Interview mit Henrik “Henkka” Klingenberg von Sonata Arctica

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After 20 years and ten studio albums SONATA ARCTICA have proven several times that they are great songwriters. After a few postponements, „Acoustic Adventures – Volume One“ is now a special album on which the Finns put their own songs in an acoustic dress. We talked to keyboard player Henrik „Henkka“ Klingenberg about personal experiences with the pandemic, the exciting reworking of the songs and the fact that the record is not really acoustic at all.

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sonata-arctica-acoustic-adventures-volume-oneAfter some postponements you can finally release „Acoustic Adventures – Volume One“. How does it feel to finally be able to share the studio versions?
We have been waiting for quite a while to get to share these songs with the world, so to speak. The album was pretty much ready in 2020 so it has been some time. I’m very relieved that it’s finally coming out.

Unfortunately, the tour had to be postponed to September / October 2022. How is the Corona situation in Finland at the moment and how do you see the perspectives for recovery in 2022?
Well, I’m no expert so as far as predictions for this year goes, I have no idea. Right now the situation is getting worse over here but even if things would be ok in Finland this is still a global problem and unfortunately I think it’ll take some time before we’re back to normal, whatever that means.

How did you live through that pandemic times? Did your priorities shift, did you learn something new?
I have found it really stressful emotionally, one day you’re booking shows and the next day postponing or cancelling so from the work side of things, it’s been truly horrible…and still is. On a personal level, my family is the most important thing so being able to spend time at home has been nice. Having said that, playing live is something I do miss a lot…. and of course hanging out with the guys, which we haven’t really been able to do recently.

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When and how did the idea of rewriting your songs acoustically first come about?
We did a couple of acoustic tours  in 2016 and 2019 and people started asking for a record. We also enjoyed these shows a lot so we knew there had to be some recording as some point…and with not being allowed to play shows, now was a good time to record a bunch of music.

„The Rest Of The Sun Belongs To Me“ was the first track you rewrote acoustically, right? Why did everything start with that song?
I don’t know if it really started with this one but this track was one of the many songs that sounded nothing like the original, this track also worked very well live. Masi Hukari our dear friend and additional member on the 2016 & 2019 tours, did a lot of work on this arrangement as well….and since it turned out so great we decided to record the live arrangement pretty much the way we played it on the 2019 tour.

Would you say the selections on the „Acoustic Adventure“ albums represent a kind of best-of? In which way did you choose the songs?
We started out with the setlist from the tour and chose the songs that we thought worked well live. After that we started to go through our catalog and try out different tracks, some worked and some didn’t, so it was a trial and error – method…which of course took some time.

Why didn’t some tracks work in the acoustic versions? Did they just not fit in the acoustic garment?
Well, some of the stuff we tried just didn’t sound good the way we tried to play them…. maybe next time we can try something different and make things work, who knows.

A track like „Tallulah“ is already rather quiet in its original version with a lot of acoustic guitars. Is the rearranging of a ballad more difficult than for heavy songs, because you need a certain distinction from the original in the acoustic version?
With “Tallulah” there really wasn’t that much arrangement work really, the version is quite close to the original in my opinion. I think some songs require more work than others but I wouldn’t say that ballads are easier than heavy songs…. “For The Sake Of Revenge”, for example, took a lot of work and it’s not really a heavy song.

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The album is very varied and the songs have all taken on a new character all their own. „Paid In Full“ is so much fun with its country note, while „For The Sake Of Revenge“ is very sad and „Tonight I Dance Alone“ has a very intimate, melancholic atmosphere. Have you tried different tracks in different versions?
We tried the tracks until the sounded good but for the most part once we started to play something, we had a pretty good idea wether it would work or not. If it didn’t, we dropped it and if it sounded ok we continued to work on it until it was good.

Do you have a favorite song on the record yourself?
“For The Sake Of Revenge”… at the moment at least. I think we managed to do something special with that one.

Contrary to the album title, the album is not completely acoustic, for example I hear some electric guitars or distorted bass and of course your keyboard takes a big role. Would you say the songs are more reinterpretations of acoustic kind than really acoustic versions?
That’s actually why we call it „Acoustic Adventures“, it’s not totally acoustic. (laughs) We did really make an effort when deciding what kind of sounds we would use and tried many different things with our producer Mikko Tegelman. As far as keyboard sounds go, there’s acoustic piano, electric piano, hammond organ and a little bit of Mellotron and an analog synth pad so there’s really not that much “modern” sounds , even if the only really acoustic thing is the piano….regarding the guitars, pretty much the same story, most are acoustic with a couple of additional things here and there.

What bands, albums, musicians or genres influenced you in creating the acoustic versions?
We didn’t really have any direct influences but I’m sure everyone had their own “acoustic favorites” – history. I think we managed to create something a bit different from what has been done before as far as merging acoustic versions with electric influences goes but then again, it’s not really for me to decide if that actually is the case.

How do the studio versions differ from the live versions of the „Acoustic Adventure“ tours?
I think there’s a little more singing on the studio versions, so we’ll have to up our background vocal game for the next tour. (laughs) Other than that, some of the tracks haven’t been played live before so it remains to be seen how they turn out live.

Is it also an option that you make an original acoustic album with completely new acoustic songs?
Of course, it’s an option but I don’t see that happening right now. For us the „Acoustic Adventures“ is a concept which is built on us playing familiar Sonata Arctica songs more or less acoustically and making an original album in this style would be something different. At the moment the plan is that the next album will again be a heavy metal album!

Can you already tell something more about the next metal album?
After the second „Acoustic Adventures“, which will be out in the fall of 2022, the next album will once again be a “normal” heavy studio album like before….after that , I have no idea what will happen, hopefully we get to tour like before.

Sonata Arctica

Let’s conclude with our traditional brainstorming. What comes to your mind first when you read the following words?
Current favorite album: Funkyfy Your Life – The Meters Anthology.
Best Movie-/Series-/Book-Universe: Book: “Further Adventures of a Grumpy Old Rock Star” by Rick Wakeman.
Winter: Too cold.
Something that makes every bad day better: Beer. (laughs)
Hope for 2022: To remain Healthy and be able to get back to performing for people.

Thank you once again for your time! The last words are all yours.
Thank you all for the support and I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and entertain you all….meanwhile, stay safe and happy. Cheers & Beers!


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