Thursday, February 20, 2020

interview: Verikalpa

The Finns take special care to create folk that is way more fun than people know and a lot more metal than you have a right to expect. After all, this is folk metal, right? It’s usually not that metal, it’s kind of cheeseball music and mosh pits don’t tend to form when folk music plays; it’s more like people in funny skirts grabbing each other by the arm and doing the Texas two-step macarena. Step aside for the Verikalpa boys; they play songs that even a Slayer crowd might like: fast, headbanging and lots of electric guitar. Were you expecting accordions, fiddles, harps, whistling, yodeling and furry boots? Accordions are cool and all, as Los Tigres del Norte are happy to show you, but these old boys like headbanging and thrashing around. This music is melodic black metal and folk metal joining together for plenty of fast songs, including blasting, and some medieval/folk vibes done through the keyboards for the righteous humppa feeling. Put it all together, and it is the recipe for a good time that lasts some 46 minutes with songs between 3:30 and 5:00 minutes, more or less. No big segments of silence, no spoken word stuff, no poetry readings, just tune after tune of headbanging folk melodic extreme metal. The lyrics are in Finnish; therefore, we can tell you exactly jack squat about they growl about. Anyway, the new 2020 album is called Tuoppitanssi and it follows the 2018 debut Taistelutahto. We conducted an interrogation and they responded by throwing beer at us. This is how it all went down.
We are enjoying your new 2020 album a lot! It’s fun, headbanging metal music. How is life in the city of Oulu’s snow storms?! Ever feel taking a break from your winter and take a vacation?!
Hey, what’s up, Seattle! Good to hear you’re enjoying the album! That’s what we were going for, headbanging while trying to balance the beer to your mouth at the same time! Oulu at the moment is like a shithole from a gothic novel: Dark, bleak, misty and rainy. Usually we get a lot of snow with tough minus degrees to freeze the hair out your ass, but now it’s plus degrees with constant rains. A short break on a beach in Southern Europe with a tight grip on a Pina Colada sounds very plausible!
Speaking of taking a break from the Finnish winter, what information do you have about touring in 2020?
Unfortunately, no tours outside of Finland are planned at the moment, we’re a young band (the band, not the old farts playing in it) so we have to start building up everything from the ground up, including promoters so we could get a tour set up. A few weeks in a tour-bus in USA with cold Pabst in our hands would be so nice!
Congratulations on the new album! It is very melodic and rocking, too, with a bit of black metal vibe. Can you tell us who are the members of the band in 2020? Besides guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, did you use any other instruments on the album?
Thanks a bunch! Verikalpa consists of these happy campers: Jani Ikonen (vocals), Jussi Heikkilä (guitar), Sami Ikonen (another guitar), Sami Knuutinen (bass), Jari Huttunen (drums) and Jussi Sauvola (keyboards). All of the lads played on the album except Jari since we were already heading to the studio when Jari joined the band so the drums were blasted to the harddrive by our ex-drummer Aleksi Heiskanen who also did some production work for the album! We didn’t use any actual folk instruments on the album so everything came from Jussi’s keyboards
The lyrics come from Finnish folklore, correct? Are they stories like Hansel and Gretel, but from a Finnish tradition/perspective?
We didn’t use any actual stories, just old myths about Finnish creatures, mostly trolls and elves. Not any fantasy/Tolkien stuff but a Finnish view of elves called Tonttu, mythical creatures that were worshipped and respected and were closely tied to Finnish traditions like the sauna. We also have some old folk saying that we built the songs around, “Mettäväinö” for example is an old hermit that lives in the woods gorging on mostly his own homemade spirits called pontikka. That shit’ll burn the color from your eyes!
The album artwork depicts a battle fought with beer, instead of swords. Is that right? Actually, it is dance, and not a fight, correct? Some bands like to think that they have a serious message about politics or religion, but your band is about beer and partying, right? Maybe you are a Finnish folk/extreme metal version of AC/DC or Motorhead?!
You’re absolutely right and fuck politics in general! Politics flood out from every channel and it’s always shit, we’re here to make people forget about all that stuff and have fun! Drinking beer and dancing knows no gender, color or creed! Being the Finnish folk/extreme metal version of Motorhead sound like a solid plan to me!
What are your plans for official videos, lyric videos and playthrough videos? What about things like sessions of live Q&A, questions and answers about the band and the new album?
We already released our first music video about the second song from the album “Talonväen Teuraat” and you can check it out on Youtube [watch the video below at the end of this interview] or streaming platforms like Spotify! Another video might be coming before the release so stay tuned on our Facebook page! A live Q&A with a few beers sounds like a blast, we’re open for offers who wants to listen to our drunk rambling!
It looks like your band used to be on Inverse Records (Finland), but now you are on Scarlet Records (Italy). How did you begin the business relation with the Italian label? Is this part of your masterplan to begin taking over Europe?
We actually contacted Scarlet Records when our drummer Jari recommended them, he had collaborated with Scarlet with his band Requiem back in the day and said they were tight! So we made a short promoletter, sent them the album so they could have a listen and they liked it and wanted to sign us to their label. We certainly hope that we’ll have a bigger presence in Europe and think we have a lot to offer to our beer drinking brothers and sisters across the globe in general!
Your music is very melodic. How much of your melodies come from Finnish traditional music? How much of your melodies are Finnish melodies, from folk, pop or other Finnish music? Is there such a thing as Finnish country music and do some of your melodies come from those other genres of music? Or, your melodies come from metal music and the decades of Finnish and folk metal music?
There certainly are some elements from traditional Finnish folk music that we combine with massive, heavy riffs and boombastic drums to make the mix that is the Verikalpa sound! Oh yes there is a strong folk/country scene here in Finland but it has a pretty different sound than what other countries offer, that’s the reason I think that Finnish folk metal is so celebrated around the globe, it has its own distinct sound. Even though we have some folk elements, we concentrate more on the metal side of things so some people think we’re quite hard to be classified as a folk metal band generally.
We keep hearing about political tensions between Europe and Russia. In your opinion, do you have any concerns about the future of Finland and peace in Finland?
War unfortunately seems to be an integral part of the human existence, there’s always violence going on. You have to try to keep a positive mindset about the future and try to be the best person one can be. Finland hasn’t seen wars in a long time and we most certainly would like to keep it so, we always try to be as neutral as we can be.
What can you report in terms of merch?
We’d like to print more shirts this time around! We only did one batch of shirts with the last album and they sold like hotcakes! We also try to keep things more fresh and offer more non-traditional merch, Verikalpa beercases would be the shit! Also bands seem to be making their own beers but they’re always some fancy IPA/APA shenanigans. If Verikalpa would make a beer we’d try to push the cost to a minimum so people can enjoy it in bulk, the cheapest shit money can buy!
This is a zine in the Seattle region. What would you like fans in the U.S. to know about your music? How do you feel about the tradition of Finnish bands that have come before your band and how you fit in that tradition?
Verikalpa combines groovy riffs with melodies that stay in your head for good, the combination is known to cause thirst for fizzy, golden and intoxicating beverages so listen when you’re not driving! We know that Finnish metal bands are well liked in the US of A and we’re very honored about that thank you guys! We’d like to think Verikalpa wouldn’t be an exception to that, the genre question is always so hard to answer since we’re not a traditional folk metal band and we’re not straight up groove metal either. I think troll/beer-metal summarizes us the best, twisted melodies and beer is a constant in our lyrics :D
Thanks for answering the interview!
Thanks for the interview, hope you have an awesome year!
VERIKALPA - Talonväen Teuraat (Official Video)
facebook.com/Verikalpa/

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