It’s been a few years since Finnish metal heroes Turisas released any new material – but that didn’t stop them taking Hammerfest VIII by storm last month in North Wales.

RUSHONROCK’s Richard Holmes caught up with vocalist and founding member Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygård at the festival to get an update on the new album, and find out how travel broadens a Viking’s mind…

RUSHONROCK: Your last album – Turisas 2013 – came out three years ago. How is the next installment progressing?

Mathias Nygård: It seems like we have been under the radar for a while when actually we have been developing and working on where to go next with the new album – though not so much on songwriting. It’s the pre-work before we go into working on the material itself; that’s time consuming but it is also very rewarding.

It’s like writing a novel, it’s that part when you are travelling around to places and writing up ideas – that kind of thing. And it’s also about visually picking up ideas, going to exhibitions and looking at things that might be interesting and going back to them later.

RUSHONROCK: How does travelling – and taking in cultural influences – play a part in the ‘pre-development’ process for Turisas?

MN: I have been going through sites, maps, reading up – it’s something that feels important to do. (2007’s) The Varangian Way, a concept album, is the story of Vikings going through the Eastern river routes to Constantinople and for that album I traveled to the Ukraine, to Istanbul and I wanted to soak up that feel and idea. I also watch a lot of Soviet movies – it’s about building up all the different levels and digging into that.

I have to point out at the same that we are still a band where people go (to our shows) to have a pint, wave a plastic sword and be silly and all the rest, and we love to have a great time too. It’s just that I like to do things very thoroughly, but on the other hand I completely love the fact that someone walks into a show and wants a good time – that is really cool. We like to take our time to do things this way, but I totally understand that to many people, we are just a fun band that has catchy songs and people like to come to see us and have a good time.

RUSHONROCK: Will you be developing a new visual style in the future?

MN: We always want to change things around for every album we do but it has to somehow stick with the music and when we have a better idea of what the music will be, the visual side will follow.

We can’t really start planning what the look should be, but the visual side is very important for us.

RUSHONROCK: You’ve been tagged into ‘genres’ such as battle metal, Viking metal and folk metal – do you see yourselves as part of any particular scene?

MN: When we started (in 1997) out there wasn’t any kind of folk metal  – there were some pioneering bands, and one really big influence was (Finland’s) Amorphis, doing death metal with folk influences, but that wasn’t in the same way as Eluveitie, Enisferum and Finntroll.

We grew with (the scene) it and we feel proud of it; all of the bands are very different but the common denominator is that we share our crowd, the same people that would go to a Korpiklaani show go to our shows.

RUSHONROCK: So does it help to part of that ‘scene’?

MN: It’s amazing to see that something that we did because we felt like doing it has grown into a scene where you almost have slot for this type of band at every festival –  that would never have been the case ten or 15 years ago!

RUSHONROCK interviewed Mathias at Hammerfest VIII, Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park, Pwllheli, North Wales.

Turisas’s latest album, Turisas 2013, is out now on Century Media.