Interview with Mathias By Carina Lawrence
Finnish folk metallers Finntroll are back fiercer than ever with their long-waited return with their seventh album titled “Vredesvävd” which marks their first release in seven years.
We talked to vocalist Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns about the upcoming dark new release which is due out on the 18th September via Century Media Records which embraces a more black metal vibe and explores ‘how to find yourself and confront the other side of you’ amongst other things….
So first of all, what have you been up to during lockdown and the pandemic?
Lots of stuff going on at the moment – well yeah I’m not calling the pandemic a good thing but something good came out of this as well as we have actually been really busy with the new album so actually not being able to go on tours right now and people saying yeah I’m getting restless at home and stuff but I’m definitely not restless because I have so much to do all the time and also with releasing two band albums on major labels at the same time, I released in May the new And Oceans album and then the Finntroll album now in September so I have been keeping busy and seems like I don’t have enough hours during the day.
Can you tell us about how you came to join Finntroll back in 2006?
Yeah was in around Easter in 2006 but yeah the guys they decided to get out Tapio Wilska in the beginning of the year and I don’t remember could have been maybe February or March and they wanted to have get a new singer as soon as possible and they called Katla the first singer up, me and Katla were actually studying art in art school in Finland, in a Swedish speaking school actually so they called him up and asked him if there was anyone in the school any singers that speak Swedish as well and he told them I actually have an acquaintance here that I saw live, as I had another band back then and Katla went to my gig a couple of weeks before, then one day he came knocking on my door and asked if I wanted to go and try out for the new position in Finntroll and I sent the guys a couple of demos that I had done during the years and the rest in history.
So you are releasing the new seventh album “Vredesvävd” September 18th, I believe The title translates to “Wrath-woven”, how did you arrive at this name and what does it mean or reflect for the album?
Well all Finntroll albums have in some way been concept albums not like a long story or something but this one is actually comprised of different stories about journeys and the different journeys you can take, both like spiritual journeys and geographical so sort of experiences that Katla has had with his mediation and trance which he has been practicing for a long time, so its sort of his experiences in different songs from his point of view what he went through, all these stories they seem to be made in some kind of state of anger or wrath or something and Katla said he needs to be in a dark place we he writes lyrics because if he is feeling too good then this kind of stuff doesn’t come out so all these stories are made in a state or anger and they are connected and the tales are connected to it in some way so that is why the title is that.
This new album is the band’s first release in seven years, what was the reason for the long gap was this intended or just circumstantial?
Yeah it is kind of weird as these seven years they went past like really fast. We have had quite a long album cycle like three or four years between albums that’s been normal but this time for some reason we tried after three years already we tried to make some music but it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, we sort of didn’t have the red thread, it wasn’t found yet, everything we wrote wouldn’t fit on the same album they were going in really different directions so we just decided to go on this ten year anniversary of the Nifelvind album and then lets see where it takes us and if we come up with some new ideas but after that also for a little bit over a year but nothing new came up and the stuff was so different it couldn’t have been on the same album as I said so we decided to just take it easy for a little while and do some gigs and festivals and all of a sudden seven years had passed so its weird when people say when are you guys going to do a comeback or something as we were still keeping busy, like we played almost every weekend last summer or had a festival and did lots of weekend trips and done a couple of gigs in different parts of the world so all these years went quickly and last year was actually the breaking point when we decided we really need to have an album out in 2020 and we asked for a deadline and we got the deadline and here we are now.
What was the writing and recording process like for this album especially as I read you had involvement in the mastering and producing along with Henri, is that right?
Yeah definitely, usually Trollhorn (Henri) is writing the most, I’m usually like the right handed man but this time Trollhorn wanted to use me a bit more in producing the album and also in the mixing and mastering and everything, I was sort of the last filter that the whole album came through, Henri the whole time sent me like half-finished songs and would be like what do you think of that last riff or what should we do and then I have my opinions on it and told him how I would do it and then we sort of got this jigsaw of an album together.
I know we already touched on it a little bit about the meaning of the album title but are there any main lyrical themes on the album that you can elaborate on?
I can mention for example as I talked about spiritual journeys and geographical ones, like the second single ‘Forsen’, that one is a spiritual one like a journey how to find yourself and confront the other side of you, your dark side like that soul searching kind of song where ‘Att Döda Med En Sten’ is a song about vengeance so these are two good examples of the two kinds of stories that are throughout this album.
