The album 'Nattfödd' (2004) was followed by a lot of touring. Your success grew. What was the feeling in the band about this?
We were really, really tired in the end. It was two years touring in a row. About three European tours after each other, so that was plenty. But we like touring, we like playing live. It is much more fun than work. You meet so many people. But there were difficult times in the end. We reached the end with a scar, we had to part ways with Wilska (former singer – Vera) and had so much trouble to find someone new and to start again with the new guy Vreth.
How did you meet Vreth at last?
It is a difficult story, but he is a friend of our original vocalist Katla who did the first three albums. He lives up in the North of Finland. So we got a call from our original vocalist, saying “Hey, I have got this guy here. Would you be interested?” Then we told him to come down here in Helsinki and we rehearsed a couple of times and he fitted perfectly. It was really a matter of luck. Finding him was pure luck and we are very happy with it because he is really outstanding.
Didn't you think immediately about the distance, that it would be hard to rehearse?
It is difficult to rehearse, yeah, but then again, in Finland we can get pretty much anywhere with the train. It is only three or four hours for him to come down here. He comes down for the weekend, we rehearse and he goes back home. It works perfectly that way. And we write e-mails and everybody in Finland has a mobile phone. He is coming down a week or two before the big tour, so we can rehearse properly before that tour.
Must be great to live in Finland, Much nature and charts with good music…
(laughs) We have about one thousand lakes. Cold and dark in the winter, warm and sunny in the summer. So we got it all. And indeed, we got loads of bands, don't we? I am kind of surprised myself but there are so many Finnish bands around.
The writing process of this album started early 2006, but without Wilska…
Some of the songs, at least one of the songs of the new album 'Maktens Spira' was originally written for 'Nattfödd'. So there is older stuff as well. But it began for good early 2006. Some of the songs are in the vein of our early stuff, but some of them have some new injections as well. That was exactly what we wanted to do. Back to the roots, back to the first album. And invent something new as well, because we don't want to do the same album twice ever! That is why all these albums are a bit different. But we kind of missed the raw power that was on the first album 'Midnattens Windunder'. So we got some of that and threw in some influences and it came out great, I think. That was definitely intended and if you noticed it; thank you very much. The writing process itself was mostly similar to 'Nattfödd'. Basically Tundra, our bass player and Trollhorn, our keyboard player wrote most of the music. They just sit on their asses at home and write on their computers. And then they send the rest of us demo tapes. We rehearse it and we record it. Although this time we did not rehearse at all and I think so much got messy. Yeah, these two guys write by themselves in their little home studios, pretty much the same process as on the last one.
A remarkable thing is that you are a Finnish band, but your lyrics are in Swedish…
That is correct. The thing is that Swedish is spoken in Finland. It is mandatory in schools here. You must learn Swedish. About 20% of all Finns speak Swedish as their mother tongue. Our singer now and our first singer, they are what we call Fenno-Swedish, so they are from the Swedish speaking minority and that is why all the Finntroll albums are in Swedish. There is a logical explanation. It is not like a Greek band doing lyrics in Norwegian (laughs) which has happened.
That's why it was quite difficult to find a new vocalist, probably…
Yes, that was one of the most difficult things, but as I said, we got really lucky to find a Swedish speaking vocalist, because they don't grow in trees here. They are really hard to find. And that was one of the problems with Wilska actually. He didn't know Swedish and had to concentrate really hard on the pronunciation and stuff.
I heard a rumour that Katla helped you with the lyrics…
He wrote them all actually. He's always been around, he just cannot sing anymore. We let him hang around (laughs) and he's always been involved in the process as the great poet writing the lyrics. He is kind of in the band, but without touring. He is the secret weapon we got.
I looked up the translation of every song title at internet, so I told him not to start asking to translate and explain everything. A sigh of relief can be heard on the other side of the phone and Suma said “I just spent half an hour explaining everything in the previous interview. Thanks for that. I like to explain stuff because we have chosen to speak Swedish for some wit reason, but explaining every song is a bit too much.”
Okay, just a few words then about the general lyrical theme…
The general concept is the same as on every Finntroll album. We got the troll king flying around, we got people dying, we got people eating, we got singing, eating mushrooms, pretty much everything. And we got witchcraft. That is the main concept.
The typical way of singing of your country is called “Joik”. What is it exactly?
Yes, on 'Jaktens Tid' we got the Joik thing. This is coming from people living in Lapland, in the utmost northern part of Finland and Sweden. These are people called the Sami folks. Joik singing is their traditional style of singing there. A kind of witchcraft. Jonne Järvelä was on the 'Jaktens Tid' album. He used to live in Lapland and he studied Joik, that's why he got on the 'Jaktens Tid' album, because he was the only guy living in Helsinki that could “Joik”.
Jonne is the vocalist/front man of Korpiklaani now. That brought us by the Finnish metal scene. Samu told me that everybody knows everybody. He, for instance, is also a good friend of the drummer of Swallow The Sun.
