Recently, Clare B. of the Canada-based metal webzine Sacred Embrace conducted an interview with SONATA ARCTICA vocalist Tony Kakko. Few excerpts are follows:
Sacred Embrace: Have there been any responses yet to the [new SONATA ARCTICA] album ["Unia"]?
Tony Kakko: I haven't seen any responses yet [laughs]. Only from the people who have heard it, from a few interviews, and people have liked it.
Sacred Embrace: And what do you think of it?
Tony Kakko: I love it. For me, it's the best album we've done. And I can say this with clear eyes, without being all weird about it. Of course, it's a cliché to say, but it's so different. It makes me smile, and that's one big thing, and it can make me cry and …people don't understand totally that when you've been working with an album for half a year or so, you are really tired of the music you have there and you don't necessarily want to listen to the album again and again and again. It would be natural for me and this has at least happened with the previous albums; I can listen to it a couple of times after it's been mastered but then I'm like, "Okay, now I can maybe start listening to something else." But this album, it still makes me smile and I want to listen to it.
Sacred Embrace: Aside from the music, the sound quality is very different as well.
Tony Kakko: Quality, yeah. We wanted to make the whole album sound more organic, warmer in a way. It brings out the drums in a way that we wanted to have them and the guitars, basically — the really warm, heavy sound of the guitars. And we tried different kinds of mastering styles and this, what we have now, it's the best.
Sacred Embrace: So you knew that something had to change in the sound?
Tony Kakko: Yeah, well of course, the music was so different that we wanted to change [the sound]. I hadn't always been happy with the complete result, you know, the mastering, how the sound has been, what it sounds [like] in the end. Mastering has made the whole thing sound a bit cold, in a wrong way — of course, we are SONATA ARCTICA, and it should be cold, but [laughs] anyway, you know. It changes too much, in my opinion, from what it sounds like when we record it, to mastering. And this time it didn't happen; it actually sounds even better.
Sacred Embrace: So do you feel like this ["Unia"] is kind of a new start, in a way?
Tony Kakko: Well, yeah. Or — well, I don't know [both laugh]. A refreshing dinner or something [both laugh], because, well, the last two we got really tired with all this straight-forward thing. Like, a couple of the last shows we had in Finland, I was not on this planet anymore. I was thinking of completely different things and I couldn't concentrate anymore. In my books, most of the songs' sound [was] in the same vein, too much, so we wanted to try also some kind of different — something other to than drink. You know, I don't want Henkka to drink too much [during] the shows [laughs]. Now he can't do that, because he's got something else to do, play difficult songs. This is also the health factor [laughs]. I'm just kidding [laughs].
Sacred Embrace: How did your writing process change? It sounds like some things were really intentional, like you wanted it to be weird and you went out and researched dreams, omens and premonitions and stuff. The music is so different that maybe the writing process was different too?
Tony Kakko: Yeah, well I told you already about this "Idols" thing and how I started writing for someone else and not for SONATA ARCTICA, and that was really a liberating feeling. And I thought I could come up with really different ideas and styles and songs, different type[s] of songs with that method. And I never gave it up. I wrote the whole album in the thought that "I'm writing for someone else, not for SONATA ARCTICA." On previous songs I've written like, six, seven songs and then noticed that I'm missing all the double kick songs [laughing] and then I have to write them. So this time I didn't go there, and this is why there is no normal "Blank File", "Wolf and Raven", "Victoria's Secret" songs there. Well, we have kind of a "Victoria's Secret" [laughs], but no "Blank File", anyway. I didn't want to write one because there has to be one. It would have been like cheating myself. Maybe in the future, we can have some on the next album, but on this album I didn't feel like writing [one]. Well, it was [a] natural process, the way they came out. I didn't want to change them too much. In a way, this is like something close to what would be my solo album in a way, maybe. Not sure. I might go even further with my solo thing. It would be more different, of course, because with SONATA ARCTICA, on this album, of course, the guys are playing and are doing their own stuff.
Sacred Embrace: Would you ever do a solo album?
Tony Kakko: Yeah, I have a dream, but at the moment I have other projects, like I told you, that are keeping me busy. I should do some music for the game, the computer game ["Winterhearts' Guild"]. Actually, "The Worlds Forgotten, the Words Forbidden" song, which is on the album, I originally wrote it for the game, but so many people told me, "Isn't it a terrible waste to put one song in only for that game," and then when they told me, the game people, that "This is not exactly what we are looking for," but this would be good in the end of the game when the credits [are rolling], it would be there as background music, and I was like, "Hmm, I'd really like this song." It would have been also that somebody would have cut that song out of the game and it would have been available for everybody on the Internet anyway.