Apocalyptica: Shadowmakers

"I was like, ok I sort of know this sound, but this band sounds too good!!"

“We are totally at the opposite ends of the world right now Carrie! This is crazy, technology is crazy..." So exclaims a bewildered Perttu Kivilaasko of Finnish Cello masters, Apocalyptica. “It’s an icy winter right now, we’re looking forward to getting to Soundwave to enjoy some heat, I love so much being in Australia, the animals, the scenery, the food, the people, I cannot fault this place and the line-up for Soundwave this year is phenomenal so we’re pretty thrilled to come with such an esteemed group of musicians”. Metal As Fuck sat down with one of our favourites recently to discuss the highly anticipated album Shadowmaker, the introduction of ‘the one’ vocalist and big sounds. “

“It’s also very exciting for us because, as of today; we’re on the very last day of mixing the new album. So we’re able to play a few of the new tracks from the album at Soundwave and show this amazing work. We’ve never worked so much in hours I’d say or in rehearsing than for this album, we wanted to make an album where there was no question that every single note and sound has been practiced to perfection - we are so well prepared!For many months we were consumed with practicing the album, therefore I believe you can hear it, it is so solid and of course we're working with such incredible people and when I heard the first track I didn’t believe that it was our band [Laughs] I was like ok I sort of know this sound, but this band is too good". [Laughs]    

I have had a sneaky peek of the material for Shadowmaker and I have to say it is vastly different to anything you guys have attempted before – do you feel you have captured the best elements of Apocalyptica in this album? “One of the main questions we asked ourselves this time around was alleviating the stress of guest vocalists. The difference on this album is a lot more vocal tracks such to the likes of Worlds Collide and I think (older) fans will be feeling awkward and worried about this but we felt, when we started this process, that we wanted to kind of get the songs back to Apocalyptica and not make everything so strange and messy with all the guests and that’s why we wanted to have the one vocalist, we want to be able to play these songs in their entirety, including the vocals and when you have so many (very famous) guests on your album it’s almost impossible to tour with them. We wanted to find the one vocalist who could record the album as easily as possible and of course tour”. So Franky Perez, Apocalyptica’s vocalist, is he now a full time member of the band or purely for this albums touring cycle? “Franky, at this stage is hired now for two years, we haven’t made it official as we just wanted to try this out and see how it feels as we haven’t done this before; touring with a vocalist. So we hired him to help create the album and he is doing all the shows that we’ll have with this album. Afterward we will consider the future and how we feel about what we want to do for the next album, but that is a while away. It was also very clear from the start that now we have a vocalist who is so flexible with his voice and who is so talented and able to sing so beautifully in so many different styles that it increased the amount of songs we could include in the album. There are the eight minute epic instrumentals included, we can’t not include them. You wouldn’t believe how bored we got trying to explain why we chose this vocalist and how it’s going to work and where did we find him, the whole 'you have a big star on your album, explain in every detail' sort of thing, so we wanted to bring everything to the roots and highlight the music with the vocals this time. We went through auditions and took our time to find the right voice and right personality and afterwards we realised we were one lucky bunch of bastards, we had this great vocalist who was album to transform our vision into everything we expected”.   

I am curious, there are a limited number of instrumentals on the new album, so I guess you could call me one of those awkward, worried fans (we’ll leave out the ‘old’ part) so is it fair to say that fans will see less and less instrumentals from Apocalyptica in future? *bites nails* “Our last project was Wagner Reloaded, a major collaboration and having such an instrumental album previously, we wanted to make a ‘band’ album this time around and even now through Shadowmaker, since it is combined with vocals it makes the instrumentals stand out more, it is more epic, and I’m talking big sounds. We wanted to make the three instrumentals on the album the most epic we have ever attempted so far and I truly believe Frank gave us more freedom to play around with the music and make it more progressive. We wanted to create danger with Shadowmaker, the dark uncomfortable area that draws out a lot of feeling, we didn’t want an easy listening album we wanted a more darker and intense album”.

To finalise the album, Apocalyptica had to reschedule a European tour. Have the band faced this issue before; having to push back certain things to get an album ready? “Not really, because earlier we’ve had it easier however with Shadowmaker the whole process was new, even though we knew exactly what producer we wanted to work with and have everything booked in but the whole album required a lot of production and a lot of work. We know we left a lot of fans disappointed and we were sad about that but once they see the final product they will understand and that the cancellation was necessary. We wanted to make the best album we could, we put our heart and soul into Shadowmaker and that’s what our fans deserve.” It’s funny though, out of all the fans of all the bands in the world, Apocalyptica fans seem to be the most impatient “Yeah [Laughs] I am a big fan boy myself so I can relate to the fans, I am so impatient myself [Laughs] but yes we had to postpone, we didn’t want to rush. I won’t lie, we spent six months in the rehearsing room, just practicing the songs nearly every day, hours and hours, fingers were bleeding. We wanted to be so prepared for this album, we knew exactly how we wanted to sound going on and before we started recording we wanted everything to sound so very clear”.

Apocalyptica are well known for having some of the most epic shows included in their tours, such as last year’s tour with the Avanti Orchestra which included a slot at Wacken Open Air, and we’re talking months of production to get these tours off the ground and on the road, so what goes into the thought process when planning a tour? “That was a memorable concert [Wacken Open Air 2014] it was so amazing, bringing classical music to Wacken was a real thrill, I mean we started playing with a lot of these musicians decades ago in school; I’ve known these guys for eternity. Giving classically trained musicians to the fields of Wacken and showing them something they have never experienced before was amazing for me. The crowd, like always gave their support to the orchestra and I am certain they all had a really great time watching in amazement of the moshpit [Laughs] in regards to planning these sorts of shows, it takes a lot of planning, a lot of rehearsing and making arrangements for these sorts of things. The most important thing after a tour is to have a nine month break from one another [Laughs] seriously though it is important, it clears the table, we can get inspired again on our own and makes for more solid and exciting album and the crazy touring that follows”. Speaking of touring, Soundwave awaits. We’re looking forward to hearing the new album and seeing a lot of it played at throughout the festival “Definitely, our first Soundwave, I’ll state it again, we are one lucky bunch of bastards”.