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.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Riding Hellwards Newsletter / May 1999

This interview comes from what we probably can call the smallest fanzine in history, with only 2 pages, featuring 3 interviews in total. I was going to cut out the Moonsorrow one and post it alone, but since it's so little, I decided to upload the two scans in full. These, by the way, were recently scanned by Henri himself, and shared online by Velkaarn, whose blog Asmodian Coven (linked below) you need to check out instantly if you're interested in rips of ultra-rare demo cassettes and similar stuff. This micro-webzine came together with a compilation tape which is also available for download in the blog. Thanks a lot!

Link: Asmodian Coven

Update: Now, two days later, I realized that this one was already posted here. However, I'm leaving both: the other one is easier to read, but having the scan of the original document has an added value, don't you think?

Click to enlarge.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hel Rocks / September 2014


September 13th, 2014 right before the band's longest concert ever, in Helsinki.

No really long songs this time: Moonsorrow talk the new album, inspiration and staring at vinyls
Moonsorrow - Virgin Oil - Sep 13 2014

We tracked down Ville Sorvali and Mitja Harvilahti from Moonsorrow before they played the longest live Moonsorrow set ever in Virgin Oil Co this September. Sitting outside in the dying light of the day, editor Rachel Roth set to trying to find out how the new album is going.Some time markers:
  • The album writing process & inspiration: 3m50s
  • Moonsorrow’s sound and Paganism: 6m45s
  • Touring, Live shows and Laziness: 9m30s
  • The success of the Finnish Folk Metal scene: 12m30s
  • Replacing furniture with the Blood Music box set: 14m35s
  • First band shirts: 18m45s

