Interview with Mikko Siren and Eicca Toppinen

Interview was made in the club "B1 Maximum" before the show in Moscow, 12.08.2010.

Interview - Evgenia Melnikova

Evgenia: I won't ask you why you titled the new album "7th Symphony"...

Mikko: Thank you. (Shakes Ev's hand)

Evgenia: except maybe - who was the first to pick up this... title for the first time? That would think this is the title?

Mikko: I can't remember because we were just sitting in the kitchen...

Eicca: Yeah, we talked there.

Mikko: We chatted about it, happy talk about the symphony title name for, already with World's Collide, it was sort of like...

Eicca: Yeah, everyone was just throwing, I can't recall who said it first. And then Perttu was like "okay that's the title" and then...

Mikko: Yeah... Do you think it's a good title?

Evgenia: Yes.

Mikko: Good! (Mikko and Eicca both nod)

Evgenia: How many songs were composed and how many entered into the final version of the album?

Mikko: I think maybe four vocal tracks didn't end up in the album and maybe three instrumentals. So we basically putted almost everything, and actually even two of the instrumentals are released on the special edition. So, nearly everything we recorded ended up on the album, except for some vocal tracks and those we didn't keep...

Eicca: Yeah, sometimes it's hard to say which was written for 7th Symphony, because everybody's writing stuff, but not like thinking "okay we've got to write this for Apocalyptica albums" it's hard to say which were actual written songs because someone was presenting a song which was not really a song and we put the count first.

Mikko: Yes.

Eicca: But in the beginning we had a lot of vocal tracks because we wanted to have different options for different singers and see what songs work out best. And at the very last moment we wrote most of the instrumental stuff, came in really late for this album. And ah, three, we had three more songs than on the ten track version, and two of them were really, as you said (referring to Mikko) on special edition and one of those was really to be titled, whatever...

Mikko: Itunes...

Eicca: Itunes bonus track. Nowadays you basically need to have so many bonus tracks for different ...

Mikko: Oh my god...

Eicca: You know...

Mikko: I think we have 37 or 27 different versions of this album, different songs, different bonus tracks. We did one bonus track for Japan as well, and like, Black Sabbath's cover version of Spiral Architect...

Eicca: Yeah, there are so many different "B-sides" you have to record.

Evgenia: Will you play Spiral Architect live?

Mikko: No.

Eicca: No.

Mikko: (laughs) Maybe, you never know. Maybe on some special occasion, if we would play, let's say Ozzfest, and Ozzy would be there...

Eicca: Yeah...

Mikko: Then we might play it, but not today. We going to be play three songs out of the new album though today.

Evgenia: Will there be Sacra and Beautiful?

Mikko: Yeah, and End of Me.

Eicca: Yeah.

Evgenia: With Tipe? (Note: Tipe Johnson)

Mikko: With Tipe, ja.

Evgenia: Who wrote the lyrics on the new album?

Eicca: Different songs, different people. Um, the lyrics of End of Me were written by Johnny Andrews. I wrote the song together with him. We worked a lot with him in the past, and we did too on this record.

Mikko: And most important, I think everybody really liked the stuff he's writing, it's been a long, long collaboration...

Eicca: So we wanted to continue his works, with I'm Not Jesus, and S.O.S. and stuff...

Evgenia: I know you performed a few shows with Johnny Andrews in US.

Mikko: Yeah, we did 3, 4 shows...

Eicca: Yeah, he began to sing on the other tour, but we had to replace him very quickly so that's why we got Toryn in . But um, of course Gavin Rossdale was a little bit changing the lyrics for the song he was singing. And on one song, I wrote together with Joe Duplantier. The whole song was kind of co-writing, and also did the lyrics. Each it's a different approach. Some singers want to be very much involved in the writing, other singers just want to sing the song, and change little details. But we never write full lyrics, because with our English it's hard to really get great things because great lyrics always have to develop more symbolic ways of saying things and if you aren't native, it's sort of hard to handle the language properly.

Evgenia: In an interview you said that Gavin not only recorded the vocals, but was also involved in the creation of the melody and lyrics.

Eicca: Not really. He was more about changing some little things, but in general the song is like it was written originally.

Mikko: Contrary to Lacey, who did change, for example there is this one middle-age style part, and then she was really adamant, she wanted it different from the original version because she felt it didn't fit her and it was kind of big, so we changed the whole part and it came out great. She really was a big part of making the song. What a great, great person.

Evgenia: Will you release more singles?

Eicca: Yes.

Mikko: We have three at least from this album.

Eicca: We have already done videos, for all those three.

Mikko: The videos are trilogy so...

Evgenia: With Brent and Lacey, and how about...

Mikko: Gavin?

