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BATTLELORE is a fantasy metal band from Finland. As most of other fantasy metal bands, they are also inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's works. Their second album, "Sword's Song" was released this spring, we talked about that and general things with Jyri Vahvanen (guitar, lyrics).
Hello, how are you? What are the latest happenings around Battlelore?
Thanks for asking, I'm fine. We just finished our first European tour and now we are planning to play a few gigs in Finland but nothing special at the moment.
Could you give a brief history of Battlelore to our readers?
Battlelore plays fantasy metal in the vein of J.R.R.Tolkien. Our whole concept is based on Mr. Tolkien's writings and our image and outlook is full of elements from Tolkien's Middle-earth. We use fantasy costumes and make-up on stage and in our promo pics and we really respect Mr. Tolkien's legacy. Battlelore was founded in 1999 when we released our first promo "Warrior's Tale" with a very obscure line-up. A year after that we released a promo called "Dark Fantasy" when we had the same line-up as in nowadays, only our lead guitarist has changed. Tommi Havo decided to quit and we found Jussi Rautio to replace him almost immediately. With that promo tape we got ourselves a deal from Austrian Napalm Records. Now we have recorded two albums "Where The Shadows Lie" and "Sword's Song". We have seven members in the band, five guys and two girls. A true fantasy metal band full of cold steel and magical atmosphere.
Why did you choose the name Battlelore?
The idea for the name was mine. The name comes from the word "folklore". If you look at Mr. J.R.R Tolkien's writings about Middle-earth you may find 'em very violent and full of wars and tragedy so because of this very dramatic history of Middle-earth we just decided to change the word "folk" into "battle". Also it fits for the metal group much better than "folklore".
Your second album is out for a month now, how have been the reactions so far?
The feedback is something what we expected. This second album has sold a lot and it has been a huge success for us. I'm quite sure that we have got a lot of new fans.
How is the promotion going for "Sword's Song"?
There has been a huge promotion campaign and we are very satisfied with Napalm's work. I'm doing interviews almost as a full-time job.
Are you totally satisfied with "Sword's Song" or would you change anything if you could now?
Of course there's always something to improve. If there wouldn't, then you propably won't have any inspiration to do another album 'cause you have already done a perfect one.
Let's talk a bit about the recording session.
We recorded "Sword's Song" in Music Bros-Studios in Finland and the producer was Miitri Aaltonen. We were about two months in a studio but there's never enough time to spend in there. The typical studio day started at 10 AM and ended at 6 PM. We had a tight schedule with what we shall do in each day and everything was really carefully organised.
Who are the guest musicians/contributors on "Sword's Song"?
Erik Zacharias is our friend who did some pre-production for the synths and Tommi Havo is our former singer who appeared on a few tracks on this album and Miitri Aaltonen is our producer who did some backing vocals for us.
The band consists of seven members, how can you arrange your ideas for the songs, I guess you all have different opinions? Or do you have one or two members who have the last word in everything?
Usually I compose the basic structure of the song and show it to others and they add their own elements into it and then we just check it out so that it does work. If not, we change the "bad" elements as many times as we have to. We also record some demo/rehearsal tapes from our new songs to figure out how every instrument works out together. Usually it is our producer and I who have the final words.
And how can you arrange rehearsal-times, concerts, recording sessions that are fine for everybody?
Usually we don't rehearse together as a whole band 'cause it is quite hard to arrange rehearsals with seven members and some of us live in separate cities in Finland. Mostly we rehearse with four members (2 x guitar, bass and drums) and we rehearse about 3-4 times in a week but everybody gives their own share to the song during the writing process.
Tomi Havo left the band last year. Was it difficult to find his replacement, somebody who could fit into a band like yours, having so many members involved, somebody who can get along with all the other members?
It was quite easy to find a replacement for Tommi. We knew Jussi before and after a few rehearsals with him he decided to join Battlelore as a full member. He is a really good choice for Battlelore 'cause he works hard and has a right kind of attitude to be in a band. Jussi has really strong visions about our songs and he has already made some great compositions for our upcoming third album.
How long did it take till you finished with all the writings for "Sword's Song"?
It took about six months.
"Sword's Song" is your second album and you are already pretty known among the fantasy metal listeners. What makes you different from the other bands whose music, lyrics are inspired by Tolkien?