TRANSCRIPT (edited for readability):
RR: I’m Rachel with Hel Rocks, and we are here with Ville and Mitja from Moonsorrow. We’re going to have our signature Having a Pint interview without the pints today, but that’s ok. I think we’ll live.
MH: Yeah, I think so.
VS: We have just changed our habits, we don’t drink anymore. This is proof.
RR: That’s terrifying, I can’t handle that, I need to leave now. So we’ve been hearing that the new album’s had some delays, and we drew the conclusion that you guys aren’t really willing to compromise on what you’re putting out so we have to ask, what is Moonsorrow all about for you? What’s this next album going to be all about?
VS: You actually answered the question, while asking it.
RR: I did?
VS: We aren’t willing to make compromises.
RR: How do you think that’s going to come across?
MH: Well at the moment it’s coming out great. We had a lot of delays, and also we had to ditch a lot of ideas and songs. A lot of material was erased that we had already written. It took a long time to find a direction and we still are working on it. It’s something that’s going to be tweaked until the very end of the process but, it’s coming good now.
RR: So you feel like you’re making those big steps that are necessary.
VS: We have some good stuff coming.
RR: Awesome. Can’t tell us any little sneak peeks?
VS: No.
RR: OK. Fair enough.
VS: But it’s not going to be those half an hour songs.
RR: Oh, that’ll be a change. Henri mentioned a while back that Moonsorrow was never meant to be a household name. How has the success you’ve had kind of contradicted that?
VS: I don’t think it contradicted it in any way. Any success we got just happened. We didn’t really aim for anything else than creating the best music possible.
MH: It’s a thing that I actually really like about our so called success, because it’s kind of honest. We never marketed the band to be able to go to Japan or America. Everything, all the demand, came from outside instead of us pushing us all the time. Of course when we switched to a bigger record label and booking agency and managers, then people are working for you and trying to make the band more visible. But the groundwork was done just by demand from the people who like our music.
RR: Was it kind of a big surprise though? From when you initially started out?
VS: Kinda, yeah. To start with, our lyrics are in Finnish. When we got the first offers from abroad, it was quite amazing. We were just thinking like, ‘someone actually listens to this outside of Finland?’ and they want us to come there and play.
RR: Do people like sing along at the shows?
VS: They try.
MH: In some countries they really can sing along like in Hungary for example, at least at some point, they really knew the lyrics but there are a lot of mumbo-jumbo happening in the crowd that’s not really accurate, but…
VS: Like in the States. They are keen to sing along.
RR: And the efforts got to be like, it’s got to feel really awesome.
VS: I appreciate it. Definitely.
RR: With your last album, Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa, that was a huge success and it brought a lot more international attention, how was the development of that different than the new upcoming albums?
MH: Well. It was quicker. The development of Varjoina was actually…
VS: …quicker? Still four years since the last full-length album.
MH: Well we had Tulimyrsky in between. But when we had the idea, the concept in mind, it just started taking off very fast and we came up with pretty much everything, like the musical concept, pretty fast. So it didn’t take that long to compose, compared to this time when we really are searching for the right way to go and right things to emphasise in the music.
RR: Where do you think the bulk of the time goes during the process, is it the recording, the lyric writing, the composition?
VS: Ah… getting the ideas together. The so-called ‘divine inspiration’ takes most of the time. When we actually have started working, like when we have a good basis for a song, it usually happens pretty fast.
RR: Where do you find that you can kind of get that inspiration from?
VS: Forest.
MH: The forest is good answer. Yeah.
VS: I don’t know really, It just happens.
MH: And something that creative people usually have is that they don’t have to actually go, to the forest or anything. If you have a lot of imagination, then you get the inspiration from there. To be able to sing about the forest you don’t need to go there all the time to get the inspiration, it’s more of a metaphor.
VS: And most of the inspiration is still just hard work. It’s quite irritating when big artists talk about inspiration in a way that it’s just something that happens to you and you just have to wait for it. It actually might never happen if you just keep waiting. You have to push yourself to work.
RR: So your philosophy is more, reach out and take it than wait for it to come to you? It’s a good philosophy.
MH: Well I’m not very creative in Moonsorrow, I haven’t written a lot of stuff, and the stuff that I write for example is not very Moonsorrow. So I cannot talk so much about that, but I also notice that the more you create the more you will get inspired. And you start creating more, so…
VS: It feeds itself.
RR: The sound has definitely developed a lot, you’ve gone from melodic black metal to folkish black metal and it’s been developing and changing all the time. How is that kind of changed or continuing with this next album? Without giving too much away.
VS: No, we still keep doing what feels right at the moment. And that’s probably why we have always, kind of “changed” our style, because we always did what we felt like doing at that very moment.
RR: I mean, a phrase that gets tossed around a lot is Pagan metal. What does that mean to you guys?
MH: Well, the word ‘pagan’ that’s the answer. It’s a core of the band beliefs. None of us are very religious even in a way of being Pagan, but there is something like, the core of Paganism is nature for example and that’s also in our music. You don’t even have to read the lyrics and you will hear that the nature is the source of it in a way. At least, I feel like that.
RR: It’s more about the way the music speaks and comes across and conveys that rather than it being about any sort of school of thought.
VS: Uh, yeah and about how nature speaks to us, and we channel it to music.
RR: It’s a good way to look at it. You have a lot of bands that are really obsessed with, well, one specific aspect of it and that can get kind of frustrating.
MH: Yeah, and when it comes to music we never want to find the perfect recipe of making Moonsorrow music, we always want to challenge ourselves and we kind of almost hate the previous albums, we always want to clean the table in a good way. I mean, we want to clean the table and do something completely different. Like for example, after Kivenkantaja we didn’t want anything to do with that kind of music and that’s how Verisäkeet came along because we turned our back on it completely.
VS: That’s progression. We could always do the previous album twice. Because we already did it, we know how to do it again. But, it wouldn’t be fair to us or the fans.
RR: Do you have anything that you’re working on now that kind of encompasses that, that you’re really excited and it’s a bigger change?
VS: Hmmm.
MH: I don’t know.
VS: Yeah, the material is still quite kind of spread across in my head. Really can’t grasp it just yet. Like what would be the focal point.
RR: When you think about getting up there on stage and playing one of the new songs, what about it makes it so exciting for you?
MH: I think it’s just the joy of playing the new songs, or something we haven’t played before. It feels, I mean we played the other songs we played so many times for so many years, it’s really refreshing to have something new to play.
VS: And it starts from the rehearsals actually. For example, I’m, I can be quite a lazy person. But when I get a new song, and I know that I have to practice it because we are going to play this live.
RR: It lights the fire.
