The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Jarkko Aaltonen Korpiklaani - Interview
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Korpiklaani are one of those Finnish bands that have been keeping traditional folk music and folk metal alive in a genre that has maybe died down a little in recent years. Their live shows are pure fun and entertaining and the music is completely atmospheric in that way which anyone who has seen them live will definitely tell you. Now they have a new album coming out on May 5th titled "Noita" which incorporates more folk instruments than ever before so we caught up with bass player Jarkko Aaltonen to discuss the band's new album and the stronger folk music direction of the songs.



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Andrew: How are you doing?

Jarkko: Doing mighty fine!

Andrew: Good to hear!

Jarkko: Just sitting at my computer drinking whiskey.

Andrew: Haha OK so what time is it over there?

Jarkko: 6:30pm

Andrew: It's 11:30pm here so we're not too far in front then.

Jarkko: So you are in Australia right?

Andrew: Yes that's right! Speaking of Australia, you were here maybe 2 years ago I think?

Jarkko: Yeah one of the first things that I think our new accordion player (Sami Perttula) did with us. So 2 years, maybe a bit less.

Andrew: Yeah I remember because I was at one of the shows on the tour and it was the first time I had ever seen you before and I was absolutely blown away by how good you guys were! So fun and obviously that whole party vibe is something you try to go for at all your live shows?

Jarkko: Yeah it's pretty much what we do and to try to entertain ourselves!

Andrew: Did you enjoy yourselves on that tour?

Jarkko: Yeah I have good memories of that trip. It was a sort of heavy trip since you have to play everywhere, quite often we were flying on the show day but anyway we know what it is. The job is a lot of travelling but then again we did have a lot of free time as well and had a really good time there.

Andrew: Did you see any of the sights?

Jarkko: Not much no, don't have time for that mostly. Myself and the drummer (Matti Johansson) tried to find all the winery stores so we spent our time looking for that and not seeing the Opera house. I've been to Australia as a tourist before anyway so I've seen enough and I can now dedicate my time to wine shopping!

Andrew: Haha OK so obviously the main thing that we want to talk about is the new album. I'm not going to even pretend to know how to pronounce it but from what I understand it means something like witch doctor or something?

Jarkko: Yeah the title is "Noita" and basically we named it "Noita" after 2 of the songs on the album. The main track about "Noita" is a track called "Ammanhauta" which we first thought we could use as the name [of the album] but if people cannot pronounnce "Noita", how the hell do we expect them to pronounce "Ammanhauta". So people won't be buying the album when they can't ask for it at the store! But there is a story about the witch doctor/medicine woman, or Noita on the album and the album cover and title.

Andrew: Is there a theme to this album then?

Jarkko: No not that much. Of course it is easy to feel that there is a theme since you have the album title and a couple of songs and the album cover connected but other than those 2 songs, there's no theme. Basically it's pretty much the same stuff that we usually do, a couple of the drinking songs, some stuff about Finnish mythology and maybe a borrowed legend here and there so no big changes in that sense.

Andrew: I was lucky enough to hear a preview of the album your label sent us and it seems compared to your previous albums that it is more upbeat?

Jarkko: Haha that's quite funny becaus some people are complaining that it's slower and heavier than the previous ones so I don't know. I find the album more entertaining, maybe it's upbeat in the sense that there's more going on all the time. Like the accordion parts on the album are the best that we've ever had, lot's of catchy melodies and hooks all the time. Lot's of harmonies, lot's of solos from those guys so maybe it is a little more upbeat in that sense.

Andrew: Yeah I think maybe it's the accordion parts that make it more upbeat but that's sort of my take on it. Obviously this is Sami's first album with you guys so how was the whole experience with all you guys?

