Tapio Wilska of Finntroll interviewed by Vincent Eldefors
Do you look forward to tonight's show?
Yes, we haven't really played live that much. The previous three shows have been very good, so..., tonight should be good also.
Have they been sold out?
I think Stockholm was sold out but it has turned out very good for all three shows so far.
That's nice. This tour you have done now with The Wake, Ensiferum and Norther, have you chosen the bands or did the label choose them?
It has been 50 / 50, I mean, this tour has been put on by our label. The previous tour with The Wake and Ensiferum, it was supposed to be like a Spinefarm tour. Ensiferum we know from before. I liked the first album from The Wake so we brought them along.
What are the best and worst things about tours?
I've always been into music, been into playing music just for live shows. That is why I do it. Getting around and get up and play for different audiences all over the world every night, that's the sole reason why I am into music. The worst thing is the waiting and the lack of sleep. I've spent like ten years in these buses and I've never learned how to sleep in them unless I'm very, very drunk. The waiting and the lack of sleep really gets you down and being away from home but it's all good. I mean, I enjoy touring.
Which tour or show has been most fun so far?
I think the best we have done so far was the whole tour with Ensiferum. That was probably the best tour I have ever been on because all over Europe we got really great response. There were a lot of sold out shows and we had a really great crew, these American guys. As a tour that was the most fun. As a single show, Waldrock this year in Holland was great. There was a really good line-up on that festival, it was a very nice festival, good turn-out and then a lot of good bands like Exodus, Transport League and Cradle Of Filth. And I can mention also in Belgium last year, Graspop Festival because that's probably the biggest audience we have ever played to. The tent was packed and we heard later from the organizers that the capacity of the tent was always 11,000 people and being in front of that kind of audience is just mind-boggling.
Where do you like playing the most?
I don't have like a lot of preferences. Every country has their audience. I love playing in the old Eastern European countries - Russia for example has been really good, Hungary... All around Europe I have a lot of friends in different countries so everywhere it's nice to be. In Sweden it's a bit more special for us as it's the only country where people know what we're singing about. Like yesterday in Gothenburg we had a really great show and the audience was just amazing. A lot of stage-diving, people got into it. I just love playing and it doesn't really matter where. Of course I always enjoy when we get to play in places we've never been to before like this year when we did Slovenia for the first time.
Do you prefer festivals or club shows?
I don't know. Festivals usually have a big audience and a lot of other bands which makes a nice party. I enjoy clubs as you have the audience so near. There's so much more energy doing club gigs.
Do you ever watch other bands at festivals?
Yeah, of course. I remember actually, this year at the Waldrock festival, I had a sore back, head and neck a week after as we went to see Exodus and I was in the moshpit, getting pretty banged up on that show. Yes, of course I check out other bands. At the same festival actually I can tell a nice story about our friends from Sweden, Transport League. They were playing at this warm-up club thing before the festival and we were right there. We got to that club, got really drunk and when they were on stage the Dutch audience was a bit reserved so we ran to the front of the stage and put up a really big moshpit. Tony and the guys were like "oh, f***, you are here!". Yeah! After that, the night was a great fucking time.
How did you end up on the X-mas Festivals? Was it your label?
Actually, no. The booking agency behind those shows, Metallysee, also organized our tour with Ensiferum. Johan askes us if we wanted to do that tour. We also did the last two X-mas shows last year, Tilburg and Antwerp. We have a really great following especially in Belgium and Holland and Johan offered us this spot For me personally it's going to be really great to get on tour with Napalm Death who I've been a huge fan of since their first album so it's going to be good.
What do you do while on tour to pass time? Do you ever get to see anything of the countries?
Basically you never get to see much of anything. You see the bars, the menus, a lot of gas stations. I try to take time but mostly you just sit in the bus drinking. During the last spring tour we only had one day off during the whole tour. The free day was spent in a really small town in the Austrian countryside and there was nothing so...
Have you had any offers to go outside Europe yet?
Yeah, we have but it's always about the money. We are negotiating a few shows in the United States and Canada right now but it's nothing certain. We'll see next year.
Speaking of the new album, do you know how well it has done so far compared to the others?
Extremely well. I don't know exactly how many copies have been sold. The last I heard was one month after the release Spinefarm had sold as many copies as they had sold of "Jaktens Tid" till that point, in 3 ½ years, and it is going on well. Century Media has gotten the distribution a bit wider so at this point we get a lot of fanmail from the United States, Canada and all around the world. It is doing really well. We'll know in November when the statements come how well it has sold. The label staff at Spinefarm and Century Media are very pleased.
Has it been strange to write an album without any original members?
Yeah, it was of course. When I joined the band about 1 ½ year ago Katla's problems became apparent and it was clear that he couldn't go on and he asked me to replace him. Somnium was of course worse. When speaking about original members, the band has been around since 1997 and Trollhorn has been a member since like 1998 and it started out to be more of a project. I think we have grown as a band. It has always been like a family thing, especially the last two years it has been much more of a band. Looking at the recording of the new album I think that the band is much bigger than any member of it and we have always had very similar ideas about how this band should sound. We had a lot of fun writing and recording this album in the studio and of course it's always weird not having those people with you who were there in the beginning but I believe that they themselves would want this band to go on.
What are the reactions from fans to the new line-up?
Mostly positive. We are a band who are very active on the internet and not a band who stand and watch. We like to hang out with people. Of course there were those who were against me replacing Katla. I mean, I understand that. When the first Exodus album "Bonded By Blood" came out I thought it was one of the greatest albums of all time and I think that band was much worse when Paul Baloff quit the band, so... Of course the original members have a status and all. Actually, Gothenburg yesterday was our 100th show and I think I've done 56 shows over a year with the band. I don't know, I just do my thing.
You haven't though of writing any songs in English or Finnish?
No. I think the Swedish lyrics has always been an important part of our sound. If we were to change that it wouldn't be Finntroll anymore and there were some people at our record label who told us at the time I joined that now would be a good point to change to English to reach a wider fanbase. We just basically told them to f*** off because this is what we do.
Is there any chance of Katla rejoining?
I don't know.
Perhaps having two vocalists?
Yeah. I mean, of course I would want to have him here. Medically, when I last spoke to him his voice was completely gone. The treatment that he goes through, the doctors have given it three years. Of course if would be fun to have two vocalists but I don't know. He joined us on stage at the Tuska festival last year, which was great. He is a great guy and a good friend of ours but his voice is gone after one song.
You never asked him to write lyrics for this album?
Actually we talked about it but at that point when we were doing the album Katla went to an art school in the north of Finland and he was really, really busy with the school. At one point we just sort of lost contact for a few months. 50% of it was a conscious decision as we wanted a bit to make this like a band album.
How important are the lyrics to you?
I have always loved Katla's writing. He made this lyrical world, the concept of the band. The lyrics are of course a big part of that concept.
Is it important to have a message?
I think so. I mean, I listen to a lot of music without intellectual lyrics but personally I see tha lyrics as my forum to convey my ideas to people. There are things that I and we as a band are passionate about.
Would you mind telling us about the general lyrical concept of the album?
Well, you could say that it takes on where the last album left off. We're still using that lyrical world of the troll kingdom and its fight against outside forces. I think the anti-religious theme is much stronger on this album. It is a bit more straight-forward but I still want to keep the concept of the band, that rowdy troll atmosphere.
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