“It is very early in the morning and still dark outside. Next to two enormous heaps of luggage on trolleys which can barely hold, we find a unusual group. Some of them sip coffee; others drink the last bits of luke beer and tell lame jokes. This is the band Korpiklaani and they are waiting for their plane to catch after a long and exhausting tour.
The first for your eyes to meet is Hittavainen; the enthusiast violinist of the band, who fell asleep at the table with his head resting on his arms and with a cup filled with an unknown substance next to him. Not far off stands bass player Jarkko, flipping through a catalog in search of a fine red wine to buy at the tax-free shop. The other band members are more likely to buy cigarettes and beer though. Jonne, vocalist and lead guitar player, looks pale and not too well. As usual, he is recovering from the flue that he always seems to catch when on tour. Despite his bad shape, he still pulls off hilarious stories to Matson, the drummer, who is even now drumming with his hands on the edge of the table. Guitar player Cane, who suffers from a slight hangover, laughs and turns to look at accordion player Juho, the junior of the band. Juho does not notice, he seems to be totally occupied by his own thoughts.
Passengers walking by, turn their head to watch the unusual looking group. A single fan recognizes them and runs to them for autographs and some mobile phone pictures, which are granted friendly. Most people however, are unaware that they just passed Korpiklaani, the Finnish folk-metal band that started in 1993 under the name of Shaman, and changed their name in 2002 to Korpiklaani (Clan of the wilderness).”
… with these very words start the band’s official biography. This gives me a feeling that it’s about to start an interview, one of a kind… so, lets start, today my “victim” is Jonne, Korpiklaani’s vocalist and guitarman…
Hi Jonne, thanks for this interview! How’re you today? hopefully not having a hangover, though… LOL
Hi Tarja! No, not any hangover right now…but yesterday I had a sligtly one though… Everything is good. Enough work and so on 🙂
Describe us Korpiklaani-members, with 3 adjectives/each…
- Cane: Funny, relaxed and kind.
- Hittavainen: Musically gifted, personal, sleepy
- Matson: Joking, scatterbrained, reliable
- Jarkko: Wise, humorist, unconditional
- Juho: Inquisitive, gentle, abstracted
- Me, myself and I: Clowny, lively, emotional
You started in 1993 under the name of Shaman, and changed it in 2002 to Korpiklaani, why this choice?
There was another band, from Brazil, with the same name, and with much more success than we had by then. So, we decided to change our name to avoid the mix ups between the bands, and also because we’d just signed the worldwide record deal back then as well. But it was a good timing to start to work by wider level with the new name Korpiklaani. Korpiklaani was the perfect choice as a name, because that’s what we are, clan from the woods.
Among the traditional instruments, you play also woodwinds, jouhikko, djembé… hmmm, can you tell what are they, and how they found their way into the band?
Hittavainen, our fiddle player is kind of a multi instrumental guy and he always brings some weird new instrument to the recordings. There’re many kinds of shit. Jouhikko and woodwinds, which you already mentioned but also bagpipe, recorder, tin whistle.. you just name it 🙂 Then I bring some percussions, mandolin and octave mandolin. It’s good to work with that kind of instruments instead of doing it by the synthesizer, because then we can get our own and authentic sound.
Your fans call your music ‘beer-metal’, why’s that?
I’ve no idea why people always pick up the drinking songs. Most of our material is something totally different. Anyway, we like to write songs about the things we like or know and drinking is one of them but not the main thing.
And what about you, how would you describe your music?
Our music is pure folk-metal but then again we can do everything we want through this band. This’s music which comes out naturally. I don’t have to “work” when writing the songs, but for me it’s a pleasure. We haven’t lost any of inspiration to do this and it’s still very fun. Maybe that’s why we already have many albums, and we can put out easily a new one in a short time. Song writing is already a big part of me. I can’t live without it and it’s kind of a “need”. I really enjoy when I’m writing and recording new music. It makes me happy.
From where are coming your influences for songwriting and themes?
Just life and all around it. Sometimes when you are listening to some good music you can get the inspiration or whatever. This life what we live is an endless source of influences. You know, the nature around, touring, movies, women, drinking, eating, hunting, books …. Then again if you buy for example a new guitar or another instrument, and while playing it, it may bring you some new melody ideas. I’m always trying to explain to my wife, that buying a new instrument is not wasting the money, but it’s an investment.
By the way, Jonne, what music you usually listen to?
If I’m honest, I’m not listening so much music anymore in my free-time. But when touring, we’re listening to it always, and when it’s my turn to choose, it’s always some traditional folk music, mostly Finnish and Irish. …folk oriented music like Omnia and then just basic heavy rock like Black Sabbath, Motörhead and bands like that. Also lots of Finnish music like Agents, Freud Marx Engels & Jung, Viikate, Peer Günt and many others.
…and if I may intrigue a bit about your private life, what are you doing, while not playing or rehearsing?
My family takes actually all of my free-time, which is very limited. I have four kids and an old house, so they keep me very busy as well.
We can say that you’ve made a long and stony road, to become a band that you’re today. Tell me something about it… and what advices you’d give to newcomers?
Yes, we’ve a lot of hard work behind us, and I don’t count it when I play. Mostly of this work is about always waiting something, a little bit like in the army. …You’re waiting at the airports, you are travelling and waiting at the bus stop… and when you’re at the venue, then you’re waiting for the sound check, and after that you’re waiting for the gig, but then the time spent on stage (1-2 hours) wipes all the bad things out of your head and you’re ready to do all of it again tomorrow. You must love the whole life style to be a musician or it has no sense to bother at all.
