When it comes to metal, you should know that Finland doesn’t mess around. Respected by metal acts around the world, Finland gives birth to many influential and innovative musical acts, most whose focus relies on a mostly metal foundation. Acts such as The 69 Eyes, Apocalyptica, Children of Bodom, HIM, and Hanoi Rocks all hail from Finalnd. Well, time to add another act that’s ready to melt that Nordic frost, Amberian Dawn! Recently described as “symphonic power metal,” I like to call it “opera singing meets Opeth.” Ain’t no cookie monster vocals here, just classical singing updated to pair perfectly with today’s modern metal.
Amberian Dawn has a whopping seven tracks coming to the Rock Band Network. They started with making “River of Tuoni” and “Sleeps in a Grove” available (which are approved and waiting for the Rock Band Network to go live), and have further committed “Valkyries,” “Lullaby,” “The Curse,” “Fate of the Maiden,” and “Evil Inside Me” to the RBN. Check out a sample video of one of their RBN tracks after my interview with Tuomas Seppälä and Heidi Parviainen.
Check out the full interview after the break…
RockBandAide: How would you describe your music to people who have never heard it?
Tuomas Seppälä: Music of Amberian Dawn (AD) is fast and melodic metal with haunting classical female vocals. There’s also a lot of virtuocity in AD’s music, a lot of guitar and keyboard solos for example. So you could say there’s a little bit of progressive and technical sides in AD. But in general AD’s music is easy to approach and the tunes can very easily stay haunting inside your head.
RBA: Tell us a little bit about the musical background of the members of the band.
Heidi Parviainen: Tuomas and I have both a classical background. I started classical vocal traning at the age of 14 and Tuomas started playing piano at the age of five if I recall correct – he’s the Mozart of our time! Kasperi started playing guitar at the age of 8 and has also a classical training plus more general and professional guitar studies. Tommi, Emppu, and Joonas have also been taking lessons at some point of their lives.
TS: All our band members are kind of genre veterans, so everyone have a lot background in different bands. Every one masters his own instruments very well. And Heidi masters the singing very well also.
RBA: Where did you come up with the band name?
HP: By brainstorming! There were some optional names but Amberian Dawn became the winner.
RBA: What are some of your musical influences?
TS: I started to play classical piano at the age of five so I have a lot of influence taken from classical music, that’s obvious. Despite my background with classical piano I haven’t ever really listened to classical music so much. I have always loved more heavy metal. I have always loved music of Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen and Tony MacAlpine to name a few names. Besides that I like music of ABBA.
RBA: What’s the process like to composing a song, particularly the interaction between creating the music and lyrics?
HP: Tuomas composes all the music including the lead vocal lines then he sends me the ready mp3′s. I write lyrics based on the moods and visions I get from the music. Music is always really visual to me and it helps me a lot when making lyrics.
RBA: Where do you find inspiration for your songs? What has been the oddest source of inspiration?
TS: I compose music almost all the time and I have almost like an own radio station inside my head. I spend most of my free time by playing guitar or keyboards. Very often I just jam and some ideas might come out of blue. Sometimes I hear this song in my head and I just write it all down.
RBA: I’ve read that you’ve tapped the Kalevala for inspiration for a number of tracks. Are the songs on each album meant to be listened to as part of a larger, epic composition?
HP: We don’t work much together when making the music and the lyrics. Mostly the Kalevala is my source of inspiration when makin the lyrics but I´m sure Tuomas has his own musical inspirational sources. Mostly the songs are individual stories. Of course you could start making a story line from the Kalevala based songs especially from the lyrical point of view. There are several Kalevala based lyrics on both of our albums and will also be on our third album.
TS: So far our albums have been collections of individual songs, so the songs are not parts of a bigger epic composition or anything. If I would write symphonies or something, I would keep some kind of relation between different parts or songs. But I like to handle each song as own, that way I have the maximum amount of free will and no ties or boundaries at all.
RBA: Do you have any specific tracks that you are particularly proud of?
TS: I’m proud of all music of AD. I like all songs AD has recorded. To be proud of something usually means, that you think that you have achieved something special in a specific field. I cannot say anything like that from our music. But some of my favorite songs are “River of Tuoni,” “Valkyries,” “Incubus” and “Kokko- Eagle of Fire”.
RBA: Which one of your songs has the most meaning to you?
HP: Some of my favorites are “Kokko- Eagle of Fire,” “Lionheart,” and and “Willow of Tears.”
