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Celebrating 3 decades with WALTARI

Waltari’s ‘3rd Decade – The Anniversary Edition’ will be released on November 26th via Metalville Records as digipack CD and limited colored vinyl editions. For ‘3rd Decade – The Anniversary Edition’, the group revisited material from all their creative phases, choosing some of their finest songs to give them an overhaul with the help of like-minded musicians from every stripe.

Metal Digest had a drink with the band to celebrate those brilliantly creative decades.

Welcome to Metal Digest!

Congratulations on mastering 3 decades of unlimited creativity! I’ll pop a bottle of bubbly and drink to that!

Afraid of nothing but stagnation, you keep evolving and reinventing your sound while still honoring your heritage as a band. Is there a key to successfully avoiding stagnation?

This is a very good question.  You are talking about mental or physical stagnation?? We have been quite lucky still, being a very alternative band always, we have still always found a way to move on and survive somehow. Fortunately, the band’s reputation is very good everywhere, and I have personally have had the possibility to stay now as a full-time artist for more than 30 years! So, I´m a very lucky guy, a privileged person indeed. But of course, we are all freelancers in the band, so if it has been demanding from all the members still a lot of force and faith to be able to mix the band life and the other (music) life outside the band. The key with us I think is, that we still feel our musical mission is quite important, we are doing a very unique and special work in the business nowadays when it´s getting more and more weird and narrow-minded, and especially these times of corona has made the work of an alternative band very difficult. But we just have needed to move on. I don´t know really if this answered at all to your question.

You always let your guests shine instead of stepping into the spotlight yourselves, in a very graceful yet badass manner. This got me thinking. The music industry is an unforgiving and a very competitive place to be. How do you not fall into the trap of constantly seeking attention to survive?

In fact yes we must surely seek for attention to survive, but really money and fortune has never been our main fuel in this system. In fact, when we signed to Roadrunner our first bigger international deal 1992, we swore that we gonna go for this only if we won´t sell ourselves, never. This is the decision we need to respect still, and is the key to the whole system in this band. We need to stay more as “the humble servants” and like just workers for our mission, and definitely not start any stupid ego-tripping, like many artists tend to start. This is in fact also a very typical Finnish behavior. First thought is always, that everything will fuck up anyway, and if not we must be surprisingly happy. I deeply still believe in universal justice, and as told before, we are still getting a lot of respect from colleagues and also from the business people everywhere we go. Everybody sure knows that where ever we ever go to play, the musical quality will never below and is also very unique, and this of course helps and still permanently open at least the minimum amount of doors somehow as just ever possible. Good guys just always will survive somehow, if I can put this in a bit corny way. But yeah, well hell, like Faith No More sang it: It is a fucking dirty job, but someone just has to do it. But on the other hand, I don´t really envy these days ‘artist life at all, who are young starters: You must be 100% perfect with everything all the time with every release, otherwise, you´ll be kicked out from the game immediately. Is this human? Will this still really hook fans these days, I question…where is the danger, where is the taste of life?

What’s your strongest memory with the band?

Well, there are so many. Some great big festival success through the years have always been the highlights to any band, I suppose. And, of course some musical achievements with the classical orchestras and so…buuut I never personally have tried to lean on memories, I´m always more about thinking the future and presentJ. My strongest emotions always are related to the latest project.

How have you developed your career during those decades? Was there a specific strategy or you just followed your instinct?

There has not ever been any specific strategies, only instinct. Businesswise not wise at all I think. But of course, some kind of repetition with the tempo of the releases we have always tried to keep. For every year there must be some plan, no bigger breaks. There was a one in 2000, but that was at that time a full necessity, we had been working our asses out then 15 years in a row and were pure dead.

How do you actively seek out opportunities as a band? Do you utilize social media?

Some is very important. We have been now trying awaking it more, and our management are paying attention to it at the moment also more than before. At least always, when there is some releases or events coming up. I´m not personally so much into it, I´m 100% old-school artist, and I will stay like that. My work in the first place is to be a musical primus motor, I never will become a full-time social media whore. BUT, still, I think that the fans anyway are these days of course the most valuable source for the band´s functioning, and I definitely will help in this field and be available, as much as I just have skills and possibilities from my music work.

What’s the dynamic between the band members?

These days I´m the primus motor, well it´s been like that since 1991 more or less I think. But, I must underline that this is definitely not my solo project or any ego trip. I have my solo stuff separately. When I´m working, I´m always thinking about the band, and I´m always working for the band´s benefit there. In fact, I was never even seeking for the frontman position, it just fell on me over the years..maybe just naturally because I´m most active and fastest in the band, what comes into creativity and the general ideas. But I´m always more happy more the others also participate.  

Now that you made it for 3 decades what is the biggest challenge of being an artist?

One must be always available for the band, this is in a way 24 hours. And despite your mental state, you always have to give your best to everyone you are dealing with. And you have to move on like this till you die, or till you decide to stop. This is something no one, who is not in the business, can´t just really understand. This is far more demanding work, than a normal 9-5 one. You have to stay fit, be always great to everyone even get better all the time til the end.

What are your ultimate career goals?

Me personally, another 10 to 15 more albums, most of them hopefully great ones and still with Waltari!

Thank you for the wonderful interview.

Until we meet again,

Chelf | Metal Digest.

Presave link for 3rd Decade – Anniversary Edition can be found HERE. 

WALTARI lineup

Kartsy Hatakka – vocals, bass, programming and synth
Kimmo Korhonen – guitar and growling
Sami Yli-Sirnio – guitar
Jani Holli – synth and programming
Jariot Lehtinen – guitar
Ville Vehvilainen – drums


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