Feature Interview

Finntroll: Fictional Folk Metal

Finish metal brand Finntroll descend upon South Africa next week for their two-event tour of SA and I was fortunate enough to catch up with vocalist Mathias Lillmans to chat about their special brand of metal and their DIY ethic.

Tecla Ciolfi: The way in which you’ve constructed your own world and body of work drawing from the legend of Finntroll is incredibly clever. Do you collectively come up with the stories that you’re going to tell song-by-song?

Mathias Lillmans: We are lucky in Finntroll to have such a good and imaginative writer as Katla in the band. He is the main guy behind the lyrics and comes up with the main ideas and themes. We then work together to fit them into the songs.

Would death metal polka be a fair description of the kind of music you make because there is definitely that bouncy element of Finnish polka there.

I would like to call Finntroll a metal band that is not afraid of taking on influences from musical genres that are not familiar in the metal scene. To call Finntroll death metal polka would be putting us in a box all to small. On the last album there were maybe 5% of the riffs that could fit into that box.

I like the fact that even though you’re a Finish band you chose to sing in Swedish. Does it ever surprise you when you travel to countries were Swedish is a totally foreign language and there are people screaming your lyrics back at you?

It always takes me by surprise when people in distant parts of the world knows our lyrics and I am very proud every time, since we are only 250000 left of us in the world with this dialect.

You’re quite a hands on band, Skrymer does you album artwork and Routa does your music videos, how important is it for you to have a hand in all that you do creatively?

That is something we feel really strongly about and something we are not ready to budge on. We like complete control and every time in the past when we haven’t had that we have been displeased with the result.

Eluveitie just put on two amazing shows here – were you at all surprised to learn that there’s a niche market in South Africa for folk metal?

I have heard some bands going there, but I never thought that we would get the chance to visit you guys. We are really looking forward to see how the scene is down there!

I’ve heard that you’ve got quite intense fans, what’s the most outlandish thing that’s ever happening during a performance?

Oh… I can’t come up with something right now that is really outrageous. We are that kind of band that likes it when people come up on stage with us and the jump in the audience for some crowdsurfing, so there has been lots of crazy shit going on! And for some reason people really like to come on stage and propose to their wives during our show.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but South Africans love to drink and I’ve read that you also like to indulge in a sneaky drink or two. What’s your poison of choice?

I’ve heard the rumours also about you guys! I’m quite a vodka guy, but I don’t say no a beer or a nice chilled Jägermeister either.

Follow Tecla on Twitter.

Find out where Finntroll is playing here.