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Moonsorrow (September 2012)

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Conor Fynes View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 Oct 2012 at 3:55am

Touring with fellow Finnish folksters Korpiklaani, seeing Moonsorrow play live was a long awaited experience for me. After a consistent and energetic pair of supporters (with Tyr and Metsatoll, the latter of which being especially impressive) Moonsorrow took to the stage and put on a great show. Although the folkish tendencies of their studio material was toned down, there was the same sort of atmosphere we would come to expect from their studio work. The material from their more recent albums was the highlight of the entire concert, with Tähdetön being a particular favourite. Moreover, there was a slice of their most early ‘black metal’ style performed, and while it wasn’t quite as stellar as the rest of their material, it was great to hear a change of pace from the more Pagan-styled music that dominated the rest of the night. Before the show, I met up with bassist and vocalist Ville Sorvali to ask a few questions about Moonsorrow, and life as a metal musician.


Conor: What do you think of Vancouver? You're currently in our upper-class commercial district right now. [Laughs]


Ville: The last time we were in Vancouver, we were at a completely different venue.


Conor: Was it the Commodore, with the bar and nice seats all around?


Ville: I think it was that one- it was a nice area. We don't even have 'these' sorts of areas in Finland, fortunately.


Conor: The ghetto.


Ville: Yeah, a zombie-town. People are just walking around like they're dead.


Conor: Are there any good stories from this tour so far?


Ville: Yeah, but most of them are not meant for the public. [Laughs]


Conor: How would you describe your sound and what you're aiming to do. It's definitely an open, vast sort of approach I'd say; the sound of MOONSORROW seems more meticulous than many of your contemporaries.


Ville: We always just wanted to make music that fulfills our musical ambitions. We aren't really thinking what the audience might think about it. Every album of ours is a surprise to us as well. Once we start writing, then we get an idea of where it will be going, and that's why each of our albums has been more-or-less different from each other.


Conor: I guess from where I'm standing, you've been going more towards a cinematic, 'score-for-a-film' style, especially with the last album, where you could basically picture a scene from Lord of the Rings! 


Ville: [Laughs] Especially for the first interlude, where the first melody sounds a bit too much like Lord of the Rings! Yeah, that's true- we kind of want to make- sounds cliche- we want to make something larger than life, not just music.


Conor: I think that's what most art should be- something greater than what you would normally see walking down the street...


Ville: Yeah!


Conor: You were recently in Clisson a couple of months ago for Hellfest, how was that?


Ville: That was really good! Really good festival.


Conor: I heard King Diamond was there.


Ville: Yeah, I was listening to it from a fairly far distance. I was fairly drunk at the time!


Conor: Is playing drunk hard?

Ville: I don't really play drunk. A few beers before the show, enough to get me relaxed. After the show, it's a completely different story!


Conor: What do you know about the Vancouver scene of metal? I heard you guys are all fans of Blasphemy.


Ville: I don't know if everyone is, but I like them alot. Actually last time we were in Vancouver, we met Caller of the Storms at the bar. I can't remember what I was discussing, because I was drunk. [Laughs]


Conor: What sort of beers do you like? I guess the one you're drinking right now (generic American factory beer) isn't your number one choice...


Ville: Not number one, not number... forty! Beer is beer.


Conor: [Laughs] I was interviewing Fleshgod Apocalypse not too long ago and they said that there was a big difference between the North American and European crowds. Do you feel that's true for a band in your position?


Ville: In a way, yeah. I can't really describe it, but it seems like these days people in North America are more enthusiastic. In Europe- we have toured Europe longer than America- we always seem to have the same crowds, because we have a very strong following. It's not a big audience, but they always come back, and the same seems to be true for North America. In America though, things seem to be growing, this whole thing is a bit newer to North America.


Conor: I guess the style of folk-influenced metal would feel more commonplace in Europe than it does here.


Ville: Yeah, I can't really define the differences actually, in just a few words! There's a lot of differences within North America as well.


Conor: I guess Texas isn't too much like Vancouver...


Ville: Texas, it's not the metal hotspot of the world. They have produced some great bands though.


Conor: Like Absu... and Watchtower! Have you heard Watchtower before?


Ville: I think I have, yeah!


Conor: What's the scene in Finland like? Obviously, it's very well known on the global scale, but what about locally-speaking?


Ville: We have a very lively scene- it must be one of the liveliest in the world! Everywhere you go, you meet people in bands. Just recently, we were checking out this documentary about things preceding metal from the 60's and 70's, and they were talking that the whole thing was to 'stand out' and 'be a freak'. I mean, it works here- here we are still freaks- but in Finland, people are so used to metal that people don't look at us weirdly.


Conor: I heard a statistic for Norway once- and I would imagine Finland is the same- that an estimated one out of every five hundred people there is in a metal band. [Laughs]


Ville: [Laughs] But of course, many of those people are in the same bands!


Conor: Yeah! I know bandmembers of MOONSORROW were also in the grindcore project, was that just a one-time thing?


Ville: Yeah, that was just a quick project- did one album. We have alot of projects going on, people play in different bands. Henri plays in FINNTROLL, and Marko and Janne- our live guitarist- plays in BARREN EARTH.


Kevin (Photographer): As a band, what are your influences, and personally also?


Ville: For me personally, the first album I ever remember hearing was the the first album by KING CRIMSON.


Conor: You're a good man! [Laughs]


Ville: My father is a good man! He used to listen to that sorta stuff. I was probably three years or something, I remember seeing the album cover and listening to it, and it really stuck in my mind. It's been a really big influence on it.


