LH: Greetings! How are things in the world of Battlelore?
Tomi: Cheers! Things are great at the moment. The album has been out for a while, video for “House of Heroes” is waiting to be released. The European tour in April/May is starting to get us anxious. Haha! So, we are living interesting times.
LH: You’ve just released “Evernight”. How has the response been so far? Do you expect it to be as /more successful than “Third age of the sun”?
Tomi: The response has been quite good. Seems that the album is a grower so you need to listen to it more than couple of times to get the idea really. That’s why we’ve been getting a bit lower grades from the big mags compared to the smaller ones who tend to listen to the album more before reviewing. I think this is a very good sign for the longevity of the album.
I think that the album has been more successful than “TAotS” was but of course we can’t know that for sure before we get some statements from NPR. Of course we are hoping to reach more people every time we produce a new album.
LH: How would you say that the sound on “Evernight” has progressed since “Third Age of the sun”?
Tomi: Well the overall sound on “Evernight” is a lot darker than on “TAotS”. And the songs are more coherent and I think more aligned with the others on the album. So that makes the album sound more like an album than just a collection of songs, you know? Personally this album means a lot more to me than “TAotS” ever did. On that album I felt more like helping guys out with their album whereas on this album I feel totally in band. There’s actually one of my songs (“Ocean’s Elysium”) and I’ve got my name on couple of lyrics on this one. And I think that my vocals sound pretty decent on “Evernight”. There’s still so much to improve but that’s good.
LH: Could you tell us about some of the lyrical themes on the new album? I believe that the lyrics are a little more relative to real life issues than on previous albums.
Tomi: Yes, that’s the way we decided to go with the new album. All of the songs have their basis on the Tolkien’s writings but we decided not to use any names or places from Tolkien to make the lyrics a bit more universal in a sense, you know? This way a listener that don’t know anything about Tolkien’s world can still fully enjoy the music and lyrics. And of course if you know your Tolkien well you’re able to spot the right stories and incidents that we’re somehow referring to in the lyrics.
LH: For the final few tracks of the album you have used a concept based on Akallabeth. Could you tell us a bit about the concept?
Tomi: Yeah, actually our initial idea was to make the full album on the concept of Akallabeth (The Fall of Numenor). As it turned out we didn’t do the whole album on it; if you get the digipack edition of the album you’ll get 5 songs connected to the story, on the normal version there are 3 songs about Akallabeth.
The main idea of Akallabeth is human greed. Numenoreans are superior humans, they went to east on a war against Sauron and they captured Sauron and took him as a captive of war to their home. After a while Sauron has spoken evil in Numenoreans hearts and minds and they start to envy gods for their eternal life. Then Numenorean start a war against gods and, well, they are killed and their home sunken under the sea. So the basic themes are greed, deception, destruction and oblivion which make a great metal album. Haha!
LH: How was your time in the studio recording “Evernight”?
Tomi: It was quite dull as usually in the studio. Haha! When the studio session started it was like 3 days and all the drums were recorded. Our session was a bit different from the usual “locked in the studio for several weeks” as we did pretty much work from Monday to Thursday as Miitri the producer had either gigs with his own band (Monsteriser) or were doing sound for Mokoma during weekends. That made our time quite fragmental in the studio. But all in all the studio session was a success and we were done in a record time in Battlelore’s history. I think the album took about 7 weeks to build up. And quite a few beers and sauna nights. Haha! Actually we left 7 scheduled days unused!
LH: I understand that “Evernight” was produced by Miitri Aaltonen who you also worked with for “Sword’s Song” and “Where the Shadows Lie”. How come you went back to Miitri for “Evernight” and not Terje Refsnes who produced you last album?
Tomi: There were practical reasons for that really. At the moment we have this odd thing in the band that all of us are having day jobs so going to France for 7-9 weeks would have been quite hard to arrange so that kind of forced us to check Finnish studios. Of course Battlelore has worked with Miitri before so it was the first option. And the fact that Miitri has done lots of metal since “Sword’s Song” and he’s gained some nominations for producer of the year in Finland didn’t make the decision harder either.
LH: Who designed your album cover? Did you have much of an input into the cover design and does it relate at all to the musical content?
Tomi: The cover artwork is done by Tero Salonen. The painting he used as a basis for the cover image is once again by Ted Nashmith. Then the painting was modified to fit the album with the permission from Ted. I think that the bleak artwork and less showy band pictures portray the feeling of the album quite well.
Lyrically the image is quite fitting. After the lyrics were done we realised that even though the theme of Akallabeth isn’t going through the album still most of the songs had something to do with seas, oceans, rivers or water. That way the image portrays it nicely. Also after the fall of Numenor some of the Numenoreans were able to survive and this artwork can portray them finally coming close to set their foot on solid ground.
LH: You have recently done a video for “House of Heroes” as I read on your website. Overall, how was the whole experience of filming the video? I must say you’re all pretty brave to stay out in that cold for so long looking at the photos haha!