VS: Yeah. Be it, whichever band I’ve played with, it’s always when I get some new material to rehearse, gives me a kick. Makes me feel useful again.
RR: Do you have anything like that? That kind of lights the fire?
MH: Well I’m even lazier than Ville. I practice the songs the previous night. So, day before is my method. But yeah, it’s the same, I mean I really enjoy playing live. It’s, I would say, the most inspiring thing in my life is to play shows.
RR: Why is that?
MH: First of all, touring is a lot of fun. You get to travel with your friends and you get to play your music for people, and when you enjoy playing shows and you enjoy travelling and so on it’s something that nothing can really replace in your life. It’s something that I thought just a couple of days ago, if I don’t play in a band anymore, what am I going to do in a way? Because you get used to having, getting sort of kicks out of playing shows and the adrenaline, all the funny times that you are having on tour and you can’t really do that at home. Breaking stuff!
RR: You don’t have people shouting your names.
VS: In just a normal job, you probably wouldn’t have that job for a long time.
RR: No, maybe not. I would not think so, I guess the fans probably give back a lot too. Are there any specific countries that you just keep going back to to capture that? There’s a lot of talk about Brazil.
MH: Well we haven’t been to Brazil actually.
RR: Is that a goal?
MH: Yeah.
VS: We would definitely like to go there. Anywhere basically.
RR: What are some other kind of untapped markets? You’ve been to Asia?
MH: We’ve been to China and Japan, but places like Thailand and Indonesia would be interesting and well, anywhere, I don’t really care where.
RR: Anywhere you roam. Well the Finnish metal scene went through several years of this kind of fanaticism on the international scene stemming mostly from the Folk metal. How was that kind of impacted you guys personally? Do you think you owe any success to that?
VS: It felt weird.
RR: Why?
VS: Weird knowing that you actually played a part in that. Our band actually played a part in that and it feels weird.
RR: It’s going to be in the textbooks one day. In these music history books. How does that feel?
MH: Well, at there is a mark somewhere.
VS: Yeah, exactly like sometime way back, people used to think that there is no point in life if you’re not mentioned after you’re dead.
MH: We have already been in a museum.
VS: I’m kind of happy if I’m mentioned after I’m dead.
RR: In a nice way.
VS: Well actually, I won’t know because I won’t actually know because I don’t think I can be happy or not happy when I’m dead, but you know what I mean.
RR: I gotcha.
VS: I’m happy now knowing that I might be mentioned after I’m dead.
MH: You already are in a museum in Hungary.
RR: Seriously?
MH: Yeah.
RR: What did you do?
MH: In some, I don’t know, ethnographic museum of Budapest but there was a poster of Paganfest and it was about Finnish people and how people see Finland, and one of the things in the exhibition was…
VS: How people see Finland… Hello! *waves*
MH: Korpiklaani and Moonsorrow in a poster.
RR: Well, I mean, years ago when I first moved here, people thought that Finland was in Sweden to be very honest, I don’t know what that says about Americans. But now, people are like ‘Oh yeah!’
VS: They think Sweden is in Finland? No? Ok.
RR: I wish. No, nowadays people actually know some of the big bands, they’re like ‘Oh yeah, that’s where Korpiklaani is from, that’s where Moonsorrow is from.’ Kind of make me a little prouder, they’re educating themselves. One other thing I’ve been hearing a lot about was the release you guys did with Blood Music, vinyl box-set. How did that come about? That was a really strong response.
MH: Yeah, it was a long process.
VS: Like two years or something?
MS: Yeah. I met the owner of the company and he was just starting the label when I met him and suddenly the whole label took off very fast. And they started releasing big records like this Strapping Young Lad box and I think that was the biggest so far and got a lot of attention. He started talking to me, ‘Hey, can we do a Moonsorrow boxset?’ and it was a great idea. And I never thought it was going to happen actually, because it was such a big project to put it all  together is hundreds and hundreds of hours. I don’t know, maybe thousands for this guy.
RR: What’s the process like for that, converting audio to vinyl?
MH: The process is… well the audio is one thing, the other thing is all the cover art, all the details. Everything and DVD and like there are millions of factors.
VS: Everything has to be made new.
RR: I mean one of my friends told me that she had a friend who had a jar on her desk at work, and people were like donating money to that because she wanted it so bad. Did you hear any other stories like that? How does it feel to hear that?
VS: It’s humbling. Seriously.
RR: I guess it would be, that’s huge to hear somebody saves up.
VS: I can understand why some people really wanted it so badly, because it is one of a kind thing.
RR: What made you guys decide to do that.
VS: And it’s like this big.
RR: Yeah, I’ve seen it, it’s monstrous.
VS: I need to get rid of some furniture if I get it home.
RR: What did you get rid of?
VS: I haven’t decided yet. I’m probably going to get it next week, so I have to be quick in my decision.
RR: Did you get rid of any furniture?
MH: Um, yeah, but I emptied one of my terrariums so I could maybe put it there.
RR: Ok, see that works. I don’t need a crib, I’ll just keep my Moonsorrow boxset there and the baby can sleep on top of it.
MH: Also very good.
VS: There is one problem, you can’t put anything on top of vinyls. It really can’t serve as a chair or a table. Even if it’s a quite fitting size for that.
RR: It has to be just like a sculpture in the home.
VS: You can replace your TV with it. Just stare at it.
RR: Ok, I’ll do that.
VS: I don’t even have a TV to begin with so…
RR: Well you’re going to get the vinyl.
VS: Yeah, I can start staring at my vinyl collection.
RR: Trippy. So we’ve heard that you guys are going to play your longest set ever tonight, so that’s going to be like… six songs?
MH: Six hours.
VS: No no.
RR: Are there any songs you had to kind of practice extra to remember? I mean your songs are so long, it seems like quite a challenge!
VS: Everything came together really easily. I was really surprised when we got together at the rehearsal place and just started playing these songs we haven’t been playing for years. Everything just like…
RR: Fell into place?
VS: Yeah. There was a flow.
MH: But it’s a bad sign.
VS: It’s a bad sign, yeah.
RR: Uh-oh. Why?
MH: Because if everything is so easy in the rehearsals, you will forget something during the show. It’s the same as having soundcheck with a perfect sound. You know that when you go onstage again to play the show it’s going to be horrible.
RR: I remember one soundcheck where it went so bad the guy couldn’t capture my violin or anything like that and then the show went perfectly. I don’t know.
VS: Usually it happens that way.
RR: Well you might trip on the way to the venue, it’s probably fine.
MH: From there.
RR: That’s a lot of stairs!
MH: Yeah.
RR: Well a fun question we always like to ask, what was the first band shirt you remember buying? For me it was David Lee Roth, and for Nikky it was definitely Pantera.
VS: Hmmm. First. Could have been Amorphis.
RR: How old were you?
VS: Uh… when was Tales released? ’93?
MH: or ’94?
VS: Thirteen or fourteen.
RR: I was like four. What about you?
MH: Well, I don’t know if it counts I wanted to have a Beatles shirt when I was four. So that’s my first band shirt.
RR: That counts. That’s a good one. So is there anything you’d like to share with our listeners?
MH: Should we?
VS: Alcohol?
MH: No we don’t share alcohol.
VS: No we don’t share alcohol.
RR: Why can’t we share alcohol? I mean, I can’t but you guys can.
VS: It’s too expensive in Finland.
MH: Yeah. In Germany we can share it.
RR: And, Bourbon or Scotch?
RR: Dammit. She’s winning.
MH: I mean Bourbon only with Cokes but.
RR: You don’t need Coke with Bourbon.
MH:That’s the only way I drink Bourbon.
RR: *dejected* ok.
VS & MS: I’m sorry.[unison]

