Interview: Tuomas Saukkonen (Wolfheart) for Obscuro.cz

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Wolfheart is a Finnish metal band founded by Tuomas Saukkonen in 2013. It has been a success from the very first single ‘The Hunt’. The band found its fans quickly, and not only in Finland, but around the world as well.

Wolfheart came to Prague for the first time and I have a feeling that the number of their fans here rapidly increased. Not only because Wolfheart are big players, who sparkles with excellent melodic ideas, but also because they are bearers of the Finnish melodeth’s style. They represent all that one expects of it, that is brilliant instrumentalists, a lot of energy, deep lyrics and the image of an infinite white land.

Obscuro.cz had the privilege of meeting the founder and frontman of Wolfheart, Tuomas Saukkonen, who is known also from his previous projects such as Before the Dawn or Black Sun Aeon.

So, what is Tuomas Saukkonen like? He is as charismatic as his music, he’s a civil man full of natural authority, which would be visible even without his distinctive look and strong arms. However, he is mainly an excellent musician, who loves the music from the depth of his soul, and therefore doesn’t use it only as a mean of gaining money. And this shows. He is a gardener by profession and bard by mission.

Tuomas Saukkonen exclusively for Obscuro.cz

Obscuro:
So, you had a rocket-like start, because in 2013 the band started as the solo project and in 2014 it was formed properly with members and all and in three years you managed to make a name for yourself in Finland. What does it feel like to, you know, manage to break into the music scene with the new project?

Tuomas:

It didn’t come by accident, there was a long, long planning behind there. It was 2012 when I already knew that I was gonna bury Before the dawn and the other bands at some point. At that point, I already knew there was gonna be a new band. I even had the name ready. There is a song on the last album of Before the Dawn called ‘Throne of Ice’ and when I was writing it, I knew that it was exactly the sound I wanted in my new band. So, while I was still working with Before the Dawn, I was building this new band and it was like one and a half year of preparation.
Of course, It might seem that it came out of nowhere, but I was working for the band quite hard for over a year already, so it was eh… there was a plan and I’m happy to see that the plan has worked out quite well in the end. I made this two-year schedule about where I would like to have a tour and when the next album should be out and I tried to follow and make that happen and it’s been quite ok.
Also, introducing Wolfheart was probably easier than introducing any other new band because people knew Before the Dawn quite well, so I knew that if I do it well enough, like the same day I announce that I’m burying Before the Dawn, I tell people that there is a new band- there is Wolfheart and there is the first song already out at the same time. So, I knew that at least all the people who used to love Before the Dawn, would check the new band, whether they like it or not… So, introducing the band was easy, because there was already a kind of audience waiting for something new.

Obscuro:
How does it feel to be in a proper band with Wolfheart, because before you were very much a lone wolf and now you’ve got all the other musicians with you and the group dynamics are a bit different, so how what does it feel playing with the other musicians?

Tuomas:
It’s actually not such a big difference. When I was recording the debut album, I had the guys ready, because I wanted to be able to play live shows right after the album came out. So, everybody else, except Lauri Silvonen, who has been in the band for two years now, was in the band in a way before the first album was even released. After that, they became, like, permanent members, but they were kind of permanent from the beginning. I didn’t have any plans to replace them. Of course, it takes the time to become closer as a group. But it doesn’t really change the basic work in the band, because of Mika Lammassaari, our solo player, lives 600 km away, our bass player lives in a completely different city… we don’t rehearse together at all. We have had three rehearsals in our four years together. So, we don’t get to spend much time together. I still write almost all of the music myself. The only difference now is that I need to make different preproduction tapes for the other guys to learn their arrangements and do their parts.

Obscuro:

The other guys that were mentioned- and you as well- will have a hard time making a proper schedule, you know – with Mika and Bloodred Hourglass releasing the new album, Wolfheart releasing Tyhjyys, and with all the band members being active in other projects as well. How does it all fit together in a nice schedule?