The album arguably features some of your most aggressive vocals as well as just the overall album being quite dark and heavier, how did this come about, again was it intentional or did it just happen naturally?
When we were writing the first songs from this album we hadn’t found a red thread yet but when we found it like the twist it came in the form of going back in time to how Black Metal sounded in Scandinavia in the end of the nineties and when we found that we rewrote a lot of the material also to fit this and the new stuff went in the lines of Black Metal-esque vibes so it sort of evolved into this and when we started arranging my vocals, I really wanted to do something a little bit more harsh to fit but they are songs where had that melodic flow as well like on the other albums too but I wanted to step it up and make it a little bit more harsh and extreme this time.
Can you tell us a bit about the album artwork and the meaning behind it?
Usually Katla and Skrymer (guitar) talk because again Skrymer painted the album cover for us, so he and Katla they went through all the lyrics then Skrymer got the vibes that are happening in the lyrics and the actual music and the symbiosis is there.
You have just released the video for ‘Mask’, how did the idea for the video come together and what is the song about?
The story was also what we are dealing with in the lyrics to wake up and be reborn in some kind of way or to rise again, I was sort of was the lead behind the whole music video project this time also Skrymer and some of the other guys in the band we had Skype calls during the lockdown and we came to this idea of like waking up the band again and being a metaphor as well for like this rebirth of Finntroll again seven years later.
When and where was the video filmed?
It was filmed in the last moments because our guitar player Skrymer he is living in Germany and we needed to get the green light for him so he could fly back into Finland so that’s why last moment as earlier this summer he wasn’t allowed to fly to Finland because where he is living is an area where the pandemic has hit worse so we needed to get the green light and sort out how he could get home after, it was a hassle so that’s why we made it this late but it made it through the deadline and everything. It was filmed in this really cool place outside of Helsinki, it looks really nice, like a National park.
How happy have you been with the fan responses to the singles especially as you can’t tour currently so this is the only gage?
I have been really happy with the feedback, I have hardly heard anything bad about it, I’m really surprised and relieved with the feedback because after this long of a time and we haven’t done anything new, the pressure to make something even better starts building up so we have been really anxious, one because it was a gamble to do this dark album, it could go either way but it seems like we did the right choice and went in this direction.
Speaking of touring obviously no tours for a while yet but you have announced a European tour for March 2021 with Skálmöld, how excited are you to get back out on the road?
Really excited but also afraid what is going to happen as we haven’t been on a tour bus or done this many shows in a row since like eight, nine maybe ten years ago, well we did quite a harsh bit in 2013 that one was way worse and we haven’t been in a tour bus for almost four years so lets see what happens this time and how it has changed especially now as everything has been cancelled we were supposed to be out on many festivals this summer with my other band And Oceans but that one everything also got moved so even though I have lots of stuff to do here I still want to travel and still want to play shows.
Do you think you will be doing any live stream shows like many other bands are doing right now or will that be too difficult especially as geographically not in same places?
Not that actually but we have so many plans but right now its impossible to do anything outside Finland and we actually had a nice release party here planned but the Finnish government put a stop to that so it’s the second time we have had to move everything, I’m not sure how much I can talk about it but there is stuff happening and as soon as we get something that makes sense then we will do something cool.
What other plans have you got as a band during these strange times, I guess just lots of album promotion?
Yeah definitely that is what it is all about now, for the last weeks I have been talking on the phone everyday almost so this is my part but of course lots of things are going on with gigs behind the scenes and next year we are hopefully fingers crossed going out to mainland Europe and tour so right now we are looking and booking new festivals and gigs and tours scheduled in and promotion for that one is going to start soon as well so there’s lots of things to do and lots of stuff happening on the gig front but its so uncertain with covid-19 situation right now and the politics but I really hope that we can come to the UK at some point as well on the new album, right now the political climate is really bad for the rest of the world to play.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us or add?
I really want everybody to know that we have big plans and as soon as it is possible and the borders open up we are going to be all over the place again like we used to and yeah check out the new album and enjoy and stay safe.
Finntroll’s new album “Vredesvävd” is out September 18th via Century Media Records.
“Vredesvävd” can be pre – ordered HERE
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