The Monolith find themselves on-board Wintersun’s tour bus around the back of London’s The Garage venue in Highbury with bassist Jukka Koskinen (after stopping for a cheeky pint in the curiously-named “The Famous Cock” pub moments before). Jukka invites our correspondent Liam to sit down and they begun by exchanging pleasantries.
Jukka: Hello – nice to meet you!
Nice to meet you. I saw you over in the Famous Cock earlier, but I didn’t want to bother you…
Jukka: (Laughing) You didn’t want to bother my famous cock? You can ask a few questions – it’s a sensitive thing for me, of course…
I’ll tiptoe around it – ease into things before we get to the cock questions
Jukka: Well, we entered the cock and I have to say that it was damn good what we had inside. And I was a happy man coming out from there. That’s all I have to say.
This is the weirdest way I’ve ever started an interview. On a less sexual note -
Jukka: …okay. Damn.
How has the tour been so far? With the new material and whatnot?
Jukka: Absolutely perfect – responses have been good, great shows everywhere. I know this might sound cheesy or sentimental, but it’s been really nice. Everywhere. Of course we’re now trying to do as much touring as possible during the summer. But there’s a lot more to come after Time II comes out – a lot more. New territories and everything.
Anything you can talk about yet?
Jukka: No, just rough plans at the moment. But thus far, everything has been going greatly. Especially it’s nice to be here in the UK finally touring properly. We played Bloodstock a few years ago in 2011 and in 2006 we were in London with Amon Amarth – I can’t remember which venue it was – but anyways, it was a long time ago.
How have you found UK audiences in particular have responded to you in the past?
Jukka: Oh, absolutely great – at least, the shows that we’ve managed so far. In general, we really haven’t had any rough audiences, everything has been going very smoothly. I guess the people listening to the stuff like it as well.
Well, that’s always a bonus.
Jukka: Yeah. Well, at least we do… maybe our energy somehow influences them.
Well, the last time we saw you in the UK the reaction seemed really great, especially to the new song you were playing at the time “The Way of the Fire”. You guys did a poll recently online to see if people wanted you to play a new track on the US tour and I notice you opted to play “The Way of the Fire” again. Was this because you didn’t want to give too much away from the next album?
Jukka: Well, maybe a tiny bit of that… not in a bad way. But also because when it comes to that song, I think it’s quite catchy and somehow that sort of energy works well. So in that case, we decided to give some more energetic material and maybe have the other “pearls” to save for later.
I suppose it would be a shame to know so much of the next album before it’s released.
Jukka: Yeah, that’s true. Of course, we’ve played that song a few times before, so people have been able to hear it on the internet as well, but I don’t know how good the quality is on those.
Has “The Way of the Fire” changed at all since its earlier incarnation? Any further orchestrations?
Jukka: No, that’s the ready song actually. It has been that way and ready for a long time.
Ah, okay. Now, I don’t know how much you know about Tumblr, but the band (and the members) have a pretty strong fan following on there. Before I came to the gig, I asked if anybody had any questions for you personally, so I hope you don’t mind answering some of those?
Jukka: Okay! That’s fine, go ahead.
Although, before we begin, there’s one I wanted to ask for myself.
Jukka: Oh yeah?
Personally, I’ve been a fan of a few of the projects you’ve been in: Wintersun, Norther… but the one I want to ask about is Cain’s Offering – will anything else ever happen with that?
Jukka: Noooope! That was like, a one-time project. It was quite like – how should I say – guys getting together to write, but really treating is as a project from the first place. So that was like a one-time only thing, unfortunately. I don’t have any bad feelings about that, but it was nice to do.
Ah, that is a shame – it was a great album. But it’s good to know for certain, because I was hard-pressed to find any info about future plans online.
Jukka: Yeah, it was kind of there and then it was gone!
Now, some of these Tumblr questions…
This one’s from the user “shadowedskulls”, it’s a personal question about gear and equipment. “What bass guitars and amps do you use? And would you recommend them to fellow players?”
Jukka: Oh! Okay… erm. Well, there’s a lot of amps and cabinets and so on which have a nice sound. Me, particularly at the moment, I don’t use any amps or heads or cabinets. Actually, what I’m doing live is that we have everything going directly in-line. So what I’m using is only a SansAmp Bass Driver RBI – the sort of rack model of the Bass Driver pedals – but what can I briefly say about it? Let’s say this to the guys who might start playing bass: when it comes to amps, maybe consider… damn it! There are so many things that are going in my mind and I don’t know which one to say! If you get a full tube bass amp, it’s basically not giving you any room to wander; it’s a very hard but good sound. When it comes to these “not full” tube amps, they might have more attack and give you more natural compression. So that’s a hint when it comes to a bass player actually thinking what they want to start using. Because, for example, if your technique is not that balanced, then your volumes might pop up here and there with these “not full” tube amps. They might work better. At least for starters.
