Interview with Metsatöll

Metsatöll have been entertaining audiences with their unique blend of metal and traditional Estonian instruments since the turn of the century. Iza caught up with the Estonian wolf-pack after their performance at Tuska to discuss folk metal, wolves and playing underwater.

Iza: Hi there!

Metsatöll: Hi!

I: I actually saw you guys during my very first Tuska back in 2006 when you played ‘Sõjahunt’. How does it feel like to be back here now? How do you like the new venue?

Markus (vocals): Yeah, Markus here. (laughs) Actually we’re really honored to play here because 2006 was fabulous but this time it was double. We had a big stage, the best stage I have ever performed on and erm…we still look ugly and this is good. (laughs)

Raivo (bass): And in the middle of the day the crowd was very good and so was the feeling, so was the sound. So we are very, very satisfied.

Atso (drums): Yes, same here. I’m Atso and I play drums…with this voice.

M: This voice is owned by Atso. He has the biggest dick in Estonia, probably in the whole of Europe. We have a huge problem with it in the whole of Europe. It’s funny, you know, with the condoms you know…(laughs)…But we’re not Manowar. (laughs)

I: Ok then. Next question- I wanted to ask about the origins of the name ‘Metsatöll’ because I read it somewhere that it’s an ancient Estonian word for ‘wolf’. Could you tell me a bit more about that? How did you come up with it and what does it mean to you?

Lauri (torupill, kannel, ängipill, flutes and mouth-harp): Metsatöll is one of the ancient Estonian names for ‘wolf’. The wolf has many, many names. It’s like when you call the wolf with its real name it comes and eats the lambs. So the ancient Estonians came up with many names for this like ‘forest-animal’ and ‘forest-being’, ‘forest-creature’ meaning ‘a wolf’. Of course wolf is…ok too much talk, but yeah…’metsatöll’ is ‘wolf’.

I: Obviously you play folk metal and you’re quite unique in terms of your sound. You incorporate a lot of traditional instruments and I just wanted to ask how do you feel about the current folk metal scene?

M: Actually we do not consider ourselves to be a folk metal band. And we use these traditional instruments as a ‘second guitar’.

L: So I’m Lauri and I’m the ‘second guitar player’. (laughs)

R: Folk instruments? Some might consider us to be a folk metal band.

L: We just play music. It doesn’t matter what the people are saying… We are ‘thrash metal’, ‘folk metal’, ‘heavy metal’ or ‘whatever metal’. We just play music.

R: The traditional music is what we use…

L: We make traditional metal music.

R: Yeah.

M: We had this problem and maybe we have to do something with the fact that we are ugly. So let’s stick some other instruments in and it doesn’t work still. We are Metsatöll.

R: We play metal but with a big variety of instruments.

M: Yes

I: Ok. So what do you think of other bands, like Korpiklaani or Skyforger?

A: They are very good drinking partners and with them it’s always like… We do very good black humour jokes and it’s always very good.

L: Yeah Korpiklaani and Skyforger are very good bands. We have been on a little tour with Skyforger and we are going on tour with Korpiklaani in the end of the summer.

R: So we cannot say anything bad… (laughs)

A: They are good bands.

I: Ok. You’ve got the new album out called ‘Ulg’. How do you think it compares to be previous one ‘Äio’?

L: ‘Ulg’ is our best work, because it is all natural…Natural… We chose our spectrum of music we listen to and stuff like that and it’s so full of Estonian spirit that…If you listen to ‘Ulg’ then you feel like…Estonian in the morning. (laughs)

R: For me ‘Ulg’ is…it’s not a second part but…With ‘Äio’ we came with the same feeling and lots of the same atmosphere so they are very similar but done in very different conditions.

M: With ‘Ulg’ we went into the studio to make the record and we were trying not to do two albums which sound similar. And that’s the main reason why we are always changing the studio and always looking to…erm…because with ‘Äio’ it was the most produced and the most like, you know…album. And with ‘Ulg’ we didn’t do that. We went to the countryside and we had a couple of riffs and we didn’t even do the full demos. We just thought about the parts there and we recorded them after ten minutes to this record. And that’s… in a way what’s gone in through the mind the first is the right thing. But with ‘Äio’ we did all the production and the pre-demos until the end but with ‘Ulg’ we did it the other way round.