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Soundi.fi / September 2014


Right before the show in Virgin Oil Co., Helsinki, which became the longest in their career (just over two hours). September 13th, 2014.

Moonsorrow lupaa harvinaisesta keikastaan: Itku pitkästä ilosta

Eeppisen (pakana)metallin suurnimi Moonsorrow soittaa erittäin harvinaisen Suomen-keikan Helsingin Virgin Oilissa lauantaina 13. syyskuuta. Virgin Oiliin oli myyty jo ennakkoon reilusti yli kuusisataa pilettiä, joten viiisikko pääsee esiintymään täyteen pakatussa ja taatusti kuumassa konserttisalissa.
Alkuillasta Virgin Oilissa on luvassa komediafestivaali Helsinki Comedy Festival 2014.
- No, meidän keikkamme aikana ei ole luvassa komediaa, ainakaan toivottavasti. Ennemminkin konsertti on osastoa "itku pitkästä ilosta", sanoo basistilaulaja Ville Sorvali.
Paikan päälle todellakin kannattaa mennä, sillä luvassa on ensi vuonna parikymppisiä juhlivan Moonsorrow'n historian pisin konsertti. Soundin suorittaman treenivisiitin perusteella muun muassa puolituntinen Tulimyrsky-jättiläinen saattaa hyvinkin löytyä helsinkiläisyhtyeen settilistasta.
- Sellainen parin tunnin veto siellä taitaa olla tiedossa, mutta eihän biisilistaan silti kovin monta numeroa mahdu. Yhdeksän tai kymmenen varmaankin, kosketinsoittaja Markus Eurén sanoo.
Entä se seuraava studioalbumi? Loistava Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa saapui meidän kuolevaisten keskuuteen vuonna 2011, joten hiljalleen tässä jo odotellaan...
- Erittäin kovia riffejä löytyy ja vähän valmiimpaakin tavaraa. Pääsisimmeköhän studioon ensi vuoden alkupuolella? No, eiköhän se pitkäsoitto ensi vuoden aikana ilmesty, vaikka sitten parikymppisten kunniaksi, rumpali Marko Tarvonen miettii.
Entä keikat? Loppuvuodeksi on ilmoitettu pari Japanin-konserttia ja ensi vuodelle norjalaisfestivaali. Mitä muuta on suunnitteilla?
- No, ainakin Suomen-keikkoja, mutta sen tarkempaa informaatiota ei ole juuri nyt luvassa. Mutta lupaamme aktivoitua jatkossa vahvemmin myös esiintymisareenoilla, Sorvali hymyilee.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Perkūno Namai / June 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Metal Maniac / May 2014


Greetings over there! Thank you very much for giving this opportunity to interview you! It has been years since I wanted to interview one of the members of a band that its releases really made my days. Please, I’d like to ask you to introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is Mitja Harvilahti, i play guitar in Moonsorrow.
I joined the band in the late 1999 after they had recorded the first album Suden Uni.
So basically i´ve been member during the years we´ve played live.

Well, first I’d like to ask you how everything is going with Moonsorrow as well as if you guys are already working on some new music after the release of the great album Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa in 2011.

We are quite busy right now, writing new material and also preparing for the release of our massive 14LP box set.

Writing the new album has already taken longer than we thought, but we can´t rush things and release something that doesen´t completely match what we are aiming for.

We have somewhat renewed our approach to our music on every album and we can´t make an exception this time either. But the stuff that we have now sounds really good! Unfortunately i don´t want to tell about the direction, style or themes yet. It´s too early to reveal.

Moonsorrow is about to release what’s being called “the largest metal box set in history”. I believe that any Moonsorrow fan is expecting with highly anticipation this, in my humble opinion, historic release. Please, what can you tell to our readers about this memorable edition?

It´s a work of 2 years already. And it´s humongous piece of work and a stunning release in every aspect.

I can honestly say that this limited box set is something that no one will be disappointed with.

We are releasing info of the content day by day, so while we make this interview we have announced the albums, and artwork and a DVD.

More info on the DVD will follow soon, but for me personally, the DVD is the gem of the extras. I´m sure people will enjoy it very much.

There are 4 different kinds of sets available.

The band goes against all the trends, releasing very long songs, singing in its native language (which, even though it’s a very hard language to learn, it does sound very well), not playing happy tunes and still managed to reach an impressive level of popularity in the metal world. To what would you credit this?

Hmmm… That’s an interesting question.
We were always epic band with long songs and non-commercial language.
But I think people have grown with our music and learned to adapt lengthy songs with us.
During the first 3 albums we had relatively medium length songs. Like on Voimasta Ja Kunniasta.
If we would have released something like V: Hävitetty as our debut, i don´t think the popularity now would be the same.
We also had a learning curve of how to write big pieces of music with complicated structures.
In the beginning we had some negative feedback about the choice of language, and how it cannot work abroad.
But in the same time it was clear that the biggest demand for us was abroad, so we have been confident with our choice of “no compromise”.
What comes to popularity in general, it seems that our music has touched some “nerve” in many people.

We always made music only for ourselves, and if you do it well and from your heart, there will be someone else who will like it as well.


Still on Moonsorrow’s sound, let us know what are the most important characteristics it as well as which elements must always be present on a Moonsorrow record? And what inspires the band when it comes to creating music?

Elements that will always stick with us are simply:
Black Metal, Traditional Scandinavian music, Progressive Rock, Nature.
Nature not only as sounds but as spirit that somehow can be heard through all the music.
It’s the pagan core of the band and the what makes us pagan metal band. You don´t need lyrics to tell that.
Inspirations can come from almost anywhere, but we tend to get very inspired when we come up with the theme for the album. Then the music starts flowing out from us, especially Henri, who write most of the music.