Jarkko: We were actually already happy with him overall and he had a completely different approach to working on the music, working on the album than the previous accordionist had. He had a lot more input starting from the demo stages of the songs and also for the first time our violinist had an actual proper partner to write melodies and go through the arrangement and basically just work on the music. And that is something that is different on this album and you can hear that, everyone who hears the album can actually hear the fact that there is now things that were properly done that were maybe not properly done previously. A lot more thought went into the accordion and violin parts this time.

Andrew: Yeah it sounds like there is more of a mixed balance between the folk music and the metal side.

Jarkko: Yeah we are really happy how it turned out this time. Myself for example, after the last 2 or 3 albums, I have always been complaining to the producer that the accordion and violin parts are too low in the mix and every time he replies in the same way by saying that as soon as there's something to really turn up high, we'll turn that stuff up and now there really is. When you hear the first notes on the album, you hear the difference immediately, there's a lot more things going on.

Andrew: Would you say out of all the album you have done, this is the best one you have done?

Jarkko: Yeah I've always said that after a new album haha! Every artist or musician always says the same thing. Why would anyone who is promoting the album in an interview say 'Na it sucks, the last one was better'. Every time we make an album I felt that we made a better album than the previous one, now I feel that we've taken a huge step forward. And back to our albums, I can honestly say that I was always right and if I had to put our albums in order of how much I like them, they will be in chronological order. I'm really happy that in my opinion, we never took a step backwards in that sense, we've always become a little better between albums.

Andrew: Yeah definitely and especially with this album, it does seem like you have gone in a new direction and an even brighter future. Are you looking forward to doing the next album and taking what you did on this album and taking it even further and better on the next one?

Jarkko: Come on the album is not even out yet haha! We haven't even thought about that yet, we got lots of other things to do. We have plenty of tours, festivals and whatever is booked. We haven't really thought about where to go from here now but then again we never do. We never really think that far ahead anyway.

Andrew: Well speaking of touring then, what have you got planned for the year?

Jarkko: The North American tour will start in 2 weeks and that will take us through May and then after that it's pretty much a festival or 2 every weekend for the whole summer. Then later this year, 2 European tours, first a shorter one, then a longer one. And then hopefully early next year another North American tour so it's going to be pretty busy I think which is really good. Last year for example was maybe a bit too slow but then again we didn't have a new album out or anything.

Andrew: How do you find the audiences in the U.S compared to your home. Are they really getting into the whole folk metal stuff?

Jarkko: I never really noticed any big differences between audiences around the world except of course when you go to South America where people are just crazy, that's a different thing. But I think that metal audiences in USA or Europe or Australia are pretty much the same kind of people.

Andrew: It's funny you mention South America is a lot more crazier, every band says the same thing as well. What is it about the fans down there that they go nuts about everything?

Jarkko: I have no idea! Maybe it's the water or something, they have a different approach. But it's also not just South America, it's the same thing when you go to Spain or southern Europe. I think it's just the attitude is a bit different. Also the Australians shout a bit different!

Andrew: Haha yes I have heard we can be quite loud sometimes.

Jarkko: Yeah we have good audiences in Australia and New Zealand and other places we've been to so nothing to complain about.

Andrew: I suppose it might be difficult to answer this but there is there any particular show out of all the shows you have done that sticks out in your mind.

Jarkko: In the end they all tend to blend together so it's difficult to remember. But I do remember there have been moments when we finally did something major or whatever and then a year or 2 later we realize that 'Oh that wasn't really that big a deal after all'.

Andrew: I guess you just get caught in the moment I suppose.

Jarkko: Yeah and usually the best memories for myself from the shows are this moment when everything clicks together perfectly. Like the audience being perfect and the band being perfect in the sense that you just look around and you realize that right now this is an excellent rock n roll band that is on stage. Those are the best moments in the business.

Andrew: As I said the last time you came here it was such a great show that I saw so we really hope that you can come back sometime. Good luck with the new album and the tour and it's been a pleasure talking to you today!

Jarkko: You're welcome! And we will surely be back there at some point.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on April 15th 2015