Interview by CriXRaskasta Joulua is not your ordinary Finnish metal project, believe me. In some ways Raskasta Joulua is strictly connected to USA’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra, not only for its musical influences but also for how the show is structured. Big lightening show and a lot of singers are involved, just to name a few names like Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Ari Koivunen (Amoral) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica). 2014 marks the 10th anniversary for Raskasta Joulua and as traditions wants, they have just released (for the first time in both English and Finnish) via Spinefarm Records their last album “Ragnarok Juletide”/“Raskasta Joulua 2”. In addition, this year for the time Elize Ryd join the band. So let’s read, what Marco Hietala has to say about it…. Hey Marco, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine!
Thank you!This is the 10th year of Raskasta Joulua, would you mind tell us how do you guys come up with this idea?
Well, the idea comes from Erkka Korhonen, the band’s captain and the guitar player. I guess he had gotten the idea of seen different things from the Trans-Siberia Orchestra and he figured that it would be nice to do this old school Christmas songs and put them in symphonic-metal version and the arrangement with a little bit of extra care a bunch of nice vocalists. Actually he contacted me and I was like “Ok, I like the idea” then we got to do an album where I sang a couple of songs and the other guys of the project also and then it escalated,I mean the album went well and we started to do some shows, the first one then three now in 10th years the project is something of consolidated here in Finland.In the line up there are a lot of stars from the Finnish metal scene; like you, Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica, Jarkko Ahola from Teräsbetoni and Ari Koivunen from Amoral, just to name a few. How did this collaboration start?
The main mind behind the project was always Erkka, with the first album and with the second too. The metal scene in Finland is lively but the people pretty much know each other through management or personally or whatever. He contacted this bunch of vocalists and when we started doing these shows was pretty apparent that there’s a good chemistry, all good musicians all good vocalists and they all get along well. There’s a lot of boy-ish humor, going around all the time and a little pranks. It’s a really nice way to doing things with these people and of course it’s something that we don’t have to watch each other in the face every day, we have just once in the year this big collection of people, we get together and talk about our project and everything else and going to the road and have good time.
Elize Ryd from the Swedish band Amaranthe joined also the project, how did it happen? Is she singing also in Finnish?
Erkka again, he contacted her and Elize was ready for that. I knew her already from before because we had a couple of gig together. Now she is doing show with us, I think she was interested to do this kind of show, she likes it. In the live shows we’ve given her a few of lines she knows how those go but of course on the album she is doing a couple of songs in Swedish because the Swedish is the second official language in Finland and it’s nice that there is something for these people as well.To celebrate your 10th anniversary has been released the English version of your album, has been difficult to re-arrange the songs?
Re-arranged the songs is not really that much that happened, but you have to translate the lyrics. With some of the songs there is of course already the English version, like “White Christmas” that is originally in English, we had to do a bit of work for the Finnish ones. I’ve personally translated “A Sparrow on a Christmas Morning” and “Sylvia’s Song” and then you have to pay attention to the landing idea of the songs, for example“Sylvia’s Song” is almost a second national anthem to Finnish people, and this is about an exalted writer’s doing a poem about how he misses home and the northern countries. I can relate to that so I tried to pay really good attention to pretending the feeling of longing for home and the northern skies in the cold night and also the proper respect for that as well. At the end it wasn’t so hard, after writing a few of things down you get into the mood of the song and then you start to find the idea how the lyrics is going on and I’m pretty satisfied of those.Every year before Christmas you play in Finland with Raskasta Joulua, there is any chance that in the future will be organized a tour also across the Europe?
Do you know any good promoter? You could talk to them(NDR Laughing). Actually that we have an album in English it could be possible in the future it would be to get over to some other European countries to extend it and do a few of shows there.What do you use to do when the tour is over?
I guess I’ll go home, lock the door and then first I’ll check if my wife and the boys are inside(NDR Laughing). A basic Christmas stuff, we get the tree, we get some presents and a lots of good food, stay with the family and relaxing for a bit of time. I think that Christmas is a real reason for forestal guys like me that travel around the world, meet millions of people and be socially aware a lot of time, it’s really live that is the reason to do it one time at year.We are at the end of this interview, thank you for your time it was really a pleasure talk with you. Do you want to tell something to our readers?
Have a good Christmas and lots of presents for you hopefully!
Photos by Jenny Rostain