Interview: Wolfheart Frontman on New Album and US Tour with Carach Angren

Photo: Mike Sirèn
Finnish “winter metal” outfit Wolfheart have been hard at work pushing their cold blend of black and death metal since forming in 2013. In that time, Wolfheart have released four albums, the latest being Constellation of the Black Light, led to the band being tapped to support symphonic black metal heavyweights Carach Angren on their United States tour, happening now. Decibel spoke with Wolfheart bandleader Tuomas Saukkonen about Constellation, the high speed at which he releases music and Wolfheart’s first US tour.

You disbanded all of your other projects (Black Sun Aeon, Before the Dawn, etc) to focus on Wolfheart. Why did you make that decision?
There started to be a lot of issues both inside and outside of the band. Issues with the labels, not good chemistry anymore inside the band, etc. Also, the issues that slowly piled up during the years were the main reason why I started so many side projects like BSA where I could focus more on the music itself than the business around it. When I made the decision to bury BTD, it made the most sense to put all the side projects to the grave at the same time and start from a clean table.

Wolfheart have released four albums since 2013, an impressive feat for any artist. How do you avoid burning out?I have had this yearly creative cycle for over 15 years now. I have been working as a gardener/landscaper for over 20 years and since Finnish summer is quite short I do long hours about 7 months in a year and then I have 5 month winter vacation where I focus only on the music. I train a lot with each instrument during winter and naturally spend a lot of time composing music during each winter so this 1 album for year schedule works really well for me.

What inspires you when writing Wolfheart music? Nature, warfare and winter seem to be recurring themes when I listen to Constellation of the Black Light.
Nature is probably the biggest source of inspiration since I was born in a small village near the Russian border and was surrounded by woods, fields and lakes my entire childhood. Winter is important because that is also my writing season. I have had war-themed songs for each Wolfheart album, but for the Constellation Of The Black Light, I went a bit heavier into the war theme and focused on the winter war between Finland and Russia in the end of second World War. Being able to keep our independence against enemy with multiple troops and war machinery really underlined the Finnish mentality of our grandparents generation.

The video for “The Saw” was done entirely within the band; what does having that ability provide when bringing your visions to life?
Actually, all Wolfheart videos have been done the same way. I do the production and editing and I share the directing with my trusted camera man. It is a huge advantage because we can work with a lot more flexible schedules and budgets. I [would] rather work for free to get a certain vision done than pay, in a worst case, way too much to an outsider guy who does not deliver needed quality. I get very strong visual visions about our songs, and both enjoy doing the videos and see them as an essential part of Wolfheart.  I started doing videos already for Before The Dawn and when I have time and there is a cool song and a band, I work for other bands too. [I] did the latest Ensiferum video.

Wolfheart are currently supporting Carach Angren on a lengthy US run. What has your experience on the road with them been like so far?
We did our own small tour in Canada already in June and now the tour started from Canada, so been familiar cities so far. Beginning of the tour has been really good. Very excited to play my first ever shows in US in a few days. It took way too long for me to get to play here.