TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This live interview with Tony Kakko (vocals) and Jani Liimatainen (guitar) of Sonata Arctica was done by Silence and Alexa Kasparek on August 19th, 2004. The photos are copyright of Silence.
Sonata Arctica have been spending much of their early days as a band in the shadows of their countrymates Stratovarius. Having found their own personality they have now become one of the leading bands on the European power metal scene. Our own Alexa Kasparek and Silence sat down to talk to Tony Kakko (vocals) and Jani Liimatainen (guitar) at the Summer Breeze festival in Germany where they performed on August 19th, 2004, about the new album, tours and more. [The Editor]
The new album. It will be released in different versions which seems to be standard. Is it your new label who decided that? Because it’s a standard of Nuclear Blast to publish albums in different versions.
Jani: Yeah, it’s their idea.
Tony: It’s their idea. We’re just making the album and…
Jani: They’re abusing us… (laughs)
Tony: We’re happy about as many possible versions they can make of it. So we have something to fill our shelves.
Jani: It’s for our collections, not for yours (laughs).
What’s different in Nuclear Blast compared to your previous label?
Tony: In this scene it’s bigger. The metal scene knows of Nuclear Blast.
They also spend more money, is it true? Perhaps like for Nighwish.
Tony: Well of course. They spend a lot on Nightwish for sure and of course we have grown a bigger band and it’s more expensive. Everything gets more expensive and they’re simply doing more effort.
Jani: We’ve just discussed with Nuclear Blast yesterday about this and they really love the new album and they want to push it forward. So I hope they spend some money on it.
You’ve recorded some bonustracks. Which are they and why did you choose them?
Tony: Bonustracks… well, we have one for Japan. It’s “Wrecking The Sphere”. It’s a usual thing, you have to have something for Japan. Then there’s this hidden track. It’s called “Jam”. It’s not a real song, it’s just something with acoustic guitar and tambourine and shit like that. And also single beat tracks. And well, we recorded a Depeche Mode coversong “World In My Eyes” and a song from Vanishing Point “Two Minds One Soul.”
Did you choose them because you like the songs?
Tony: Depeche Mode. Well, Jani and I have always loved Depeche Mode and it was like a cool idea to do something they have done and renew the whole song. To make it sound like Sonata Arctica was quite a challenge for us and I think it’s really cool. Once again shocking for fans for sure.
Jani: It was kinda our thing. I don’t know if the rest of the band got it. But it worked quite fine.
Tony: The Vanishing Point song. They’re really great guys. We toured with them and Gamma Ray and it was some kind of ‘friend-thing’ to do, really. Because they’re great guys and they deserve more attention. And when we cover it, people might get to know Vanishing Point more. They’re coming up with a new album soon. It’s recorded already and they’re maybe looking for a publisher.
Jani: We’re promoting Vanishing Point ;).
Talking about hidden tracks. You’ve had some tracks like these on your previous albums. Usually spoken words or this gag on Winterheart’s Guild. This time it’s a whole song?
Tony: Yeah, it’s an instrumental kind of thing. Well, some talking involved as well. It’s before and after the song.
What about a video clip for the new album or especially for your new single?
Jani: That’s a tricky thing. We’ve talked about this with Nuclear Blast yesterday. We really, really should do it, but we don’t know when we have time to do it.
Tony: With Spinefarm we actually have one real video – Wolf & Raven – and we didn’t have anything to do with the whole video. The guys who made it, they got the song and they made a script for it and then we just arrived in the scene and they shot us and that was it. So we have the finished video and I think it’s pretty okay. And now, suddenly they are talking to me and asking ‘Hey! How’s the video going on?’ (laughs)
I know the guy who’s supposed to make it. He heard the song and said ‘Hey, that’s great. Let’s make a video.’, but I haven’t heard of this guy ever since. So, I don’t know what kind of thing they’re expecting from me. Directing maybe…?
