Everybody’s favourite Battle Metal band are back in the UK and we caught up with Turisas frontman Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygard to get into the Viking mood.

Look out for a review of the show next week! 

rushonrock: It’s been a long time since Turisas invaded Britain on this scale – how come?

Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygard: It’s a while since we did such an extensive headline tour of the UK but we’ve been busy. We’ve been on the road a lot and we can’t be everywhere all of the time! We have popped by the UK but I agree we haven’t properly covered your island since our support slot with Dragonforce.

rushonrock: Your UK fans might be feeling a little unloved – is that justified?

MWN: Last year was pretty slow for us because we needed to get the new album finished. But it feels great to be getting back to one of our favourite lands in the world.

rushonrock: Couldn’t you have squeezed in just one or two more shows?

MVN: Part of the problem was that the last album kind of took us by surprise and suddenly there was a huge demand for Turisas out there. We toured non-stop and never knew where we’d end up next! Between 2007 and 2008 we did 130 shows a year.

rushonrock: You did impress at a very soggy Download – was that a good or bad experience?

MVN: Hopefully people in the UK were warmed up by our Donington show this summer. It was a totally different experience for us playing on the second stage and we didn’t have a lot of room. It was soaking wet but it all turned out fine and it was fantastic to get that kind of reaction from a UK festival crowd again.

rushonrock: How do you feel about your forefathers causing so much pain and heartache in a country which welcomes Turisas with open arms?

MWN: It’s actually the Swedes, the Norwegains and the Danes you should be blaming for all the Viking raping and pillaging that went on a few years back. I’m sure us Finns would have loved to be part of the action but we’re innocent – at least in this case.

rushonrock: Are Vikings good ambassadors for Scandinavia then?

MVN: I’m not sure is Vikings are good role models for Scandinavia. I think people come to our shows for a variety of reasons but probably not to find a role model! We have fans who simply come to our shows to have a good time, to get very drunk, dance the night away and not think about work the next day. But there are also the fans who buy into the whole Viking thing and love the historical stuff and all the references on the album. Maybe they’re the ones looking for a role model? I think we cater for both types of audience and we’re certainly not serious all of the time. We let the people who are there to go crazy do their stuff and at the same time offer something to those who are there for the serious historical content.

rushonrock: Because of your image do you feel the music is sometimes deemed to be less serious?

MWN: The serious side of Turisas might get lost from time to time but it’s not something that worries us. There will always be a group of people at rock gigs who are there to have a good time and why shouldn’t they? That’s what we love. We love to see people having a Battle Metal party. It would become too serious if we didn’t encourage a little bit of fun. But what sets us apart is the content of our songs. That’s there for those people who want to dig a bit deeper and won’t be satisfied with a cover of Rasputin. We don’t have an identity crisis – we know who we are and who our fans are.

rushonrock: Around the end of 2007 and early 2008 you suddenly exploded into the mainstream – why then?

MWN: It’s hard to say why the metal world suddenly fell in love with Turisas after the last record came out. From the beginning we’ve always tried to be a little bit different and I don’t think that’s changed. Maybe we’re a breath of fresh air in a scene that’s fairly conservative.

rushonrock: Metal heads conservative! Are you sure?

MWN: Metal heads think of themselves as being very individual and doing their own thing. But if you go to a festival like Wacken and you take a sample of metal people then they tend to be pretty conservative in their tastes and their image. The music we’ve done happens to be a bit different. And that’s always a good thing.

rushonrock: What’s more important – the image or the music?

MWN: The image is just something we’ve added to the music. It’s not like we’re Lordi who built their whole thing around the image. We’re still very open and relaxed about what we look like and what we use on stage. Yes we do dress up but no we don’t pretend that that’s the world we live in. It’s the same as if you go to the movies – it’s not like you expect Johnny Depp to be a pirate all the time. Although I admit a lot of people actually think he is a pirate! Turisas is, first and foremost, a band that writes music. We’re pretty normal dudes in the end.

rushonrock: For the uninitiated how would you describe Battle Metal?

MWN: In the end Battle Metal is a blend of a lot of different genres of metal and rock. It has the largeness and epic scale of power metal but with an extra side to it. We don’t use a super high-pitched range but we do lean towards very extreme metal from time to time. It’s an interesting blend of many things. We don’t set out to blend metal and folk but I suppose that’s part of our sound. In the end Turisas is just a good night out if you’re into anything heavier than U2.

rushonrock: How long does it take to create the perfect Turisas ‘look’ on show night?

MWN: We normally start to get ready about an hour before the show and it does take time. But there’s more to it than just the costume. As a singer I need time to warm up vocally – I need to do that before I get to the point of putting on a wet costume drenched in sweat from the day before. It would be very hard to be in a band like Turisas and just throw something on moments before getting onto stage. That hour before a show always allows all of us to get in the mood and get into character.

rushonrock: There have been some changes in the Turisas ranks since Download – how’s that working out?

MWN: We’ve got a new bass player (Jukka-Pekka Miettinen) and new keyboard player (Robert Engstrand) and at the moment it feels really great. Everybody’s hoping that this line-up is something that’s going to last. Right now we’ve just jumped into this situation together but it’s only after two or three months on the road that we’ll know how it really feels together. So far we only have 20-odd shows under our belts but it feels good.

rushonrock: Have the new faces breathed new life into the band?

MWN: We knew the line-up change was around the corner and it was a tough time for everyone knowing what was coming. Now that’s over and everything’s fallen into place again we have a great time together. We like playing together and love hanging out together so it’s all good.

rushonrock: Do your parents think you’re mad?

MWN: The support of our parents, family and friends has been really, really good from day one. My parents have actually been to some shows and festivals abroad and loved every minute. That’s very cool for me. My mother and father don’t get dressed up like Vikings – at least not so far. I think as a musician you always fear that crazy mum who goes too far and I don’t have a crazy mum or a crazy granny who turns up to shows in fur and fake blood. If that ever happened we’d have to rethink the guest list!