The long-running Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani are releasing their latest album Jylhä. Vocalist Jonne Järvelä fills us in on the record, a lineup change, the pandemic, the way albums are promoted these days, the band’s new beard oil and more.
Chad Bowar: How did your newest member, drummer Samuli, come to join the band?
Jonne Järvelä: It was actually an easy choice because he had already helped us on the Kulkija recordings when he played five songs on it. He is living here in the same town and his drums were already in my home studio because he also plays in my solo band Jonne.
How was the writing and recording process for Jylhä affected by the pandemic?
The songwriting process actually started before the pandemic, but now it was way more easy because we had time to put our focus only on the album recordings. Always before we needed to go play some gigs or tours during the recording period and then back to the studio. There are good and bad things about that. Now we had a chance to only put our full effort to recording. But then again, between demo recordings and real recordings a little pause would be a good idea, and that’s what we are going to try next time.
How did the pandemic affect you personally?
For some reason this has been a very difficult and hectic period of life for me. Maybe someone would think that now when we haven’t been on tour but maybe I took a little bit too much other work. All the projects take more time than what you are thinking when writing it in your work calendar. Maybe also now when we haven’t been on the road so much there was space for tiredness coming up from the years of hard work. Of course moneywise this has been a disaster, but I guess more or less we all are in the same boat on this. Just need to survive and hope the vaccine helps soon and we get rid of it as soon as possible.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
We didn’t drink during the recordings, so I still can remember almost all of it. (laughs) But of course my final vocal recording at Sound Supreme studio is strongest in my mind. It is funny because at the same time it is quite difficult but I like it very much. It is always a very emotional strong moment.
It’s one of your more diverse records. Was that something that was planned, or just how it turned out?
It just turned out like that. Our albums are always a collection of the best of our latest song ideas. I had a plan to make a harder and faster album than Kulkija was.
Did you struggle with track order?
I knew the first and the last tracks. I delegated the rest of the order to our drummer Samuli who had a good idea to consider it by song tempos. Also our manager David took a part of the album song order. I think it is perfect as it is and I hope people would listen to it in that order. Nowadays many people just are listening to random songs of random bands and the idea of the album whole is fading.
There are vinyl editions of the album available. Are you a vinyl collector?
If I buy a physical album and if it is available as a vinyl I prefer it. I’m not classifying myself as a vinyl collector because I buy only a few vinyls per a year. When I was a kid in the ’80s and early ’90s all my money went to vinyl. Then I sold most of them in the late ’90s when I thought CD was and would be the only choice. Now I regret that a lot and I’m trying to find those back to my collection, even those that I don’t listen to so much these days. I’m playing and writing music so much that I want to do something else other than listen to music in my free time.
You’ve released a few videos for the album already. How important are videos these days?
We are spending a lot of money on these videos now when we can’t tour. We are thinking about it like an investment to our future because we trust this album and how strong it is. We will release at least five high budget full size music videos from this album. Four of them are also connected with each other, so it has been a lot of brain work with these. Videos are very important because people are spending time on YouTube more and more. Most of the videos are cheap shit, which pisses me off to watch so that’s why I want what we are doing to look and sound good.
The album promotion process has changed a lot since your debut in 2003, driven by social media. Do you miss the mystique of the earlier era, or do you like the accessibility and transparency of today’s social media?
I really prefer old times. The music business is demanding artists do more and more things and all that takes away from real work like song writing. Or then it is away from mental health. Latest proof of that is Marko Hietala’s decision to step out from Nightwish. He came up with harsh words about today’s music business and its way to use artists and take most of the income. 360 artist deals, which means that business takes from everything the artist is doing. Recordings, live, and even merchandise.
You have some live shows scheduled for this summer. How confident are you that they will happen?
I really hope they will happen, but it doesn’t look so good. If Europe is closed I hope we have even a chance to play more here in Finland. Our situation is quite good, at least when compared to other countries here in Europe.
Do you think that streaming live shows that were popular during the pandemic will continue on some level going forward? They seem like a good way to reach places you’re not able to tour.
It is not the same thing and streaming can never replace the real thing. Real live shows in front of people who are living the same moment in the same place is something else but maybe it stays at some level in the future, too.
You have branched out to sell beard oil. How did that come about?
The idea came from Partawa and Mad Viking Finland, a charity club of bearded men to release beard oil, so we could collect some charity. 5€ from every bottle will be given to SYLVA to help fight cancer of children and youth. The oil is called Korven Kyynel (Tear of the Wilderness) like one of our songs. It has the scent of an evergreen tree and it’s straight from the “Eyes of the Forest.” The beard oil was made here in Finland and all of its ingredients are completely natural. Korven Kyynel treats the beard and the skin and helps children and youth who are sick with cancer. It is available through our webshop.
How has the response been to Korpiklaani vodka? Where is it available?
Just heard a few days ago that they are working on releasing it in the USA now, too. It is widely available in Finland & EU at the moment but more countries are coming little by little. We are working on spreading it as widely as possible.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Avatarium’s An Evening With Avatarium live album has been in my rotation recently.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thank you and I really would like to see all you readers at gigs normally soon again! Peace, Love, Folk and Metal!
(interview published February 4, 2021)