Interview with Kai Hahto of Wintersun

Fans of Wintersun know that tours by the band come around almost as rarely as new albums from them, so when it was announced they'd be playing a run of shows in the UK throughout July 2013, knew we had to be there. We sent our main man in the field Ben Alexander along to the show in London, where he was able to sit down with Wintersun's very own Kai Hahto for an interview prior to the show. Read on to hear the good stuff...


Hello and welcome to London, have you been enjoying the British sunshine today?
Yes. Very much. We don't come here too often so it is nice to see the weather is taking good care of us today.
Soon you'll be setting off on a huge tour across the USA. Are the excitement levels rising yet?
Yes, I'm always looking forward to the next tour. I've been there before with other bands and last year was the first Wintersun tour across America. The response was great and we are really happy to be going back again.
How different are the fans across the US compared to those in Europe?
There are differences in every place we visit but they all share a similar musical interest. It is hard to explain how they are different because when you go to a new place and people haven't seen you yet, they might go a bit more crazy than normal.
So, where would you say your favourite place to tour is?
That's a hard one... I have so many places that I enjoy. Japan is always amazing and there are loads of great towns across Europe to play. I can't wait to get back to the US and Canada. I have many places that I like but not just one favourite. I love every show!
Metaldays in Slovenia is fast approaching and Wintersun are quite high up the bill. Could you share some memorable festival experiences?
Metalcamp – or Metaldays as it is called now, is a great place and has a lot of nature and scenery around it. The location is really beautiful and it is always a nice experience. It is much better than just looking backstage and in the hotel room. Mountains and rivers beat just playing in a field in Germany or wherever.
When was the last time you were totally starstruck?
I used to play with (Former Iron Maiden singer) Paul Di'Anno and toured with them when his drummer was sick. I replaced the drummer at a days notice and had to learn 17 songs in a day! I went straight to the gig without any practice time with the band. I filled in for Joe Lynn Turner's band, who sang for Deep Purple and Rainbow. It was weird to spend time with people that I grew up listening to. They were both great moments for me.
After releasing your first album with Wintersun, the self-titled, you took around 8 years before unleashing Time I. We know their were certain 'technical difficulties' during recording, could you tell us a bit about that?
The technical difficulties were mostly out of our control. Jari started making the Time albums in his home studio and he didn't have a lot of experience with home recording, he overcame a lot of obstacles like our computers not working too well. It is a lot of information for the computers, like building a symphony orchestra in MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and composing one note at a time. Creating hundreds of tracks and the wall of sound of an orchestra was slow work. I think it took around 3 years to compose the orchestra.
What sort of sound can we expect from the second Time album? Will it pick up where the first left off or be two different halves of an album?
There is a lot of diversity in the second half and some new elements that we haven’t presented yet. There are some very fast songs, some slower and an instrumental, kind of moody piece of music. It does continue from where the first left off but is a different side of Wintersun. I hope the fans like it, we are pleased with the results.
You were the first person to jump into Jari's project and become a part of Wintersun. How did you joining come about?
Jari sent me an Email, at a time when I didn't even have a computer. Luckily I was at my sisters place and for some reason decided to check my mail. I had an account but not my own computer. It was a coincidence. So, he says that he wants me to play drums on an album that he is working on. I replied and listened to some stuff. I heard the demo for Winter Madness and it was something that I really wanted to be involved with. He sent some more music and I rehearsed at home before heading into the studio with him and we recorded the first album in about four days. I left my recordings with Jari and he finished it off. I was surprised when I heard the final version because I had only heard some rhythm guitars and some keyboards. It was a good surprise for me and I love that album. I almost am like a fan of the band I am in! I'm happy Jari asked me to join and he inspires me to be a better drummer and push myself. He has taught me a lot.
It is certainly a bit of a jump from (Finnish Grindcore and Kai's former band) Rotten Sound. Do you still keep in touch with those guys?
Yes, one of the guys lives in my hometown, Vaasa. So I see him sometimes. I catch up at festivals and places like that or even on Facebook from time to time.
How do you even begin writing such complex music?
The first album was made how Jari wanted it, I contributed bits and pieces. The second album I helped build it. I spent around 4 hours a day in my practice room figuring out what I wanted to do. I wanted it to be different and I hope I achieved that because I feel that I rose my own level as a drummer. I didn't want it to be obvious. Of course it all comes down to the songs but I hope my drum parts can catch the ear.
What is next for Wintersun and when can we expect to hear Time II?
After this tour we are going to Germany and Metaldays, then Mexico City and the US tour starts from there. In the middle of September when we go home, Jari will continue mixing Time II and hopefully early next year we will have some new stuff out. Lets hope for the best!

For anyone interested, a review of the Wintersun London show is available on this website and available to read here (it was quite a show!). As soon as any further updates are available from the Wintersun camp they will be brought to our readers.

Scribbled by:

Metalhead, Wannabe Music Journo, Long-Haired Fool, Thrash Enthusiast

Can also be found at his kick ass blog