Korpiklaani - Jarkko Aaltonen, Juho Kauppinen

METAL KAOZ had the chance to do a double interview with two KORPIKLAANI members in different points in time. So, check below what Jarkko Aaltonen and Juho Kauppinen answered to our face-to-face and e mail submitted questions, respectively and see their different responds to the same questions. This is an interest debate!

So, how is Jonne and his hand injury?
Jarkko: I think he is ok.

How did this happen? Did he break it onstage?
Jarkko: No, nothing like that. He tripped, fell and landed on his hand. The broken bone went through his skin, so they could not put a cast on it because of the open wound.

What did they do then, surgery?
Jarkko: They did some sort of surgery, but really I don’t have more details.

Did you even think of canceling the US tour?
Jarkko: No, there was no way to cancel this.

What about the setlist, did you make any kind of modification?
Jarkko: Obviously we dropped out songs like “Pine Woods” which is an instrumental and cut down the setlist. I mean, in Mexico City we played 100 minutes and now we are doing 70.

I think that the billing of this tour could be easily named ‘Paganfest’, so did you have anything to do with picking the bands?
Jarkko: Well, with ‘Paganfest’ you never get to choose anything, but with this billing we got bands that we wanted to tour with.
Juho: I do not think we did, because it is rather our booking agency's decision what bands we tour with, but fortunately this package of pure Folk and Viking Metal blast seems to be nothing short of awesome.

Do you feel that KORPIKLAANI have bigger audiences as compared to the previous US tour?
Jarkko: You can’t really tell if now we are getting bigger audiences since we have more bands on the billing and I think METSATÖLL bring their own crowd. But so far I think we have more people in the shows.

Cool, what about the new album; what is the feedback you are getting so far?
Jarkko: The album was recently reviewed by the Finnish magazine Inferno, which is the biggest Metal magazine in Finland, and it was rated as the worst album of the year. Just like any other KORPIKLAANI album that has been the ‘worst album of the year’.
Juho: People seem to have liked the album at least as much as the previous albums. They have realized that the band has taken a step forward and that we do not just release an album after another for its own sake, but had a well-thought-out plan to release a good album which turned out to stand out from all of the KORPIKLAANI albums as one of the very best ones.

Jarkko, that’s a little bit strange, isn’t it?
Jarkko: Maybe we drunk all of his beer at some festival or ate all of his cereal and made him angry with us. Anyway I cannot really draw any conclusions by reading the album reviews. After all, you can never satisfy every one; whenever a new album is released, there are some people who say that it’s the same like the previous and others who claim that KORPIKLAANI have changed. So, what the hell can you do with those people?

There is nothing you can do about them. Anyway, I think that this album is a little bit different than the previous having a dark atmosphere; so is this due to the concept story behind it?
Jarkko: First of all, there is no concept story behind the album. Everybody seems to think that there is one but there is not. But yes, it is a darker album and I’d say mainly due to the lyrics. Musically there are not that many differences but sure there are no happy drinking songs inside, something that everybody seems to notice first.
Juho: A lot of people including us have realized that the album indeed sounds darker. This was not a conscious choice, because the band wants to keep the songwriting process as spontaneous as possible. The songs come into existence as they do and it is only a natural process that some of them sound more melancholic or gloomier than the others. Manala” means the Underworld, the land of the dead, the place for all dead people in the Finnish mythology. You end up there, no matter what you have done in your life, regardless of whether you were a good person or not.
There is no direct drinking song on the album, but the song Petoeläimen Kuola” deals with the mythological birth of beer. Osmotar, the father of beer prepares the first ever beer out of barley grown by Pellonpekko. He rubs his hands, which results in the birth of animals that fetch the seasonings for the beer from the forest. However, the beer does not ferment. Osmotar finds the means and tells to get the predator's saliva. That's what happened and the beer began to ferment.

So, do you think that the lyrics affected the music and brought that dark atmosphere?
Jarkko: No, because the lyrics come after the music. But we had to leave some quite nice songs out of the album that we had demoed. But they did not fit in and it could have been a different album if we had included them in the tracklist, because they were more up-tempo songs.

Are there any plans to use those songs as bonus tracks in special editions?
Jarkko: Usually we don’t use them. But there were some good ideas there and we might use some of them in the future. But there are no finished songs just demo ones.

What is the connection between the lyrics and the cover artwork? What was your input to the making of it?
Juho: We tried to capture the gloomy atmosphere of the album, in which we, or to be exact, Jan Yrlund succeeded in very well. We have cooperated with him for as many as six years, because he has always proven himself to be able to create exactly what we want. Manala”'s cover artwork depicts the swan of Tuonela, swimming in the river of Tuonela that you have to cross in order to go to the Underworld.

