About Me

Interview with Finntroll

In mid-June, Metal Imperium had the pleasure of talking to Vreth, lead singer of the Finnish trolls, Finntroll, to discuss details about the new album “Vredesvåvd”. Because of the pandemic, details related to this album have changed since then, as the album's release date was moved from August to September, which also changed the date allowed to publish this interview.
This seventh album, released seven years after "Blodsvept", presents the band in excellent shape and with a new drummer. The tour dates that will take place in 2021 do not include Portugal, but the band is already confirmed for the Miracle Metaleiro Open Air 2021... and, with this brutal album, it should be a show not to be missed! In the meantime, discover here some very interesting details that Vreth shared with us.

M.I. - Hello, Mathias! Greetings from Portugal! How have you been?

Lots of things to do, really busy.

M.I. - The band’s been around for 23 years now… what’s the best experience you’ve had as a band member? 

Ohhh, there are lots of those and it’s hard to pick one. My first year with Finntroll is always going to be important because I went from being a sound engineer to being a full-time musician instead. That’s something that I’ll always remember because my life took a complete turn.

M.I. - There’s a 7-year gap between the new album and the last album. What caused the delay? Because you usually take about 3 years to release new material!

Lots of stuff happened in those years. We toured for two and half years so when we came back from that tour… because we are not a band that writes on tour… we tried to write and we couldn’t really write music that fast and, everything we wrote, wasn’t really right and didn’t feel right… and then we were asked if we wanted to do the 10-year anniversary for the “Nattfodd” album and we did it. Then we tried to write music after that and then we did the anniversary tour… the music was in the wrong direction. So, we decided to do some more shows and we hoped that at some point we would get an idea of what we wanted to do. Two more years had quickly passed by so, last year, we had a couple of songs ready and we decided to put a deadline to ourselves and we talked about it with Century Media and got the deadline for a release on 2020. Ideas started coming easier… in half a year we wrote most of the album and we rewrote some of the old stuff as well. To have a deadline was good in that sense. We finished writing in half a year, then we entered the studio and, now, one month after the studio, everything is done.

M.I. - So, you’d say you work well under pressure?

Well, I’m not saying that we work well, but at least we get stuff done. This winter was very intense and I was in contact with Trollhorn almost everyday about something in a song, trying to turn it around, sending it back and forth… for sure when you cannot procrastinate anymore, you have to write.

M.I. – You mentioned that you wrote some material that you didn’t like but did you use some of it?

Yeah, there’s quite a lot of it actually on the album. We had almost 25 songs to pick riffs from but, in the end, on the album I think there’s maybe 20 to 25% from the last 7 years, the rest is from the last half year.

M.I. - “Vredesvåvd” is the 7th album which took 7 years to prepare. Vredesvävd translates into “Wrath woven”… why was this the best title for the album?

The title actually describes the lyrical theme of the album really well. Vredesväv or wrath woven… this album tells stories about journeys, different kind of journeys… not geographical journeys but spiritual journeys, journeys into yourself, soul searching… all these journeys are somehow related to anger or wrath. 

M.I. – Are these lyrics and journeys biographical? Did they actually happen to the one who wrote the lyrics?

In some sense, some of them are. It’s all connected to his experience, of course, they are also based on stories from the Finnish mythology and trips.

M.I. - What can fans expect of the new album?

This album is different than the 3 last albums. After the “Nattfodd” album we started going in a different direction, still it was recognizable as Finntroll but there were some new elements introduced in there as well. This time, we are taking a few steps back. We wanted to make something new but to also have something nostalgic in there, something for the fans of the first three albums. If we put this album on a timeline, this could actually fit after the “Nattfodd” album. We sort of wanted to make a more melodic and faster and energetic album this time. And for some reason this “Nattfood”ish melodies started to pop up and we thought it was a very good choice and we decided to take this album to that Black Metal sound of the end of the 90’s, beginning of 2000. So, instead of using modern beat orchestrations we are using old synthetizers and stuff like that.

