The Kalevala, Outselling Metallica, And (maybe) A Colorado Beer Tour!

After two incarnations, Korpiklaani officially emerged in Lahti, Finland in 2003. Fast forward to present day, they have amassed a considerable catalog of uproarious classic Folk Metal. Can we call it classic yet? Sure, why not? Singing primarily in Finnish, (with some English) they seamlessly meld the sounds of Metal and traditional Folk music. The subject matter is derived mainly from Finnish culture and folklore, with maybe the occasional song about adult beverages. ????. Their sound is magical and uplifting. Check out any of their albums and I’m sure you’ll agree. Better yet, check out their latest album, Jylha. MHF received the opportunity to ask them a few questions. Vocalist Jonne Järvelä was kind enough to answer them. We wish them all the best and can’t wait to see them LIVE.

Greetings from Colorado and MHF! How are you?

Thank you. I’m fine. We are living very exciting days right now when the new album is just coming out.

I’ve been familiar with you for some time, although admittedly, I haven’t heard every song…but I’m working on it. ???? What one song (ok maybe 2) would you pick as the perfect introduction to your music?

It is very difficult because we are doing so many kinds of songs. Some songs are happy little drinking songs and some songs are epic, slow heavy songs with a lot of drama. But when you let me choose two         songs maybe those two would be Happy Little Boozer and Tuuleton.

The new album Jylha is touted as being your fastest and hardest album to date. I’ve found several older tunes that make take this claim to task ????. Whether on the current album or not, tell us your hardest, ever….and why. What song is the most difficult to play live?

I had a feeling after quite melancholy and calm down the Kulkija album, that maybe it would be time to do an album, which would be heavier and faster. We are actually in the same situation where Judas Priest was during their Painkiller time. They got a killer new drummer at the time and they did a Painkiller album, which was harder and heavier than any of their albums before and especially after Ram It Down. Maybe this is Korpiklaani’s “Painkiller.”

I’ve been enjoying your new album, Jylha, immensely. Personally, the standout tracks are “Pidot” (the slide guitar is killer) and “Miero.” Please tell us all about it. The writing, the production, everything. Now is your time to brag a bit.

             Yes, Pidot is quite a typical Finnish drinking folk song. It could have been written 100 years ago. There is a guest musician Jack Gibson. A bassist from American thrash metal band Exodus who played banjo on it. He also has a country/bluegrass band Coffin Hunters, so he knows a lot about playing banjo. There is also a country picking guitars but with metal sound which is really cool from Cane. He also added a slide guitar. 

Miero is the last song I wrote for the album and without this pandemic, it would never have happened because we should be on tour at the time when I wrote it. Something good about this bad time of Covid. I think Miero is a very Scandinavian-style song with its trioli beat and long scale cross harmony vocal lines. I can feel some kind of Viking roots on it.

Your affiliation with alcohol is well documented. (“Beer Beer” “Tequila” “Vodka” plus your lively reputation.) 20 years on as a band, do you find yourself cutting back a bit? Has it taken a toll? Don’t get me wrong…I’m a beer guy myself. When you come to Colorado, I will personally take you on a first-class Colorado beer tour…if you dare.

Alcohol has always been important for this band. We like to have fun with our audience on the gigs and people usually drink a bit when they come to see us. We want to be on the same level as the people. It is a big part of us, so why not sing about it which is so close to our hearts. Also, those songs are very popular on the gigs. People want to hear and sing along to those kinds of songs when they are in a party mood themselves as well. So let’s drink there in Colorado next time, OK?

The world has a way of classifying everything into neat little boxes. Metal is no exception. For those completely unaware, in ten words or less, how would you describe:

*Heavy Metal

*Folk Metal

*Your last 48 hours

*Heavy Metal:  Strong music, which really took me already 1984

* Folk Metal:   Korpiklaani is the king of it!

*Your last 48 hours:  Home. Hell.

This is not a question, but more of a statement. We offer you and all of Finland our condolences on the loss of Alexi Laiho. I realize his music wasn’t like yours. Still, he was Finnish and highly regarded in the music world.

It was a big sad surprise…Maybe he did his job here and his soul was in a hurry to do the next thing to do some other time and place.

Your music is largely rooted in Finnish history and folklore. The Kalevala is purported to be a source of inspiration for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, as well as your music.  (My wife just presented me with her copy of The Kalevala by the way). This is how cool Metal fans are!!????????.  Aside from this, what has been your greatest source of inspiration? What has been a source of inspiration that may surprise us?

Life itself. Every turn in my life is in the music in a mental way. Believe me, I have a lot of turns and I have a feeling that I lived many different lives inside of my life. I’m also glad that when I was thinking how the hell I can write better songs for the next album, there comes something in our life which shows the way and here we go again. This time a new drummer Samuli Mikkonen kicked a big horse kick to our arses and that’s how we ended up totally in the new level as a band.

What is your proudest achievement as a musician? As a human being?

Lead this band to tour worldwide. As a human being, I’m a father of five children

I reserve this question for more seasoned artists. You’ve been interviewed countless times. What is the one question you wish you’ve been asked?…and what is your answer?

I wish someone would ask “How the hell did you manage to release this Jylhä album, which sold more than Metallica’s Black album?” I would answer, “Accidentally.”

We thank you for your time and wish you all the best…and special good wishes on a trip to Colorado. ????…any parting words for our readers?

Thank you so much!  I hope to see all your readers soon in the gigs! 

Meantime, Peace, Love, Folk, and Metal!    -Jonne Järvelä