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If someone asked me five years ago if I believed that Metsatöll would come to Serbia I would laugh like crazy. As a passionate folklorist I am interested in everything that has a connection with nature, myths, legends and dances. To be part of some nation your duty is to find a way to promote your county in the best way. Speaking your language, wearing parts of national costume, playing traditional instruments or talking about ancient folk tales. Ways are overnumbered but Metsatöll found the best one, over music. They are unique, creative. They enchanted the audience very quickly. I had the pleasure to talk with the entire band on Saturday 13th April in Belgrade just a few hours before their first concert in Serbia. I found out a lot about them, their 25 year long career and how metal survives in the Baltic. So while sound checks were going in the background at Dorcol Platz we had the most interesting conversation.

Hello, everyone! First of all, thank you for the opportunity to talk with you, you are one of my favorite bands and this is such an honor to me! We can start with a basic question about your band for the people who don’t know about you. What does Metsatöll mean and why did you choose that name?

Lauri: Markus can explain how he came to this name but Metsatöll is a euphemism. It means “forest animal“ or just “wolf“ in western Estonia. The idea of that expression is when you say “wolf“, it might come and eat your animals but if you say Metsatöll he won’t hear and come.

Your lyrics are based on mythology mostly, do you think that your music and lyrics picture the folklore of your country?

Lauri: There is much mythology in different songs. Markus or I or Raivo write lyrics and we talk about different things. I am into Estonian folklore, that’s one of my jobs. I am a folklorist, I deal with it every day. It’s my life so it inspires me.

Markus: Our lyrics are based more on normal daily life around us, not just mythology also.

Do you have any favorite mythical creatures from your mythology?

Lauri: To me as a researcher is one complicated question because it’s part of my work they are all favorite to me. There is one from the song Raivo wrote, it’s called Kulmking. He is really interesting because no one knows what he/she looks like. Because if you see it you are already dead. A few years ago one boy claimed that he saw Kulmking actually but he would be dead if it was true.

Lauri, you play many traditional instruments mostly. Which was the first one you started to play?

Lauri: It was guitar with my friends while I was a teenager. We improvised songs, had fun. But I felt like it would be nice to play traditional instruments also, so I started to play them by myself . I always loved how my grandparents lived so everything that has to do something with tradition I love, so instruments too.

What were your musical influences for Metsatöll music?

Markus: Mine were Bathory from Sweden, Manowar from US, Slayer also. Thanks to Lauri I heard about Cruachan from Ireland . It’s a folk metal band and they bought me.

Tonis: I listened to thrash metal mostly when I was teenager, Testament, Exodus. In Metsatöll’s music we also have many thrash metal riffs combined with traditional parts thanks to Lauri.

Raivo: I already played bass guitar in many bands before Metsatöll’s original bassist influence on me and my music taste so I continued by his steps.

What do you read, how did literature influence your music and writing?

Lauri: I really miss my library on the tour. I don’t read much real commercial literature, artistic books ect. I read Estonian writers but the most I like are folk tales and old manuscripts.

I am not so familiar with the Estonian metal scene. Is there any other metal band except you in Estonia?

Tonis: We are a small country, we have 1.5 million people but we have over 100 metal bands. Finland is the biggest metal country in Europe by number of metal bands and Estonia is maybe in the fifth place. We have a lot of older bands. It seems like we are all related one to another.

Markus: You should come to Estonia to our festival to see that metal is alive there. Howls of Winter, Hard rock laager and also if you are interested there is a  page called where you can find a lot of our metal bands.

You have live albums from 2006 and 2012. Is there any chance you will record a live album dedicated to the 25th anniversary?

Markus: It’s one nice idea you gave us. We should actually record a live album actually. We actually recorded it with a police orchestra in the studio. We are planning to release it at the end of the year at some moment.

Do you also plan a new full length because you published the last one in 2019?

Tonis: We are recording new riffs. We are really busy because of anniversary concerts back in Estonia, festivals and Europe. But the live material with the police orchestra is preparing.

Lauri: During lockdown we had to do something so we recorded singles even but people are more interested in full lengths. Us as musicians we play and make music all the time.

What would you change in your career? Is there any advice you want to give younger colleges?

Tonis: All mistakes we made are our lessons for improvement. Don’t overthink just play.

Markus: Younger bands should play all the time. There is no time to wait for the right time to do something and also without inspiration you can’t make music. They must give interviews to express themselves and promote the best possible. Our beginnings were hard, we even did not grow a beard when we wanted to play metal but look at us now. So, they must put big effort if they want to big good. Interviews, live, on radio, everything they are offered to. We are not good with social media, we are a bit older but that’s also important.

Raivo: And also be careful with money! That’s important!

How tour is going, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the previous concerts?

Markus: Oh, we feel really good. We were in many countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, next is Croatia. I always wanted to visit Serbia. Our music is different. We would like to play two sets so you can hear our complete work. We should make a Balkan tour as headliners because there is so much to say. People in Balkan are so welcoming and with worm hearts. In Bulgaria they were all dancing and singing. We expect that here too.

I saw many of your concerts on YouTube and I saw that the audience are not just metalheads but also, older people and families . You are like Sabaton even kids come to your concerts. How did you manage that?

Tonis: We are different from the bands we are currently touring with. We have slower music, applied to any age. In Estonia we became popular so people are taking their small children to our shows. We even have concerts for the kids in the morning and in the evening for elders.

Gentlemen, it was really nice talking with you. I wish you good luck at the following concerts. I hope to see you soon again. Thank you in the name of the entire Abaddon magazine crew! Cheers!

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