Wintersun has had a pretty strange and special
career. After a particularly excellent debut, they went all but silent on the
recording end, to the point where the much long-awaited sequel “Time” had
earned a place somewhere in between a modern legend and inside joke among metal
fans. Finally seeing a release last year, “Time I” was one of my favourite
records of 2012, although there were clearly some who didn’t share the same
enthusiasm. Seeing the band live with Eluveitie was one of the most exciting
shows I’ve been to in recent memory, and with the release of “Time II”
somewhere on the horizon, I had quite a few questions to ask. A big thank you
to Jari Mäenpää for taking the time to answer!
How’s this recent
tour been? Any interesting stories, particularly good shows?
It’s been a really great tour for us. The fans
really overwhelmed us. We didn´t have much expectations, ´cause it´s our first
tour in the US and Canada, but from all the fan mails and Facebook comments we
had a hunch it could be amazing and it sure has been. People have been waiting
for a long time for us to come here, so finally we could make it happen. LA,
Montreal and Quebec was particularly special, nice big venues, sold out shows
and crazy audiences. We loved it!
In a few words,
describe your goal and aim with Wintersun. The words ‘epic’ and ‘progressive’ certainly come to mind when
For me it probably would be to make the perfect
album whatever style that may be. I don´t like to limit myself and Wintersun
into any particular style or genre. If our next album doesn´t sound anything
like "Wintersun", but as long as it kicks ass, then great! I want
Wintersun to be really diverse and be able to do anything. Also we want to grow
as musicians and live performers and make really special shows. Maybe someday
with a live orchestra even and shoot a DVD while where at it.
When did you first
pick up music? What were some of your musical influences growing
There were always music around me when I was a
kid. My parents listen to Elvis and Finnish schlager artists. My father also
was a musician, he sang and played guitar, so I guess I´m following his
footsteps. But I wasn´t that interested playing music, until I was 14 and my
friend got a guitar and he was showing me these Metallica riffs. I just loved
how the guitar sounded, especially the heavy crunchy tones. My dad had build me
a guitar few years before, so I picked that up and started learning and I
pretty much knew immediately that this is what I want to do.
Suffice to say,
“Time I” has received some pretty huge acclaim since it came out. What do
you think of the way it’s been received by the
Mostly it has been a huge success and all the
comments have been very positive. Of course there´s been few criticisms about
the album length and the material being too different than the debut, but that
was expected. All I have to say is that there are shorter albums with less
instruments and tracks and there´s never going to be another debut album. So
all in all we are very happy with how people have received the album!
What went into the process of writing “Time”? To
my ears, it seems much more
orchestration-oriented and less riff-oriented than
Yeah, that was the direction from the start. The
truth is I´m a bit fallen out of love of the guitar. Maybe because I don´t have
an amp at home and even if I did, I couldn´t crank it because of the neighbors.
And there just isn´t that much feeling playing modelling amps with headphones.
I´ve actually played the electric guitar in my home acoustically now for many
years hahaha! And getting a great guitar tone is really hard without the proper
studio environment. I would need my own studio to spend few months to search
for that ultimate tone! So I guess my writing and arrangement interests have
changed bit towards to the orchestral and synthetic instruments, ´cause I
mainly compose and work with a computer at home, so the computer is almost like
an new instrument for me. Also I wanted to put more focus on the vocals and the
songs, rather than guitar riffs, but of course there are still very
recognizable "Wintersun riffs" on the TIME albums.
