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?
Tony: 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?
Tony: Yeah, we actually also played a whole tour in 2001
with Gamma Ray, but only in Vienna.
How do you like Austria? Have you even had the chance to see any
Tony: 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?
Tony: 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
How are you treated by Nightwish on this tour?
Tony: 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?
Tony: Hopefully. (laughs) I don’t know
if I could actually do this. They sell so huge and it is a lot
Theresa: But isn’t it also stress too, that you
play shows on the days Nightwish have days off?
Tony: 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.
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?
Tony: (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.
Tony: See, we wanted to change a little bit, so I think
the next album might be blue again, so it’s fresh and new
Theresa: Why not try green or yellow?
Tony: (laughs) No I think blue, all this arctic
colour is white and blue, and finnish too!
And then when I listened to it, I noticed, that it doesn’t
sound very much like SONATA ARCTICA anymore.
Tony: 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?
Tony: 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.
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?
Tony: 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?
Tony: 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.
Tony: 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.
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?
Tony: 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
Theresa: Isn’t Jani very young too?
Tony: Yeah, he is only one year older than Tommy.
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)
Tony: 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?
Tony: I think the next project would be a live DVD.
Theresa: And did you already record anything for it?
Tony: 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
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?
Tony: 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?”
Tony: 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.
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.
Tony: 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…)
I guess you already answered which one is your favorite band.
Tony: (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.
Let’s get to the female names, like Victoria, Dana, Selene…
Do you always have inspirations for them or do you just come up
Tony: 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
Tony: 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?
Tony: Victoria’s Secret, it’s underwear.
Theresa: I know, but I once read, that YOU didn’t
Tony: I knew it, of course I knew! Jesus Christ! (laughs)
Don’t believe what people say.
Tony: 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.
Naming Stratovarius, a lot of people say, that you are a bad Stratovarius
copy. Don’t you hate this, after all these years?
Tony: 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.
Tony: Oh, we are not Power Metal.
(and he seems a bit angry saying this…)
What would you have been, if you hadn’t become a musician?
Tony: 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
Tony: No. My mother didn’t care, she understood.
Theresa: Or did she say “Do the noble things”?
Which SONATA ARCTICA song would you want to have never been written?
Tony: Unopened. It was the first song we released and
it sucks. And we haven’t played it live for years.
Who would you like to tour with in the future?
Tony: 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.
Tony: (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
Tony: No, we are not really Power Metal, we are some
kind of Melodic Metal… No I think we are ROCK!