The finnish band SONATA ARCTICA has just released their fourth studio album Reckoning Night. Now they are on tour in Europe with Nightwish and Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus. On the days, Nightwish took off from this tour, Sonata Arctica play their own headliner shows. One of these took place on October 24th 2004 in Salzburg Rockhouse. Before the concert I was allowed to take an interview with the band. So in a backstage room of the Rockhouse I am welcomed by a very friendly Tony Kakko and Keyboarder Henrik Klingenberg, who doesn’t look like he slept enough the night before. While Henrik is working on his Laptop almost all of the time, Tony Kakko answers generously all of my questions. But not without serving me a cup of water first…

Theresa: How is the tour going so far?
Well, it’s been fantastic. We’ve been to nine or ten shows so far. Really great. So far we were only in Germany. This is the first time in Austria on this tour. We had a show in Vienna… (starts to think)
Theresa: With Stratovarius and Rhapsody?
Yeah, we actually also played a whole tour in 2001 with Gamma Ray, but only in Vienna.

Theresa: How do you like Austria? Have you even had the chance to see any of it?
On our first tour with Stratovarius I think we had four days off in Vienna. So we got to know the town pretty well. The metro, the “U Bahn system” is easy there.
Theresa: Don’t you have that in Finland?
Only in Helsinki actually, but since we only have 5 million people in whole Finland, there is no such need for it. I think in Austria Salzburg is my favorite town, though. It is just WOW!

Theresa: How are you treated by Nightwish on this tour?
Excellent, well they are our friends. I have been a good friend of Tuomas. They are treating us really well. He is like “I help you and you help me.” And Nightwish made it big, so now they’re helping us.
Theresa: To become big too?
Hopefully. (laughs) I don’t know if I could actually do this. They sell so huge and it is a lot of stress.
Theresa: But isn’t it also stress too, that you play shows on the days Nightwish have days off?
Oh, we have a few days off as well. But I think days off are really the stressing thing, the show days are actually easier. Only for me as a singer, it has to be a day off every now and then, so I still got a voice.

Theresa: Ok, let’s talk about the new album Reckoning Night. When I looked at it the first time, I thought: Why isn’t there any blue on it?
(laughs) We wanted to change a little bit. Of course, well, on the cover of Winterheart’s Guild, that was not really blue either.
Theresa: Yeah, but at least the logo was blue.
See, we wanted to change a little bit, so I think the next album might be blue again, so it’s fresh and new once again.
Theresa: Why not try green or yellow?
(laughs) No I think blue, all this arctic colour is white and blue, and finnish too!

Theresa: And then when I listened to it, I noticed, that it doesn’t sound very much like SONATA ARCTICA anymore.
Yeah, it doesn’t. I think we might go back to it on the next album. We wanted to try something new and to keep it fresh for ourselves, you know.
Theresa: And how was the feedback from the people? What did they say about it?
So far it was… we have given more than 150 interviews so far, most of the people think, that this is our best album. I don’t know why, because usually people think, that our first album is the best, blablabla. Well they used to say, that this was the best album. But now, this has the same kind of freshness in it anyway, like Ecliptica. Well of course the reason for it might be the new blood. And Jani actually wrote for the first time on this album. But I have written all the other songs on all the other albums. Jani wrote My Selene. And the keyboards, the organ sound, that was Henrik’s idea. I was like fighting against it for a long time. But then I thought “This is fucking great” and I wanted to put it on every song.

Theresa: You mentioned Ecliptica already. I once read in an interview of you, that you called the sound of Ecliptica a little bit immature, but a lot of people I know say, that it’s still the best Sonata Arctica album, why do you think that is?
Well I think the songs are really good, but the sound and the production wasn’t really good.
Theresa: Maybe you should re-release it?
Re-release maybe, but not re-make. I think we have learned a lot and we can do things better now than we used to do then. But the SONGS I think… It was a really good first album. I realized this only a couple of months ago.
Theresa: I have also heard, that you play a lot of Ecliptica songs on this tour.
Yeah, I just wanted to come to this. On our own shows we play a lot of songs from Ecliptica. It had to be a really good album, and it still is.

Theresa: You are all very young, but you have already released your fourth album. Looking back at this from now, would you say you had any advantages or disadvantages being that young?
No… personally I am 29 at the moment. So I would have loved to start this whole thing earlier. And Tommy, he is 22. I was 20-something when we released our first album 5 years ago… 24… So I could have actually been younger. Like Tuomas from Nightwish, he is 2 years younger than I am. And they started earlier. But when we started with the band, Tommy was 14.
Theresa: Isn’t Jani very young too?
Yeah, he is only one year older than Tommy.

