Interview with Paavo Lotjonen and Max Lilja

The band from the icy arctic country of Finland, which surprised the whole metal (and not only!) community, by playing famous songs by Metallica, Sepultura and other bands, with only 4 cellos! During their second visit in Greece we had the chance to interview two of their members, Paavo Lotjonen and the two-meter tall Max Lilja. The interview took place before the show at the venue's backstage. Enjoy them!!

As we are from an internet zine we would like to ask you what's your relationship with the internet and modern technology in general.

Paavo Lotjonen: I worry with those machines!! I have internet at my home. I have a very old.... err.. what's that?... (saying something to Max in Finish)
Max Lilja: Modem!!!
Paavo Lotjonen: Modem!!! (laughter) Yes it's very old it's only 14.400.

Yes that's very old!!!

Max Lilja: I don't have a computer at my home so i don't use internet. Maybe twice a year.

(To Max) You like this stuff... Internet?

Max Lilja: Oh it's an endless world!

And do you think you can have promotion from the internet?

Paavo Lotjonen: For sure!!
Max Lilja: Of course! It can help you.
Paavo Lotjonen: It has helped quite a lot i guess. If you put to find the word Apocalyptica in search engines you could find quit a lot of things. And things we don't comment. There are some crazy guys with some addresses and write about us, have pictures. It's great! It feels very good.

Now we want to ask you about your plans for the future.

Paavo Lotjonen: Our future... Now we have started doing this summer tour. We have no new album, 'cause we are going to do this new album during next winter... December, January...

How is this new album going to be? Will it have cover songs only or your songs too?

Both: It's a secret!!!
Max Lilja: We don't actually know yet!

As we know at your concerts you play "South of heaven" by Slayer...

Paavo Lotjonen: Yes! Actually we recorded it in our last session, but we didn't put it in our album.

And why you don't try "Angel of Death"? (laughter) It would be great!

Paavo Lotjonen: (continuing his answer for the previous question) Actually it was also a question about time and releasing, and we were quite in a hurry, so we didn't want to do it badly, so we left it away, as we have also played "Mandatory suicide".

We have read somewhere that you have dropped your studies. Is that true? And if it is will you continue them?

Max Lilja: We have frozen our studies, because we just don't have time to concentrate to our studies anymore... maybe some day we will...

Does that mean that some day you might quit Apocalyptica in order to carry on with your studies?

Max Lilja: (laughing) No! Maybe after 20 years!!! (laughter)
Paavo Lotjonen: I have very little left. About 10 exams, so i have tried to do these lessons... Swedish language, last year.
Max Lilja: But we haven't stopped playing classical music. We still use some classical stuff whenever we have time to organize them.

Are you a part of an orchestra?

Max Lilja: No!

Are you going to stay a strictly cello band or are you going to add some other instruments? Or maybe vocals?

Paavo Lotjonen: Well we try to find how far we can go by just 4 cellos, and i believe it's quite interesting to develop that kind of way. Maybe there can be some sessions...

Like violins?

Both (laughing): No, no, no, no!!! Not violins!!!!
Max Lilja: Maybe some old instruments, like baroque instruments. Cembalo!! (laughter)
Paavo Lotjonen: Once we played one gig in... Where was it?... Holland!! Where it was the ex-Slayer drummer..

Dave Lombardo!

Paavo Lotjonen: Dave Lombardo yeah! And we played "South of heaven" and "Mandatory Suicide" with him.

With him??!!

Paavo Lotjonen: On the stage!! It was great! But i guess it's not what we are going to do in the next album. It's very nice and funny to try that kind of things.Once we had one singer and sung with us "Sanitarium".
Max Lilja: That's 2 years ago.

You didn't like it with vocals?

Max Lilja: Well it was fun but it would (due to the music from the club a general noise and Max's heavy accent i could not get one word sorry!) a vocalist to our band. It's like the vocalist standing and we are in the background!

It would loose it's magic!

Max Lilja: But i think that's more challenging, to do it by 4 cellos.
Paavo Lotjonen: Maybe this is not such a popular way. Maybe we would be much more rich and more known if we could have a singer with us!!! (laughter) And we want to work our own thing.

How did you come up, in the first place, with the idea to cover Metallica and other classic metal songs by 4 cellos.

Max Lilja: Well in Finland there is a different kind of cello ensembles, so we already knew that with a cello band you can play stuff like Jimmy Hendrix and that kind of music, and we are big fans of metal music and... well cello is the only instrument we could play!!.. We just tried that!!
Paavo Lotjonen:An we have been friends for quite many years. And it was once in a music camp that we played together.

What are your relationships with Metallica?

Paavo Lotjonen: With Metallica band and the guys?

With Metallica! Do you know them? Do you speak with them?

Both: Yeah!
Paavo Lotjonen: For instance we were with them a couple of weeks ago in San Fransisco, were they had a gig with the San Fransisco orchestra. You have heard about it, right?

Yes.

Paavo Lotjonen: It was great!

What's their opinion about what you do?

Max Lilja: I think they quite appreciate much we are doing with their songs. At least that's what they are talking about! (laughter) Maybe they are lying! But of course it gives totally new aspect for their songs, and it think they quite admire that.
Paavo Lotjonen: And we are going to warn them up, as a support, after one week, in Dynamo festival and a couple of weeks later in Warsaw, in Poland. There's a big concert...in a studium..

What kind of people come to your concerts? Metal people or classical music people too?

Paavo Lotjonen: You can't say. It depend quite a lot from the place. How is it the place, is it a metal club? Is it in the middle of the night? There are metal heads and there are classical people.

And their ages?

Max Lilja: Well sometimes surprisingly old people! (laughter) Like people in fourties or fifties.
Paavo Lotjonen: And it's very interesting...

Have you played in a concert hall for classical music?

Paavo Lotjonen: Yes, concert halls are great places to play for us!

Ok and a final question now! Is it true that you have played in funerals?

Paavo Lotjonen: Funerals???? (laughter) Originally it was a joke.
Max Lilja: Not with this band. Except now we played in our former sound engineer's funeral. He died two months ago...
Paavo Lotjonen: He was our sound engineer. He was touring with us 2 and a half years and he died 2 months ago in Thessaloniki..

In a motorcycle accident...?

Paavo Lotjonen: That's right...

And you played for him..

Paavo Lotjonen (kind a sad): We played "Nothing Else Matters" in his funeral. It was acoustic play. It was fine... it was beautiful..

Ok!! That's all! Thank you very much guys!!

P.S. We would like to thank Mr. Tsourinakis (Universal Music), Max and Paavo, for making this interview happen. Special thanks to Emilio for helping us out in our second interview with him question, (some) photos and for carrying around our stuff!

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