Let's start off with a basic question. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard you before?
A > Well, it's a shameless replica of early '90s Swedish death metal, although we have own our nuances. Someone said that our Finnish roots can be heard in the music, even if they weren't meant to. I guess it's just always there.
You originally formed the band in '97, then disbanded it in 2001 after which Winterwolf was inactive for many years. How did you come to make a comeback with the old name?
A > Corpse (the band's guitarist) formed Winterwolf in Maaninka with his friends. Then Corpse moved to Kuopio, and because the rest of the lineup changed the name was changed to Deathchain. So Winterwolf was originally the first name for the band Deathchain. Later on Corpse wanted to return to making oldschool death metal, and since Deathchain had become more of a death/thrash band, or more modern death metal band in the later albums, he decided to put the older name into use again. So, two bands spawned from the original Winterwolf.
The new Winterwolf has no other original members nor members of Deathchain aside of Corpse. Corpse gathered the group together, and when they started making songs I joined the group on second guitar and vocals.
Heh, the next question would've been if the original idea was to resurrect the band with its original lineup.
A > I presume Corpse wanted to continue with the group he had found in Kuopio, and, I don't know. I suppose he wanted to continue the band from a fresh start.
How did the werewolves end up in the lyrics, and what inspires these themes?
A > Well this is a tough one, because it's been Corpse's original idea and it's been so all the way from Winterwolf's early demos. He originally had the idea of making some horror movie-inspired stuff, and if I remember correct the werewolf was the greatest monster for him in his childhood. So, the name Winterwolf followed. He found the name from... fuck, let's see, it wasn't a role-playing game... Oh yeah, it came from Nethack.
What separates Winterwolf from the rest of oldschool death metal bands? The amount of such bands seems to be on the rise, it's almost a boom.
A > We have our own nuances there, even though we're quite loyal to the oldschool-spirit. But well, at least the fact that we have two vocalists, me and Rotten, so we have more of dialogue-type stuff. So, that's one thing.
I just think that we have our own vibe, even if the preset was to make Dismember/Entombed/Unleashed-type of stuff, the way it was in the early '90s. It just didn't go all the way to that, aside of our sound which is pretty close to the originals.
How are your songs born; does the whole band participate, or do you have a "dictator" that sets the course?
A > Corpse is the main riff-maker, but the songs are composed together, and there are some riffs by me on each of the album's songs and I make my own leads and such. But yeah, Corpse mostly makes the riffs, either at his home or at our rehearsal place.
We made the album so, that we begun composing in January and we recorded the album in March. We had long rehearsals a couple times a week, and during them we compiled the songs together from riff-billets.
All of you have numerous bands, so how and where from do you find the time for Winterwolf?
A > I think the time is taken from our sleep. I, too, sometimes look at our schedules and activities and think that it's all crazy.
Myself, I'm in three bands with Corpse and in two other bands, and Corpse has two or three other bands as well, such as Forgotten Horror. It's pretty project-based at times, making a lot of stuff at once. We don't disband the bands, we just play gigs and focus on other projects depending on how much attention each one happens to need at a certain time. For example, the recordings for the new Deathchain-album begin in this November, so before and during that time the other bands will receive less attention.
You have song titles such as "Eaters of the Cross" and "Beast of Satan" (or "nataS fo tsaeB" to be precise). How did this Satan-aspect find it's way into your music, is it just a part of the deal in oldschool death metal or is it something of your own?
A > Corpse makes all the lyrics so I can't really comment this, but I'd guess that it's just a part of keeping it oldschool, making some even corny lyrics. Satan, werewolves and all that can be found is of course added to this mix.
For example, our song "Cemetary by Night" is misspelled on purpose, because we wanted to make a tribute to the old times when young boys (well, I was a young boy back then, these others were just children) made this stuff, there used to be a lot of typing errors and even comical stuff. I have many stories about them, but I'll save them for some later time. But the point is, we wanted to pay our respects to those times in this way, too.
What does "Cycle of the Werewolf" actually mean? And what the hell's happening in the cover of said album? It looks fucking good, for sure, but...
A > Well, once again, Corpse should've fucking been here, I told him that I just can't answer all of the questions... But but. "Cycle of the Werewolf" is some book or short story, and I've understood that the phrase stands for the Werewolf's circulation - you know, the werewolf wakes up at fullmoon. It's the circulation of time that happens for a werewolf.
