Interview with Henrik Klingenberg and Pasi Kauppinen from Sonata Arctica

Magyar verzió ITT.

Sonata Arctica came to present their new album Talviyö to Hungary. We had the chance to talk to Henrik Klingenberg (keyboards) and Pasi Kauppinen (bass) about some funfacts regarding the band.

Congratulations on Talviyö, I think it is a really nice musical journey and an overall great album. What was the feedback like so far?

Pasi: It’s been really good. We started the tour on September 6th, on the same day as the album was released. It was nice to see that already on the first show, the people were singing along with the new songs. I think they liked it.

At the same time, this is your tenth album. How do you see the progression of the band, first of all Henrik, as you are in the band longer.

Henrik: I think it’s been quite natural. We have been around now for 20 years, so a lot has happened, of course. The change of musicians, as people as well, is also reflected in the music. I think it has been a long and interesting journey and I’m really happy to be part of a band that doesn’t do the same album over and over again but we can find new stuff.

You also seem to have a thing for the ‘80s more and more, first the cover of Run to you by Bryan Adams, but also on this album, you can hear ‘80s vibes. Is this a conscious choice?

Henrik: I don’t think so, I think it is an accident.

*both laugh*

Really?

Pasi: Yeah.

Henrik: We grew up in the 80s, so of course, there are going to be influences from there.

You probably aren’t the first person to be asked about lyrics, but…

Henrik: Yeah, we have no idea! *laughs*

But may be able to tell me whether the song “The Garden” is about having sex?

Henrik: I don’t think so, I’m not sure.

Pasi: Yeah, I think it is more about family and … yes, I think that might be involved.

How about the song “Who Failed The Most” where you cannot not hear the line “The lord of the rings, the master of puppets”, what is that supposed to mean?

Henrik: I think it’s just a wordplay Tony’s doing.

And the opener song kind of sounds like an ode to the homeland, or something.

Henrik: I think it is about the northern lights and different stories and histories about the northern lights.

Pasi: Yes, like beliefs.

Back to the “winter nights”, that are usually kind of dark. Are you more or less all of you from the northern part of Finland?

Pasi: I’m actually in the middle of Finland, Elias is a bit more south, and you are also… from Kokkola, but living…

Henrik: Living in the north, yeah.

So as true Nordic men, what are your advice on surviving dark winter days and nights, and all the winter darkness?

Henrik: I don’t know, you can always travel and go somewhere else. The winters aren’t all that bad.

Pasi: That’s the common belief that the winters are dark, but falls are dark because you don’t have snow, but when you have snow it is quite bright at night. Especially with the moonlight. But of course, the days are short, the sun is up only for a short period of the day. But it is not that dark.

So it is not conscious to have the tour in one of the worst parts of winter, like October-November?

Henrik: No, no, usually when we make an album, we go on tour right after.

Pasi: But of course it is nice to go to some warmer place. Actually yesterday we saw the sun for the first time after coming from Norway!

Does still seeing a lot of snow mean that the global warming is not yet really felt in Finland in the winter?

Henrik: I don’t think so, we have a lot of snow.

Pasi: Yeah, and I think nowadays we have more snow than a couple of years ago. Ten-fifteen years ago there was barely any snow.

Do you consider yourselves environmentally conscious people?

Pasi: Of course it is an important thing to think about.

Henrik: Tony (Kakko, singer, songwriter) is interested in those kinds of things. I think it is a tricky question. I think there is only so much you can do… I think the whole conversation is twisted in the wrong way because whenever environmental issues come up, the conversation shifts to what you can do, how you can help. That is only good to make people feel guilty. The actual problem can be found in the industry and it is them who should focus on actually doing something about it and not push their responsibility to every single individual and make people feel shitty, because they did something, so I think the whole conversation is fucked up.

The next day Insomnium is playing in Budapest who now also has Jani Liimatainen who was one of the founding members of Sonata Arctica… Do you still keep in touch with him and follow his career?

Pasi: We just met him in the hotel lobby this morning!

Oh, so they are already here? It is going to be a long night for you then.

Pasi: Hah!

Henrik: Yeah, maybe! I think they are coming to the show, at least some of them!

Pasi:  They are friends of ours and we keep in touch.

Do you have many friends from the scene, are you able to keep in touch with other Finnish bands?

