Welcome to the Moonsorrow Interviews Compilation!
Here you will find more than one hundred Moonsorrow interviews, many of which have already disappeared from where they were originally posted. Check the Index and Contact pages above and the notes in the left column for more info.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

None Louder / January 2008


On Friday, January 11, 2008, I had the distinct honor of speaking with Pagan metal icon Ville Sorvali, frontman of the Finnish band, Moonsorrow (Spinefarm).

Joined by the esteemed Adrian Bromley (The End Records), and Ville’s personal photographer, Terhi Ylimäinen, I conducted my interview to the subtle sounds of the shutter snapping and the air vent humming overhead.

SAM: Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

Moonsorrow: Tough question to start with. Biggest musical influence... Bon Jovi. No. I think a lot of the stuff came from Ritchie Blackmore when we started and Bathory. There is a lot of progressive influence, a lot of traditional folk music influence. I think the biggest influence that concerns the whole band is Norwegian black metal from the 90s. That’s the only thing that connects us.

Sam: Any specific people that really inspired you?

MS: Definitely a lot. I think the biggest influence is Bathory on a personal level. He started the whole thing anyway. We’re just trying to continue his legacy.

SAM: What would you say are your nonmusical influences?

MS: “Love?” History, people, the world around us. I as a lyric writer I have a few Finnish poets.

SAM: Other stuff besides poets?

MS: I used to read a lot of stuff. I haven’t read any in years - of history, folklore, mythology.

SAM: How would you say your band has progressed over the years?

MS: A lot on every level. We’ve definitely developed as musicians since our first album, as songwriters, and we’ve also come closer to developing our own style. The stuff we really want to do, we get closer to everyday. It’s constant progress that each of us develops everyday.

SAM: How would you say you’ve progressed as people and friends?

MS: We’re getting more and more close to each other definitely. Sometimes it feels like a marriage of five people. We have our disagreements and stuff, of course. It’s a bunch of good friends definitely. Even outside the band we hang out together. Like, if somebody is going to a bar, he calls the other guys and stuff like that.

SAM: It says on your Web site on your profile that, “If you’re not into metal, you’re not my friend.” Is this a statement the whole band stands behind or a personal philosophy… kind of joking?

MS: It’s kind of joking. We are all definitely metal, of course, but it’s a joke because most of the stuff I listen to is not metal, and I have a lot of nonmetal friends as well. It’s kind of a statement in a joking manner and, of course, a tribute to Manowar. (laughs)

SAM: Most of your songs are pretty long. What do you think is the benefit of having longer songs?

MS: I don’t know if there is any benefit because I know radio stations don’t want to play it. We can’t make short songs. The way we make songs is we write something and the song tell us ‘I’m not ready yet. Please continue.’ And we continue until the song tells us it’s ready. Lately, we have been writing very long songs. The next one we’re writing that’s going to be on the new EP, I think it’s 28 minutes.

SAM: According to your Web site, Moonsorrow has only performed once in America and that was in January of 2006. Is there a reason you haven’t played in the United States?

MS: The reason is cruel. It’s financial. We had a mini-tour in Canada last year, we had five shows. It’s very hard to get here, to have anyone organizing a show for you or a tour for you because it’s so expensive to get here. Most of us are people in day jobs. We can’t take unpaid holidays. We can’t come here and end up paying for it ourselves. We would definitely love to play here as often as we can, but so far nobody has offered us the financial backing

SAM: So there’s no plan to come here in the future?

MS: There’s always a plan to come here. We’re just searching for the right package.

SAM: You’ve performed in a lot of places and seen a lot of audiences. What places stick out in your mind as being unique?

MS: I think Eastern Europe as a whole. All those countries we’ve played: Russia, Czec Republic, Croatia, Romania... That’s a bunch of insane people there. I think still in many of those countries they don’t have too many Western bands coming so if there is a concert they are all going there, and they are really giving everything.

SAM: Are there any experiences that stick out in your mind?

MS: There are a lot of insane drunken adventures at many places after shows. One of the experiences was Moscow. We went outside from the venue before the show with our keyboard player to have a smoke. We were outside for like two seconds and there were hundreds of people surrounding us yelling, ‘Autograph, autograph!’ And they were offering us vodka and stuff like that. It took us almost thirty minutes to get back to the venue. That was insane.

SAM: How would you compare the Finnish metal scene with the rest of the world?

MS: It’s unique. In Finland, I think it’s the only country in the whole world where metal is on the charts on a weekly basis. The reason for that I can’t answer, I seriously don’t know. It’s weird, metal is very popular in Finland.

SAM: When do you expect to complete recording Firestorm?

MS: Actually, the band started recording that today while I’m still here. I’m going to fly back and join them Sunday or Monday.

SAM: Is there a projected release date for that?

MS: It should be in March. Late March, I think, but it’s up to our record label.

SAM: Is there a story that’s going to be going along with this one?

MS: Actually, there is this one song that is going to continue the story that was started on our second album. I don’t know why we decided to go back to our second album, but we’re going to continue that story.

SAM: Your music has been described as folk, Pagan, progressive, black metal, etc. What do you think best describes your music?

MS: I call it Pagan metal because Pagan is not a musical term. I don’t like musical categorization at all. It doesn’t do justice to most of the bands anyway. I think we play a lot of metal music that has influences outside of metal, and I don’t like to put it inside of any box or anything. I prefer to call it Pagan metal because that describes the ideological points in the music, but doesn’t say anything about the music itself. So it’s up to the listener.

SAM: Some metal Web sites I was looking at to prepare for this interview referred to you as “Viking Metal” and it’s my understanding that you don’t like to be called Viking Metal. What is Viking Metal and why is it that you don’t like to be associated with that?

MS: It’s just like if somebody calls us Viking metal or folk metal, it associates us with all these bands that we actually don’t have anything to do with. It’s also not just our point of view but their point of view as well. These bands don’t have much to do with each other. You call a band Viking metal, for instance, Inscrum and Amon Amarth who are totally different bands but still under the same label. I don’t know who started it or when, but musically it doesn’t do justice to anyone. It doesn’t say anything about the music itself. I think Viking metal started to grow as a trend some years ago. I don’t mind if people call us Viking metal if it helps them to understand what we’re about then by all means call us Viking metal. But I don’tlike to call us Viking metal.

SAM: What does the future hold for Moonsorrow?

MS: Hell raising and beer drinking.

SAM: You’re in a couple of other bands, Human Death and Lakupaavi. What instruments to you play in those?

MS: Human Death never recorded anything yet, but I think I should do vocals.

SAM: So there’s no actual music?

MS: There are a few songs.

SAM: But you don’t know what you’ll be playing on there?

MS: No, but it’s old-school death metal, like Obituary.

SAM: Any others?

MS: Yeah, there are a lot of bands or projects. I’m a fairly untalented musician so I just do the vocals. (laughs)

SAM: You also play bass and drums right? Do you play those in any other bands?

MS: I played drums for a band of my friend’s a few years back because their drummer was injured.

SAM: Is there anything you’d like us to say about you?

MS: Don’t write anything bad about us.

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