Sonata Arctica released their new album The Ninth Hour on October 6, 2016 and headed out on tour in North America to the fans absolute delight. While they were in Seattle I had a chance to site down and talk with Keyboardist, Henrik Klingenberg to talk about the album, tour and life. The interview is below. I hope you enjoy it. Henrik was an absolute pleasure to chat with.
Although the North American leg tour is over, the band is heading back out on their European leg of their tour on January 17 with their first date in Jyväskylä, Finland. Part of their new tour will be with Canadian band Striker who picks up on their tour in Nuremberg on February 20 (love these guys, so make sure to check them out too if you are one of our European readers).
Interview with Sonata Arctica’s Henrik Klingenberg:
YesterdazeNews: Sonata Arctica’s North American tour runs through the 17th of December? What comes after the tour?
Henrik Klingenberg: We’re going back home for Christmas, and then we start touring again in mid January.
Then are you going to do Europe?
We’re doing the first three weeks in Finland and then we do seven weeks in Europe. And then five weeks in South America, and then it’s some festivals. Next fall, I don’t know yet. But we’re gonna come to Victoria.
You guys are touring a lot because you were here March with Nightwish. That’s a lot of touring.
It is what it is.
Yeah, yeah. How do you handle the touring?
I think the worst part is just the traveling and the downtime that you have to find something to do besides drinking. That’s the worst part I think (laughing). Playing shows is, of course, always nice, and that’s okay. But that’s just one-and-a-half-hours and the rest is just whatever.
How’s the tour been going?
Yeah. I think it’s been going really well. We haven’t toured here by ourselves for a while. So, of course it’s nice to get to play 90 minutes. With Nightwish we only got 45. Of course, with the new album we only did like two-and-half-weeks in Europe, and then we were home for 10 days, and then we came here. So, it’s interesting to see how people react to the new songs, of course. That’s why we try to mix the set list up also, and play some older stuff that we haven’t played since 2001. Stuff like that.
On the tour so far, have you guys had any kind of memorable shows or anything really crazy happen?
Well, I mean they all melt into one another so (laughing)… We have some nice off days. Hanging out to help support bands, some are from Finland as well. So we have music in common. It’s been basically as it always is. But I’m really looking forward to going to San Francisco because a friend of ours is taking us to check out the Alcatraz. I never had the chance to do that before, so that is something I definitely want to do. That will be fun.
You guys tour a lot and has there been any place yet you have not been able to tour, that you guys really want to go to?
Well, I mean there’s a few countries like South Africa and Iceland that we haven’t been to. I mean we toured all over Europe, all over the States, all over South America. Australia would be fun to go visit. Then also some other Asian countries. We all played in China, Taiwan, and then of course we went to Japan four times. So, those kind of places. We were supposed to play in India in a festival at some point, but then there was some rioting or something so they forbid all events with many people. So that got cancelled. But basically all the countries that we haven’t been to before would be really nice to visit of course.
So, how do you feel about the final cut of “The Ninth Hour” album?
Well I think it turned out really well. We worked at a really hectic pace and one of the main reasons was that Tony (Kakko) didn’t have enough songs written when we went into the studio. So he was staying home, writing songs, and sending us demos and we were just tracking them as we went along. And then when we got everything down he came over.
We spent about a week or so to fix this, and checkups and then everybody left and he was there singing it to Pasi (Kauppinen) our bass player, engineer. So it was… We were supposed to start to work on the album January. There was no songs. Then we went on the tour, and then immediately from the tour, after we were home for less than two weeks, then it was back into the studio because we just had to get it done.
Since we already had this tour booked, we had to cut down the European tour a bit as well, because the album got a bit delayed. Stuff like that. But it was really chaos. I’m surprised it turned out that well.
So when you guys start the writing process, do find yourself, when you get to songs that you’re really just kind of not feeling, do you throw them out and start over? Or do you just keep working it, finessing it until you get what you’re looking for?
It depends on the situation. For example, with the last album “Pariah’s Child” we had a lot of songs, so me and Tony went over to Tony’s house and listened to what we had. And then we said,” Okay these are the songs we like”. And there were a few that he said should be on the album definitely which luckily was a good song.
