Wintersun Feature Interview At Blistering.com
The product of former Ensiferum lead singer/guitarist Jari Maenpaa, Wintersun is an instantly enjoyable adventure of icy Scandinavian melodies merged with the steadfast surge of folk metal. A project that took roughly eight years to make, Wintersun’s self-titled debut ranks as one of the more impressive entries into the melodic metal fray. What’s more impressive is how Maenpaa handled all of the music on Wintersun’s debut by himself, the only exception being the stellar drumming of Kai Hahto. A man of many projects and aspirations, Maenpaa phoned in during the late evening from his home in Finland to discuss the formation of Wintersun and his inability to rest on his creative laurels.
Blistering.com: Did you think Wintersun would take eight years to happen?
Maenpaa: No, you cannot call it that way because I’ve done some songs here and there, but the whole thing has taken eight years to happen. I started Wintersun before Ensiferum, but I’ve just done it on the side and I’ve done lots of other music as well.
Blistering.com: During your time in Ensiferum, was this ever a conflict?
Maenpaa: I just enjoyed playing in a band a lot, Ensiferum got bigger and bigger all the time, so I was busy doing that all the time. It was fun and I enjoyed doing that, but then as the time came, my own projects started to boil under and I wanted to get them out.
Blistering.com: Were the guys in Ensiferum supportive of Wintersun?
Maenpaa: Yeah, but of course there was this thing where the time schedules got fucked, so we had to part ways.
Blistering.com: When did Nuclear Blast enter the picture?
Maenpaa: It was Christmas time, 2003. Ensiferum had a gig in Helsinki and I met a Nuclear Blast member, Andy and we got to talking. We drank some beers then I just mentioned my projects and he was really interested, so I gave him a 3-song demo and they loved what they heard.
Blistering.com: Judging by the eight years it took to make this album, would you call yourself a perfectionist?
Maenpaa: Yes, that’s why I’m trying to get my own studio equipment so I can do this stuff on my own and spend more time with it. You don’t have the time when you are in a real studio, you only have 30 days, so you don’t get the chance to do that perfect vocal take, you only have a few hours to do it.
Blistering.com: You went from a band that had 6 members, to having only 2 members in Wintersun, did that make the studio process easier?
Maenpaa: Yeah, kind of. No one is shouting in the back of the studio (laughs), there are no compromises. I’ve been a fan of Kai (drummer) for a while, so I sent him an email to see if he was interested, then I sent him a demo. We’d talk on the phone and we got along great, sometimes we’d talk for hours and he agreed to join the project. In a musical way he is on the same musical level as me.
Blistering.com: During your time in Ensiferum, did you feel as though your musical talents were underused given the high level of technical ability in Wintersun?
Maenpaa: Well, maybe in some ways. In Ensiferum I got to do other parts of me. I have lots of different musical styles to me, so I got to do different kind of songs. In Ensiferum I could do that, but obviously I couldn’t do all the parts of me that I wanted to do. We are still great friends, no hard feelings there.
Blistering.com: With the exception of the first song, ‘Beyond The Dark Sun’ almost all the songs on the album stretch over the 5-minute mark. Why the longer compositions?
Maenpaa: I don’t know (laughs). I do lots of riffs, its hard to explain. I’m a big fan of Metallica, I grew up with Metallica, so those long songs on Master Of Puppets I always liked when the song would change and go into an acoustic part or something different. Wintersun started as the music that was closest to my heart. I have lots of other projects and metal that I write. I have lots of other projects I want to do in the future, like space metal and some ‘kick-ass’ metal where the melodies are really out there, stuff that people have never heard before.
Blistering.com: How tied are you to Finland’s nature and surrounding?
Maenpaa: I don’t like winter, because it’s fucking cold (laughs). I like it in a mental level, but I don’t like it in a physical level. Its really cold and dark, so it gets your imagination to flow. Winter is also very beautiful; it has no mercy on you. The album cover represents a state of despair, the man cannot find the light or find his way home. Its like a feeling I’ve always had because I’m a perfectionist, I’ve never been 100% satisfied with every album I’ve made. I’m always trying to make sure the one I’m working on is better. You could say ‘death and healing’ - it’s a metaphor. I left Ensiferum and I was reborn in Wintersun.
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