This is a question I often ask band members, but with Moonsorrow there’s a special meaning for me. Just when Voimasta ja kunniasta was released, it was a very hard period of my life, I was just accepted on one of the best universities of my country as well as in one of the hardest courses. Everything was meant to be perfect, but I had a change of mind, non-acceptance from friends and family, relationship problems, a work that opened my eyes to all injustices in the world. All of this led me to a deep depression. And at the time, I used to listen Voimasta ja kunniasta on repeat mode, always listening to Sankarihauta three times in a row. I was taken away from all my troubles, it really helped me to go through this phase. I had to listen to this album when driving back home in order to feel (actually) happier. And so I’m very thankful to the band. Well, how do you feel when people tell you that your music helped them the way they helped me, that some of them love it so much that they tattoo the band’s logo, that your music is part of their lives?

Thank you so much for your words.
It’s a very humbling experience.
I don’t think there is anything more important and big achievement for musician but to hear how the music that you’ve made or played means so much to someone that it helped him or her through hardships, even disease like cancer.
We all have an album that got us through difficult times, so it’s amazingly grateful feeling, but on the other hand
hard to comprehend that your band’s music has done the same to someone else.
Unlike record sales, big shows or screaming fans, hearing that won’t make you cocky, inflated-ego rockstar, but a very humble dude!

Back to Moonsorrow’s releases one more time, this is perhaps a usual question, but I wanted to ask you this in a more detailed way. How would rank Moonsorrow’s releases and why? Which would be your favorite song from all of Moonsorrow discography and is there anything you’d change if you had to concerning your participation on each album?

I can’t really rank them, since they all have an equally important role as a step towards the next one.
But if I would listen to any of our albums, I would say Verisäkeet is number one.
Actually it’s the only album that i would consider listening to right now.
That and Tulimyrsky!
My favourite song would be Pimeä or Tulimyrsky.
There are just minor things that I would change. Mainly mixing issues, some balance between instruments, and some stuff that should be more audible.
Like the fly that’s buzzing on Verisäkeet! It should be fucking LOUD! But Henri said no. He’s claiming that it’s there, but I don’t hear it.
That summarizes nicely the all mixing disputes we have. Something is too quiet and people complain, hehe.

Tell us some of your best and worst memories when it comes to music, it can be about a show you attended when you started listening to music, learning how to play an instrument, the recordings and tours with Moonsorrow or any other and that you were/ a member of.

Ehhhh… Now these are so many to tell!
So why not, i´ll tell as many as i can!

Best ones, well you know, the times when i found metal and all the different bands was very exciting naturally.
Hearing Guns n´Roses, Metallica and Slayer when i was around nine changed my world totally!
Before that i was into Thin Lizzy and few hard rock bands and stuff like The Beatles that I’ve been fan since i was 4 years old. The Beatles made me to grab guitar in the first place.
Around the age of thirteen i got into Morbid Angel and other Death Metal bands and then the whole world of extreme metal opened to me. Especially Black Metal in the early-mid 90´s.
Emperor and Enslaved made a big influence on me since the very first time i heard them.
Also some shows are really memorable. Like seeing Slayer, Metallica, Satyricon etc. for the first time. Perfect shows from the bands in their best days.

Touring… i could seriously write a book about all the crazy absurd experiences we´ve had.
So many places we´ve played and so many different countries that i never thought it would happen to us.
Usually the best shows are in cities or countries where we´ve played for the first time, but where there has been a demand for us for years already.
Those shows always have some special enthusiasm that you won´t find in a place that you´ve toured already for years.
To list a few, i would say first times in: Hungary, Russia, Canada, China, France, Spain and some shows in the USA have been just nuts! And surprisingly our home town Helsinki have been almost always really good for us.
Touring in general i find very enjoyable. I like the atmosphere when you travel with your friends in a bus through a continent, every day at a new place. Some people find it exhausting but i always felt like home in a tour bus. And it´s a very free atmosphere too. Not too many obligations, except of playing shows as well as you can.
On tours where we haven´t headlined, like American tours, we only do line check usually, so it gives a lot of time for sight seeing. Few times the tour felt just as much a vacation as a tour. But summer festivals for example are very hectic, and we usually only see airports, highways and hotels.
I usually try to find a way to get to see some nature on tours. For example in Australia we had some days off before the tour, so i went to an island off Brisbane to snorkel around and enjoy the Australian nature. After all the hectic traveling it really gives me strength to go to walk in the woods when possible. I find it always better to venture out somewhere instead of sitting in the bus, sipping beer for 4 weeks in a row. Which can be nice too!

Bad experiences? We have bunch of them as well. Nothing that harmed us too bad, but we’ve witnessed shootouts very close by and other not so nice activities. I don’t want to mention them here, since some of those fucktards might even read this interview, haha!
And what comes to music business we’ve been screwed couple times by festival promoters. We’ve been robbed also in Canada, where some junkie stole Janne’s guitar and all my belongings other than my instruments. Luckily we got the guitar back, but not my suit case with all my stuff. And many times things don’t go like you would have wanted, but that’s the nature of the “business”. You need to have a good sense of humor and lots of patience.
And it can be sis appointing when you’ve worked for something for a long time but then promotion etc. is just negligible in your opinion.

I’ve read that you also work as a cameraman, gaffer and a freelance photographer. Can you tell us a bit about this work? What led you into this type of work? And to anyone that would like to start on this business, what would be your main suggestions and tips?

