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Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica)

Interview with Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica
by Kostya Aronberg at 21 June 2012, 11:57 AM

If you have been following the Finnish SONATA ARCTICA for the past six years or so, it has not been the same while always trying to find new niches. Due to the release of their new album “Stones Grow Her Name”via Nuclear Blast Records, our very own Kostya Aronberg talked with Tony Kakko, lead vocals, about the new album, band’s history and his view of the new Music market.

Hey Tony, welcome to Metal Temple! How are you?

I´m good, thanks for asking. Waiting for all that snow to melt so I can go out and rake the yard while listening to ice hockey matches from the radio. So yes, good. Haha!

SONATA ARCTICA was formed in 1996, and since then a lot of things have changed, especially in the lineup of the band. Do you think that members that changed something through the years have made SONATA ARCTICA more professional?

Respect! A whole new question! Wow…the answer is yes and no. The new guys have always kind of grown in the band during the first year of touring. It takes some adjusting. Us getting more professional has been a steady process that has always involved the whole band and grew so it has not been bound to any one new member, really.

As the new album, “Stones Grow Her Name” will release it in 18 May. How can you describe the album and what does make it different from all the others you've made before.

If some people described the last two albums as Progressive Metal, “Stones Grow Her Name” I would say is more melodic Heavy Rock. The starting point and what I really aimed to do here was to keep it simple. Less parts per song, smaller and better arranged songs with strong lead melodies so the backing harmonies would remain just that: backing harmonies. And all that makes the whole album tons more live friendly experience and will be playing almost the whole album live on the tour. Having that possibility is awesome.

If you look at your last work (“Stones Grow Her Name”) and the first work (“Ecliptica”), how can you see yourself through all these years? What do you think, you (I mean the band) are already not those guys that you were been when you wrote SONATA ARCTICA’s first album?

Funny, but “Stones Grow Her Name” is closer to our starting point, the demo band from year 1996, than our first album “Ecliptica” was three years later. Circle has closed in some extent. I think the band has grown up, same as we have grown up…hell, Tommy was 13 when started the band… and at the same time the fans have grown up as well. We still have a lot of same fans we had when we started. They might have been 12 years old when they heard our first album, now they’re 24 and still able to love the band despite the music style has changed and gone all over the place along the years. And that’s probably because people’s taste in music also changes as they grow. Mine did. Still does. There were times when I got a little jaded and lost the view to that kid who wrote the first songs for this band, but I think I’ve managed to drill a hole on that wall again and what do you know: the little bastard is still there! :)

SONATA ARCTICA 's new video clip "I Have a Right" came out on 21 April. Tell us about the shooting process.

We shot the playing parts for three music videos at the same time in march here in our home town of Kemi. The place was an abandoned school and the gymnasium was big enough for us to build the set there and still have room for the cameras to move around. I´m happy the weather at the time was unseasonably warm, so the fact that there was no heating did not cause too many problems. The lack of running water was the main pain in the A, I think. No running water, no toilet. Haha! Anyhow, easy and fun two days. My knees hurt like hell afterwards. Suppose I´m not getting younger… All the extras, story lines and such were shot elsewhere and I did not really have my hands on those. As we were  really on a tight schedule, I just told the director what the story of the song is and he took it from there. And he took it well. :)

Why do you choose this song from the whole album to represent it?

We had 3-4 songs that could have made it just as well. What made us choose I Have A Right is, that it’s one of the easiest and catchiest tracks with most repeating themes on it, which makes it perfect for the job. Also it’s got this cross-over thing going on, so it might actually get airtime in places where they don’t usually play our music. Single and video are all about advertising after all.

Last year you released your new DVD "Live In Finland" and I must say that I really like it. Why do you choose to shoot the concert in Finland and why exactly in 2011?

Well, thank you very much. We were supposed to shoot it in Italy at first, but at the last possible moment it proved to be financial nightmare. So instead of putting tens of thousands of Euros on transporting gear to Italy and back, plus pay all sorts of unforeseen fees and licenses, we decided to put it all on shooting the show 100km south from where we live, in Oulu. And do it in HD, which is expensive… Why now? Well, we had released two albums after ”For the sake of revenge”-DVD and our set list and actually even the line-up had changed a bit since the previous live which was in many ways out of date already when released. We wanted to update the whole thing and show people the kind of band we are today, or what we can be in a right environment. Unfortunately this kind of big set up is seldom possible for us on tours, due to small venues and due to budget. Hopefully someday we can bring this kind of big show everywhere with us.

If you could get a chance to come back in the past and change something in your musical career, what would you change?

I think I´d writing songs earlier and get my butt in some band way earlier. Now I got in my first band at the age of 19. But maybe that thing served a purpose, you never know. Got to be careful when changing things. I´m pretty pleased with the way things are. We´ve done a lot of different things.

John Schaffer of ICED EARTH has recently said: “The music industry has changed and everything is different”. I’d like to know your opinion about that.

Well, he said it. It has changed a lot. And not in a positive direction, unfortunately. I curse the day the industry decides to stop making physical copies of albums. I´m not a friend of digital downloads at all. It’s somehow backwards, that vinyls are making some kind of a comeback, while the industry’s trying to get rid of the CDs. I like to hold my music.

What about the people who download your albums on the Internet? Do you think is it good or bad?

Don´t get me started on this… if you´re a farmer and you´ve managed to create the world’s tastiest potato, is it good or bad if the one who has put his heart and brainpower in it and done all the work… is it somehow humanely possible to justify that people just go and steal the potatoes straight from the field instead of paying the farmer, so he can make a living with this thing he does and continue producing these great taters these thieves also seem to love? No, it is not. Same as it is not ok to take just any car you happen to see on the side of the road and drive away on it. There’s a word for this kind of ”everything belongs to everyone”-thinking and it’s communism. If you can’t pay for a movie ticket, you shall not see the movie. Money is an object we humans have chosen to use to buy services and things we might need, such as music. The only ”good” side with this illegal download problem is that we, same as many other bands, are more well known everywhere because it is…free, if your morals let it be free. Unfortunately at least I am yet to find a way to feed my kid with fame. Tough. I write a book about this, but better stop here.

Thanks for the interview! Any last words you wanna pass to your fans and our readers?

Well, …ehm… I hope you all check the new album! If you like it, send me an email, if you don’t, send Henrik an email. :) See you on tour somewhere! Cheers!


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