||INTERVIEW WITH FINNTROLL
Epic Studios, Norwich
Xander: HI Mathias, how's it going?
Mathias: Oh it's going good, having a good day it's a nice venue, everything's going smoothly.
X: It is a nice venue, it's an actual TV studio!
T: Yeah it was really weird when we came in in the morning because the room doesn't have any echo or anything, it's dry, so our sound guy said "yes, finally I can use all the sound effect and it's going to sound cool tonight!"
X: So your lyrics are in Swedish, but you are Finnish, what's going on there?
M: Well, actually Finland has two official languages and the second one is Swedish. So we are sort of remnants from when we belonged to Sweden, from the people that wanted to stay in Finland.
X: Ohh so it's not that you and the lyricist are Swedish then!?
M: No, we belong to this small culture, 300,000 left speaking Swedish, Fino-Swedes we are called.
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X: So do most Finnish and Swedes understand each other?
M: Well it depends on the area, where I come from it is really hard to understand us because we talk really fast and have this weird dialect, but in Helsinki it's pretty close to the Sweden Swedish so it's no so bad. It's more about how you pronounce the words.
X: How does the writing process work for you then - does the music come first and then the lyrics?
M: Well of course the lyrics are very important in Finntroll, but yes the music comes first but me and the first singer we work together with the lyrics and it's really important for me belonging to this Fino-Swedish culture, it's nice to get it out there. For me it's really important because I can travel the world and sing in my own language.
X: So you also get to sing about what you like and no one will know what you're singing about!
M: Exactly! But I have my name under it and there's people that will translate it, but there's some really good stories in there, some really good stuff.
X: You're now on your 6th studio album now, Blodsvept, released earlier this year, how has it been received so far?
M: Oh really good actually. You know, before it was released we got all good stuff from the press and people calling me for interviews saying "I never really liked Finntroll but this is something so different, something that I will like". It's sold well, the reviews have been great, the gigs have been cool because people actually know these songs better than the old stuff.
X: And you're going state-side in November! Excited? Have you been before?
M: Yeah! This will be tour no.7 I think.
X: Wow, how do they like the folk metal over there?
M: It's actually starting to catch on, you can feel it starting to go down a little bit in Europe, I think the boom is sort of over and you can really feel it rising in the states. They're really into Scandinavian bands and they're getting bigger and bigger. It's a little bit different to tour there and for us it's far away.
X: How about in the rest of the world, say Asia and Australia?
M: Well we were in China just before this tour and it was really cool gigs, like 400 people a night, and China is not a metal country! Australia was cool we did that a couple of years ago, there was not that much people but still fun gigs.
X: Tell us about the album, is there a concept or just the general Finntroll theme?
M: It's not a concept album, no. They're all different stories, but Blodsvept is about being covered in blood or something like that, so stories of war and stories of blood. Blood and violence, so that's sort of a concept.
X: So there are a couple of things that go hand in hand with with folk metal. The first is drinking, so what is your drink of choice?
M: Well today it's Thatchers, apple cider from the tap, it's... brilliant! Because in Europe and Germany it's beer beer beer, after a while you really don't want to have it, so a nice ice cold cider is really cool.
X: Jager or JD?
M: Jager, definitely!
X: Have you had bad experiences with JD?
M: …yes. Plenty of them!
X: What is a must have drink if you visit Finland?
M: Oh. The Salmiakki vodka. It's a black vodka, a sort of salty liquorice.
X: Ugh sounds horrible! In Denmark they have a lot of those kind of flavoured drinks, there's one called Fisk (Fish - liquid equivalent to fisherman's Friend with alcohol)
M: Yeah we love it! That's one of the big ones in Finland. The Icelanders on this tour, Skålmöld, they know this so they brought this really really really extra salty liquorice that we love. And we asked them, 'can you bring a bottle or two?' - they brought 18 bottles! And we ran out already three days ago! But their girlfriends are coming to London to see the show and they're bringing more! So we have to make do with four days now until we get more!
X: Wow, well sounds like you should be putting that on your rider!
M: Yes! But it needs to be imported though, you can't find it any where else other than Iceland.
X: Have you played in Iceland?
M: We played two shoes in 2007. We're talking to the guys actually because they're organising some festivals, maybe do a summer festival or something. And it's a cool place, it's a harsh climate but they're hospitable, I really like the Icelandic hospitality.
X: The second thing about folk metal is battles! If you were in battle what would be your weapon of choice?
M: Invisibility, yeah! (laughs)
X: I feel food is an underrated subject for songs, so what food would you sing about if you did a song about one?
M: Well we have songs in the old days about food but it's more mentioning these old drinks that we make with mushrooms and beer to make you go crazy. Mushrooms in Finland have been used for different purposes and there is mentioning of them because there are old tales for rituals with shamans and stuff like that, they use them as hallucinogenic and stuff like that, so it would definitely be that!
X: Tonight will be my first time seeing Finntroll live, what can I and others who haven't seen Finntroll expect?
M: Oh! Well now we've actually changed a little bit. We had the same show for many years you know, the same clothes. Now we have stepped up a little bit, a little bit more dramatic and theatrical and songs from every album and I like the new songs too.
X: You've been together now for over a decade, what stands out for from over the years, what highlights?
M: Australia is one of my favourite so far, although it was winter and we couldn't go surf. We actually had our day off in Perth but we couldn't go to the beach because a guy had actually been eaten the day before by a shark. There was a white shark hunting the beaches in Perth so we couldn't go, we couldn't even go swimming.
X: Gutted! Is it true that in Finland all there is to do is drink and watch metal bands?
M: Yea sort of. You know, it used to be more heavy metal, every bar was a metal bar at some point, especially in Helsinki. At some point some people started getting a little bit fed up and some are happy that they are taking away some of the metal bars, and the people who want to go can go to the special clubs. But there's lots of drinking, especially in the winter when it's dark. Yeah you work and drink, that's all you do in Finland!
X: A potential myth I've heard, is that because you have national service that there is a shortage of young men, so the girls are quite lonely in the towns. So it's a good place to go metal bars and meet girls!?
M: Umm... yeah, I think the girls of Finland... (laughs) girls of Finland, don't take the the wrong way; they're probably the easiest girls in the whole world
X: Haha, so there is some truth to that?
M: Yea, but I don't think it's because of the army because it's only six months. But Finnish girls, they like foreign boys and the British accent is a big thing!
X: Really? Excellent, I'm sure the readers will be pleased to hear that, as am I! So if I were to visit Finland, what would be the best place to go visit for beauty, good bars and a good place to rock out?
M: Well, it's not got good bars, but a good place to go is Lapland. It's beautiful, I'm from sort of close to it and we used to go there every autumn and it's amazing. The mountains and everything are covered in red, you get the northern lights, it's really nice. There is of course a little bar in the local village.
X: Do you prefer that to the city?
M: No I'm actually a city boy nowadays, I'm from a small town myself but now when I go back there it's a little too small and everybody knows about everything. I used to live in a village of one bar, it had 60 people!
X: Wowsa! Thanks for the tips!