SONATA ARCTICA is the band, which became popular already with the debut album. I liked their first CD "Ecliptica" so much, that became their fan, and next album "Silence" was in my player for 2 weeks non-stop. Talented Finnish metallers prepared for us their fifth studio album "Unia". About the new CD, SONATA ARCTICA activity and about music we talked with band's singer Tony Kakko.
Scorpio: Hello Tony! Congratulations with the new album "Unia"!
Tony Kakko: Thank you, Vladimir!
What can you generally say about your new full-length?
Well, it's our new album, hehe. It's slightly different from what we've done earlier, the average speed is slower than on the previous albums. The songs variety is wide, the songs are different from each other. The production is better.
And will there be nice ballads like Tallulah or Last Drop Falls?
The song Under Your Tree is a beautiful ballad with real strings and few vocal parts, so it's very minimal. Don't Say a Word type song is Caleb. It's actually continuing or beginning the story that Don't Say a Word is telling.
And what about speed/power metal songs?
We don't have that many speedy songs on the album. Black and White – the first track of "Unia" is pretty speedy, it's the fastest and the hardest composition of the album. "Unia" is not like the huge speed metal parade, but the sound is heavier.
Many fans of you consider your first two albums "Ecliptica" and "Silence" the best albums by SONATA ARCTICA. How do you think, what is the reason?
Honestly, I don't know. I understand why many people like "Ecliptica" and name it the best album. If you take any band you can find many people, who say, that their very first album was the best, because that album was done before they became famous. It's OK. I have my own opinions about many-many bands' albums. For example I think, that "Visions" is the best album of STRATOVARIUS, but there are many people who won't agree. Everybody's free to have opinion.
You also have filmed the new video…
It's number 2 track on the album - Paid In Full. We shot the video in our hometown Kemi, where we still have a lot of snow like 1 meter, and sea is covered with ice. We played on the ice there, we put drums and instruments on it. Also we take the pyro-technician with us. He was blowing up dynamite, so we have like 25-30 meters high ice columns in the air. Really great! It was sunny day and we played until the sun went down, and we have wonderful sunset in this video. You have to see it!
Will it be available on your website for downloading?
Yes, I think it will be on our website pretty soon.
And what about its rotation on the TV channels?
I don't know yet, hopefully. It would be pretty nice.
What tour plan do you have? Will you come to Russian or Ukraine?
Hopefully we'll play in Russia. We live right next to Russia, heh. We had many plan to go there, even dates set, but something always went wrong. Local promoters had some problems and they can't do it now or we got huge tour somewhere, or something else. Something always come wrong. But still we have plans to come and play in Russia, Saint-Petersburg and Moscow. It would be terrible, if we won't come.
Yes, many Finnish bands often come to Russia. ENSIFERUM recently performed in Saint-Petersburg.
Yes, they're great. I like their music. Also NIGHTWISH, CHILDREN OF BODOM played in Russia.
You've just mentioned NIGHTWISH, your comments please about their break-up with Taria Turunen.
Well, first it was shock. I knew that it was something wrong in the band. Taria has launched her own career. I'm happy for her, because I always liked Taria a lot. But NIGHTWISH has already found new great singer.
Do you know who is it?
Yes, I know, but I can't tell, haha!
You've performed with Taria singing together. Do you want to continue this tradition and perform with someone else?
Well, it would be fun. If someone ask me to, I'll do this with pleasure. It's interesting to do something unusual, special.
SONATA ARCTICA also have presented nice cover songs Fade To Black (METALLICA), Die With Your Boots On (IRON MAIDEN), Still Loving You (SCORPIONS), and you always made nice own arrangements, presenting your vision. Especially Still Loving You has different tempo from the original version. Do you plan to record new covers and release them on singles and B-sides?
We've recorded two cover songs during "Unia" recording-session. First one will be on the "Paid In Full" single, it's Gary Moore song Out In The Fields. It's not really that different from the original. Other cover is still a secret, we're working on it and it will be released later.
How do you think what is harder: to play total copy of the original, or make own arrangement?
They're both hard really. But surely I say making your own version is much more fun. You can do everything you want, changes if you think it's necessary, you don't have to worry about the melody, because it's already there.
