Power of Metal.dk Interview

Interview with Jari Mäenpää - Wintersun, October 2012


Power of Metal: How does it feel to get the album out finally and be able to get back to playing gigs with Wintersun? (Mika V.)

Jari Mäenpää: Well it's definitely a huge relief and everyone feels excited. It's exciting times and now we're here at Lutakko playing our first live show and it's really fun to play the new songs.

PoM: You have some big dates coming up after your show in Helsinki: 1st, Heidenfest - you also participated in the tour last year.

JM: yeah.

PoM: ...and now (this year) you're headlining. Do you think it'd be a lot different than the last time and what are your expectations this time around, if any or if you have anything specific?

JM: I think we have now a better live setup and we have the back drops and everything so everything will look much better and I think our playing is also much better and we have a longer setlist. I think it's going to be crazy and fun. We'll see what happens.

PoM:  ...secondly, there's the upcoming North American tour. How do you feel about playing shows in the U.S. for the first time and what are you looking forward to most? (Mark B.)

JM: Hm... to see the skyscrapers (laughs) I don't know. I think I heard lots of horror stories from touring about in the United States. Swallow the Sun has toured there. (laughs) It's not as glamorous but I think the fans will make everything worth it. So that when you play a show, you get feedback from fans that will make everything better.

PoM: Yeah, I think the stages are a bit smaller.

JM: Yeah but that isn't a problem. I sometimes actually like a more intimate live shows.

PoM: So you like small shows, too...

JM: Yeah.

PoM: In regards to the plans after Time II, I think you have mentioned in a previous interview that you have some material already written for future albums. Could you tell us more about that and do you already have some songs ready for recording, how is that progressing?

JM: Well I have tons of stuff. Of course there has been many years so I'm constantly writing new stuff. I think in 2010, I had kind of a big, a long strike, or how do you say it? Where I wrote like hundrends of riffs and I think one of my best materials ever so I'm really excited to get working on them. We're actually now... we're  going to get a kind of mobile laptops, like a studio set up for the tour so I can start the pre-production of those albums. But there's good stuff coming up.

PoM: What elements of Time I & II will be present and how it will compare to your existing material?

JM: Do you mean to the new stuff?

PoM: Yeah

JM: I think there's still gonna be a little of those oriental influences, melodies... (and) the instrument.

PoM: You mean less?

JM: Yeah, less. But still, it's still there. I think it's going to be maybe even more of a bit riff based. Some beautiful riff style written. And I don't know. Maybe go into space, a little bit. Some sci-fi melodies.

PoM: Now that you have the tools and experience, how will you approach the recording and mixing process differently next time? (Mark B. / H. G.)

JM: We'll definitely going to be much specific on the guitar sounds and the drum sounds - the base, meat and potatoes of the sound. So, when I get those right then I can fit all the orchestrations and all the overdubs and the synths and stuff much better, 'cause if the meats and potatoes are not working, then everything else will not sound good either. So actually, I'm thinking I'll do everything first using this drum machine called superior drummer. And this time we'd feature up what's going to record the drums last. So I'm gonna do everything basically first and then we go to the studio to record drums.

PoM: Have you ever planned on featuring a female vocalist on your future albums? (Aleksi S.)

JM: Yeah, I've been thinking about it 'cause I've used these sample based sounds like soprano but those notes are kind of hidden in the orchestrations and beneath all the layers. I've been thinking that it'd be cool to have some real female singers on the albums.

PoM: Yeah, I haven't noticed that before. That you've used it.


Some songs on the self-titled album sound quite personal in terms of the lyrics. Are the lyrics on TIME I and II also based on personal experiences (on a single individual) or something more abstract that contains bigger ideas and philosophical beliefs?


JM: Yeah there's definitely more personal stuff in the lyrics than in the debut album. The lyrics are quite a bit simpler, also. Yeah there's still... I used lots of metaphors. I like to write lyrics so that everyone can identify with their own lives, the lyrics. But I never really want to reveal too much, what the song is about.

PoM: I think that's what I was looking for when this question was forming. 'Metaphor' was the word.

JM: Yeah.

PoM: If it wasn't for travel expenses and such, would you now consider having keyboard player for a more organic live experience?

JM: No we're not looking for a keyboard player 'cause even 10 keyboard players couldn't play this stuff, it's just a kind of a big wall of sound - the orchestras and then lots of different synth sounds going on so it would be impossible. We have a really good chemistry, with the 4 guys. We are fine now.

PoM: And some random questions here for you...