My feeling was that 'Ur Jordens Djup' has more black metal in it and hmmm… sounds a bit like Moonsorrow. Are you mad at me now (shy)?
No (laughs) I am not mad at you. I was expecting that one. It happens when you got same guys in same bands like Trollhorn (keyboardist – Vera) is and he does all the music of Moonsorrow. But the only question is… and the real problem is… does Moonsorrow sound like Finntroll or does Finntroll sound like Moonsorrow?
Finntroll was first…
Yeah… there we go… problem solved…
In September 2006 you went to the studio. Can you tell a bit more about that?
I was there for two days at the Sonic Pump studio. I just did my drums and went off. It was one week longer than originally planned. So we had more time, it was a better studio, it was the first time at Sonic Pump, drinking was involved. I don't know exactly what happened over there, I was only there for two days, but every time I went there, people were either drunk or had a hangover.
Did you use an extern producer?
No, no, the bass player Tundra produced it. We had an engineer for the technical stuff. We wanted something new sound-wise as well, because we recorded all the previous Finntroll albums in the same place. And since we all live in Helsinki and have jobs or study, we needed a studio in Helsinki. Sonic Pump is the only decent choice we got then, except for Finnvox of course, but Finnvox is overrated I think.
You all have serious jobs and studies you said. Isn't it a problem to go on tour then?
It is always a challenge, but you can sort things out. It is bad for our family life and school and stuff, but I think that if some of us have a shitty job and he gets an offer to go on tour for one month or to do his shitty job for one month, then I think he would rather quit the job and go on tour and find a new shitty job when he gets back.
What about the artwork? I do not have a final version…
Neither have I at the moment. But it is our guitar player Skrymer who does all the artwork and our T shirts. He has done all the albums covers and he did this one as well. I am really anxious to see the final work. It is right from the press that I'll get my hands on it, probably tomorrow.
Next thing to mention was the upcoming tour. In April and May 2007 Finntroll will be headlining the Earthshaker Roadshock Tour festivals, starting at April 27, 2007 in Antwerp, Hof Ter Loo, continuing through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, England, Holland (Heerhugowaard 11/05/2007) and finally Paris, France on the 13th of May. Just like me, Samu finds it a rather strange combination of bands all of different styles: Finntroll, After Forever, Die Apocalyptischen Reiter, Tarot and Machine Men, All Ends. This organisation of tours is more a label thing, when they signed the contract all the other bands still were to be announced. Samu says: “When we got the final line-up we were surprised because we heard rumours about Marduk being on the tour, about Impaled Nazarene,…”
They are also negotiating for a few festivals in Holland in Summer, furthermore they will play at Graspop, Bang Your Head and Summer Breeze.
The first limited edition of 'Ur Jordens Djup' includes a bonus DVD. But with so much touring and gigs to come, are there plans for a real extensive DVD?
Yes, I think we should do a DVD right now. We recorded Wacken last year with pyrotechnics and special effects and bombs and stuff. So we are going to use that material and then we are going to record at least one or two more shows, one in Finland, one somewhere else, probably Moscow or somewhere, not sure. We are definitely planning a DVD. I just don't know when it is going to come out or what's going to be on it.
As one of the founding members of the band: if you look back at the very beginning of the band; did you expect such a success?
No, definitely not. It is all way beyond our expectations. I'd never expect that this band would be around for ten years, firstly. That is a miracle by itself, knowing our habits of drinking and doing what we do. And I never, never expected to do four, five albums.
Don't you feel happy about it then? Or proud?
Proud and positively surprised.
What are your plans and hopes for the coming year?
We have shit-loads of touring this year and then I think we are going to start working on the next album hopefully, since we do not want another three year gap between the releases. We are trying to make it a bit shorter this time. We try to start writing as soon as possible again. But let us get this album out first, do the touring and see what happens after that. Who is in the band and who is out…
But isn't it a problem to make time schedules, since almost everyone of you has other bands and projects?
No, pretty much all of the bands and projects we played in, we deserted them. Everybody is like concentrating on this at the moment.
But Trollhorn is quite busy with Moonsorrow, isn't he?
We got a live keyboard player because of that, so he is not touring with us. He is busy with his day job, with his bands, with his child. We have a session musician, but he is a great musician, he can play everything, so we are pleased. Henri, mister Trollhorn, he will stay at home probably, so I don't think he'll be on the Moonsorrow tour either, because he is really busy. That's the latest news I heard, that he is staying home for this year. Because of his busy daytime job and his child. He wants to be a decent father, which is totally acceptable, for me, at least. Raise your children and then come back!
It is a pity, because they just released a very good album 'V: Hävitetty'…
I don't listen to new albums. I am too busy playing music. I definitely do not listen to music as much as I would want to and as much as I used to, because with Finntroll it is 24/7, it gets your ears blown. I am not in the mood to listen to Slayer at home then.
Last words are for you, man…
Just drink, eat, fuck… in this order! Keep on trolling!