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Interview with Tony Kakko
December 2002
Interview by Satu Reunanen

GOING THROUGH CHANGES AND EXPLORING THE WILDERNESS

Satu: When Mikko left, how did it effect the band ?
Tony: It seems like the atmosphere is more relieved, when we took the new guy in the band. Heīs simply more "rock īnī roll". In the end it wouldīve been better if Mikko had left earlier, īcos we were just hanging on and waiting there. We already knew his situation last Christmas. We couldīve started searching for the new keyboardist earlier then.

Satu: Did his decision surprise you at all ?
Tony: No, he had his own thing and I didnīt want to start speculating. I never really got to know Mikko that well.

Satu: How did you end up with Henkka ?
Tony: We heard his demo and liked what we heard. And when he first came and played with us it seemed like he had been with the band a long time, it was like being among friends and like "hey, weīve got a real band !" Personally Iīve been missing on that feeling for a while, itīs been like this is just a job.

Satu: Is his style very different and can we expect something strange from the band in the future ?
Tony: The show will at least be different, īcos Henkka is an openminded person. Heīs got the guts to go crazy on stage.

Satu: Has the inner chemistry changed in the band during all these years ?
Tony: Everyone has grown up of course. Though I was the same age when we started, haha ! But the other guys were real brats. Tommi was thirteen. But weīve gone to a better direction, all the idiotic bullshit is gone and weīre more mature. So itīs more calm now.

Satu: Why does the band still live in Kemi (North of Finland, far from the capital city Helsinki)
Tony: Itīs the best place to live in, Iīd rather move even further North. I absolutely need nature close to me. I canīt stand watching those concrete walls!
At least Iīm not willing to move anywhere. Iīm not your average heavy metal guy, Iīve somehow just drifted to this job, it is a fun job though.

Satu: Youīve even gone hiking and with Tuomas of Nightwish too. How often do you go out in the wilderness ?
Tony: Iīve tried going once a year. Tuomas once asked me to go with him and thatīs how it started. Itīs really relaxing. You get tired of being in the city and when you go out in the woods your thoughts get clear and you get ideas for the songs from there.
Tuomas is from Kitee, which is also quite far from from civilization. And eventhough Kemi is also far, itīs a bigger place. Anyway, itīs good to get far away sometimes from the Helsinki area and when you go out there you see all kinds of things like "whoa, if only I could photograph this on our album cover".

THE MAKING OF "WINTERHEARTīS GUILD"

Satu: How did Jens Johansson of Stratovarius end up on your album ?
Tony: We were thinking of this album with all those crazy keysolos and I didnīt want Mikko to play on this album anymore, īcos it was a situation of if you do this album, you will have to do the gigs too. And Mikko wasnīt up to that.
But Jens is such a guru who you look at high above. So we came up with an idea that if he and his brother are going to do a solo album with songs that I can sing, I could do that as a favour then. Jens is only playing solos on our album, on "Champagne Bath", "The Cage", "Victoriaīs Secret" and "Silver Tongue".

Satu: How did your part go with the album, playing keys and singing ?
Tony: I started composing so late that we didnīt have much chance to play the songs together as a band. We just went to the studio and I "threw" the songs to the guys that they should play this and this. Personally it was really tough for me. I had to be in the studio supervising all the time, īcos the guys couldnīt have done much themselves when they didnīt know how the songs go.

Satu: Have you played the keys much lately ?
Tony: A lot during the last year. Originally I was a keyboardist and then I became the singer. Iīm not the greatest player though.

Satu: Where does the name of the album come from, however itīs not a song on the album ?
Tony: Weīve never had it like that. Thereīs four seasons on the album cover, these fantasy figures have gathered to an open place in the woods and theyīre rewarding the Autumn and Winter.
I had all kinds of name ideas for the album, but I knew that no one is going to suggest anything in the end, so I have to decide on that. Theyīve put me on a position of an autocrat, it wasnīt a conscious choice. Iīm the least bit of that, but it always goes like this, Iīm suggesting something and then the guys say if itīs good or bad. But all the responsibility just falls on me. But I think you have to have nature on the cover.

Satu: You have a bonus track for the Japanese again, "The Rest Of The Sun (Belongs To Me)". Are the finnish fans going to have anything special or is it just these ten songs ?
Tony: Itīs those ten songs, but we might have something special, probably on the album cover side.

Satu: What new are the fans going to hear with this album ?
Tony: Jens ! Anyway, the vocal parts were somewhat rougher than before. Iīve brought all those things Iīve done live to this album, all that screaming and death metal grunts. From August on Iīve only done this thing and now that itīs finally done it feels like Iīve given birth, a really stupid feeling and Iīm too frightened to look at the baby yet.

