Interview with Eicca Toppinen for verdammnis.com

Original french interview for www.verdammnis.com

English translation - Vordaï Mercier

Apocalyptica's members were in Paris at the end of June for two days of very intensive promo to prepare the release of their new album "7th Symphony" on August 23rd, 2010.

Interview with Eicca Toppinen in a corner of this very colored hotel at the Porte de La Chapelle to shed a new light on the band's objectives.

With the group, you arrived in Paris yesterday, how are you?

Eicca: We arrived from Berlin yesterday, we went from interview to interview inter during 8 hours, speaking non-stop with just some lavatory breaks. Today, that's better, only 6 hours and a half of interviews! We didn't go out of this hotel since our arrival, but as I know Paris, it's not a big drama for me. For the moment, we are burst because of work and promo, but I'll return in France next week for my holidays!

7th Symphony will go out at the end of August, can you tell us more about its content?

Eicca: We have 4 sung tracks, 3 which are more rock, more pop. And one much more metal, with Joe Duplantier from Gojira. We totally wanted to differentiate our instrumental tracks of the sung pieces. On the previous album, we had our instrumentals with a classic construction stanza / tune, and we figured out if it should be vocal tracks or not. This time, we tried more progressive, longer, more varied pieces. I think that Apocalyptica's music is more present in its entirety on this album. It's more dynamic, it reminds to me our album "Cult", released 10 years ago, with very classic compositions in their structure but which sounded metal. I think that this new album possesses more symphonic, classic and progressive elements, it's more free of formal stuff. It's very exciting for us, this global structure of the album, you can difficultly isolate a song in it.

Can you give us details on certain pieces, like "Bring Them to Light" who sounds rather heavy?

Eicca: We wrote this song with Joe Duplantier, such a while ago in Paris. I'm happy that we were able to release it on the album, we really wanted this collaboration to be made. Often our sung tunes are rather quiet, except' Repressed' with Max Calavera and Matt Tuck. We wanted something of very "fast and furious", not the kind of thing you could hear on radio (Laughs). It's a good song, it doesn't sounds like Gojira nor Apocalyptica, but as a good mixture of both. I can't tell you what's my favourite in the album, but I like very much our introduction "At The Gates of Manala", which is very long and consists of several parts. It's again something new for Apocalyptica.

How do you choose the artwork?

Eicca: We wanted a beautiful cover, something close to the perfection. It's an important introduction, even if only for people buying the CD: they take the CD in hand, look at the artwork, and that gives them a first impression. Then, they open it, have a second impression before finally listening to the album. We wanted to continue on the cello theme, represented here by this woman. We wanted a mixture of beauty, darkness, romanticism. We began to think about it last summer, we made several drafts before taking the photo in Finland. We wanted to avoid a false image of the band, with photos not matching 100 % with the rest of the artwork, which would be cool but not brilliant, and we wanted something brilliant. We shot a video for the single "End Of Me", directed by Lisa Mann, who had already did it on "I Don't Care". I like her style, it fits really well to our music. And this vid is connected to the album cover, you see the woman-cello creature both in a "malefic" version and in one "bright" one. They are like sirens, trying to catch Gavin Rossdale, who fights not to give in to their singings. We are going to shoot three vids for this album and we'll try to make a kind of trilogy by keeping the same elements in each one. To summarize, I think that the main word to describe this artwork is "beautiful". It's dark, but it's very beautiful.

Can we seek some kind of story in certain pieces, references to Victor Hugo in "On The Rooftop With Quasimodo" for example?

Eicca: There are surement some links, but not very strong. About "Quasimodo", it is a love story, thus a love song, even if it's a strange one. For example, I like to say that our title "2010" is a "love song of the end of the world"! (Laughs). There are not necessarily stories, knowing that we decide on titles once the tracks are written. For example, on "The Rage of Poseidon", I picture a roman galley 2000 years ago, navigating on the Mediterranean Sea, I almost hear the rowers clamours. By the middle of the piece, when it becomes enraged, you can imagine Poseidon dragging all the boats into the dark depths (Laughs)! I laugh at it, but it's really the image which comes to my mind when I listen to the final version of this song.

Do you plan to make a purely classic concert, without aspects metal of your music one day?

Eicca: No, not really. We have never planned to be "classic". However, last week we recorded acoustic sessions of 5 or 6 songs for a Live DVD include in the limited edition of the album. We also tested some purely classic parts during concert, to see how that works, just to calm a bit the show, and that fitted well. We really want to keep this element in our concerts.

And will you play again in jam session with other groups?

Eicca: Yes, it's easy to combine our music to other's one. It's always a problem of time and organization: it's not as simple as "OK, we go on stage and we play", we needs to settle a whole lot of technical problems before. But we are going to play again with Rammstein in a festival in Quebec in July. Two weeks ago we played in a festival in the USA with Three Days Grace, Adam Gontier joined us for "I Don' t Care" and in return, we played during their concert. This kind of exchanges is always a pleasure.

Will you have guests with you on the coming tour?

Eicca: We have a live singer who tours with us for one year now, and that works well. But if one of our guests on albums is available for a concert, might that be in a festival or just if he's in the area at the moment, he will always be more than welcome! As we made him with Adam Gontier in fact. So it's possible that one of our guests joins us live, but only in a punctual way and we'll decide case by case.

In your beginning, there was no drums, no singing. Will you be tempted by other instrumental combinations on the long term?

Eicca: No... Well, we have no rules on this subject. Everything depends on the music which we are writting right now, and of which instrument would fit best to it. We have no precise dogma. For example, on the last album, people believe they hear guitars, but there isn't a single one, there is only cellos. But for example if we think we need a piano, or a trumpet on a song, then we will use them. We aren't blocked on our cellos, the important is that the result sounds as good as possible. But there will be no other instruments added in a definitive way to the group, in no way.

Couldn't be the role of your guests to integrate their universe into your compositions?

Eicca: Not really, except maybe for Dave Lombardo from time to time. Naturally, that could be cool to have a guitarist who comes and play a guitar solo, but we also like playing them ourselves with our cellos! (Laughs). But if for example Steve Vai arrives and tell us"oh my God, I would so like to play a guitar solo for you", naturally we would agree! We have no precise plans, we want to let things happen naturally.

If you had to choose a single artist, alive or dead, with whom to play, who would it be?

Eicca: Just one? Hmmm, personally, I would choose James Hetfield. I would like to see him singing with our cellos behind. It's my ultimate choice. Of course, there's a lot of great artists with whom we would like to play, but if I had to choose only one, it would be him.

Would it be possible according to you?

Eicca: I believe, yeah! I have the feeling that contrary to what their song says, the day will come! (Laughs)

What will you do in weeks to come?

Eicca: I have two weeks of holidays, I'll come back to Paris, but we still have a huge mass of work in the future, rehearsals... Then we'll begin our concerts in England, in Mexico, in Canada, in the USA, in Europe, and back the USA and in Europe again (Laughs) then in Asia, Australia, in South America... We have two or three years of concerts to do. We like spacing out concerts to keep some pleasure for every evening, not to go from gigs to gigs. We prefer to tour during three years with a quiet rhythm rather than two years and to finish exhausted and dulled.

It's time to leave I believe.

Eicca: Yes, sorry, we have our plane within less than one hour! Thank you for all these questions.
See you in the Zenith of Paris on October 31st, 2010!

© Apocello.ru, 2010

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