M.I - Alright then! Since the album combines the most essential elements of the band’s past with a bag of fresh seasonings, it is innovative, do you think it’ll live up to the expectations?

Yeah, I definitely hope so! I think it will but it’s also been such a long time so we wanted to do something for the older and newer fans as well. This album is like an energy boost. We didn’t want a slow and mediocre album, we wanted energy and something that sounds fresh as well.

M.I. - Ever since the band’s 4th full-length “Ur jordens djup”, which is also the first album you featured in, all albums include 11 tracks… any particular reason?

I have never thought about this before so there’s no special reason really. (laughts)! 11 is just a good amount of tracks to have in an album, I guess. 

M.I. - How does the writing process take place in Finntroll? Is it a democratic process or more of a dictatorship?

Well, this is sort of a democratic dictatorship. (laughts)! Of course, Trollhorn always has been and will be a big part of it, so everything that we write goes through him at some point. In this album, I haven’t written any music but I have been there to arrange it, to twist and turn everything around and I have been really involved in it. It’s sort of democratic but, in the end, it goes through Trollhorn. So, yeah, a democratic dictatorship.

M.I. - The album was produced by Trollhorn and yourself. Isn’t that a weight on your shoulders?

Yeah, but of course everyone has their own responsibility here. This is the way we wanted it this time. As I work as a producer, and so does Trollhorn, then it’s an easy way to do it like this. If everybody was a producer, then the album would be a mess! 

M.I. – Yeah, it would! Soundwise… do you limit yourselves at all? 

We never wanted to be a part of putting ourselves in a box like that… we have always taken influences from outside the metal scene. We’ve had folk music from all over the world, from Scandinavia. In one album we had influences from Indonesia and, in another one we had 80’s pop music influences so…

M.I. - Trollhorn has stated that this album has the best and most aggressive vocal performances from Vreth… this is quite a compliment. How do you react to it?

Well, when we made this album we wanted to kick it up a notch. I was picky with what I kept of my takes. I have been recording so many albums in the last years and producing vocals so this is sort of progression. It’s cool to hear that the band members like it and I hope people out there agree and feel the same way, because we have spent a lot of time on actually making my vocals as aggressive as they turned out in the album.

M.I. – Your vocals in Finntroll and …And Oceans are really different. How do you process that? How complicated it is knowing which vocal style works best for each track and band? 

Usually, it’s weird when I start writing and practicing… in the studio, the things that I do in the first day I throw in the trash bin, because I still might be in some band mode. For example, when I started doing the And Oceans album I was still in my punk band Dispyt mode and it didn’t fit. I don’t know how to tell but I just feel what is wrong and what is right. All these bands have their sound. And the same thing when I started recording the Finntroll album, I was still in the And Oceans mode really and I needed to take a step back in order to get the right Finntroll vibe that I wanted.

M.I. – Usually how many takes do you have of your vocals?

That’s really hard to say… that really has to do with speed, how quick I have to sing and other things.

M.I. – Ok, so it depends! This album is also the first album in which Morko, the new drummer, is featured… how complicated are the line-up changes? What did he bring into the band?

This lineup change was quite undramatic. Beast Dominator told us a few months before that he would soon leave the band and there were no hard feelings. And we were a bit in shock and wondered “What should we do? Who should we call?”. We knew quite a few drummers and Trollhorn told us “Hey, what about this guy?!” and all of us decided we should ask him because he’s a good friend of ours and we thought “Why didn’t we think of him before?!” We sent him a long email and he immediately said he was interested. It was an easy transition. He fits all this new album and we’re happy with the choice. 

M.I. - Your lyrics and titles are predominantly in Swedish but you still have a huge impact on your fans… do you think the message comes through or people would appreciate the whole Finntroll atmosphere and vibe more if you sang in English? 

Well, probably, especially if we had done it earlier, you know? In the beginning, if we had switched to English, then we probably could be bigger than we are right now. But I think if we changed right now, we would also lose a big part of the sound and we are not ready to sacrifice our sound in order to get bigger, you know?

