Crannk Interviews Tuomas Rounakari – Korpiklaani, Shamanviolin

Tuomas Rounakari is an internationally acclaimed violinist, composer, and ethnomusicologist from Finland, and he also rocks the world with his violin in the phenomenal Finnish folk-metal band Korpiklaani. I recently caught up with Tuomas to talk about the 11th studio “Jylha” album from the Finnish folk metal legends which released 5th of February through Nuclear Blast, we also talk about his other work as an ethnomusicologist and as an educator helping to bring back traditional Laments.

Where should I start… There are so many new angles“, smiles Jonne. “This time, we brainstormed, composed, demoed, did pre-production and recorded all of the material more meticulously than ever before. Every single track went through many cautious and patient developmental phases, and at the end of the day, we can say with certainty that we made the most of these songs. One of the key architects of ideas was our new drummer Samuli Mikkonen. He took over the early demos and started developing the raw songs with his youthful enthusiasm. Both playing and ideas-wise, Samuli’s input was simply phenomenal. There was no holding back from the others either, accordionist Sami Perttula started arranging folk instruments – both his own and Tuomas Rounakari’s violin parts – into the new material during the very early stages of the process. All in all, I would say that the results are outstanding: catchy folk melodies and crushing heavy metal – carefully crafted by guitarist Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi and bassist Jarkko Aaltonen – that blend together just perfectly.

Immortalised at trustworthy Sound Supreme Studios in Hämeenlinna and at Jonne’s own facility JonneMusic in Lahti with renowned producer Janne Saksa (MOKOMA, TURISAS, ROTTEN SOUND, STAM1NA), “Jylhä” is easily KORPIKLAANI’s tightest and most diverse recording to date. “The album blasts off with belligerent track ‘Verikoira’, which was composed having JUDAS PRIEST’s mighty ‘Painkiller’ in the back of our minds. One can also hear my vocal tribute to one and only Mr. Rob Halford“, reveals Jonne. “However, “Jylhä” is not just a pummelling heavy metal record, as it’s also our most versatile full-length. For example, some of the new songs feature energetic punk rock influences and there are even some audible laid-back reggae rhythms. I am also delighted to mention that one of our closest friends within the metal scene, bass player Jack Gibson of thrash legends EXODUS, makes a guest appearance with his banjo!

What about the tales of the wilderness then? The fascinating and miscellaneous tales have always been a crucial part of KORPIKLAANI’s journey within the realms of unspoiled Finnish nature, ancient Scandinavian myths, shamanistic voyages and beyond. “Did I already mention that “Jylhä” offers some new angles?“, the singer/guitarist laughs. “Well, lyrically, there are definitely some previously unknown passages – such as fables connected to the infamous Lake Bodom murders in Southern Finland in early 1960s.”

KORPIKLAANI’s long-time lyricist Tuomas Keskimäki – the renowned Finnish poet and author, comments: “When I am coming up with narratives, interesting wordplays and other ideas for KORPIKLAANI, I often feel like I am diving into some absorbing fantasy world. I would describe this state of mind as some kind of a deep trance“, says Keskimäki. “As a whole textual piece, “Jylhä” is rather widespread. For example, there are stories about the fragility of life, revealed by using nature metaphors. ‘Miero’ is one of these tales: after all, it’s a fact that the lifetime of a human being is just one blink of an eye compared to the eternal aeons of the cosmos.” “On the darker side, there are several murder songs – I wasn’t really planning these rather untraditional lyrics, they just happened… One of these is ‘Kiuru’, and that story is inspired by a famous Finnish double homicide case, which took place in the small village of Tulilahti in 1959. In these lyrics, the character called Kiuru – Skylark in English – acts as eyewitness and a prophet, but at the same time, this creature also functions as an allegory of many things… All in all, I am really happy with the lyrics and all these new themes!”  

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