CHASING SHADOWMAKERS WITH APOCALYPTICA
Once upon a time, more than 20 years ago, there was a band of brave Scandinavian warriors that gave the first devastating hammer blow to that wall separating classical music from rock and metal, creating a bridge between past and present, making the boundaries of music genres tremble, paving the way for other musicians like the 2 Cellos and David Garrett.
Today we have the honour and the priceless chance to meet in a phone-interview one member of this band of very talented and brilliant musicians, the Masters of Cellos, the Finnish titans able to carve powerful and stunning metal riffs out of classical four strings instruments, making them sound like Stratocasters: ladies and gentlemen please, give a warm welcome to Paavo Lötjönen of the Finnish band Apocalyptica!
LFDM: Moi Paavo! First of all welcome to Les Fleurs Du Mal Webzine. I'm Meg and I'm speaking also for the other writer of this interview, Dora, who couldn't join us today. It's a great honour and a pleasure for us having the chance to make you some questions. Let's start talking about the upcoming "Shadowmaker". Can you explain us the story behind this title?
PAAVO: We chose this title for the album because it can have a lot of meanings. It is not just about some sad song of love. It can be about everyone's personal everyday life. Everyone of us has experienced a person making shadows to other people's lives.
LFDM: So it has a very deep meaning. What about the main sources of inspiration?
PAAVO: Let me explain the concept behind the title a bit better. You know shadowmakers are persons who make shadows on other people's lives, it can be for example, a man making shadow on a woman's life, taking all of her joy away, or the opposite.
LFDM: So it refers to negative people...
PAAVO: Not necessarily. It could be whoever. You can be positive and nevertheless you can make shadow on people around you while you shine. It's not that simple thing.
LFDM: Yeah, pretty complicated I'd say. It can have many meanings...
PAAVO: On another level it can refer to corporate companies taking advantage on people's lives...
LFDM: Like certain politicians and some forms of government are doing in some part of the world, in a way...
PAAVO: Yeah, but we didn't want to make it out too obvious or too clear, so all the listeners are free to have their own idea about it. It can be understood on many levels. The music is also very inspirational for us, for our inner selves. It can create something new.
LFDM: Talking about something new, what can you tell us about this choice of keeping a single singer throughout the whole album? Before you used to host many guests for the previous albums and now just one, Franky Perez. Why did you chose him?
PAAVO: There are many reasons. You know, we came from 2 years touring, we had this sabbathic year in which we dedicted ourselves to these 2 side projects, that is the majestic Wagner Reloaded, to celebrated the German composer playing his muisc intertwined with ours, so there was a simphony orchestra, dancers... then there was this other project called Apocalyptic Symphony, that made us combining classical and contemporary music orchestra playing all Apocalyptica's songs. So after all this we wanted something completely diferent. When we started creating "Shadowmaker" we were at a point we didn't have any record deal...
LFDM: Which could be an advantage...
PAAVO: Yeah, we were independent, with no label behind us, no pressures... we were free to do what we wanted. We didn't want to make an album to sound as massive and bombastick as Nightwish, but we wanted to create a completely different album from our previous ones, something we had never done before. We wanted a rock album! That's why we tought this time we needed a singer to record together with us, to give a sense of unity, someone who would have also promoted the album touring with us, giving the audience a positive impression. This is the first time we have a singer on tour on every gig and the people coming to our shows can feel the soul of the songs, it creates a sort of continuity between the studio and the venues.
LFDM: There are many understandable reasons behind this choice and at this point I dare to ask if Franky's going to remain as the 5th member of Apocalyptica also in the future?
PAAVO: He is, let's say, a kind of an offshore member of the band. Now he is touring with us and everything is going great. Things might not change for the next two or three years, depending on the tour, but I can't say if it is possible for him to make a longer term schedule.
LFDM: So maybe it is too soon to consider him as a permanent member of Apocalyptica...
PAAVO: Yeah, we basically don't know what's gonna happen in the future. Until now it is all perfect and nice, he's done only 13 shows with us, but nobody knows... we'll see.
