Amorphis have been one of the leading metal bands from Finland for well over a decade, but with a new singer and new album (Eclipse) the band seemed more poised than ever to really "eclipse" the success they have had in the homeland and Europe here in the US. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo had a chance to speak to Amorphis keyboard player Santeri Kallio about the exciting new album and the immediate future of the band.
Read on for the full interview!
Sea of Tranquility: Thanks for calling Santeri-where are you at the moment?
Santeri Kallio: I'm calling from my home in Finland, and it's about midnight here.
SoT: Congratulations on the new CD Eclipse! How has reaction been so far to this new release?
Santeri: Initially the Finnish reaction has been great, and the album went straight to the charts in the first week, which is a great thing. We are really excited about the response from throughout the world to the album, and it has made us very happy. It's really the first time for us that reaction has been so positive, not only here in Finland, but all over the world. I think we have grown our audience a bit since the last album.
SoT: Well that's always good to hear! Have you played any live gigs so far in support of the new album, like single dates or festivals?
Santeri: Just club shows so far that have gone really well.
SoT: When can we expect you here in the US?
Santeri: Hopefully this coming fall. All spring we are doing a European tour with Hypocrisy and Soilwork and there are six bands in total, although I can't remember who the other three are. After some festivals over the summer we then get ready for the fall tour. We are not sure who we will be playing with but we are checking into it at the moment, and of course we want it to be a good tour.
SoT: We've seen Soilwork and Hypocrisy here quite a few times in the last year, as well as bands like Dark Tranquility and Opeth, and we are looking forward to getting you guys over here again.
Santeri: Right. So far like I said we don't know who we are coming over with, but all those bands you mentioned and almost everyone we have ever toured with are such nice people and we get along great with them, so I'm sure whatever we work out will be something to look forward to.
SoT: The new album is great-we gave the CD 4.5 out of 5 stars. It has a lot of accessible styles mixed in with some of the older, heavier Amorphis sounds. Can you talk a little about the album, and the direction the music took, especially with a new singer coming on board?
Santeri: We started composing some of the songs for Eclipse right after we completed the last album Far From the Sun, well, after the European tour and festival gigs, and we put together more than half of the songs, of course without the vocal melodies. We even demoed the songs with our previous singer, Pasi Koskinen, but then when he left the band we threw the vocals into the trash can and started looking for a new singer. After the last album, I think we really wanted to go to the hardest edge we could go on this one. Perhaps we didn't really think much about, but I think everyone in the band knew that we all wanted to do more dramatic music and certainly heavier, with bigger melodies. I think one of the reasons too that the music got heavier is that we were playing one song from The Karelian Isthmus in the live set, as well as from Tuonela , which maybe has led us in that direction.
SoT: There's certainly a great variety on the album, plenty of melodic and catchy, almost radio friendly pieces, some death metal, some progressive rock styled songs with plenty of keyboards…very well done.
Santeri: I think we all thought that that the last album was a little too narrow minded musically speaking, and vocally it was pretty one-dimensional. If you compare it to the live show, we have a huge variety of songs from throughout our career, which adds a lot of variety. It makes a lot of sense then to have a new album out that also gives the same amount of variety, not that we necessarily intended it to be that way.
SoT: I saw comparisons on your last album Far From the Sun to the most recent from Green Carnation, called Quiet Offspring-both albums had a very strong "Deep Purple/Uriah Heep" organ-led hard rock approach, mixed with some contemporary radio rock styles. Here on the new one though, you've managed to encompass every style that Amorphis has had and bring it together in one nice little package.
Santeri: That's nice to hear. With the last album there was a bit of variety, but here we really leaned on our new singer Tomi to really pay a lot of attention to the vocals and melodies and lyrics. We counted on him to do some good stuff and he did!
SoT: Where did you find Tomi Joutsen?
Santeri: A friend of our old singer called him one day, and they were having some beers, and asked if he had heard if the band had any luck finding a new singer through the auditions we were having. He said not yet, and suggested that we try out his singer who was really good, had a good heavy metal background, and could do the grunts and growls as well. We then found out that he was a big Amorphis fan, especially the older albums, and really liked old school death metal. After he sang like two or three songs in the audition, we were sure that he was the guy if he wanted the job, and he did.
SoT: He's really added a lot to the overall sound of the band. "Leaves Scar" especially is a tour de force for him.
Santeri: I think in the beginning, I liked that song, but it wasn't one of the my favorites, but now that time has passed, especially when I am driving in the car, that song has become one of my favorites, it's a little bit faster, and I like the mix of folk and metal, and the grunts are great.
SoT: What kind of keyboards are you using on the album?
Santeri: Mostly my old standard stuff, like my Kurzwiel K2000 and a Yamaha home organ.
SoT: What festivals, if any, are you playing this summer?
Santeri: We have a few big metal festivals in Finland this summer, some of which turn out to be big drinking parties, one show in Sweden called the The Gates of Metal, which we are playing with Opeth and Ministry. There's also some in Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, and I think one in Italy.
SoT: Metal from Finland is a hot topic here in the US right now-how do you explain all this great music coming from your country, bands like Children of Bodom, HIM, The 69 Eyes, Finntroll, and of course Amorphis?
Santeri: Most of the bands you mentioned have been around for close to 10 years, so I think the main reason they are now getting popular is that they have gotten good agents and managers, who have taken the time to really push them on the US market. Children of Bodom have been playing the same style and quality of music from the beginning, but at the moment they are really starting to connect with the US fans. They have been really popular in Finland and all over Europe for a while though.
SoT: I think the genre in general is just really starting to pick up here, which could be the reason for it.
Santeri: You are probably right.
SoT: Thanks for your time Santeri-good luck with the album!
Santeri: Thank you, and take care!
(Click here to read our reviews of Eclipse)