lunes, 14 de febrero de 2011

Moonsorrow interview (January 2011)

This is the first Moonsorrow interview this year. The questions were asked by the users of the forum Only Heavy Metal, and ShowNoMercy is the one who contacted Ville and coordinated the project.

Answered by VILLE SORVALI (bass and voice).

Hi Ville, nice to talk to you. Your new album Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa is about to be released. Is there any remarkable aspect in it that makes a clear difference from the previous ones? More folkish, more blackish...

I think it's more or less different in every aspect, as all the albums we've done. At least I'd like to think that we're not just making the same album again, but that's up to the audience to decide of course. To me, this one stands out being a lot heavier than anything we've done before. I think that's the main difference. And of course, I couldn't be any happier with the result!

Please describe the process of creating this album and your own relation with it and the rest of members.

Somehow, the whole process of making the album was a lot more relaxed than previously. Everyone of us has agreed upon this, even Henri. :) I think Henri already started writing some material during winter/spring 2010 and the rest of us got more involved during the summer. I had had the concept ready for quite some time, but the lyrics took their final shape also during the summer. This time, also Marko wrote some lyrics to one song. We took some 5 intensive weeks for the recordings and 2 more for the mix, in several different studios. We all poured a lot of passion and care to the recordings, but also managed to take it easy and no one had a nervous breakdown.

Including real nature sounds is something usual in your albums, as well as in Finntroll's. Is this just Henri's obsession, or you all think these sounds give the albums a special and mysterious touch?

It is of course Henri's obsession as a professional sound designer, but we all agree that they bring some extra feeling to the albums and should therefore be used. We always wanted to make something more than just music, and sometimes it really feels like we're doing a "movie without a picture".

Grilo do Demo:
Why did you record the vocals in a cabin in the middle of the forest? (Did you record ALL of them there anyway?) Using the same recording machines and all, is there really a difference in the sound?

Obviously there is no difference in the sound - or if there is, it's probably for the worse. ;) The reason why I decided to do it like I did was because I needed to get this additional boost to the vocals on the emotional side. It really makes a difference if you can go walk in the forest during your breaks instead of just having a cigarette on an empty street in some industrial part of the town. All the lead vocals were recorded in that cabin, but the choirs and most of the backing vocals were recorded in the studio - even before the lead vocals, actually.

Grilo do Demo:
What guest musicians did you have this time? I know at least about the Turisas violinist.

Olli Vänskä played the violin, but also took part in the choirs. The rest of the choir was the band + our trusted live guitarist Janne Perttilä, and Jakke Viitala of Crimfall. Vreth from Finntroll and Henri's 5-year old son Knut did some backing vocals.

Grilo do Demo:
You already had one of your (as far as I'm concerned) favourite vocalists to perform as a guest in one album - Thomas Väänänen in Hävitetty. When are you inviting Alan Nemtheanga?

We're never really planning who to invite, but come up with the ideas during studio time when we feel that an additional voice is needed somewhere. Alan is a great inspiration and a personal friend, but I don't think I would need to underline that with inviting him to sing in Finnish on our album. :)

I read on the Internet that the most cheerful side of Moonsorrow's music is not at all present in Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa, being there only darkness and aggressiveness. Is this true? Is there any special reason for this? Do happy songs fit Moonsorrow?

It turned out that "VKKM" became a very dark album, with no hints of cheerfulness whatsoever. Then again, dealing with a concept like this (life after the end of the world), the music shouldn't be happy anyway. I don't think our music ever sounded that happy, if compared with Korpilaani for example, but nowadays we don't really think there is room for songs like Pakanajuhla in our current repertoire. So no, cheerfulness is not really a part of Moonsorrow, but that only applies to the music - even if we're getting old, we still like to party as we used to.

What did you want to express with a cover artwork so simple and clean, and why did you choose a photography instead of a drawing?

Our covers are always carefully designed to serve the concept and the music, so this time it was obvious that we were going for the bleak solution. There is no hope in sight in the music, so there is no hope within the booklet either. Having a photographed cover was decided a long ago, but I can't remember the exact discussion that lead to the decision.

Grilo do Demo:
This is apparently a concept album. Since there are three interludes and only four full songs, can you please tell us what the concept is and summarize what the songs tell, one by one?

The album "Hävitetty" was dealing with the end of the world, so we decided to step a bit further in the timeline with this one and create a story about life after the end. However, the connection between these two albums is just loosely conceptual, so don't be afraid: we're not starting to make a trilogy or anything.

I'm going to be exceptionally short with my explanations and leave it up to every listener to find all the subtle meanings within the story:

"Tähdetön" (Starless) pictures the world right after the end. How the world ended is not that important in the story. There is a group of people leaving their destroyed hometown, because there is no way to live there anymore.

"Hävitetty" (Ravaged) is the first interlude with some dozens of people walking towards the unknown.

"Muinaiset" (The Ancient Ones), in contrast to the first song, is set in nature. The group is trying to settle in the forest, and it seems to work somehow. The title refers to the ancient powers of nature that will start to take over the planet after mankind is gone, eventually leaving no trace of our brief visit.

"Nälkä, väsymys ja epätoivo" (Hunger, weariness and despair) is the second interlude with considerably less people walking. Things are starting to happen.

In "Huuto" (The Scream), the group is already trapped in the grip of winter. A lot of the survivors have died, and the rest are going badly insane.

"Kuolleille" (To the Dead) is the last interlude. Now, there is only the main character left.

