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Apocalyptica: How to get Björk to strip

In between their murderous tour schedule, Perttu and Paavo from Apocalyptica found 20 minutes for an interview with STALKER. They are currently doing a promo-tour for their latest album, “7th Symphony,” which scored almost full points, as did the following concert.

How is it going, how´s the tour going?
Perttu: Pretty good, we are now about half-through the first European stretch. We have been on the road quite a bit during the last months and it´s a bit rough; it´s starting to test the boundaries of the constitution. There has been really good gigs and it´s been awesome seeing how well were taken in. We have been positively in every place with the new album.

If you look a bit back, the band had some problems with Max leaving; how did you hold up?
Perttu: It was more or less about us starting to think whether or not it´s a good idea to pack it all up and quit or if we had a way to keep going. Back then we -especially Eicca and Paavo- found a unifying feeling to this thing and since then, it´s just been refining itself. This was, however, probably almost ten years ago. This year has been really good; we have come even more close to each other. This has probably been the sanest year. There has been a mutual relationship mending going on and a more open feeling.
Paavo: And we have learned to communicate with each other and we don´t hold in all the shit and we have learned to apologise. Tour life can be really hard and everyone has been physically really beat up and there´s pressure.
Perttu: and we are together all of the time. I think we found the spark again really nicely. Maybe the recording brought it along.

So playing naked brings people together?
Perttu: For once we did something else naked.
Paavo: Like going to sauna.

If we go back in time a bit, our last interview with you was in 2005; back then Eicca was saying that he was the band leader. Have your roles changed in the course of time?
Paavo: Everyone does his job and this has settled during the years. The band is, after all, an administrative body, but on the other hand, it is also a musical community, so that is the strong point. Within those points, everyone has their own job to do. And in this album, everyone was composing even though not every composition made it to the record.
Perttu: I think we worked a lot together. We tried to concentrate on getting us individuals into a unified unit, so that is a strong point. Within the compositions one can hear the different personalities and I think this makes the record interesting. It twists around a lot, but we are twisted people, armed with a broad ideology and musical preferences.
Paavo: In live situations, it mostly goes to Perttu taking the lead and playing the lead melodies, Eicca mostly plays the riffs and I play the bass and Mikko plays mostly drums.
Perttu: He also plays cello in one song.

Apocalyptica & Gavin Rosdale, Foto: Ralf Strathmann

Looking at your latest record, our favourite track was “Bring Them to the Light,” which you made together with Joseph from Gojira. Could you tell us something about the making of the song and the meaning behind it?
Perttu: It´s also my favourite from that album…
Paavo: I hate it.
Perttu: …and he hates it.
Paavo: I think it´s a good example that not all of our fans have to like all of our songs and so, not all of the band members have to like all of the songs. I just don´t like that kind of singing, it´s just terrible.
Perttu: it´s music to the ears. As a song, I like how it harmonally develops.
Paavo: But I don´t like the energy that comes out of it.
Perttu: We did the demo with Joe a few years ago and it didn´t seem necessary, but when the record started showing direction, it was obvious that we needed a tribute to real Thrash Metal. I think that the record is so that towards the end there´s a crown jewel. It´s the first song that was recorded and Eicca did the ground work for it and Joe finished it up.

If you look at all of the artists that you have worked with during the years, who was it easiest and who was hardest to work with?
Perttu: Well, the timetables are always the most difficult, but I guess it was easiest with Lauri (Ylönen) and Ville (Valo). “Bittersweet” was based on everyone wanting to do it; that it had to be done, one way, or another.
Paavo: Mostly it´s so, that it´s easy working with an artist, but when you take along the record companies and management, there are so many variables -so to put it straight, it is quite shit.

Photo by Ville Juurikkala

You once said that if there´s someone you wanted to work with, it would be Björk, is it still so?
Paavo: That was maybe ten years ago.
Perttu: But Björk is a really good example of something different. I could imagine that it could work with us.
Paavo: But there are all other things too; there´s Tom Waits, James Hetfield… It´s just the kind of thing that we just haven´t dared to ask even though we are on quite close terms.
Perttu: Could maybe do a song with Johan from Amon Amarth…
Paavo: Go ahead.

If we´re really going onto the wild side, how about doing music with non-Metal or Rock musicians, for instance Boss Hoss?
Paavo: Like Willie Nelson?
Perttu: As a matter of fact, it could be interesting working together with a non-Rock instrumental musician. I mean singers can always be taken into the genre and it´s fun putting them outside their own field, where they are used to work. Take for instance Björk, who we could get to take her clothes off if we wooed her long enough. But take for example an expert electro-musician or a percussion specialist; it could be interesting trying that out in some projects.

Talking about instruments, did you also play the bass in this record?
Perttu: Lauri Porra from Stratovarius plays bass in the 7th track. We played the contrabass in the last album. A lot of different kind of stuff was used there; we tried to avoid using programmed sounds –that was the starting point in the beginning of the recording. The producer Joe Barresi, is a visionary from LA. I whistled, vomited, farted, cried, and laughed on the record. I think there was a Facebook thing where I said I was sitting for 14 hours in the studio with Barresi and I hadn´t played a single natural cello note the whole day. I started playing when I was five and didn´t quite expect this.

Sounds like a typical recording.
Paavo: Yeah, I was opening my mouth in rhythm.
Perttu: Yeah, it was really refreshing to do such an experimental album. I don´t know how experimental the end product is, but whilst doing it, a new zeal was born.

I have a wild card here:

From the notorious Westboro Baptist Church
Apparently God hates Finland, is it so?

Perttu: Yes, that was it, all Finns are gay.
Paavo: If it´s written down, it must be so. And it´s done in America.
Perttu: I was trying to show you the videos; they always go to funerals to fuck it up.
Paavo: Isn´t Heavy Metal the Devil´s work?
Perttu: They tried to sabotage Dio´s funeral.

Last question: Have you had a song stuck in your head lately?
Paavo: “Uaa, Uaa, Uaaa, poliisi pamputtaa.”
Perttu: We listen to a lot of music to pick up our spirits; Aki and Turo was yesterday and a lot of Eppu Normaali.
Paavo: Then come porno songs from Junnu Vainio.
Perttu: Fits perfectly into the Reeperbahn theme.

Thank you a lot for your time.

Author: Ozzy Aikas
Date: 2010-10-25

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