Tumblr user “zekkrium” asks: “Have you ever had an opinion or a review that has musically discouraged you at some point?”
Jukka: Discouraged me? Like bad feedback? Hmmm… I really haven’t come across that happening at all. What can I say? Sometimes there are idiots around (I don’t mean just at the shows, but in life in general), but no, there hasn’t been anything in particular. But if any person wants to say “You’re full of shit!” and this person feels better after that, then God damn, just say it – I don’t give a crap!
That’s a really good attitude to have.
Jukka: Yeah, I don’t mind. I just do my own thing and that’s it!
We had a question from user, uh, “wigglyandjiggly”…
Jukka: (Laughing) “Wiggly and Jiggly”?
(At this moment, the door to the tour bus creaks open and Jari Mäenpää enters the room)
Jukka: Jari? What do you know about “wiggly and jiggly”?
Jari: (After a long pause and plenty of grinning) …plenty.
Well, I’m aware we’re pressed for time and you guys have got to get ready, so I’m going to have to skip a few questions (don’t worry, wigglyandjiggly gets one of their questions in before the end) so I can do some inevitable prying about Time II. Everything still on track?
Jukka: Yes, of course! It got a bit delayed – we still need to do the mixing and mastering and maybe record a few things, but that’s only like 1%. But, let’s say that it’s going to take *tiiiime*…
Jukka: Haha, yeah… what can I say? There’s no exact release date thus far, but I will say approximately in a year. Something like that. When it’s done, then it’s done. But of course, if we’re being positive, then it wouldn’t matter if it took six years, because the last one took eight! No, no, no… definitely not that long. But let’s say for sure next year. Approximately one year from now.
Can you tell us about how the material relates in comparison to part 1? I’ve heard Jari say that, in particular, he’s had a lot of positive response amongst friends to a song called “Silver Leaves”?
Jukka: Yes! Although we haven’t officially played it anywhere – very very few people know about it – but, at least when it comes to that particular song? It’s probably the most emotional song I’ve ever heard Jari write. It’s definitely something to wait for! Of course, initially Time I and Time II were supposed to be released together as a concept. But we decided to split it, because I think in this way, the individual songs get more attention in the end. Rather than they would if it were a 90 minute huge package – some songs might somehow get lost in there.
I suppose it’s a long time to sit down and pay attention, especially as there are so many intricacies taking place in the music.
Jukka: Exactly. It might be quite an overwhelming experience. But yeah, what else can I say about Time II? There’s gonna be one very emotional song, but then again, there’s going to be a few rougher songs – probably the roughest song ever from Wintersun.
Which one might that be?
Jukka: It’s a song called “Storm”. Also, at least when it comes to Time II, there will be more guitar solos. I guess there’s… seven guitar solos? Because on Time I there’s only one! On the title track. In fact, that was a discouraging thing! Not to me personally, but one guy said “Time I wasn’t a good album because it doesn’t have ANY riffs… and only one guitar solo”. No riffs?! No riffs? I’m sorry, but… yeah. That’s some of the stuff that I can reveal.
Well I won’t take too much more of your time –
Jukka: Well, if you wanna ask something feel free for one more.
Okay, I’ll slip another one of these Tumblr questions as a last one… Oh yeah – wigglyandjiggly! Now, I wasn’t sure if I’d use this one because it seemed like such a bizarre question, but what the hell. The question was “If you were to fall off the toilet and get stuck between it and the bathtub, who would be the first person you would call to help you in such a situation and why?”
(suddenly drummer Kai Hahto chimes in)
Kai: I know the answer to that!
Jukka: You do?!
Jukka: Do you wanna answer then, Kai?
Kai: No… it’s your call.
Jukka: No, you started! So answer, please.
Kai: No, no. I’m eating now – sorry!
Jukka: Okay… I have the feeling I’ll go into the toilet and I’ll slip… where did I go? Head directly into the toilet bowl? Or into the bath?
I think you fall and you get stuck between the toilet and the bath tub.
Jukka: Okay, an in-between? If it would be head to the toilet, I would hope that someone would call an ambulance and help me! If I would fall to the bath, then probably Kai would already be waiting there with a glass of sparkling wine and some foam, bubble bath stuff… and then we’ll have a jolly good time over there.
Jukka: Yeah! Maybe a candle dinner, by the bath as well. But, in between? I guess I would be okay. Nothing would happen to me. Just, I wouldn’t get the luxury of being with Kai one way, or the shittiest thing the other way… literally, with my head in the toilet bowl. So, in between, nothing probably would have happened. I would just be like “Oh, what the hell am I doing here? Let’s just keep on going.”
That’s good! Self-sufficiency!
Well, it’s been really good chatting with you and I hope your tour goes well, both here in the UK and with Arsis and Fleshgod Apocalypse in the US! It’s been nice meeting you.
Jukka: Thank you! Likewise and see you later.