This interview with Jonne (vocals, guitar) and Jarkko (bass) of the Fiunish folk metal band Korpiklaani was done face to face by Juliane John on April 6th, 2006.

Korpiklaani are more or less THE band of the current folk metal scene. They’ve been touring Germany for the third time already and this time I took the chance to see them live - and also to do this interview. I met up with the guys after the soundcheck to sit down in the “Biergarten” that belonged to the “Underground”. Even though we had some slight language problems, the guys took their time to answer all my questions and on top of that turned out to have their own special sense of humour.

How has your tour been so far?
Jarkko: It has been quite good, actually really good. We’ve played in some of the same places that we already played on previous tours here in Germany and we have had bigger crowds this time. For example in Berlin they moved our show to a bigger hall. So it’s been quite nice to see that we are getting bigger.

Were there any coincidences or problems?
Jarkko: No. Well there’s always something but that happens when a bunch of stupid men travel around.

Which things do you like when you’re on tour, which things do you not like?
Jarkko: I think the concert time is the best, everything else is kind of boring. Most of the time, we are travelling somewhere or we are somewhere waiting. I usually try to see the cities we go to… so it’s a good thing that if I have time I get to see your places but we don’t always have that time. For example on this tour I’ve only seen Wiesbaden. We got back from the concert after 2 o’clock and I got up at 7 o’clock this morning and I went to the see the city centre.

How come that you tour Germany more often (at least recently) than Finland, your own home country?
Jarkko: Because no one is interested in us in Finland. I think quite many bands that sing in English are not that well-accepted in Finland until they are accepted somewhere else. It has happened to Stratovarius, Apocalyptica and even Nighwish. When they were playing in Germany, they played in 2000 seat hall while at the same time they played in small clubs in Finland that were half empty. Besides, now that the new album is coming out and that we are on tour here some of the Finnish magazines have started to become interested in us, even those who have never shown any interest for us. Now we got our first real festival concert in Finland at the Nummirock festival

If you compare the audiences, can you see a difference?
Jarkko: Yes. For example the difference between the Finnish and the German audience is huge. In Finland, it doesn’t really matter how good the band is and what they do on stage, the audience always just stands there and nods slightly and claps politely after every song. Here [in Germany] it’s much wilder. People seem to enjoy us and themselves a lot more. And then the Netherlands are one story itself. It’s a fabulous country for us. We’ve played there three times and the fans have been unbelievable. Somehow, more people go to concerts there and they are really crazy.

Now I have some questions about the new album: How has the creating process of this album been compared to previous albums?
(Jonne and Juho sit down with us to join the interview.)

Jarkko: There are more Finnish songs.

Jonne: Yep but she wasn’t asking that (grins).

(I repeat my question)

Jarkko: Well, Jonne writes all the music and lyrics first.

Was it easier or harder this time:
Jonne: Same as before. It took us about two weeks to record the album. When I write the songs, I usually just play a little bit on my guitar at home and then the music just comes to my mind and somehow turns into a song.

Were the expectations (your own as well as from others) higher?
Jonne: Ehm…

Jarkko: Well, I didn’t have any expectations because I was not on these previous albums but for some reason I think that this album has to be a good one. I mean we have played here [in Germany] several times and people have noticed that we can play our songs much better live than on the album so we kind of had to show them that we can make an album that is as fun as and as good as…

(Jonne interrupts him)

Jonne: as we really are!

Jarkko: …as good as the live concerts. I think we have to show that we’re actually going somewhere! It will hopefully get us some more and bigger concerts.

The accordion plays a much more important role on your new CD which gives it a more original and folkloristic sound. Did that change in your music have something to do with the fact that you found a permanent accordion player?
Jarkko: That is exactly because of that.

Jonne: Yep. Juho now plays on every song which of course has an effect on our music and when we recorded the other albums we only had a session player and he only played a few lines.

Is the fact that half of the songs are in Finnish now a logical consequence to your more original sound?
(Jonne and Jarkko talk Finnish)

Jarkko: Don’t talk to me, talk to her in English.

(we all laugh)

Jonne: We picked out the best songs and apparently those were the Finnish songs. That’s why.

How has the reception of the new album been so far?
Jarkko: We don’t really know that yet. We’ve only seen one review on the internet so far and besides us there weren’t many people who have listened to it yet. But we played our new songs during the concerts and the audiences seemed to have liked it a lot but they won’t tell us if it sucks.

Where does the inspiration to your lyrics and music come from? Do you need to be in a certain mood or a certain surrounding?
Jonne: Not really. I write my songs at home and of course they reflect my mood, so if I am happy, then the song is also going to be a happy song.

Is there a purpose behind your music?
Jonne: Yeeees. Having fun.

Jarkko: So no deep sense.

(they both laugh)

Jonne: Most songs, especially the Finnish songs, are about our mentality and our way of life and there’s a need to play music. I couldn’t live without it.

Do you have an idea what your music means to other people?
Jonne: People have fun with our music. I think that’s what it is.

(I look at Jarkko)

Jarkko: Sorry, I wasn’t listening.

Can you imagine that your music raises your fans’ interest for the Finnish culture?
Jarkko: Yes. For some reasons we keep meeting some “strange” Germans that study Finnish (we all laugh because one of these “strange” Germans is sitting at the same table with us) It’s probably not because of us but many other bands have done their thing that Finland has become quite popular for Germans.

Juho: I remember a funny story. Last year, when we played here in Cologne, there was a girl who wanted me to sign her Finnish dictionary and I thought that was very unusual.

In a time where technical progress seems to be everything that matters you take a step back and make a kind of music that is roots in the past. Why do you think are you successful with that?
Jarkko (looks at Jonne): Say something.

Jonne: I think it is the whole package. We have quite strong melodies and catchy riffs that are easy to remember. Our melodies sound very traditional and universal in a way and people still remember the past.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Jonne: Same thing, just a different day… Jarkko will have even longer hair and a longer beard… and Mr. Hittavainen wil finally have a “second” piece of hair on his head… Seriously now: Hopefully we will still be making music because we don’t wanna do anything else. This is fun and I can’t stop. It’s our life

Alright, that’s it. Thank you for the interview:
Jonne and Jarko: Thank you too.

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