Korpiklaani are the perfect festival band. When you get sick of straight rock bands, indie bands, metal bands, what you need is something that’s outside what everyone else is doing, and Korpiklaani’s mix of metal with folk and ethnic music is exactly what you’re looking for.
Now eleven albums into their career, the band has changed up their sound a little for Jylhä, their second record with producer Janne Saksa. While all of the usual folk metal balladeering is still there, the record has a slightly darker and heavier tone than the band’s recent records.
We caught up with guitarist Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi to talk about the new record, his love of the kemper and why you should pay more attention to the fiddle.
Congratulations on the positive reception to Jylhä. The album is very much in the Korpiklaani tradition, but with some additional elements that haven’t been on previous records, as well as something of a darker tone in places – how did this come about?
Thank you! All the development on Jylhä is pretty much the natural evolution of the band.
There was an idea to make the heaviest Korpiklaani album of all time, in the first place, but things always get a bit wild during the songwriting process so the result is heavy but much more. Now when looking at it afterwards I think the versatility is the richness of it. It makes a beautiful whole with all its ups and downs and fast and slow parts.
We wanted to make a clear difference to the Kulkija album which was more relaxed and laid back. I’m sure we succeeded quite well in that. Jylhä is exactly how this band sounds in 2021.
Jylhä is your second record with Janne Saksa in the producer’s chair after you drafted him in to get closer to your live sound on Kulkija. How has it been working with him? In what way does he do things differently to Aksu Hanttu? Do you see him as the producer for the band moving forward, or could you see another change if you wanted to try something else?
In the Kulkija sessions everything went so smoothly and we achieved that more organic sound we were looking for so it was clear from the start that we’re going to use Janne as a producer again on this record.
I think you can hear the difference between these two guys easily if you listen to our four latest albums. Aksu’s sound is more modern compressed metal sound while Janne can make a more organic and natural sounding atmosphere where all the instruments can be heard. It really makes justice for the folk instruments which easily get ruined by the drums and guitars.
If we want to try something else I’m sure we are going to try that first with Janne before changing the producer. He has some special skills to figure out what we are chasing soundwise.
Was there any hesitation on the band’s part as far as putting out a record when you couldn’t tour behind it?
No, there wasn’t. All the schedules were made before the lockdown started and nobody thought it would last this long.
Did covid complicate the recording process at all?
No, it didn’t. The only thing changed due to Corona was that the studio we usually use closed its doors, but it wasn’t a problem at all as we could use Saksa’s studio in Hämeenlinna and Jonne’s home studio in Lahti.
Gear wise, what did you use on the record?
For five years now my main guitars have been two Gibson Les Paul Customs with the maple fretboard so guitars on the album were mostly recorded with those. You can also hear a Fender Stratocaster in the Leväluhta verse and in Pidot there is a Fender Paisley Telecaster giving the right twang to the song. Acoustic guitar parts were recorded by Jonne mainly with his Ortega DSSUITE-E nylon string guitar.
On this album, for the first time, we didn’t use real amps and cabs. Guitar was going through the Suhr Se-100 amp plugin and we just adjusted the distortion slightly between the songs.
A lot of guitarists are embracing modelling and profiling amps these days, especially due to making fly in gigs much easier. What’s your take on digital amps and effects?
I have been using Kemper six years now. I hate all that “new” stuff but must admit that things got a little easier when I left the “real” stuff behind. I got the Suhr sound we used in the recordings profiled in Kemper now so it makes the sound changes a bit easier than buying new amps every time we change the sound. I’ve never used effects, it’s always been guitar straight to the amp for me.
Is there any piece of gear in particular that you tried recently that you were surprised by, either positively or negatively?
No, I don’t try any gear at all. I have a guitar and Kemper and that’s enough. Maybe one day day I will feel myself as a geek and learn how to use that profiler.
Are there any guitar riffs or passages on the new record that you’re particularly proud of or enthusiastic about that people should check out?
I’m proud of all the parts. Nothing especially. As Korpiklaani has never been that guitar oriented as metal music in general you should focus more on the accordion and the fiddle to hear some outstanding shredding. World is full of heavy guitar solos but listen to the solo in the end of Leväluhta by the fiddle, it’s something else. Or how about the accordion in Niemi? I’m sure it sounds better than guitar doing that stuff. Hats off for the folk instruments!
If someone maybe wasn’t familiar with Korpiklaani but wanted to learn to play one of your songs, where would you suggest they start? Any riffs/licks/passages in particular that are fun to play, or maybe challenging but rewarding for more advanced players?
Our guitar parts are not the most challenging, if you are not a beginner, but they are sure fun to play. A lot of power chords and no solos. For example Happy Little Boozer with its three chords would be a nice song to start practicing our songs.
I understand Korpiklaani is a band that never stops writing – are there initial songs in the works for the next release, and if so do they sound any different to your previous records?
That’s true. There’s songwriting going all the time. After the Jylhä recordings Jonne, the main composer, has been concentrating more on his solo material and other projects he’s been working with. I think soon there will be time for new Korpiklaani songs, but not yet there is nothing to talk about. I’m pretty sure it will be different again but still sound like us as always.