France's United Rock Nations recently conducted an interview with drummer Mikko Sirén of Finnish cello rockers APOCALYPTICA. You can listen to the entire chat via the SoundCloud widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the reasoning behind APOCALYPTICA recording their first instrumental album in 17 years, "Cell-0":
Mikko: "It was based on the audience reaction as we saw how excited and enthusiastic people were when we did that kind of music. Then we said to our agent, 'We need seven months off. We need to make this album. We cannot do it when being on the road.' We took two months to write the music. Then, within five months, we recorded everything and edited everything and mixed it. It took that time. When going into the studio, with that in the back of our heads, it would not have been possible without the touring in between. Even though it didn't go how we originally planned it, now when we see the result, we are more than happy that how amazing it is that we were able to create this kind of thing. That is not to say we would have not loved to do all the vocal tracks, but as the previous four albums were leaning toward that vocal thing, then we thought, 'Let's do one of these things in between.'"
On whether he prefers recording instrumental albums or albums featuring an array of guest vocalists:
Mikko: "For this moment, I could not have chosen a different way. At this moment, it felt absolutely the best way. Same as when we were doing 'Shadowmaker' that we made with, I think, eight or nine vocal tracks. At that time, we felt it was absolutely what we wanted to do and we are kind of lucky bastards that we get to do both. We get to do those vocal tracks that we love and we got to go to the far extreme of instrumental music, like progressive metal, which we love to do. That is the trick of the band, one of the key features that have been from the very beginning. We cannot be still or stagnant. There needs to be a feeling that we are developing, that we are challenging ourselves, that we are going forward. That's already, after a second album, as the band started as a cover band, there were people who said, 'You cannot change the concept. You need to do cover songs. That's what you need to do.' That needed to change and we said 'We need to do original music.' Then people said, 'You cannot take singers.' 'We will take singers.' 'You cannot take drums.' 'We will take drums.' And that's all the time we need to go forward. Even though now, going forward, means that we lean backward. We go back to the roots. Still, for us, it's going forward, it's developing, kind of because of the knowledge and the experience we have now compared to the beginning is different. We do things differently. I'm not saying better, but we do them differently compared to the first album. Therefore, it feels like even though we're doing the same thing, we do it in a different way."
On the writing process for "Cell-0":
Mikko: "It was pretty fast. There were a lot of ideas from spending two and a half years on the tour bus. You actually talk quite a bit — one might say, too much. This is a concept album. Besides the music, for us, it was super important that we come up with the surroundings for the music, that we come up with the story and the depth within the music. In instrumental music, it's so abstract because the only thing you are actually giving to the listener is the album title and the song titles."
On the concept behind "Cell-0":
Mikko: "The 'Cell-0', which is how we pronounce the name, is an imaginary concept that we came up with. You can call it a 'God particle.' In our heads, there is this undefined thing that you cannot pinpoint, that you cannot see or feel, but it is there. That's kind of the center of everything in this album. In the album, there is a lot about things, a lot about particles, how everything is made out of the tiniest little particles if you talk about cells to create something that is living, that a lot of cells are needed to create something, and atom-level, you need a lot of atoms to create something. But even though cells would create something, it doesn't make anything living. There needs to be this 'Cell-0', there needs to be this essence of something. And it came basically from the musical perspective. If you think of music, it's made of tiny particles. There are notes, there are rests, there are rhythms, there are this and this and this. When you put them together, it's almost like music, but it's missing the soul, the soul of the song, which is something you cannot put on a note. You cannot put it in a music sheet. It's the emotion. The x-factor. That's the 'Cell-0' for music. When we talk about all the particles and things like that, we are talking mainly about politics or social, environmental issues or something like that. It was one of those things that amazingly people have gotten disconnected from each other, from nature, from the earth and everything like that. Maybe the 'Cell-0' is the one thing we lost. We don't have the ability to connect anymore, especially in the last ten years. The world has changed."
"Cell-0" is due out January 10, 2020, via Silver Lining Music.
In support of the release of "Cell-0", APOCALYPTICA — cellists Eicca Toppinen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Paavo Lötjönen, and Sirén — will be the special guests for SABATON on a 15-country, 23-date European tour that begins on January 17, 2020, in Zurich, Switzerland.