“We are doing a lot of promotion for our new album 'Reckoning Night', more than we did for any other album. Tony, our singer and I, are spending an entire week here in Germany, in the Nuclear Blast office. We are doing over ten interviews a day, which is a good sign because it means that there is a lot of interest in our albums. Of course, I prefer going out on the road to promote the album – that is after all what any true musician wants to do. But this is also part of the job, and we gladly accept it.”
About the new album: It rocks! A much better album than 'Winterheart's Guild', which was okay but not spectacular.
“Thanks. I am also really happy about the new cd. I am very proud that we have been able to reinvent ourselves and come up with new sounds we didn't have on any of the previous albums and experiment with new ways of recording. The biggest difference with the previous cd 'Winterheart' is that we have much more fast songs this time. This was not intentional, though. We never reflect upon our old records, nor do we look ahead no our next album. It comes out the way it comes out.”
You took a long time to finish this record.
“Yeah, about six months or so. This is mainly because we are very lazy when it comes to writing. In the beginning we always take too much time, and don't start working really hard until we feel the pressure of the deadline and start working our assess off. Composing started in December, but by the time we entered the studio we had only three songs ready. So in fact we wrote the majority of the material in the studio. We took a total of ten weeks in the studio, plus an additional two to mix the record. We usually worked for about eight hours a day, but there were also days when we stopped earlier because all creativity was gone. Fortunately we know the guy from the studio rather well, so none of this was a problem.”
And what separates 'Reckoning Night' from your other cd's?
“I'd say that it is a more mature, intelligent album. It is a lot heavier than our past ones, too. People always tell us that we sound heavier live, and we really wanted to capture that sound on the album this time. I changed my guitar sound to do that. In the old days we would plug in the guitars directly into the console. This time we ran the guitar through the amps and record the amped sound with mikes, which gives us a more organic, analogue sound. It works out really well, because it combines an old-school sound with our modern type of metal.”
You are going on tour this month with your friends from Nightwish.
“That is a dream come true for us. We have known the guys for many years, but only performed together once or twice, and that was years ago. We always talked about going out on the road together, but somehow we could never fit it in our schedules. Either they were in the studio and we were on the road, or the other way around. Now that we have a new album out at the same time, we figured the time would be right for it.”
Do you think Sonata Arctica is big enough to do a headliner tour?
“We would have done one for this album, if the Nightwish-tour did not come across. I think we could do it. We already did a small headlining tour in France, and that worked out fine. The time seems to be right for it, and we might do one in the future. I do not know when, though. After the Nightwish-tour we do some Finnish shows around Christmas, and in January or February we'll go to Japan. Who knows, perhaps after that.”
You have four albums, a shitload of obscure ep's and a live-album out. Seems like the right time to do a dvd too, doesn't it?
“I think so, yes. We have been planning to do this for years, and we will probably record one in Japan next year. We have got tons of footage from the previous five years too, so we might also fit that on it too.”
Your live-cd 'Songs Of Silence' was also recorded in Japan. Why not do your dvd in Europe? For example in Finland?
“Because Japan is still our biggest and most important market. Plus, we always get a good audience there. Audiences in Finland are not really a lot of fun to watch, although they have been getting a little bit better in the last couple of years. But it seems like that in Finland people have to be really drunk to be a good audience.”
Back to the new album. One of Sonata's biggest strength's has always been to write truly memorable lyrics. Did that change this time?
“No, not really. We always prefer to write lyrics that people can relate to. This time the topics are the same: live, love, relationships. We want people to be able to relate to the lyrics, so they can say 'hey, this happened to me too at a certain point in my life'. We prefer not to write about dragons and stuff like that, because we feel that this way the music will also stay with the listener for longer. Stories about fantasy and such distance the listener from the music, which is the opposite of what we want.”
The song 'White Pearl, Black Oceans' especially stands out.
“That is one of my favourite songs on the album. Lyrically, it is a prequel or sequel to the song 'The End Of This Chapter' from the 'Silence' album. Both songs are about a broken relationship, about a man who loses his girlfriend and cannot cope with the loss. He is driven insane by his lingering feelings of his lost love, and starts thinking about killing her.”
And does he kill her?
“I do not know! Our singer, who wrote the lyric, prefers to keep the lyrics vague, so the listener can use his or her own imagination. Even I do not know if 'White Pearl' is a sequel or a prequel. Who knows? It is not even sure if the girl dies, or if she kills her stalker, or if anyone even dies at all. That is up to the listener to decide.”
Last question: are you satisfied with the position Sonata has in the current power metalscene?
“Yes, I am very satisfied. We have an album out that I am really proud of – even though, in all honesty, I am far from objective right now when it comes to the new cd. But I have no regrets of anything. There is a lot of interest in Sonata, and our new label Nuclear Blast is very supportive. This is our first real promo-tour, so they are doing a great job. We can all live off of the band at the moment, which makes us very privileged people. I realise every day how fortunately we are for this.”