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Finntroll: Blodsvept Interview

Renowned Finnish folk/black metallers Finntroll released their sixth studio album Blodsvept on March 25th (April 2nd in North America) via Century Media. It is, unsurprisingly, yet another slab of fun folky metal mania – a no frills, undecorated piece that reduces the band’s sound to its most natural form in a very successful manner. Both comical and sarcastic, the record is a mish-mash of ideas that shouldn’t work together, yet somehow still do. Luckily, Sputnikmusic got a chance to learn more about the current state of the band and their plans for the near future. I caught up with Finntroll’s vocalist Mathias Lillmåns aka Vreth to talk about their new album and upcoming schedule. In the process I may have also, inadvertently, left the impression that we’re a super awesome Estonian website as we started talking about live shows and timezones. My bad, but I hope the interview makes up for it.

Good evening to you! How are things in the Finntroll camp?

Well, we’re really, really hectic at the moment. I am doing a shit-load of interviews almost every day and we’re practicing the new songs like crazy. Actually at the moment we got to find the time to prepare for upcoming shows. There’s still shit-loads to do, but it’s better than sitting by yourself and watching tv all day.

With Blodsvept out, I imagine extensive touring is in order. Tell us about your upcoming plans and schedule.

At the moment we are actually going to do a special kind of mini-tour. It’s only like 7-8 dates that are just going to be big capitals in Europe. Helsinki will be the first and from there we’ll go to Berlin and Paris and some other big cities, after which we’ll do an extra kind of big show thing. In the spring we’ve got all sorts of festivals coming and I’ve discovered that we’re going to be away from the end of August until mid-December, so we’re gonna be almost half a year away from home.

I’ve read that usually when you release an album, you tour extensively for about 2 years in its support and then you start the cycle all over. What keeps you going, what keeps you fresh, because there isn’t a lot of free time left for you to enjoy?

We’re lucky to have seven people in the band and there’s six of us the most that go on tour together, so we have one guy at home who can think about (how to compose) new songs. We talk to him when we have some free time (on the tour) and that guy at home comes up with ideas. He does the thinking for most of the part. It’s pretty cool like that. It’s still hard, though, to get this kind of a system to work – lots of discussion, lots of ideas back and forth.

Who are the ideal bands you’d like to tour with, or who have been the best bands you’ve toured with in the past?

There have been quite a lot of bands that we’ve really liked. There was this one tour that was very cool that we did in the US with only Finnish bands. There were us, Swallow The Sun and Moonsorrow and that was a really cool tour. Probably one of my favorite tours ever. Those guys, they’re friends from back home and to have friends on tour with you is really great.

If you were to go on tour now and got to choose your own company, who would you choose right now?

I’d probably choose that lineup again because that was a very cool package and we really enjoyed that tour. I liked the chemistry between the bands a lot and the shows were really cool, so if I could/would tour forever, I’d probably pick those two bands again. To have your friends on tour with you, it gives the whole experience a home away from home feel.

How is life on the road with Finntroll anyway? What do you like and dislike about it?

The traveling, that’s the horrible part. The fucking amount of it – I don’t dig it much. I like to visit new places and play shows there, though, because I really like to see the audience enjoying our shows. That’s probably one of the most rewarding things (about being in a band): when you’ve put all that work into your album and you get to play it live and you see the audience and you see how they know and like your songs. But the traveling is horrible. I fly somewhere between 50 to 100 flights a year and it sometimes feels like you’re spending your entire summer in an airport. That’s the downside of touring.

No matter how fun it might be, at the end of the day touring is an exhausting activity. When you’re not playing shows, what helps you take the edge off, both on tour and when you arrive back home?

On tour it’s probably the beer (laughs). Back home I like to do as little as possible. I enjoy swimming, which I do a lot. Also, me and the keyboard player started playing golf a couple of years ago, so that’s also something that takes my mind off touring/the band.

