BearlySinister: First thing’s first: Can you introduce yourself and your role in the band?
Henkka: I’m Henrik, I play keyboards in the band Sonata Arctica.
BearlySinister: You were introduced into the band in 2002. How were you approached with the offer and how has your experience been so far?
Henkka: Actually, they had posted on their website that they were looking for a keyboard player and I knew the band from before because I recorded them at one show in the spring of 2002. It was just by coincidence that I checked their webpage to see “Oh, how are these guys doing” and I saw that they were looking for a keyboard player so I just made a CD of stuff that I’d played on and sent it off and uhh… they offered an audition, which I got and then after that everything kind of felt right. So I auditioned for a day and then a week or two later, they told me I can join the band if I want to. Of course I wanted to!
BearlySinister: Were you classically trained or self-taught?
Henkka: I’ve been studying classical since I was a kid, yeah. When I reached about 14 or 15, I stopped playing classical because you know… *chuckles* you know what happens when kids grow up, they start getting older and they don’t like it. That’s when I got into rock music and I lost interest in the classical way because it required so much back then and I kind of felt a difference in that.
BearlySinister: The new album, “Pariah’s Child”, comes out March 28th. What was your favorite part about the writing process for this record?
Henkka: Well, our singer does most of the writing. But when we started to work on the album, this band is really good because we usually have 13 or 15 good songs that we need for the album but this time we had like 20 or 30 songs. So there was a lot to choose from and what I think is most exciting was that we can actually make the band sound like Sonata Arctica at this point. We had a lot to choose from, we could pick the songs that made the best possible album.
BearlySinister: Who inspired you to be a musician?
Henkka: I don’t know. It was more or less an accident, I think. Like I said, studying the classical music and all the stuff that my parents put me up to. The nature of my relationship with music began because I felt that there was something real, I felt that it was something that I had to do and there was nothing else out there and something new. I took to it naturally and then when I was growing up, I did all kind of drums I would record myself and then somehow at home, I was just looking for an opportunity to come up and when the Sonata chance came up, that was my opportunity, so to speak. After that, I haven’t thought to do another job.
BearlySinister: Before being introduced into the band and your initial audition, were you familiar with Sonata Arctica?
Henkka: Yeah, I was familiar… I mean I recorded them in one show and then after that I checked them out. I was a bit familiar with them, I wouldn’t say that I had all their albums and stuff like that. I knew the band… well, knew of the band, but I didn’t know the band that well. Then, of course, when I got into the position, I went and bought their albums to check out. After hearing the Sonata albums, I knew that this was the band I wanted to be in.
BearlySinister: Do you have a favorite song on the new album and if so, what is the story behind it?
Henkka: There’s a song called “What Did You Do In The War, Dad” which is probably the most horrible lyrics that Tony has ever written. For me, a favorite is more a musical thing, I think it combines a big part of the elements that Sonata Arctica is about, you know. It’s got a catchy chorus and some uptempo things. So I think that’s something to watch, it originated from my life and it changes, of course.
BearlySinister: The album was produced and mixed by the band. I know that you have done it with all of the other members, but was it different now that you have someone with a studio background in the band?
Henkka: Yeah, our new bass player, Pasi is actually. To start from the beginning, I’ve been playing with him since I was like 13 or 15 years old, just when I started out playing in rock. There’s another gentleman, he’s been running his own studio. So musicians we have playing bass, we actually have a studio and then everybody who has had experience in the process. This time, for the first time in 10 years I think, we were all working in the same studio, recording the album together. That’s a huge difference, obviously. The 3 albums we’ve done, we got together, rehearsed some songs, then everybody went off to their own studios to record their parts. This time we used a lot more straightforward process and it actually made recording this album a lot faster because everybody was present so we could just sit and talk about it, ya know, and just set out and do it. I think it’s interesting because in the future, we will be going into the studio as a band, ya know, together.
BearlySinister: What does Sonata Arctica mean to you?
Henkka: Well… it’s starting to be kind of a career, you know, I’ve been in the band over 10 years. I mean, to me, it means… it’s a lot more than just a job. We get to spend time with our family and then go into the studio to record an album. The biggest part of being in the band is going on tour and playing live, I enjoy them all.
BearlySinister: Have you had a favorite tour since joining the band?
Henkka: I think it would be when we come to a place for the first time, those are the ones that stick in your mind. I mean, the first time we went to Australia, first time we got to play in South America, first time in the US. Those are the ones that stick out the most and then when you keep going back it becomes so much more, like a juggernaut, you remember what happened on which tour and so forth. But I would say any time we play any place for the first time would be my favorite.
BearlySinister: Do you have a dream tour you’d like Sonata to be part of?
Henkka: I think it’d be really cool to do a support tour, for example. We played 2 shows in Japan with Iron Maiden, that was almost 10 years ago, that was really cool and stuff. But, no not really, I mean we’ve played with everybody.
BearlySinister: What is the most effective way that you use to communicate with fans off of the road?
Henkka: Well… talking *laughs*. I mean… you know, we try to keep in touch with fans we meet on the road. It’s definitely important to stay connected, whether on tour or at home, it shows the fans that you really care about them.
BearlySinister: Have you had a favorite album that you’ve recorded with Sonata so far?
Henkka: Well, of course, it’s the latest one. That’s always the case at the moment but uh, not counting this latest release, I would say the first album, “Reckoning Night” that I did with Sonata. That was a really special time for me.
BearlySinister: Well, I don’t want to take up too much of your time. Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans, our readers and the general public?
Henkka: Well, you know, the new album is really great. We’re gonna come back and next tour we’re gonna do a long tour, we’re gonna be here for almost 7 weeks so be sure to check us out and, of course, the new album from Sonata Arctica is gonna be out there in a month and we hope you enjoy it! So cheers and beers!