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25 Sep 2009

FINNTROLL - TOUGH, WITTY AND THIRSTY

Published in Rock Hard Slovenia, August 2009
Author: U. Majdič


Translation by M

Finntroll are those immortals who live in a stinky cave where they dry the legs of goats, sheep and catholic priests. They come out when they run out of beer, which they drink instead of water, and in return they give mortals a great metal party where they grab two young virgins to scratch their hairy backs with rakes after the show.

Maybe, in spite of the general opinion of Americans, this isn't quite correct. Nevertheless Finntroll have made a breakthrough in its own genre - extreme and folk metal – in the world outside of its native cocoon. Before the show they drink some wine and beer, Skrymer paints everyone with »corpsepaint« and they set loose some primordial energy.

Existing since 1997, after several shocks and line-up changes, Finntroll defies it all with its persistence and creativity. After five studio albums and one EP they are soon going to release the first record after two years. Since they always know how to surprise us, we can only wait and see what comes from their cave this time ... Until then we can have a chat with guitarist Routa, known to the human world by the name of Mikael Karlbom, who hasn't shown the slightest clue of barbaric behavior during the interview ...


Hello, Routa ... How's life in Helsinki?

R: Heya. Everything is fine here, thank you. It's becoming hellishly hot, but ... I guess we can enjoy the sun for these few months.

Hellishly hot there in the north and here we've had weeks of rain ... But if we stick with the hot part ... Finntroll hit the jackpot with its music and appearance. You've travelled all around the world; your music is selling well. The crowd sings with you even if it has no idea what you're talking about! But you've had a long period without gigs or recordings. Is there any special reason for that or just vacation?

R: Actually both. After last year all of us in Finntroll have been really exhausted. Not so much because of the touring, but because of the music business in general. We felt that we have to take a short break and consider who to work with in the future. We wanted to ˝clear the table˝ and have a fresh start. We didn't have any gigs planned in the beginning of the year so it was an ideal time for that and also to take a break.

Did it help? Are all six trolls back in shape?

R: It was probably the best decision we've made in a long time! Now we can't wait to be back on the road. We have a lot of new material, the recording is supposed to start in the end of July.

OK, we'll talk about your current activities later. Now back to basics.
In the folklore, trolls are supposed to be hideously ugly and stinky, but none of you can be described as such, even though you try to achieve that on some of the photos. Perhaps you're a specie of troll mutants?

R: I can assure you we smell very badly. While touring at least! And about trollishness: it's all a state of mind!

The Finntroll recipe includes one indispensable ingredient – alcohol! How many bottles of rum and beer do you demand for your backstage?

R: I don't have enough fingers to count that! But these aren't just our needs. We have to be ready if any of our friends show up. Riiight.

Would you accept an offer of a completely paid one month tour if one of the terms of the contract was not to drink any alcohol? Like an alcohol-free tour?

R: Beer doesn't count as alcohol, right? Neither does vodka, right? Of course!

But seriously, you've travelled a lot. Which places were the most remarkable?

R: I think the most interesting places we've been to were those that were not so ordinary. Like Iceland or Russia. And there were some interesting cities in Canada and USA. Oh, and Mexico City was insane ... But the list doesn't end here.

I remember a piece of news that once during your sound check the roof broke off. Your vibes seems to be lethal for buildings. Do you remember anything else like that?

R: Not really. Usually everything works like it should, except of course problems with bad technical equipment on the spot.

What is the greatest myth or the biggest misinterpretation of Finntroll?

R: Probably when people come to us and start asking why don't we wear fur. For some reason some people believe we live in the woods or in caves or something. Oh, and that people think we're nice.

(Laughs)... Well, that's how they imagine folk metal. You draw your influences from Norse mythology, Kalevala, paganism, from Celtic culture. Do you read literature about that or do you create your own mythology?

R: Katla, who writes all the lyrics, indeed reads a lot of literature about ancient myths and history in general, he could explain more. As for the music, you can probably hear all sorts of influences. We're not narrow-minded about our inspiration...

Do Finns share your opinion that Swedish sounds more trollish?

R: It's 50-50. Some say it sounds good, others say they like the music but they can't stand the language. I'd say it's their loss.

When you're not eating priests, do you have your day jobs?

R: Unfortunately, yes ... And it's damn hot in here.

What music do you listen to in your car or on the tour bus?

R: That differs a lot, for me at least. You never know where you might find new ideas.

About originality ... What is your opinion on your imitators? Do you insist on being recognized as the starters of this sound and mix of styles?

R: We're not the ones who could point a finger. We're just making music with our own style and everyone who's interested can probably find out by themselves which was first: the chicken, the egg, or Finntroll.

Who would have thought that Finnish humppa can be so metal! But do you ever get tired of that and want something new?

R: Have you listened to our last album?

Yes, Ur Jordens Djup is indeed different...

R: It contains only one or two parts with humppa, the rest is quite different. We always try to move on with our music and find new directions and ideas. That's why it takes so long for us to make a new album.

Traditional joiking in your music is fantastic. Whose voice is that?

R: We borrowed Mixu from Catamenia on our last tour, while the Jaktens Tid album was made in the spirit of traditional music from Lapland. That voice belongs to Jonne from Korpiklaani.

You joined Finntroll in 2003. Has anything changed in the band since then?

R: I can say the changes have been immense. Today we are more responsible towards what we do.

Your last album, Ur Jordens Djup, was released 2 years ago. What now and when, how much new material have you got ready?

R: Almost all the material for the new record is ready, but I don't know when it's coming out and with which label. I can assure you we'll let you know as soon as we gain that information. We've done two demos for the upcoming album and soon we'll get a new homepage as well. There you'll find video cuts from the sessions and a small preview to what to expect.

You're fully ready for the tour. The closest you'll get to Slovenia is Germany. But we saw you on MetalCamp last year. Do you have any (if any at all) good memories of it?

R: Many! I hope we get to play there again, excellent festival!

I sincerely hope you'll return soon to our country, until then be safe on the road and keep on the great work!

R: Thank you! See you!