Something I’ve always been interested in is how do you guys act in real life compared to your presence in Finntroll. Your music, promo material, videos and live shows are all pretty crazy. Are you guys as antic in everyday life too or do you preserve that kind of energy for Finntroll?

I obviously don’t live like that all the time (laughs). But hey, that’s just me. We have these kind of characters, which is also why we have nicknames, because it’s a role that you play when you put your stage clothes on. When you’re getting ready for a show you kind of start getting into that character. That’s why I have this Vreth character. He’s a different guy. He can be on the stage, he can curse and throw things at people and spit in their faces, but I don’t do that back home of course. Ok curse I do (laughs). He’s the character who can do it all – Vreth’s the rock star, I’m the one watching bad sci-fi at home, that’s Mathias.

Finntroll mixes metal with folk instruments and ambience. What folk genres do you draw influences from and why (besides Humppa – the Finnish version of Polka)?

Naturally we don’t limit ourselves to any kind of genre. In the new album for example we don’t have that much classic folk at all. We have some Scandinavian folk in there but we also have music from all over the world, like Middle-East for example – we have some strong influences from there. We also have lots of Caribbean-style sounds on the new one so we don’t limit ourselves to only Finnish or Scandinavian folk music. We have expanded more into an ethnic metal band in that sense.

Getting to the new album, what’s different this time around? What makes Blodsvept stand out from your discography?

I think it’s actually about the way we wrote the songs this time, because in the past we’ve been adding more and more and more and more elements all the time. Nifelvind was very full of details and there were like hundreds of tracks on top of eachother and it was a hysteric album in that regard. Now this time when we started the process, we were like “we can not go and add even more,” because then everything would just collapse and they wouldn’t be Finntroll songs anymore. We’d just progress in a weird way. When we started writing Blodsvept it actually sounded too much like Nifelvind, so we started thinking how the fuck should we keep it fresh without going really, really far over the top, so we actually stripped everything down this time and concentrated on the riffs, main melodies and small details. I think it’s more of a straightforward, groovy album than the ones that came before it.

As I understand, the recording process was kind of a nightmare this time. Would you mind describing what exactly went down in the studio?

(Laughs) How much time do we have? It really was a nightmare. I have never before recorded an album that was this much trouble. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. We had problems with guitars as we lost like eight tracks of guitars. We had to record them again and when we had recorded them again we noticed that there was a problem with the tuning of the bass, for example, so we re-did the bass a shitload. We wanted to achieve a more rough sound this time so that the guitars, the drums and the bass were quite harsh, but then we started to record the keyboards and there were suddenly like two different worlds. We were mixing old Darkthrone with Nightwish or something like that. So we had to make all the instruments we had recorded before sound better and the keyboards sound worse. In the end we ended up mixing the album three times and we mixed (him and Trollhorn – keyboards, guitar) the final product in one day. It was a horrible! We had so little time because the studio was fully booked. It was horribly stressful as we were afraid of losing everything due to recording everything over again and again.

Did the problems in the studio affect the eventual quality of the album in your opinion? Did you guys manage to pull it off in style or is there something you’re not 100% happy with?

Actually everything turned out well because we had spent so much time getting everything perfect. We spent around 14-15 hours every day in the studio looking over that everything would turn out great and in the end I was very pleased. There isn’t a single song where I feel that it’s missing something. I’m really happy with how Blodsvept turned out.

The theme of Blodsvept is actually quite serious (humans vs nature), yet the music is lively, joyous even. How do you explain the contrast between the lyrics and the music?

Yes, the lyrics are really harsh and they’re sort of political also this time around. The lyrics on Blodsvept are more vigilant than any lyrics we’ve written before. If you’d understand Swedish, you’d know that they’re written in a sarcastic manner and they actually go really well with our music because we’re being kind of sarcastic with the music also. We can be as cheesy as we want to because we’re Finntroll – we can do whatever we want! In the end everything just works together like that because we’re cynical and sarcastic in a way.

Is that – the whole sarcasm and doing whatever you want aspect – also the reason why you started singing in Swedish from the beginning?

