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Korpiklaani Talks New Album "Manala," Lineup Changes, And The Band's Future

The Finnish bards in Korpiklaani didn't waste any down time after the release of 2011's "Ukon Wacka," having returned already with latest full-length album "Manala" (reviewed here). Rather than playing the language ping-pong game of previous efforts, Korpiklaani has now given fans the best of both worlds, releasing the album as a double-disc set with all songs in both Finnish and English.

During a recent chat with Metalunderground, Korpiklaani's Jarkko Aaltonen explained why the band chose to go that route, as well as discussing the lack of a hard-partying song this time around as the band explores its darker side.

xFiruath: I saw that you guys brought on a new fiddler earlier this year. How is that new fit working out so far?

Jarkko: We had quite a bit of problems with our other fiddle player and we had to let him go, and then we had another replacement for a moment, but we realized he wasn’t the right person to be in the band and we sent him home in the middle of a U.S. tour. Now that we’ve had Tuomas this year there’s been a big difference. He’s fitting in the band really well.

xFiruath: You’ve been on the road for a couple of weeks now in the U.S. Tell me about how the tour has gone.

Jarkko: It’s been a nice tour and the shows have been mostly good. I have to admit that Montana didn’t have that many people but I don’t think anyone expected that big of a turn out, but it was still OK. We’re touring with other bands we’ve known for years and we have toured with them before so we knew this would be a nice tour.

xFiruath: Your guitarist Jonne broke his finger a few weeks back. Has he actually been playing on this tour and is that still causing him problems?

Jarkko: He’s the vocalist and guitarist, so he’s doing vocals now. It’s been OK, actually I think our band sounds better now with just one guitar.

xFiruath: Your new album “Manala” is based on the Kalevala, and plenty of Finnish bands have done albums based on their country’s national epic. How is your album different and what specific stories or themes are you going with here?

Jarkko: The original idea was to make it based on the epic Kalevala, but we sort of kicked that idea. Not all the songs are about that, the songs are mostly about the underworld of the Finnish mythology. We had for a long time this idea about not doing anything from the Kalevala, because as you said many others have done that, so we were trying to outwait any comparisons to them and people who think we are fishing in the same pond.

xFiruath: In your previous albums you had songs in both English and Finnish, but in this one you did one album all in Finnish and a bonus disc with the same songs all in English. How did that come about?

Jarkko: We started with the English and then we had moved away from that with completely Finnish things, and we have had people asking why. We thought for these people we will release two albums on the same day, the English and the Finnish, and then see which one was more popular in sales, but then we realized we didn’t want to force fans of the band to buy two albums and spend twice as much money. So we ended up doing it this way.

xFiruath: There’s a bit of a departure on this album because you don’t have a specifically alcohol themed track, like “Tequila” or “Vodka” from the last two albums. Was that a purposeful decision?

Jarkko: In a way it is. A couple of years ago someone asked “do we always have to have a drinking song on the albums?” and I was like “No.” I know people like those songs, but we also have a more serious and darker side to our music and our albums. So we felt maybe these drinking songs are stealing the limelight all the time, and people are thinking this band is just all about drinking and vodka. We are a bit more complicated than just that.

xFiruath: You are nearing the end of the tour now. What does Korpiklaani have planned for the upcoming new year?

Jarkko: We fly back home and we have one show and then we start a European tour. That will last about three weeks, but after that we have no idea. We have no shows scheduled and this was the last album for our current recording contract, so we have to sort some things out.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.

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