BLOODSTOCK INTERVIEW: Teemu Mäntysaari – Wintersun

WINTERSUN are a band that have produced three stunning albums within long periods of time but also have been at the hands of controversy because of that. We got to speak to Teemu Mäntysaari ahead of their closing slot at Bloodstock about their new album, The Forest Seasons, the controversy that surrounds their crowdfunding campaigns for an album that is still yet to be given to the fans and much more.

So, how are you today?

Teemu: Great, really great! It’s nice to be back here in the UK.

So, WINTERSUN are closing the Sophie Lancaster Stage, how does it feel closing a festival like Bloodstock?

Teemu: Really exciting! We’ve been here playing in the UK a few times and the last time we were at Bloodstock was 2011. Playing after MEGADETH will be of course a challenge and hopefully people will still have energy to see us right after, but it will be nice to play in the tent. We’ve been out playing summer festivals mostly on the main stages outside in the daylight, so now, we get to play after dark and in the tent, I think the light show is going to be special. It’s going to be a good show and I hope to see a lot of people there!

So can we expect new material from The Forest Seasons in the set tonight?

Teemu: Yes! There’s going to be some new stuff.

So when it comes to making the setlists, what’s the balance? Now that WINTERSUN have three records do you want to focus on the newer stuff or do you want to ensure that all bases are covered?

Teemu: Right, well for the festivals we have been mainly playing sixty minute sets so it is nice at Bloodstock that we have 75 minutes here so we can do a couple more songs than usual. But we’ve been doing about 15 minutes of new material and then a best of from the first two albums. Since the new album came out not so long ago we don’t want to do too much of the new stuff yet but when we go on our own headlining shows then there can be more of the new material for sure. So at the festivals we want to give the audience who haven’t heard of us the best of stuff.

There was a lot of anticipation for The Forest Seasons. What has the reception been like? Especially as most people were expecting Time II, not The Forest Seasons…

Teemu: I think it’s been really good so far. There’s been really good comments both from fans and from the press, really good reviews. I think it has been a surprise from a lot of people but yeah, really positive comments so far! The album is a little bit hard to grasp at once because it is all long songs, for some people when they look at the song lengths they are like “this is 14 minutes long how can I listen to this?” But, when you start getting more into the music you find new layers and I think people appreciate it more and more. So there has been a few mixed comments at first and then some fans have said this has been the best stuff we have ever done so it is nice to here.

Have you been getting a lot of criticism because it wasn’t Time II?

Teemu: Right, yeah, of course there has been some people. We stated this pretty clearly at the crowdfunding campaign with the videos and the story we created. We would like to get Time II out there as soon as possible, that’s a big part to why the crowdfunding was done, to be able to make a studio where we can make not just Time II but all future albums much faster. Once we get the studio done, Time II is definitely the priority to get done.

Because it was so long between Time I and The Forest Seasons and with the success of the crowdfunder, will it be a lot shorter for releases now for WINTERSUN?

Teemu: Hopefully. Now, the setup we have at the moment, the gear and everything that was needed for the production of The Forest Seasons, that was the resources we have at the moment and we can do music with that stuff but when it is needed for Time II and the big budget future albums, there’s going to be a lot more resources needed. Whether the new albums will come out sooner than before? Hopefully, we’re now trying to be very active with the shows until the end of next year and then we are going to focus on crowdfunder number two and the plan is to do an album with that crowdfunding as well. We already have a lot of ideas of what we want to do there. Definitely the ultimate idea is to be more like a normal band that makes an album, goes on tour, makes an album, goes on tour. It’s definitely not in our plans to take five or six years to do an album.

There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the WINTERSUN crowdfunding with comments surrounding the use of the money and whether it is going to be there. What is your response to this?

Teemu: Well if people looked at the videos we did for the crowdfunding, people will understand why we did it in the first place and where the money goes. We were lucky to be able to negotiate a good deal with Nuclear Blast so we can do the crowdfunding and they won’t take a cut, but then we gave them more rights with the physical stuff. This was really needed to push WINTERSUN forward and to be able to start building the studio. Now, with this big sum of money and we are really grateful for all the fans that participated and supported us, a big part of the money is going to go to the Finnish government with taxes so that is why we need another crowdfunding campaign. Hopefully not a third one, but at least a second one, and then really the idea is to build a studio facility and of course there has been the sauna-gate thing! The thing is, we’re not just building a studio facility, we’re building a place where Jari can live himself because for him, making music is not a 8-4 job. For him, it’s really when the inspiration strikes and then he can work like five days in a row with no sleep. Having our own space where we can do really professional stuff from the beginning, when you have the inspiration and you can just walk into the recording room without using a third party studio, that’s really the main point of the studio. To make the music the way Jari wants to make it and of course some people it sounds weird. But, Jari has a special way of writing music and a special way of producing music, he has a clear vision and he wants to make it himself.

With all the debates surrounding the crowdfunding, did it ever make you not want to do it and try and achieve this through other means?

Teemu: We want to make everything better next time. We learnt a lot from this first one, I think it went really smoothly in the end so there wasn’t big problems or anything but I think it will be even better next time. We’re thinking about whether we should use a third party page like IndieGoGo or Kickstart or now that we have like 9000 people that supported us in the first one, whether we can reach out to them directly. The first time we chose to go with IndieGoGo and it gives more security to the people, they know they are going to get their moneys worth. Now that they have that, I think we have gained the trust of the fans as we’ve delivered the stuff we promised.

So, just to round up, after your set at Bloodstock, what is next for WINTERSUN?

Teemu: There’s going to be a few more festivals after Bloodstock and after that we have six club shows in Finland. We’re also going to be doing our own headlining European tour that covers about 15 countries! After that, we’re hoping to go to Asia, Australia and South America, so a lot of shows until the end of this year! Then at the beginning of next year we’ll be on tour with ARCH ENEMY supporting them all around Europe with a lot of big venues on that tour. And then, we’re hoping for a US tour and the summer festivals and by then we should have a lot of ideas for crowdfunder number two. So we can then take some time off and focus on that, so it will be a very busy time and I hope to visit as many places as possible.

Well thank you for taking the time to talk to Distorted Sound.

Teemu: My pleasure, thanks.

The Forest Seasons is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

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Jessica Howkins

Co Editor-in-Chief for Distorted Sound Magazine, Music Journalism student.