We just do what we love to do and we do it from our hearts. I believe that our style to unite many different kind of metal elements from different metal genres gives us this unique sound what makes us sound a little bit different than others.
How come you have this very strong fascination for Tolkien? Why don't you use just general fantasy stories or ideas for Battlelore? Don't you feel you are limiting yourself and Battlelore if you are sticking just to Tolkien?
I've been a huge Tolkien fan for over twelve years now and I read his books. Tberefore I started to play any instrument. Tolkien's writings are so important to me that we will always use his Midlle-earth theme as a main source of inspiration. Battlelore is based on Mr. Tolkien's amazing books of Middle-earth and without them there would be no Battlelore. Why would I feel myself limited when I use only Tolkien's written poetry? There's so many events, characters, places etc. in his Middle-earth theme that you could do a dozen albums from them. There's also many levels in his writings. Everything isn't so obvious as it seems.
We know what inspires your lyrics, but which bands inspired/influenced the music of Battlelore?
I can only speak from myself 'cause all of our band members have a very different kind of musical taste. My personal favourites are bands like Hypocrisy, Rammstein, Kotiteollisuus, Runemagick, Rhapsody, Dissection, Bolt Thrower etc. There are too many great bands to mention.
Which is your favourite story/book by Tolkien?
The Lord Of The Rings and Silmarillion. You can't compare those books with each other. I've read the LOTR book many times but not often enough.
Do you read other fantasy books as well? If yes, which books, which authors do you like?
I love R.A Salvatore's Forgotten Realms books and of course I like Dragonlance's also. David Eddings, Robert Holdstock, Raymond E. Feist etc. The list is endless...
Fantasy stories always have some medieval atmosphere and some similarity with that part of the history.
Do you like history? If you could take a timetravel, where would you go? - and why there? Of course I like history a lot. I would like to visit Middle-earth in the end of the Third Age.
Did you like the two "Lord Of The Rings" movies? Which character would you like to play if you were offered to have a role in the movie?
I just loved the movies, even though they are not exactly close to the book but you have to remember that the movie and the book are two different kind of experiences and you can't compare them with each other. I watched the second part together with Miika, Jussi and Henri. I would like to be Gollum but it's better to leave that job to the professional actors.
Is any of you into roleplaying games? If yes, which games?
I, Miika, Henri, Patrik and Jussi are very much into rpg's. Middle-earth, Rolemaster, RuneQuest, Vampire, Starwars, Cyper Punk 2020 and some others.
Is there any touring plan for "Sword's Song"?
We just finished our first European tour which was also a promotion for "Sword's Song".
What is in the schedule of Battlelore for 2003?
Some concerts in Finland and maybe an European Tour in the autumn/winter and in the end this year we will start writing the new songs.
What is a Battlelore live perfomance like? Do you wear fantasy, medieval clothes? Do you perform some of the stories you sing about?
As I already mentioned we use fantasy costumes, weapons and make-up in our concerts. On stage our sound is much more agressive and the atmosphere is very energetic and fantasy-like. We don't have any choreography etc. on stage, we just improvise as much as we can.
You are going to play at the Tuska Festival this year, are you looking forward this concert?
Yes we are. We haven't played in Finland's capital city before and there is going to be a video crew who shoots our concert for our upcoming DVD. The DVD will be out in autumn 2003 and it includes few interviews, three music videos, making-of material from one of the music videos, backstage shootings, live material etc. It is about 1h 30 min long package of Battlelore stuff.
Has any of the other band members been involved with other bands than Battlelore?
Yes we have. Jyri: Horna and Khert-Neter. Patrik: Reduced to Ash, Ruoska and Natsipaska. Kaisa: Sähkölintu, My Sweet Sorrows, Caliban, Gandalf and Dawn of Relic. Jussi: Cabal (Fin). Maria: Elderthrones.
Where do you see the band in 10 years time?
Too hard to say what will happen with Battlelore. Hopefully we have gained a lot of success and the band is still there. About our musical style...lets just wait and see.
Thanks for your time answering this interview. Last comments are yours.
Have a great summer and if we tour near you, come to see our concert and we will guarantee that you won't be disappointed. Visit www.battlelore.net and sign our guestbook for feedback, greetings or what ever!
submitted by Katalin 11.08.2003