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Sonata Arctica: from the Arctic Circle to the 45th parallel

Sonata Arctica: from the Arctic Circle to the 45th parallel
BANDS : Sonata Arctica


Metalfan: Hello and welcome to You started this band back in the nineties. Did you think you would keep it running for so long and get this far in terms of recognition and commercial success? Is this like a dream come true or you didn’t even dare to dream of this back in the days when you started?

Tony Kakko: I think we all were dreaming to make a career in and living with music. So in that sense and many other ways as well, this is a dream come true. This is a hard profession, lot of traveling and time away from your loved ones, but you can´t always just win, can you... I was always hoping to have a band that would ”drag along” for all my life. A job to retire from. And Sonata Arctica has slowly become just that. Did not seriously aim for it, really, but suppose we just got lucky. Maybe within 30 more years everyone learns to write our name right, haha! Seen it misspelled in SO many different ways. Mostly Sonata Artica. But one missing letter is not really that bad, dear reader of Mealfan. :)

Metalfan: Was there a moment in your career when you considered giving up on music and following another path, or you always knew music is the thing for you? Have you gotten to the point where you can make a living out of your music, or are you still working on it?

Tony Kakko: Ending this band comes to my mind once or twice a year, when all the shit just piles up too high. But never seriously. I could not live without writing songs. It´s just what I do. Even without being in a band. But I do enjoy when people get a chance to hear my songs. Can´t take that for granted. Yes, this band pays the bills and brings food on the table for all of us. Not making us rich, though. We’re eating working mans bread. Long and narrow. :)

Metalfan: Your debut album, Ecliptica (1999), was an instant hit and propelled the band to European fame. Were you aware at the time that the material you recorded was that strong?
Tony Kakko: No, we had no idea. It was just songs I had written and we somehow liked. We were just very excited to be able to get an album out and our only hope and shy expectation was that it would grand us an opportunity to record few more. Seems it did.

Metalfan: What is, in your opinion, the most important album in your discography and why?

Tony Kakko: Can´t really say. They´re all important for some reason. They´ve all built our career in some direction or like in case of ”Unia”, saved the whole band from destruction. We just needed to do something WE like for ourselves. Or at least I did, hehe. But I suppose ”Ecliptica”, as it was so well taken, should wear that crown.

Metalfan: A few years back, guitarist and founding member Jani Liimatainen left the band, reportedly because he failed to fulfill his military service obligations. I’m amazed this is still mandatory in Finland. But nevertheless, the band opted to part ways with him rather than find him a temporary replacement, were there other reasons that brought you to this decision?
Tony Kakko: That military shit was just the tip of the ice berg, and the reason we needed to seek a replacement in a first place. Then the whole situation Jani was in escalated into the point it was pretty obvious Jani could not continue in this band for various reasons, even if he wanted to. Which I somehow doubt he did. This ”drama” for best for us all, I think.


Metalfan: Elias Viljanen is your  guitar player now, was he quick to adapt? How did things change in the band, both on a musical and personal interaction level since his arrival?
Tony Kakko: Well, he´s been in the band since 2007, four years now. For us it sounds weird when people refer to him as a new member. Henkka (Henrik Klingenberg, keyboards) actually had that same treatment after being in band for six-seven years, longer than Mikko he replaced...
When Elias joined the band, the atmosphere within the band changed to a better, more relaxed and fun. Jani had somehow distanced himself from the rest of us. As a musician he´s little different from Jani. Jani is an awesome guitarist, but so is Elias, equally so. But in a different way. I think Elias is still finding his style in this band a little, so I´m really looking forward for the next album.

Metalfan: Who is the main composer in the band? Did the writing process change over time, or you have the same working formula since the beginning?
Tony Kakko: I am. I´ve written all song we´ve released, part from one by Jani and one by Henkka. My methods and ways to work change a little with each album. It´s solely a good thing. Keeps things fresh.