Conor: I was actually going to ask, after listening to "Kivenkantaja", I noticed a pretty big progressive rock influence. Are you guys influenced a lot by prog?

Ville: Yeah! Obviously, metal is the big think. At least for me, Henri and Marko, progressive rock is a big part of our upbringing. It was actually on "Kivenkantaja" where we decided to use the progressive concept. That's what we listened to when we were kids, besides metal.


Conor: What other bands?


Ville: When you listen to MOONSORROW, you might be able to hear bands like JETHRO TULL, GENESIS... RUSH, if you would consider progressive rock.


Conor: I love Rush! Anyways, I have a friend in Montreal- she apparently met you or Henri while you were drunk! [Laughs]- and there's apparently only metal instruments being used. The way I pictured a MOONSORROW concert, I imagined some sort of folk instruments, maybe a few trees on stage or something! [Laughs]


Ville: We made a promise before the first live show that while we may do different stuff on record, live we just want to be a five piece rock band.


Conor: Do you incorporate the folk music through samples, or are the folk arrangements brought forth through the lead guitar?


Ville: Well, we do have samples that we use with the keyboards, and the live guitar will play some of the more melodic ideas. We tried to make our own arrangements for the five piece rock band.


Conor: Is that because you want to have that sort of live energy, or because of logistics- it would be more of a hassle to bring along all of the folk instruments along!


Ville: Well, it's because we want to be a metal band! And probably because we were also 'rebels' of the scene, we wanted to do it differently than the others.


Conor: What can we expect from a MOONSORROW show? Newcomers and returners alike.


Ville: Alot of loud music and energy, and long songs! [Laughs]


Conor: How did you get hooked up with these other bands? I was looking at the setlist and it's like a folk metal all-stars tour! 


Ville: We've been talking about alot of things on tour- us and KORPIKLAANI, we share alot of fans we think, even though our music is completely different. It's the roots that bind us together, I think. I hope people will catch that we have the same feeling, the Finnish heritage.


Conor: Even TYR and METSATOLL have a similar sort of energy to them, but they're from Faroe Islands and Estonia. I guess it's a sort of atmosphere that surpasses borders.


Ville: That's why we couldn't call it 'Viking metal', it's 'Pagan metal'. That does nothing to describe the music, it describes the mindset. We would all consider ourselves pagan, and I think that's something that ties us all together.


Conor: Any albums lately you've been listening to that are good?


Ville: I've listened to a few albums that are really good actually, the new Marduk is really good, sounds like they're going back to their roots. The new Meshuggah, "Koloss" is great. I'm plainly a rhythm musician myself- I have no sense of melody- so I really enjoy the rhythmic energy of Meshuggah.


Conor: One question I ask everyone is that if you could give advice to any other metal musicians on being a musician, what would it be?

Ville: Do not dream about making money. If you do, then get a job! [Laughs]


Conor: [Laughs] That's common sense!


Ville: Everyone should acknowledge that for most, it's a hobby. Only a selective few can make a living off of it. We are not from those selective few, this tourbus by itself was half the tour budget! Do what your heart leads you to do, mostly. Everyone has their favourite inspirations, their favourite albums...


Conor: What are your favourite albums, by the way?


Ville: My favourite albums would be a very interesting combination, everything from KING CRIMSON to DARKTHRONE.


Conor: Same with the both of us!


Ville: If you're looking for some skeletons in the closet, I really enjoyed the latest Lady Gaga album as well! Back to the advice, the thing about rock music is to be a little bit different from other people. You are doing something that most people who work 9 to 5 will never do. It's natural for people in our position to be a little bit odd.


Conor: Favourite beer?


Ville: Alot of favourite beers, actually. From Belgium, Czech Republic, Ireland. Actually, alot of really good beers are from America. I learned that when I was on holiday in 2008, there was a beer restaurant in New York with 400 brands of beer, a bunch of them were American brands. I tasted many beers, but after the seventh one, I don't think it really mattered! [Laughs] Alot of great Canadian beers too.


Kevin: There's some great local microbrews as well, very expensive but good.


Ville: I used to drink alot of microbrews, but I can't afford it anymore... More advice for the starving musicians! [Laughs] In 2008, I quit my dayjob, it was a good choice but risky, I can select my free time but I have less money. Don't quit your dayjob if you want to have money! And if you want to be able to drink the expensive beer.


Conor: Favourite sort of cheeseburger?


Ville: Yeah, the actual restaurant cheeseburgers.


Conor: Alot of pub burgers are great.


Ville: Yeah! But I try to avoid McDonalds and stuff.


Kevin: I guess you have to eat that stuff alot on tour though.


Ville: If you are willing to venture a little ways from the bus, you can usually find something good.


Conor: Any last words for our online audience of five people?


Ville: Five people and a dog! [Laughs] I never really can say anything to this question- there are many words to say before I die!


Conor: Future of MOONSORROW, then?


Ville: I dunno! We might do a new album someday. Before that, we will focus on touring and drinking beer, and bringing chaos to your cities!


Conor: Cheers!


Conor Fynes

Photography by Kevin Zecchel

Edited by Conor Fynes - 22 Oct 2012 at 4:06am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2012 at 4:47am
Great interview ConorThumbs Up. I´ve added the Moonsorrow interview to the interview index:
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IMPF2112 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2012 at 1:54pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wilytank Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Oct 2012 at 10:34pm
Ville kinda looks like an ugly woman.  I thought I saw a woman who worked at Wal-Mart who had the same face as his.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IMPF2112 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Oct 2012 at 10:22am
He makes awesome music so I could care less about his looks.
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Conor Fynes View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Conor Fynes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2012 at 12:45am
I tend to agree with IMPF....
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