We caught up with cellist/songwriter Eino Matti "Eicca" Toppinen and drummer Mikko Sirén right before their Heavy Montreal set to talk about their musical projects and learn a thing or two about Finland.
Mikko: It’s coming along great. We’re just in the middle of it, writing songs. Two weeks from now we go to Nashville for pre-production and then we start recording in the beginning of October.
Eicca: The producer is based there but I can't say their name cause the deal’s not signed yet! [laughs] But this time we have one singer for the whole record who is also going to tour with us and he’s here today.
What was it about Franky Perez that made you decide to solely work with him rather than with several vocalists, like you've done in the past?
Mikko: Changing singers, it made us [feel like] we always had something from someone else, but this time we wanted to approach it differently. We wanted the songs we write to be more like a continuos journey.
Eicca: It’s coming together and it’s Apocalyptica. We wanted to really make a band record. We did Wagner Reloaded, then we did a tour with an orchestra, we did another project two years ago with a soprano and orchestra, and this time it was like, 'Let’s make a real band record' and having just one singer really fits with that. And he has a very unique voice.
Mikko: It’s not the most typical. He can be rock like hell, but it’s not this generic American rock radio sound. There’s so much more.
Eicca: His personality, his way of singing, it really touches you. We said 'Wow, with this guy we can create something new and exciting that's unique'.
Apocalyptica has found great success in mixing classical elements with metal - does it ever surprise you how open fans have been to such a unique blend?
Eicca: I think metal has always been connected with different music styles. There’s always been metal bands mixing or taking elements, like Rammstein basically took elements from techno music.
If you were forced to swap cellos for a different classical instrument...
Eicca: No! [laughs] I would pick up drums or guitar, not a classical instrument.
Mikko: I would become a farmer. I have the best already, so why change something that works? [laughs]
Let's say we land in Finland tomorrow and only have 24 hours to sightsee - where do we absolutely have to go?
Mikko: It depends on the time of year. Summertime, south of finland, like the coastal area, is super beautiful, it’s really unique compared to any other cities. You can take a boat and go along the coastline and see all these tiny islands – the nature is amazing. And the light. In Helsinki, I would do a little sightseeing by boat, maybe go to Suomenlinna, which is a fortress island and it’s open to everybody, you can go to have picnics. The whole center of the town is totally surrounded by sea - it’s beautiful.
To make sure we're well prepared, what are five Finnish words we should learn?
Saatana – What would you guess? Satan.
Perkele – It’s also a kind of Satan. Like a devil with horns.
Vittu – We use it to mean female genitals.
Kyrpänaama - Dick face.
Kulmamuna: It's angle dick. We kind of made it up, but everyone knows what it means! [laughs]
Eicca: It’s all about the new record. We had a good start, now we want to develop the sound radically and the whole energy for the record and we start touring in January with the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise.
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Photos: Alex Moscall/A-Photograph