Theresa: I heard that many people say, releasing a live cd after only two albums is pure money-making and senseless. What do you say about this? (speaking of Songs of Silence)
We did the live album for the Japanese market because we were doing really really well there. But it was not our idea and it was a stupid idea. And I think now after our fourth album we would be much more ready to do a live album. It was made for the Japanese market, but then it was released everywhere, of course the rest of the world could not see the point WHY, why the hell do they make a live album? But in Japan, in a way it made sense, because we were really selling a lot of albums there. And it was… marketing. (laughs) And it did really well there, so.. I don’t know… I HATE that album, it’s shit. Because it was too early to make it and our label people told us to do it. “Play two live shows and then make a live album.” So we said ok…
Theresa: When do you want to do the next live album? Or do you want to wait now?
I think the next project would be a live DVD.
Theresa: And did you already record anything for it?
Only the goofing around. Of course there are also a lot of live shots from the previous tours. Goofing aroung… like backstage actions.
Theresa: But that’s probably the easiest to record.
Tony: Yeah, of course… and hardest (laughs) in a way. When I look at DVDs from other bands I usually only watch the live parts. Well not always, but I want to see the band REALLY live, with my own eyes. So by now it’s only the goofing parts.

Theresa: You have already made a few covers. Is there a band or even a particular song which you would like to cover in the future?
I am thinking about doing a Queen song one day. But I don’t know which song or when yet. I love that band so much, so it had to be really high quality. It might be, that we never end up doing it. That’s at least one of my dreams.
Theresa: I loved the Depeche Mode Cover by the way. Who came up with that?
Jani and I (laughs) The intention was to record it in really high skill, but we didn’t have time. But the other guys, when they heard the original song, they were like “what the fuck are you doing here?”
Calling over to Henrik: I think they learned to like it, RIGHT? Henrik mumbles something. Tony laughs.
Henrik: It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. But it was like, we needed to do some cover and the others didn’t have an idea, so we did it. It turned out to be ok.
Tony: I think the scream is ok.
Theresa: At the beginning? I loved that. When I heard it for the first time, I was like “What the fuck?”
That was an accident. I was just warming myself up, and I screamed and I thought: “Fuck, that was pretty ok”, so we just left it there.

Theresa: You have so many CDs out that you can only get in a certain country. Why is that? Because I as a fan, I always hated this.
Actually there are not so many songs, that are only available in Japan. Most of the things have been released in Finland at least, on singles. The stuff that is released in Japan only is like Single B-sides. I don’t think it’s wrong for people to go and download the bonus tracks.
Theresa: Me for example, I don’t do it, so up to now, I have never heard Mary Lou for example.
(and he was very surprised about that…)

Theresa: I guess you already answered which one is your favorite band. Queen?
(laughs) Queen yeah, but there are other bands as well. Queen was the biggest thing and Midnight Oil was the biggest thing one time. Crash Test Dummies was huge one time. Nightwish has been… Stratovarius has been huge. Now I enjoy Farmer Boys. I try some new bands, you know, to get some inspirations.

Theresa: Let’s get to the female names, like Victoria, Dana, Selene… Do you always have inspirations for them or do you just come up with them?
Selene, I didn’t have anything to do with it, it’s Janis song.
Theresa: Ok, and the others? I know the story behind Dana (inspired by Dana Scully from the X-Files) but what about the others?
They are just names. Well Tallulah, I heard it on a movie called “Bugsy” with….. (thinks, calls something in finnish to Henrik and then finds the right name) Jodie Foster, she was very young in this movie and Jodie Fosters name was Tallulah there. So I took the name when I was writing the song. Then I heard that Bruce Willis also has a daughter called Tallulah.
Theresa: Victoria? What about her?
Victoria’s Secret, it’s underwear.
Theresa: I know, but I once read, that YOU didn’t know.
I knew it, of course I knew! Jesus Christ! (laughs) Don’t believe what people say.
Theresa: Shamandalie?
That is not a real name, I came up with it, its “Sham and a lie”. If you put it together it looks like a girls name, that’s cool.

Theresa: Naming Stratovarius, a lot of people say, that you are a bad Stratovarius copy. Don’t you hate this, after all these years?
No, I mean, if we did a reggae album, those people would still say, that we are a Stratovarius copy. I don’t give a fuck what they say.
Theresa: This is stupid, just because you are both from Finland and you are both Power Metal.
Oh, we are not Power Metal.
(and he seems a bit angry saying this…)

Theresa: What would you have been, if you hadn’t become a musician?
I would work in a radio or something like that. I was studying media. I didn’t finish it though, the band called. I was like one year short.
Theresa: Didn’t your mother say: “Learn a real job”?
No. My mother didn’t care, she understood.
Theresa: Or did she say “Do the noble things”?
Tony laughs.

Theresa: Which SONATA ARCTICA song would you want to have never been written?
Unopened. It was the first song we released and it sucks. And we haven’t played it live for years.

Theresa: Who would you like to tour with in the future?
I think we already toured with the bands I wanted to, with Stratovarius and Nightwish now, so I don’t know. Probably we want to tour some more with Nightwish, go with them to the United States probably, that would be cool. But I hope that we get to headline.
Theresa: So, who would you like to have as a support, if you would headline? Don’t say Nightwish.
(laughs) Strrrrrrrrratovarius. No, it doesn’t really matter, as long as the people are cool and they are not assholes, cause I don’t wanna work with shitheads. It has to be at least someone, that I like.
Theresa: The thing you don’t want to call Power Metal, right?
No, we are not really Power Metal, we are some kind of Melodic Metal… No I think we are ROCK!


10/2004 © Theresa Fasching • Sonata Arctica