Jani (looks at Tony and laughs): We don’t know about the video, yet. Nuclear Blast will have to know it in three weeks if it’s gonna happen or not.
Your new song ‘Don’t Say A Word’ is said to be the sequel of ‘The End Of This Chapter’. In which way and to which extent?
Tony: The sequel or prequel… whatever it is. It’s mainly the idea. It’s about the same subject: Fucked up relationship that is going towards murder or something like that. The song is taking place in… the song starts with the guy who breaks the window of the house, opens the door and walks in. The whole song happens between the door and the bed where the lady is sleeping unaware of the guy who’s there.
Now Henkka (keyboards) was involved in the recording process as well. What was different?
Jani: He had better sounds. (laughs)
Tony: Different kinds of sounds. Better, better and better.
Jani: Better hammond sounds.
Tony: Hm yeah, that’s the thing. We got some kind of Rock’n’Roll sound from the keyboards – from Henkka. And we lost some of these atmospheric things which I always used. Henkka rocked it all.
Jani: This morning. (both start laughing)
How did the recordings differ from the previous ones?
Jani: They didn’t.
Tony: They really didn’t.
Did you have more time this time?
Tony: Well… actually we did have more time. But it’s not the time it’s how you use it.
Jani: If we have more time we do things slower. We’re a bit lazier. If we have one month I think we can finish the album in one month.
Tony: Actually if we have one month we can finish the album in one week. (laughs)
Tony: The last week. (still laughing)
Jani: This time we had like 2 ½ months to do it. Something like that.
In the studio diary it says that you [Jani] also wrote a song for the new album.
Jani: Yes! True! (laughs) It’s the worst one.
Tony: It’s the worst one, yeah. (laughs) No,… it’s okay.
How does it differ from your [Tony] songwriting?
Tony: Erm… Jani’s song is the only traditional Sonata Arctica song of this album. Maybe… No, not the only one but…
Jani: …it’s closer to the Ecliptica style. It’s more traditional.
What about Takatalvi? Whose idea was it and why aren’t there any new songs on it?
Jani: It was Marquee’s idea. Our Japanese label.
Tony: It’s a re-release of Successor. With extra songs.
Jani: Like Japanese’s Successor.
Tony: Successor was pulled out of the market. They don’t sell it anymore.
The artwork: How does the new artwork represent the album?
Tony: Reckoning Night… (tries desperately to gesticulate) …
Jani: Reckoning Night, like Reckoning Day. The moment of truth.
Tony: Sonata guys go seaing! (laughs)
Jani: Sonata goes sailing.
On the Reckoning Night cover there are two wolves again. Do they start to be your mascots now? And is there again a song about wolves?
Tony: Wolves? One song actually.
Jani: One song.
Tony: Yeah, we have to have a wolf song. As always.
You’ll support Nightwish on their tour. Whose idea was it?
Tony: Erm… actually the idea came from Nightwish. Because I’m a friend of Tuomas. It’s been a kind of dream of us you know. Really cool.
Jani: It’s a nice puzzle.
Tony: Yeah, and it’s a Finnish band and… woohoo!
Jani: Perfect timing.
Why didn’t you plan to do an own headliner tour and not only these additional dates in Germany, France etc.?
Tony: The fact is that… ahem… we play in halls with maybe 500 people and Nightwish plays in halls with… 12000 people. So… hehe, when you get a chance to do that of course you have to do it. We might come to Germany again. You can never know. To play shows on our own.
Jani: But we’re really not big enough to headline in Germany. We can easily headline in France or Spain. But Germany is hard for us, for some reason.
Have you thought about touring South America again?
Jani: Oh, South America is great. I love going there. We’ve only been there once in 2001 I think. Hopefully we go there. I’d like to go everywhere with this album... It’s not up to us.
Well, thanks for the interview. Do you have any last words?
Jani (laughs) : I hope they are not the last ones.
Tony (to himself) : Do you have any last words …?!
(everyone starts laughing)
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