Interview: Maja Trstenjak
Photo: promo

One of the most famous bands from the Finnish metal scene, Sonata Arctica have released their newest album „The Days Of Grays“ two months ago, which are they currentely promoting on their world tour. Since the gig in Croatian was cancelled, we met with band’s leader and singer Tony Kakko in Belgrade i order to talk about the new album and work of the band in general.

VENIA: How are you, how’s the tour going so far?
TONY: It’s been a good start, we first toured North America, and now came here, beginning of the European tour, has been really great, some sold out shows and….today it’s going to be nice crowd, yesterday we played in Slovakia.

VENIA: How was your new album accepted among American fans and the European ones?
TONY: Good. I haven’t actually been talking to people too much, but responses from the media have been better than ever actaully,  like the reviews have been fantastic, in many magazines that people read, much better than any previous albums, that has been really great and from mails i have gotten from fans… it is little bit easier album, compared to Unia, which was kind of shock after Reconing Night, so this one is like little bit going back in old kind of, but still staying to the that thought.

VENIA: Tell me something about the new album, what is it about, how did it came to life?
TONY: Well, the subjects are like human relationships and stories like some fantasy stories, like Witch Hunt, well, that is not too far in the history, when they were hunting witches and burning them on stake, so that is kind of based on truth, like Deathaura, that was first titled Witch Hunt actually. I started writing the songs pretty much after the tour, i have started writing in the begining of January at some point, we were all going to studio during April, so that was kind of quick album process this time around.

VENIA: Since you are mainly the songwriter, where do you find an inspiration for your songs?
TONY:I just sit down and start writing songs, they basically write themselfes, but i just give them the chance to do that.

VENIA: Can you describe me the songmaking process, what comes first, music or lyrics and where do you mainly write, at home or on tour?
TONY: Mostly i write at home, but of course i write down ideas, and lyrical pieces and if i come up with melody line i get to hear the song, i play it on keyboards, somewhere and record it. I mostly write at home…

VENIA: So writing at home has a different effect than writing on tour…
TONY: Yes, i never actually get around writing on tour, there is too much to do and everybody is tired and going to sleep and then we put up later the show and if there is a nice weather you go out walking and go seesighting rather than stay indoors.

VENIA: What kind of music you listen in your spare time?
TONY: Pretty much everything from classical to black metal, to get me on the mood…

VENIA: You like classical music? Who are your favourite composers?
TONY: I don’t actually have one, i’m like this, greatest hits type of listener, i have one classical collection that is really fantastic, it could be my deserted island album, if i get on deserted island and i get only one album to take with me, i think it would be classical box.

VENIA: Which is your favourite piece from this CD?
TONY: It’s impossible to say, they are all really great, it’s like this CD is from one song to onother is like aaahh and then onother ahhh..and such things.

VENIA: What are you trying to achieve throught your music, what is the message you want to send to your listeners?
TONY: I’m not really a messanager, i just write whatever comes to my mind and what i feel… i’m only happy that people get related to whatever i write, although the songs are not directly pointed at some certain point, everybody can apply their own experience that come true in songs on their own way, so everybody can have their own interpretation of the song and i think that is fantastic. It kind of keeps me going. Although, well, when i was like three or four  years old, i already told my folks that i’m going to be a rock singer when i grow up, and later, i didn’t really aimed that much at studying, band just happened by accident and i just have a need inside, to write the songs.

VENIA: You, have a guest singer in the song Deathaura, who was that? Do you plan to put more female vocal parts on the next albums?
TONY: Her name is Johanna Kurkela, she is singing two songs for this album, she is Sonata Arctica fan, she is very famous singer in Finland, i heard that she is a fan, and i went to see some her shows to get her know a bit, and she asked me early this year if its possible to for me to write a song or two for her latest album, i was like, if i had time, but that sparked me to ask her if she could sing on our album, she was like : „Yeah, yeah..that will be interesting“, so it was amazing, and we had so much fun at studio, just fantastic, you know, i had to make her laugh, those hihihihihi hahahahaha things on the voice acting in Deathaura, it was so much fun to do.