Pasi: Actually we knew beforehand that they would be here. Someone told us the news that they are coming here, but I heard that they are having a show here tomorrow today.

Henrik: Generally you know most of the other Finnish bands, but we only meet on festivals or days like this, because if we are not on tour then they are, and in very different cities, so it’s usually the festivals.

Are there any special bands to whom you’re closer than others?

Pasi: Maybe the bands we are touring with and we keep in touch, like Markus from Insomnium, they were supporting us a couple of years ago in the States with Omnium Gatherum.

You have played Fullmoon probably a million times by now, is it possible to still enjoy playing it and not hate it or such?

Henrik: I don’t think it is a problem. To play it at a rehearsal is the most boring thing ever.

Pasi: Yes, a completely unnecessary thing to play.

Henrik: But then you go on stage and see people enjoying it and it is a whole different thing. I think it is a good song.

Pasi: Yes. I like communicating with the audience, when you start the song, people really enjoy it.

Do you sometimes watch fans singing the lyrics? Have you ever spotted someone singing something completely wrong?

Henrik: It is actually hard to notice.

Pasi: Sometimes you see that but usually not, because we are wearing in-ears and can not actually hear what the individuals are singing.  Usually, we just see a bunch of people and you cannot really see anyone.

I suppose there are, however, a few individuals you do recognise from shows?

Henrik: Yeah.

Pasi: Yes, of course!

Tony mentioned in an interview that at one point you were rehearsing Fly with the black swan to be played live but that never happened, why?

Henrik: Oh, that must have been like ten years ago…

Pasi: I was not in the band at that time but I am open to all songs!

Henrik: I think there were too many vocals, too much vocal stuff in there, and Tony was like “Ah, I can’t sing this, let’s sing something else”, so that was it.

Some Youtube commenters were criticising the sound of the new album, but it actually has a few characteristics that I think are great, for example, the sound of the bass really seems to be in the foreground. Was this a conscious decision?

Pasi: When we started to record the album, during the pre-production we wanted to have our front of house mixing engineer to be part of the production. He came to the studio when we recorded the album live. He was the main mixing guy, he knows what the band should sound like.

Not so long ago you had an acoustic tour that unfortunately didn’t come to Europe. Do you plan on doing another leg for this tour?

Henrik: At some point, yes.

Pasi: At some point.

Henrik: Now we are touring with this album. But of course, every once in a while, we could do it, I think so.

I think it is very amazing how metal songs manage to still keep their power when they are arranged as acoustic versions.

Henrik+Pasi: Yeah!

Was it a long process to arrange the new versions or was it straightforward and fast to see how things should be played?

Henrik: It depends.

Pasi: Both. Some songs were really natural, we just started to play and knew how it has to sound. Others gave us a little more work.

Back in the days, many the concerts used to include an acoustic set, anything with those plans?

Henrik: Yes, we did that on The Days of the Grays tour.

Pasi: I think we had one song we played acoustic.

Henrik: Yes, when we finished the Pariah’s Child world tour, we played two and a half hours, first all the Ecliptica album and then all the other songs, and then also an acoustic set.

What is the worst thing that can happen to a musician during a live set?

Henrik: If the equipment breaks, of course.

Has something like that happened to you?

Henrik: A lot of times.

Pasi: Yeah, it happens all the time.

Henrik: We play so much and equipment fails every once in a while. It is really annoying because you want to make a good show and also enjoy yourself, and then if something breaks down and you cannot play that is really horrible.

Pasi: Sometimes it is something that the audience doesn’t even necessarily notice, but sometimes it is just very obvious…

When Finnish bands come to Hungary during a tour, is there any kind of feeling of “brotherhood” when playing for Hungarians, since the languages are related?

Pasi: Yes, of course, we know about this language thing.

Henrik: I don’t think too much about these things. You just go somewhere and play and hope people show up. We are just simple musicians.

Are you able to still keep track of how many countries you have visited altogether?

Pasi: When we have a new tour planned out, I usually check whether there are countries or cities that we never visited before. Whenever I go to a new city, I like to go and do some sightseeing.

Do you actually have free time to do some sightseeing between all the traveling, sleeping and playing?

Pasi: I always try to see something new. We arrive to the venue and if I have time to spend before the soundcheck, I usually use that time.

Thank you!

 

Made by: Vica

Photos: TM

Special thanks to Nuclear Blast!