Rock Impressions

INTERVIEW WITH ALTARIA - replied by Marko (italian version)
by Massimo Salari

After all I’d like to say that the album is great, really a good work and a great return. Can you give us an introduction to your band with the history of your group?
Well Altaria started in 2001 when I moved back to my home town. I had some songs that I had written during the time I had been away. So I thought it would be great to make a little better demo of the songs, you know just for own use. So I teamed up with an old band mate Tony who I had played with in my earlier bands. I knew he was a great drummer and a good friend so we teamed up and arranged the songs and so on and later on booked the studio. When we were about to enter the studio we needed a guitar player and a singer. Mattjus (our original singer) was an old friend of me and Tony so we asked him to sing on it. And then I had met a young guitarist namned Jani Liimatainen. Jani had just released their first album with his band Sonata Arctica and he really didn’t have much to do so he teamed up with us to play on the demo. When the demo was ready it got a really great feedback from friends and so on so we decided to do a couple of liveshows and so on. So soon Altaria was a real band. And then with the second demo we did we got signed to Metal Heaven. And now we have our third album out.

Which is the main difference between “The Fallen Empire” and “Divinity”?
Well I would say Divinity was more like Jani´s vision of how he wanted Altaria to sound like. Divinity had a kind of a poppy production you know with a lot of keyboards and less guitars. But with The Fallen Empire now I think the band sounds more like we wanted the band to sound from the beginning. This more like a back to the roots album. This album is a lot heavier than Divinity and has more guitars and less keyboards. Just the way we wanted.

Why Jani Liimatainon leaved the band? It was because of his involvement with Sonata Artica?
The reason why we parted ways with Jani was that both bands were starting to get bigger and bigger and he just couldnt find time to play in both albums. Jani was still in the band when we started to write material for The Fallen Empire. And he was still in the band when we did the pre-production recordings. But it was when we had recorded the final drums and the final bass when we noticed that there were no chance for him to find time to enter the studio to record his guitars. So we called him up and talked about the things and he agreed with us on everything and we decided to go separate ways. We are still good friends though so there are no negative feelings about this.

How important was for your sound the entry of J-P Alanen in the band?
Me and Tony had already played and jammed with JP earlier so we knew he was a killer guitarist and a cool guy so it was quite easy for us to ask him to join the band after we had parted ways with Jani. I personally think that JP did a GREAT job on this album. I mean its not easy to fill Jani´s shoes in this band but JP has done a really good job. And we really have a good band now and it feels really good that we finally can go on tour and so on. With Jani it always was SA´s schedules and so on that got in the way when we were offered a tour or a festival gig or so on.

The album shows a good set of evergreen heavy metal songs, sometimes they reminds to me something about old Accept ( like “The Valley Of Rainbows”, “Frozenhearts”), do you agree?
Yeah I agree J I mean both me and Tony grew up with the 80´s metal so I think that its quite natural for us to write that kind of music. We have always written the kind of music we like. I couldn’t imagine myself writing music or songs in a genre that I don’t like myself. So yeah I totally agree that we sound a lot like the 80´s metal.

Instead “Crucifix” reminds to me the Helloween, which are the bands from the eighties that you like best?

My personal favourite is Wasp. Blackies´s been a big influence on my own musical career. And I have listened and still listen a lot to bands like Kiss, Whitesnake, older Queensryche, Mötley Crue, Skid Row, Ratt, Warrant, Dio and so on. There´s a lot of great 80´s bands out there.

Can you tell us about the songs from “The Fallen Empire”?
Most of the songs are again written by me and Tony. Usually I come up with the first riff or the first version of the whole song. I then give the songs over to Tony and he then checks what kind of songmelodies I have had in mind and then maybe changes some melodies here and there and then writes the lyrics for it. After that we gather together to the rehearsing room and start working on the songs as a full band. And everybody tells their opinions and so on and we after we´ve finished the songs we enter the studio. So far almost all the songs are written by me and Tony but hopefully to the next album we get the other members involved in the writing process too. Would be great to have songs .

Where do you find inspiration for writing your lyrics?
Well I am not the right person to answer this question since to The Fallen Empire Tony wrote all the lyrics. But I know Tony writes lyrics about the things that happen in our lives or in the world. So every song kind of has a story behind them.

