Interview: Jukka Koskinen of Wintersun
The wait is finally over! The masters of symphonic, majestic, melodic and epic sounds, Wintersun, have finally reached Australia. Founded back in 2004 by front man Jari Mäenpää, Finnish epic metallers, Wintersun released their outstanding, highly-acclaimed debut self titled album in the same year. With technicality, speed, precision and high melodic virtuosity, the band instantly made their mark worldwide. Fast forward to 2017 and Wintersun return with their 3rd studio album entitled 'The Forest Seasons', their most varied opus to date and cements their status as leaders and luminaries of modern melodic metal. With this announcement of their first Australian tour, as expected, a massive air of excitement shall arise. Attending these shows is a must. We caught up with bass player and backing vocalist, Jukka Koskinen, and discussed how important this tour is as well as much more.
How's everything been going for yourself and the band lately?
Everything has been going very well when it comes to me and when it comes to Wintersun, we just released the new album The Forest Seasons and up until then we've been doing festivals. We just did 4 and a half weeks touring Europe and it's all going pretty good. Everything is going really good actually, and now in less than 2 weeks we're going to come there to Australia. Woohoo! For the first time ever, and about damn time, literally, it's been a very long time in the making. I'm so excited that we have the opportunity and the chance to come there, I'm super excited and I don't know what to expect of course having never been there before. But at least when it comes to all discussions on social media and sometimes seeing some Australian fans respond to us and our music, I think it's going to be quite bombastic.
Definitely. We are very excited to have Wintersun finally come here for the very first time, is this something you've wanted to do for a very long time now?
Yes definitely, we had plans for many years but unfortunately we haven't been able to do this until now. But, I'm really happy that it's finally happening.
So are we. Your Indiegogo campaign was a massive success by the way, were you blown away be the incredible response towards it?
We believed in it since day one but at first we didn't know what to expect, we thought that we would probably do an okay thing out of it of course because we had our new album up for pre-sale and we were surprising everybody in a positive way in that sense. Many people were waiting for Time II to come out which didn't happen, but they seemed happy that we still had a new record coming out regardless. The response to the campaign was just amazing and I couldn't be more humble to see how many people participated in the campaign and appreciated the honesty and the transparency in a direct way that we wanted to bring the new album out and offer it in the crowd funding way. Of course, when it came not just to the new album but on top of that we gave a lot more additional content as kind of like a thank you to all the dear fans who have been waiting for a new album for a long time and it couldn't have gone better to be honest.
The Forest Seasons is an epic journey captured by your amazing music, how long did you spend writing and recording this album?
It was basically a 2 or 3 year project. Which is quite unusual thinking about the earlier albums and all of the studio processes which have taken a lot longer than that. Which is very positive progress for us of course and that basic idea behind the whole album was that due to crowd funding we had an idea that we need to bring something new to the table. Jari had come up with one new song that he got influence from in the forest in in Finland where he was wondering, plus with the idea of crowd funding the new album, it basically took off from there. Then we had an inspiration from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. The first song that we came up with which is the song The Forest That Weeps is meant to be kind of like a Summer song so the inspiration came and we said that we actually need to make a whole new album with all of the seasons of the year included. I have to say that the end result is just amazing, we have four totally unique songs from each other but they merge very nicely to a whole new album. I couldn't personally be happier when it comes to the concept, the hear seasons through four completely different songs. Of course the album is written from a Finnish perspective with the weather and everything, the climate can be very harsh so it's easily written when it comes to heavy metal. When we were thinking about the ideas and how to do this and that, it was a very smooth process.
Was it easy or hard to make sure the music coincided with each season, so that it would be clear for the listener?
Not really, because like I said, the Finnish climate is quite diverse. It can be very different, the seasons are very different from each other. So that was kind of an easy task to do in a way because the Autumn track, which is "Eternal Darkness" is literally like eternal darkness because it's just so black and it's always raining. Winter, well the sun is coming up and some point during this season but when the snow is coming down there really is more brightness and calmness, and then Spring is kind of like everything is quite dark but then everything comes alive, like flowers and all of the plants are blooming. When it comes to Summer, it can be quite harsh at times, because a Finnish Summer can be quite short and it can be very rainy actually as well. Our Summer song, "The Forest That Weeps" is quite a harsh song although it is a summer song. But all of the elements of the Finnish climate I think is the perfect climate for a heavy metal album.
Since it is the first time that Wintersun have toured Australia, what can fans expect from this live experience?
Well, the thing is of course we're there for the very first time so we promise that we will play songs from all three of our albums for sure. But when it comes to more details, we want you to come and see the show and be surprised. It's going to be very diverse and it's going to be very atmospheric because when it comes to the albums, bands always sound great on the album, but when it comes to the live experience if they are way beyond other than just listening to the album at home. So, what is going to happen, is that we are going to bring a very diverse and very energetic journey, kind of like a journey through all of the songs in just a couple of hours. I strongly suggest you should come and see the show.
Having the experience that you've had within Wintersun and playing music in general. what's some of the biggest things you've learnt in your time as a musician and from being in the music industry?
Oh, hmm, that good things might take time. That's what I've learnt. Especially when it comes to the music, is that for me and for Wintersun, quality is everything over quantity. When it comes to rehearsing or building a live set, figuring out what songs to play in what order and that sort of thing, you need a lot of time to think of these things and put your heart and soul into it, wherever you are, whether you're composing music or playing live, It takes time to really find your way and kind of like do things the best way possible. Practical things also, when something is really happening then it is happening, do not wait for it to happen, make it happen. It's like with us coming to Australia, we had several opportunities to come there but unfortunately there were some incidents that prevented us from coming there. But we're coming there and I'm happy and hopefully we can spread the music all over the place, the whole globe. so that everybody can hear and experience Wintersun. I would say that I've learnt a lot of patience throughout the years, but the most important lesson that I've learned is to do things properly and take your time on it, because the outcome has to be the best possible, think of other people and not just yourself.
Well we've waited many years and it's finally happening. We hope you have an absolute blast while you're here in Australia, thank you so much for your time. Do you have any words for your fans before you say goodbye?
Yeah, guys and girls, please come to the shows, we want to share our special moments with you and we're going to bring a very bombastic Finnish experience to you, an atmospheric and epic one. I hope we have the chance to see you all there and to have a special moment that we will always remember at the shows.
Listen to "Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)" below.
Written by Steve Jenkins