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Finntroll - nasty evil smelling things (interview part II)
It would be easier to find the Bodom murder via internet, than catching up with Mathias Lillmåns for a continuous conversation. The trolls´ new frontman is really living up to the secrecy of those fragile fairy creatures… Saw one live – quickly make a wish and consider yourself lucky!
Strangely enough, even though he has been the new lead singer for over 6 months now, the youngest and least experienced among the rest of the trolls, even the band´s own website does not reveal anything about him other than the mysterious nickname and even that barely tells us anything!… So what is with all the worked-up conspiracy and the hiding? Get ready to intake the wisdom of this very natural and talkative troll – doesn´t happen everyday…
So tell us then, how did it happen, how did you become the Troll?
I´m at the same school as the first singer, Katla, and when they fired Wilska, they asked Katla if knows anybody who is a singer and can speak Swedish, and so he told me “Hey, if you wanna try, go and try!”
I just went there and ad to practice two songs and go check it out and… that´s it.
Did you listen to Finntroll before?
No, not really. I had the first album, but I hadn´t heard anything else but this first album. I didn´t know much about the band.
So what were you doing before joining the band?
I study Film-Television in a small town up north. I want to be a technician. I studied sound-engineering before and I work part time with this as well. I only worked with music before and now want apply sound engineering to movies, do sounds, not the soundtrack, but the actual sound.
You live in Finland but originally you´re Swedish?
No, I´m born in Finland, I´m from the west coast. And obviously I speak Swedish.
And how do you feel now? Must be a huge responsibility to takeover the lead in quite a big band already…
Yeah, well... it´s nice to be in a band! They are really cool guys and nice ones.
Have you already heard some gossips about you?
Hehe, no, not really… I haven´t heard anything yet. There was something, like a rumor going around that I was really fat and then lost lots of weight, but it´s not true! [laughs]
Do you think trolls exist?
Classic one! Of course not, but it would be nice if they did…
What about bad luck and superstitions, destiny and fate?
In some ways. I don´t really believe in it, but you keep those in the back of your mind everyday, although you don´t really believe in it you don´t want to push it.
Because at some point there was just so much bad fortune happening with the band! First Katla´s voice, then Temu´s death, then someone else left and so on…
Yeah, yeah! It seems like it was a curse. And it feels so to me as well, because now I´ve to have a surgery next month to remove my tonsils, so... [laughs] not a big deal, just no singing for two weeks and maybe taking it easy with the drinking.
Your other bands are more in style of doom/death, so how do you get in the mood to play this kind of ´happy-trollish´ music?
Yeah, it´s all completely different. I think just hanging around with the guys, it´s always like running around, doing stupid things always gets you in the mood.
What is happening with your other bands now?
Now we´ve recorded our first album with Chthonian and it will be released early next year, so we´re still in action! So that´s the only one active right now. I write some of the music, edit the lyrics, but our drummer is the main guy, he does the most. With Twilight Moon we haven´t really rehearsed for a while now, for about six months… but once in a while we meet anyway.
Do you actually have some musical education?
I´ve studied bass for 3 years, when I was little I studied piano and so I´m doing some of the keyboards for Twilight Moon.
Since the trolls are known for their ability to drink, do you feel you measure up?
Well, I´ve always enjoyed drinking, so I fit in quite well I think.
…and so when you drink and get tipsy, what happens to you?
I start talking strange things and talk too much, really, things that don´t matter. I don´t try to find the meaning of life, I just talk stupid, embarrassing stuff…
How about the new album?
We´re in a studio right now, recording. It´s total chaos! We don´t have any guidelines, any schedule… And it´s such a mess! And there´s a guy filming all this, for a future documentary DVD, we´ll release it in 2008 I think…
In your studio diary I´ve read something about the “nazi mode”…
[laughs] The thing about the ´nazi mode´ was that we had to…Trollhorn had to do some discipline to do the recording, he was taking too long to do the guitars, and nothing was working. Then he went again and was like [angry voice]: “NOW WE ARE PLAYING!” and he locked the doors of the studio, and him and Scrymer were there and didn´t come out for 5 hours. So that was the ´nazi mode´ – discipline! And then they´ve recorded 4-5 songs in those hours, so…
Did they also have to lock you up to do the vocals?
NO! They didn´t have to… we´ve started to do some vocals and then it was crappy, it sucks, and so again the next day – we´ve tried a different approach, try another way to sing, and finally: “Hey! This is how we´ll do it!” and then recorded 5-6 songs in 2 hours. So I didn´t need any discipline, it just came.
But why was this studio process such a mess? Who was in charge and have you not rehearsed enough or what?
