DATE OF INTERVIEW:
25th September 2009
METAL DISCOVERY: So are the whole band Tolkien fans?
TOMI MYKKÄNEN: Yeah, pretty much, yeah, we are.
(Tomi Mykkänen on Battlelore's future plans for their live shows)
"...we have been talking that we should add a laser, like the eye of Sauron and, of course, the flames and everything. Maybe even like Amon Amarth and have some people fighting onstage while playing."
Tomi outside Rock City's backstage doors, Nottingham, UK, 25th September 2009
Photograph copyright © 2009 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview and Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Battlelore Website:
Official Battlelore MySpace:
...Where The Shadows Lie (2001)
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
Sword's Song (2003)
Third Age of the Sun (2005)
The Last Alliance (2008)
Cheers to Tomi for his time...and the beer!
MD: Hypothetically, if a band member left, would you make sure the replacement was into Tolkien?
TM: No, I don’t think it actually matters. Of course, it’s good, like these guys were actually fortunate when Patrik left and I came in the band, but I also was into Tolkien and have been giving some lessons to Jyri about some parts because…
MD: …he’s not as well read as you?!
TM: Yeah, so it’s been really nice. But, of course, I think there’s me, Jyri, and Maria - we are the most into it. Most of the lyrics we actually write are about ‘The Silmarillion’.
MD: His lesser known text. Proper Tolkien fans!
MD: What did you think of the movies actually, the Peter Jackson ones?
TM: I think they were great movies; great action movies; really beautiful. But, of course, there were differences in the plot…
MD: …and the chronology as well.
TM: Yeah, but I didn’t actually care. For me, it wasn’t a bad thing, but Jyri was really, really angry about the fact that when Aragorn went to the Black Gate, and the Mouth of Sauron came, and it doesn’t show in the movie but it implies that Aragorn kills the Mouth of Sauron, and Jyri was like, “no, he couldn’t have done it because the Mouth of Sauron was the highest ranking human; he has the most power in all the humans; Aragorn could never have killed him!” [laughs]
MD: Being a fan of ‘Lord of the Rings’, and Tolkien in general, myself since a kid, I think the films are actually a good visualisation of what I had in my head…but I think they used the artists that had been illustrating Tolkien for years, so I guess that was quite apt. Do you think you’ll ever stray away from the Tolkien aesthetic?
TM: No, not with Battlelore.
MD: Summoning did with one album…’Stronghold’.
TM: I don’t see that happening because the band was formed for Tolkien so it’s like why? We can always have different bands then.
MD: And Middle Earth is a big world, so there’s a lot of scope there!
TM: Yeah, you can do anything. That’s the funny part because we have been many times asked about, “but, how can you come up with the lyrics?”, and then…you can do anything. Like, on the new album, we were thinking that we should make a new drinking song so Jyri came up with ’Green Dragon’. We can make a song about ‘The Prancing Pony’ at some point! [laughs]
MD: From any feedback you get, do you find that your fan base also has fans that aren’t particularly into metal but are fans of Tolkien and get into your band?
TM: Yeah, a lot, a lot. Yeah, we have lots of that. It’s been really funny, we’ve got lots of feedback and it’s really amazing how it’s like, “I don’t really listen to metal, but you guys are great”, and that’s cool. But, of course, we have these guys who are only metal fans and don’t care about Tolkien. It’s good that we also have that part.
MD: Do you have quite a diverse range of fans turning up to your gigs then?
TM: Yeah, some people have the swords…it’s quite diverse.
MD: You played Ring*Con in 2004, and that’s some kind of fantasy festival…the official ‘Lord of the Rings’ festival?
TM: Yeah, it is.
MD: How was that experience, and was it mainly fantasy enthusiasts, or did you have the metallers there as well?
TM: That was the last gig Patrik did, so I wasn’t there. I did that tour before it, but he did his farewell gig there, and then we had the second part of the tour where I went. But I have heard that Ring*Con was…I would even say fucking brilliant! [laughs] It was really cool. Battlelore was the only metal band. There was only these folk bands playing, and then the metal band came on and the guys said it was so awesome because all the guys who were there, they had dressed up, and there were guys from the movies, the actors. They met lots and lots of people there. But playing a song and seeing lots of elves dancing, it was…[laughs]
MD: ...very strange I imagine!