At the high school that I was in, we had professional AVID video editing systems, so when I graduated I got a job at Helsinki University as video editor.
I studied TV and Cinema at couple of schools and started working as a cameraman and gaffer at the national broadcasting company. I also operate camera cranes do color correction and make nature footage. I have a nature series about reptiles in production.
I’ve done various kinds of promo photos and some fashion stuff and product photography as well. But I don’t find it natural for me to direct models for example. I feel like I’m violating their private zone, although it’s just me thinking that way. That’s why I find nature photography much more suitable for my personality! I enjoy nature and getting close to animals and i really like macro photography.
For anyone starting in the field of TV and cinema i can recommend to go to some school that have a long internship period in their curriculum, to get a good “hands on” -experience.

aug 2008 bloodstock

Connected to the previous question, what are your favorite cinematographers, photographers and movies? Are you familiar with the works of Sebastião Salgado, a social photographer? If not, I highly recommend his works for you. Still on this subject, I’ve watched some great Finnish movies, just to mention a few Äideistä parhain, Mies vailla menneisyytt, Tuntematon sotilas and Talvisota, just to name a few. Which other Finnish movies or director would you recommend to our readers?

Sebastião Salgado is one of my favourites!
His works are just amazing. I recently bought his landscape photography opus Genesis.
I like quite varying styles of photography but classic B/W photo has a place in my heart.
What comes to cinematography, i´m not a fanboy of cinematographers, but i respect those who have a good, sensitive eye to create the visual narrative of the story, instead of making everything a visually pumped and polished feast. Of the still active guys Emmanuel Lubezki, Rodrigo Prieto and especially Christopher Doyle´s work i really enjoy. Older masters like Sven Nykvist, Vittorio Storaro and Gianni di Venanzo are among my favourites as well.

Finnish cinema is usually not very popular outside our borders, but i think it will change. I recommend to keep an eye for a guy called Antti Heikki Pesonen. His feature film “Päin Seinää” will be released late this year. He has a great sense of black humor.

The usual question and perhaps also connected to the previous one, I would like to ask you to tell us some of your favorite activities outside music and touring. What are the things that you enjoy doing after a day of work or when you go back home after a tour?

Well i have quite many hobbies.
Photography we already talked about.
During the summer I can be found on my boat a lot of the time. I co-own an old 2 cabin wooden vessel with a friend of mine, and I really enjoy the sea, so living on the boat and traveling on it is a great activity for me. It’s like a summer cottage that you can sail away whenever you want.

I’ve always been very fascinated about reptiles, so i have different species of snakes at home.
I also travel a lot outside the band as well.
What else?
I’m trying to spend time in the nature as much as possible, but it’s not always working for me.
My family has a nice cabin in a national park, so I always try to find time to go there.

And so we reach this interview. I hope you have enjoyed answering as well as I wish the readers like this small conversation as well. One more time, thank you very much for this opportunity. Do you have any last words for our listeners?

Thanks for the interview it’s nice to answer some questions that are not so obvious!
I hope we will release our new album soon, so we can get on the road! We only have couple of summer festivals this year. Kilkim Zaibu in Lithuania and MetalDays in Slovenia, so I hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Metal Wani / January 2014


INTERVIEW: MOONSORROW Singer - “We Have Always Liked To Challenge Ourselves And The Listeners And Not Go The Easiest Route”

In the deeply vaste lands of black and folk metal, Moonsorrow have flourished and thrived. From the cold wintery lands of Finland, the brainchild of the Sorvali cousins (Henri and Ville) have definitely made a name for themselves, not only amongst the Scandinavian Metal scene, but beyond. Singing in Finnish and labeling themselves “epic heathen metal”, Moonsorrow have six epic albums (as well as one EP) under their belt. The latest album, “Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa” saw the light of day in 2011. Moonsorrow are, undoubtedly, one of the finest in the genre, distinguishing themselves by incorporating accordion, jaw harp and tin whistle in their songs. Their particular brand of epicness translates quite deftly into long and imposing monoliths of sound, as they draw their inspirations from black and folk metal, with a hint of progressive rock in between.

Metal Wani writer Vânia F. Silva recently caught up with vocalist, bassist and lyricist Ville Sorvali. During this interview, Ville discusses Moonsorrow's sound and lyrics in Finnish, commercial success and much more. Read the entire chat below –
Greetings from Metal Wani. Let me start by thanking you for taking the time to answer our questions. Since this is our first time with you guys, I would like to start with the basics. How did Moonsorrow came to existence?

Ville - Hello there! We started with Moonsorrow in 1995, so we've been around for quite a while now. In the beginning it was just me and my cousin Henri making some demos, but in 2000 we finally got a record deal and found a complete line-up for the band.
There’s an aspect of you guys that I find quite peculiar: The band’s name is the only thing about Moonsorrow that’s in English, since all your compositions are in Finnish. Don’t you find this a bit ironic?
Ville - When we started with the band, the lyrics were in English. When we started to write in Finnish (sometime around 1998), we simply didn't feel like changing the name anymore.
I’ve watched one of your interviews in which you adamantly stated that you will never write your own material in English. Why is this so?

Ville - Never again, to be precise (the first demo was indeed in English). When we started writing in Finnish, it immediately felt like the best solution for Moonsorrow. The Finnish language fits our themes just perfectly, and since it's my mother tongue it also gives me a complete freedom of expression as a lyric writer. It has also given a certain image to the band over the years, so changing back to English now would be a strange move indeed.
But wouldn’t writing in English increase your reach when it comes to fandom, or is this something you are not interested in?

Ville - We've made a name for ourselves by being what we are. Surely writing in English would make our material more accessible, but it could also potentially intimidate our original fanbase. While fame and fortune are nice things to have, of course, I'd never aim at them by making compromises.
You mostly write about paganism, folklore and war. However, in your most recent album, “Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa”, you’ve dwelled into the end of the world. Are there any other lyrical themes you would like to experiment with?