We didn´t rehearse anything before! So that´s the thing, we didn´t organize anything, so no one knew what to play… One of the songs we´ve got just 2 days before the studio and Scrymer hasn´t even heard it before we went in [laughs] Yeah, Trollhorn came to the studio in the second week: “I have a new song and we have to record it” – we were like: “WHAT?!” [laughs] But then when recording, we were like drinking and everyone doing something and it was 1 o´clock at night and “yeah, now we´ll record my song!” We were really very drunk, no drums, so we just did the vocals…
How would you generally describe the new album?
I would say a little bit different than the others. It´s more like a combination of all albums, more darker songs, like “Midnattens Widunder” and a little bit of “Jaktens Tid” and a bit of “Nattfödd”, but it has more dark songs, heavier…
Do you think the album is different because you´ve joined?
Nah, I think it´s just… We wanted to do something different for this one, maybe I´ve had some smaller influences because of the voice, but it´s natural…
Other than the new vocals, do you feel you´ve brought something else new into the band?
I don´t know if I´ve brought something, but I think it was about 2 weeks ago everybody was like “hey, thanks for joining the band, we´re getting the energy back” and saying things like that, yeah and it´s working again… And it´s nice when they say those things, nice guys and when they´re Finnish and they say it…
Also from the diary I´ve read that the new album has this “distortion and sea-sick stuff” – what is this?
[laughs] You´re going to find out! [laughs] It´s stupid, some vocals that we did. We´ve had problems with beginning of one song and we´ve figured out something…
In the diary it says that song “Ormhäxan” was the hardest to play…
Yeah, we´ve played it I think twice this summer at the festivals, we thought it was kind of an easy song. Live it was easy to play, but when we were at the studio – “no, it doesn´t go like this, change the riffs…” – and then it became hard to play.! All songs are hard to play but easy to sing.
Which songs are the hardest for you to perform?
I think those ones with clean vocals, when you´ve been screaming for over an hour on stage and then the clean vocals because you´ve damaged your voice, so…
Will you also participate for the new Finntroll´s album cover-art?
No, not really. Some ideas of course, but Scrymer will make the cover as usual. He does the drawings, he´s done them all except the first one.
Who is doing the lyrics, and what are they about?
For this one Katla is back, because he wanted to do it and he has the right ideas. He is an artist and really into folklore, shamanism and mythology. So we´ve done the songs so it matches this feeling, the lyrics. For the last one Wilska has written some, Trollhorn has written some… Well, this will be a concept album, it´s a long story. The songs aren´t gonna be in the right order or anything, like a puzzle: the idea comes from the song “Födosagan” – the first real song on “Jaktens Tid”, it´s the story and the tale from there, how he was born, his life, his death and so on…
Any videos planned?
Yeah, I think there´s gonna be a video. We haven´t decided anything yet, what it´s gonna be and which song, but there´s gonna be at least one video. And we don´t really know anything about this DVD, we just know it´ll be some kind of documentary, some little festival clips, backstage stupid things… I always have my camera on there, so we´ve 4-5 hours of material, from festival – stupid things.
Good to remind you what you did the night before…
[laughs] Every night we were out drinking, I had it on and the next morning woke up and looked and “yeah, so that´s where we were… all right…” [laughs]
Well, if you´ve the same spontaneous approach to this DVD as to the studio, it´ll be…
…complete chaos, yes! [laughs] We´ll include few live videos from Wacken maybe and also this one very small gig we did here, at the Metal Barbeque… It was a crazy gig!
It was so crowded and the stage was tiny, I don´t know how you´ve managed…
I know! We didn´t really manage! Because my whole hair was getting stuck into Tundra´s bass the whole time and I had to pull it [laughs]… I think 1-2 times we were in the same row in the front on 3 meters broad stage, so we want to put this on because it was so small and then we have Wacken, which was 18,5 meters broad…
How well do you your band-mates by now?
I know them quite well now because we´ve spent almost 3 months together like all the time this summer, especially Scrymer because I´ve lived at his apartment almost the whole summer, so we´ve been together 6-7 weeks or something and it´s really small, 34 square meters…
What about your stage costumes and makeup, who designs those?
Now with the kilts I think it was Scrymer´s design, and then some friends made them. And then the makeup it´s also almost always Scrymer who does it, ´cos he´s the Artist of the war-paint. We also wanted to do something different, not the classic corpse-paint, ours is stylish and it´s our thing. And from the stage you can always see in the audience someone with this makeup and you know who´s fan it is. [laughs]
At Wacken it was nice, I wasn´t that nervous, I just don´t remember anything of the first 2 songs because there was just so so huge amount of people there, you get such a kick from the crowd! The fans in Germany are always great!
What´s the most memorable Finntroll experience so far?
The first gig was really something… It was here in Helsinki at Nightlife, but we didn´t announce it, we were Swallow The Sun´s special guest. It was funny. But our first official gig was in Germany at Rock Hard – I still remember the feeling: went on stage and [breathlessly] “woah!...” It was such a difference, because I´ve been on stage before 300 persons before and suddenly there´s almost 10000 – “allright!” [giggles] I will always remember that one…
What´s your worst fear on stage?
