In 2011, the folk metal fest of Korpiklaani returns with a vengeance as their 7th magnum opus is unleashed via Nuclear Blast Records. Entitled Ukon Wacka, the disc is a celebration of sound that is positively infectious and filled with the tales of the ancients.
We recently spoke with founding member Jonne Järvelä to find out more about this amazing new album, working with legendary Finnish singer Tuomari Nurmio, adventures in Hollywood, “cold beer and hot women,” and other topics of interest…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Korpiklaani and how long the band has been together.
Hello my name is Jonne Järvelä and I’m vocalist and the guitar player from Korpiklaani.
Korpiklaani founded 2002 but worked with this exact line-up since 2005.
How does Ukon Wacka compare to the previous Korpiklaani releases?
We have now better songs, which is most important thing. Then there is better producing because on the last album, Karkelo was the first album for the producer Aksu Hanttu. It was more like getting used to each other and work together. Now this time we got right away to the real work. Now we also used different producer for the folk instruments. Tero Hyväluoma took care about folk instruments arrangements and it wasn’t anymore only me, who was saying what to play.
Is there any story or concept behind the Ukon Wacka title?
The album itself is not a concept album.
“Ukon Wacka” was a ancient pagan feast in Finland, which is nowadays called midsummer party “Juhannus”. Back in time there were some sacraments carried out at the party, such as kneeling in a circle or ritualistic dancing. There was also a sacred beer drunk in honor of Ukko the thundergod. Ukko was considered the greatest of all ancient Finnish gods, due to which a certain amount of annual crop was sacrificed for him.
Ukon wacka is a strong enough also for the album title and there is other songs, which are dealing with Ukko as well, so it was a good chose for the album title.
Where did you get your ideas for some of the lyrics this time around? Please cite two songs in particular and what the lyrics are about?
We like to write the songs about the things we like or know. We like to drink and have fun. Like for example “Tuoppi oltta” song from the new album.
It is about manly needs.
It’s two of them: cold beer and hot women.
Taking seriously, 90% of Korpiklaani songs are about totally something else than drinking songs but still many people thinks, that we are just a band, who plays drinking songs. I’m glad that real Korpiklaani fan knows the truth.
Korvesta liha “The Flesh From The Wilds” it looks like a song about hunting but it is actually double meaning text. You can see it also that, it is pointless to sacrifice in shrine of matter and money because you can’t get it to your grave and on the grave we all are the same. No matter if you was rich or poor.
The people will remember just what you were by nature. Good or bad.
Everyone can also think what means the line “The forest needs no hunter but the hunter does the forest.” You can put it directly to this life what we are living right now.
What made you decide to cover Iron Fist by Motorhead and do you know if Lemmy has heard your version of it yet? If so, what does he think?
I’ve had been huge Motörhead fan with our bass player Jarkko since early 80’s. We got a chance to to see Motörhead gig 1988 here in Finland and the show blew my head…and ears. It was so great. Then a few years ago we were thinking about some cover song for the UK tour and we wanted that the song is somehow connected to England. There is no better band for that reason than Motörhead. We just picked the best song from them and it got very good feedback. Then when we wanted to record a cover song as a bonus track for the new album it was easy to pick this song, which was already so familiar for us.
I think the Korpiklaani version of Motörhead’s Iron Fist rocks like a big moose!
What do you think of Finntroll and do you feel you are in competition with Finntroll in any way?
I was as a special guest on their Jaktens tid album 2001 and toured with them almost two years on every gig, so I don’t feel any competition. They are my friends. Back then their line-up was totally different and Somnium, who passed away was my closest friend and a reason to be with them back then but I know also the new guys very well.
I was on the stage with them actually about a month ago at 70 000 Tons Of Metal Caribbean cruise gig. I still do co-operation with them every now and then when I have time or we have gigs at the same place.
How did your tours in the States go and what did you think of Hollywood in particular? Was Hollywood everything you thought it would be?
Both of the tours went great and touring around U.S.A. one of my greatest dreams since I was a little boy. I’m grown up in a countryside far in tiny Finland, so Hollywood was like a totally new planet for me. We went both times to Rainbow Bar & Grill and we really got some”MotleyCrüe” to our life. It was great! Looking forward so much to get back to U.S.A. tour and to Hollywood again.
Any chance of Korpiklaani touring the States again in support of this new record?
If everything goes like we are planning right now, we will be there at September.
Tell me about your work with Tuomari Nurmio, how did he become involved with Korpiklaani, and will he be joining you on any of the tours?
Tuomari Nurmio is like a Finnish counterpart of Tom Waits and he has done for over thirty years of career at the forefront of Finnish music scene, almost the whole of my life-long career. His songs are already familiar from childhood car trips, but also on tours we tend to listen to a lot of principles of Finnish music, which is something other than metal, which we are hearing all the time around anyway.
We listen to a lot of old Finnish music like Agents for example and of course Tuomari Nurmio. Then, when our sound engineer, Paukku Jääskeläinen recorded and mixed by Tuomari Nurmio live DVD: “Vastavirtaklubi.” It came to my mind to ask him to join to our album a a special guest. Ukon Wacka song itself had already been written at that time but I was not made a demo recordings out of it yet back then. Then I made the final arrangements and vocals thinking Tuomari Nurmio’s scale and way to sing. After that I sent the demo recording of the song to him by e-mail. He replied that the idea is a new and interesting thing for him, and he would be interested to do it. Here’s how it worked out easy by its own forward, and when I finally heard the end result we were more than satisfied. Tuomari Nurmio has incredibly shamanistic power, which is also present in his vocal track on the album. He will be with us on some gigs but I don’t know about the tour yet. Maybe if the time schedules for both of us gives the chance.
What is your favorite Finnish beer and why? Do you like any American beers?
I like the Finnish beer called Karhu. The taste is strong and malts enough. The best beer is of course free of charge beer and I got it time by time also in America, so yes I like also American beers 🙂
What could one expect from a Korpiklaani 2011 show?
We are going to play many songs from the new Ukon Wacka album because it is full of so good songs. Of course we must play the older favorites of people as well. It is very difficult to build up the set list because we have already seven albums out. Also it is difficult because we have six people in the band and everyone has their own opinions what to play.
Is there a story behind the shaman character who shows up on all of the Korpiklaani albums? Is he a real person?
His name is Vaari. He is not a real person but little bit like for example Iron Maiden’s Eddie. Vaari is our mascot and he looks a little bit after our fuss around the world.
Do you have any messages for Korpiklaani fans here in the States?
Thank you about to being so active in Korpiklaani Facebook and see you all soon there in the States. Really looking forward to it in here already!
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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