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, September 28, 2011

Metal Sound / Mid 2005

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Moonsorrow

From the Thousand Lakes

I think that I may have promised an interview with Moonsorrow in the review of "Verisakeet", in the last issue of Hornburg. That album received a perfect score in the last issue, 10/10. I know this band from their beginnings, because their music has always been interesting to me. Basically, Moonsorrow could be called pagan black metal, but in their later phases, the music has become much more complex. The bend combines black metal with folk motifs and choirs. The end product is very effective. Moonsorrow was already interview in the third issue of Hornburg, but was then interviewed by our webmaster Dachaz who is a great fan of theirs. This interview I did with Ville, the singer. The interview is very interesting and talks about a lot more than just the band's music.

Hello Ville! How are things going with Moonsorrow lately?
Hails! Things are going smoothly, we're enjoying our summer holidays and slightly preparing for the upcoming festival shows.

With your latest CD "Verisakeet" you have gained great success all over the world; you've received very positive comments from media and fans. Now, how are your feeling after this huge success?
I don't know if it was that great success after all, things in perspective, eh. Anyway it was a lot more than we expected. We were doing quite an uncompromising work with "Verisakeet", and expected to get some more criticism also. Instead we got quite a lot of positive comments. I don't know what came to people, but I'm glad if they like it.

"Verisakeet" has some interesting elements. Beside some folk instruments you've produced this album with a more raw production style. Why did you decided to do that?
We felt that we have to do something different after "Kivenkantaja". We had reached the limit of our pomposity, so we took a quick 180 turn and got more "back to the roots", so to say. It all happened quite naturally (the whole band felt like the same), so I really can't separate any reasons why we did that in the first place. This time the black metal influences just got more through, a lot.

Also, most of your tracks are, more or less, very long. Is it hard to record and compose these songs? Also, the same goes when you perform them live?
Writing the music is usually a very long process with lots of different ideas and experimentation. The purpose of the process is to make a song, not a long song per se, as some people have already blamed us for, but is usually happens that the song becomes long in the process, without us really noticing it. We are very delicate about the structure of each song, and we just don't make any haste of ending a song in radio time if it doesn't fit. Recording is the easy part, because we have already made ourselves familiar with all the details in the songs beforehand and rehearsed them through with the band. We have made some live arrangements of certain songs that can't be played in their whole on stage, for a reason or another, but most of the songs we play live as they are recorded.

Do you see Amorphis as the pioneers of this so-called folk metal in Finland? Have you listen to this group throughout the years?
Yes. Amorphis has to be credited for a lot in the dawn of this indeed so-called "folk metal" (as we all know, they got numerous followers shortly after "Tales from the Thousand Lakes"). They were also a big thing for me back then, and a considerable factor in sparking my interest in such music. I think their old stuff is marvelous, but they have grown quite boring since then.. I don't even own their latter discography after "Elegy". Let's see what the new album with the new vocalist will bring.

You've released all your records through Finish label Spinefarm. Are they the main record company in your country? Have you had any offers from some other label?
Spinefarm definitely is, whether we want it or not, the biggest and most visible metal-oriented label in Finland. We're not working with them for that anyway, but for some more grassroot-level details; the office is close, the people are nice and things are going smoothly overall. We got few offers from other labels and settled with Spinefarm rather swiftly.

I remember well when you released your first full-length. In those times you wrote that you are influenced with Bathory and some other bands. Are you still seeing Moonsorrow as one group connected with some works of Bathory?
Moonsorrow is and will always be influenced by Bathory, I won't deny that.

Well, which period of Bathory has the most influence on you and why?
Obviously the Viking era, it has influenced Moonsorrow's music and my taste of music in general quite a lot, evidently. But I also like the early black metal albums and won't deny their influence either. All in all, we're talking about the best band in the world here - or even the only one, hehe.

Your lyrics were always written in your mother tongue, Finnish. Did you ever think to write a few songs in English? Maybe you will decide to do it in the future...
Actually we started with English (hence the name), but shortly switched to Finnish after our first demo. Ever since Finnish has been an integral part of the band's concept and outcome, and we never seriously gave a thought to changing it back to English. It's a Finnish band after all. ;)

If you look back in the past and the beginnings of Moonsorrow, would you like to go back and change something?
Cherish all those good things that happened to us but went by unnoticed.

Correct me if I am wrong, but all Moonsorrow releases were also published on vinyl. Do you personally preferred to collect LPs? How can you explain/comment that vinyl or even cassettes/tape are back again especially when it comes to metal music?
Actually, no Moonsorrow releases have been released on vinyl - yet. We're planning a vinyl edition of "Verisakeet" to be released in the autumn. I personally like vinyls and tapes, mostly for nostalgic reasons of course. I wouldn't say that the sound on vinyl is any "warmer" than on cd or anything, let alone tapes that always sounded downright horrible. I think vinyls and tapes have always been a part of the metal subculture, not coming back or being forgotten. There will always be this certain "feeling" about them.

The band members are and have been involved with other bands and projects, what is going on outside the band at the moment? Is it possible to focus on Moonsorrow but still have bands on the side?
Everyone has their own bands and projects, but we focus on Moonsorrow completely when needed. It's only a matter of priority. We are rather creative (restless) people and need to have our hands on something even when Moonsorrow isn't on.

Henri and you officially founded Moonsorrow back in 1995. Did you ever imagine that in these times you would reach this great success with Moonsorrow?
Heh, no, of course we didn't. We founded the band as a project among others (believe me, we had many) and just wanted to see where we could get with that. When we got our first record deal and the band around us in 1999/2000, we already felt that we achieved all we possibly could've wanted. Cliché to say, but everything that has happened since is bonus.

