October 30, 2018 Interview – Tuomas Saukkonen of Wolfheart
Ever wonder what a cold, dark winter in the Baltic state Finland might feel like? Well, if you are not opposed to Heavy Metal music, Wolfheart would be a good soundtrack – cold, dark, harsh, yet beautiful. The vision of talented Multi-instrumentalist Tuomas Saukkonen, in only five years, Wolfheart has already released five studio albums, including their most recent, Constellation of the Black Light.
Unifying Melodic Death, Doom, and even some Black Metal, Wolfheart takes the elements of nature and re-creates an icy, snowy feel that is irresistibly melodic. Eager to let the creative flame burn on, Saukkonen has no plans of slowing down as he takes Wolfheart to North America on tour for the first time ever this fall. Amidst it all, he took the time to chat about his past endeavors, including his former main outlet Before The Dawn, the vision behind Wolfheart, their latest record, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music professionally for over fifteen years now. From Before The Dawn to Black Sun Aeon, to everything in between, and most recently Wolfheart, you certainly have done a lot. First, tell us, what has your musical journey been like?
Tuomas Saukkonen – Well, like you mentioned, it has been quite long already. If you count the years (15) and the amount of albums (17), but it surely does not feel like it. A lot more good things have been laid on my path than bad so I have been enjoying the ride so far and, with Wolfheart, I have had the best times so far.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear. Before looking forward, let’s look back a little. Before The Dawn was your main project for over a decade. In that time releasing seven studio albums and some EPs with the band. What were the years of Before The Dawn like, and what led to the inevitable decision to put the band to rest?
Tuomas Saukkonen – There was quite many difficulties and setbacks with labels, lineup, etc and there was a constant feel of struggling which was the main reason to bring up so many side project like Dawn Of Solace, Black Sun Aeon, etc. Eventually it made the most sense to clean the table completely and build something completely new from the ashes. Also, I wanted Wolfheart musically to be a combination of Before The Dawn (BTD) (Melodic Death Metal) and Black Sun Aeon (BSA)(very low-tuned Doom).
CrypticRock.com – The combination works quite well. Wolfheart has been extremely busy since launching some five years ago. You gave a little insight, but tell us, what truly inspired this project and its direction?
Tuomas Saukkonen – It was meant to continue where BTD and BSA left, so there was already solid foundation where to build. Also, focusing all my time and attention to one band, instead many has given me a big advantage for Wolfheart compared to all my previous bands.
CrypticRock.com – Right, sometimes it is best to focus on one creative outlet at a time. As we mentioned, you have done several projects through the years. Would you say the separation of the projects is a reflection of the many personalities of your creativity?
Tuomas Saukkonen – Hmm… I would rather say that they were all coming from the same source of creativity. I was dividing all the styles to separate projects which I am now using as influence for Wolfheart songs and production.
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting. Speaking of being busy, you released Tyhjyys last year and returned with another new album September 28th. Entitled Constellation of the Black Light, what was the writing and recording process like for this new collection of songs?
Tuomas Saukkonen – Writing process was really easy and first ideas and riffs already came up before Tyhjyys was released. After the release of Tyhjyys, we signed a new contract with Napalm Records, got new management and worldwide booking agencies. Those changes gave a huge motivation boost towards all Wolfheart related, which also reflected on the writing process.
Recordings went really well when it comes to the playing and the actual recording. The schedules were really tricky this time since there was already the first tours confirmed. The last thing we wanted was to push the deadline further, but all members had a lot of bad karma and shitload of personal problems which caused a lot of re-scheduling and change of plans. Our drummer had a lot of back problems and had to get back surgery, there was a death in one members family in the middle of the recordings just to mention few of the obstacles.
CrypticRock.com – That is unfortunate that you had some bumps in the road, but positive things are happening for Wolfheart. You have been extremely multi-versatile through the years, writing and playing most of the instruments on your projects and albums. You also handle much of the production! How did you become so well-versed as a musician and engineer?
Tuomas Saukkonen – I have always seen different instruments as tools. By learning everything, to be able to get that particular song or album done, slowly increased my skills with each instrument. I have not been only interested about the technical aspect of playing itself, but also been putting a lot of time into understanding the dynamics and sound formation of each instrument which has sifted a lot of the productional focus into the instrument arrangements.
CrypticRock.com – Well, it is really impressive to see the mass of work you have done on each of your albums. Being as capable as you are in various areas of the creative process, do you think that ultimately gives you the most complete vision of your work?
Tuomas Saukkonen – I do! Everything starts from a riff, a melody, a drum pattern, etc. There I start to built everything around deciding which tuning would support the idea the best, how each instrument should be played to get proper dynamics and sound, etc. Everything is connected in the end when it comes to creating best possible sound and production.
CrypticRock.com – With Constellations of the Black Light, you once against create a magnificently melodic, dark world of sound. What inspired the story of these songs?
Tuomas Saukkonen – It is always the same. Combination of my own constant feel and also need for solitude, Finnish nature, cold, dark winter, and my imagination taking me to distant landscapes are the key elements of my inspiration. The lyrics always follow after the songs are pretty much recorded and I do write most of the lyrics only at the studio, so in a way each song carries to stories.
CrypticRock.com – The songs certainly do paint a picture. Excitingly, you recently wrapped up a North American tour this fall with Wolfheart. Having unfortunately never had the chance to visit the region with Before The Dawn, how excited were you for this opportunity?
Tuomas Saukkonen – I am extremely excited and the plan with the label and the management includes a lot more than just this first tour. We are going to put now even more focus on North America than to Europe.
CrypticRock.com – That is great and long overdue! Now you will be back on the road in Europe, and hopefully, return to the USA again soon. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Tuomas Saukkonen – I am a huge fan of both. Event Horizon (1997) is actually Sci-Fi Horror movie, so it combines both genres and is my all-time favorite. “liberate te ex inferis”… that is some cold and dark stuff. I was pretty upset when Firefly did not get a second season.
The new Star Trek series on Netflix is surprisingly cool. I used to watch the William Shattner era Star Trek when I was young. Guardians of the Galaxy movies have been extremely entertaining. In general, I go and see all Sci-Fi movies in a theater as soon as they come out. Horror movies I watch at home.