I think it´s here in Finland, when I don´t speak so good Finnish. It´s stupid to be on stage in Finland and not speak the language correctly. So I mix Finnish and Swedish [giggles]
Have you forgotten lyrics on stage?
Yupp! But then I just sing the first verse again, no one hears the difference anyway.
On the whole, do you feel accepted by the Finntroll fans?
Yeah, it´s been very good, because there´ve been very good reactions, nothing bad so far. We´ve had a few ´meet´n´greet´ and everyone was like: “thank you! You´re really worthy of the new position and I don´t mind that you aren´t as big as Wilska” – that´s the main thing. A lot of people, before they´ve heard me, were like: “no guys, you´ve made a bad decision, he´s not the troll-type…” But after the gigs the feedback was getting better and better and it´s really nice to hear!
What was the most ridiculous thing you´ve been asked to autograph?
Oh, it was at Summer Breeze, this girl came and was like “please sign” and then she pulled up her 3 year old daughter ; “she wants to take a picture with you!” – and then I had to sign her little pink Barbie purse she had, it was funny.
Do you prefer small clubs or big festivals?
In clubs I think the band works better, it´s more intimate and closer with the people, more interaction, because at the festival you´re like 5 meters away.
At the Metal Barbeque it must´ve been even scary, ´cos there were people almost on the stage with you…
Yes! In front there was a couple of girls who took their clothes off and started to touch everybody, so we´ve had scratch marks all over, red stripes across our legs… And I was ok because I wear jeans under the skirt, but then I didn´t have any shirt on, so had marks all over… We had to push them away… The guitar players were really scratched, their kilts are shorter, but it was scary.
What´s the weirdest thing about Tundra?
He doesn´t really sleep, he´s got insomnia or something, ´cos he sleeps like 2-4 hours, I don´t know how doesn´t he get a nerves breakdown, he´s always stressing about everything, “now I can´t sleep ´cos songs turn around in m head and I´ve too much to think about…”
What´s the cutest thing about Scrymer?
He´s always saying nice things to everybody.
What´s the most romantic thing about Routa?
What?! [laughs] He´s really not that romantic… He´s always buying drinks for everyone, can´t really call it romantic, but… depends how you see it.
What´s the most un-metal thing about Trollhorn?
He´s the most crazy… It´s so hard to put into words… to describe him, but he´s got tons and tons of idiotic ideas in his head, and he´s mixing everything, metal or not, but all into music, even if it´s not suppose to be there. Now we´re using steel drums and this metal triangle, you know? And he always comes up with those things…
What´s the most annoying thing about you?
The thing I hate the most about me is when I get drunk and start talking. Saying embarrassing things and I talk too much crap.
Do you have a dream?
A dream… Not really anymore, I had before, I always wanted to be, tried my whole life to play in a band. When I was 5, me and the drummer from Twilight Moon, he was 6, we´ve started playing rock music. We´ve always been music nerds, because I´ve started playing keyboards when I was 5-6, but then I had a keyboard, so we were playing, trying out how it matches and he was playing the drums, making Scorpions´ covers, or Alice Cooper… but they were not ´correct´ [laughs], couple of years ago we´ve found some cassettes we´ve recorded and it doesn´t anything similar… “oh, so that´s supposed to be this song…”
Is your family really musical?
The “Poison” video by Alice Cooper was always on and when I saw the new “Trash” album in the store, I was 6 back then, so had to buy it. And my parents are musicians, my father is a drummer in a band, and my mother sings for fun, 5-10 gigs a year or something… And they´ve always supported me in doing music
What other music do you listen to, what bands?
I like a lot of Swedish melodic death and Norwegian black metal bands. I´ve really never been into Finnish bands, ´cos couple of years ago there were only crappy ones around… now there´s a lot of good music coming out of Finland …
Do you have any idol or role-model?
No, not really, more like sources of influence. I´ve always liked Nergal from Behemoth, one of my favorite singers, and the singer from Enslaved as well. I am not trying to copy them or anything, but they´ve have a big influence on me. They´re very talented.
Do you have any other addictions than music?
No… but I´ve not smoked for 5 weeks now. I was sick at home, had fever, didn´t come out of bed for 3 days and haven´t smoked for 3 days and was like “hey, why not stop now?”… And it´s better for singing as well, the lung capacity is bigger. I think it was the only other addiction I had. I read quite a lot, always before going to sleep.
How do you see your future career?
Oh, I really hope it continues like this. I mean, I really hate working and hope never to do it again, like I´ve worked 2-3 years ago.
What else musical would you like to accomplish?
Now when the album will come out, it´s like one of the dreams – “wow!” I don´t mind the chart positions, money or any of this, it´s about having fun. I don´t care if people like it or dislike it, it´s important for me if I like it! And the band is the important thing, not the money.