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Battlelore Interview

A Conversation With vocalist Tomi Mykkanen and guitarist Jussi Rautio

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Battlelore
Napalm Records
Battlelore are a Finnish band whose music and lyrics are based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The 7 piece band has an epic sound with male and female vocals. Their latest album is Evernight. I interviewed vocalist Tomi Mykkanen and guitarist Jussi Rautio, who fill us in on their new CD, Tolkien, the metal scene in Finland and a lot of other topics.

Chad Bowar: How has the band’s sound evolved from Third Age Of The Sun to Evernight?
Jussi Rautio: For me there are two major changes between Evernight and Third Age Of The Sun. The first thing is song material that has evolved in a more complex direction. That’s why Evernight doesn’t give its best moments when first hearing it, but it grows with more listening to dimensions where we haven’t reached before. The second major change is the change of producers. For Third Age Of The Sun. Terje Refsnes had very good touch with ominous melodies and he also has ability to dive into project he is doing. He throws him self artistically in projects and finds very extraordinary solutions for songs. In Evernight Miitri Aaltonen created the best overall sound with guitars, bass and drums that Battlelore have had so far. He is also very musical person and has good overall view for projects he is doing.
Tomi Mykkanen: Personally I see Evernight and Third Age Of The Sun. as 2 totally different deals. On Third Age Of The Sun I didn’t have that much say about the songs or arrangements or anything as the songs were quite finished already when I joined the band permanently. So I felt more like I was helping friends out with their album than being a real part of the band. Also Third Age Of The Sun was my first experience in the studio as a vocalist, so I didn’t know what to expect when we started recording my vocals. I think it turned out quite decent, but compared to Evernight they suck big time in my opinion. So now I’ve given input for the songs and lyrics and I feel like a big part of the band. There’s even one of my songs on the album. Also the studio was easier for me this time as I knew what to expect and actually it turned out better than ever.

What has the response been so far?
Jussi: It has varied a lot. Those reviewers who have listened to the album more than once generally like it a lot, and those who have listened it only once or twice seem to have problems understanding it. Somehow it looks like North America is on fire with this album.
Tomi: Yes, the variation between reviews has been bigger than before and for me that’s better than to get 7/10 from everyone. Most of the reviewers have understood that Evernight is something darker and heavier than any Battlelore albums so far.

Are all the lyrics based on Tolkien works, or are there some personal lyrics as well?
Tomi: We made a deliberate decision that we wouldn’t use any names or places from Tolkien, thus making the lyrics more universal. Now you can enjoy the lyrics even if you don’t have any idea of Middle-earth. Of course if you know your Tolkien you’re able to find that layer in the lyrics, too.

You recorded this album in a different studio. Why did you decide to change producers and studios?
Jussi: It is good for artist to move on and work with different people. This time the decision for the studio was made because of a lack of time. The studio was near us and we were familiar with it so we could concentrate on making the music.

What makes Battlelore different than the other bands that base their lyrics on Tolkien’s works?
Jussi: I know only two bands that rely their work to Tolkien. Those bands are Summoning and Blind Guardian. Summoning’s roots are in black metal and their music is made by two men. We have more people involved and we play live gigs that Summoning doesn’t. Summoning’s sound also differs a lot from ours. Blind Guardian’s music I am not familiar with. I believe they are more traditional heavy metal.
Tomi: Of course there are many bands that base their lyrics on Tolkien’s works but in the current metal genre I don’t know any other than Summoning that base their lyrics solely on Tolkien’s writings. I think that what makes us stand out is the fact that we play gigs and during them we try to give the audience a good show with a bit of dressing up and make-up. I also sport a sword during gigs and of course two beautiful women banging their heads make a good impression too.

Do you have plans to do a full tour, or just a few concerts to support this album?
Jussi: We will do European tour at late spring. After that we will do a tour in Finland. We will also play some random festival gigs.
Tomi: Yeah, we are planning the European tour for April/May at the moment. It seems to become a 3 week trek through Middle Europe. After that’s done there’s been talks about a small Finnish tour, possibly with Ensiferum. That would rock. After that we will hopefully play some festivals in the summer and then some more gigs during autumn before starting the recording of the new album.

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