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INTERVIEW: Mathias Lillmåns & Mikael Karlbom – Finntroll

You’d be forgiven to question the longevity of a folk metal band’s life cycle but FINNTROLL are approaching a formidable 20 years as a band and are still a powerful force to be reckoned with and would give any live band a run for their money. We caught up with frontman Mathias Lillmåns (Vreth) and guitarist Mikael Karlbom (Routa) following their set at Heavy Scotland to see what the future holds for FINNTROLL.

How does it feel to be a part of Heavy Scotland?

Vreth: Fucking cool! It’s the first time in ages that we have looked forward to going abroad to play a show.

Did you feel you got a good reaction from the crowd? It’s been a long time since FINNTROLL have visited Scotland.

Vreth: Yeah I think it was about 2014 when we last played, it’s been really cool and the set was awesome.

So you guys are approaching 20 years of FINNTROLL, do you have anything special planned?

Routa: It’s kind of in debate whether 20 years is from ’97 or from ’98, some bands classify it from when they first rehearsed but I think we are going to go for the release of our first demo which was ’98 so not quite there yet! [Laughs] We’re old fucks!

Your last album was Blodsvept in 2013, is there any plans in the works for a new album?

Routa: Yeah, it’s in the making!

Vreth: [Laughs] Everyone wants to know this!

Routa: We have a new album in the works, our record label and booking agent are very keen for us to get new material out but one of the great things about this band is we can take our time with that. With FINNTROLL we don’t want to do a new album which sounds exactly the same as the last one. We don’t write any songs while we are touring. The last album we toured for 3 years! So this is the first time we can sit down and..

Vreth: ..actually start thinking about something.

Routa: We already have like 5 songs ready but they are not quite up to scratch yet before they are album worthy.

Vreth: We’re still missing that…thin red line..you know?

Routa: The thing is with us, we could make an album every year but we don’t want to. Being in a band is a profession and we want to make music that we are proud of.

Do you feel that with your song lyrics and titles predominantly being in Swedish that they still have the same impact on your international audiences?

Vreth: There is always potential for misinterpretation like for example, our Nattfödd album everyone just got the impression we were about partying, drinking in the forest and killing priests! ..and it was nothing like that.

Routa: It was like 15 years ago!

Vreth: I feel like we have really good lyrics but yeah there is always the chance of them getting lost in translation.

Routa: I cannot see us suddenly starting to sing in English.

…yeah, you have developed your own original style and it would be completely daft to mess with something that is an established piece of your history.

Vreth: Yeah, its part of the sound.

Routa: We did a couple of songs in English which worked really well but they were just cover songs.

Apart from the mythology involved in your songs what inspires your song writing?

Routa: It could be literally anything and everything, sometimes I go back and listen to the kinda music I was listening to when I was 18, some really heavy music and that would inspire my writing. It all depends on your mood at the time. It could be a pop song you hear on the radio..

Vreth: ..and there is something nice in the beat or something.

It’s quite cool in a sense that you have that mentality, I recall hearing one of your songs earlier kicking off with a blast beat and it really surprised me!

[Both Laugh]

Routa: Yeah! That is the great thing about music, if you don’t pigeonhole yourself and say “I want to be straight up death metal”…fuck you can do whatever you want!

Vreth: Our Nifelvind album has a lot of 80’s pop song style vibes in it but its still a metal album!

Why do you think Finnish metal bands are so well received overseas?

Vreth: We’ve been discussing this a lot lately.

Routa: The great thing about most of the Finnish metal bands is they are all writing music for themselves. I mean METALLICA is a big influence for us but we are not going to try and sound like METALLICA! Sadly there are a lot of bands in Central Europe that are just copying music that they like.

just trying to catch a trend?

Vreth: Yeah, exactly!

Routa: That’s just my opinion though.

Vreth: I’m with you on that one! The Finnish sound because it’s dark 50% of the year it influences you!

Routa: When you begin to hate everything! [Laughs]

Vreth: The melancholic vibe where you reminisce about the summer.

Routa: Even Finnish love songs are depressing! They are all past tense…like how you used to love someone! There are no happy songs in Finland!

Finntroll live @ Heavy Scotland. Photo Credit: Evangeline Parkinson Photography
Finntroll live @ Heavy Scotland. Photo Credit: Evangeline Parkinson Photography

Do FINNTROLL have any plans for the rest of 2017?

Vreth: We are going to be playing the 20th anniversary of Summer Breeze which is pretty cool!

Routa: We have something planned in Estonia.

Vreth: Yeah, we are playing a folk festival but we will be the only band using distorted guitars!

Routa: It’s like a three day folk festival.

Vreth: …but no folk metal..no metal at all…Just us!

Routa: I’m like…”do you guys know what you’ve booked?” [Laughs]

Vreth: We’ve got a Russian tour after that too then writing like motherfuckers! or trying to!

So when do you think we should expect a new album? Is it likely to be 2018?

Routa: It will be probably be next year, even if we finish it this year the label will take at least half a year to…

Vreth: ..to get the machinery rolling, with promotion and everything.

Routa: I really hope next year, I have my fingers crossed!

If there was any band you could go on tour with who would it be?

Routa: Oh fuck…this is always a tough question!

Vreth: LED ZEPPELIN!

Routa: I would love to tour with ENTOMBED! You know, the classic lineup before all the fighting! I’d love to do something with SATYRICON, he has always been super nice with us, or KVELERTAK. I’ve never met the guys but I love their music and of course hands down the best people in the world, SKALMOLD, the Icelanders.

Vreth: They’re awesome.

Routa: I love those guys with every fibre in my body…so good! Such a great live band its ridiculous!

I think there are a lot of bands that don’t great the appreciation they deserve until you witness them in a live setting.

Vreth: Yeah, exactly!

Well that just about wraps it up, thank you very much for your time guys. Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?

Vreth: Drink beer, worship Satan!

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