Metalfan: Your later albums, beginning with Unia, marked a slight shift of your music towards progressive metal. Is this a new era in the history of the band, developing a more mature approach on heavy metal?
Tony Kakko: I suppose it is. I don´t know what direction the next album takes us, but I enjoy changing things a little with each album. The power metal of the early albums is pretty much in the past. I hope to be able to do this what we do as long and old age as possible, so keeping that in mind, it´s necessary to pay attention to these things. Had Rolling Stones started their career with ”Blank File”, I strongly doubt they´d play that song live anymore.

Metalfan: The Days of Grays is your most recent work. It’s been almost two years since its been released, how would you evaluate its performance? How did it do on the test of time?
Tony Kakko: The fans seemed to appreciate it quite a lot and reviews also reflected that. It combined the earlier albums ”powery” stuff with the more complex approach we´ve always had on few songs on each album, but more strongly on ”Unia”, but also added some new views, styles and aspects. The songs on the album are extremely enjoyable to play live and you can see that from the forth coming live DVD later this year.

Metalfan: The limited 2CD European edition of the Days of Grays features a number of bonus tracks performed by a symphony orchestra. Does this have anything at all to do with the direction of your next album?
Tony Kakko: Nothing at all. It might well be the next album does not have any symphonic elements on it. Might have, but I don´t know yet. These songs would sound fine and rocking just with a band. The whole production is in such an early stage still, I can´t really say wether it´s going to be a fish or a duck. One thing I can say is that the whole band is VERY excited to get the touring done with and start rehearsing these new babies. It has never been this easy presenting new songs to the band. That´s a good feeling to have. As always, it does not make any difference what we do: it´ll always sound like Sonata Arctica.

Metalfan: What do you think about the melodic metal scene of today? Are there any bands that can still come with something new or everything has already been said and done?
Tony Kakko: There´s always room for new talents. These times are just financially bad and not too many labels are signing new bands. But still, the bands exist and record demos. I don´t really follow the metal scene that much, to be honest with you. I still have so much rock and metal history to research, it feels futile to even try to introduce any new bands to this brain of mine. But every now and then some new and fresh act catches my attention...

Metalfan: You played in lots of places, you’ve been to America, North and South. Where did you feel most welcomed? Is there any place like home?
Tony Kakko: Everywhere. Really! There are differences between cities and days of week, when it comes to how people greet you. Weekends tend to be wilder everywhere, when people take few beers and relax.

Metalfan: This summer you will play for the first time in front of your Romanian fans in Sibiu, at the Artmania Festival, what are your expectations? What should the fans expect from you?
Tony Kakko: A Sonata Arctica show with songs covering our whole career. I hope people are up for sing-a-long and bring their smiles and happy mood with them. Can´t wait! This will be our 2nd last show with ”Days of Grays” album.

Metalfan: Helloween, Lacuna Coil and Tarja will also be performing at Artmania this year. Do you know them, have you shared the stage with any of these bands yet? Are you familiar with their music?
Tony Kakko: We´ve been on same festival with Helloween and Lacuna Coil, I think. Helloweens music I am very familiar with, Lacuna Coils not so much. Tarja I know naturally since Nightwish. I hope to see her performance!

Metalfan: During your trip to Sibiu, I recommend visiting the Clock Tower, you get a very nice view from up there. What should I absolutely visit, should I ever come to Kemi?
Tony Kakko: Well, to return your idea, I would have to recommend our city hall. The tallest building of our humble town. Can´t miss it. I hope I get a change to visit the clock tower.

Metalfan: Thank you for your time, looking forward to seeing you on stage in Sibiu.

Tony Kakko: My pleasure! See you there!
Autor: Klawz, Fantotzii
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Sonata Arctica

   July 24, 2011  | 1 Comments  | 13642 Views « BACK

Comment on: Sonata Arctica: from the Arctic Circle to the 45th parallel

  • bine ca la Sibiu sunt in a 2 a seara, scapam de ei, ii vedem numai pe Helloween si Tarja

    1. Posted by defender | 02 August 2011 12:34

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