How much tradition and how much modernity there are into this new record?
I think the elements and all are tradition. I mean Altaria is not there to invent anything new, we play the music we like ourselves and its great to see that other people like the songs too. But I guess with the production and everything we maybe have a kind of modern sound on the albums anyway.

In your opinion, which are the hitpoints of the new album?
I really like the whole album. I don’t really see any weaks points there. But if I had to choose my fav songs from the album I would say Showdown and Valley Of Rainbows. They are both great songs to play live.

There is something about your past that you would like to change if it will be possible?
I´m not a person that regrets about things. I mean of course everyone has things in their life that they could have done differently. But then again you cant do anything about it anymore. And its always easy afterwards to say that maybe it wasn’t a smart move to do that or something. I personally think life is about “live and learn” so I don’t think I would like to change anything in my life, but sure there are things I could have done differently but In don’t think I regret them J

Which is the secret of the long life of the Heavy Metal?
I don’t know what the secret is. But I think something has to do with the catchy songmelodies and so on. Melodic music is easy to remember and has great hooks and so on. If you hear a great tune you like a couple of days humming that melody back and forth. So I think it has something to do that melodic metal is often about great song melodies and so on. But then again its just my vision about it.

Nowadays the collaborations between artists are easyer than before, there is a particular reason?
I dont know the reason for it really. But I guess now with the internet and all its so much easier to get in contact with people around the world. And fast and easy to send files back and forth and so on. So I personally think that the internet has made it a lot easier to work with people around the world.

Which was the best experience with an audience that you like best to remember?
I think the first gig we did with Altaria in our hometown. Usually when local bands play here there are like 30 in the audience. So we didn’t really have big expectations about the gig. But when we out the introtape on and went on the stage the place was crowded. There were so many there that you could hardly see more than the front row. It was a great feeling!!

Are you planning to play in Italy in the future?
Of course it would great to come to play there, but unfortunately the European tour we are doing with Doro and Sonata Arctica doesn’t have any gigs in Italy. But Altaria are doing more shows in Europe in September so hopefully some bookers are interested in Altaria and takes us over for a gig or two. Would be great to come over and play some gigs there. I´ve heard the audience is awesome in Italy.

Can you live from music or do you have other jobs?
I dont live with from music. I have my own company and I work inside music business too so I kind of get my living partly out of music. But not only Altaria. At least not yet. Of course it would be great someday to get my living out of music. We´ll see what the future brings.

Have you been satisfied with the promotion and the distribution of your albums?
Yeah we are happy. The first record contract was two albums and Divinity was the last one of that contract. So the label wanted a new record deal with us and we signed it so I guess that shows that both we and the label are satisfied with working with each other. No bad words to say here.

These seem to be very dark times. What do you believe about this period, do you are optimistic or do you fear the future?

Well you can never say what tomorrow brings so you just have to live your life day by day. Theres a lot of bad things happening in the world at the moment so I´m not looking at the future so bright. But as I said its hard to say what tomorrow brings… or next year… or what happens in 5 years. Its just to take the life at it comes.

I really liked the paintings used for your booklets, can you tell me more about them?
The layout for the booklets has been done on all our albums by our friends at Metagraphic in Germany. They really do a great job so I only have them to thank about the booklets and they layouts on our albums. They also made the Altaria homepage.

What can you tell me about the musical scene in your country?
The metal music is really strong here. If you look at the album chart at the moment I think In Flames are #1 on the most sold albums here. And we have a lot of great metal/rock bands here like Stratovarius, Bodom, Sonata, HIM, The 68 Eyes and so on. So the metal scene is really strong here and I think out there in the world finnish metal has a really high appreciation.

Which are your future plans?
We are no rehearsing hard for the European tour we are doing with Doro and Sonata Arctica in April/May. After that we will do some summer festivals around Europe. And in September we will do another tour in Europe. We will play in Finland, Sweden, Russia, UK and Greece. And it would be great to come over to Italy to play too because unfortunately theres no gigs in Italy on our tour with Doro and Sonata Arctica. And after September we will have a little break before we start to work on the fourth album.

Thanks a lot for the interview, could you end with something which was never told before?
Hahaa… I guess everythings asked in interviews already. But check out our homepage for samples from the new album.


Review (in italian): The Fallen Empire; Divine Invitation


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