,
Subway To Sally ?
I think that we have our own way and it will go stronger in that way
with our next album. I have to say that I like all those bands that you
mentioned but I don't want to make the same kind of music as somebody
Hullunhumppa…hmmm.. The Elakelaiset…hah, but ?
Yeah :) I don't listen to Eläkeläiset except when drunk at some
festivals...I heard that they have a same named song after the album was
already released. Hullunhumppa was great name to this song in my
opinion because that song is so insane humppa. Hullu is Finnish and as
translated it's insane.
As for songs on the Spirit Of The Forest album, are all those
tunes new ones. I mean, if you had written/composed some
of then for Shaman, but re-did and reworked them to meet the
The album was ready and done when we changed our name. We never
thought that we have to change our musical or lyrical way. Those songs
just came and that's it.
How do you usually start doing Korpiklaani music and songs? What are the first parts to be written and composed before going any
further with the material?
I make almost always music first and lyrics after that. I make some
home demo recordings from it and then we try to play it in practice
room. Those songs change a lot when we play with the group. Every person
has their own way to look at the song and this is a good way to us make
music. To our next album there will be more other guys songs too than
just mine and it's great because we can get more different kind of
material in that way.
When will these other instruments like the violin be added to the
material besides the guitar and the drummer to give more variable vibes
to the structure of the approach of the Korpiklaani concept ?!
The violin lines comes with the music right at the start. I make it
with the guitar. Then Hittavainen does some changes that he can play it
with the violin or flute.
As for the instrument; the violin definitely brings interesting
and variable vibes to the stuff and in general the joy and happiness.
But the violin isn't a new invention because for example My Dying
Bride was the first ones to have the violin mixed in their dismal slow
doom/death stuff whereas Skyclad brought the violin to the folk metal,
but it is obvious the violin belongs to the concept of the album. How do
you view that ?
We have a good violin player and it would be crime if we didn't use
his talents. I like the sound of violin, flutes and accordion so much
that I need it my music. I hope that it's getting more to it with other
bands too that they start to take real players to play real instruments.
I'm very bored to those synthetic sounds from the keyboards that most of
the bands use. It's so great that here is bands like Skyclad etc...who
really use those real instruments.
Well, are you going to add other new instruments to upcoming
Yes, Hittavainen has a new sackpipe :)
By the way didn't The Spirit Of Forest make a quick to stint to
the Finnish top 40 chart ?!?
I haven't noticed...
In reference to In Extremo a couple of questions earlier, I
can't help but point out they are damn big and popular in Germany and
even outside. Are the most potential and idealistic market places for
bands like Korpiklaani located in Central European countries, especially
Germany, where that kind of folk inspired material seems to appeal to
the local crowd?
It would be so great to get touring in Central Europe. Of course we
are waiting for those festival gigs too but I think that we are still
too small a band, so we don't have a chance but maybe after next album,
This whole folk metal concept has spread like wildfire as there are various folk
black metal combos and.. Well
whatever folk epic metal oriented bands available in the market. Isn't
the whole folk concept a little bit over saturated and kinda over hyped
because of the excessive use of the term?
I haven't seen any hype and real success. I mean, even the biggest folk
metal names like Finntroll, they have to still keep their day job if
they want to buy food and pay flat rents. Hypes are somewhere else and
definitely still far, far from folk metal.
After altering the band's name you achieved more attention
and have been more in public view than during the whole Shaman era in my
opinion. I have personally come across you doing gigs somewhere and
quite a lot of interviews. Is this the result of
better promotion, better media hype, or has the folk metal been accepted
by the normal mainstream public?
Only reason to this is that we have at the first time in my history a
real record company and promotion. But maybe it is easier to even this
kind of music because people are getting bored to machine music. They
are getting looking for something real and organic after all these years
of dominating computer, machine dumb dumb shit.
The lyrical side is definitely another interesting topic. What is
the main source of inspiration for your ideas and issues for the Korpiklaani stuff? How much do you rely of the
imagination when doing the lyrics?
When I made music to our last album I lived in a little forest cottage.
It was easy to write the forest kind of lyrics. I haven't got to imagine
it. I lived it, but writing lyrics has always been the hard part to me. I don't
like to write the lyrics as I like to make music. I hope that I find
some day somebody who will take care about our lyrics.
How much do you personally listen to the traditional folk music
and the metal stuff in general and have you studied more about
ancient Finnish as well as shaman culture? Do you find it an endless
source of inspiration to write in lyrics?
I never studied shamanism. I lived with the people in Lapland who
were using it in their every day life. The Finnish folk music is running
in my veins so I never studied it either. I have lived most of my life
in the countryside so I just live my life and let the music come as it
Korpiklaani is described as a vital and energetic live act. I understand
that you give 100 % of yourself in a gig, but I guess
you won't turn somersaults on the stages like for example like In Extremo ?
I like to keep our gigs like big parties so I want to give all from
me to audience and I've noticed that I get it back a thousand times from
the audience. It feels great. I have to start practicing somersaults
with guitar right away. Thanks for the tip :)
Apparently you have done more gigs with Korpiklaani than during
the Shaman era and more will be done and probably some festival dates?
Playing the gigs is our biggest influence to do this, so I hope that
we get lot of gigs and festivals in the future.
Well I thereby thank you for this interview and wish all the best
with Korpiklaani in the future, but it is obvious you have something to
say, go ahead ….
Thank you and I hope to see you all in the gigs around some day!