Ville - In the early years we had this one thematical box we played in, and it was heavily based on stories about mythology and legends. After three albums I started to feel a bit trapped, so I  started to explore a bit outside of that box too. "The end of the world" -concept had always fascinated me, and I finally had the chance to dwell into it on "Viides Luku: Hävitetty" and even further on "Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa". However, the next album is going to be something different again. Even I don't know much about it yet. ;)
Even though you had previously done long songs, “V: Hävitetty” was your first album to contain only two tracks, each of a very long duration. What moved you to do such a thing? How risky was it?

Ville - We just felt we needed to do it. Why? To prove ourselves that we can, I suppose. We have always liked to challenge ourselves and the listeners and not go the easiest route. We are constantly aware of the risks of "commercial suicide" but we don't really care.
Your sound has been changing throughout the years – Your demos were much more black metal than your debut, folk-metal, album “Suden Uni”. Then you steadily started shifting to the pretty much progressive heathen black metal you’re doing nowadays. Why the changes? Were you not satisfied with your sound, or did you just want to go back to your roots?

Ville - We don't like standing still, so we are always seeking to develop our sound. We are very much satisfied by all of our previous works, but we don't want to re-do any of them. Progressive rock and black metal might be the strongest connecting links between all the members of Moonsorrow, so elements of these two have naturally surfaced quite often on our albums.
Your artwork is also pretty different from album to album. I feel like you don’t exactly have a pattern, a distinctive and consistent style which you follow every time. How is your artwork decided each time?

Ville - We never sketch the cover art before we have most of the music and lyrics to show for (with the exception of "Suden Uni", both original and re-issue, for which suitable paintings already existed). It's our way to aim at conceptual integrity, and so the covers naturally turn out very different from each other. We have also intentionally used a different cover artist each time.
I must say that the Metallica and Merciless covers you did for the “Tulimyrsky” EP sound pretty impressive. Both of them are completely unexpected, but very Moonsorrow. What compelled you to cover these songs, despite these influences not being directly apparent in the sound that Moonsorrow has forged for itself?

Ville - When talking of the founding duo of Moonsorrow (me and Henri), Metallica and Merciless both had an important role in our musical upbringing. However, the choice of these two covers in particular was purely accidental. Henri made fitting Moonsorrow-style arrangements for both, Metallica just for the fun of it, and Merciless because we already recorded the Metallica cover and wanted to pair it with another. As the whole point of cover songs, in my opinion, is to sound more like the covering band than the original, I think both of these turned out pretty nice.
Can the fans expect more blackened versions of popular metal songs done by Moonsorrow in the future?

Ville - We have experimented on a few others, however we haven't managed to lay the same Moonsorrow-spirit on them as Metallica and Merciless got. We will only record something if it's truly worth recording, otherwise it's just for our own amusement at the rehearsal place.
It’s been an year since you’ve shifted labels and signed with Century Media. Instead of recording a new album, you went on to collaborate with Blood Music on a Box Set comprising of previous collected works of yours. Is there any kind of pressure for you to start working on a new album?
Ville - Indeed we have been signed to Century Media for quite a time already without doing a new album for them. However, they know us very well and they know that putting pressure on us doesn't help in creating new quality material. They will get their album eventually, and I have all the reason to believe that they will be happy with it. The box set was already discussed with Blood Music before any new record deal, it just took its time to take shape and is coincidentally happening now.
Last month you’ve toured Australia and by the end of this month you’ll besharing a stage with Rotting Christ in Tel-Aviv. These are pretty distinctive places – Are there any plans of going to another distinctive place such as India?
Ville - We've always liked to go to new places, so naturally we anticipated both trips (Australia and Israel) with a certain level of excitement. Basically we'd want to play anywhere where people want to see us play, but quite often it's not so simple, due to money, logistics or whatever. India would we a welcome trip as well, let's see if we can make it one day!
As a wrap-up, do you have any message you’d like to leave to your fans all around the world? Maybe to that one small-time band still in their basement, singing in their own language, dreaming of making it big?
Ville - Remember: music is for fun, recreation and therapy. Only a selected few will ever make it big, and it doesn't make the music made by others any less valuable. If you stay true to what you really want to create and refuse to compromise, you will feel proud of your work regardless of whether it sells records or not. And if you manage to sell those records and make a living out of it, consider yourself exceptionally lucky.

We would like to thank Ville for being available to respond to our enquiries, as well as for being so patient and kind! We wish him and the remaining members of Moonsorrow much fortune in all their future ventures and hope to write "Moonsorrow working on new album" soon enough.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Metal Psalter / September 2012


This interview was conducted by Philip A. Wickstrand with vocalist/bass guitarist Ville Sorvali at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland, OR on September 10, 2012.

Few bands in Pagan Metal have been able to make a catalogue of music like MOONSORROW. Each release is unique from the others and maintains a high degree of excellent musicianship, complexity and great song writing. With six albums under their belts thus far, their growing number of fans are eagerly awaiting to see what number seven will bring.

Phil: First off, how’s the tour been so far?

Ville: It’s been absolutely great. We’ve had thirteen shows, lucky number thirteen, and all the shows have been great. We’ve had a very good response from the audience in all of the places. We went to some new places where we haven’t been before, actually on this tour, so it’s been really great, better than we expected.

Phil: How has the signing with Century Media so far?

Ville: We haven’t done anything with them yet so I wouldn’t know, but the collaboration between us and them has been really good and we seem to have a very good business relationship, but of course we don’t know yet because we haven’t released anything on them yet.

