23 Sep 2013

Vreth interview from Rave Magazine

Date: March 15th 2011

FINNTROLL sing in Swedish and play death metal infused with Finnish polka music, yet they have fans outside of Nordic countries. Vocalist MATHIAS “VRETH” LILLMÅNS explains this to TOM HERSEY.

If ever there was a niche sub-genre within an already niche form of music, it would be ‘troll metal’. But that’s dubious label Finland’s seven-piece extreme metal outfit Finntroll often get stuck with for combining elements of folk music with black and death metal and, well, singing about trolls.

The term ‘troll metal’ might conjure up images of rabid Dungeons & Dragons fans rocking out in a dimly lit basement, with all band members fully aware that they will stay in that very same basement for the remainder of their existence, and Vreth openly acknowledges that playing in a band like Finntroll, that was a real possibility.

“Because we decided to play music like this we didn’t think we were going to travel all over the world, we never were like ‘let’s dominate the world’.” 

Instead Vreth, who speaks in a broken English reminiscent of Skwisgaar Skwigelf, explains that Finntroll were content to craft their songwriting abilities and technical chops on albums like 1999’s Midnattens Widunder and 2001’s Jaktens Tid. However, as the band’s career progressed through the noughties they began to attract interest from further and further abroad. Their latest album, last year’s epic Nifelvind has especially opened the doors to international performances for the band. When we speak, Finntroll are in the middle of their second American tour, so the setting is apt to ask how intercontinental audiences respond to their brand of extreme music.

“The funny thing is that it seems people get it even better the further we travel. I think that the further our music travels the more exotic it might seem. It’s really interesting to be somewhere like Mexico, for example, and have crowds going crazy for our music, much more than they would in Finland. It’s great to go on tour with this band, because it seems that the further we go away from home, the more enthusiasm we encounter.”
The enthusiasm includes fans singing along to the band’s Swedish lyrics, something that still perplexes Vreth.
“Many times when we play there will be some fans in the front row who sing all the lyrics with us. When I see that I just kind of think to myself ‘what the hell?’ We’ll be singing in Swedish in a place like Texas and there will be people singing along. So that is pretty weird, but really rewarding of course … I’m not sure if they know what they’re singing about but, y’know, they’re still singing along. And watching that is like, ‘wow’.”

Vreth is hoping that Finntroll will be greeted with this type of enthusiasm on their first ever run of Australia shows later this month. “It is very surprising for the band when we can see people who really know our music in spite of the language gap and appreciate the different style we play, and it makes us feel really good up on stage. When we see it we know that this is going to be a good show and give everything we have onstage.”