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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Eicca Toppinen Apocalyptica - Interview
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Cello metal masters Apocalyptica were one of the highlights at Soundwave Festival last year, their brand of classical metal truly a unique and awesome experience to watch. Still touring in support of their latest album "Shadowmaker", the band are due to return to Australia in September so we caught up with Eicca again following our previous chat in 2014 to talk about the tour, the 20 year anniversary of their Metallica album and what the future holds for Apocalyptica.



Andrew: We saw you in Australia last year at Soundwave Festival, fantastic stuff! How was it for you guys?

Eicca: That was great, that was absolutely fantastic! Really had a good time and I really enjoyed playing Australia so it's very good to come back.

Andrew: Yeah it was the first time that I had seen you guys live to be honest and I was blown away, it was good to see you at a big festival like that.

Eicca: Yeah it was great. We were very early in the bill but we had tons of people come to see the show so it was very good.

Andrew: This time around you are doing a headlining run which is obviously a bit different to a festival so what's the kind of things we can expect then?

Eicca: I think it's going to be a retrospective kind of thing, a combination of songs from all 20 years that we've been existing. So we're going to have some Metallica tunes but not very much of that, more focusing on the new Shadowmaker album of course but I think there's going to be songs from all 8 albums that we have released. It's going to be great fun and a very powerful and effective rock n' roll show.

Andrew: Just before I ask you about Shadowmaker, you have just been celebrating 20 years of the Metallica album. How does it feel?

Eicca: It feels good [laughs]. I had an idea to re-release the album as a remastered version because it's just amazing to realize that it's already been 20 years since we started as this whole thing started more like as an accident. We didn't have any bigger plans when we did the first album, we were kind of expecting sales of maybe a thousand copies in Finland and that's it and to play a couple of shows and everything turned into something completely different. And we still exist and still going strong in 20 years so I thought it was a good way to celebrate by re-releasing a remastered album and put it out to remind people how it all started. It feels good, it's been an amazing journey.

Andrew: Yeah it was a great way to get into the band many years ago when it came out but I guess there's been a generation since it was released so you have a lot of newer fans getting into you guys.

Eicca: Yeah it's funny now meeting people that come see us like, 'Oh I was 9 years old when you released the first album and it was so great, it was the first rock album I ever bought'. It feels good that people are coming to see shows now 20 years later, it's amazing!

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. Now Shadowmaker came out last year and when we talked last time, you guys were still sort of working on it, so now that the album has been out for a while, how do you guys feel about it and how has the reception been from the fans?

Eicca: It's been really good! Of course there were a lot of skeptic fans, hardcore fans who judged the album before they even heard it because they thought, 'Ah there's not enough instrumentals and too many vocal tracks and didn't like the idea of having a singer', and blah blah blah. So we got a lot of negative feedback before they heard the album but when the fans got the album, they loved it but it's been very good.

Andrew: Yeah Franky (Perez, vocalist) did an amazing job and like I said last time, I think he's perfect for you guys. I remember asking if somewhere down the track how you felt about him becoming a permanent singer, has that come about over the last few months or so?

Eicca: Franky is kind of our permanent singer but what we are going to do next year for example, we are going to tour with the Metallica concept so we're going to a show that is fully instrumental and it's only Metallica songs so Franky is off for next year. We're still in the beginning of planning the next release and nobody knows what exactly it's going to be. Franky is great and it's been great touring with Franky but we don't want to stick ourselves too much into something, we want to keep the flexibility of the band and maybe the next release will be more instrumental based but have vocals as well. We don't have plans so far, the only thing we know is that next year will be the Metallica concept tour.

Andrew: Is it important to keep things flexible so that you can divert to any direction you want to take it?

Eicca: Yes that's the only reason why we exist still [laughs], that we've been able to feel free with every album in changing the concept. The basic thing always is the cellos but what we've built around that is very important for us in the evolution of the band, that we can change it from time to time. Basically how we deal with it is let the music take charge, it's very much about the music we write and what we need to produce that. That's the reason we got drum tracks in the first place, it's the reason we started to do vocal collaborations, it all comes from the music.

Andrew: You've touched on the fact that you are doing some Metallica stuff later on, how do you feel about what Metallica have done in the time that you first put out your album 20 years ago?

Eicca: It's been very interesting to see the development in what they have done since and how they are always searching their style and new directions and it will be interesting to see what the next album will be like. They've been working on that for ages so it's very interesting. I can also see that with every band that's been [around] a very long time, you face a point where there is a lack of motivation and the differences in the interests of different band members and I think Metallica have had those times as well during the 20 years. The ups and downs and that very much reflects the quality of music they do and how they perform, I've seen shitty Metallica shows and I've seen fantastic Metallica shows. I love the fact about Metallica that they never stop searching, they always want to go somewhere. They don't start to feel too relaxed like, 'OK this is what we did, let's just repeat it because it's easy'. They want to challenge themselves every time, I like that.

Andrew: Yeah that's something that I think artists should be doing and I feel that there is a bit of a correlation as far as what they do and what you do in trying to keep things more interesting for yourselves and not just for the fans.

Eicca: Yeah for me, I always need to have the feeling that we are going somewhere. Not going backwards, that we are going ahead and searching for something new and something different. That's the motivation, the thing that keeps me inspired because I think as a musician and as an artist, if you start losing that passion and just start to do safe, boring choices, you should do something different than music then.

Soundwave Festival 2015

Andrew: Do you feel that people have criticism on bands who do that, including yourselves because they don't understand that you have this need to do different things all the time?

Eicca: I don't know, everybody does in their own way. In a way it's cool, like bands like Iron Maiden and AC/DC where they never change, no matter what they always stay the same. I think we need those kind of bands as well but it's not my way [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] So after the Australian tour, what do you have planned?

Eicca: After Australia we still have some shows in Europe and then we do some shows in Mexico and that will pretty much bring us to Christmas time. After Christmas break we start doing the Metallica tour in February so January is pretty much building it up and rehearsing it and making the concept ready so next year is all about that tour. Next year we also plan to record new music which will hopefully be out after the Metallica tour so it's going to be busy for next year.

Andrew: Well we are definitely looking forward to seeing you in September when you come down to Australia, it's going to be fantastic I think! Do you have any last words or message for the fans in Australia?

Eicca: Yeah first, we are super excited to come to Australia! We did the one headlining run, we did the festival run and we really enjoy the country and the Australian fans. We are really looking forward to playing the shows and hope we have a lot of people come to see us, everybody who is interested should come! I think we gained a lot of new fans on the festivals, at least the feedback felt really good so really hope that we get a good party going.

Andrew I should also note that the first show on the tour is in Perth which is on the west coast of the country and which I believe you have never been to that side of the country before.

Eicca: Yeah we've never been there.

Andrew: We are looking forward to seeing you on that side of the country. Thanks for your time today, it's really appreciated and we look forward to seeing you guys.

Eicca: Thank you for your time, see you and thanks man!


Wednesday, 21st September: Capitol, Perth
Friday, 23rd September: Prince of Wales, Melbourne
Saturday, 24th September: Metro, Sydney
Sunday, 25th September: Max Watts. Brisbane

Tickets and tour details can be found at Destroy All Lines.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on July 31st 2016