Late last year I had the opportunity to speak with Jarkko Aaltonen, bass player for the Finnish folk metal act Korpiklaani, about their latest disc, Ukon Wacka, and their then current North American tour. This was the second to last show for the band on this leg of the tour and even though they had a blast on this side of the pond they were all looking forward to heading home for the holidays. Here’s how the conversation went.
How has the tour been going?
Jarkko: It is going pretty good. We had some difficulties in the beginning but now it is going well. I have been happy with the attendance we have had. Honestly I hate touring this time of year. I hate the weather.
So being from Finland you are not a cold weather guy?
Jarkko: No definitely not. I hate it. I want to live in my T-shirt and shorts.
I know you guys jumped off and did a one off show in Mexico City. What was that like?
Jarkko: The show was actually really good and the venue was quite nice, it was our second time there. The trip itself was a big pain in the ass with all of the flights. In 24 hours we flew from Phoenix to Houston to Mexico City and played a show. Then we left early the next morning to make the same flights back; all in one day.
You guys are working on a new record. Any idea when it will be released?
Jarkko: Yeah it will be out I think August 2012.
What is your writing process like? Do you guys all write together?
Jarkko: We have never written anything together. This was actually the first time that we did anything even close to that because we were emailing stuff to each other. We never just go to a rehearsal room and sit in a circle to write a song. We record demos at home and send them back and forth.
Do you write with the live setting in mind?
Jarkko: No, I don’t know maybe Jonne does, but I do not.
That being said do you have trouble translating the songs into the live setting?
Jarkko: Well there are some songs that we know from the beginning are not going to be live songs. We know there are some things we cannot do live so we won’t do them. Unless we are going to do them differently like we did a few years ago where we played an acoustic set and half the songs were ones we had never played live.
Check out the song: “Tequila”
Ukon Wacka has been out for almost a year now. When you listen back to it is there anything you wish you could go back and change?
Jarkko: I wouldn’t go back and change anything with that. I view albums as photographs. Like when you look at pictures of yourself from when you were 14 years old. You realize how fucking stupid you looked back then, but that was how you looked back then. So that is how it is with the record, this is how the band was at the time, this is how we sounded and these are the songs we wrote. I hate the fact there are bands that go back and record old songs for newer releases, it is complete crap.
You guys have toured the globe extensively is there any place you haven’t been that you would like to get to?
Jarkko: Australia and New Zealand. We have done Russia every year.
I hear the Russian crowds are quite crazy?
Jarkko: Yeah I would say the Russian crowd is quite violent. You see mosh pits in the States and you think someone is going to get hurt, but it all ends up fine. When you go to Russia and you look at the mosh pit you think what is going on here someone is going to get killed.
In one hundred years from now what will the music history books say about Korpiklaani?
Jarkko: We will be the funny side note.
I know you are working on the record, but what else do you have planned for this year?
Jarkko: After this tour we have one more show to go. Then we will continue the recording for the new album. That will take us till the end of February and then if all goes well March is a free month. In April we will be doing Pagan Fest Europe. We will not be doing the full festival just the extended shows on the weekends. We also have plenty of festivals planned for the summer as well. I know that once again we have our working permits for the United States so will once again be back here in 2012.
Check out the song: “A Rose For Epona”