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, February 22, 2012

Northwind Promotion / February 2012


(Took place in Stuttgart, during Niflheim Festival)

Interview with Ville and Henri Sorvali from MOONSORROW – 17.02.2012

You’ve come a long way from your first demotapes in the 90′s to the latest album. How much impact did the growing fame and success have on your lives and on Moonsorrow?

Ville: (laughs)

Henri: I got vacation from work today. I had worked beforehand, last week. You know, office job…And I laughed at my wife who had to go to work this morning. Ok, here I am, I am supposed to be a “folk metal legend” according to the promoters and I’m shoveling snow this morning, before I go to this airport and I have to beg my stepfather to give me a lift there, because the taxi is too expensive. It’s affecting that much.

Ville: That was a good question to start with, actually. For my part, I can say that whenever we are touring and stuff I can actually support my low standard of living. But when we’re not I have to do the everyday stuff that I did before.

You went to China last year. What experiences did you make? Did it meet your expectations?

Ville: I had no expectations at all, because I didn’t know what to expect.

Henri: Expect the unexpected!

Ville: It was certainly a blast to be there. It was a totally different world – I have never experienced anything like China, because I’m used to the western way of living. Especially in the small, more “Chinese” towns that we had there - towns with 2 million people – the way of living was nothing like what I am used to. And I ate really weird food…

Henri: Dogs!

Ville: I don’t know if had dog, but at least I ate soup made of pig’s blood and chicken stomach and some kind of half-developed duck-eggs (laughs)

Henri: Did you seriously eat that shit?

Ville: Yes, I did.

What about your last tour with Týr and Crimfall? I read on Facebook that you guys were sick. Would you say it was the hardest tour you ever did?

Ville: We had a lot of fun. It was hard for those two weeks when everyone was sick and we just tried to pull off the shows, not to vomit during the shows. Some people did, actually – Mitja also threw up two times during one show.

But you didn’t cancel any shows.

Ville: No, no.

Henri: We have never ever canceled a show.

Ville: No, we have canceled one show, some ten years ago when we were supposed to play with Finntroll. When Somnium died. Then we canceled the show.

Henri: Yes, but normally we don’t cancel because we are fans. Everybody who is in Moonsorrow is also a fan. The people who play in bands are also fans of other bands. So who would be so fucking rude to their fans who are like us? They pay for the ticket and they’re waiting to see the band, and the band doesn’t play because somebody has bad throat or something?

Henri, why are you playing so rarely with Moonsorrow, although you are the main songwriter?

Henri: To put it in a nutshell: I have steady job, like many other guys also. But as I also got Finntroll and a family – I got a kid. So it’s really hard for me to go touring all the time. It’s much easier to get some other guy to do all the shows – like 75% of the shows. It’s much more convenient and the people know that it’s always the same guy who’s coming. I could basically pull of half of the gigs and half of the gigs I would have to cancel, but the thing is that it is much easier to have someone steady to do all the shows.

You seem to enjoy touring a lot. What is it that you like most when you hit the road?

Henri: (points to his beer bottle)

Ville: (Laughs) That too. But basically it is that when I’m on the road, I might have some worries at home or whatever, then I can’t do anything about them. Basically, I’m free when I’m on tour.

I enjoy the feeling. I feel the most alive when I’m in the tourbus and do the same thing every night, waking up in a different city every day…

Henri: …still having the same hangover.

Do you prefer small clubs or big festival stages?

Ville: Small clubs. I mean, big festivals are also nice like for example last summer when we did the Wacken main stage. But still small clubs give this kind of intimate atmosphere, more of an interaction with the audience and a better light show.

Many of your albums have a completely different sound. Do you have a vision of how an album should sound beforehand?

Henri: Yes, we love to experiment. We actually talked about the new album today. We were thinking about whether to continue with this…

Ville: …crunching wall of sound…

Henri: yeah, or if we should be doing something else. You know, which sound would guys prefer to hear, into which direction should we develop? It’s basically like a journey, when songs are done we start thinking what kind of sound would suit these songs.

Do you also experiment in the studio or do you have the perfect idea of how the songs should sound after the songwriting?

Ville: We experiment a bit.

Henri: Yeah, pretty much we have the idea. We actually make the album in two types. We first make the demos and if you would hear the demos you could say “Hey, I know this song, that it this and that song”. They are pretty identical to the actual studio version but in the studio the real magic happens. We experiment a bit and that is how the final stuff comes to be.

How does a Moonsorrow song emerge? Do you write everything at home, or do you also have jam-sessions?

Henri: We don’t jam. Basically what happens is that I get an idea, or somebody gets an idea. It’s not necessarily me who gets the first idea, but what happens then is that I stark to work with it. I work as an audio designer for a games company, so I deal with the music at my work. So, I have everything there. If I have this Moonsorrow idea in my head I just switch on the computer and do that. So it’s really easy for me to just open the software and start recording because that’s what I do for a living and the setup is always there. And in my spare time at work – note to everybody, note to my boss here – well we have this kind of mutual agreement that I can do my own stuff at work, too, whenever it doesn’t distract the workflow. So, basically I do this at work and I try to evolve things and try different things.

