Tony Kakko (vocals, keyboards) from Sonata Arctica
To introduce SONATA ARCTICA to any reader of metal related reviews/ interviews would be like introducing a penguin to snow. The power metal band from Finland is well-known and mostly well received in the metal scene and in 2014 they celebrate their 15th year in metal. A new album is on the way too, enough reasons to ask the mastermind Tony Kakko a few questions.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: First things first, how are you Tony and where are you right now?
Tony Kakko [Tony]: Getting better. I had a bad influenza last week and am still kind of recovering. At the moment I sit in a bus in Lahti, on our way to Jyväskylä. This is a touring week. :)
RoD: Is there a sole reason the musical style of SONATA ARCTICA did change over the years from classic power metal to a more progressive style?
Tony: I got totally fed-up with what we were doing, suppose we all did. We had some problems within the band which eventually led us to part ways with Jani, due to his personal issues. That did not solve the whole problem though. I just needed to either do something different or just find something else to do. It gave birth to the “New Sonata”. But now, after 7-8 years I feel good again about what we did in the past, it feels fun. So… the “Old Sonata” is back.
RoD: On your website there is a question and answer section where you say like to read on planes, what kind of books do you like to read?
Tony: Biographies, thrillers… Dan Brown, Stephen King etc. At the moment I’m reading Steve Jobs’ biography.
RoD: How did the band handle the departure of Marko Paasikoski at the end of the 2013 tour?
Tony: It was a mutual decision we made already earlier that year. Marko was to play until the end of the tour and then jump off. It was easy. He had lost his motivation long time ago and it did not exactly boost the band moral. So it was best to do this. For everyone. It was only a matter of time. Taking Pasi in was the easiest choice ever. We did not even think anyone else. Even Marko said Pasi is the only bassist he wants replacing him. Easy!
RoD: When touring what do you guys do to kill time?
Tony: I work most of the time on documentaries and interviews, then read and sleep.
RoD: What are your role models musically?
Tony: I don’t really know if I have such. I admire some artists and composers a lot, but I would not set them to be my role models! Lately I’ve been digging Devin Townsend Project.
Then I discovered Led Zeppelin last summer. I suddenly found myself liking what they do. It’s never too late. :) Suppose it was because I read a book about them.
RoD: Your trademark is the scarf you are wearing to protect your voice, are there any bad experiences from the time you didn`t wear it?
Tony: I just felt naked without it. I have not worn it on stage in a while though. Still do wear protection on other times. It’s my instrument. I need to take care of it. Also guitarist`s keep their guitars in cases.
RoD: What is the idea behind the new album title/cover?
Tony: We abandoned the wolf with the previous album, it became a pariah, outcast. And as the style of this album is heavily in the older Sonata, it was pretty clear right away that we needed a wolf. And the old logo as well. This album is a child of that pariah. Abandoned, outcast, pariah wolf.
RoD: What do you think about your new album as the creator?
Tony: I think it’s definitely one of our best works to date. I even might like it better than ‘Unia’, which is a high compliment when it comes to me. For a long time I thought ‘Unia’ was the best. Suppose I’m still too close to the creation to say anything definitive about it. Ask me again in four years. That’s how long it takes to get it out of the system and be objective about it.
RoD: What`s your favourite artists to listen to?
Tony: Devin Townsend Project at the moment. Although I don’t really listen to music at all at the moment. It goes in cycles with me, I am in the silent phase at the moment.
RoD: What is your favourite song on ‘Pariah’s Child’ and why?
Tony: I’m pretty sure I will always love ‘Larger than Life’, the other favourites change all the time, daily. It’s just a complete piece of music with a great story that will always be there reminding what is the most important thing in my life.
RoD: SONATA ARCTICA is around for 15 years now, what has changed in these years for bad or good?
Tony: I think it would have been sweet to keep the same line-up for our entire career. Well that did not happen. But all the changes have been either equally good or clear betterments. So that’s both good and bad. We’re not kids anymore, which also is both good and bad. Ha ha!
RoD: The new Album ‘Pariah`s Child’ came out very quickly after your last output ‘Stones Grow her Name’ when did you write it?
Tony: Between tours and last summer and even still during the rehearsals. It did not feel at all rushed despite that. It was a very efficient use of time.
RoD: For me the new album sounds heavier than the last records, and I hear a slight change in your singing style especially in the song “Running Lights”. What is the reason behind the slights adjustments?
Tony: I hate repeating myself. The heavier feel came together with our sudden interest towards the older material. I’d say ‘PC’ is some was the follow up for ‘Reckoning Night’ more than it is for ‘Stones Grow Her Name’. ‘Stones’ was a rock album, and during the show we noticed that despite we love playing these songs live, they make the shows a bit too slow paced. We needed more speedy material again. One thing lead to another and here we are. The new approach always requires a new approach also with vocals. I’m an actor. I like to play with my voice.
RoD: Thank you for the Interview any greetings or warm words for the fans?
Tony: Thank you! It was my Pleasure. Please check out ‘Pariah’s Child’ as soon as it’s out! Hope to see you all on tour soon!