Then we said, “Okay, like, these ones, maybe not so much. And we need a few more in this and that style”. Then he wrote them. This time round we didn’t really have too many songs because we were running behind. So basically we had to track the stuff that they had time to record. And then try to make it work somehow. And I think for the most part it worked out.
You’ve been out and you’ve been talking with your fans along the way. How is the feedback that you’re getting from the fans about the new album?
Well, it’s been really good. But then of course, people don’t usually criticize you straight to your face.
Welcome to Seattle. It might change (laughing).
Yeah, but I mean a lot of people have said they like the new album. So, I think it’s really hard to tell. It usually takes like a year or two after the album’s released then you know where you stand. And how well the fans accepted it. Especially when with some of the music that we write, it’s something that you first listen to it, you may not get it right away. Listen to it a couple of times and you actually like it and stuff like that. So it’s, I think it’s a work in progress to see how it actually turned out.
So are you far enough away from the recording and mixing and engineering of the album to hear the whole thing? Or are you still kind of just hearing your parts in it?
I haven’t listened to it.
Oh, you haven’t? You’re like after all the rehearsals and talking you’re like “yuck I am done hearing over and over”?
Yeah. When it’s done then of course you go back to the songs that we need to hear for the set. And after that you kind of forget about it. Probably you’ll pick it up like, next summer or something like that, and then see how it feels. It still feels a bit, a bit close, and of course we’re playing some of the songs every night.
So one of the songs that kind of intrigued me a little bit was the cover of Bryan Adams “Run to You”. That was like my summer song you know up here we’re close to Vancouver, Canada. How did you guys come across deciding to cover that on this album?
Well the thing was, we talked about doing some covers. I’m not too fond of covers myself. But it was something playing in cover bands when I was growing up so I’ve done my fair share of that. But we were in the studio and it was like at a time when Tony was there as well. And just bouncing ideas at some point, we were like, what about this song? And Pasi immediately jumped on it and said, “Okay let’s do it right now”.
We were like, “Okay let’s do it right now”. So we did it and then like around midnight we were done with backing tracks and then it was like, “Okay we’re done.” Tony was like but. We’re like but what? Sing the damn song. And he was like all right, sure. So he sang it like in the middle of the night. It was really fast. It took one day from somewhere in the afternoon. We came over to do it and we just did it.
I think it’s a really cool cover. I like the way that the symphonic comes in with it and makes it sound very different. So, it’s really cool.
It’s a good song.
So do you have a favorite song on the new album?
Well, it changes a lot. I think “White Pearl, Black Oceans”. Yeah that one, and… I don’t know. I think that’s the best one at the moment.
So you guys have been to Seattle before, I know March. You guys have been here before that? Have you had a chance to really get out and see our area?
Well, I mean. We have been walking out around a little bit. Sometimes we’ve been here like a lot of times. And last time 2014, there was a homeless person that tried to climb the bridge and fell down. So that’s what I remember, like outside of the venue, right there. He tried to lower himself down or climb up with some sort of key chain or something which, of course, broke. I didn’t see that. I just saw the ambulance and paramedics. So, that’s been my experience of Seattle.
So, outside of that random and bad experience, do you like our general area? Is it very different from Finland? Myself, I’ve gone as far north as southern Sweden. I have not quite made it to Finland yet.
Well, it’s not that different I would say, some of it’s pretty close to o Finland. But of course the infrastructure and everything is different.
You guys have been musicians for a really long time. From your personal experience, has there been any kind of lesson or anything that you’ve learned along your way, that you would think that, for new artists that are coming into the industry, that you think they should know right away? That you could pass on to them?
Oh, I think there’s a lot (laughing). Well, a lot of people, I think, focus on the wrong things. Especially with growing up and you’re still a kid. You’re supposed to just play and have fun with your friends, and not worry too much about records or whatever. Make sure you know your shit before you get into a bigger band because then it’s going to be harder. The more, if this turns into a profession the less you’re going to play. So if you really love playing, keep it as a hobby.