Yeah, of course. Also, Finntroll didn’t select Swedish just because they could. It was Katla’s (Jan Jämsen, Finntroll’s previous vocalist) idea, as he wanted to have a band that was singing in Finland Swedish, especially since the Swedish that we’re using (in Finland) is so different from what people speak in Sweden. It’s got this weird Finnish twist to it that is only found here on the coastline of Finland. Katla is one of the Finno-Swedish people so it was important for him to get his language and everything out, in a sense.

What’s your personal favorite song from the new album and why?

Well, let’s see. I’d have to say “Blodsvept”, the first song of the album, because that was one of my favorites from the beginning. When we made this song then all the other pieces started falling into place. This was the song that found the sound of the album for us; this was the one that set the tone for the rest of the songs, in a way. When we wrote Blodsvept then we were like “yes, this is the sound we want on this album, this is how the rest of the songs should sound as well, this is what we want to do,” and then we went back and re-did the songs that sounded like they would have belonged to Nifelvind, for example. „Blodsvept“ is a song that’s really important to me in that sense.

Besides Finntroll, are there any other projects you’re currently working on, both music and non-music related?

I have all these bands going all the time (laughs). Actually I just came out from the studio with another band that I produced an album for – sort of a punk/hardcore band called Bob Malström that also sings in Swedish. I produced their album and in two weeks I’ll go on tour with them as well. Also, in a couple of weeks I’ll start work on one of my bands from home called Magenta Harvest that is kind of a melodic death metal band that I’ve been working on for a couple of years now. These are the projects I’m currently working on, but I also have a black metal band called The Iniquity Descent that actually went to Estonia in December as we played in Tallinn.

How was it?

It was pretty cool! We were supporting a Russian band in club Tapper. It was really cool. It was probably the best audience we’ve ever had with this band.

What are you currently most looking forward to in general? Is it touring, rest, private time, or something else?

I’m really looking forward to going on tour actually. I haven’t done that in a while and I kind of miss waking up every morning in a new city and in my small casket in the tour bus. So definitely the touring, I’m really, really eager to go out there. There are going to be some new countries on our tour that we’ve never been to before. So that’s going to be really cool.

Thanks for your time and good touring to you. Any last words for the Sputnikmusic community?

Yeah, thank you, no problem. And thank you guys for coming to check us out the last few times we have been in Tallinn. I hope we have a chance to come back soon. Also, check out our new album, it’s really cool. Bye!

I am deeply sorry for the awful formatting. I promise to fix it as soon as I can!

this new wave of staff is stepping shit up. Good work sir.


Nice job. What's wrong with the formatting? I don't see it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for not being a shitty interviewer and getting your interviewee to elaborate.

I also don't see anything wrong with the formatting. Nice job!

Nice job, was a good read!

Good review. Good read.

nice job on getting the interview and then the execution

Thanks a lot guys. As for the formatting, I went back and fixed up a bunch of things that were messed up at the beginning. There are still a few minor things I myself am not 100% satisfied with (the text under the picture(s) doesn't show up, as doesn't the main picture for this blog - I added a replacement manually), but after having some one-on-one HTML time, I managed to fix most of the stuff I was unhappy with at first.

@Everyone else
Thanks and I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed executing it.

Great job Magnus! It was a good read for sure.

Nice, dude!

Excellent job Magnus!

Great interview man, you asked good questions and thus got more than just one word or one line answers. Vreth seems like a cool fellow.

" I may have also, inadvertently, left the impression that we’re a super awesome Estonian website as we started talking about live shows and timezones."

This made me laugh. Keep up the awesome work. If you need help with formatting let me know.

Yeah, Vreth really is a cool fellow. Btw, I was shocked how mellowed-out and chill he sounded over the phone haha. And thanks man, I'll be sure to message you if I run into formatting problems in the future.

Thank you my fellow staffers!

This was a great read, well done styles!

Haha. Btw, Jeff Martin (the singer for Lo-Pan) once thought Sputnik was a Polish website.

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