You have always considered Moonsorrow as a pagan/heathen (black) metal band. Do you still like to label your music in this way? Also, do you see yourself as an enemy to monotheistic religions such is Christianity?
Moonsorrow was founded as, is, and will always be a pagan metal band. It is an enemy of Christianity as long as Christianity is an enemy of paganism.

Moonsorrow

What is your general position about the concepts of religion through the history of human civilization? Do you think that it has some good or bad effects on human progress?
People need something to believe in; gods, scientists, extraterrestial beings, themselves, anything. I won't blame anyone on that. However something is wrong when people start to think their faith is the only correct one, start to forcefeed it on others and begrime their hands in cultural annihilation (has happened numerous times in history, no need to list events or parties). Whereas certain religions indeed have brought "civilization" to certain areas, some have merely replaced a functioning system with their own.

Do you like to visit concerts? On the other side, do you like to play live-I mean there are many musicians out there who are afraid to play in front of huge public/masses, many scared by terrorist attacks.
Yes, I like to visit concerts, and I try to do so whenever my economy allows. Live music is what rock n' roll is all about anyway. We definitely enjoy playing live, and no, there's no room for fear on the stage. There are lunatics everywhere and you can be killed on your daily walk to the shop if it comes to that.

When you have played live across Europe were you faced with any troubles? Were there any dangerous situations for you?
Nothing that we should be concerned about. We had an interesting experience in Lithuania though, when Henri couldn't enter the country because of his expired passport (we had to play with one guitarist) and I completely lost my voice during the bus ride, not to mention all the other difficulties we faced. It was a fun trip anyway, and cheers to all the crazy Lithuanians who came to see us!

Besides usually working with music, what other activities do you like to do in your free time? Also, can you live from the music or maybe better question, can you even earn some money?
I am working with whatever at times while hopelessly trying to finish my studies at the university. I have also been known as the editor of the Finnish metal magazine Inferno. On my free time I drink and meet friends, basically. The music doesn't support me but merely gives some pocket money now and then; then again, it's a hobby.

Could you choose your favorite track and album from Moonsorrow?
Hard question, but I'd say my current favorite track is Karhunkynsi. The best album is always the newest, and when it starts not to be so, I'll quit.

That's basically all. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Thank you for your support in Serbia, stay heathen!

www.moonsorrow.com Interview done by Marko Miranovic in 2005

Metal Sound / July 2011

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Metal Sound Magazine
(Interview was done by Marko Miranovic)
Answers: Mitja Harvilahti (Moonsorrow)
The interview was done in Slovenia (at Metal Camp) during July 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Modern Drummer / April 2010

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Hey, Modern Drummer readers! Marko Tarvonen is my name, and I’m writing from Detroit. I’m on tour with my band Moonsorrow. We come from Finland and play epic melodic metal with some black metal influences mixed with some folkish and progressive rock touches. On the bill are also Finntroll and Swallow The Sun, so this really is a Finnish metal tour. I believe it’s the first time something like this is going on in the North America. So far the response has been really great. Thanks so much to our fans in U.S.A. and Canada!

I started to play the drums when I was seven years old. My mother thought I had some potential to become a drummer, so my parents bought me my first drumset. That same year, 1985, I entered the Pop & Jazz Conservatory in Helsinki. I took lessons there for just over ten years, until I decided to quit because of lack of time and a growing interest to form my own bands playing my own tunes and such. After my teenage metal years I really got into progressive rock and started to admire drummers like Bill Bruford, Carl Palmer, and Phil Collins—quite the obvious choices from the British prog scene. They influenced the playing style that I have today. Even though I hit hard playing in metal bands, I’ve kept my proper technique, and that really helps with the physics of your body—no problems with your hands, feet, or back when you keep the basic technique and posture together.

So after some experimenting for years with different music styles (such as jazz fusion, technical thrash metal, progressive rock, and even hardcore punk) I found my home in Moonsorrow, with whom I’ve been playing now for ten years semi-professionally—yes, I still have a day job—since playing in more underground bands doesn’t pay my bills. I still consider this as a good hobby. Not too much to stress about the business side of the ride. I’m there only for the music, that’s what really counts. Indeed it’s good therapy.

In 2007 I was invited to join a new Finnish metal group called Barren Earth, a band mixing some death/doom metal with echoes from psychedelia and progressive rock from the ’70s. So after all it really cannot be called progressive—regressive maybe, huh? Anyhow, we got signed to Peaceville Records in 2009 and recorded our debut EP and album during the summer. It was a very relaxed session, playing the drums in a fine studio, built in an old barracks of our nation’s pride—the coastal fortress of Suomenlinna. The result is a very big but natural drum sound that suits the material very well. The album, Curse Of The Red River, was just released on both sides of the Atlantic. It has nine songs of heavy, atmospheric, and almost depressively melodic metal with both growling and clean vocals.

Speaking of vocals, I also sing a lot of harmonies in both bands with my precious headset mic. That is something I’ve been good at since I was a child. My mom told me I used to sing every day at home. So now I’ve brought something special to my bands, being able to help out with the background voices and even some lead vocal parts. With the drumming it’s very challenging, and at the same time a musically productive thing to do, as I see my strongest point is in serving the music. So I don’t see myself as a selfish musician at all.

My gear: Kumu drums handmade in Finland, Alchemy cymbals by Istanbul, Regal Tip sticks, and Shure microphones. Thanks to Pekka Helanen and Kumu drums, Alchemy cymbals, and Musamaailma in Finland.