You've mentioned that you recorded some of your music ideas on an iPhone. How did you record them, did hum them on your phone? Did you use an app?

JM: It's just a basic voice recorder. Usually I just play chords on the guitar and hum melodies on top of the chords, or just play a riff and just record it to the iPhone and later I put them on the computer. Start a Cubase project and start kind of building the songs with samples, drum machine and sample bass - getting the basic structure of the song together.

PoM: How was it like meeting Devin Townsend finally and having to interview him? Was he at all aware of your band's existence, has he given you any advice?

JM: Oh no. I haven't talked to him besides the interview, but it was just amazing, amazing experience 'cause he's been my idol since I was I don't know, 15 or 16 - ever since I heard him singing on Steve Vai's 'Sex And Religion'. So it was just amazing to me. He was just a relaxed guy and a great guy.

PoM: Name a few of your favorite instrumental albums?

JM: Instrumental albums?

PoM: Yeah.

JM: Well definitely Steve Vai's 'Passion and Warfare' and Marty Friedman's first album. What is it? 'Dragon's Kiss' or something. And the second album, 'Scenes'. And then, uh...

PoM: How about more recent releases. Like say Jeff Loomis?

JM: I don't really listen to that much instrumental music anymore of course except soundtracks. I really like soundtracks like Memoirs of a Geisha, Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger. Also, The Fountain. But Yngwie Malmsteen's first album, that's a great instrumental. Although I think there's one or two songs with vocals (in them), if I remember right.

PoM: Any Japanese instrumental? On guitar...

JM: Hm...

PoM: There's Katsu Ohta. Neoclassical - shred.

JM: What was that?

PoM: Katsu Ohta.

JM: I don't know that. I gotta check it out.

PoM: Yeah, they've basically dubbed him as 'The Yngwie Malmsteen' of Japan.

JM: Okay, Cool.

PoM: What was the model of your custom new Ibanez guitar?

JM: It's based on that RGD model, but the RGD is the scale; the neck is longer. It's 26.5, but mine is the regular, standard - 25. 5. But the shape is the same so it's based on that, that model. But I have all those on the RGD and I use it in low tunings - dropped Bb tuning.

PoM: Will we see it in use tonight?

JM: No, I have the RGD at home. I used the RGD to play on the album, but there's one song for the 'Land of Snow and Sorrow', where I didn't use that tuning. But live we're actually... because it's too much to kind of carry, too much guitars. So we use the axe effects amps and the amp will actually lower the pitch, so that's pretty handy. (laughs)

PoM: Yeah, that is cool.

PoM: You've worked on the albums for years and they're at near completion. What are your plans after Time, what will you do outside of music to kick back and relax? (Jani R./ H. G.)

JM: There's not really much outside of music for me. My life is just making music and...

PoM: Video games, maybe movies...

JM: Well sometimes I'll watch movies and of course listen to new music. I don't really play video games any more at all. I don't have the time for it. (laughs) After Time albums of course (I'll be) starting to make the new albums, of course touring a lot with these Time albums. It's also been talked about if these Time albums will sell well, we could do this live DVD with a real orchestra. So, we'll see.

PoM: So you're actually considering that now since it's been asked before.

JM: Yeah, actually our manager suggested it, that it'd be possible. But for something like that, it would have to be big budget

PoM: Since Time was such a trial for you Jari...

JM: Yeah.

PoM: Has the process had any profound effect on your life and/or changed you in any way, your attitude towards it all?

JM: Maybe. I don't know. I think... Well I try not to stress so much anymore 'cause I've realized that life is very short and now I'm over 30 so... (laughs) You start realizing these things and try not to worry too much and you know, take risks and go for it in life.

PoM: Last one... Any final words to those who wish to reach your level of musicianship and release great albums?

JM: Just you know... passion to learn music and practice a lot.

PoM: Uh-oh...

JM: Yeah. Just all it takes. You know listen to lots of music and different bands and just enjoy and have fun with it. If you don't enjoy practicing... (laughs) You aren't gonna get any better. You know lots of repeats.

PoM: Cheers.

JM: It's a lot of work.

PoM:  I think that's it.

JM: Alright, thank you. Thank you.

Video version:



Wintersun - Time I

Label: Nuclear Blast



Jari Mäenpää - Vocals & guitars
Teemu Mäntysaari - Guitars
Jukka Koskinen - Bass
Kai Hahto - Drums

Time I (2012)
Wintersun (2004)


Interviewed by Haydee G.