Starting out as a Metallica tribute band, the unusual but brilliant combination of three classically trained cellists and heavy metal ended up taking the world by storm. In the lead up to their first tour of Australia, Emma Dean chatted to Paavo Lötjönen about heading Down Under, life on the road & recording in the nude.
By Emma Dean
So how does it feel that you’re finally coming to Australia?
You know that’s really the first time we come there. We have planned so many times to come there and I don’t know what happened but every time the plan has gone somehow wrong. We didn’t get good offers or something. So finally we can make it!
And we have heard some good stories about your country and we are happy to see all the people there. Hopefully there will be some koala bears for us. And it would be nice to see some Australian fans of Apocalyptica music there.
Have any of you been to Australia before?
It’s the first time. Ever.
That’s exciting! You get here at the end of August, don’t you?
Oh, I don’t remember the day, but I don’t know, maybe one day before the first gig. We are touring really tight – we will play a show everyday so there will no time for a holiday.
So what are you expecting from Australian fans?
I’ve heard stories from people that the mood is really relaxed and nice. You know if – I would say that it’s better not to have too much expectations and see how the audience is once we enter the stage. Anyhow it’s our job to concur our audience every evening we play the show and we try to attract you as well as possible.
I’ve read in some other interviews that you’re going to be playing some older tracks as well as some from Seventh Symphony – how has the band changed since your first album to 7th Symphony – song writing and sound-wise?
You know the year when we started this project we were a bunch of friends, we were very close friends and I’ve known Eicca [Toppinen] since he was twelve years old, or something like that [laughs], so we were metal fans and at the same time we were also classical fans and we were also playing in the orchestra.
Before the first album we were playing a couple of times a year on our own at student parties and for our friends – we didn’t have any aim to do an album or any recording, so everything was really spontaneous. We didn’t have any plans for the future or releasing the albums, so then the label, record company guy, came to us and asked for an album.
And that’s how it all started?
Yes that was Apocalyptica Plays Metallica by Four Cellos. And it was supposed to be like a project – make an album and play a couple of shows, sell maybe a thousand copies.
But suddenly the album was released all over the world, it became a big success and sold over a million copies. And so it was really a big surprise for us and of course it was a nice surprise. Definitely we didn’t plan to do that, but somehow it gave us the possibility to create a new kind of music and do another album, play more shows and make a start doing this thing. But it started spontaneously. And year by year we played more shows, we learned a lot of things, we released the second album, we learnt more things. Now we have seven albums and you can hear that we have learned something.
You’ve worked with some pretty amazing guest vocalists on your albums (Gavin Rossdale, Ville Valo, Corey Taylor to name a few) – who would you like to work with in the future?
You know all the singers we have been working with have been really great and sometimes it has been complicated to make it happen and sometimes it has been really easy. For the future, we have always said that it would be nice to cooperate with James Hetfield [lead singer, Metallica].
And finally last December we were singing together with James Hetfield. But not for the album, so maybe it would be really great to get him for the album.
I’ve also read that when you recorded 7th Symphony you recorded the album naked – how was that experience?
Really? Not too cold?
[laughs] You know that was more of a joke. But yeah we did record it naked.
I imagine it would’ve been very liberating
It was a different kind of feeling if you do that naked.
What sort of things inspire you when you’re writing?
You know inspiration comes from many kinds of things. It could be the musical inspiration from some music you are listening to and you like it, it could be also coming from the heaven. Just coming from the sky, like a flash…
You know everyday life inspires me – like an urban feeling, or it could be like nature. We are talking about music, and music is an abstract thing and sometimes it’s really hard to say where comes the inspiration. It comes from your own life and it comes from inside you. You know how composure is a shaker – it takes influences from everywhere and shakes, shakes your head and it comes out.
The inspiration – if you think about music and writing, you can hear all the influences we have done before, you can hear we are all classically trained, we love classical music, but mostly we are metal heads and we love metal music, but that’s a combination of those things.
Are there any good Finnish bands you’d like to give a shout out to?
There is a lot of good – Stam1na is a metal band. The first ‘i’ is a no. 1 – it’s like a revolution of really good players, really good music, really energetic new kind of metal. Very interactive and that’s one of my favourites at the moment. Also The Blanko are a power trio – really new and that’s a really good one as well.
And finally do you have a message for your Australian fans?
You know we have never been in Australia, not even on holiday, and we are really hungry to see our audience other there and we have heard some good stories about your country and it’s really interesting to come there. And I hope to see some Apocalyptica fans in the audience and I wish to have some really good shows.
Many thanks to Paavo for taking the time to chat to us. A special thanks also to the ladies at DeathProof PR.
To find out the Australian tour dates, check out the Apocalyptica website: www.apocalyptica.com