Korpiklaani interview (02/2005)

With: Jonne Järvelä [singer and guitarist]
Conducted by: Angelique
Published: 13.02.2005

Band profile:


- Hey Jonne, first of all could you briefly introduce the band for those of our readers who do not know Korpiklaani yet?

Korpiklaani was formed during the creation process of Spirit of the forest album. We were earlier known as Shaman but all of a sudden there was another band called Shaman as well. It is a band by ex. Angra members so this band wasn't very small even from their very beginning, so we had to change our name even though we were a much older band. I could say that everything started when I moved from southern Finland up north at the beginning of 90's. Year was 93.

Up north in Lapland lives Sámi people who have their own language. Sami people are native people of Finland but they had the same situation as the Indians in North America. White people came and burned down their villages and kicked them up to the north. Anyway I got to know these people and suddenly I lived with them very deep in the forest and of course we started to play music.

Soon after that it all kind of got out of our hands and I realized that I'm playing this acoustic music live in the bars and clubs all the time. We also recorded an album under a name Shamaani duo. Even though I moved back to the south of Finland a bit later I still continued with the same music but now decided to form a full-blown band and this is how Shaman was born.

Shaman was more like my own solo project and there was several different musicians during those years, people from bands like Finntroll and Barathrum etc. But when I found these guys who are now in the band we really found our own sound and right kind of feeling for the music. Now we have a real permanent band and this band is Korpiklaani.

I will keep this band on as far as my hair is grey and the guitar falls down from my wrinkled hands.

Voice Of Wilderness cover art

- Korpiklaani's second awesome album Voice Of Wilderness was just released, what are your feelings about the album? Have you heard any feedback yet?

I have a very good feeling about Voice of Wilderness just like the rest of the band members. The recording went well, and everything went smoothly in the studio. I can say that the recording tempo was quite nice. We didn't have to hurry the recording at all so that was nice. Also the atmosphere was great during the recording process and we discovered our own groove while recording the music.

What helped during the recording process is the fact that we played gigs after the Spirit of the Forest album was released so now we knew each other better musically and personally as well. The feedback has been very positive, better than the last album and it is always nice to read and hear that.

- Your first album Spirit of Forest was recorded at BT-powerhouse studio in Helsinki, but with Voice Of Wilderness you used Fantom studios in Tampere, is there any reason why you decided not to do the recordings at the same studio?

The budget was a little bit better for Voice of Wilderness so we wanted to get everything out of it. Also it was easier to record the album in Tampere 'cause half of the guys live there. We heard so many good things about this studio and Samu Oittinen so the decision was easy for us.

Fantom studio and Samu as a recorder ended up to be perfect for us because it is not so easy to mix all of these acoustic instruments against metal walls. We found our way to work it out and we will keep it in that way in the future as well.

- We fans were expecting the album to be released at the end of last year but Napalm Records decided to postpone the release date to January, what's the story behind this?

Maybe the main reason was that our tiny band would easily got buried under all of these Elvis collections and other albums because of the Christmas sales.

Spirit Of Forest cover art

- Roots of Korpiklaani goes all the way in year 1993 when you and Maaret Aikio performed as a Shamaani-duo at the Hullu Poro restaurant in Lapland. A lot has happened since those days. Would you mind please discussing the history of Korpiklaani?

It is true that lots of things had happened during these years but not so fast anyway. Music follows my life and it changes by my life little by little. Now I have a feeling that I'm making the music as honest way that I can. I let the music come out naturally I don't need to force myself to make the songs. Funny thing is that we were back in HulluPoro again last Friday and Saturday with Eläkeläiset and Kotiteollisuus. What comes around goes around or how does it go?

- Shaman was quite an "oddball" in Finnish metal scene as most people really didn't know how to react to your music is this the reason why you dropped Sami-language, and also changed your music style a bit more forward to typical folk metal?

No, it has nothing to do with that. It has been a long time from my years in Lapland so those kind of songs just doesn't come naturally anymore. Also using Sámi language became more difficult at the time so it dropped out naturally. Like I said I decided to let the songs come out without making the songs by force in the wrinkled brow.

- What about the name Korpiklaani (forest Clan), where did that come from and what does it mean? Does it have a special meaning to the band?

I think the name collects our style and image in a very good way. Also it is Finnish as the band so it just fit to us in everyway.

- Let's get more into Korpiklaani's music - We can hear a lots of traditional finnish folk music influences there but also your music is flavoured with some Sami-music, joiku. Who are your musical influences, metal and non-metal?