Satu: Have you been looking for a certain prog thing here, 'cos some of the songs have odd changes and a lot of variety ?
Tony: I try to do what comes natural for me, but of course it has to sound like Sonata. I haven't thought of it like that. You can think it's progressive, but I'm too close to the music to say much. But it is a bit different from the earlier ones.

Satu: How hard did it turn out making this album ?
Tony: Because we were in such a hurry it was terrible.
Our tour ended on the last weekend of July and after that I started making the songs and in the middle of September we went to the studio.
For two months we sat there and I was almost going nuts. And the same day the recording was done we started doing the mixing. It wouldīve been good to have at least a two weeks break there, so we couldīve gone home and take the time to breathe a little.
Thereīs no sense in doing it like this. But with our next album weīre going to take the time with the demo, weīll do it with great devotion. I should listen to these songs now, but I couldnīt come and listen to the album much with you, īcos Iīm just so fed up with the songs right now !

Satu: Do you have any favourites at this point
Tony: "The Ruins Of My Life" and "Draw Me". Theyīre so melancholic and dramatic.

Satu: The album cover was done by Janne Pitkänen, whoīs worked with other bands as well. Was the cover his idea or did you have any say on that ?
Tony: Iīm not willing to give freedom for people on that anymore, īcos in the end everyoneīs going to ask me what does this and that mean on the cover. And itīs nice to have a chance to decide on it yourself, so you can come up with the story and what is going to be featured on it.
Like with our first album, everyone was asking me what is that thing that has crashed there in the bottom of the ocean... I have no idea !!! Itīs something...But itīs better to be involved as much as you can with everything, at least with the things you are able to work wisely on.

Satu: How much are you involved in making the videos then ?
Tony: I was the least interested the last time ! Itīs all the same as long as you are going to do that video ! But they did ask us what do the lyrics mean and stuff. Though I think itīs a bit too corny to start making a video that is blindly following the lyrics. Who knows they might be totally taken out of the concept ! We didnīt have any discussion about our next video though.

THE SONGS

"Abandoned, Pleased, Brainwashed, Exploited" is what happened during the last year in the world. Finland is such a small and peaceful country where nothing ever happens. And then comes this bomb thing (in the shopping mall in Vantaa, where people died from a young manīs self - made bomb) and I got the idea from there, like we will soon blow up this planet or should we wait for the meteor in 2019. That we are going to make a mess here.

"Gravenimage" is about when you start gaining a certain kind of success and all that business side comes along.

"The Cage" is a wolf story. A wolf is locked into a cage and you have to save it. Thereīs a certain kind of "get free from the chains" side to this story.
Thereīs not always a deeper meaning to the lyrics, because if you start dealing with the bad things in the music, you can totally ruin the music.

"Silver Tongue" Thereīs certain kinds of people who you simply canīt understand and itīs all the same what they say or do, especially many women are like that. (Right here Tony is about to get lots of honey poured on him from the jar that is on the table) .
But itīs like men are from Mars and women are from Venus. And of course there are people who are always talking and they can sneak themselves out of every situation. The title Silver Tongue comes somewhere from tv, a lot of ideas come from there.

"The Misery" is a certain kind of love story. For me itīs got itīs own meaning, you find yours.

"Victoriaīs Secret" This is going to be a single. Itīs about how some people are prisoners of certain things, relationships and people all through their lives. They canīt or donīt have the guts to let go and find their own path. And when you finally leave, it might not be a good thing at all. But there are people who should courage themselves and break free.

"Champagne Bath" Itīs about these vain celebrities, who are famous only because theyīre in the spotlight.

"Broken" is kind of an X-Files or Roswell song. Or that scene was the inspiration. Basically about learning how to be a human.

"The Rest Of The Sun Belongs To Me" is the Japanese bonus track, itīs about nature. I was going through ideas for the song and then I went to the armyīs repetition training when we had kaamos, a time of the year when the sun doesnīt rise at all, and I really need the sun. I was like you can do what you want with the ocean, but let the sun be!

"The Ruins Of My Life" is a bit like Braveheart (the movie), it tells a story about a man who is going to war and when he comes back his house is burnt down and his wife murdered. He carries his wife to the hills and buries her there and then slits his own wrists.

"Draw Me" My friends dad used to draw when he was younger and he drew a big painting of his own father and soon after that his father died. Then he drew his own brother and shortly after he also died. After this he decided he will never draw again, he just wonīt.

Satu: What is happening with the "Chapter" album ?
Tony: I have no clue. The songs and the ideas are ready but the music isnīt. Itīs kind of an "End Of This Chapter" type of an album, an easier and mellower one, though darker. The basic idea is involved around that "Chapter". We will work on it when we have the time. I tried to work on it faster, but this new album was such a tough thing to do.

THE TOUR

Tony: Henkka is ready to go with us on the tour and we will go to Japan at least. Canada, USA and Australia would also be fun to do. Now we have to contribute more on the visual side. It will cost a lot, but in the end it will pay itself back.