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Inspiration arrive from the woods

Sonata Artica is one of the bands I definitely connect with the land of Finns. It was born 12 years ago in a small town in the North where the nights are long and the snow is holding on till late spring. Over the years the profile of the band changed, it had it’s ups and downs but when they released their top hit “Full Moon” everything has changed.
Now they are able to crowd the stadiums and make worldwide tours, but there is anywhere as good as their homeland Finland. Meeting Henrik Klingenber, keyboard player of Sonata Arctica during summer open air festival Tuska in Helsinki, brought to life a conversation revealing secrets concerning the new album, festival life and what the boys are doing in the woods.

DP: This is not the first time Sonata Artica has been performing on Tuska, how did you like it this year? Are you satisfied with the gig you have given this year?

HK: You are right, this is definitely not our debt on this festival, which was by the way in 2002 when I came to the band, because I am not there from the beginning. We have been performing here already forth time. I have to say that I am satisfied with our performance, we had better we had worse. We have been almost without sleep the other night because we came right away from Belgium where we played on Graspop Metal Meeting. We were pretty tired but anyway I liked the way this gig went in the end.

DP: Graspop Metal Meeting, this is a very big festival almost 100.000 metalheads from allover the world, you have in your way another big one – Wacken Open Air and many more, Tuska is a little bit smaller but anyway 33.000 people in the audience it is also a big number. However, you play also in the clubs, for the smaller audience. Do you see the difference between those gigs? Where do you prefer to play more?

HK: Well I think anybody would say that they like to play in the small clubs. I think the best shows are when we have like 1500-2000 people in the audience in the club. Of course, the festivals they are nice, when you play for this enormous crowd, but personally, I prefer to play in the smaller places. However, I think it is good to have a balance between both of the types. For the reason we are on tour most of the time in the year so it is really grate when the Summer comes, the sun come out, and you can play some open air gigs, meet fans. During festivals we have sometimes unique chance to meet our friends from other bands in the BS. This might sound peculiar but mostly we meet only on the festival, because they are on the studio, when we are touring, they’re touring and when we are in the studio it is hard to get along together in the end. The other thing is, that we live so far up in the north (Kemi) where not so much bands live, make gigs (laugh). On the autumn we are going to do some more longer tours, so now it is nice to be on home-festivals because you can go and meet your family, but I like the changes I wouldn’t like to play just clubs or just festivals.

DP: You have pretty impressive stage arrangements, fireworks and other special effects during the show. Who is responsible for the preparation, who gives the ideas

HK: Well, we are working it together with our fire technician. He is really creative person, he also works with Children Of Bodom. Everybody is bringing their ideas, actually it is changing with the albums that comes of course With every new album/ tour we try to change them a little bit, give some fresh looks but we always have this ramp you can ran into over the drummers head. The fire show is a separate thing, as I said we burst the ideas and all the other work goes to our technician. Though, you have to be very careful, when you perform on the stage, and full around with those special effects. You have to learn them, when they are going to blow up not to get hurt  However not everywhere there is a possibility for us to bring all of those stuff because of the transportation cost and sometimes the place we play is to small or not prepared for the piro-effects. Therefore, if you want to be sure to see us with all those attractions you must come to Finland, or for the bigger festivals like WOA.

DP: On the gigs you are using this special keyboard which reminds little bit of guitar, and you hold it like guitar. It brings out the memories of the bands from the 80’. Is this as well a scene arrangement?

HK: Yeah cause it is originally from the 80’  And it is actually Tony’s fault, cause he have seen me playing with this instrument with other band I was before Sonata Artica. He thought it would be awesome to use it on stage. I have to say that this is relay special to play on this kind of instrument, because when you play normal keyboards you are stable, morel - you can only bang your had and stuff like that. With this gear you can run on the stage like the guitar players, and I don’t like to sit in the corner, I like to be in the move On the other hand you have to learn to use it properly, cause this is not so easy to learn playing on them:  And I have to be very careful using on the stage cause they probably do not make them anymore, so when I brake this It will cost me loads of money to repair it, or it maybe even impossible to do it 

DP: Lets talk now a little bit about your last album “Unia”. I heard it is very personal for the members of the band, can you relate to this?

HK: Well the album we made in a little bit different way than the previous ones, as well as it is done normally with the albums. We enter the studio with the songs we have already rehearsed for some time. I think that shows that arrangements are a little bit different, because we already worked on them for one month before. This makes it more personal for sure, but I think it was mostly for Tony. He has very good and sometimes crazy imagination, most of the songs especially the Sonata Arctica love songs tell about his live and personal experience… Both of those components mix very smoothly.

DP: You are still promoting Unia, when can we expect the new album to come? Which path you will fallow this time?

HK: Well I think it will come out in the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. I think we are going to work with the same method as we did with Unia. Firstly we will probably go to the woods and rehearse a little bit before realization. In the woods you can find silence and concentrate yourself, more ideas come to your mind, the whole surroundings can inspire you to write a perfect tune, create brilliant lyrics. We do not have any pressure from our label (SpineFarm), because one of the conditions in our contract is that we make our albums when we are ready to do them. Meaning when we feel and we are sure the songs we composed are exactly as we expect them to be. Until now, they have trusted us and it worked perfectly, so I hope they will continue to do so

DP: When the new material is coming out, people start to criticize it, compare it to the old material, which is natural. But how much do you care about what is written in the papers?

HK: Well when the album comes out of course, we are curious what it is written about it… However, we are not taking those comments so seriously. There always will be people who will like it or tell this is crap and what you did wrong. Of course, we are happy with the positive review, but we are not killing ourselves because of those bad ones. However, in the other hand if everybody tells you that what you are doing is shit, it is not so nice, but sometimes you can get something constructive. We appreciate the suggestions, but not all of them because sometimes they can save us for making the worst mistake ever. Once Tony almost got rid of some nice piece of music, because he thought it is shit. So you have to be really careful with the judgments you make on the especially rough material 

DP: Sonata Artica as a band was born in 1996, so now you can celebrate your 12 anniversary. If you would give a big party what other bands, you would like to perform for you?

HK: I suppose it would be Nightwish and Childen of Bodom, cause they are a really good friends of ours. But If I could choose any band, I would like to have Metalica performing. But being serous. I think if that kind of event will happen someday, maybe when the band will be on stage for 25 years, we will just simply go to the woods and take there our friends from the other bands and play unplugged. We always have a good time together

DP: I was browsing your website and I discovered you have founded a new section called FAN TATOOS. There internauts can find what kind of Sonata Arctica tattoos fans did for themselves

HK: Yeah, I have seen that. I think that is a really cool idea. Many people are fans are showing us their SA tattoo. Toni was collecting them, he made pictures – it made him feel very proud of the band, but he couldn’t published them of course, without the rights. Now when we started this new gallery everybody can put there pictures of their tattoos by themselves. It is fun for us to see what people are coming out with, some of them are really amazing

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