This interview with front man Jonne Järvelä of Korpiklaani was done by e-mail by Fjordi in May, 2005 (original questions from late February).

Korpiklaani is a different folk metal band from Suomi Finland, demonstrating a stronger traditional music influence than most of the bands of the genre in their style and more precisely in their last album called “Voice Of Wilderness” and released through Napalm Records. If you like cheerful metal tunes tainted in violin and accordion, there is no doubt this band could be of your interest, and these words too.

What is the thing which distinguishes your band from the rest of folk metal acts? Maybe the broad use of folk tunes and patterns?
I think biggest differences to many of folk metal bands is that we use real original instruments in our folk lines. Like flutes, violin, jouhikko, accordion and kantele. Most of the folk metal bands used synths and keyboards with their folk parts and lines. I think Korpiklaani is most FOLK from the rest of the folk metal bands. At least when speaking Finnish bands.

Is Jonne the main composer of the songs, or the other band members take part in the process too?
I (Jonne) make most of the songs but our violin player Hittavainen has few song on the albums also. We make arrangements with whole band many of songs anyway. Now for our third album, accordionist JuhoKusti has at least two songs already finished, so it is nice to get some new blood to the composings.

Your use of instrumental songs is quite wise, honestly, and in fact these are my favourite songs. Tell us something about these instrumental tracks; I have the impression they are more folk oriented than the rest.
The instrumental songs are always the songs which is powerful and good melody enough to carry the song without vocals. That`s why those songs are usually pretty good and strong as well.

“Voice Of Wilderness” mixes metal and folk in a very balanced way, whereas many so-called folk metal bands only give a loose presence to folk music in their songs. Will the next albums be still more folky or more metal?
It is very hard to say about the new album even that we have many of songs already ready to it. You can really know which kind of album is when it is ready and out of studio. Anyway thinking the next Korpiklaani album, I have a very peaceful and good mind because we have so many very good songs to it. I would say that next album will be as folky and as heavy like the "Voice of wilderness" album is with some of differences of course. I hope that we are learned something again after the last album.

Speak something about the musical direction Shaman had and the main differences with Korpiklaani. How did the shift to a more metal sound happen?
Most affected thing to shift to a more metal sound was my life with Finntroll. I learned a lot in those couple of years that I was on their gigs and "Jaktens tid" album. After that time it wasn`t return to old way to make music. I want to keep my music making as natural as possible. The songs and riffes just come when I play the guitar at home. I don`t have to make it by force. In that way it is natural. Also at Shaman time it was strongly yoik oriented folk metal but it just came years enough from my years in Lapland so yoiks and sàmi language just fade away little by little. Our sound went more metal because of my life. People can hear everything of my life from Korpiklaani albums.

Is Shaman laid to rest, buried and forgotten? Will the band return?
It is actually this same band. "Spirit of the forest" album, which is kind of first Korpiklaani album, was already recorded when we changed our name. Shaman style would be changed anyway then. Between change of the name and change of the musical way is nothing to do with each others. It just happened in same time.

You seem to recreate Finnish traditions incorporating their concept to your music, but can you tell me something about the real situation in Suomi today? Are Finnish people proud of their folklore? Or is the country more into USA´s cultural influence? Is ancient lore forgotten, or there are still some signs of acknowledge to the past?
Situation here is more and more USA`s cultural influenced. New McDonalds rising every god damn villages. Also kids looks like rap gangstas with their too big trousers down on the arses. Other hand Here is lots of us rednecks, forest boys also and I have to say that here is good and lively metal scene as well. It is so much countryside and forests in Finland, so that`s why the nature is very close thing all of us Finns anyway.

When interviewing bands that speak about their tradition and culture, I usually ask about the language in the lyrics. I was a bit surprised you just had two songs with Finnish titles. Why English instead of Finnish? You could translate the lyrics in the booklet so everyone could understand the meaning.
Honestly, I have to say that I try to write all the time in Finnish and I do but 98% of these text are in the garbage can. It is someway very hard to me write in good Finnish lyrics. But let`s see on the next album. There is maybe more in Finnish this time.

Taking a look to the real world, it´s easy to feel down and angry, while your music is mostly happy and cheerful. Tell us the reasons of this focus of Korpiklaani music.
We are that kind of persons. We are mostly happy and cheerful. Also beer has it`s hands on this soup :)

Are there any other musical projects in which Korpiklaani members are involved?
Hittavainen has several little folk projects. I think Poropetra is most serious of his side projects. JuhoKusti has own band called Falchion. In Korpiklaani he plays accordion but in his own band he sings and play the guitar. Bassist Arto and drummer Matson are also members of death metal band called Chrystalic. I won`t take a part any other projects anymore because I have enough work with Korpiklaani.

I´d like to know which are the countries where you have more fans and following, besides Finland.
I don`t know clearly but I got a feeling that maybe in Germany, Sweden or in Japan. It is nice to see what happens after autumn, our Wild-tour.

Comparisons are unavoidable in the press today when describing a band, but... is there any band that you hate to be compared with?
No. I don`t mind about comparisons because it just helps people who doesn`t know us yet, to know at least little about which kind of music we play.

What do you think about these bands: Hedningarna, Finntroll, JPP, Skyforger, HIM?
Hedningarna is my old favourite of folk music from out side of Finland. It was very close my heart when we made a cover version of Hedningarna`s VargTimmen song to Finntroll`s "Jaktens" album and I got a big role with vocals. This was a good bridge to Fintroll that you ask about also :) Original Finntroll line-up was like brothers to me and Somnium was one of my best friend then. We did something together almost daily. I`m still very sad and angry about his too early death. Finntroll is great band! JPP is one of the really best Finnish folk group and I`m fan of Arto Järvelä. Fiddle rocks ! Skyforger is my favourite folk metal band with Metsatöll. Him is too "honeyed" to my taste of music but we are proud of their success here in Finland anyway.

Beer is a topic I wasn´t prone to reject at all, and I´d like to know if you like Lapin Kulta. If not, tell us something about the situation of beer nowadays. Where is the best beer from, what do you think about big names as Budweiser or Heineken... also tell us what is the special thing about beer, that thing whiskey or gin lacks of.
The best beer is definitely Karhu beer from Finland. It is lot`s of more "beery" than for example Lapin Kulta, Budwaiser or Heineken. I like lager beer most but taste of beer must be strong. Karhu is perfect beer to me. Best side of beer comparing to Whiskey or gin is that you can drink few bottles and play the gig after that. It`s impossible after few bottles of Whiskey. You can get longer satifaction with beer.

Thank you very much for your answers. Tell us your next plans for the future and let us bid you farewell and wish good luck to the band.
Thank you !!! We are going to play many gigs now around of europe in near future so check our website`s gigs section and see you on the gigs. Fun guaranteed :)

Links of interest:

Napalm Records