In "Kuolleiden maa" (The Land of the Dead), all hope of finding a new life for the survivors is finally gone, and the main character also meets the end of his road. He's going through his life, thinking how and why did it all end.

Will you dare making a 2-song album like Hävitetty again, or was it something that came up in a particular moment and won't happen again? I think that album's unbeatable, maybe impossible to surpass, I wish I'm wrong ;)

We've always been more or less megalomanic, but I also think that "Hävitetty" was only a product of its time, a sort of "an album we just had to do". In this moment of time, we're concentrating on more radio-friendly material... meaning that the songs are only 10-15 minutes long.

When will you make a live DVD? There have been rumours for a while, but none confirmed. Will it include extra content where we can see the band in other situations than on stage?

Yes, that DVD is strongly a part of our plans, and it will eventually be released. We haven't decided where and when to shoot the actual live footage, but we already have the documentary part of the DVD under construction. In other words, the DVD will most definitely have a lot more to offer than just a live show.

Matterhorn + Eddie:
A "brother" band like Finntroll has the healthy habit of coming to Spain every year, unlike Moonsorrow. Is this due to inefficiency or lack of offers from local promoters, or because you didn't get enough support the three times you have come? Will Moonsorrow come to Spain to introduce the new album?

It's definitely not because of the support, because all the three times we were in Spain we got a tremendous response. I would most definitely like to see us in Spain soon again, it's just the lack of suitable offers and difficulties in scheduling that has kept us away for so long. There will be more Spanish dates soon enough, I'm sure!

What do you think about Spain in general? Do you know anything about the Spanish musical scene? Is there any province you have visited for other reasons than playing with the band?

Oh, but I like Spain a lot, as I like all the warm countries. :) I've only been there once without the band, and that was when I was 10 years old and had a family holiday in Mallorca, but I have good memories of that. I don't know that much of the Spanish music scene except for Héroes del Silencio and some more underground bands like Avulsed and Haemorrhage.

Can you tell us any funny story from some concert?

Believe me, there are more than enough of good ol' Spinal Tap moments in Moonsorrow's history. However the best will (probably always) be Kilkim Zaibu festival in Lithuania, where we played without Henri because he had left his passport home and couldn't enter the country (he thought he could travel with his driver's license, even though the Baltic countries didn't apply the Shengen contract at that time... oh well). On the way there I lost my voice, and in the end I could only do the first two songs, after which Marko started singing some complete nonsense (with correct arrangements, though) from behind his drum kit. For the most part, also both the guitar and the bass cabinets were mute, so I'm pretty sure the gig sounded just awesome. People liked it anyway.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going onstage?

Apart from applying the blood (yes, it is real blood!) on ourselves, we don't really have anything that could be considered a "ritual". We just like to sip a few beers and relax before playing a show. After the show, anything might happen.

Eddie + ShowNoMercy:
6 full-length albums in 10 years, do you start feeling any symptoms of tiredness in any aspect? Do you still keep the spirit with which you started back in the 90s, or did feelings vanish? In other words: has Moonsorrow become just a routine job, or are you into it just like in the early days?

There have been some moments when all of us have felt a bit tired, but I guess that's how it is with any long-running rock band. We still have a lot of passion for what we are doing, and all of us are always excited about making a new album or going on a good tour - otherwise, we would have stopped doing this a long time ago. We are not even making that much money so this could never be called a "real job" anyway. ;)

If you had to choose the three bands that most fascinated you in your life, which ones would they be?

That's a really tough question, since there are always more than three bands that I would consider highly influential at any stage in my life. King Crimson was probably the first band I ever reckon hearing, since my father digged it a lot (and still does). Slayer I considered the "best band in the world" for a long time, even if today I don't feel they are even near to their highest peak. Bathory is probably the one reason Moonsorrow exists in the first place. That's three. :)

What do you usually listen to in your CD/MP3 player?

A lot of different stuff from Michael Jackson to Darkthrone. Some of the latest releases that really blew my mind have been the new Agalloch, the new Killing Joke and especially "Eparistera Daimones" by Triptykon which I consider a to-be-classic by all definitions.

What band would you like to tour with?

The most important thing about a touring partner is not actually their music, but the personality of the individuals in the band. Of course, if I like their music, it's a good bonus - I actually like to spend a lot of time on tours watching the bands that I like, and it's interesting to see a band's development from the first show to the last. I would really like to tour with Thyrfing, since we are good friends but never had the chance to play together except for just a few one-off shows.

How's your music received in the USA?

I think people over there are starting to get more familiar with our music, which is of course a nice thing because it means we might be able to do some more touring there in the future. It's a difficult market however, and you have to do a lot more than in Europe to "prove yourself". It's also extremely expensive for smaller bands to do anything there.

What do you think is the future of the music industry? Anything related to selling the albums in digital formats?

The importance of the internet cannot be surpassed, and I'm seriously worried about the record labels' slow pace of getting into new things. Of course I would want to have all the records to be sold in physical format in the future as well, but that's not going to happen. The world changes, and we have to change with it.

Do you believe in labeling bands in metal sub-genres? Which one would Moonsorrow be in?

I don't really enjoy labeling any bands, but of course I realize that it's a must thing to do in order to give the audience a clearer picture of what different bands are about - especially if we're talking about bands that have only released one album and don't have an established fan base yet. I don't prefer any genre over any other either, but I only listen to what I consider being "good music". If Moonsorrow had to be labeled, it would be "pagan metal". It's metal, and the outmusical content builds upon pagan values. Descriptive, and at the same time it doesn't set any limitations to the actual music (except for being metal).

Thank you for your attention and good luck with the new album.

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