VENIA: You also collaborated with Epica, on their new album „Design Your Universe“…can you tell me something about that?
TONY: We toured together sometime like two years ago, the idea started already then that it would be cool if we could trade the singers a bit, like i will sing on their album and Simone gets to sing on ours, but then, of course, Johanna came and i sing on their album, but i’m just holding Simone for later use, maybe on the next album, we’ll come up with something. At that point, none of us had the songs for the album ready, but i’m happy it actually happenned. Many times you ask to people to come to sing on your album and it never actually happens really, so this time we are really happy that it did happen.

VENIA: They are band who are mixing two different genres, classical music and metal music, which i think became really trendy with bands like Nightwish, Apocalyprica, Children Of Bodom….what do you think about this kind of genre mixing, and genre mixings in general?
TONY: I think it’s cool, i think it’s fun, I would like to mix stuff as well, that would be totally weird like reggae metal, or whatever, it’s fun, music supposed to be fun and mixing new things, that nobody has ever tried this and this faced together let’s see what comes out of it, it’s just fantastic, although it will sound totally weird. Metal music is rich in that sense that you can add almoust anything to it and it will make something original.

VENIA: Song Juliet, I understood that it is inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette, correct me if im wrong….
TONY: No actually it’s not *laugh*, we have this saga going on in our albums, The End Of This Chapter from Silence album, then Don’t Say A Word and Caleb, and now Juliet, we have actually Caleb and Juliet and Shakespeare has Romeo and Juliette, i just had to come up with female name nad Juliet fit perfectly there. Because i’m using some Shakespearian lines there like: „Drank the poison most foul with you…“ i’m not pretty fan of Shakespeare to be honest,  but i know some phrases, but of course, everybody does that. But this is the theme i have been carrying from one album to onother, pretty much, i think it is fun, keeping those bastards alive. 

VENIA: What’s up with Northen Kings at the moment?
TONY: It has been quiet, everybody’s been busy, i think i am the only one who is really busy at the moment, but we already started to talk about the third album, so i think that it might happen, sometimes within a year, however, if things go as i predicted it would be released around Christmas next year. Now i am looking for ideas, but if it happens. It is fun thing, for once i don’t have to stress or anything, just sing.

VENIA: Do you maybe some songs planned already?
TONY: We haven’t started to talk about that yet, of course i have some ideas…

VENIA: Can you tell me some of those?
TONY:No. *laugh*

VENIA: Ok. *laugh*
TONY: In song „Misplaced“ you say: „Do you ever need to feel to go back in time, a dream of mine“. So if you had a chance to travel sometime back in past, where would you go?
I think i might acutally go to like late 40ties, 30ties, something like that…

VENIA: Nowhere deeper in history?
TONY: No, i think that would be hardcore i would probably die from something or whatever…

VENIA: Why to 40ties?
TONY: I don’t know, anywhere in first half of century, there is something in those times that is fun…or 50ties is fun as well. Anything actually prior from bored, it is really long in the time that humanity had lived it, it would be nice.

VENIA: Your music has been developing throught the years, do you maybe see how it will continue to change in future?
TONY: I have no idea. I like the music take me, somewhere, i don’t know, i never plan anything that long term, i just let the music dictate, i’m a slave to it.

VENIA: Well, i have no more questions there for you, so for the end tell something to your Croatian fans, who are really dissapointed because the gig was cancelled, so be nice. *laugh*
TONY: That wasn’t our fault, so….i hope we could come next time, there is always the next time. I hope you’ll check the new album, and like it and come to see the show whereever we will be near. I am really sorry that show in Croatian didn’t happen. Shit happens.

VENIA: Yea, paska saka….
TONY: Yes, paska saka. *laugh*

VENIA: Thank you very much.

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