What has been, so far, the funniest/craziest moment of your carreer?
It’s always funny and crazy to tour with these guys and there’re too many funny, crazy or both moments to pick just one thing up.
And what about the biggest satisfaction, musically speaking?
Biggest satisfaction was when I was driving back home from the new album’s, Ukon wacka, mastering session and I was listening at the first time the finished result. It felt so good and I was very proud of us. There is nothing in it, that I would like to make differently. All of the songs are there as they should be and those songs are just awaiting to be released and heard.
While playing on stage, what is your message to your audience?
Have fun and forget the rest, we are the one and you are the best, so why wouldn’t you show to bass player your breasts! (this poem just trumped up while writing this 🙂
LOL that’s a good one! Who knows, one of your next songs with have this refrain 🙂 …
Since 2003, you’ve released 6 albums. The latest one “Karkelo” (2009), and in february 2011 will come out “Ukon Wacka”. Tell me the main differences between “Karkelo” e “Ukon Wacka”. And how has your sound changed in all these past years?
More or less the first 5 albums we produced mainly by ourselves and in the last two albums we used Aksu Hanttu as a producer. Now in Ukon wacka we used Aksu as a main producer but also Tero Hyväluoma, making arranges and producing work for the folk instruments. That’s how we got it right like we wanted and it’s easily heard in the album. We developed it into our own sound and we went even deeper on it. You know, the best thing in all of our albums is, that there’re always better songs, album after album, at least we think so, and that’s what count in this all. We can’t musically please everyone but if we’re able to please ourselves we can be carefree for the rest, and I think it’s the only way to do this. We found our own sound already years ago, and we like it, so we don’t have to regenerate anything. So we just do what we like to play and be happy. Some people don’t like what we do maybe thinking that we’re making the same album again and again but we don’t see it in that way.
The lyricks of Ukon Wacka, what are they telling about?
There’re many things… some of our life on the road, like Tequila, which deals our feelings right after the very good tour in South-America. When listening that song, you can even hear the samba, which was in our ears still weeks after the tour 🙂 Then there’s texts from Finnish mythology, movies and for example old Finnish literature, like the song Koivu ja tähti (“The Birch And The Star”), which is based on the same-titled fairy tale, written by a famous Finnish fairy tale author Sakari Topelius. The narrative deals with warfaring Finland, in which a captured boy and girl are on their way back home during the Russian occupation of Greater Wrath in Great Northern War (1700-1721). The only note that makes them recall their home is a birch, on branches of which they recall birds had sung every morning, among the star twinkling through the branches. Regardless of the horrified ones, the children set forth and eventually after one year of walking they find their home, guided by two little birds. Their parents rejoiced greatly when they got back their children alive. In that very moment the children comprehended that the angels, in the form of bird, were infact their dead siblings. …Then there’s a song Korvesta liha (“The Flesh From The Wilderness”), it looks like a song about hunting but it ‘s actually double meaning text. You can see it also in a way that it’s pointless to sacrifice in shrine of matter and money because you can’t get it to your grave and in the grave we all are the same. No matter if you are rich or poor. The people will remember just what you were by nature. Good or bad. Everyone can also think what means the line “The forest needs no hunter but the hunter does the forest” … You can put it directly to this life what we are living right now. Then there’s also a song about drinking, Tuos meille tuoppi oltta, which is about manly cravings. There are two of them: a cold beer and a hot woman. A good man cannot live without these two.
What are your expectations about this new “baby”?
I have a good feeling about it and now when this baby is soon free and released, only thing I can do is look proud after him and hope for the best and fear for the worst.
After the release, I guess, you’ll head up for a tour, right? Have you already some idea which countries it’ll hit?
Yes, at first we’ll play the album release tour here in Finland. Four gigs, in Turku, Tampere, Helsinki and Lahti. Tuomari Nurmio, who was a guest star on the song Ukon Wacka, will join us at least at Dom in Helsinki (18th of February). We are going to play some of his songs there together as well. It’s going to be something very exciting and rare. Then in March will be the start of Paganfest European tour, where we are going to play as headliners. It will hit the countries like Austria, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium and Slovenia.
The year 2011 has just started… have you made some personal New Year’s promises? if so, are you gonna keep them? lol
Never done any New Year’s promises, so I don’t have to let down someone or myself.
Well, I guess it’s needless to ask, as you’ll be quite busy this year, but what are your plans for 2011?
This year is quite packed already. European tour, summer festival season, North-American and Canada, South-America and Mexico and hopeful Japan and Australia but let’s see. Days between those are dedicated for song writing and the new album recordings. But my mind flies already on the year 2012 🙂
Now the last question, what would you like to say to your fans, and to those who read this interview?
See you all on the gigs and let’s have some fun together!
Thanks a million, Jonne, for this interview! I hope it’ll be a kicking ass 2011 for you and Korpiklaani! See you on the road! \m/
Thank you about the interview and see you soon 🙂
Interview by Tarja Virmakari – Photos: Korpiklaani Official Facebook
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a really good interview!! 😉
so.. there is a chance to have korpiklaani back in South America by this year!!
let’s have fun \,,/
Awesome interview! I really wanna see you in Brazil this year! Is there any chance? You could come to Rio de Janeiro! ;D
great job! go on with these interviews! 🙂
Nice interview! And come back to Brazil!
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