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]