Evgenia: How about Joe?

Mikko: With Gavin, that's out already.

Eicca: There are two more.

Mikko: Yeah, two more, and at least now.

Eicca: It would be great to make a single with Joe's song, but there's no radio format anywhere which could play it. And the thing is, sometimes fans are asking "why don't you release this single and why don't you release instrumental single?' But the very obvious question is, why would you release a single if nobody plays it? You know, the whole idea of singles, is to promote the record, but you can't, because there's no real radio in the world who would play any of those instrumental tracks. Or would show the video or so on so forth.

Mikko: Or if they would play that kind of music, they could pick it up from the album itself.

Eicca: Yeah, the album.

Mikko: So doesn't need to be a single.

Eicca: Or maybe in Finland some radios could play them or this Gojira track as well, but...

Mikko: We have got two cool radio stations.

Evgenia: I know only two radio stations in Moscow that play Apocalyptica songs.

Eicca: In general, and they play the easiest songs.

Evgenia: Yeah.

Evgenia: when will we see the next two videos with Brent and Lacey?

Mikko: We really can't say. The video with Brent is finalized already. The one with Lacey is still on editing. But, it really depends on how much Gavin's song works for radio. I would say you will see the video with Brent by the end of the year, and Lacey's video later.

Eicca: Later next year, some when. The videos are very strongly related. They were basically shot on the same location. Not necessarily on the same spot, but on the actual mood. Maybe a little different colour.

Evgenia: Is it the same director? Lisa Mann?

Eicca: Yeah.

Mikko: Yeah, and there is this story going. This really abstract story, but anyway.

Evgenia: You're already playing 3 new songs in the show. How many songs will you play in the future from the new album?

Mikko: At some point, all of them, maybe not during the same show, but we will definitely play all of them live. We were just rehearsing today one of the new songs. When the album is going to be out, I think we will play up to six songs.

Eicca: We were rehearsing three songs because during the album conception, to be honest, we wrote most of the instrumental songs when we started to record. Of course they were completely done songs when we start to record but they were divided . So we didn't have any rehearsals of those songs as a whole before the studio recording, and therefore, now we're in the ditches, we have the song so we have to rehearse to figure out how to play them live. And ah, that's why now there's only three and next week we're trying to learn three or four more and find the right arrangement, because it's totally different when you're playing the song for the album. You can have so much, you can add so many different elements on the record as you like, but of course in a live situation we are three cellos and drums and we have to create the same feeling with that. So we have to rearrange the songs, sometimes a lot.

Evgenia: Recently, after your MySpace page had been updated, we suddenly realized that the song S.O.S. with Cristina sounded a bit different. It was with a male vocal and a different arrangement.

(Mikko and Eicca look at each other for a moment confused.)

(Mikko laughs)

Eicca: That sounds interesting.

Mikko: So in our MySpace site, had a different version of S.O.S.?

Evgenia: Yes.

Mikko: I'll have to check that out.

Eicca: Sounds interesting.

Evgenia: Actually, I emailed to Apocalyptica management with a question about this song and the song was removed.

Eicca: Okay, so some hacker must have been there. (laughs)

Mikko (laughing): That's cool. That's nice. That's great.

Eicca: I was thinking, did we make another version, no, that is crazy, exciting.

Mikko: No, we have no idea, but it sounds really good.

Evgenia: In my opinion, and many others, this song will sounds great with the male vocals.

Mikko & Eicca: Yeah.

Mikko: Cool.

Evgenia: Maybe you will try?

Eicca: Maybe we can do this with Tipe?

Mikko: Yes.

Eicca: We'll do it with him. Who knows.

Evgenia: I heard this song (S.O.S.) performed on Golden Gods Award and it sounded very different if compare with the album version - more heavy.

Eicca: The album version of S.O.S. was kind of the "ballad" of the album. That's why, we thought it became too much bombastic already to be the ballad of the record. So...

Evgenia: Mikko, you've played both with bass and with cello, but which is your personal preference of instrument?

Mikko: Which of those? Double bass definitely. Size does matter, for sure.

Evgenia: And when your are traveling?

Mikko: Really don't know, when we are going to do the European tour maybe we can throw it at the audience in the end of the...

Interview interrupted at this time by Perttu, who rushes in and pounces on both Mikko and Eicca's laps to which he is shoved off. Perttu and Eicca speak a bit in Finnish and Perttu leans over to make a face at the camera. Ev stops to give Perttu a gift and gets picture and signature.

Evgenia (to Perttu): How are you?

Perttu: Fucking brilliant.

(Eicca and Mikko laugh at Perttu who then leaves the area)

Evgenia: How much are personal sympathies important when you choose the vocalists or instrumentists to record on your albums?

