Planetmosh spoke to Korpiklaani bass player Jarkko Aaltonen……
To begin with how was Paganfest?
It was nice. We didn’t do the entire Paganfest, we only did the 6 weekend shows; the extended Paganfest and flew home for a few days in between. But it was nice, quite relaxed, lots of good people in the crew, like old friends. Nice venues, nice crowds, nothing to complain about.
Now you have month off and then you’re off to America and Canada with Ensiferum.
Yeah I think it’s actually sort of starting in less than 2 weeks. In 2 weeks have a festival somewhere, I think in Germany and then we are home for a day and then we fly to USA. Because we actually start the tour earlier than Ensiferum. I think we start from the east coast with Trollfest and we are with them only for 9-10 days and then the actual tour with Ensiferum starts from Los Angeles.
So have you been doing a lot of practice of the songs off the new album ready for the live shows?
Well no, we haven’t done a lot of practicing as such. We have this thing where people have other things to do and we live in different parts of the country. We did rehearse at one point and then last week we were in Russia playing two shows and then we rehearsed some of that.
Everyone of course rehearses at home but when we had time for a longer sound check in Saint Petersburg and Moscow we rehearsed there and then played the songs live in the evening. I think the set had 7 new songs in it which I think is quite a lot considering we haven’t even released the album yet. But the new songs worked fine with the audience so it’s going to be good in the USA as well.
In a previous interview it was said that this album now has the perfect mix between the folk music and the heavier sound.
I think that always using that word perfect is a bit dangerous thing, but it’s a bit closer to it then it has been before. I’ve been complaining to our producer basically after every album that the violin and accordion are still not loud enough. Why do you keep hiding them underneath that wall of guitars? He said I will start pushing them up when there’s something there to really push up and finally he has.
We have really well executed violin and accordion parts on this album. The new accordionist and Tuomas (violin), actually when they started to work on the album or the songs they really did a lot of work, they did good work and it really does show on the album. It’s brilliant playing from both of them, brilliant arrangements, nice harmonies, nice melodies. Finally the producer could actually push them up in the mix. I think it’s a really nice mix now.
You can hear that in your new single ‘Lempo’ that you released, you can really hear that in the accordion at the beginning.
Yes, that’s true and that is a prime example of what I meant that they are now really prominent and dominating in the mix and that is what it is suppose to be.
I listened to your single and if that is the standard I am very much looking forward to your new album in May.
Yeah, I’m actually again rather happy with the result. I say this like every band or artists that ever releases an album and someone asks is this your best album. Of course it is, who would say that it isn’t. No one would ever say no it’s actually a crappy album, I prefer the last one.
I‘ve said that after every album and it is the case and I have never lied. I still look back to the entire catalogue that we have done and I still think that we have gotten better by each album. The albums got better, the songs got better the production got better. So this one as well is again a nice development if you ask me…and you did ask so.
With this is your ninth album, how do you keep finding the inspiration for the next album?
It doesn’t seem to be a problem for Jonne to come up with new stuff. It is a problem for me as I’m the slowest writer but for Jonne who writes most music he’s really productive. He writes all the time, like between these two albums he released a solo album. Then for this album we had as usual, lets say 16, 17 or 18 songs as demos that we then cut down to about 11 or 12. We’ve never really had a lack of material.
Looking back through the previous albums, do you have any songs that are still a particular favourite for you?
I don’t know. I don’t listen to the old albums that much and I keep on forgetting stuff like what song is on which album. I’m really bad on our own history in that sense. Of course I do know the songs that we have played live, I do remember and I have some favourites that I like to play.
I did about a year ago listen to all the albums in a row, as I was going through the past to see if there were any songs that we haven’t played live yet and that we should have in the live set. I did find some gems from the past but I still can’t say if any of them are really my personal favourites as I don’t actually favour them one over each other.
I heard that the first song on your new album is more like an autobiography of the band.
Yeah the text is rather simple in that sense, a lot of self explaining I think.
If you were to describe your band in five words how would you do it?
I’d call us a ‘good rock and roll band’.
