Battlelore is back, so I had a nice chat with Jyri Vahvanen (Guitar, founder of Battlelore), talking about influences, new material and their gig at the Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze …
First of all, why did you choose Battlelore as name? I like it, but what’s the whole idea behind it? Did you know it’s also a board game?
Jyri Vahvanen : I was writing the very first songs for my ”new” band which I called Wyvern for a while, but noticed quite soon that the name was already taken. One of my songs was titled Battlelore and our former guitarist Tommi liked it and suggested it for our band’s name. I don’t remember where the title came from, maybe just some brain fuzz... clearly it is a combination of folklore and battle so why the hell not, as our music’s themes are close to both of them. Much later they made a board game with the same name so I didn’t steal it from there. I have the game, but I haven’t played it that much.
You started in 1999 with Warriors Tale, how do you look back at the early years?
A lot of eagerness, will and energy was involved in those first years. Warrior’s Tale was made quite hastily and with a poor production. I heard that one Finnish record label was looking for a new band so we put together the demo very quickly, but it didn’t work out as we thought. The following demo Dark Fantasy was totally different. I invested a lot of money, time and effort for it and when the recordings were finished, I kind of knew that it will raise the interest of the record labels as it did.
Could there be a Manowar influence (I was very much influenced by them as a youngster)?
Quite likely there’s a lot of Manowar influences! I was also a huge Manowar fan back then, but after their album Louder Than Hell I haven’t followed them that much anymore. I still like to listen their old albums a lot.
Over the years the line-up changed a lot, how was it to cope with that?
Of course it is always a difficult situation when there’s changes in line-up, but those are just things you have to cope with if you want to continue with your band. People have different kind of priorities and sometimes there’s major changes in people’s lives so you just have to decide is it possible to give your effort for the band or not. It is not fair for the rest of the band and fans if your lack of time or motivation drives the rest of the band down. We’ve been very lucky with our line-up changes as we have found great guys to join the group and there’s no bad blood between the current and past members.
How important and how big was the influence of Napalm Records?
Very important. They have been a good company for us and supported us a lot. There’s been options to change the label, but Napalm has always been our number one choice for us.
How important is the artwork of an album for you?
The artwork has always been very important for us. The atmosphere and feeling you got from the artwork is a big part of the album package. We also have this strong Tolkien’s Middle-earth –theme so the cover art is usually linked to it. It is also important that the artwork describes the content as well as possible. We’ve been very fortunate to use highly valued Tolkien-artist, Mr. Ted Nasmith’s illustrations for our albums.
Can you point out some other cool Finnish bands besides Nightwish, Children of Bodom, Korpiklaani, Apocalyptica, Finntroll, Frosttide, Amberian Dawn, HIMM, The 69 Eyes and In Slaughter Natives?
There’s way too many to mention them all but you should check the bands like Ghost Brigade, Horna, Wandering Midget, Cardinals Folly, Swallow The Sun, etc. New Moonsorrow sound also awesome!
Is there something special in the Scandinavian soil or are the ancient gods and ancient stories responsible for the creation of so much good bands? Or is it just because of the cold winters and warm summers?
Hard to say.. maybe it is a right kind of combination of them all!
What’s so special about the Tolkien stories? Did it captivate you from when you were a kid and got hooked on it? I’m a big fan and read The Lord of The Rings Saga out in 10 days when I was 12 (during school holiday)?
That’s right. I also red my Tolkien in quite early age so it definitely affected to a youngster like me quite hard! I was a huge Tolkien fanatic over 15 years and it has a huge part in my life. It still has, but not that much as I have kids, wife, day job and the priorities have changed. But, Battlelore is still highly Tolkien influenced band and will always be.
What made you decide to get back on stage and announce that you will return to the Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze (Belgium)?
MFVF organization contacted us and asked if we could play a show in their next festival. As you know, we were on the break and didn’t have any plans for touring or new material, but the offer was too tempting to let go. We have a lot of good memories from our past gigs in MFVF so the decision was quite easy for us.
What’s so special about this festival, for you?
As I aid, we have great memories from the festival and it is a great chance to meet old and new friends! There’s also been great after show parties with wonderful people. The fans have also been awesome as the whole festival is dedicated to our kind of music. we are truly looking forward to it!
Will there be a special duet or will one of you jump on stage and join another band for one or more songs? Any names or wishes (or wishful thinking)?
We haven’t planned anything like that yet, but you’ll never know...
Is there a band you wish to add to the already announced bands, If you could just pick out one band, and why?
Personally it would be nice to see Sirenia on stage again! Nice people and great music!
Can you also tell us something about the band Lowburn?
Lowburn is our vocalist Tomi’s stoner rock band. Henkka, our drummer also plays in it. Tomi has also an old dark metal band Evemaster and a psycherock group Elephant Bell. We have quite many bands we play in besides Battlelore. Our bassist Honkman has Dark Elite, Jussi plays in Lovijatar and in Jonne’s (Korpiklaani) solo band and I have a doomrock band Church Of Void and a punk group Sisäilmaongelma.
Will both bands continue their path and record new things in the near future?
At the moment it looks like that all of those bands will continue their paths!
Doombound was such a hit, do you think it’s possible to overpass it?
Easily! For me The Last Alliance was the real ground breaker, but if and when we begin to make new music for Battlelore, it will be something to remember!
How would you describe your sound anno 2016?
Can’t say about the new sound yet, as we don’t have any new material ...
On our gigs we will play the old songs so the sound will remain the same.
What else can we expect in 2016 from you?
Just a few gigs, nothing more. If something happens, it will happen in 2017 or so on..
Is there something you want to talk about? Something that I forgot to ask?
Thanks for the intie!
Discover them at The Metal Female voices fest in Wieze:
Mercy Isle (Usa)
Skarlett Riot (Uk)