I found your cover of Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" very interesting. Why did you choose to cover that song? Does it have any signifcance to anyone in the band? Was it just for fun?
The song "Kingdom for a Heart" sounds similar to the song in "Wizard of Oz" that the Tin Man sings (he also wants a heart). Was your song inspired by this song in any way? If not, what did inspire your song?
I am not 100% sure if I have never seen Oz. So that certainly was not in my mind at that time 5 years ago, I think. I was listening a lot to a band called Royal Hunt then and I've always thought it sounds like them, although I now have no idea what I heard there. Frankly, I wrote that song so long ago that I have no idea what I was thinking. Nice song though, I think.
Do you have any plans, near or far, to tour the United States? What circumstances might allow for Sonata Arctica to tour in the US?
More like far. I'd love to tour US just about more than anything, but sadly we don't sell enough albums there at the moment so there is no point touring, at least on our own. Absolutely not! But warming some bigger act or doing some metal festival. I think the festival thing is the best shot there is. Hope is alive.
What are the band members' musical backgrounds? How did you achieve such musical prowess individually and as a band? Did you take vocal lessons? How were the other musicians trained?
At the moment we all are more or less self-educated musically. I think we all have had some lessons at some point of our lives, but not lately. I've had keyboard lessons, but sadly not any vocal ones. I should or I'm going to wreck myself in a few years for sure.
I've noticed quite a few songs that deal with girls being evil, heartbreak and other related topics. For example, "The End of This Chapter" is about a guy stalking a girl, "Tallulah" is about heartbreak. Also, the video for "Wolf and Raven" portrays a women that kills a man (you) and then turns into the wolf. What motivates you to write so much about this topic?
That "Wolf and Raven" video was not from my head. I just did what they asked. I didn't really give a shit. I like to write about things that people can relate to. Everybody hopefully has had some relationships, love and so on. Personally, I am unable to relate to dragons and sword fights. Lately though, I've started to tell my tales more in a fantasy way (oh shit), using animals and such as characters, but those are always just metaphores.
Have you found a replacement keyboardist yet? If so, who is he and give me some background? If not, how is the lack of keyboardist affecting the band?
I can't tell the name at this point. It will be updated on our website on November.
I also noticed that you have at least two songs that discuss how computers invade privacy and make people inactive. Can you discuss your views on this matter?
Well, lately I've been sucked in the void myself. I can't live without my e-mail and I hate it. I hope we could go back to the time when we didn't have our mobile phones and all this hassle. Naturally, it makes everything more effective, but at the same time very stressful. This internet thing has grown A LOT since I wrote those songs, at least for me personally. I would not cry if they shut the whole thing down though. I like computers though!
What are the next plans for the band? When can we expect a new album? Are you currently writing / recording new material? Can you give us any details about the new album (title, some song titles, anything)?
The album will be mastered December 3rd, 2002. We are, at the moment, recording and it sounds fucking great! Release date is March 17th, 2003, at least in some parts of the World. There will be 10 songs on the normal European version. That's all I say at this point. Sorry.
What have you been listening to lately? Do you listen to a lot of metal, or do your tastes tange outside of metal?
Nothing. My head is full of my own music at the moment, so besides that I prefer silence. Generally, I don't listen metal all that much. To me, many bands are just too boring. But there are few bands I like a lot and wait for their new albums... Stratovarius, Children of Bodom, Nightwish, etc. They stand out of the crowd.
Is there any specific reason why your lyrics are written in English? I noticed many European bands sing in English rather than their native languages. Is this so that more people outside the country will be interested in it?
Well, we have a bit more than 5 million people in Finland and Finnish is spoken ONLY in Finland. And our music is sadly a bit in the margin, so if you want to do this for a living you CAN`T sing in Finnish. You could NOT tour anywhere outside Finland, or maybe as a curiosity, but the general population in other countries would not even open their ears to the Finnish language. Vai mita mielta oot perkele, ha? Hehe. Personally, I think Finnish is not among the most beautiful and poetic languages. If I translate our lyrics in Finnish, I think it would not sound good at all. And this same works in the other way as well. And one thing is sure: I would not be giving this interview.
How is your following in your native Finland? For example, here in America, metal is very much underground. The CDs are hard to find, but I've heard that in Europe, metal is much more in the mainstream. Metal videos are often seen on MTV and new metal albums make their way into the Top 40 charts. How has your band done in Europe? And is it true that metal is more accepted in Europe?
Metal videos on MTV? Hmm, I personally haven't seen one yet, but I heard they now have some show there with such tendency. In Finland for example, our "Silence" album debuted 3rd place on the Finnish national charts with all albums. That's quite good, but we are not the biggest band in Finland. I think we have the things in that aspect way better than you guys. In Finland, all these Britneys and Christinas are not all the biggest thing and rap is NOT a mainstream thing (thank god for that). You can find our CDs just about anywhere. At least you can order them from somewhere easy. In Europe, metal is quite a big and very much accepted thing. Naturally there are lot of these old farts that connect the word "metal" either to real metal that you make Eiffel towers out of OR to those people who do drugs, drink, burn churches and cause all forms of havoc in the name of Satan. It would be easier to refer to all NOT blackmetal bands as rock and roll to those fucking folks. Bands can play in quite large places, not any stadiums though. I don't know if there are any metal acts around here that could fill that big a place. A good size hall can take audiences between 2000 - 5000. I'd be happy to reach those. You can actually do that without being a mega star and I don't want to be a mega star. Haha! France is, I think, the best place in Europe for us. We have only released 2 albums so far and we are getting bigger with each release, so things look good.
Top-5 All-Time Favorite Albums? (if you can't come up with 5, just put as many as you can).
I could put just about any Queen album here, but let's count those as one. Crash Test Dummies - "God Shuffled His Feet," Stratovarius - "Visions," Nightwish - "Century Child," Midnight Oil - "Diesel and Dust" / "Blue Sky Mining." That's 5. I really don't listen to metal music that much and very little other music either these days.
I read somewhere that you were going to contribute a song to an upcoming Metallica tribute CD on Nuclear Blast. Is this true? If so, what song are you covering? And why did you choose it? Also, can you give us some information on the tribute (who else is on it, when it's due out, etc.)?
Yes, it's true. We covered "Fade to Black." It sounds a bit like a Sonata Arctica song now. Well, we felt it had to be an older song and "FtB" fit us the best. I have no info about that tribute other than it's in the making.
Any last words / comments / things you would like to promote / etc?
Argh! Our 3rd studio album is almost ready now. It will be out in March 2003 everywhere, I think. This one is generally more rough and faster. Personally the best album I've come up with yet! See you hopefully on tour some day!