Actually we want to keep out any musical influences or other bands trying to make our own thing. But i could say that the life is main influenced thing. I was part of the Finntroll's Jaktens tid album and on the gigs with them two years so it is clear that this time affected me deeply.

My years in Lapland were a huge musical trip and I learned yoik and some sámi language. Basically my life and different kind of situations is the thing that my music comes from.

- What about lyrical influences? Korpiklaani's lyrics are a lot about nature and forests is that where you get the inspiration?

We all grew up in the countryside of Finland and near by forests so inspiration to the lyrics is from the woods. Writing lyrics is actually quite hard for me. Writing lyrics is not nearly as easy for me as composing the songs.

It is nice now ´cause I'll get some help with lyrics for our next album from other guys of the band. Our accordion player JuhoKusti has done few new songs and he wants to make the lyrics for his own songs himself so it helps me a lot.

- Shaman/Korpiklaani are one of the veterans of folk metal genre and now a days we get to know these bands from all over the world who mix metal with Scandinavian and Celtic folk. How do you feel about that? How much do you follow the genre and do you listen to folk metal yourselves? If so who are your favourite folk metal bands?

I don't listen to music so much these days. I work with music daily so it is not so often that I put some cd on. Only in the car I listen to music all the time but mostly radio and from the radio you wont hear folk metal unfortunately.

Anyway, I follow the genre and I know many of the folk bands but it's hard to say who are my favourites. All folk metal bands are quite different and any of them are not so bad.

- The Finnish metal scene is widely known all over the world and many people say that the best metal music comes from Finland. Do you have any theories about the highly rated Finnish metal scene, and what are the Finnish metal bands that you respect most?

I don't know why this happens but it is true that the best metal comes from Finland. We have every style of metal here. We have classical metal, of course folk and viking metal, prog metal, rap metal...I can continue this forever.

Maybe it is that because the level rise, every band keeps on practicing and practicing more to get to known. It is someway hard to rise now here as well because the level is so high.

- I've had the luck to see you guys live and it's easy for me to say that Korpiklaani is one of the very best live bands that I've ever seen. Your shows are so lively full of joy and happiness, it truly seems like you guys are having the best time of your life every time on stage. How do you feel about performing live and touring?

IT IS the best time in our lives
Yes, we just have fun on the stage all the time and we have a very energetic out put there. Also our music is pretty happy sounding so it comes naturally from the music.

Our show depends so much of the audience. If we get power and good feeling from the audience it is so easy to rock their heads off.

- Korpiklaani hasn't toured a lot outside of Finland yet. Now with the new album is there any plans for European tour? What about gigs outside of Europe?

We've just got the booking office so now we have a better chance to get to the tours and everything so lets see. We have booked now one festival gig to Germany, Summer-Breeze and one gig to Tokyo Japan.

Our Japanese record company sold out of their stock during first three days of our new Voice of Wilderness album so it is nice to go and see what kind of reactions we get there.
Also our video from the new album "Hunting song" has got some airplay outside of Finland so it might help our tour plans in abroad as well.

- All you guys are highly respected musicians and many of you have appeared on other band's albums, and even as live musicians. What kind of side projects do you guys have going on at the moment?

I don't have anything but Korpiklaani and I will keep it in that way because I have so much to do with it but Hittavainen has many of little folk projects and our accordion player JuhoKusti has the band called Falchion.

- Apart from music do you have any other projects going on? At least you are very active at Korpiklaani's forum. How do you feel about internet and do you spend time online a lot?

Internet is a huge help with the band activity. You can answer the questions of fans and keeping on touch of record label and co-operation partners. And yes, we have a very good active forum on Korpiklaani's site and there is also a very good friendly atmosphere from members.

Some of us spend the time online a lot like Hittavainen, JuhoKusti, and I but other guys of the band not so much. They check the pages time by time but they aren't so active to write anything on there.

- For the last question - How do you see the future of the band? What are the plans and dreams for Korpiklaani and what will happen within next few years?

I try to keep the band alive as far as it is possible and we try to make this our lives work because this is what we love to do. We are going to make albums and do gigs as much as possible.

- What about your final statement? Do you have any last words for our readers?

Thank you and see you all at the gigs!!!

- It's time to wrap up this interview and thank you for your time. It's such an honour for me to get to interview one of my favourite bands. I want to wish you all the best with Korpiklaani and hopefully we will see you guys around, and from the bottom of my heart I wish that the fans outside of Europe will get a chance to see you guys live.

Thank you Angelique and see you in Turku


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