MIC - Music Interview Corner

MIC article: WALTARI in Cologne


Interview with WALTARI at the concert in Cologne

Kärtsy Hatakka, Sami Yli-Sirniö, Jariot Lehtinen, Ville Vehviläinen and Janne Immonen are a metal rock band who wrote music history - and who is far from stopping that.
Last year WALTARI celebrated their 25th anniversary. And at 25th of february 2012 their nternational tour led the sympathetic Finns also to Cologne to the "underground"-Club.
Before the concert, which was expected by many fans eagerly, the entire band was answering my questions in an equally interesting and humorous way. In the dim light of the backstage area singer Kärtsy, guitar players Sami and Jariot, drummer Ville and keyboarder Janne told me about their career, their admiration for the writer Mika Waltari and their personal idea rock music.
If you want to get an idea of that, you should immediately get the 25th-Anniversary Album "Covers All". And to all the WALTARI-fans with a good Finish-knowledge I can warmly recommend Pauliina Tuomola´s book "Waltari - suomimetallin pioneerit" (Waltari - pioneers of Finnish Metal).

You have a very special style. What do you want to express?

Kärtsy: What are we going to express our style actually?
(Note: The entire band begins to sing in Finnish a very funny song about shoes.)
Somehow we want to express the freedom of music, the freedom of expressing yourself. And we want to fight against the boundaries of rock music. Rock is one of the most conservative systems today. We want to break the stereotypes of rock.

It is obviously, you like the writer Mika Waltari very much. What makes him so special for you?

Kärtsy: That's a question for Jari.

Jariot: I don´t know a typical response. He has a special spirit in his work.

Sami: And then he did something, that we think it is brilliant: He once put toadstools in a Cognacglas and drunk that.

Kärtsy: Even though I couldn´t do that, it was the key moment.

Sami: Yeah, we respect the people who put toadstools in a Cognacglas. That´s just the way it should be.

Jari: We're such namby-pambies, we even drink red wine with Coke.

Kärtsy: Right, and we drink beer with Sprite. We are namby-pambies.

Jari: And daddy is paying everything for us.

Kärtsy, in 2000, you composed the music for the video game "Max Payne". Was that a completely different way to work as musician?

Kärtsy: Yes, it was. The nice thing was, that it was not working as a rock band musician, instead I worked on the computer and monitor. That was something I always wanted to try.

Sami, you've lived a long time in Berlin and Dortmund. Did you get a special connection to Germany?

Sami: Yes, I come here quite often since 1995, that's quite a long time. And I learned I to speak "street German".

Do you also German swear words? What is the worst insult, that you know in German?

Sami: I'll tell you when the camera is switched off...
(Imitates Hermann Goering in German) "Wir müssen mit unserer Luftwaffe angreifen, solange bis sogar die Spatzen zu Fuß gehen müssen".

The video "In the Crandle" looks like a mix of fairytale and horror movie. What is the meaning of the Little Red Riding Hood figure?

Kärtsy: Actually, that was a trailer for a Finnish movie, and Little Red Riding Hood was an important character in this movie. She can also be understood as a leader, a leader in an unknown world, and this unknown world we all have in our bodies.

If you look back on your 25-year career, which thoughts and feelings awaken?

Sami: Yeah, that was something special, when they started such a book project: In Finland a book was published "Waltari - the pioneers of Finnish Metal". It's a good book, that I can recommend also you, since you speak Finnish quite well. Our thoughts are thoroughly covered in this book.

Kärtsy: I think, the original idea of WALTARI was - and still is - to be a different kind of rock band, who does not care, how to make music. So we have always done, what we wanted. Actually, we've done nothing that we should have done.

What were the best moments for you during this time?

Kärtsy: This concert in Cologne in the "Underground". It is always so nice to go to Cologne. Cologne has a very special meaning for the whole.
There are quite a lot of things, we did together. Like concerts in big stadiums or in the Finnish National Opera and such spectacles. And of course you never forget that, but on the other hand it is also possible, that gigs in small club can be something memorable. So in this case it's true, that size does not matter.

You all are also involved in other music projects as well. Does this enrich your work as WALTARI?

Sami: Absolutely, at least in my case.

Kärtsy: Yes.

Jariot: For me in any case.

Kärtsy: If you only do one thing at once, then you will be somehow blind. It's only good if you have something to do with multiple projects, because then you see more and more.

Sami: Since I was a teenager, I think, that you should make music together with as many peopleas possible. Then you always learn the best, especially if the other can play better than you.

Kärtsy: It is already enough, when the other musicians are just different. Because if you always only meet the same people, we could also compare it to,when you spend all your time with your family. Then you don´t learn much new.

Photo: Jani Mahkonen / Loma Graphics Oy
Article: Kati Rausch