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sonataarctica2022 03Interview with

Tony Kakko (Vocals & Keyboards) from Sonata Arctica

SONATA ARTICA is a Melodic Metal band from Finland that started as a POWER METAL band back in the 1990s and changed their style towards Melodic Metal over the years. In 2019 the band embarked on a tour to perform acoustic versions of songs from their back catalogue for the fans and since the response of the audience was fantastic, the band hit the studio, to record these songs. The recorded material exceeds the length of an album and so the session was divided in two parts. The first part ‘Acoustic Adventures - Volume One’ was released via ATOMIC FIRE RECORDS on January 21st 2022 and a few days later I reached vocalist Tony Kakko at home in Finland via Skype.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Thank you for finding time for an interview. I guess, you are quite busy at the moment. On Friday the album ‘Acoustic Adventures - Volume One’ was released. How do you feel?
Tony: I feel great, especially because we finished the album more than a year ago. We recorded the two parts at the same time, but it’s great to be finally out with one of them. The original release date was a year ago in January, but that didn’t happen because of the pandemic thing. We had an idea of hitting the road, going on tour with this album. Everybody thought that a year later… but here we are… no tours.

RoD: Did you celebrate the release as a band?
Tony: We didn’t celebrate as some of us live quite far apart, but we actually had a party, when we finished recording, so we have done that and with the pandemic restriction are now also in place, so nobody wants to go out.

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RoD: Were you involved in the process of rearranging the songs for the acoustic session, or did your bandmates deliver a box of surprises and you had to arrange the vocals?
Tony: It was a little bit of both, the lyrics were already there, some of the songs on the album are 20 or even 25 years old, but I made 10 or 15 arrangements of which only 1 or 2 ended up on the album, which is really unfortunate. My selection of songs was maybe a little bit more obscure, songs that I thought haven’t got enough attention like ‘Fly, Navigate, Communicate’ for example. I really love the versions I made for the acoustic thing, but nobody else liked it or didn’t see how it would work live. So, it was mostly the other guys’ part and I enjoyed my part a lot. So once I could only enjoy and sing.

RoD: Who selected the songs that were rearranged for the acoustic tour and the acoustic album?
Tony: The whole thing based on the acoustic tour from 2019, so we had selected like one and a half album of material already, so I let the other guys decide, which additional songs will be on the albums.

RoD: Were you surprised how some of the songs turned out sound-wise?
Tony: Personally, for me: No. But maybe for some of the other members of the band, because the way I’m writing songs is mainly with guitar or piano. So, the acoustic version of the songs is more or less the home, the starting point. It had just to go back to where the whole songs started, so it felt cosier from the get-go. There is nothing weird, it’s a pleasure and I love these acoustic versions. I hope there is a life after ‘Volume II’ and that we need more. I do! (laughs) There are so many songs I’d like to cover.

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RoD: Your vocals on ‘Acoustic Adventures - Volume One’ seem to be more versatile, some of the songs almost sound like a musical performance. It seems, that this one gave you the chance to show your whole range of vocals?
Tony: One of the starting points was of course to find the right key in which to sing the acoustic versions of the songs. On some of the original I’m screaming really loud, and when you are accompanying yourself on an acoustic guitar and the whole set is acoustic, this really doesn’t work (laughs). I’s have to scream out loud, while the other guys would have a moody moment right there. I had to find a key in which I could sing in a more natural way, so I could use much more variety coming to the solo singing and the chorus and the style as such. I love playing around with my voice, but unfortunately the Metal form of Sonata Artica, especially during the live shows those tiny variation gets lost in the volume of everything. So, this acoustic session allows me, to play around with my voice and I was more than willing, to give it a go.

RoD: Are you working on news songs for a SONATA ARTICA album at the moment?
Tony: I have a few cornerstones already, like demos, that may or may not end up on our next album. But anyway, we have a plan of hitting the studio early next year, to be able to have an autumn release time for our next album. We’ll see… Plans… you can make them… but someone said: “If you wanna hear god laugh, tell him about your plans!” (laughs). After these two pandemic years, it’s almost scary to make any kind of plan. The touring part is the one really suffering from this thing, the recording and studio part not so much. So, the studio thing is the safest part of the plans we have right now.

RoD: Thank you for the interview. I’m crossing my fingers for the upcoming live tour.

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