Interview with: Metsatöll
By: Nilla Meri
Metsatöll is a unique folk metal band from the small Baltic country called Estonia. Before their show in Poseidon Nightclub in Tallinn I had a chance to meet all the band have a long conversation. While I was expecting that the interview would take around 15 minutes, we ended up talking around one hour in the backstage.
First of all thanks a lot for accepting my interview request. How did you form the band?
Markus: It was my idea and it was already 16 years ago but this line-up here exists for 11 years. At first we didn’t have any Estonian traditional instruments at all. We were cruel as hell.
Lauri: I think the band is changing all the time. It is not like the one person project. Metsatöll is more than 4 people. We have sound engineer etc and a big crew. All of them is creating Metsatöll. The band is changing all the time when a new crew member comes. They all put something into Metsatöll’s music.
Sure… And I suppose your addition to band was a huge change in the beginning.
Lauri: Only a small thing changes a lot.
Marko:When we first recorded the first album there was other bass player and drummer. And it was different music. And Lauri joined the band and new stuff started coming then.
Lauri: It’s like bunch of people painting one big painting. Everyone is painting and everybody has a different idea. Also the former bands put a lot.
Raivo: Also we are not the same people that we were 15 years ago. I have completely different world views.
Lauri: Oh yes now we are old and ugly. Before we were young and ugly.
How does Metsatöll differ from other folk metal bands?
Marko: We’re one of the first folk metal bands. Not the first but one of the first.
Markus: I think we are different in that way that we balance metal and folk in different than the others. I’m not saying anyting bad about the others but it is mostly when I listen to other folk metal bands there is either too much folk, all the instruments and stuff or the other way. We wanna keep the balance very well that there is real metal and real folk in our music.
Raivo: And we always keep it natural.
Marko: If we do folk then we keep folk instruments. Synthesizer is not a folk instrument! Of course it can do folk metal melodies but it’s not a folk instrument.
Lauri: Everything that we’ve talked depends on your point of metal. I think we are more folk metal and thrash metal.
Raivo: Folk and thrash metal band with folk instruments.
Lauri: It doesn’t matter what genre. All we do is Metsatöll. I think it is big cliché that all the bands say that they are completely different from the others. It doesn’t matter that we are the first or last of something. We are just few Estonian guys having fun with music.
Raivo: We can do very fast heavy metal/blackish music or just free things. When Markus opens his mouth and Lauri plays whatever instrument it becomes Metsatöll.
Lauri: I remember one gig. It was our birthday gig. We do something different in our birthday gigs. In that gig we’re covering our own songs and doing some stupid stuff on the stage. And there was one guy crying in front of the stage, “Stop it! Why you doing this? Why?”
Raivo: Another birthday gig, we warm up ourselves.
What about the lyrics? Who writes them? What do they tell?
We usually first make the music and then write the lyrics. Lauri and Raivo writes the lyrics.
Raivo: It’s different in every album as we grown up.
Lauri: Maybe it’s easier to say what there is not in Metsatöll lyrics. There is no parfume, no ball dresses and everyting else is accepted. Oh, and there is no coffee machine.
Markus: It is easy you know. If you want to make a song about a car than you immediately turn into a horse.
Raivo: But we don’t have any song about horses.
So, for the next album you have an idea already…
We never say never! : )
Talking about lyrics, what does “Türgi soja laul” tells? If I got it correct it is something related to Turkey.
Lauri: It is Turkish War Song! It’s not our song. It is an old folk song. It is what Estonians were singing for Russian soldiers when there was Ottoman-Russian War going on. Actually there was a funny thing about our version of that song. We got banned in China because of it. You cannot buy the album which has that song in China. Because it basically tells “go an kill them all” and things like that.
Seriously? I didn’t know about that!
OK, how do you see Estonian Metal movement? Does it need to be improved?
Raivo: We are a mainstream band in Estonia. We also take the other Estonian bands with us to gigs.
Marko:We always want to help if some band is good. And actually it is so easy to warm us up. If a band calls us and say that they want to warm us then we generally accept after listening their demo cd. But most of the bands are even lazy to do that.
What about your gigs outside of Estonia?
Marko: Well, it is totally different story. In Finland, we are quite famous I guess. Especially, in Europe there is so much things to have a gig. Everything is connected to each other. So, you have to battle to get shows. If situation goes well, we’re planning to tour in Europe this November. But it depends on conditions… We’re too old to go there for free and such.
You were in North America recently. How was it?
Raivo: North America was very good. It always good to be there. We have our fans and the gigs are so fun. We want to go there as much as possible.
Marko: We also want to go to South America. It’s very expensive to go there but if we look for good opportunities to go there. We have friends who go there just for the fans. People might not have too much money but they have emotions. And, it’s more important. So, we’d definitely go there when we get a chance.
Mesatöll has the most unusual merchandises that I’ve seen so far. When I moved to Tallinn the first time and went to a regular supermarket I saw a bread with Metsatöll brand…
Marko:It sounds like us because we always make things sound stupid but are good. But, it is a good merch. We also have beer and sausage. And it is a good package together. We’re the first band with soausage and bread merch.
Thank you so much! Do you want to add something?
Thanks a lot! It is always fun to play outside of Estonia. So hope to see all of you around!
Markus: It is gonna be an interesting night. I think we are the first band here in this nightclub ever!
Raivo: Actually we have a misson here. To bring metal to discos!
Marko: We completed one mission. We made 70-80 years old people to listen metal/thrash metal gigs. They don’t even recognize because of the folk melodies. We have some very old fans coming to our gigs sometimes.
Let’s see how the metalheads and disco people get along!
Special thanks to Cesar Reyna for the photos! : )