Finnish Folk-Metal titans Korpiklaani have been dominating stages for the better part of two decades now, and their relentless, alcohol-fueled tour machine is far from done. Their upcoming live DVD ‘Live At Masters Of Rock’ is out this Friday, and Overdrive’s Editor-In-Chief Bailey Graham sat down with Korpiklaani’s jovial frontman Jonne Järvelä to discuss the live DVD and the ideas behind folk metal as a whole.
BG: Hello Jonne! Thank you for the opportunity to ask you a few questions about the upcoming Live DVD.
Looking back at the shows you have selected for this DVD, how excited are you that fans that have not had the pleasure of seeing Korpiklaani live get to do so in this special way?
JJ: I think it is very important because we are strong live band and the whole band is founded to play music live and having fun on good company. It’s great that people get a chance to see what kind of vibe is on Korpiklaani gig. Of course you can’t get the same feeling than on the real gig by yourself through the watcking this from tv but at least we were trying to get as close of the real live atmosphere on this release as possible.
BG: Your Live DVD features your Masters of Rock appearances from both 2014 and 2016. Was this always going to be the case when selecting the filmed shows you have done in the past for the Live DVD? Or was it purely a coincidence that the two shows selected were both from different Masters of Rock appearances, and hence the title ‘Live At Masters of Rock’?
JJ: Actually we recorded many shows during last years but we had bad luck with so many of them. For example everything were ready on Buenos Aires, Argentina. Big camera crew and everything but technical problems forced us the get out of the stage four times and after that the right kind of feeling was gone and we had to forget the material from there. Masters Of Rock was a special show with extra accordion player and extra violin player and the gig went fine, so it was a potential choose for the DVD. Then we think about what to put as a bonus for the DVD and what could be a better bonus than a whole gig from the two years before, so people can see how the band progress and went forward during these years.
BG: What was it like having Tero Hyväluoma and Toni Perttula on-stage with you and the rest of the band during the 2016 show? It would seem as though the on-stage chemistry between those two and the other members of the band was excellent!
JJ: They are long time friends of us and both of them had been replace on a violin and accordion for Tuomas and Sami if they couldn’t play some show. Toni Perttula is Sami’s twin brother and they look so much each others, that many times people didn’t even notice that Sami wasn’t on some gig and Toni was replacing him. Anyway, we were thinking about how to make a special show and then we got an idea to double folk players. It worked out well and everyone can see the result. It was also a one time thing and we never practise for the show, so it was kid of surprise for all of us, how it goes. As you can see, it was fun and went just fine!
BG: I’ve noticed that in both setlists, there are quite a few songs that have remained in both. Does it ever get boring or repetitive to play songs like ‘Rauta’ and ‘Vodka’ over and over? Or do you and the band tend to include new elements to a song each night to keep it fresh and entertaining?
JJ: No, it’s never boring because audience keeps it fresh. It is always nice to see how nuts the people goes when we start for example the ‘Vodka’ song. That keeps it fun to play it over and over again, year after year. Between these shows we released Noita and on the main show almost half of the songs are from that album, so I think there are good collection of the songs but we are the band who need to play some of our songs on every gig to get people happy. Also we are happy if our fans are happy after a good gig.
BG: You obviously had the viewer’s point of view in mind when you recruited Svante Forsbäck to master the DVD. How was it working with such a legend in the industry? And how did his input affect the overall result of the DVD’s quality?
JJ: Svante has been worked with us eight years already as mastering engineer on every Korpiklaani but also both of JONNE- albums, which is my other band. But in this case his work was even bigger role because I mixed this DVD and I never done 5.1 surround mix before. I called to Svante because I knew he was working so many big live projects like Rammstein and many others. He said to me what I need to keep in mind when mixing it and then he put it all together on mastering session. It was very instructive project for me also.
BG: Your bandmate Sami Perttula joked that having more folk musicians was a lot cheaper than pyro for the 2016 show. To me, Korpiklaani is a band that relies on pure stage presence, energy and musicality throughout their performance, and rarely relying on any form of elaborate stage effects to amplify their performance. Would you agree with this statement?
JJ: Yes absolutely. We don’t need any extra show effects as long as we have good songs and cool characters to play them and having fun at the same time.
BG: Your songs primarily revolve around your Shamanic history, Finnish Culture and your favourite drinks. Were there any expectations from yourself or other members of Korpiklaani that these songs would resonate so well with crowds in countries across the world?
JJ: People are surprisingly same kind around the world in every countries. Mostly they like to eat, drink, having fun and get to be loved. Then there are deeper things like the nature and cultural roots. That’s what is about our songs as well, so everyone can easily join the party and have some fun with us without forgetting the deeper things.
BG: Several bands these days who try to incorporate folk elements to their heavy metal tend to do well in a studio yet seem to struggle in their delivery on-stage. As one of the fore-fathers of Folk Metal across the world, what advice would you give up-and-coming bands when executing live performances?
JJ: Nice to see that you have noticed the same thing as I was thinking. Many times they are doing more on the studio than what their band really is. They try to crust their music like a beautiful cake but forget the good basic dough. That’s why we are not using back tapes on live because you fucked-up with them sooner or later. Also there won’t be any surprise or improvisation if you play with tapes. We always can play everything as it is on the album, so that’s the simple secret. So the advise could be, record only the the thing what you can do live on the stage.