What was the most
difficult part of recording “Time”? I hear you ran into some problems
along the way…
Definitely making the orchestrations. I didn´t
have the resources to get a big computer farm which I needed to work fast with
the orchestrations. I only had one computer so I had to use lot of time
consuming and frustrating workarounds. There were also lot of technical
problems along the way, battling with unstable software, lot of hardware
breaking and so on... All that caused me also lot of stress which slowed my
working rhythm as well. Also producing all the acoustic guitars, vocals and
everything else was really hard without a proper studio. So it was just huge
how good “Time I” was, I’m really looking forward to hearing what
Time II will sound like. How do you think “Time
II” compares to the first? What can fans
It will be
equally as epic and massive, if not even more and I´m aiming to upgrade the
production to make it sound even bigger. There´s gonna some "fast
stuff" and shredding (7 guitar solos), so all those metal heads and guitar
w**kers that have been asking for those are going to be pleased. The songs are
very individual and different from each other, there´s a big contrast within
the songs and I´m sure some of the stuff will be a huge surprise to many people.
Looking back on the debut, how do you think it
holds up now that it’s even more ambitious sequel has been released?
I think it´s a good album and songs are great.
Just the whole production is a bit demo like, unfinished and raw. It´s much
more simple effort. Nothing wrong with that of course, but the debut and TIME I
are different animals. You can´t really compare the two.
What advice or
words of wisdom would you give to aspiring metal musicians?
Have a clear vision what you want to do and what
kind of music / albums you want to make. Be original! If you don´t have the
vision, just use your imagination and then do whatever it takes to reach that
vision. Use your ears, what sounds good and what doesn´t. Find and surround
yourself with great people that you can trust, ´cause it will be million times
harder to do everything alone.
I noticed you were
playing a RGD Ibanez, what do you think of the 26.5 baritone scale?
I love it! Ibanez gave me this prototype RGD and
it´s the heaviest sounding guitar I´ve ever heard! It´s the best sounding
guitar (for heavy tones) of all mine and Teemu´s guitars. The longer 26.5 isn´t
really a baritone scale, it´s like between baritone and standard. You can
definitely feel it at first, but after a while you get used to it and a normal
scale feels bit like a toy guitar. :) It´s really great if you love the lower
tunings, but don´t like 7 or 8-strings like me. It´s not the ultimate shredding
guitar, but you can definitely do some shredding and sweeping with it.
Any tips for other
Just start slow doing exercises and do many many
repeats and then raise the tempo. Be patient! Again use your ears what sounds
good and what doesn´t. If you don´t use your ears, your playing will be sloppy.
Enjoy what you are doing. If it´s not fun, then don´t bother. It´s like when
some people enjoy going to the gym and torturing themselves, but still enjoying
it, it´s the same thing learning guitar. It sometimes can be hard, but when you
nail a new technique or a new riff, it´s a great feeling! And the best feeling
is of course when you create something with your instrument!
What’s a typical
day in the life like for a member of Wintersun?
For me it changes a lot and I live in different
life periods. I have the album making and mixing period, then playing live
period. Mixing period is something like I wake up, eat, mix, eat, mix, eat,
mix, watch TV and sleep and repeat that for many months. :)
currently uses a backing track to bring forth the ‘symphonic’ elements of
your sound. Do you have any eventual plans to
incorporate a keyboardist into the band, or even make use of a symphonic orchestra in live
performance or otherwise?
We´re not looking for a keyboard player, but there’s
been talk that maybe someday it would be a possibility to do a show with a real
orchestra. We’ll have to see if we can make it happen at some point. It would
be useless to have a keyboardist on the stage with us, ´cause there´s not
really any specific keyboard leads or anything. The orchestras and synths I
create are mostly just a huge wall of sound that creates this big universe
around are basic instruments. Even 10 keyboardists wouldn´t be able to play all
that, but hopefully we can do that live orchestra thing one day, would
definitely be interesting to see how it would sound.
I like Sol and Finnish beer Lapin Kulta (means Lapland´s
Gold). I try to stay away from burgers, especially McDonalds and other similar
places, but yeah, gotta still love cheeseburgers!
What have you been listening to lately? Any
favourite albums of 2012?
Swedish pop, Agnes and Loreen.
Final words for the
Don´t stay metal!!! Hahaha!
Vancouver- it was great seeing you guys live!
Thanks! Vancouver was awesome for us! - Jari