Phil: Will you be having them do a North American issue of your most recent album?

Ville: I hope they would, but that’s a contractual thing. They don’t have any rights to the previous albums.

Phil: It’s been a real pain in the ass to find in North America, unless you want to pay twenty bucks on Amazon (for an import).

Ville: Yeah, I know. It’s a pain in the ass. All we can do is bring them with us on tours, so at least the people who come to the shows have the chance to buy them.

Phil: Have you put any thought into what you will be doing with the next album so far?

Ville: We have some rough ideas but it’s way too early to talk about them anyway. We probably will start thinking more about it when the tour is finished and I don’t have any idea about the recording schedule or anything.

Phil: Speaking of writing, is there anything that you’ve had in mind for MOONSORROW that you haven’t had a chance to experiment with that you would like to?

Ville: I don’t know. A lot of things. Always when we stat making a new album we kind of want to do something a bit different from the previous one. It’s like, we don’t actually know the direction before we actually start writing the material; it kind of just appears from somewhere.

Phil: Stream of consciousness?

Ville: Yeah.

Phil: Always a good way to tackle it, that way you don’t end up doing the same thing over and over again like a lot of other bands do.

Ville: Yeah. In my opinion we did six different albums so far.

Phil: Definitely. Will there be any reissues of the older demos?

Ville: I don’t think so. I personally like the fact that the demos are collectibles for the fans who were actually fans back then. And anyway, you can find them on the internet; you can just download them from a torrent site. [laughter]

Phil: Yeah, but the sound quality’s usually pretty crappy on those.

Ville: Well, the sound quality’s pretty crappy on the originals as well. [laughter] We were recording on cassettes.

Phil: Have you given any thought to doing a live DVD or maybe a documentary on the band’s history?

Ville: Yes. We have been working on it for quite awhile, actually. And I have no idea when it’s going to be out; it’s not even nearly completed yet. But we will definitely release it someday. We have been working on it and there will be a lot of interesting things on it. I’m not revealing anything yet because actually we don’t know it yet either. [laughter] But it’s definitely not going to be one of those live DVDs that every other band releases with just one show and ten minutes of behind the scenes stupidity. It’s going to be something else.

Phil: What would you consider to be your best shows with MOONSORROW and what would be the worst one for you?

Ville: We have had quite many shows that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I wouldn’t pick one before the others, but… I think when we went to Russia for the first time, that was something we really hadn’t experienced before. It was really insane; the audience was really like… coming towards you. We went outside for a smoke and there were like a hundred Russian people screaming for autographs and photographs. [laughs] It was really insane, something that we are not used to. Well, it doesn’t happen that often, anyway.

Phil: So basically, you felt like a rock star, almost.

Ville: No, I felt like an idiot. [laughter] I am extremely uncomfortable in those situations. I think when we played in more exotic places; those are the things we will remember, like for example in China. One of the towns, we were actually the first Western band ever and that was something quite spectacular and the people went absolutely nuts; threw beer on the mixing table and stuff and our sound guy wasn’t that amused by it. [laughter]

Phil: Have there ever been any shows where you’ve kind of just shaken your head and thought they were a complete disaster?

Ville: Uh… yeah. [laughter] Like that one in… where was it? Sudbury, Canada in 2007, I think. It was like the farthest distance from home, at that time, where we’d played. It was a ten hour drive from Toronto and when we got there we realized that the backstage doesn’t have any sort of heating and it was thirty Fahrenheit outside, so we had to have our winter clothing on in the backstage and when we finally hit the stage, we realized that “Okay, there are ten people inside.” They were really into it, actually, so it was probably a very special show to them but driving there for ten hours, nearly freezing to death and playing to ten people, we were kind of thinking “Is this worth it?”

Phil: Yeah, and especially with frozen fingers, I would imagine that would make it very difficult to play guitar properly.

Ville: Yeah. But the more time goes by, we just laugh about these things. They are part of the band’s growth and these are the incidents that actually pull the group together. We are still with the same lineup after all these happenings.

Phil: At Heathen Crusade 3, I remember after the festival, I was hanging out with a few people and I saw you guys getting in your van to go to the next show and one of the bags got left behind. We were kind of wondering “Are they going to come back for that?” Snow starts gathering on it, “Okay, we’d better take this into the hotel lobby and give it to the desk.” How long did it take you to realize that the bag was left behind?

Ville: Until the next show.

Phil: Oh jeez. [laughs]

Ville: I actually… if you’re interested, and I think you are, you have to link this - I have a tour diary from that whole one week tour that started from Heathen Crusade, I have a tour diary about that on our website, Moonsorrow.com in the archives. It’s right there. You’d better read it - it’s very interesting. There is no exaggeration anywhere - it’s just the plain truth. That was only the incident where everything started. It’s full of interesting facts.

Phil: Recommend a book for our readers and then explain why you recommend that particular work.

Ville: Damn. I haven’t actually read a book in a very long time. [pause] Hmmm… [laughter] I like to read documentary books, but… it’s just here and there. I don’t really read whole books; I read excerpts from here and there, mostly on the internet, like historical facts and stuff. So I can’t really recommend a book. It’s probably made me look like a very unsophisticated person, but… [laughs] But I’m still literate.

Phil: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Ville: Not really. I never have any last words because I have so many words to say before I die. I just hope that people have enjoyed these shows so far and will enjoy all the upcoming shows as well. It really has been a good time in America and we definitely want to come back as soon as possible.