Here is an interview I did with Jari, the mastermind and leader of the Finnish band/project Wintersun. The band has just now released their debut album. I asked Jari some questions about the new album and about Wintersun, but I?ve also posed some questions about himself and what he's been doing until now.
Interview By Anders Sandvall
Pictures by Sound Pollution
Thanks to Niklas ?Hobbe? Andersson at Sound Pollution for help with the interview.
Would you please tell the readers a bit about your musical background?
As a child I played little bit of keyboards. As a teenager, about when I was 15, I started to play the guitar and that really chanced my world. I kinda "found myself", and I?ve been on that road ever since. I practised a lot and started to make my own music. I started to record my own demos. First with my fathers 4-track recorder, then I got my own and soon 8-track and then a 16-track recorder. In 1996 I joined Ensiferum as vocalist and guitar player, I was in that band about 8 years.
In general, what was Ensiferum and what kind of material did they play?
Ensiferum is a Finnish metal band that plays Heroic Folk Metal.
Have Ensiferum chose to proceed without you?
They are now playing without me. I don?t know much from their plans, but so far Petri from Norther has been the vocalist and guitar player.
How big are they in Finland and how big do you think they are outside Finland?
Don?t know for sure. In Finland it?s quite big and in Europe too. They were in European tour when I was recording the Wintersun album and what I?ve heard it was a success.
When did you decide to leave the band?
It was after the recordings of the Iron album. I had planned to do Wintersun after that, so I needed time away from Ensiferum. I had booked all the studios and everything was set, but then Ensiferum?s record label booked an Ensiferum tour on top of my studios. So I had to make a decision which is more important for me, Wintersun or Ensiferum and you know the answer to that one. So the boys didn?t want to wait for me and they decided to continue without me.
When did the thought of forming Wintersun take shape?
It has never been formed in the usual way. I have just written lots my own material during the years and then I got a record deal so it was time to make an album... at last.
Why the name Wintersun?
It?s just a catchy name that describes the two dimensions of the music. WINTER describes the stormy, cold and relentless side of the music. And SUN describes the spacey atmosphere of the music, the universe and the stars.
How long has it taken to write music and lyrics to the debut?
I have written these songs here and there during the years, so I really can?t tell. The songs are written between the period of 1995-2004. There?s equal amount of older and new songs. One thing I?m happy about that the older songs still kicks ass, so they are timeless.
Is it you who have written the music and lyrics? If so are the lyrics about anything in particular?
Yes I have written everything on this album and played everything, except the drums. The lyrics are mainly about my own life under all the metaphors and references to universe, stars and the stormy winter landscapes. They?re about my feelings, thoughts, dreams, even hallucinations from the period of time those songs were written.
In which studio have you record the album and how long did it take to record it?
Actually it was recorded in 3 studios. We recorded the drums in Tico Tico Studios, then I recorded all my parts in Sundi Coop Studios and then it was mixed in Sonic Pump Studios with Nino Laurenne. Also I recorded some synth parts and guitar solos with my 16-track recorder at home. And the mastering was done in Finnvox by Mika Jussila.
How did Kai end up on drums? Did you know him from before?
I didn?t know him personally. I just knew his work and I was a fan. And he is really worshipped here in Finland. I think he?s the best drummer ever, for my taste. I first got in touch with him by email and told him about my music and he was interested since he was also looking some different material to play. Then I send him a demo and we talked on the phone and he agreed to play the drums on Wintersun. So I was fucking happy!
Why have you chosen to do almost everything by yourself on the album like lead vocals, guitar and bass etc?
I ?ve gotten use to that, since I?ve always done everything by myself, recording demos by myself, doing all the synth and bass arrangements. So I just needed a drummer, cause I knew that it would be easy for me to do the rest. Of course it was lots of more work for me, but I had this fire going in me, so no problem.
How would you describe your music? The info provided to me describes it as melodic death metal, can you agree with that?
Sure, why not. But its really not death metal. Its very difficult even for me to label it, but if somebody would put a gun on my forehead, I would probably say something like Extreme Melodic Majestic Metal.
Why are there only 8 tracks on the debut?
Well there?s over 50 minutes of music so I think it?s plenty. The songs just got long during the writing process (except the first track). I?ve always loved long epic songs that has lots of chances and parts.
Can you comment the cover, who's done it? I think it really reflects your Finnish heritage.
Yes it?s a painting from Necrolord, who has also done covers to Dissection and Ensiferum. Yes the painting really has the same magical atmosphere than in the music.
Is Wintersun a project or a band?
It?s forming into a band, cause there?s now four members already. Me, Kai Hahto (drums), Oliver Fokin (guitar), Jukka Koskinen (Bass).
Is there any further plans on doing more albums with Wintersun?
Yes, I have written already some kick ass riffs and melodies for second album.
You're currently in the progress of searching for new members to Wintersun, how does the search go?
I?m still looking for a synth player. And it?s a bit hard, since I need a really good one.
Do you have any plans on doing some live shows soon? In that case when and where?
There?s still lots of things that needs to be organised until Wintersun is fully functional band, like finding that synth player and a rehearsal place. But hopefully soon.
What has the media said about the album? Have you read any reviews?
Yes the reviews have been great so far! So I?m very happy about that.
How has the respond from the fans been? Do you get a lot of e-mails and other things from the fans?
Well now when the album is out, emails from fans has started to come more. But I haven?t got any special stuff from the fans like underwear :) And that?s a good thing... I think :)
How does the co-operation with your label work?
It has worked very well, they?re very nice and understanding. But some more free stuff would be good :)
How is the metal/hardrock scene in Finland doing today?
Yea it?s doing good, lots of metalbands appear in the official charts, even Ensiferum?s Iron were in the charts. But I like only few Finnish bands and I don?t follow the scene much.
I think the most of the harder music from Finland today are either sad gothic or pagan metal, what's your opinion of that?
Yes that?s quite true. I like the pagan shit genre, like Moonsorrow, Ensiferum, Finntroll, Turisas. That genre is getting bigger so it?s almost a trend :) But I?m not that into the gothic bands.
What are the plans for the rest of ?04 and ?05?
This fall we are recording the 2nd album of ArthemesiA. I have been a guitarist and songwriter in that band also a long time. And I?m trying to organise the Wintersun live band fully functional, so that next year we could trash some stages. And of course I?m writing new stuff everyday and doing my thing :)
Finally, is there anything you would say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
I could say: Go to the record store and buy Wintersun, it will kick you aaaass! But I won?t, instead I will say: Darrap?iv?n? ei pitki? kalsareita pidet?, perrrkele!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Official Website: www.wintermadness.net
www.nuclearblast.de / www.soundpollution.se
Reviews of the debut album from Metal-Rules.com