This gloomy month fits perfectly to the melancholic sound of our new Fresh Act, featuring a quite well-known name from the Finnish Melodic Death Metal scene: Tuomas Saukkonen. After burying his former projects last year (e.g. Before The Dawn, Black Sun Aeon), he decided to do without labels this time, producing and releasing the Wolfheart debut "Winterborn" entirely by himself (besides playing all the instruments on the album – the review here ). A risk that paid off so far, as only a few days ago Winterborn became #1 of Finnish Indie charts and made it to the top 10 of the official Finnish album charts (# 7)...
In this case we had invited readers/fans to drop us questions for Tuomas, so let´s start with those as I had asked pretty much the same things, too:
Ulrike Schneider & Mats Österlund (from Helsinki, FIN) want to know:
1. How do you keep an objective view on your music when all music, lyrics and instruments on the record are written/played by you alone?
The whole idea is to make music for myself so by that the objective view is pretty well excluded from the process. Overall the whole song writing process is very personal and sort of a therapy.
2. Is Wolfheart something that has been growing slowly or something that came out of realization that the other bands would be terminated?
Wolfheart started after few weeks of total silence, since the decision was clear to me about the burial of all the other bands.
3. What are the main non-musical inspirations for the new record´s music and lyrics?
My personal feelings and the nature that surrounds me.
4. Is Wolfheart to remain a one-man band or are you planning on getting permanent co-band members on board?
The goal is to have a solid band around me.
(the live debut featured Mika Lammassaari - git, Esa Usimaa on bass and Joonas Kauppinen on drums; the ed.)
5. You signed a deal with (concert agency) LiveNation, how did that deal come about?
I got very good offer from them, so it all was set up really fast and easy. I used to do all bookings myself, but there was one particular person I respect very highly to take the bookings on his hands at LiveNation, so I happily let him take that task from me.
6. The feedback on your record has so far been extremely positive, what were your own expectations?
Did the best I could with composing and production and was very happy about the result, so by that the album met my biggest expectations. Of course was hoping for good feedback, but was pretty neutral with all other than personal expectations.
Now my questions: Basically I had expected that now as you focus on one band only – after running 3-5 bands parallel – you would have more time, peace, take it easy, have more than 30min of sleep – it seems this is not the case, so what else besides Wolfheart keeps you so busy?
A man gotta work to make a living. Specially when financing the whole album + video on its own. Nothing exciting behind that :)
Being without a label, is it rather a feeling of relief - nobody interfering – as you had done most of the biz-stuff yourself before anyway, or do you feel a certain anxiety, like “would I be taken seriously, would I be able to book gigs”?
Was not really stressing about the thought of taking a risk while going "under the radar". During over a decade in the scene I have gathered pretty good contacts, but still I knew that a big share of media attention will be un-reachable. For the 2nd album will probably have a label behind the band. The main reason was to have a break from all label issues, which have many times been keeping me company.
How important is it to have a label, in your opinion, and are you looking for one?
To be able to get the music/band/album in the biggest possible spotlight the label gives a mighty tool. For the next album will at least check what options would be available.
As a multi-instrumentalist, which is your favorite – which one would you like to focus on in a band, if you could choose it freely (independently of necessities)? Which one would you rather ditch (independently of necessities)? Is cello (which is “simulated” on the new album) one of the instruments you would like to learn playing “for real”?
Cello and saxophone I would love to know how to play. My fav are drums and guitar, but seems like I don´t have enough time for drums since it is the most demanding on a physical level. Been thinking of dropping drumming but will see if the schedules get easier during winter. If I would have the time, would prefer to be a drummer in a band.
You still keep writing lyrics for last? How far are those a reflection “of your soul” (or mood in this moment), do you need a certain mood for lyrics, and where does your fascination with winter come from?
Can´t really explain my love towards winter, but during winter I am the most active when it comes to all creative stuff. I need to have the song ready in a studio and be able to hear it in its almost finished form to write the lyrics. The mood of the lyrics is combination of my personal mood and the mood of the song.
Somewhere I had read that sport / music / clubbing events are replacing the function of religious ceremonies nowadays – people gathering for an experience of joy, unity & extasy (meaning the emotion, not the drug), forgetting all problems etc – so how is this for the person on stage? Do you feel this “unity” with the audience, or are you rather “in your own little universe” when playing?
I am more in my own universe. Of course there are gigs when the connection with the audience is very strong and I feel like a part of the whole crowd while being on stage. Religious ceremonies are based on belief and faith, while music is either entertainment or personal type of spiritual experience in my opinion.
Some time ago you told me that you pretty much make music all the time – did it happen that an idea for a song popped up in a moment you would rather not want to deal with music – like ”noo, not NOW...” ... and is it a riff, or lyric lines – little pieces of a puzzle you put together, or rather the overall vision of a complete song you begin to shape?
If I am not into making music I simply don´t touch an instrument, so all ideas come out while I am on positive mood for creating :). It all begins from a small piece which is always musical. Then a song starts to build around that small piece. I always work to make whole songs instead of gathering a lot of small ideas or parts.
When it comes to vocals, do you also challenge yourself with developing it, could you imagine do some clean singing one day?
Not into clean singing, but I did take a growling lesson for Wolfheart recordings from a guy I consider to be best metal vocalist in Finland. There is always room for improvement and one should never stop to develop.
What are your challenges, goals and hopes for Wolfheart?
Busy gig year 2014 * and going back to studio before spring 2014.
What are the challenges you push yourself into when it comes to your other activities, e.g. weight lifting?
Of course all activities have their own goals. I am not very good of having just a hobby, so the goals are always set pretty high.
Which other skills – besides stage manager, promoter, photographer, camera man, video producer&editor etc etc – would your one man army still like to aquire and pursue?
I am happy with the current ones and enough busy to keep them sharp.
What was the most dangerous job you did?
Been working with many kinds of different machinery, but don´t really label any of them as dangerous job. Pretty easy going stuff overall, but physical.
How was the premiere show for you (at Metalheim festival, see our report here ) – what are the plans for the band in the near future?
Busy with booking gig for 2014, so the main goal is to keep Wolfheart busy. Premiere was great but debut gig is always a debut gig and includes pretty big amount of extra hazzle.
The latest video Routa pt 2 - just wondered when you filmed it, like already past winter, as you already had the video in your head months ago and immediately shot some scenes ... or you found a place with snow (up north?) a few weeks ago, or it´s all fake (CG)?
All nature parts were shot during March 2013. I wanted to have a winter video but also the album out in this October so only way to get winter material was to shoot it in the beginning of 2013.
As the last question another one from a fan – and again something I´d really like to know too:
Birgit Tschinder (make-up artist, nutritionist, musical school Villach, Austria – she also provided a selfie):
Do you use special products (e.g. dandruff shampoo) for your beard, or a special comb (to remove bits&pieces of food)?
Thank you Tuomas for the interview, and all the best for the future, upcoming gigs, chart top entries, world domination etc :)
* confirmed by now are the tour with Shade Empire in Finland from 23.1. to 8.2.
Trondheim Metalfest 6-8.3.2014 in Norway
Rockharz festival July 10-12, 2014, Germany
For more info, check the band website