TM: They said it was really awesome and, after the gig, the drinking party was really cool. It was excellent for the guys; they were really hyped about it. And then they talked about that for me on the next part of the tour, “ohhhhh, it was so great; ohhhh….”
MD: I bet you wish you were there.
TM: Yeah, but I didn’t mind because it was Patrik’s last gig, so it was really good for them to have it done. They had some tears there and everything.
MD: If Battlelore suddenly became as big as Iron Maiden, for example, and you had an unlimited budget, would you aim to make your stage show a much more theatrical, Middle Earth experience?
TM: Yeah, we’ve been talking about it. We’ve been talking about having a backdrop that’s done by the projector, changing pictures…videos…and then we have been talking that we should add a laser, like the eye of Sauron and, of course, the flames and everything. Maybe even like Amon Amarth and have some people fighting onstage while playing.
MD: Not in the basement of Rock City though, a bit small!
TM: No, no! [laughs] We have been talking about it and have been actually thinking that maybe on the European tour that we’ll be doing in October/November, we’ll try to get some more sight props, like some pictures from our cover, and have the flames there and everything. So we would like to be more theatrical maybe but, the thing is, it costs! [laughs]
MD: I saw Helheim in February, I think, it was at the Underworld…are you playing the Underworld tomorrow?
TM: Yes, tomorrow.
MD: They had a VJ touring with them who did video projections behind them and was mixing them at the same time.
TM: Yeah, live images.
MD: Yeah, and that worked really well, maybe the kind of thing you could do.
TM: Yeah, that’s really cool.
MD: Every band seems to have had some sort of disastrous moment on tour - what’s been the most disastrous thing that’s happened to you?
TM: Well, on the 2007 ‘Evernight’ tour, we had this really cool bus from Finland, and we came from Holland back to Germany, and the police came and stopped us. Then they took us to the inspection…the car inspection…I’m not sure what it’s called. And then they just said that, “no, this bus doesn’t move anywhere from here”, and they checked the brakes out. The brakes didn’t work; the steering didn’t work; it was really bad. The tyres were bad.
MD: A condemned vehicle!
TM: Yeah, it was really bad…and they were like, “guys, we are really, really sorry; we are really, really sorry”, and they were talking about that, but they had just bought tickets for the Manowar show in Germany, but it was really cool. So that was one of the catastrophes. It turned out quite well because it was routine inspections and they stopped lots and lots of buses and cars…
MD: So a bit of bad luck you got stopped.
TM: Yeah, but we had good luck in that sense in that after our bus there was another one and, actually, the driver was the owner of a bus company and he heard our talk and said “do you want a bus?”; we’re like “yeah, we need one”; “give me two minutes”…he called somebody…“half an hour, the bus is coming”.
MD: That’s fucking good luck!
TM: But there’s lots of Spinal Tap things like the movie…[laughs]
MD: Have you seen the Anvil movie?
TM: No, I haven’t.
MD: Oh, you have to see that movie - it’s Spinal Tap for real!
TM: This is Spinal Tap for real!
MD: Finally, I think you might have answered this actually, what aims and aspirations do you have for the future of the band, apart from a big stage show?
TM: The new album; new tours. Hopefully we can step another ladder on the success…we were talking about this earlier, a couple of months ago when we were playing at Summer Breeze and Bloodstock, that we have now stepped up one ladder once again because we were playing the main stages and, hopefully, we can step another step. We don’t sell that much. It’s like fifteen thousand per CD.
MD: That’s pretty good. Napalm must be happy with what you sell to offer you such a good deal.
TM: But it would be really nice to sell a bit more and get a bit bigger stages.
MD: Headline tours as well.
TM: Actually, we have done one headline tour, and this next one is also our headline tour in Europe but, of course, we could use a bigger headliner! [laughs]
MD: Have Ring*Con got back in touch and said they want to book you again?
TM: Yeah, there was some talks about that. It’d be cool. I think next Summer we’ll have a really nice Summer of bigger festivals. We’ll see.
MD: Maybe Download in the UK.
TM: Yeah, that would be really cool.
MD: Definitely. Right, thank you very much for your time.
TM: Thank you.
MD: And the beer!
TM: Yeah, no worries man!