Tomi: Horrible. It was horrible, I say. At least for me, Henkka and Timo. We had to stay in that freezing coldness for hours and hours and still try to act as it was great. Haha! I realised at some point that I’m not shivering at all… I was starting to hurt quite bad so I think the coldness almost got me. It was something near -15 Celcius degrees and we used smoke machine and an air blower which of course made the coldness even more freezing. And the clothing of sleeveless top and kilt didn’t help that much. HAHA!
The next day I needed to do some additional shots so I went to the studio where others were shooting their parts. First thing I heard was “Damn, it’s too warm in here”. I was just about to kick some ass. Haha!
Otherwise the filming was quite successful with the whole band appearing this time. Well, not Jyri as he’s on his 6-month soul searching trip in India/Nepal/Bangladesh/Thailand –axis so we had the spare-Jyri, Tommi Lintunen, appearing in the video. He’s a cool dude.
The video was just released and we’re hoping for it to get some tv-play around the world and hopefully we’ll get it on some DVD compilations.
LH: Could you give us a bit of an insight into what the video will look like or would that be giving too much away?
Tomi: Of course not as it’s available already. This time around the director Markku Kirves, who also did the last one “Storm of the Blades”, wanted to use us as a playing band as we are quite energetic. The main idea of the video was that it tells a small story of this old warrior who’s going towards the House of Heroes (his death pretty much) and facing some ghosts from his past. Well, the video turned out a bit different as Markku loved the playing parts so much he wanted to use a lot of them. So the parts with the old warrior aren’t that prominent. Haha!
LH: When will we be able to see the complete video and where?
Tomi: It’s available from Napalm’s web site. We will also put it on our homepage with a little better quality. And I think it’s going to appear on some compilations, Metal Hammer probably being the first one.
LH: This is a question that you probably get asked all of the time, but what is the meaning of your name “Battlelore”?
Tomi: Actually not that many people have asked this before. Haha! That’s a word Jyri came up with when he was thinking about the band name. He just put together words battle and folklore pretty much. I think the name is one of the most well-suited ones around. As we sing about battles and such and we use basis of folklore in the form of Kalevala and of course Tolkien to build up the whole theme of the band.
LH: Going back to the beginning of the bands career, was it your original intention to base all of your music around Tolkien? Who’s idea was this and what inspired you to do so?
Tomi: Yeah, the whole band born from Jyri’s vision and idea to have a band that would use Tolkien’s writings and mythology as a basis for the lyrical and musical content. Jyri has been a Tolkien freak since childhood and that must have guided him towards the ultimate goal of quite successful band. It’s been Jyri’s fortune to have same minded and gifted people around to carry on his vision. Haha!
LH: Do you think that there is enough scope for you to carry on writing songs about Middle Earth, or do you think you will some day move onto other themes for your music?
Tomi: There is. We have changed the way we write the lyrics so that they are not that tightly connected to certain happenings or places in Middle-earth so that gives us quite a lot of freedom regarding lyrics. I think we could write pretty much anything and still link it to Tolkien. For now it still has been so that Jyri has written lyrics based on the themes from Tolkien so we hadn’t had the need to start coming up with the Tolkien links after the song is finished yet. Haha! I know that the links might be a bit hard to spot from some of the new songs but they are there.
LH: There are quite a few bands coming about who are doing a similar kind of thing to what you are doing. Are you glad to see more bands being inspired by the likes of Battlelore among others or do you think the genre is becoming a bit too overcrowded?
Tomi: I’m not really aware of that many Tolkien bands who also try to look a bit different on stage. Here in Finland there’s at least one “fantasy metal” band (Kivimetsän Druidi = Druid of Stonewood) who say that their biggest influence is Battlelore. I think that we should be honoured for that kind of things. At least I am. I think there is always room for good bands. So bring it on!
LH: Will you be playing at any festivals in 2007, and also are there plans for another tour?
Tomi: I’ve got some good news to you! There’s indeed plans for both tour and festivals. We are embarking on 3-week European tour in April/May in central Europe mainly. After that we’ve been talking about a small Finnish tour which I really hope will happen as we’ve played too few gigs in Finland so far. Then during the summer we will have some festival appearances and in October we are playing in Metal Female Voices Festival in Belgium.
There’ve been some talks about possible UK dates which we would looove to do. I so hope that those will happen as the last time in Camden Underworld was such a great experience. UK needs us. Haha! … and we need UK.
LH: Thanks for doing this interview. Anything else you’d like to say to people reading this?
Tomi: Thank you for this great interview! Had so much fun answering it.
All you people should go to the local organizers and ask them to bring Battlelore, that little band from Finland, to play some gigs on UK soil. Come to our homepage (http://www.battlelore.net) and to message board. Band members are really active there so you’ll get all the first hand info there. See you on tour, come to have some pints with us and Keep it metal!
|“Evernight” is available now on Napalm Records. Visit the band online at www.battlelore.net or visit their record label at www.napalmrecords.com|
Interviewed by Luci Herbert