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Interview - Harri Hautala (Unshine)

Interview with Harri Hautala from Unshine
by Tuoksu Holopainen at 09 December 2013, 1:48 AM

UNSHINE is one of Finland’s most revered Gothic Metal bands, or Druid Metal, as they prefer to be called as per reflection of their environmentalist stand, have just released “Dark Half Rising”, their new full-length effort. Guitarist Harri Hautala talks to Tuoksu Holopainen about the new album; possible tour dates, the Finnish Metal scene, and even hails MASTODON as the best band of the 21st century.

Greetings Harri, I would like to thank you for this interview for the Metal Temple web magazine. How have you been?

Fine, thanks for the interview! Album is out and we are on full force. We have played some dates in Finland advertising Dark Half Rising so let's see what winter and spring will bring!

Let us jump right in. The music of UNSHINE has frequently been referred to as a type of Gothic Metal. However, you guys chose to describe yourselves as a new kind of Metal called Druid Metal. Why and how did you come up with this subgenre?  How do you perceive your new album Dark Half Rising as compared to its predecessors?

We have identified ourselves as a Druid Metal band for quite a long time now. I think we've never really represented Gothic Metal. Maybe the melancholic melodies and female vocals combined with heavy guitars has something to do this (affiliation with Gothic Metal) plus maybe some (of our) promo photos. However, we do not have particularly sad songs about lost vampire romances or castles bathing in moonlight. The music of UNSHINE wells from the veins of Mother Earth, from the visible and invisible sides of nature. The new album is much more focused, both musically and lyrically than its predecessors. It is also a themed entity with an interesting connection to real history, if I may say so.

Can you hint on several aspects that you learned from your previous releases – aspects that made you better or made an impact on this current release?

It's very nice if you also think that it is better than the earlier ones. There's actually been some time since the last album and the band has evolved and hopefully also our music. It's always good to learn from the past, but it's important to remember that you should also remember those parts that should be preserved in the music. Maybe we know now a bit more about production and things like that, but the most important part is we know each other much better in this band and we respect the individual qualities of the band members.

Can you describe the songwriting process? Is there a main songwriter and composer, or does the whole band contribute and bring new ideas to the table? Naturally, UNSHINE'S music is heavily dominated by female vocals. Do you consider incorporating a different vocal approach in the future with involving male vocalists? Going through Dark Half Rising, what kind of a hidden message does it share? Is there anything to do with the Jekyll and Hyde concept?

Usually, it's me who generates the basic compositions and lyrics. Of course then Susanna does part of the songs, she writes both music and lyrics. A good song is a one that starts humming in your head and won't leave from there until it's written down or recorded! I usually prepare the demos of the songs at my home studio. With this album, we concentrated very much also on the arrangements and those things were shaped at the band rehearsals. It was important for us that everyone could bring ideas that were included in the arrangements. We're not considering bringing in permanent male vocals, maybe a guest someday, but only time will tell. Susanna has a very different style compared to most of the soprano-style singers in similar bands and we would not be UNSHINE without her. I guess, with Dark Half Rising we tried to stretch our musical boundaries and created a bunch of very different songs. Our agenda is to intercept the destructive madhouse created by mankind. To turn us back to where we belong to: nature.

Let’s head down to your end for a bit. As a guitarist/keyboardist, who and what are your major influences? Generally for the band, are there any bands/musicians that inspired the music of UNSHINE? How do you see yourselves in the Finnish Metal scene today?

I'm pretty much interested on the music of seventies. I think that decade produced music that was free from the, say, current pressure of entertainment industry, so that time produced very liberal music. My current favourites include bands like CAMEL, KING CRIMSON, JETHRO TULL, (the latter years of) LED ZEPPELIN and especially analog synthesizer music like TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULZE. As a vinyl collector I also enjoy soundtracks from The Wicker Man, Clockwork Orange and Twin Peaks. From the Metal side, I think MASTODON is the best band of the 21st century. Susanna has a fixation with traditional Finnish music and that shows up (in our records) especially in the melodies. The other guys are much more Metal-orientated than I am. They love stuff like BOLT THROWER, EXODUS, MOONSORROW and AMON AMARTH. Considering our position in the Finnish scene today, I think we are raising our head. We’ve noticed little things like getting really good reviews in Finnish magazines, radio interviews and some pretty fanatic fans, too. That's all very cool.

What do you think is the status of your local scene? It has been known to be quite influential. For the support of the new album, any tour dates coming soon? Single gigs? Possible Metal festivals?

The metal scene in Finland is of course very active and alive. Unfortunately, there are so many bands nowadays that it is getting more and more difficult to get gigs here. We have only five million people in this big country and the number of places where metal bands can play is very limited. A Finnish tour is going on at the moment, so that's nice. We (also) have one more concert coming this week. We hope that we get lots of festivals next year and we're are really working along with our agency to tour in Europe soon.

Harri, thank you so much for your time in this interview. Do you have anything to say to Metal Temple readers as you take your leave?

For the readers: Thanks for your time, (we) hope to play in Greece soon. Stay Metal and respect the old nature gods!


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