TS: “Incubus” was a really hard project for me. Usually I don’t need much time working with lead vocal melodies and backing vocal stems. But the chorus part in this song was so challenging. I used so much time polishing the melodies and harmonies of the chorus part. But I got it done and I’m very pleased with the result. You can hear how long the “phrase” of the chorus is. There’s not so much repetition like in “normal” choruses.
RBA: You already have two albums out, with a third on the way. How’s that coming along? Any new details you can give us?
TS: We are recording our third album right now and we are ready to start the mixing phase in a month. New album is going to introduce the fastest AD songs so far. There’s also a lot more diversity between different song and even one classical peace. The release date is still a total mystery.
RBA: Which is more fulfilling to you: being in the studio or going out on tour?
HP: Both. After a tour you´re quite ready to start doing something else and recording a new album is always fun! I like to have a change.
TS: Both are fulfilling in different way. I love to perform to live audience if I see that people are liking us. But like I said before, almost all my free time is used in my home studio. Playing and working there is fulfilling in a different way.
RBA: How frequently do you perform live?
HP: Not too often at the moment because the new album is taking so much time. But hopefully there will be more in near future!
TS: So far we have had about 25-30 shows in a year.
RBA: You’ve played at a number of locations around your home country of Finland, as well as toured Europe. What are some of the bigger differences you see between fans from Finland (who are very passionate about their metal) and fans from other countries?
HP: Finns are not that enthusiastic people and they are quite withdrawing too. So you need to be something or someone before people come to see you and really live along the music. It is also better to grow bigger abroad and then maybe Finns will start to noticing you. But hey, that is our nature, what can you do about it? The European crowd is crazy! I get tons of energy and feeling from the audience and therefore I like performing for European fans.
RBA: You are very interactive with your fans, which you don’t always see. Does this ever become a bit intimidating or exhausting, especially when it comes to replying to your fans directly?
HP: No it hasn’t become exhausting in any way. Of course we don’t have enough time to answer all the questions but we try our best. It is also the fans whom we’re making our music for. Withour our fans there wouldn’t be any gigs nor anyone would buy our albums. Thank you dear fans for makin AD possible!
TS: Heidi almost said it all. It’s all about the fans. We are doing this for them.
RBA: Is there any aspect of your musical history that you would change?
HP: The history has made us whom we are and it has brought us here. No, I would not change a thing. We prefer to keep going forward!
TS: I think I have done right choices in my life concerning musical training and that kind of things. I just regret that I didn’t form my own band before 2006. I could have been forming a band much earlier than that. For example I wrote a “Rock Opera” for some theater in 1992, but the owner and the director died so the project faded. I don’t know why I didn’t continue with different kinds of own band projects back then.
RBA: Where do you envision yourself 10 years from now, musically?
TS: I think I’m going to start some side projects in the future so I can experience different kind of musical styles. There’s no reason, why AD couldn’t be alive and kickin’ after 10 years.
RBA: What led up to you putting your music in the Rock Band Network?
TS: It was a great opportunity to spread the awareness of AD worldwide. I can’t imagine any better way. I’m very proud to be a part of the “RBN family.”
RBA: Being that your music will be featured in the game Rock Band, have any of you played the game? Would you play your own song in the game to see how it is?
HP: I haven’t tried it yet but as soon as I get one in my hands I will try it. Maybe even dare to try one of our songs!
TS: I haven’t tried it either, but as soon as our songs are ready to play, I will try it. I think it’s easier for Heidi to sing those tracks, but it’s probably much harder to us musicians to play with a different kind of “user- interface.”
RBA: Do you feel that games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have an impact on a player’s interest in playing a real instrument at some point?
HP: I’m sure it will do that in some cases. But I also hope that people will understand that it needs more time and sweat to learn to play a real instrument and not to give up when they realize that it is more difficult. But it’s great to motivate people to play!
RBA: Is there anything that you would like the Rock Band community to know about you before you debut on the Rock Band Network?
TS: Be prepared for a real technical challenge. The music of AD is probably one of the hardest to play and sing in RBN repertoire. I hope that you’ll get familiar with our music and come to see us live when we are performing in your home town some day!
RBA: Thanks, Heidi and Tuomas!
For more info on Amberian Dawn, check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace pages! Below are samples of their first two RBN tracks “River of Tuoni” and “Sleeps in a Grove.” Challenging on all instruments, this will definitely ask a lot of out you expert vocalists out there!