Interview with Teemu Mäntysaari
The Lyttelton Arms, London – February 11, 2018
Interview by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Graham Hilling
Metal-Rules sat down with WINTERSUN guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari prior to the band’s show with Arch Enemy and Tribulation at Koko in London. Read on to hear the latest about the band’s crowdfundings, the new Wintersun by request concept and who’s the best NHL Xbox player on the tour bus!
Did you have any time to check out London today?
No, not really. We arrived around 3 o’clock so then we just checked out the venue, we’ve never been in Koko before.
How’s the tour been for you guys so far?
It’s been really great, really nice being on this tour. I think it’s a great package; all bands bring in their own style. There’s been some really great shows so far, with so many people showing up in some nice venues.
Do you have any moments or shows that stick out in particular?
I would say all the shows have been really good. Let me think, France was a really good audience, Spain as well. It was really nice to see all the Scandinavian shows sold out. We had 4.000 people showing up in Czech Republic, which was the biggest show so far, that was pretty crazy. To be honest, from the stage, most of the shows feel the same. Of course there are little moments that are unique and all that, but when you play so many shows in a row it’s kind of hard to pick some favorite moments. You might remember the moments, but not where it happened [laughs].
You’ve had a pretty intensive touring schedule, but what do you like to do on your day off?
On this tour it’s been nice that we didn’t have to spend the day off just driving. Last tour we had so long distances that we would be in the bus pretty much the whole day. We had a day off just the other day, did some nice eating, went to a couple of restaurants, and we do NHL in the bus now on Xbox so that takes some time. I also like playing guitar, just hanging in the lounge jamming. If possible we like to go swimming; just relax and unwind, nothing too crazy. Some people go to the bar, I’m not that into that.
Who’s the NHL champion in the bus?
It’s been a while since you crushed your initial crowdfunding goal. What’s the status with the crowdfunding now?
The initial idea was to do three different crowdfundings for three different albums, but the first one went so well that we might be able to pull off the final goal with just two. So now the plan is to just tour till the end of this year. Then after that we will really concentrate on making the next crowdfunding package and maybe the next album.
So the next crowdfunding campaign is going to be with a whole new Wintersun album, and not Time II?
Have you thought about what items to include in the next crowdfunding package?
Yeah, we have some ideas. We put a lot in the first package, so now we have to top that. But we have a lot of ideas, and we might do it a little bit different than the first time. For the first crowdfunding we actually had around fifty different perk ideas that we wanted to do separately, then we kept on switching the plan around, then in the end we went with the right plan and put everything together into one package to make it simple. So I think we’re going to do something somewhat similar, but we’re still brainstorming for content.
When you first started playing guitar, who or what were the biggest inspirations to you?
Like any beginner guitar player, you find different influences and you imitate them to a certain level I think. Then you go exploring more, and for me I think it began with Iron Maiden. Guitar hero-wise it was Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriana, John Petrucci, all the regular guys. Then I got more into kind of fusion stuff, there’s so many influences. I sort of discovered early on that I like a lot of different kinds of music; jazz, pop, not just metal. I think I had good teachers that told me that I shouldn’t just focus on one style, I think it’s good in terms of musicianship to have different influences.
Having toured with The Forest Seasons album for more than half a year now, what song do you find the most challenging to play live?
We haven’t played “The Forest That Weeps” on this tour, but we did that one in 2015. So if you were to ask right now that would be the hardest one to pull off from memory. Of the three songs we’ve been playing on this tour, “Eternal Darkness” is kind of challenging stamina-wise I would say. It’s kind of fast from the beginning to the end, and the first bit is pretty long where I just have to play 16-notes for a long time, so that definitely requires some stamina. There’s a couple of progressive parts in each song that we have to stay focused on, but I’d say “Eternal Darkness” is probably the most challenging one from that album.
Have you guys considered playing The Forest Seasons songs according to what time of the year you are playing?
Yeah, we’ve thought about many things concerning the seasons and how we’re going to work that out on future tours. That’s an idea, that we just play one song for each season, of course now we only have three albums so when we do a headlining show we can still do a couple of songs from the latest album. What we’re doing now on this tour, is merchandise-wise we only have the Winter-shirts with us, along with the regular tour merch.
Are you guys planning to play “The Forest That Weeps” again on The Forest Seasons tour?
We’ve been thinking about it. We’re thinking of maybe trying this “by request” concept, where fans vote for the songs we play.
Would that include “The Way of the Fire”?
Maybe, depends when we do it. Right now there’s about 3-4 songs we haven’t played in a while, so it depends how much time we have to rehearse the new stuff that we haven’t played.
What do you do when you have time off from the band?
I’m a private guitar teacher, I’ve been doing that for 11 years now. A lot of private students from all over the world, I teach a lot through Skype. There’s also some other band projects, there’s one other with Rolf [Pilve, drummer]; we’ve been doing a lot of cover shows and now we’ll be doing some originals as well. So we might try and record a full length album for that this year. I also like to tinker a lot with guitars, set up my own guitars, do a little bit of collecting and all that. So it kind of mostly revolves around guitars. One thing I would like to do once I have some more time is maybe some instrumental guitar recordings.
You guys are playing Russia for the first time in March, are there any other places you haven’t played before that you’re thinking of visiting in the near future?
Yeah, there’s a couple of places in the plans now. There’s some booked but not announced yet, so I don’t want to spoil it [laughs]. South America is one place we would really like to go to, of course we would love to go to any place where we haven’t been. We’re always looking for new possibilities and places where we might have some fans.
Do you think you guys will do a full UK headlining tour anytime soon?
Anything you want to add in the end?
It’s really nice to be back here in London, it’s been a while, so really looking forward to playing again.
Thank you very much for your time, and good luck with the show!