I hear that quite a bit.
I mean I find that of all the things that I do and is related to Sonata Arctica, maybe actually playing music is almost the smallest part. So…
Because it’s very much a business.
Yeah. It’s not just traveling, and then of course interviews, and taking care of the business side. To decide where we’re gonna tour, when we’re gonna tour. Talking to managers. Talking to the label, and start figuring everything out. So it’s, also like when you go on tour. It’s not just a crappy suitcase and go. You know it’s nice to be set out and to compare which bus company we’ll rent and stuff like that. So there’s a lot of thought, organizing involved.
So you guys, as a band, do a lot of the business stuff yourselves?
Well, I take care of if from the band side and that’s cool. Of course we have managers and agents who book the shows and stuff like that, but somebody has to coordinate, I don’t know we have maybe 10, 15 different people working different things, at least and then… to make sure that they know what we, as a band, want and set that up. And make that, call the right people stuff like that. It’s not too bad.
Yeah. There’s a lot of work involved in that. I have a lot of friends that are in bands and musicians and they’ve said the same thing. That they run their own websites. They’ve had to learn how to web develop, and there’s a lot more to it.
Yeah. So I did a little research on you, and I know that some of the music tastes you have, like Metallica? Have you had a chance to listen to the new album? Or any of the tracks off the new album?
Yes. I bought the new album when it came out on iTunes.
I think it sounded good. I mean some stuff I didn’t like that much. Some I did. But, I only listened to it a couple of times.
When you guys are on your downtime, do you get out and explore? Or do you just… Are you so busy guys, you’re traveling, you just don’t have time to do anything else outside of it?
Well, I mean. Do you mean on tour or back home?
Well, like right now in between tour dates and then back home.
Well, when I’m back home for example. Now it’s Christmas break so I’m just going to shut the computer down and be with my kids. Then of course in January, I start working again to set up an extra series of shows.
But the way I do it like, when the kids are… girlfriend is at work and the kids are in kindergarten and school whatever. Then I got a few hours, you know. I don’t need to work more than, unless something happens, but I can get by with a one-hour, two-hour day. That’s fine. Then I get everything taken care of.
So, it’s that you’re a rock star but at the same point when you go home, you’re not that rock star anymore. So, it’s just back to normal life, kinda?
Yeah, it’s a like they say you know. The applause stops at the front home door.
So the last thing that I ask, is there anything that you’ve never had a chance to tell your fans or express to them or anything that just kind of is, maybe been bouncing around in your head that you’ve wanted to tell your fans? That maybe nobody’s given you the chance to let them know?
Not really. I pretty much have said whatever I wanted. And of course we do realize that the reason that we can do this because we have fans who like our music. Another thing I find funny is when people try to advise us. Or some people have a need to express what they think we should do next. I kind of understand that, but those things I never listen to, because we have to figure out, the five of us, what we wanna do. And then hope it works.
Yeah. So you guys basically, you write for yourselves and you stay true to your own sound. And your fans either like it or they don’t.
Yeah, fortunately, thinks like that. And fortunately, they have liked it so far. But of course, you know, if we start doing something really crazy or shitty and nobody likes it then again, we cannot blame anybody else.
But that’s artistic expression, too. It’s not always gonna be the same, and you gotta mix it up.
Yeah. It’s also for us interesting to see where it’s going. Right now we have this album out. It sounds like this. What’s next? I don’t know. Then we’ll do the tour and then we’ll see. So, it’ll be interesting.
Do you guys do any other projects outside of what you’re doing here?
Yeah, I do record some stuff. There’s an Italian band called Secret Rule and they hit me up. And then I’m the type of guy who sends them the songs with keyboards on them, and there’s a few Finnish bands that I play keyboards for Silent Horses and Winterborn, which are all friends of mine and stuff like that. So it all depends on time. If I’m away for several weeks I get back home, I’m not going to start recording right away. But when I’m at home, I have those few hours every day that I can do what I want to do. That is usually when I do recordings and things.
Well, that’s all I have, so thank you very much for your time.
Well, thank you.