Sonata Arctica: Buy the album and there will be another one, steal it and you can blame yourself for bands ending their careers

The icy undertones of this band’s name make you think about enshrouding notes making their way to you from a frozen, deserted landscape, the sheer emptiness of which gives a shrill, but enchanting, depth to the eerie music.

We’re talking about SONATA ARCTICA, who have just released their latest album, "Stones Grow Her Name", on the 18th of May, 2012. 

We have conquered the distances separating us from the guys, and, together with Henrik Klingenberg (keyboards), we’ve stolen some moments of reprieve from the dark polar night, chasing it away with our talk about the new disc and the fate of metal in a mainstream-intoxicated industry.
How is "Stones Grow Her Name" different from "The Days Of Grays"? 

Henrik: Well, there’s not so much orchestral stuff on this one and the guitars are heavier and louder than before. I would say that this is our rock album. Most of the songs are quite straightforward, as well. These new songs will be a lot of fun to play live.

The new video for "I Have a Right", a track with an amazing message, is truly impressive. How is the story of the neglected child related to your music?

Henrik: To me the story is more about taking responsibility for our offspring and thinking about what kind of world we’re leaving behind.

What special guests will feature on this new-album and how have they contributed to shaping the disc’s identity?

Henrik: We have a whole bunch of guests this time. There are some weird guitar type instruments, violin, banjo, double bass, brass and some spoken parts as well. I don’t dear to start listing all the people! In case I forget someone, they will be mad at me; but rest assured – the people we worked with on this album are all absolutely amazing! We usually just use guest musicians for additional spice, and not as a cornerstone for any song, so the basic identity of the album is the 5 of us making noise.

Album-teasers, making ofs, Facebook promotion, what do you think about the new virtual ways of band promo nowadays?

Henrik: I think there are both positive and negative sides to it. For people who don’t know the band, these things help them get an idea about who the hell these guys are and what they sound like. For the fans though, it might spoil the album if you check out bits and pieces beforehand. 

Perhaps you’ve heard that Roadrunner Records has been axed. Do you think it’s a sign that alternative music is living its last days? Will mainstream pop-crap choke us to death?

Henrik: Oh, I didn’t hear that, what a shame. I don’t think mainstream crap will ever choke us to death; I just can’t allow myself to think that way. The music business is in trouble and we’ll see what the future brings and what kind of systems will pop up, but as long as people want to hear stuff that’s not on the TV or the radio, they should make sure to support the bands that they like. Buy the album and there will be another one, steal it and you can blame yourself for bands ending their careers and going back to having day-jobs instead of making music.

Your specific brand of sensitivity is very Finnish: you guys have romantic songs, with a medieval touch. Would you say there’s something in the air in Finland that makes you more prone to embrace that kind of attitude, or is Finnish melancholy just a myth.

Henrik: No I don’t think it’s a myth. I think that the biggest reason is that most of the year it’s very cold and dark and this, of course, affects the way we think and approach things, and not always in a positive way.

If you had to choose a song that you would have preferred never to write, which would it be and why?

Henrik: For one of my other bands, Silent Voices, I wrote a song back in 96, called Raw Meat…I think the world could have survived without it! Luckily though, we never recorded or released it, but occasionally the melody haunts me. Since then I have been more concerned about what I release and not what I write. I have a lot of songs on my computer, some good ones and a lot of crap that will never see the light of the day.

All in all, Sonata is a very sonically homogeneous band. Your style hasn’t shifted its course much, and has remained the delightful combination of symphonic, progressive, Gothic and heavy metal. What do you think about chameleonic bands that vary their style very much. Isn’t it risky to be "this" on an album, and "that" on the other?

Henrik: I actually think we changed our style quite a bit. While it’s, of course, a risk if you think about it that way, to me the most important thing is to make the kind of music that you like. Having done this for over 10 years now, it’s only natural that our preferences and tastes change, and I think that should reflect in our music as well. We’re not 19 anymore, you know ?

"Stones Grow Her Name" makes me think about Gothic novels. What’s the story behind the title?

Henrik: The name is a modification of a line from the song "Alone in Heaven". Originally, the album title was supposed to be "Stones Grow Dead Names", but that name seemed a bit too dark, and it didn’t really represent the music on the album. Therefore, we changed it a bit and – voila!

What was the hardest song to mix, master and produce?

Henrik: The Wildfire ones where quite a task since they’re long and progressive, but having done this for some time now I don’t think there are any hard songs… some things you just have to practice a little bit more.

Thank you Henrik!

(Alexandra Furnea)

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