About the cover image, it's Johnny Maddox's own vision of what our music is. It's got wolves and whatnot blended in, and I really like it myself. And yeah, it, too is a shameless '90s type of thing.
What kind of a reception did the band meet when you decided to resurrect Winterwolf? How about the debut-LP "Cycle of the Werewolf," how has it been received?
A > It's been a lot more positive than I had expected. Of course there's a lot of these people who say that why make this kind of music when it's already been done better in the early '90s. But yeah, there's been a lot of good feedback as well. It can be seen on our gigs too, that there is interest towards us out there. I've read quite a lot of positive comments online too, so it can be seen that we've done well in what we aimed to do.
So, the feedback has varied a lot, but at no point have I noticed any "it's ok, it's decent"-type of comments. We've moreso aroused either positive or negative opinions, which means that we've succeeded.
Your debut first came as an LP and then as a CD. Was it originally even meant to be released as a CD, or where did this idea come from? As a follow-up question: will it be released as a tape as well?
A > It already came out on tape, in France. I haven't seen the tape yet and I don't know if Corpse has either. Some label that does prints of 50 copies or so made a tape-pressing there, so it's already out.
The original idea was that the album would come out on vinyl only, but our label Xtreem Records wanted to do a CD as well. We made an agreement that the vinyl will be released first, and the CD would follow a good while later. It was meant to be some kind of a "thank you" for all the vinyl-maniacs for them to be able to hear the full-length first.
Of course, financially - well, financially it's always a hazard to release death metal - some damage was taken since the album could be found on the internet for a good while before the CD-release, but it doesn't really matter. We were thinking if there was any meaning for the CD anymore, but at least the people who don't own an LP-player can obtain and hear the album as well. Those, and the people whose player has a broken needle, like me, heh heh.
Do you have intentions to re-release the original Winterwolf's records in the future?
A > Well, it might be that some of it will be released in some form at some point, but we're about to re-record one of the old songs as a new version with the new lineup. It seems that Corpse's intention is to keep this band as this band, and the original Winterwolf as Deathchain's pre-stage. We are a different band now, after all.
We've now recorded the drum tracks for one of those old songs, we should just do the rest of it at some point.
Is Winterwolf a side-project for you, or an equally important project as the rest?
A > It's not a project band - at least not on my behalf, but I think I'm speaking for the rest of the group as well. It just goes so that when you have this many bands, that they're all real full-time bands, but in sequences. Sometimes you need to give your full attention to a certain band, sometimes it's Winterwolf, and sometimes it's an other band. Project-bands are good fun, but they usually operate on the idea of having fun and not seriously focusing on making music. I'm not saying that our songs were too "seriously" made per se, but you get the point.
How did you wind up making a split-7" with Disma? I hadn't even heard of the band prior to hearing about the split.
A > I know Daryl Kahan, who plays in Disma and Funebrarum, back from when we were touring in U.S.A. with Demilich. They housed us in New York and we played on the same gig with Funebrarum. If I remember right, Disma has two members from Funebrarum and a guy from Incantation and so on, so... They liked our stuff, we liked theirs, Doomentia was interested in releasing a split and, yeah. One song from both of the bands were put on the 7". Nothing more mystical than that there. Old acquaintances.
You had a gig in Denmark a while back. How was the reception there, was there a lot of audience or were you playing for an empty hall?
A > I understood that there had been more people last year, but it was a great event. Kill-Town Death Fest. There was a good amount of people there. It wasn't packed full, but it was a good crowd. It was nice that no matter which band was playing, practically all the people came inside to watch them play and were in the mood. Even when we played, I noticed that some people knew our lyrics and were singing along to them. So, a very good event.
The interview is nearing it's end, but I have one question I'd like to ask on M's behalf. He's been bitterly waiting for five years for the Demilich-compilations to be released, so when are they coming?
A > (laughs) He isn't the only one! Well, I've promised them to be released this year. The remaining year will be fucking busy again, but I'll try to get them out this year.
(laughs) So, these are your regards to M.
A > Hah, yeah, I'll keep you updated.
So, well, that was all. The word is free if you'd like to add something.
A > Yeah. Corpse, come to these fucking interviews! (laughs) But well, we're actually going to record a few splits now, maybe an EP, and next year we'll start working on a new full-length. We were going to make one this year, but all the other bands kept us too busy and pushed the album a bit further into the future, but yes, we'll start working on it next year.
Thank you for the interview.