M.I. – Yeah, so… The cover artwork is awesome as usual. Who designed it? 

It’s the guitar player as usual. He’s done all the album covers so far, so let’s continue with him… (laughts)!

M.I. – There’s a sorcerer in the cover. Where does he see Finntroll in the future?

Well, right now, after the boarders open, there will be a lot of touring again… at least, two/two and half years after being on tour we are looking forward to it. 

M.I. – Yes, I know you are because, on a Facebook post, way before the coronavirus showed up, you mentioned the release of the new album and said that you were supposed to celebrate it with your fans at Summer Breeze… actually you even hoped they would be naked and had booze. How much fun do you have in Finntroll?

I definitely have a lot of fun and I miss this! On Friday I would have started the festival season so it kinda sucks.

M.I. – Despite the fun, doesn’t it get boring and tiring with age?

No, of course there are good and bad days but mostly it’s good times and we wouldn’t do it if it was otherwise. 

M.I. - The band is planning extensive touring and Portugal was included… you have already played in Portugal… what do you think of it? What’s its best thing? And the worst?

I’ve been there many times before. When we come to these parts of Europe, such as Spain and Portugal, the plans change a bit. The audiences are different from Eastern European audiences that are more violent and mosh pit more… when we play in Portugal, people tend to be more involved in the music, singing along the melodies instead of hitting each other… (laughts)! Some of the things I remember more from Portugal is that there may not be a lot of people but they sing really loud, they’re always loud and that’s why I like touring over there.

M.I. - What do you miss most about touring… the free beer?

No! Well, it’s hard to say but it’s definitely not the free beer. I guess restless when I am too much time in the same spot. I like to see new things and, of course, touring, it’s playing live… I really enjoy to be onstage!

M.I. - What have you been doing to keep your sanity these days?

I’ve been doing a lot of courses, I have a singing teacher. I do growling lessons. That’s something that’s keeping me sane. I do skype lessons. That’s actually a lot of fun. And, of course, there’s a lot of work with the Finntroll album so that’s keeping me busy.

M.I. – A few weeks ago, you participated in the “Cruachan Virtual Pub” with musicians from other bands… how did it go? Do fans appreciate these events? Do you think initiatives like this help keep the metal spirit alive?

Well, that’s exactly why they started them. To see something else and meet their friends that they haven’t seen in a while and stay in touch.

M.I. - Have you ever considered the idea of writing a book about your life on the road? 

No, not really! (laughts)! When I reach a certain age I might consider doing that but not now!  

M.I. - I interviewed you recently regarding the new album by And Oceans… how different are both bands? Which one is your priority now? How will you reconcile both bands and possible tours when covid goes away?

For example, autumn was planned already. We had done plans with both bands and we made it fit and it wasn’t that hard. Finntroll we can move because it’s a headlining tour. And Oceans will be more difficult because we’ll be on a bill, not headlining. We should be able to do it because 8/10 years agoI was in more bands and it worked so it should be okay to get these 2 bands to work together. And Oceans is a band with older guys and jobs and stuff so we cannot tour for 2 and half years as we do with Finntroll.

M.I. - How do you deal with popularity? Have you ever received an indecent proposal by a fan or another musician?

(laughts)! Yeah! 

M.I. – (laughts)! You have? Tell us about it!

No! I’ll keep this for later! It doesn’t happen that often anymore! 

M.I. – I’ll ask you this again in a few years and maybe you’ll tell me!

Or maybe I’ll mention it in the book I’ll write later! (laughts)h! 

M.I. – (laughts)! Being a fan of sci-fi… would you think this pandemic would be a great script for music, a book or movie?

Yeah, I guess it will spark many songs and we’ll have material for songs for years… if not Finntroll, maybe for my punk band Dispyt or even And Oceans. We’ll definitely write about these times.

M.I. - Is there a final message you’d like to share with your Portuguese fans? Hope to see you next year!

We are coming and we have a long tour that will happen later but we’ll definitely go to your area! Hope to see you there! Enjoy the music!

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Sónia Fonseca