For the new album there is this song called “Tähdetön”. Maybe you remember in this song we have this break, when it goes into this folkish melody. After that part we used to have a different song. And I showed it to the guys and everybody thought it was okay. And I didn’t feel either that it was very good. I had been doing that part for like one month but it didn’t give me goose bumps. After two weeks I decided to – Cubase is the software we’re using – cut everything after the folkish part, and did it from scratch again. I just deleted everything – there was like 6 minutes of music – and made it exactly the way it’s on the album in half a day. Before that it took me one month to do it.

Ville: And that is how it works, basically.

Henri: How it should work. Bad ideas are always those which are forced. Good ideas are those that come to your mind and you have to write them down quickly before you lose them.

Ville: Henri is responsible for most of the music. You could call him a dictator or whatever, but the thing is if he does something the rest of the band doesn’t approve, he does it again.

Nobody has the veto right?

Henri: In theory I do have that. But I don’t think I ever used it. Everybody knows I have that, and that is why I never have to use it.

Ville: Yeah, it really is like that. He does it all but everyone else has to like it as well.

Henri: You have to have a dictator in the band. You might have heard this saying: “Too many cooks spoil the broth”. If it’s too democratic, it’s just a fucking mess. You end up pleasing nobody. So in Moonsorrow it’s basically one guy’s vision approved by everybody else.

What are the most important characteristics of your sound and lyrics? Which elements should never lack on a record?

Henri: We need this ride-cymbal-thing. The fast beat, or with the hi-hat.

Ville: Something that happens all the time is also a distortion of the bass…

Henri: Oh yeah, the bass is really important. We like to crank the bass.

And lyric-wise?

Ville: I don’t know how to explain it. There is always some sort of the same framework, but I don’t really know what it is. It’s mostly just in my head but there is always like the same kind of undertone in the lyrics. I think and I hope that all the other band members can also sign under the lyrics that I write in my personal madness. I don’t know what it is that makes all of them together, but there is something, definitely.

Henri: Half of the Moonsorrow stuff wouldn’t be anything without Ville’s lyrics. I was listening to the newest album “Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa” about two days ago and it kicks me in the nuts every time I hear Ville screaming in this song “Muinaiset”. It gives me goose bumps every time. His lyrics, his performance, Moonsorrow wouldn’t be anything without it. If I haven’t said that before – here I said it (laughs).

Ville: Seventeen years, and I heard it now. Thank you (laughs).

After having developed a unique sound over so many years, are there still new things influencing you?

Henri: What’s the new things on the albums? How long have you been following Moonsorrow?

…since 2005

Henri: Okay, was there something new after 2005? After “Verisäkeet” there came “Hävitetty” which is something I would refer to as new. And then came “Tulimyrsky” and there were also new elements. You know there is the old stuff and the new stuff, but basically you can hear it yourself.

Is there something that inspires you as a musician?

Henri: Musically, as I write most of the music I can talk about this a little bit. I get inspired heavily by some stuff, for example “Verisäkeet” which was heavily inspired by the oldschool stuff like Satyricon.

Ville: And then “The Cure”…

Henri: “The Cure” was a huge inspiration for “Hävitetty”. Well, everything in my life was like totally going down the drain so it was not an easy solution, but somehow a reasonable solution that I somehow picked up “The Cure”. I went to these guitars, these clean guitars on the top of the heavy metal guitar sound – we call them “cure guitars” – and we still have them after since. They have become a vital part of Moonsorrow, too. And then again, I heard Alcest, and they have these “Cure guitars” also, and then I saw the promo pictures and I thought “What the fuck is going on with the scene?” I mean these feathers in his hair – I thought “man, this is black metal!”

What are you guys listening to at the moment?

Ville: Whatever band is playing right now (laughs). No, during the last few weeks I mostly listened to “Swallow the sun”, because they released a new album – that actually hit number 2 in the Finnish charts.

Henri: Well, to make the Germans proud, I really admire “Mad Sin”. It’s basically Rockabilly mixed with punk, or in “Mad Sin’s” case punk mixed with rockabilly. It’s called psychobilly. You know, it’s like Bad Religion with an upright bass.

Ville: That’s the second best thing that ever came out of Germany.

And what’s the best thing?

Ville: “Secrets of the Moon”.

That’s it guys. The last words to your fans reading this belong to you:

Henri: I’m really bad on last words.

Ville: Thanks to everyone who is reading this.

Henri: Thanks to everybody who’s buying our albums, we love you! (laughs). You couldn’t get more generic bullshit.

Ville: But we don’t have that many people who are buying albums, so we have to thank them (laughs).

Thanks for taking the time and answering the questions

Ville: Thank you!

Henri: Thank you!

Hall of Metal / November 2011


Recorded during the Dead Tyrants Tour, November 2011.

[Most questions written by me!]