Eicca: We always wanted to work with people we admire the way of working, or sound or style. And we want to work in a good will. Everybody have to want to do the collaboration. We never go to anybody and go "okay, can we buy you, you know, to sing on our album?" No, that's not it. You know, we want to collaborate with people and those collaborations should be made to make great music. And that's always the way we want to approach it.

Evgenia: What happened to your old concert clothing and stage prop?

Mikko: We wear them until they are dead.

Eicca: I have so-called video pants, that have um (laughs) been in the videos for eight years or so, I don't know.

Mikko: And I just bought new trousers but I bought them from Perttu. (Both laugh)

Eicca: But we're recycling our tour clothes and not having any new ones.

Evgenia: Do you mean your gaffa tape pants? I saw it on "End of me" video.

Eicca: Yes, those are the video pants, I used them in the End of Me video as well. Those are the favorite "video pants".

Mikko: When the director see them for the first time... "Those are great!"

Eicca: Yeah, whatever pants I bring, they always pick those. They're like "Oh! Those are modern!"

Evgenia: Last question about clothes, Mikko what happened to your leggings?

Mikko: What happened to my leggings? Weeelll, I wear them everyday. (Both laugh)

Evgenia: New promo photos. Their author is Ralf Strathmann, you've been working with him for a long time. How about other photographers?

Mikko: Yeah, we work with him. We find that to work with Ralf is truly easy for us. He's really good at directing us and he knows us first...

Eicca: He knows us.

Mikko: And somehow we would be in shit if anybody else took the pictures. Now we actually did really cool video shoot with John McMurtrie, an English guy who shoots for Iron Maiden and Avenged Sevenfold. He was really different. Loads of make-up and kind of theatrical shots.

Eicca: And destroying the cellos, and people got terrified I think.

Mikko: Yes.

Eicca: Yes, they'll say, "they are idiots".

(Mikko laughs)

Eicca: "You are idiots! What were you doing?"

Evgenia: You have already performed new songs at live shows. I feel very happy to have heard the premiere of Beautiful in Finnish Metal Expo this February in Helsinki. I know you recorded the video on FME, will you release it somewhere?

Eicca: I haven't seen the video.

Mikko: Actually, I think we were more shooting still photos on that day, and not really a video and we didn't record it properly so it won't be released.

Eicca: Yes, seems that the DVD market is so low nowadays, that making a DVD is to expensive. That there's basically no financial possibility to create a real proper DVD, taken from a concert that we didn't have from the Worlds Collide tour. Let's hope the technique will get so cheap that we can afford at some point of the tour.

Mikko: And that's even if you, you who steal everything and steal for free, and therefore we can't do videos. (frowns)

Eicca: (laughs) Yeah, it's your fault.

Mikko: Hahaa! (Makes face with hands at the camera)

(Eicca laughs)

Evgenia: I heard you were close to cancel the gig in Moscow because of the weather.

Mikko & Eicca: Yeah.

Mikko: I think in news everywhere, they told the weather conditions were so bad, that basically the Finnish Foreign Administration told people not to go there.

Eicca: Yeah, but the thing was that, we were afraid to get stuck on the airport that we know the flight...

Evgenia: I was ready to rescue you.

(Both laughs as Ev offers them dust masks)

Mikko: Oh, this is great.

Eicca: The thing is we heard that everyone was leaving the city, that's what the information was saying. That's like, "why would we go to a city that eve leaving?' Then what if we go and no one is coming to the show? And there was the risk we couldn't fly out the next day to do a show the day after that. And if the airport is not working, we get stuck in here and we need to cancel two other shows and because the other shows were festivals, we can't move them. And so the Moscow show, okay that's the moving part, we can move that show to some day in the future, but thank god we could come...

Mikko: Luckily we didn't have to cancel, but we were really waited till we got the confirmation, I think on Wednesday...

Eicca: We really heard okay, that there's real sun and people coming to the show...

Mikko: And there's a possibility that the weather gets better if it started to rain so we...

Eicca: And we're not scared of forest fire, and you know, whatever happens because of that, but from Finland it looked like too many risky elements talking about the shows and stuff.

Evgenia: Can you say something funny for our Russian audience? In Russian maybe?

(Both laugh and start to speak Russian words with funny/horrible pronunciation and then start to sing the song "Kappe kappe pectopah")

Evgenia: Thank you, my dreams come true - I heard Eicca singing!

Eicca: What?

Evgenia: I heard you singing.

Mikko: Well that's terrible.

(Both laugh)

Evgenia: Thank you very much.

Both - Thank you.

Special thanks:
to Perttu - for keeping us company,
to Vordaï Mercier and Michelle Schoofs for the help with the interview.

©, 2010

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