Wolfheart interview (04/2017)
|Conducted by:||Demonic Tutor (e-mail)|
Demonic Tutor: First off, thanks for the opportunity. I know you guys have been extremely busy for the last few months.
Could you explain the name of the album and its significance?
Tuomas Saukkonen: "Tyhjyys" means "Emptiness" or "Void" but does not fully translate since the Finnish word carries a strong emotion also. It is much more bleak and desolate than just simple nothingness. I have a very deep personal connection to "Tyhjyys" as an emotion and it is a pretty familiar state of mind so it worked as a good inspiration for the album.
DT: How did you go about writing the songs for Tyhjyys? Was there any change in the process compared to your previous albums?
TS: The song writing process went pretty much the same way it has been going on for the past 10 years. I wrote basically all the music on my own except "Boneyard", which we wrote together with Mika and Lauri. I always do the basic arrangements for each instrument. That just comes naturally and for guitar riffs for example I always have the basic drum patterns in my mind when I have the riffs written. While recording the debut Winterborn I had all ideas and arrangements in my head but with Shadow World and now with Tyhjyys where I had the full band in the studio I had to do few demo versions for each song so that the guys could learn their parts and upgrade my ideas. Writing was the same but pre-production was a bigger work.
DT: What was the most challenging part of bringing this album to life?
TS: There was nothing that I would call challenging when it comes to making the album itself. It is already 16th full length I have written and recorded so luckily I have learned many things by the hard way in the past and can avoid at least the most obvious mistakes that could create an obstacle in the studio etc. However I do also all the video productions for Wolfheart and with the videos for the new album I received all the bad karma that I have been gathering in this and in my previous life(s). Schedules, weather, locations, power etc etc...Nothing worked in my favor this time but I got everything done in the end.
DT: The use of acoustic guitars throughout the album I thought was a reference to the origin of the genre, like early In Flames and Dark Tranquillity albums. Was that a conscious decision to pay homage to the past?
TS: I have used acoustic guitar on 90% of my albums so far. I started my guitar playing with an acoustic guitar so it is more an homage to my personal past if anything. When I was young I listened bands like Dissection and really loved the way Jon used acoustic guitar in songs like "Where Dead Angels Lie" but the decision to use more of an acoustic guitar on Tyhjyys came from the need of contrast since the tuning for some songs went really low (G) and to get some air to the songs I wanted to write more acoustic parts.
DT: The title track and last track is in Finnish. How does it feel to express your music in your native language compared to English?
TS: It can be a bit tricky since you are constantly aware of the lyrical content. It takes more time to write in Finnish but since Finnish language is very pointy and a bit "clumsy" with very hard consonants. It is also very easy to growl in the studio. Very easy language when it comes to rhythm arrangements.
DT: You started Wolfheart as a one-man project. How difficult was it for you to evolve it into a full band? What have you learnt with the process? Anything you would do differently if you had a chance to do it all over again?
TS: It was very easy to make Wolfheart as a full band. When I started the recordings of the debut I already knew I wanted to be able to play live gigs and had the live line-up ready. Only the bass player changed in the beginning but the rest of the guys have been with me since the first Wolfheart gig in 2013. I have a long history with each guy so we all knew what we were getting into. Super professional guys so it has all gone really easy so I would say I have learned my lessons with my previous bands and line-ups .
DT: On that note, can you describe what each member of the band provides to the sound of Wolfheart in a few words?
TS: Joonas our drummer is the biggest reason for the diversity of the music on Tyhjyys. I loooooove to play drums but lack the time to rehearse enough and I could never (or at least now) reach the tempos he is playing so having him in the band opens so many doors for me when it comes to song writing. Also before he joined W he was one of my drumming idols and while I was recording drums for Winterborn. There was many moments when I was thinking..."What would Joonas play for this fill / pattern" . Lauri has an awesome voice in addition to his bass sound and I have been trying to increase his vocal parts for each album. He can really lift up the choruses with his backing vocals. Mika is one of the best solo guitarists from Finland and I love every solo he has played on our songs. A huge highlight of each song and also the level of his playing has pushed me to rehearse a lot more
DT: How do you manage and divide the guitar work with Mika?
TS: With Tyhjyys it was very easy since Mika was really busy with his family growing and his job before the recordings and we decided that I will do all the rhythm, melody and acoustic guitars in the studio and he can focus 100% on the solos. For live it depends of the song but usually I try to pick out the easier parts if there is any since I do have the vocals to do also.
DT: How much time do you typically spend jamming and rehearsing to prepare for a tour?
TS: We live 600km apart totally so we usually have 1 rehearsal together before a bigger tour. All guys have been in the business for so long that they know to do their homework. We play more often with Joonas since we live only 100km apart but that means 1-2 a month.
DT: You guys are currently touring Europe. What are your best stories of this tour so far?
TS: I am a straight edge so I am the last person who has any afterparty stories . The whole tour with Insomnium was awesome and hard to separate any highlights. The best thing that followed was the contract with Continental Concerts after the tour and by that the future looks really busy when it comes to touring.
DT: How has been the response from the crowds to the new songs? Which one is your favorite to perform on stage?
TS: It has been amazing. So far my favorites are "Boneyard" and "Aeon of Cold". "The Hunt" is also always super cool to play but I do enjoy playing all the songs on our live set.
DT: Favorite city you have toured recently and why? Is there one city/country you haven't played yet where you would love to perform?
TS: I really like Athens, Greece. I even lived there for 6 weeks while doing the pre-production for Shadow World and we are going there to play in September which is really cool. Tokyo was also beyond awesome! I would love to get to tour in US and Australia. I hope both will happen soon!
DT: What is next on the agenda for Wolfheart? More tours planned in 2017?
TS: More tours on the table and hope to get to announce a few in the near future. Also I have been talking with the label about a possible vinyl release of the debut Winterborn with few new bonus songs so might even head to studio for few days soon
DT: Any hope to see you guys in North America?
TS: There is hope and we have been talking for a while now about few different options but I cannot tell you more at this point.
DT: Finland has been at the forefront of melodic death metal for many years now. What do you think make the Finnish sound so popular?
TS: The melancholy that is in our DNA . That is the element that makes Finnish sound so unique. Also our studios, sound engineers etc are the top of the line in the whole world.
DT: Besides music, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?
TS: Movies and gym. That is about it. I do have a day job also. So at the moment I do not have much free time beside that and music.
DT: That's all the questions I have for you today. Thanks again for this. The last word is yours.
TS: Counting days to our 1st US tour....So see you soon !
Big thanks to Tuomas, Jon and our own Birgit for making this interview a reality.
Posted on 11.04.2017 by
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