I N T E R V I E W S

Interview With Wintersun's Jari Maenpaa November, 2004 by EC

Jari Maenpaa has managed to create a true work of art, releasing quality albums with bands such as Ensiferum and Artemesium. Now he has taken on his greatest project, the creation of a life long dream, Wintersun. Recorded after his departure from Ensiferum, Jari has created a stunning winter oasis with his debut album. Wintersun incorporates the magic of Finnish bands such as Amorphis and Stratovarius, and mixes it in a rugged setting of melodic black metal. The album even spans into folk elements at times. To better explain the album, we took some time to catch up with Wintersun's mainman to talk about the album and his future plans.

Let's start from the beginning, you were originally in a band called Ensiferum. What type of music was that?

Jari - It was kind of like melodic, heroic, folk styled metal.

Was it black metal vocals?

Jari - Yeah, it was that and clean vocals.

How many albums did the band put out?

Jari - Two albums, after the second album I left to do Wintersun.

I was reading conflicting reports about the record company at the time, Spinefarm, disbanding Ensiferum by not allowing you the proper time for Wintersun. Is there any truth to that?

Jari - Well sort of, the thing was before we left to do the second album I had already booked the studio for Wintersun for the Spring of 2004. Everything was set, but then when we came back from Denmark after recording the Ensiferum album, Spinefarm had booked a tour on top of the Wintersun studio session. So, I couldn't be in two places at the same time. There were some hard discussions, and the band decided to kick me out and continue. Assholes. (laughing)

So they are still recording albums and doing the whole band thing without you?

Jari - Yeah, they now have Petri Lindroos from Norther doing vocals.

Well that really sucks...

Jari - ...there is no hard feelings though. We are all still great buddies still.

When did you first get the idea for Wintersun?

Jari - Well I have been doing this music even before I joined Ensiferum. I just do different types of music. When I started playing guitar as a teenager I got this four track from my father and I instantly started making demos. Then I got an eight track, then sixteen track, so I've always made my own music outside of Ensiferum.

Why did you choose Wintersun as the band's name? Is there a meaning behind the name?

Jari - It combines the two dimensions of my music. The Winter side, when I listen to this type of music it sort of gives me a winter feeling, a universal feeling of space and stars. A friend pulled out a long list of names and Wintersun just grabbed my attention. I liked it. I sort of described the whole concept to him and he liked the name.

When you left Ensiferum to form Wintersun did you plan on this being a two man band?

Jari - Actually at that time I didn't think about it much. I just wanted to get it recorded, it was a long time dream of mine. I just wanted to record and then see what happened.

Where did you meet your drummer, Kai Hahto?

Jari - I had never met him before. I was a big fan of his for a long time. It was just luck, I sent him an email and told him about my project and he was interested and we talked on the phone. I sent him some demos and then he agreed to be a part of my project. I was happy, he is an amazing drummer and he can play everything. He is a jazz drummer and he doesn't just play metal.

Now you recorded a three song demo that got you a label contract with Nuclear Blast. I was just curious, what three songs did you give them?

Jari - There was "Winter Madness", "Beyond The Dark Sun", and "Death & Healing". Those are included on the Jap version of the CD as bonus songs.

How difficult was it to record this album with you concentrating on bass, guitars, programming, and vocals? Or do you think it is easier doing it yourself and not having to coordinate everyone else?

Jari - In that way it is easier. Of course you need to remember more, the bass lines and stuff. I've always done bass though. It is a lot more work but I like the freedom of doing everything myself.

Which aspect was the hardest for you to record?

Jari - Bass, that wasn't hard, that was fun. Well, it wasn't hard just slow work. At that time it was a slow matter. I programmed everything with my drum machine, reading notes, and then plugging in the audio. It was very slow work. These days I'm getting more into the computer world so it will be much easier to organize everything.

"I wanted to make it diverse and powerful. I wanted to make songs that make you feel like you are floating in space."
When I hear this album I hear influences from traditional metal acts like Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius to Finnish styled bands like Amorphis and Children Of Bodom. Are you the type of metal fan that really enjoys all genres of music, and in your opinion what genre does Wintersun fall into?

Jari - That is hard to say. Yeah, I like all Stratovarius and I love old Amorphis. Some of the songs are older songs from '96 or '98 like "Beyond The Dark Sun" and "Death & Healing" so it is influenced by those bands. I've never been a big fan of Children Of Bodom so I wasn't influenced by them. Maybe they listen to the same bands I do, maybe the same writing style. I don't know.

What is the basic ideas behind the songwriting of the album?

Jari - Each song is a different story, I make some riffs and then get an idea of the song. "Winter Madness" is a song that I wanted to combine a stormy feeling with the Finnish folk sound, then incorporate blast beats and stuff. I wanted to make it diverse and powerful. I wanted to make songs that make you feel like you are floating in space.

It is a really unique record, I really enjoy it. Not really something you can just sit down and absorb in one take. It goes in different directions.

Jari - Yeah, I like those types of records where you can always hear different things, where you can say to yourself "I haven't heard that before". That sort of stuff.

How did you get involved with Necrolord and the album cover your idea or his?

Jari - Its my idea. I gave him some lyrical concepts and let him listen to the music and read the lyrics. He has done both Ensiferum covers so I have been working with him for years. He has always been an idol for me. When I first saw Dissection's "Storm Of The Light's Bane" cover I was just like wow. It is the best cover ever.

So I guess right now you are searching for other band members?

Jari - I have a bass player, he is actually the bassist from Norther. I have been auditioning a few guitar players. I don't know, there are very few great guitar players. I will make decisions soon. A synth player has been more difficult to find.

Once you find band members how long will it be before you hit the road to tour?

Jari - Well it depends. We'll have to get out and practice these songs, they aren't easy to play. We want to go out next year, maybe by Spring we will be fully functional and ready to do some ass kicking.

When will work begin on a new record?

Jari - I am writing stuff all the time, I don't know about the future. I'm slow writing the lyrics but hopefully soon.

Well, just about ready to wrap this up. I wanted to ask you if there are any bands you can recommend to some of our readers?

Jari - There is Moon Sorrow, a few others. I am in another band called Arthemesia. We are working on our second album and it is going to be fucking good. (laughing)

What style is that?

Jari - Melodic black metal.

Well let's finish this one up with a couple of funny questions. Which country has the best groupies?

Jari - (laughing) Well I have not been in many countries. I haven't been on tour in Europe, so I would say Finland has the best groupies.

What is your favorite beer?

Jari - It has changed a little bit. When I was in Denmark I fell in love with Carlsberg. Finnish beers are great too like Lapin Kulta.

I also wanted to ask you what have you been listening to the last few weeks.

Jari - Today I listened to Devin Townsend's band and Dimension F3H. Have you heard them?

No, haven't heard that.

Jari - It is the guy from Limbonic Art, it is on Karmageddon Media.

One last question, who do you think is the metal icon?

Jari - Rob Halford (laughing)

Yeah, I haven't heard anyone say that yet. Good choice. A lot of folks have been saying Ronnie James Dio.

Jari - A good choice too.

Anything you want to say in closing?

Jari - Check out www.wintermadness.net, the home of Wintersun.




All reviews for this band:
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
WintersunWintersun
2004
Eric Compton10/8/2004



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