Finnish Folk Metal sensation Korpiklaani will soon be releasing their high-anticipated new album, ‘Kulkija.’ It’s an album that both breaks new ground, and captures all the very best elements of what has come before for Korpiklaani. Violinist Tuomas Rounakari is justifiably pleased with the album, and describes where he sees it taking the band.
“Well first of all, we are very proud of this album. The whole band feels that something magical happened, and that finally we were in the right place and the right time, and with the right people. I think that, already with the ‘Noita’ album, we found a beautiful balance between the folk and Metal elements, and in the mix of the melodic things, the guitars, they are beautifully balanced in ‘Noita.’ And that was something that we celebrated when that album came out. But now that balance is more or the less the same as it was in the ‘Noita’ album, but the folk style and folk feel has expanded through the interpretation and playing. So for example, for myself as a violinist, I play in much more versatile ways and styles in this album than ever before in Korpiklaani. And also in Jonne ’s vocals, there are a lot of first takes, a lot of things that happened organically that are there in the album. And this sort of change in the style is to be a little bit more folky in the interpretation of the music. So in that sense I see a clear continuation from the ‘Noita’ album.
“I mean, in a way,” he points out, “what’s the point of doing an album if you don’t want to do better, and better, and better work every time? Of course that’s always the driving sense, but this time I think it’s spectacular that all of us feel that we really made a huge step forward. And also I think what is important in this album is that it somehow carries the uplifting energy that we have in the live shows. And that’s just a lot of fun, that the magic is caught on the album.”
When it comes to Rounakari’s role in the song writing, he offers some history of his time in the band and how his role has developed. “Well, I joined Korpiklaani for the ‘Manala’ album, and already then Jonne was trusting me, surprisingly, with things like if I want, I can rearrange all of the songs the way I want,” he laughs heartily. “That was kind of surprising, but at that time for me, it was a lot about learning the history of the band, learning how to do those things, learning how to adapt my playing to their history. But then in the ‘Noita’ album, Sami , the accordion player and myself, we worked a lot through the arrangements. We did a lot of things together. And for this album we originally planned that we would work as a trio, Jonne, myself and Sami, to work on the arrangements. But I have to say,” Rounakari enthuses, “that Jonne’s demos have improved greatly, and part of the reason why those demos were so ready is that Jonne knows us well now, he knows what we can do, and he trusts that we deliver the things that he’s after. So the demos were really well-made this time compared to the ‘Noita’ album where we worked a lot on the melodies and arrangements, and the demos were quite unfinished. But this time lots of those songs were really, really ready. We didn’t do many changes to the arrangements of the demos at all, but Sami worked hard to create more dynamics and more layers to the accordion parts; whereas I felt that my role is finally being the lead, being the violinist, playing the melodies, playing the solos, and I felt that there’s nothing much to add. They’re such powerful melodies, and also the emotional scope of the melodies is so vast that it’s like I don’t have to invent the world again, that I can actually trust the melodies, and trust in having my solo parts. And the rest of the things were really done in an improvised way, like for example in Harmaja, you hear those violin lines behind Jonne’s vocals. Those are all improvised first takes. So it really depends who you ask. Sami was working his parts day and night, and it was painful to watch him working so hard,” he chuckles, but with some sympathy, “while I was just going with the flow and recording first takes.”
It’s no wonder ‘Kulkija’ truly does feel magical, because Rounakari did bring one particularly special element to the recording. “You know, it’s a big thing for myself because I have a violin that I got when I was a teenager. It’s a French violin from 1896, and that violin has grown in value tremendously, its value has gone up like 1,000 Euros per year, and I’ve had it for quite a long while. But an expensive repair was needed for that violin, and it was in my closet for almost ten years without using it. But last year I finally decided that this is wrong,” he says firmly. “It’s wrong to keep this violin unused and in a closet, so I will fix it and I will start to use it as my main instrument, or I will sell it. But an instrument like that is not supposed to lay down broken in a closet. So I did this expensive repair to the violin, and it was used for the first time in the studio for ‘Kulkija.’ And no way I’m going to sell that beauty!” he declares. “I’m so pleased with the sound of that violin myself, and really looking forward to recording more with it.”
KORPIKLAANI’S ‘KULKIJA’ IS RELEASED SEPTEMBER 7TH. PREORDER YOUR COPY FROM NUCLEAR BLAST HERE!