SONATA ARCTICA's TONY KAKKO: 'There Are A Lot of Bands Who Always Did Power Metal Much Better Than We Did'
July 7, 2019
Since its 1999 "Ecliptica" debut, SONATA ARCTICA has gradually moved away from the zippy, speedy, if not wholly saccharine, power metal sound that so defined the Finnish band's early years. Inspired heavily by their fellow countrymen STRATOVARIUS, SONATA ARCTICA rode the late '90s/early 2000s melodic and power metal resurgence alongside EDGUY, HAMMERFALL and KAMELOT. But starting with 2007's "Unia", SONATA ARCTICA began to sound more like a traditional mid-tempo rock and metal band, eschewing many of the elements — for better or worse — from their first four studio albums. The diverse tastes of vocalist and primary songwriter Tony Kakko may have something to do with that, who all along felt SONATA ARCTICA didn't stack up against its power metal contemporaries.
"There are a lot of bands that are doing power metal, always did power metal much better than we did," he told Mulatschag in a recent interview (video below). "For us, that was one phase. Even the first album ['Ecliptica'], there are a hell a lot of songs that aren't power metal at all. Like, 'FullMoon' isn't a power metal song for example; 'Replica' isn't a power metal song. There are a few. The amount got less and less on each album we created. It was just something we were excited about, like late [in the] '90s, I fell in love with the 'Visions' album by STRATOVARIUS back in '97, then we started covering them and we started writing songs in the same style for my own band. Suddenly, we had a recording contract, 'Oh shit, so we are stuck. Pleasantly stuck with this style right now.' If we had gotten our recording contract five years later, it might have just as well been a reggae album or reggae style. We might be doing something totally different."
He continued: "I'm not a really metal-oriented person at all. I have a really, really wide spectrum. I sometimes actually write techno or dance music. It's just getting a weird feeling and a nice melody, then the melody is the key to everything. Sometimes I've written a song that is some kind of club music, but it has a really good melody. Then I figure, 'This would really suit perfectly for SONATA ARCTICA, but just strip all the club things and weird things out, and put normal rock drums and guitars in.' Suddenly, you have a new SONATA ARCTICA song there. It's just a matter of arranging it.
"Every style of music is fine for me, as long as the songs develop for the duration of the song, and it's not repeating the same fucking thing for five minutes only just changing [makes sound effect] like it often is," he explained. "If you have some kind of structure and a melody, I think you have a song."
SONATA ARCTICA will release its tenth studio album, "Talviyö" (Finnish for "Winter Night") on September 6 via Nuclear Blast. The disc was recorded between September 2018 and May 2019, produced by Mikko Tegelman and SONATA ARCTICA in Studio57. Additional recordings took place in various other places. The mixing was done by Mikko Tegelman and Pasi Kauppinen and the mastering was handled by Svante Forsbäck for Chartmakers.