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25th September 2009
METAL DISCOVERY: I read on the blog that you finished mixing the songs about ten minutes before the journalists got there?
MATHIAS LILLMÅNS: Yeah. I think it was actually five minutes after they got there! [laughs]
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(Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns on Finntroll's popularity in Mexico)
"Usually when we’re in Europe for a show we get 500-600 presales…but 1700 in Mexico City, and people were already waiting at the airport. You feel like The Beatles or something!"
Mathias in the Speakeasy pub Nottingham, UK, 25th September 2009
Photograph copyright © 2009 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview and Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Finntroll Website:
Official Finntroll MySpace:
Midnattens Widunder (1999)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Sarah Lees at Century Media for arranging the interview
Jaktens Tid (2001)
Visor om Slutet (2003)
Trollhammaren EP (2004)
Cheers to Mathias for his time
Nattfödd (2004)
Ur Jordens Djup (2007)
MD: That’s all very last minute! Had you planned on doing it before?
ML: The thing was, we were really short on time because we had the last day, and we promised that there were gonna be seven come in and listen to the songs, but then were actually still recording some small stuff for it. We were mixing it and “oh fuck, we have to add this!”…so we were going on the keyboard and adding some church bells or something. We finished five minutes late.
MD: I read at the start of the studio blog that you were going into the woods and recording sounds of banging bits of wood and that kind of thing as well.
ML: Yeah, we were supposed to, but we didn’t have…because I was supposed to do it, and ended up…it went like this, so I actually ended up recording most of the album myself, so I didn’t really have the time to do it. But there is samples actually from the woods, like wood hitting…bones…but we didn’t do it in the studio time.
MD: The last time I saw Finntroll was at Bloodstock over here in the UK, and you had Martin Walkyier up onstage with you singing ‘Trollhammaren’ - are you all Skyclad fans, and how important do you regard their influence in the folk metal genre?
ML: I, myself, I’m not a Skyclad fan but I know there’s guys in the band that really, really like it. Somnium - he was a huge Skyclad fan. Martin was supposed to come today also and sing. I got a mail from him two days ago and, in my head, I thought it was in Manchester, otherwise he would’ve been, because he was just waiting backstage for when he’s gonna come but, no, so I feel a bit sorry. But we’re drinking with him right now….he’s just behind you.
MD: Have you ever, or have you ever considered, using live musicians in your shows for some of the keyboard parts…like horns and violins?
ML: Yeah, we have been thinking about it but, you know, it’s hard to get everything together. But I really like it nowadays, especially in Finland, because we can use two keyboard players because Trollhorn, he’s not touring with us. But he shows up for occasional gigs in Finland. We had some Summer festivals in Finland, and he was over there with us, and he was doing the kazoos; he was doing mouth harp and, of course, keyboards; he was singing backup vocals.
MD: You seem to have quite a dedicated, cult following over here in the UK and, I guess, in mainland Europe too - what kind of relationship do you have with your fans, and what’s the craziest experience you’ve had with a Finntroll fan?
ML: Oooo….
MD: Is there many?!
ML: [laughs] Oh well, it depends on where we go. I remember in 2007, we played in Mexico, we had 1,700 presales in Mexico City and we were playing with Celtic Frost. We were trying to go and see some of Celtic Frost but you couldn’t because I think it got to the two final songs and there was so many people. We had this bodyguard trying to push people off, and they were like “arrrgghhhh”…in the entrance hall, there were like hundreds of people wanting the autographs, you know, no security fences, and we were trying to write some autographs, but…
MD: Mexico’s not exactly South America, but I’ve heard a lot of bands say that when they play in South America, the fans are more crazy than anywhere else in the world.
ML: Usually when we’re in Europe for a show we get 500-600 presales…but 1700 in Mexico City, and people were already waiting at the airport. You feel like The Beatles or something!
MD: You toured North America for the first time in 2006 - how do audiences in the States compare to Europe?
ML: They are really into mosh pitting.
MD: Yeah, I've heard that before. More violent pits?
ML: Yeah, yeah, there’s more violence in the audiences over there. We play a bit smaller venues…okay, today was quite small, but a bit smaller venues because we’re not really that big still. We’ve only had three tours over there but, still, it’s violent!
MD: Alan from Primordial said to me in an interview last year that Finntroll singing about trolls is part of the Finnish black humour about their drinking culture. Would you say that’s a fair summary of Finntroll?
ML: You know, it’s not that much about trolls. It’s more about really primordial Finnish people. You know the legend about the Finntroll?
MD: No.
ML: The first crusades came from Sweden to try to Christian Finland…and they sent over a boat full of these priests and everything…and came over to Finland, and they go into the boats and there’s really, really undeveloped Finnish people over there…and this guy comes up…and the priests are trying to find people…and this guy comes from the woods and he kills almost all of them. A few escape and go back to Sweden with the boat and the first thing they say is “how did it go in Finland?”…“Oh fuck, we met this Finntroll that came out from the woods”…and that’s the story. So it’s not about these creatures with the…you know…it’s more about troll-looking people.
MD: How much beer do you predict you’ll be drinking on this short tour?…how many beers have you had tonight?
ML: Actually, not that many…maybe seven…
MD: Not that many?! What’s a good night?
ML: Oh well, a good night would be…
MD: Fourteen?
ML: Fourteen maybe, and then you have a…we’re really huge fans of gin and tonic, so five or six gin and tonics…maybe a bottle of red wine…some tequila…
MD: On the same night?!
ML: Yeah.
MD: That’s hardcore drinking! And you’re drinking Guinness at the moment as well which is pretty cool.
ML: Oh yeah, I love it.
MD: I suggested that Tomi from Battlelore should have a pint of Guinness earlier and he said “I’m Finnish, that’s too hard for me”…he had lager or something. He didn’t want to drink Guinness!
ML: The Finnish people like lager but, you know, Guinness for me…I haven’t been a fan so long but we were a couple of years ago in Dublin playing…and go up to this really old pub and, of course, when you’re in Dublin you have to have a pint of Guinness. Since then I’ve been hooked!
MD: Finally, I know you wasn’t in the band originally and you’ve only been in Finntroll since 2006, but twelve years on since the band started, do you predict another twelve years for Finntroll, and what plans do you have for the immediate future?
ML: I really hope that we’re gonna continue forever but our near plans are working on the new album - doing the artwork; doing some music video; new promo photos; releasing the album; touring like crazy next year.
MD: A long future for Finntroll hopefully.
ML: I hope so. And I hope the new album is gonna kick some ass around the world.
MD: Definitely. Okay, thank you very much for this random, pissed interview!
ML: Yeah! [laughs]