Interview with Eicca Toppinen and Mikko Siren for in Moscow, 2014

We met Eicca and Mikko before the "Apocalyptic Symphony" show with Avanti! orchestra in Moscow, 15 march 2014. Apocalyptica already played few shows in Finland and one show in St.-Petersburg. So, we had a chance to ask the guys about their most important projects of the last time "Wagner Reloaded" and "Apocalyptic Symphony tour", and also to talk about the next album's secrets.

The biggest part of Apocalyptica songs are composed by Eicca. If you were not such a talented composer, who else in the band could replace him in this job?

Mikko: (immediately) Nobody. It would be a different band.

Eicca: It would be the different band, yes. And from the history, I think, without I write songs, that it would not be Apocalyptica. Nowadays Mikko is writing great songs, and Paavo, and Perttu, everybody is writing good songs, but still... there would not be Apocalyptica.

But you could still would play cover songs?

Eicca: Ooh no, but that would... (waves by hands)

Mikko: ..Yeah, the band would not exist.

Eicca: Yeah, the interest for the band would have been done for so long time ago. It is very necessary to come from covers to original songs because, that's how a real band works.

If we talk about the technical side of your performances, Mikko, you sometimes when you are performing at various radio stations, you use some magic box. It replaces your whole drum set. What is this tool?

Mikko: It's a Cajon. It's the name of the instrument. It's from Caribbean instruments. It is combination of Latin percussion and bit of the drums, it doesn't replace anything, but it's great fun and you can do a couple songs with it. It's very entertaining.

Maybe sometimes you can play spoons?

Mikko: Yeah, spoons are also very entertaining, yes.

I saw many interviews where you are talking about your work for "Wagner Reloaded" project and seems now we know everything about it. Is there something that nobody asked about yet, or some hidden part of this project?

Mikko: That's a good one...

Eicca: (thinking quite long time) It's difficult. I think what no one asked was what was most difficult, most scary on the performance. There were two very scary things on the performances. The most difficult part was walking on stage with long coats and with hoodies on, we couldn't see anything, and we had those human stairs. In the rehearsals we fucked up so many times. We were stepping up on the jacket and not getting up on or missing the step. That was very difficult. And the next thing was the high position. It was very high.

Mikko: We played, it was over 10 meters where we stayed.

Eicca: There was no fence in the front, so it was kind of... oh! We were running up the stairs very quickly and like... (moves arm forward and takes deep breath) "This is my position, and then work and not think about how high is it". I think that is something we never spoke about too much. So, it was funny to do a project where the most challenging things had nothing to do playing music. That means the project is really something very different from the normal stuff.

Is there any chance that "Wagner Reloaded" show will be performed in other cities and countries? I understand that it is rather complicated technical performance, but do the organizers have ideas how to make this show possible to travel to other countries, even in Europe?

Mikko: It's possible. It's quite demanding and requires a lot of work, but we are already researching what kind of venues we could use but, it's like such a big, like the stage setup is huge, it doesn't even fit into some ice halls, but we need to cut it down, we need to rebuild something. And also so many people also involved, like, when performing there are 200 people working there, so it requires timing. But that is really our aim, we really want to go to tour.

Eicca: We are working on finding out what needs to be modified and what part from the show needs to be done differently for the touring version. We hope to see the day that we will get it done, on tour.

In the current tour with the orchestra, you are not playing many songs from the Wagner show.

Eicca: With the orchestra, I think it's 3 or 4... yes, 4 songs is tonight in performance.

Mikko: It's actually quite a lot. Normally we take from the new album, it's sort of the amount you end up having on a new show.

We were thinking what you will play, and were ready to hear almost half of "Wagner Reloaded" show.

Eicca: Okay, but we wanted to take the benefits from the orchestra thing that we could play old songs that we never performed, so we play songs like "Ural", "Peace", that we never performed before live. So, it's also the kind of songs, like "Rage of Poseidon", which are really difficult to make work as a regular Apo setup on stage, so we wanted to have old special songs.

One of my friends visited your show in Turku and was very impressed by "I Don't Care"...

Eicca: The new version. (nodding and smiling)

Mikko: It's a totally different version and also one of our goals that we wanted to do, even the songs that we perform in every Apocalyptica show, now when they are done here, they are totally different.

How did you choose the songs for this tour? Were there songs that you wanted to play, but weren't possible?

Mikko: No, I don't think there was no basically, anything that would have restricted us. We could do whatever we like and we just thought that the songs that we have here, we could have the best possible combination. We could get the most out of the orchestra and we get the widest range of music. So...

Perttu: (in the background chuckling) I would get naked too. (Mikko just nods)

I saw a video on YouTube from Jyvaskyla show. This concert was the usual for Apo, you performed without orchestra. And I was surprised to hear the intro to track "Ludwig Wonderland". It was very special and this sounded very reminiscent of throat singing, which exists in the music of the peoples of Tuva and the Altai Mountains. Do you know this style of singing?

Eicca: (motioning to his throat and imitates throat singing sound) Yeah, actually we know, but we didn't think about it, that part, it's funny that now you say that. Paavo's sound really, reminds about this kind of throat singing.

At this moment Paavo, who was just listening to us, joined the conversation.

Paavo: Tuva! Yes Tuva, there are plenty of groups that use it, Huun-Huur-Tu, one of the famous groups I have heard played in Helsinki.

Mikko: (looking amazedly at Paavo) Now there is some special information going on... (laughs) Good to know...

I know that your technique is quite different from the classical one. What are the differences in some moments? Are there different ways of staging hands and movements or use of sound equipment?

Eicca: I think everything is different. Starting from our playing positions, at least I and Perttu play in so many different positions that are not traditional at all.

Perttu: (from the background) I play 69.

Eicca: He plays 69... yeah. So it's hard to say what is different because basically everything is different. Almost everything.

Mikko: And the sounds change, like how a sound is treated, that's really unique.

Eicca: Yeah. It's something we've been working for, all the time.

Mikko: Yeah, when we tour.

Our interview is coming to an end, and I remembered one amusing incident that occurred during one of our interviews with Apocalyptica.

And I remember last time we did an interview with Mikko and Eicca, there was jumping Perttu...

Perttu: Yeah, this time no.

Mikko: Jumping Perttu? What did you do?

At this time, Perttu, already dressed in his costume, with red scarf on his thigh, runs over and lands across Eicca and Mikko's laps - then gets up and leaves. I screamed "Bravo!" and Perttu shaked my hand.

Perttu: Probably something like this.

Eicca and Mikko are chuckling the whole time.

Perttu: Interview's over now.

Eicca: Make your last question so, we need to start to prepare.

Well, the last question - do you have an idea who will be the producer for your next album?

Mikko: We have an idea. The producer doesn't know it yet and no one else does. We know who it will be. It's amazing.

Eicca: It's great producer.

Mikko: It's my favorite producer.

Eicca: It's totally different story whether he wants to work with us.

Mikko: But he will produce it whether he wants to or not.

Thank you all around! It was so nice to meet you all again.

We are thankfull to Apocalyptica management for making this interview possible,
and thanks to Perttu and Paavo for keeping us company.

Special thanks for the help to Vordai Mercier and Michelle Schoofs.

©, 2014

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