And what about vocalist? When you sing someone's song you must be copying him, but sometimes you can't physically reach his vocal.
Yes, it's hard sometimes but you have to find your own way of singing. Of course, if I would be covering NIGHTWISH I definitely wouldn't be singing like Taria, haha. The most important thing is the song and you have to make this song your own and not copy what the other one has done. You have to use your own voice and your style. That is the main reason why people do the cover-versions of other bands' songs – to find the own way of doing them, alternative way.
And have you ever taken vocal lessons?
No, I have never taken any lesson. I should, because I have a lot fouls and mistakes in my singing technic, but I have no time for that. So, I'm self-trained in art of singing. Maybe one day I will take some lessons and see what is really wrong, because I want to do this until I'm very old, and I don't want to break my "instrument".
What about keyboards? Is the thing the same?
Yes, I was studying keyboards for like two years, but I got tired, because they told me that I can't use some certain cord, because it's technically wrong. So, I've started playing in the band, where I can do what I want.
Many metal musicians are self-educated, but some of them take the professional study after getting some popularity.
Yes, absolutely, It's really important, when you have some access with the band it's became your profession more than a hobby. And of course when you do something for living it's good to improve your professional skills.
I've read your brief biography on SONATA ARCTICA's website and I've seen, that you were never playing in other bands except SONATA ARCTICA.
Actually I was, hehe. I had one band, it was totally different. We played in vein of WALLS, old people dance. We played in bars. It was long ago, it was fun and we got some money.
And do you have the plans about solo project?
I'd like to do some other things as well, but I don't want to start another band, because band is a lot of working. But maybe some day I'd like to have a solo album, but it's not today or even next year. Other projects like writing music for movies or something different from what I do with SONATA ARCTICA, because I like to do music and SONATA ARCTICA is not the only thing I like to do. I like every kind of music from classical to black metal. When I have time I write songs, which are totally different from what we put on SONATA ARCTICA's albums.
Yeah, they're cool, they're like a bit in 80s style, like MOTLEY CRUE staff. They were actually supporting us on the last show. And also we have rising new stars STURM UND STRAND. They're really young guys, 14-15 or something like that and they have one big hit at the moment. Will see what will comes up.
Yes, they're cool. It's good that you've mentioned them, because they were supporting us on European tour. I've heard their first album, and it's really great.
I've also heard "Scars And Wounds"' album. It's like heavy metal in vein of new IRON MAIDEN staff.
Yeah, it's something like Bruce Dickinson solo material. And the singer, Tony, can really imitate Bruce Dickinson voice.
What bands can you name best friends, with which you spend time not only on the stage or touring?
NIGHTWISH mostly. Tuomas is my good friend. Also Timo Rautiainen. You can go and have beer with many metal bands, ‘cause everybody knows everybody. But with Tuomas we go hiking once a year.
Now a global question. What will be with power metal in 5-10 years?
I don't know. What about SONATA ARCTICA, I can't name "Unia" traditional power metal album, it's far from power metal-clich?. But I'm sure, that power metal and metal in general have a lot of potential inside. What about Finland it's like pop music here, mainstream really. You can hear metal music everywhere these days.
That's cool! Your president is woman, so how is it to live "under the rule" of woman, heh?
She doesn't bother me in anyway. I like her, I voted her, because I think it was the best option. The role of president in our country is not big, she/he has not much power, mainly it's representing Finland outside. She does her job good and Finnish people like her.
You've told, that you go hiking, so describe please Finnish nature.
Well, we have hills and valleys…
...and thousand lakes, hehe…
… thousand lakes exactly. Lakes are everywhere: little ponds, large lakes. We have a lot of clear forest. Especially when you go to Lapland, the far North, you can actually drink from a spring with very cold and clean water.
And have you ever met Youllupukki in Lapland?
Yes, couple of times, when I was a kid, haha!
Haha! OK, Tony, your last words to your fans in Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine. Hopefully one glorious day we will play there. Stay metal! I really hope to see you people on tour. And if we won't have an ability to visit Ukraine, come to see us to Russia.
Scpecial thanks to Florian Fink (Nuclear Blast' ) for organizing this interview.