Tuomas:

I don’t know yet. I don’t know yet. We already played the tour with Swallow the sun and Mika wasn’t on that tour, we did a few gigs in Japan and Lauri wasn’t there because…
I already prepared to have some session members. It’s not like I have a replacement member for everybody ready, but everybody knows that sometimes schedules are tricky and it’s not a good thing to pass up good opportunities. But we’re really aiming to have this line-up always on the stage. Luckily everybody has set their priorities, now that Wolfheart comes first. And of course, I tried to make the schedule so that it wouldn’t interfere with other people’s plans because Mika is gonna be with Mors Subita… they’re in the studio right now. BRHG seems to be alright now and Joonas doesn’t have any other band, but he’s so busy at work and he’s building his own house at the moment. So, everybody is busy on their own, but I’m trying to make the schedules in a way that they fit together. I’m not trying to overrule anybody else’s plans. So, we’re having discussion with the other bands, trying to settle on what and when.

Obscuro:
We’re expecting Tyhjyys to come out 3rd of March and it’s your first album that has a Finnish name and it’s a curious choice of name because other bands released albums with the same name. And they were both black metal bands, so can this lead us to believe that Tyhjyys will be, darker, sharper, blacker album or sound?

Tuomas:

In a way yes. But that word doesn’t carry any such meaning. I know Ajattara and the other bands. Finland is a small country so we all know each other. It’s a really neutral word, but then again it carries a lot more meaning than the English translation. English translations like emptiness or void are great words describing something… I’d say that in Finnish it’s more desolated and a lot darker and sadder, depends on the point of view, but I realise that there are some other words in Finnish language, which are really… well Finnish. And they can’t be translated at all… I mean, there is no exact translation, especially in the emotional sphere.
I was choosing the name like… I knew what I wanted the album to represent, but it wasn’t like I’d look into a dictionary and go like ‘fuck, there is a word for it!’ (laughs), No it had to be tyhjyys, because it has to carry the meaning and it doesn’t really… well, of course it matters to me how listeners will hear it or see it, but again, I can’t start asking like: ‘Is it too confusing or complicated?’ or ‘Ajattara guys, can I use this word that you did not invent?’. So, when you have the idea in your mind you just need to follow it.

 

 

Obscuro:
So, we’ve already heard the first song from Tyhjyys, which is called Boneyard. And it carries the characteristic sound of Wolfheart and it has an aggressive start and calmer mid-section and then there is also strong drumming and great guitar solo, is this what we can expect from the album as a whole, will the other songs be like this?

Tuomas:
Well… not all the other songs will be like that, but it paints a really good picture of the album. There’s faster stuff, more brutal stuff, but then again, there are some calm elements with an acoustic guitar. So basically, the album is as varied as the songs on it. So, there is a lot of different kinds of things on the album. But then again, it’s a good thing that the second single we’re releasing before the album itself, is a complete opposite to Boneyard. Like completely the opposite. There’s nothing fast on that song. There is really a lot of acoustic guitars, piano, flutes and it’s more like doomier stuff. It has a really good guitar solo, so there is something in common (laughs). So, it’s really varied album.

Obscuro:
Will there be lyrics and singing in Finnish, or will it be all English?

Tuomas:
There is one, the title song is completely in Finnish.

Obscuro:
Is Wolfheart still sticking to motto that there would be no clean singing, or is it…?

Tuomas:
There might be some clean singing on the next album, but not on this one. We’re talking about it, so it could be on our fourth album, because we’re also making this at least one-year ahead schedule now, so everybody knows what’s coming at some point. Of course, we know it might change easily. Lauri, our bass player, is a really good singer, but on this album (Tyhjyys), he only does his melodic screams, so he is kind of singing. He’s producing melodies, but not with his clean voice.

We would like to thank Tuomas for his time and the interview. Czech listeners can look forward to seeing Wolfheart at summer festival Brutal Assault in Josefov.

Special thanks to: Vojtěch Janda and Toni Střítezská

 

O autorovi

- spisovatelka, nakladatelka, publicistka - reviews focused on Finnish metal - Rubrika: Finský koutek

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