For “Manala” you drew inspiration from “Kalevala”, right?
Jarkko: Yeah, we did and I think this is the third album we have something from “Kalevala”. Before that we had been avoiding this topic since others were doing that and we did not want to compare us with other bands like AMORPHIS for example. The first time we did this was for the album “Karkelo” and the song “Kultanainen”. This was about Ilmarinen the blacksmith from “Kalevala” and I have to say this sort of backfired since we thought that no one would compare us with AMORPHIS and the same week or month the new AMORPHIS album came out and it was entirely written about Ilmarinen.
Juho: This definitely was not the first time we have drawn inspiration for “Kalevala” that has been present in the band since the very beginning and it has continuously gained more prominence in the lyrics. Now, on this album, “Kalevala” plays a more prominent role than ever as almost all of the songs are based on this national epic. We have come to realize that KORPIKLAANI's sound definitely calls for these Finnish poems and they represent the band’s sound in the best way.

On the other hand this is kind of expected since both bands drew inspiration from the same source. Anyway, you have a new violinist in the band, so what was his input in the making of the new album?
Jarkko: All the music was already written before Tuomas Rounakari had joined the band. But he did some things in the studio and sort of composed a few melodies here and there.
Juho: Tuomas is a very talented and a cooperative musician. His effort and role in the studio were promiment. He came up with a lot of his own ideas and arranged some parts of the songs in a creative way.

The new album has also a bonus CD where there is an English version of the songs; so why did you do that?
Jarkko: Because so many times we’ve been asked why all the lyrics are in Finnish and no more English as we had in the beginning. And most of the people asking this were from the US of course. So, we thought to record two versions of the album, one in Finnish and one in English, and release them on the same day to see a couple of months later what version would be the most popular. Even though we were sure it would be the Finnish version, so we could say to the people asking for more English songs ‘sod off’ (laughs). Then we realized this was a stupid idea since we would ‘force’ the actual KORPIKLAANI to buy the two versions but we are not GUNS N’ ROSES. So, we let this idea on the side but then we thought to do it like a bonus disc and put a different price on it (add a couple of Euros on the price) and let you decide what version you like the most.
Juho: In fact, there are even more than two versions of the album available. The digipak version of the album is a double-CD, one of them sung in Finnish and the other one sung in English. We thought this would be the best way, so that whoever wants the English or the Finnish album will get both at the same time.

Was it difficult to adapt all the vocal melodies to the English lyrics?
Jarkko: Yes, it was terrible and we will never do this again. If we had known how much work it would be, we wouldn’t have started. All the lyrics were written in Finnish and then we had to translate them; first, we did a rough translation of the actual text like what this is about and we always ended up with twice as much text as we had in the Finnish version. Then we had to start cutting down the length of the lyrics and at the same time keep the story intact. Next, we had to make the lyrics rime and then try to make them fit the song’s original melody. That was a lot of work, so I’m fairly sure it won’t happen again.
Juho: I was given the task of translating the lyrics from Finnish into English. It was at times challenging, but perfectly feasible, because I was free to translate the lyrics in my way. I did not even try to keep the same singing rhythm, because it was almost impossible to keep it unchanged. In addition, the harmony found in the Finnish lyrics was also impossible to be expressed in English, at the same time with delivering the meaning of the lyrics. We knew about all these factors, but still wanted to carry out this experiment which more and more reinforced the thought that KORPIKLAANI's prime language will always be Finnish.

From your point of view, is it kind of fashion/trend for some European bands to release new albums in their native language and in English?
Juho: I may be ignorant, but I haven't heard of anyone releasing an album as a double-CD in two languages at the same time.

You made a video clip for “Rauta”, so are there any plans to do another one?
Jarkko: No, I don’t think we are going to do another one.
Juho: The video was filmed on a hot summer day in Janakkala, Southern Finland. The manuscript was written by Markku Kirves. The music video for the song shows how "the killing steel" is forged. A smith forges a new sword that gets its strength from a shaman casting a spell on it by yoking on a rock. The band acts as a group of soldiers, who stop by an inn on their way to take a rest, to eat and play.
We do not know yet about another video, but of course we could film another video clip. There are a lot of songs on the album that could work well as a video.

There was a story or should I say an internet rumor that KORPIKLAANI stole the music for “Kunnia” from a Greek musician.
Jarkko: Yeah, I learned about this when we were in Czech Republic and got an e-mail about this issue. I understand that people who cannot really understand music think that this is copying and not just two songs having similar elements. I really don’t care about this and it was the first time I listened to that song from that Greek artist. I mean, how you can even hear about this, when you cannot use their alphabet in the computer and even google that guy...

And this means that there is no legal issue on this matter, right?
Jarkko: As far as we are concerned there is nothing going on about this.

That’s it, guys! Thank you so much for your time to answer our questions. See you onstage in a couple of hours! Safe travels!
Juho: Thank you very much for the interview and see you inside!