09.07 Sonata Arctica

Hellraisers from Helsinki
By Andrew Jones

Power metal is not a term that Sonata Arctica likes to hear associate with them. This Finnish crew has done nothing but their own thing to reach the level they have, and their newest endeavor, “Unia,” is proof of that. The melodic melancholy of “Unia” stands above the sounds of many ultra dark-mattered peers in this bands’ home country, and, along with amazing writing, flawless production, and non-stop touring, has allowed Sonata Arctica to make the whole world take notice and know their name.

Sonata Arctica have been tearing up the Europe scene and beyond for many years now, and while their resume continues to expand (i.e. 2 gold records under the proverbial belt), they are now blessing the states with yet another fistful of tour dates. They will be hitting Worcester hard at the Palladium Sept. 29th, so I wanted to make sure everyone got the skinny on where the band has come from and what direction they are going on their new full length album. I spoke with keyboardist Henrik, and here’s what he gave me:

Pulse: I have yet to see anything about where the name originally came from ~ was it sort of out of the blue?
Henrik: Sort of, yeah. We had a number of names before Sonata Arctica but when we signed our first record deal, the guys in the band wanted to find something more in touch with the music and a friend of the band suggested this name.

P: Why did you decide to change the design of the band name on “Unia?”
H: We didn’t feel that the old logo properly represented our new direction, however we’ll still be using the old logo for some of the merch stuff, etc. So right now, we have two working logos.

P: What’s the craziest thing you guys have ever run into while on tour?
H: Oh, there’s all kinds of stuff going on all the time! [laughter] A lot of it falls into the “…not to be talked about in daylight” category. I thing we pretty much have had a piece of it all: crazy fans stalking us, equipment blowing up, riots, things getting smashed, the driver getting lost… you name it. Basically, we’ve been touring the globe now since 2000, so we should probably write a book about this stuff.

P: How was the influence for writing “Paid In Full” different from that of most of your other songs?
H: If I remember correctly, this song was originally written for another artist by Tony (Kakko, singer & songwriter in SA), but at the end of the day, he realized that the song was far too good to give away, so we used it on our album instead.

P: What has the Helsinki scene done for you guys?
H: Other than working with Spinefarm Records & KingFoo Entertainment, and other companies involved with the scene, we really haven’t had too much to do with that whole thing. Of course, as the awareness of Finnish music rises abroad, it benefits ALL bands in Finland.

P: With so little time spread across so many countries, does jet lag ever make you forget what instrument you’re playing, or maybe yell out, “Thank you Argentina!” to a confused German crowd?
H: Sometimes funny stuff happens. Of course, we’ve played our instruments all our lives, so we don’t f*&k up that much, but occasionally you mix the names of towns or forget where the hell you are. Our tours tend to be rather long, so I guess it comes with the territory.

P: Who does most of the songwriting?
H: Tony Kakko does all of the songwriting right now. The way we work is that he brings demos over and then we arrange the songs together. He also writes all the lyrics.

P: What influenced most of the lyrical content on “Unia?”
H: The way Tony approached lyrics is that it’s all made up (at least most of the parts). He writes a lot about relationships gone bad, so if the lyrics were actually based on his own life, he’d be a really broken, sad guy.

P: How do you like touring in the U.S.?
H: We’ve only done two tours so far, but it’s really exciting to tour such a big country with so much stuff to see and so many new places. The audiences of course kick ass, so we’re really happy to be back in September, playing some killer shows and hanging out with the fans. Cheers to them!

Sonata Arctica will only be playing a few shows across the eastern U.S., so make sure you check them out at The Palladium on September 29th before you have to update your passport to see them. Their newest album, “Unia,” is available in stores worldwide.

Check them out at :www.sonataarctica.info/