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Things I Have Learned

Things I Have Learned: Jarkko Aaltonen Of Korpiklaani On Drinking
Toby Cook , August 28th, 2012 05:57

Finland's answer to the Pogues are lords of the grape and the grain, Toby Cook takes notes...

No one drinks like the Finnish…
It's just a way of life! But, on a more serious note, I think one reason is that in the past it was considered a normal thing to do and then suddenly, for a long period, everything relating to it was forbidden, or at least really not tolerated. So maybe it's the same as it is with everything that is forbidden – the fact that it is forbidden it makes you want to do it more! We just never got out of the habit!

Except maybe the Sámi people in the north of Finland.
I don't know too much about the Sámi culture – there's only one of us who knows the culture and has been living with those people – but people down here in the South think that those people are constantly drunk and they don't do anything accept to get drunk. When you go up there and ask "What do you do up here?" They say: "We drink, fuck and fish." And then when you ask, "Well, what do you do in the winter time?" They say, "Well, we don't fish!"

There are undoubtedly groups who drink more than us, but not many.
I'm fairly sure that there are bands out there that can drink more than us – Tampere Philharmonics probably could… Because there's about 70 of those guys! We've met plenty of bands who do it exactly the same as we do though, and they all seem to be Finnish too, for some reason.

Yes, some of us have fallen off stage whilst drunk.
There have been plenty of little accidents that have gone on – of course one of those being, basically, too drunk to play properly. But luckily that is sort of rare, and as far as I can remember there are very few – let's say more than five but less than ten – occasions where someone has fallen off the stage. We once played a show with another Finnish band where the drummer was so drunk that he threw up on his snare drum, and kept on playing! That looked quite 'nice'. But it wasn't us, thankfully.

Our best puking story is 'the one about the sound guy's boot'.
It's because I wasn't involved in this thing that I remember it – although I don't know exactly how it happened, I remember what happened in the morning. So, our sound guy was waking up in the tour bus in the morning after a festival show, like, after we'd spent the night in the bus behind the venue, and he was putting his boot on when he realised that they were full of puke! So he starts asking, like, "Who the fuck did this?" One of our guys says, "Hmmm, I think it was actually me; I think I remember doing that" and then another guy says that "Hmmm, I think that is was actually me, but I'm also pretty sure that there was already puke in the boot when I started." He was actually pretty calm about it. The bus driver wasn't though, when he arrived – he'd been sleeping in a hotel near by – that's when he started with the broom and the mop and shoved it into the hands of the first one of us that he saw and shouted: 'CLEAN!'

We have songs about beer and vodka, but really we're kings of the mojito.
Me and our guitar player, Cane [Kalle Savijärvi], we are actually quite well known for our mojitos, but they are just the usual mojito – I don't think that anyone else in the band is interested in putting the effort in to make drinks, we are always the ones that, when we are on tour, are looking to find the nearest shop to buy the fresh mint and the lime – for most people that is way too much work for a drink! Beer is often the best cocktail; it's a good cocktail to start the morning!

Drinking alone? Yeah, that's totally acceptable.
I can't do it that much nowadays – living with a woman I'm not alone that much, but I really enjoy it. Before going anywhere, if you have the idea that, ok, I'll go to a bar or go to meet friends later, then you start with the beers or whatever you make yourself – gin and tonics or whatever – and you sit on your couch and watch a good music DVD; it's great! It's always good to get a bit drunk alone at home and go back to the bands that you fell in love with in the 1980s, like the first great bands that you were a fan of, that's really cool. And it's still better than calling your ex-girlfriend!

Despite our reputation I can see a day when we are teetotal.
Actually the thing is that our band now has two guys who don't drink at all and we also have another two guys who are vegetarian, so we are already on our way in that direction! But I don't think that you have to really do a 'thing' just to write about that 'thing' – I mean, that kind of rule would stop about 99 percent of black metal, for example, because you would have to go and kill someone every time you wrote a song.

…And the best hangover cure? Really, really fattening food of course!