By the end of November Slovakia was visited by Finnish masters of melodic metal SONATA ARCTICA. We had the opportunity to have a talk with them right before the beginning of the show in Zvolen. Henrik and Pasi told us a lot about their newest album, but there were also questions about the current tour, or overall direction of the band.
This is your third time in Slovakia. For the first time you visited our country in 2009 with your sixth studio album. Why were you going round Slovakia for such a long time?
Henrik: I don’t know but I am happy to be back here. It’s always our agent who sets up the tours so we really cannot affect it so much. But I am really happy that we could come back and hopefully it’s not gonna be such a long time between our visits in the future.
Your first Slovak show took place in Košice. For the second time you played festival in Banská Bystrica and today it is Zvolen. Have you had a chance to see all three cities?
Henrik: I don’t remember the previous one but for this city; we have walked around. We went outside. We came here already yesterday so we had a day off. We went outside, got something to eat and just went looking around a little bit. It’s a nice city.
Pasi: We went to see the castle here. We went to get something to eat together and we had really good time here.
Henrik: And we had some beers!
This is the ninth show of this tour. But I know you are playing some shows almost every month since February. Have you got enough time for resting?
Henrik: I think we have. Before this album we took it really easy for one or two years. We just had a few tours and few festivals. It always went out when we release the album. Then we tour a lot more. But we always make sure that we get rest in between and of course, sometimes when the tour is long you can get tired at some point but so far so good. It’s ok.
Pasi: That’s right. We have time to be at home between tours even though it looks like we have shows every month. But also after this tour we will go home and we have over a month off.
Henrik: We rest enough.
How are you doing at this tour? Have you already got any memorable experiences?
Pasi: Usually we have but it’s hard to remember right now. During the tour it is quite hectic but afterwards we always remember things.
For most of the fans of Sonata Arctica visually it is mainly about winter and wolves. And then came the album Unia. No wolves, no winter, logo has changed. It started, let´s say, second era of Sonata Arctica. Why did it come?
Henrik: I think the real thing was because Tony writes the songs and he was really tired of these power metal things so he wanted to try something else. He said something like: I am trying to write power metal stuff but I can’t do it anymore. And we said: It doesn’t matter. Just write some songs and we will play them and it will be fine. Of course the music was quite different so we also decided for a little bit different logo and stuff. But we have been going back now and we have also the real logo as it is supposed to be again. Maybe it was a mistake to change the logo. Since then, our albums have been changing for two or three years. For example, now the wolves are back. So I think it was a little bit of adventure for the band and now we are back where we should be.
There were three albums with this different logo and so on. Last three albums are marked as the third age of Sonata Arctica. But it is graphically, and maybe a little bit musically, very similar to the first one. Which are the main differences between the first four albums and last three?
Henrik: We are older. I think the most of the music is a little bit slower I think. And it is also not so high pitched. Tony was singing really high when he was younger and now, you know, he is getting older so the voice is getting a little bit darker. But I don’t know…
Pasi: I think the music has also evolved a lot. It sounds like it is the same but I think the structures are more interesting or complicated maybe. Not so straight forward as it used to be.
Could we except more eras or ages of Sonata Arctica to come?
Henrik: Yeah, anything can happen. It is always the same when we start to work on a new album. Tony brings a bunch of demos and we start to listen to them and it is very exciting for us as well because we are like: Let’s see what we are going to make of this.
Pasi: And after touring with a new album it always feels like a new era for us. Mainly when we are listening to new demo stuff for the next album.
Henrik: It will be interesting to see what is going to happen. But I don’t think that we are gonna make the same albums over and over again. So there is always happening something new and something different.
It is for the second time the title of the album is in Finnish. Why have you made this choice? And why there are no Finnish lyrics at all?
Henrik: We have been thinking really hard what this album should be called. Then Tony said Talvi, which is winter. But we thought it is too lame. Then he said Talviyö, and we said OK, let’s try that. It is very hard to come up with names for albums.
Pasi: Did we have the coverart before the name? I am not sure because that’s what it remains. It’s winter night.
Henrik: We also thought what if we say it in English – winter night – but that is just like everybody have winter night album. It is too boring. And regarding the lyrics, people ask many times why we don’t sing some songs in Finnish but I don’t know. Maybe one day we will do it but I don’t think it will be the whole album.
It is quite popular to make albums bilingual for example as the new Opeth´s album. Have you ever think about it?
Henrik: Not really. I don’t know if Tony has thought about that, but we haven’t. Not seriously, at least.
Is it true that the bass and drums for this album were recorded together?
Pasi: Yes. For this time we had an external producer for the album. We decided to play live together with Tommy.
Were they also recorded at the same time?
Was it harder or easier than usual kind of recording?
Pasi: It was easier and also much more interesting. You can communicate with the drummer when you are playing and it is much better. For me, at least.
There are two songs on new album – Storm The Armada and Who Failed The Most – which are about the environment and its problems. Are you trying to raise awareness of this actual global problem?
Henrik: I think that’s something what would probably Tony knows better but I think of course since we are in Finland and we all enjoy nature a lot, so there are some concerns. But Tony has freedom to write about the things he is concerned about and he is interested in. But as a band our main point is to entertain people and you know, let everybody take a break from their everyday lives, enjoy the show and have a good time. But of course sometimes some songs are about… I don’t know, if he is trying to raise awareness or whatever, but that’s his choice more or less I would say. I mean we are here to rock out and have a good time. For example most of Sonata songs seem to be love songs and different kinds of stories or whatever but it is for the last two or three albums that there has been one or two songs about nature and environment.
The word 'sonata' in you name. Is it reference on classical music? Is your music influenced by this kind of music? Do you like it?
Henrik: It was a friend of ours, the guy who actually wrote the Sonata Arctica book. He came up with the name Sonata Arctica so maybe he was thinking as that it refers to a classical music. But personally I have started to play a classical piano when I was a kid so I have been into that for some years but then when I was in my teens I started to listen to rock and roll and that’s it. But I enjoy listening to classical music from time to time. Not all of it, but there’s some really good music. And it is really enjoyable to listen to something completely different than what we do.
Do you have some message for your fans and our readers?
Pasi: Yes, it is really good to be back here. I hope to see a lot of people and maybe we could come back soon for festivals and of course some tour.
Henrik: Thanks for waiting.