Finally we were able to sit down with the crazy party animals of Korpiklaani and satisfy our curiosity along with a pint of beer. The following conversation is both funny, entertaining and interesting.
1. Let’s start talking about the new album. How was the recording process and studio time?
Studio time was the best so far but also most hard in a way. The atmosphere on the studio was really good and relaxed. Maybe because everything was mainly planned and pre-recorded before the Manala studio recordings begun. I made demo versions at home. Then we went through the songs with a producer Aksu Hanttu and he recommended some changes or different point of view for the arrangements, or even melodies. This is Aksu’s third Korpiklaani production and I can’t imagine letting the work any other producers hands anymore. There is a deep trust between each other’s and he is really hard worker, who thinks more the best possible musical result than the money, which is rare way to work in music business nowadays. We recorded most of the album in Petrax studio, which is actually a farm place in the middle of the woods. There is no any kind of distractions around. Like for example pub’s, friends or other things if the studio would be at town area. It is great place to get right kind of mood to make Korpiklaani recordings. One time when someone left the door open, lamb walked in to the studio control room. We were hoping, that it won’t shit on the floor and of course it came to our minds, that whoa, walking kebab. Now we know what will be as a dinner… The main recording hall at the studio is ex- harvester and tractor garage, so you can image how high and wide the room is. You don’t need any processed effects there for the tracks. You just have to control the room sound with movable partition walls. The recordings went fine and easy only the English versions of the songs were time by time quite difficult for me. You can’t sing the song at the same way than Finnish at all. Whole rhythm of the singing is different. Also it was really hard to translate the songs from old kind of Finnish to English. Other hand some people thinks, that the some of English versions are even better than original Finnish. After all it was really interesting thing to do and listen afterwards.
2. As behind every album, there is a story of inspiration. What is the story behind the title Manala.
Manala means underworld in English. It is kind of a home of dead people. On the lyrics of the whole album underworld is a recurring theme. I noticed it afterwards when the all the songs were already finished. For example “Kunnia” in English Honor suggests you should never commit suicide, because the future generations do not want to pray for the ancestors who have. It is essential to honor the people among your ancestors whose life, character and deeds deserve to be honored and whose effect you want to feel in your own life. Those who commit suicide arrive in the Underworld after their death like the others, but they will barely be honored by their future generations. Then Tuonelan tuvilla (Tuonela and Manala are synonyms) in English At the Huts of the Underworld and in the mythological beginning, Väinämöinen and Joukahainen (Joukahainen is one of the creators and brothers. Väinämöinen's divinity is strongly connected with water. Joukahainen, the youngest brother, is the god of Earth, appearing as a dark god and gloomy god with counterforce in forests, swamps and stony grounds. The balance of the Earth is maintained by the dualistic relationship between Joukahainen and Väinämöinen) end up against each other and Väinämöinen outsings Joukahainen, literally in such a way that Joukahainen sinks in the swamp. Angry about this, Joukahainen chooses to shoot Väinämöinen with an arrow. He works a bow and arrows. Joukahainen's mother tries to forbid him, but regardless of his mother's advice he shoots Väinämöinen off the back of his blue moose into the primeval sea. These happened in Underworld and happens are from Kalevala. Finnish national epic.
Uni (The Dream) is also connected to Underworld. In folklore, dream is seen as a creature that comes to make a human fall asleep. The strong connection between death and dream has been believed to come from the Underworld, the land of the dead. Dream binds and weaves up the eyelids, shoots with a drowsy arrow and in many other ways gets you off to sleep. When asleep, a human falls onto the level of the Underworld, in which the dream brings the Invisible world as a dream into the dreamer's mind. Sumussa hämärän aamun (In the Mist of a Dark Morning), we can count to the same group of lyrics. Ututyttö or Terhenneiti is the sprite of fog and mist. In misty weather a lot of ghosts have been told to be seen. Some of them are restless souls, who have been left to wander in this world, but some of them are visions from the Underworld. Fog and mist make the borders of the two worlds more and more indefinable, to such a degree that we can see the Underworld with its ancestors in the world of the afterlife. Due to this, Ututyttö is also called the Bringer of Death.