LFDM: I see. The other day I read you've been touring Mexico recently. How did the crowd react to this new situation and to the songs of the new album if you played some of them. I mean without spoiling it too much, since it is gonna be out next month (interview made on March n.d.t)
PAAVO: Yes we played "Cold Blood" and "Shadowmaker" and the reaction of the crowd was super great. We are really happy about that, since "Shadowmaker", for example is a pretty long song, nothing that radios daily program and considering that this album seems to be a combination of these 2 worlds the classical/instrumental with the rock/metal melting each other in a deeper way than usual and that the structure of the song is actually pretty complicated, we couldn't be happier than this. This gives us the strength to go on keeping experimenting with music and instruments and not being scared by shadowmakers.
LFDM: Talking about videos, when I saw the one of "Shadowmaker" on your official youtube channel I couldn't figure out if it was a collection of clips taken from a vintage black and white horror movie or if it had been shot for this song...
PAAVO: Oh, I guess you are talking about the lyrics video, not the music video. Yeah, I think it is really cool, it is like some old movies in the 20s with a really creepy atmosphere. It makes you create weird connections in your mind.
LFDM: Yeah, indeed. But I think the one for "Cold Blood" is a way better! It's really great! It was directed by Lisa Mann, wasn't it?
PAAVO: Yeah. It is a very different song from "Shadowmaker". It's more like straightforward rock, it's not that progressive and we can say both are not properly Apocalyptica... "Cold Blood" is pretty dramatic and the director, who worked with us on another video some years ago, pointed out many beautiful things.
LFDM: It is also pretty dark and the imagery is gloomy. I find very impressive the scene when your heads are wrapped in black tissues and also those with ballerinas wearing black dresses...
PAAVO: The things you are referring to are included also on the cover artwork and in the booklet of the album.
LFDM: Really? I was just going to ask you about the album cover artwork!
PAAVO: Did you have the chance to give it a look already?
LFDM: Yeah, it's such a cool image. The white background and these two figures like carved in marble... very evocative
PAAVO: Oh, I'm glad you like it. I curated it myself. Let me explain something, then. The two female figures you were referring to, did you notice that are disposed in a way to compose a cello with the bow? But I bet you haven't seen the booklet yet. It is structured like a sort of comic book, well, not exactly as a comic book, but there's a storyline with those two figures as main characters. There's the lady who looks like a Madonna is the shadowmaker. I would call her a domina casting her shadows over the beautiful ballerina, taking light and joy away from her. Actually the cover tells a lot about the story.
LFDM: She is the villain of the story, like the Dark Lady of the Shakespearean Sonnets...
PAAVO: Yeah, she might look beautiful but she's miserable.
LFDM:Thanks a lot for this explaination. Unfortunately our time is almost over, so I can't wait to ask you how was it sharing the stage with Metallica in San Francisco?
PAAVO: Oh, we opened for Metallica guys many times, but sharing the stage with them was a great privilege. Technically it didn't sound perfectly, there were monitors problems, but it was emotionally mind blowing. We have been knowing these guys for more than ten years now, they've been among our main sources of inspiration. We are in a close reletionship with those Metallica guys. Maybe you don't know this, but they postponed the recording of their album to let us record our own, since we chose the same recording studio and producer in the same period.
LFDM: Wow, that's great! What a cool sign of esteem and appreciation! Last question indeed now: how did you end making the new Jingle for Angry Birds?
PAAVO: Oh, that was a lot of fun. Rovio is a Finnish Company.
LFDM: I know that and Angry Birds is such an addictive funny game!
PAAVO: Yes it is. So Rovio asked us to arrange this jingle for the game. It was unexpected.
LFDM: Indeed. It is a pretty weird choice even to me...
PAAVO: Yeah, but I must say we enjoyed it a lot. Don't take it too seriously, thoug, it was a sort of joke.
PAAVO: Yeah! See you there then. Bye bye.
LFDM: Kiitos, see you soon