I: Ok. You’ve got this interesting video for ‘Küü’, one of the tracks from ‘Ulg’. I was wondering how did you came up with this. It looks like you’re hunting for something in the river…Could you tell me a bit about that?

A: The concept goes like…it’s all of us as ourselves…

L: The concept is like…how to get a decent wife for yourself. How to get a decent fucking woman… (laughs) Actually, the idea is a mad idea, to shoot underwater. The idea was Atso’s as I remember. Sometime ago we talked with some friends from the movie and film business and so they were very switched on with this idea. We made the song and they made the concept. If you look at it, they are in some parts of the video. The song concept and the video go together sometimes. Then sometimes they are like two different things. It’s a band, who are like..coming back from the battle and then they go underwater. We started playing that song, the ‘Küü’ song, which has a little bit different concept but we have…

A: And a couple of people asked me “are you really underwater in the video?” and I said “we really are underwater, in the river.” We took lessons…No really, we took lessons so we could learn how to be underwater with special people who put…who taught us how to be underwater for over an hour…

L: Actually it was hard…

A: Yeah it was a little hard…It was the most like…scary thing that I have done in my life and after that we slept for two, maybe three days after the shooting. But the main thing is that we had with us, underwater, brand new instruments and after that we did an auction for these instruments. Then we gave all this auction money to the Estonian zoo so they could build a new wolf-cage and from this money they started to do all these things. Because in Estonia we have a zoo but no wolves and that’s sad.

L: Yeah.

I: Ok so helping the wolves then. Nice.. Ok, earlier you mentioned touring with Skyforger and others. If you had to pick one, who would be your favorite band to tour with?

L: I think the best band to tour with is a band you know already. So far with have been on tour with old friends – that’s the best way. If you go on tour with an unfamiliar band it could be good music but you never know the guys. If you know the guys and they are really good pals whatever music they they make.

A: And I think anyway that so far all… all my Finnish friends or all my German and English friends and musicians whom I know are, I think, all very good people. I think the thing about touring is that whatever band it is… I think and I hope that there is always at least one good guy.

R: When you tour it’s very important….So that the company, the people are…it’s very important that they are good guys because touring is hard. Being apart from your family, from your home is hard work actually. You always in need of support and it’s very important that the people around you are professionals. So they know what they are doing and what touring is about. Then if that’s ok then the tour is ok.

A: Yes.

M: Don’t do it if you’re not into black humour.

I: Ok. So what’s been the highlight of your career so far?

M: Making the interview with you right now. (laughs)

A: Actually touring is fun…

M: Stop it “Antonio”!

A: Ok, ok. (laughs)

I: Ok. Going back a bit to the origins of Metsatöll, what inspired you to sort making the music that you do?

L: Normal daily life, love for metal music and it just happens, you know… It’s not a good answer for this but it just happened. You just want to make the music that you want to play and it’s…it’s a miracle! (laughs)

M: I speak only for myself. I’ve been ugly all my life and I wanted to get laid. So thought: “maybe I have to get a job?” “No, I’ll just form a band”. (laughs)

I: Ok. Last question: Could you tell me a bit about the metal scene in Estonia? I can honestly say, and I don’t think I’m the only one, that you’re the only Estonian metal band I know.

M: You’ll find all the history of Estonian metal. All the bands, really interesting bands, better bands than ours and of course they also look ugly. (laughs) Ok, not all but there are so many variations, so many good bands. Just go to and you’ll find everything.

A: But, but you know, they started to do metal in Estonia before the Iron Age you know. (laughs)

I: Anything else you want to add, to your fans and the people who came to see you today?

M: Where are you from, by the way?

I: I’m from Poland originally.

M: We know a Polish girl working as a mixing-engineer who’s very good so we just want to say “hi”. Polish women are truly beautiful so…a biiiig huuuuuuuuuuuuuug for them all from here…rrrrrrrrr! (laughs)

I: Oh ok. Thanks!

Metsatöll: Thanks a lot!

3 Responses to “Interview with Metsatöll”

  1. […] Interview with Metsatöll ( […]

  2. […] 5th July 2012  Interview with Metsatöll […]

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