3. The lyrics are often bundeled in a theme, what’s the theme for this cd?
At the first it was in my mind to base the whole album to Kalevala but we slipped out of that theme on some of the songs. There is not a one continuing story like we think about concept albums. Other hand even the Finnish national epic Kalevala is not a book where is only one story. It is collection of the stories, poems and songs from the old people and those stories was written 1800 century as a book, which tells lot of Finnish people and our mental. Most of the songs are linked someway to Kalevala but there’s also other kind of myths like Ruumiinmultaa. In English “Soil of the corpse” and it tells a story or better to say it was a folk belief related to the pursuit of financial success, known in the area of Lapland, northern part of Finland. The one who desired to get rich made a deal with the devil, secretly collecting soil in the graveyard and offering it to other people, having had it mixed in their spirits or coffee. Soil of the corpse was only allowed to be given to those who were not enemies of the ones giving the soil of the corpse. A person who drank the soil of the corpse either died or lost his sanity permanently or temporarily. In contrast, the one giving the soil of the corpse gained financial wealth, as long as he was able to stick to the contract made with the devil, giving the soil to new victims on regular intervals for a few months. If the terms were not met, the devil killed the giver of the soil or made him insane. They say the belief lives on in certain regions of Lapland.
4. Witlh so many very successful albums and a reputation as party makers and folk metal stars. How do you think the listeners will react to your new creation?
Of course I hope people would like the new album and would find something more deeply and that they could see little bit deeper through its coating. There is many levels in music but the lyrics as well. We are also going to play almost whole album on the gigs, so people better like it
5. Many, many of today’s songs of Korpiklaani are about party and alcoholic beverages. Do you still long or plan to make a full album with songs like ryyppäjäiset which are more serious folk songs?
I don’t want to think ever again beforehand what kind of the album would be because it never matches anyway. Better to let come the music and stories, which comes naturally and then afterwards to see what kind of the album whole is. Of course I like to write and sing those alcohol related songs because I like to drink and have fun. Alcohol also makes me more social and it is then easier for me to meet new people and face everything more cool during the tours. Tours are very social situations 24/7 and it is not always easy to man with Finnish nature.
6. Of course with a new album comes new promotion. Is there a new tour on the planning board or is the band going to take it easy this summer?
Korpiklaani never take it easy. We have summer festivals around Europe for every weekend and August-September we are going to start a North American tour. Then October we are going to play European tour. Lot of fun ahead of us and fans of Korpiklaani.
7. Of course with all the songs about drinking and partying. As a Belgian I have to ask, what’s your favourite strong beverage or beer?
I like vodka a lot but I like also whiskey and I drunk lot of Jack Daniels on the last tour. The problem is, that when I’m drunk, I start to drink whiskey like beer and everyone can imagine what happens when you drink whiskey like beer. The best beer in the world is Karhu beer. Unfortunately, you can’t get it outside of Finland.
8. Are there any bands that you would like to perform with some day when given the chance? Which bands would you like to share a stage with if possible?
The tour with Motörhead would be amazing. I’ve been fan of Motörhead since 80’s. Actually we were with our bass player Jarkko on Motörhead gig at the first time 1988 when I was 14 and he was 15 years old. Back then we couldn’t know, that we are touring around the world 15 years later playing folk metal…and Iron Fist cover.
9. During your many tours you've passed through Belgium quite a number of times, and I had the chance to attend a few of your shows. Did you by any chance manage to explore some Belgian cities during that time? Maybe you had the opportunity to enjoy what the Belgian nightlife had to offer
Oh yes, we’ve had been there in Belgium many times and every time it’s been quite hell of a party. We had opportunities to enjoy what the Belgian nightlife can offer and believe when I say, that we took everything out of it…and fun will continue next times. We like Belgium a lot and there are lot of Korpiklaani people, which maybe is the reason why we have a chance to play (and have fun) there in Belgium so often. We are always appreciative for Belgium people. From the beginning it’s always been our pleasure to play there.
10. Thank you very much for the interview. Final words are up to you.
Thank you and see you on the gigs. Maybe few beers together?
Steven from darkview.be
Thank you Steven. Good questions!