That’s one of the things I first noticed when I saw you live; the party atmosphere that you create with your songs songs that have a good capacity to get the crowd going.
That is sort of what we aim at. Basically we aim at pleasing ourselves first and then if the audience gets in on that, that’s perfect really.
Well you have to because you’re playing them time and time again so you have to enjoy it as the audience will see that.
Yes, that is the best thing you can do with your pants on; play good live shows. I think that is the reason for this band, why we do this. I’m sure many other bands will say the same idea, that this is the reason they’re in this business.
Do you remember what initially got you into music and the bass?
That was definitely Motörhead and why did it choose bass guitar? Because a friend of mine was already in a band with some older friends, and they needed a bass payer, so that’s how I picked that up. But definitely the reason why I wanted to become, not really musician but to become a rock star, that was Motörhead.
The good thing for the UK is that you’re coming back to Bloodstock for the third time this year.
Is it only the third time I can’t remember? Yeah Bloodstock, it’s a nice festival and we’ve enjoyed all the times there, however many they were. I remember the first one was a different location, or much smaller than it was now. It’s a nice festival and it’s good that you have an actual metal festival in the UK as well.
But you have a fair few other festivals lined up as well.
Yeah we have a really good summer coming up in that sense. For that we have the perfect timing with the album release, as with the album coming out in May we start the festivals in June. Last year was a bit slow in that sense since we didn’t have a new album out and we had already been everywhere the previous summer. Especially when the bigger festivals don’t really want to book you twice in a row, so this is the better year.
Do you ever get to go to festivals to just watch the bands and enjoy them?
At the festivals we go to play of course, we have time to go see other bands as well. But the than that not much as when I’m home I really like stay at home, I mean I’m not at home too much. I do go to some festivals in Finland. Maybe not the whole festival but maybe there’s a band, some people that we’ve toured with or whatever so I may go see them but not spend the entire festival there, but go see them and then go home and stuff like that. I can’t actually remember when was the last time I actually spent days at some festival.
We I think many people could say the same, but perhaps that’s due to drink.
Yes, yes that’s for a different reason.
Aside from getting to play live is there one particular thing that’s really good about being on tour?
Yeah, it depends on where you’re touring. Like soon we’re starting the USA tour and it’s a really nice time all of the time, I really enjoy touring the USA. I like the scenery, you go around the entire continent and you pretty much see everything. I like the people I like many thing there. Not to take anything away from touring in Europe, but it’s different.
When you’re on tour you have plenty of free time, we don’t really do anything except play the show. So you then have pretty much the whole day, minus the travel to do to whatever you want to do. Like go and raid the local record stores or something.
Do you ever have those last nights of the tours where you play jokes on each other?
We don’t really do that. I think that is like the common thing to do between the bands, but we don’t really do that. It’s a combination of being lazy and too demanding. We always come up with, especially me and our guitar player, we’re always thinking that ‘this would be so cool, so fucking funny’, and then we start thinking about but then we realise urgh, too much fucking work.
You could hire someone to do that for you.
Yeah but hiring someone is too much work. You have to find someone and explain the things to them and meh!
Or just plant the idea in one of the other bands heads.
Yeah, talking to other bands…..too much work.
Well given the work you do with your touring I guess you’re allowed the time off.
Yeah that’s the thing when you’re on tour, the really simple every day tasks are just too difficult. I’ve noticed many times you get a text message on your phone, and you have nothing to do, you’re just sitting there but still, replying to that message right there and then is just too much.
Before you go, if you could describe you’re new album how would you describe it?
A good rock and roll album. Honestly I don’t know how to describe that because I still think, as I said it’s better than what we’ve done before. It has all the things people are probably expecting from us; it has the fast songs, slow songs, drinking songs, Finnish mythology, Finnish legends and on top of all that it’s a really well executed album.
Korpiklaani’s new album. ‘Noita’ is due for release in the UK on 4th May and you can pre-order your copy from Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Noita-Korpiklaani/dp/B00TJHLH7A/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1426846022&sr=1-1&keywords=korpiklaani+noita&tag=smarturl-gb-21
You can also watch the lyric video for the new single ‘Lempo’ on Youtube.