【face-to-face / interview】APOCALYPTICA

Finnish cello rockers APOCALYPTICA will release their 8th studio-album in April 2015 via Eleven Seven Music Group. Titled « Shadowmaker », this new record was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Nick Raskulinecz (FOO FIGHTERS, DEFTONES, MASTODON) and will feature, for the first time, an exclusive on the vocal tracks.

Apocalyptica

Your 8th studio-album, « Shadowmaker », will be released in April 2015. For the very first time, you worked with only one singer, Franky Perez. Why did you decide to work with an exclusive singer on the vocal tracks ?
Paavo : Phew, it’s a long story to tell ! We released our last album, « 7th Symphony », about five years ago. We, then, toured the world for three long years. After the tour, we needed a break, we needed to get back to a normal life and rest. It lasted two years… Well, kind of. Those two years weren’t not as busy as the years we spent on tour but we did work on some ideas and concepts. We did the Wagner Reloaded project in 2013 — a massive crossover project that mixed dance choreographies and classical music, Richard Wagner’s music. Then, last March I think, we did a tour with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. We played APOCALYPTICA’s songs rearranged with the musicians of the orchestra. When we get back to normal rehearsals with the other guys of the band, we thought that it was time to do something different. We have been collaborating with so many artists, with so many different people for many years. We have been flirting so much with the classical crossover music thing, that we felt the need to do something more basic, something more Rock N Roll if I can say so. We wanted to try something different than those last two massive productions I just mentioned. This time around, we just want to focus on what is APOCALYPTICA as a Rock band. We thought at the time when we gathered ideas : « OK, Let’s make a band record ». I must admit that we also thought about how it must be annoying for the fans to listen to songs on CD that can’t be fully experienced live. Emotions really differ from the way the song is sung. We can’t tour with all of the artists with whom we collaborate on albums. Because of that special reason, we always thought that we were not a solid band. Everytime, we had to change the line-up… This time, we will have the same line-up for the tour that we have on the recording-studio album. Franky is not a permanent band member… Well, not yet. Nobody knows what will happen in the future. But you get the idea.

What would you say Franky has brought to “Shadowmaker” ?
Paavo : He helped a lot get what we wanted. It would have been different if he hadn’t been there. He’s a very good singer as well as a musician. I love his voice. He’s definitely not just a regular singer. He has a deeply expressive sound and he’s able to sing different styles of music, which is perfect for APOCALYPTICA, since our songs are as heavy metal as melodic and soft. The singer we had to choose needed to match all of those aspects of our music. Franky is a perfect match.

When and how did he come into the picture ?
Paavo : We did an audition. Not an open audition though (laughs). We asked our friends in the music business to spread the word. And we got about 25 suggestions. I can’t tell you the names (laughs). We went through those names and asked a few of them to record « I’m not Jesus », which the original is sung by Corey Taylor who has a very powerful voice. From those we picked out three and asked them to sing a little piece of « Hole In My Soul » from the new album. Franky was the obvious choice. It was a tricky thing to do because it’s not an easy song to sing. Franky was by far the best. He has such a wide range of vocals. He didn’t have anything active going except his solo record, but nothing band-wise. That is how he came into the picture.

How did your music-making process and musical approach change with having the same singer on the vocal tracks ?
Paavo : Hum… It didn’t change too much in the writing process but for sure it did in the making process. We changed some of the intrumental tracks with him. It’s hard to say how our musical approach changed with having an exclusive singer but it sure did. It was like having another member of the band, another voice to listen to, another point of view to satisfy. Making music is all about trying things back and forth, rehearsing and working deeper what sounds best. It’s about emotions. Having another person with us means having to deal with his emotions, his story, his background. It would have been different without him. How ? I can’t answer. The records is what it is, because he was there. I think people will have to figure it out by themselves, when listening to it.

About the artwork. The prominence of the white color generally connotes innocence and purity which contrasts with the title « Shadowmaker » and its content. Is there a special hidden meaning ?
Paavo : You got us ! Yes there is. You guys will have to wait for the album to be released to check the booklet out. No well… I can give you some hints, just for you (laughs). The main color of the artwork cover is white. The background is white, the girls are dressed in white, their skin is white, their lips are white. Just like you pointed it out, it connotes fragility, innocence and purity. But you know what they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. The artwork is not what will be found in the booklet. The booklet is actually inspired by comic books. The artwork tells a story, a story just like it is presented in comic books. You can expect other characters, black characters, very dark and scary characters, with no skin. Us ? Probably. Is this girl the shadow maker ? Who is the shadomaker ?

I guess people have to wait for April to find out.
Paavo : Exactly (laughs).

You recorded a music-video in Toronto a few days ago for the first single « Cold Blood ». Lisa Mann directed it. Can you tell us more about that experience ? How is she like to work with ?
Paavo : She worked with us for the « 7th Symphony » videos. She is an incredible woman, she has such beautiful visions and a great artistic style. The story for « Cold Blood » begins with a music box. When open, the music plays on… Let me show you some pictures. [Paavo gets his cell phone out of his pocket and connects to Instagram]. There you go. There are black characters. There is also magic and white images. Those are beautiful images, aren’t they ? Check this out, there is George Clooney in the video… Oh no, sorry, it’s just Franky (laughs). Look, a beautiful lady with long blonde hair… Damn ! It’s not a woman, it’s Eicca (laughs). Then you have Perttu… And Mikko… The video will be out within two weeks. I’m so looking forward to seeing it. People, if you want to see those beautiful images, go on our Instagram. We have way more people following us on Facebook than on Instagram, what a shame. You are missing something. If you want to see George Clooney and this beautiful blonde haired woman, you definitely have to log on Instagram (laughs). Perttu uses it on daily basis. Will you publish the link ?

http://instagram.com/apocalypticaofficial

OK, I will. We’re running out of time. Last question : What would be the greatest strength of the band, and its weakness ?
Paavo : The live-performance is the most important aspect of what we do, so I would say that it is our greatest strength because we always put 100% of ourselves into it. When we are on stage, we get into a wide range of powerful emotions. When we play music in front of people who love us and enjoy themselves, we get into a trance. People smile, sing, scream, sometimes they cry, and so do we. It’s intense, just like sex. You touch them to the core of their souls, they touch us to the core of our hearts. It’s all about energy and emotions. It’s a beautiful interaction between human-beings. It really is similar to sex (laughs). Our weakness… The beautiful girls who attend those concerts (laughs).

Thank you for your time.
Paavo : You’re welcome. Come see us at Zenith Paris in November.

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