Interview With Sami Lopakka In German
Let’s talk about your new album „The Cold White Light“. What does the recordtitle mean and why is it this time more than one word in contrast to the last records?
It breaks the chain. Maybe some people were expecting for a one word title around this time as well. But we like to shake people a little bit and they shouldn’t really be expecting anything from this band. We wanted to do something and also try to do something new with each album. The title itself is the concept of “light”. It can be a symbol for some many things that we were kind of fascinated by. It can be a symbol of death. I think that people see this bright light at the moment of death. It is also a symbol of life. There is no life where there is no light. Furthermore a symbol of hope – the light at the end of the tunnel and so on. The main thing for us was however open enough for personal opinion or interpretation and that it fits to the music and to the lyrics of the album. It somehow even gathers the different songs together in some way to call the light “cold and white” really makes the title more fittable to us. It makes it more Northern and melancholic and atmospheric.
I was quite surprised that the album is much harder than the last one. Why?
I would say that on the “Crimson” album we were pretty stressed down as a band. We have been touring and recording and rehearsing for years without a real break. After the “Crimson” tour we took a long break for six, seven months. After that the feeling was really relaxed and the songs came out really naturally and easily. We wanted to have songs that are as different from each other as possible. We wanted songs that are rocking and fast-paced even more than for years. But there are also songs that are more melo and atmospheric and songs between those two. I think you still gonna recognize the Sentenced sound and Sentenced style but we wanted to have some fresh elements and something new. We decided at the same time to go into a different direction into a more atmospheric direction but also into a harder direction.
In February I got a tracklist from that album and I remember that it got almost completely different songtitles.
(laughs out loud) Yeah, that was no official tracklist that was put up then. We had like 17 or 18 songs when we went to the studio and we obviously had to throw some songs away as we didn’t want to release an album of 80 minutes. It gets boring. It doesn’t matter what kind of songs are there. If it’s too long it’s not interesting anymore. In the studio we wrote down all the songs to a certain point and then we had to make some rough decisions, these are the ones that get finished and the other ones we kept them for later use or threw them away totally. That is the reason that you have some titles in your list that are not actually on the record now.
You have two Finnish songtitles on the record. Can we expect a complete Finnish song some day?
It doesn’t seem very likely. We are an English singing band. We see no reason to change that. To the two songtitles on the album - the first one “Konevitsan Kirkonkellot” is a traditional Finnish composition and the title is also traditional. This is just a version of that composant without old sound but with these screaming loons and massive bells. It means “The churchbells of Konevitsa”. And Konevitsa is an historical place in Finland. The other one “Aika Multaa Muistot” works better in Finnish than it does in English. It’s kind of a wordplay. You could translate it to “time bereaves the memories” something like that. In Finnish there is a saying similar to that title. I don’t know what it is in English. Maybe something like “as time passes by you forget about the bad things and you only remember the good things”. But in this song we kind of turned it upside down. It now says “as time passes by you only remember the bad things and you forget about the good ones”. To answer the question – no, not at least at the moment, we are not planning to do a Finnish song.
So this subtitle “Everything Is Nothing” is not the right translation for it?
No, it’s more of a subtitle.
To me it’s the best Sentenced album ever. I like it very much.
Nice to hear that.
Would you agree that it’s the best Sentenced album ever or..?
We are truly satisfied and feel that way as well. We’re kind of doing the playing that we did and kind of found ourselves again and found the joy of making music and creating, expressing ourselves. It is more relaxed than probably any album that we have done. The result is exactly what we were aiming at when we went to the studio. There is absolutely no regrets about anything. It just turned the way that we wanted it.
Did you face any expectations or pressures from the label? Or were you completely free?
We always have free hand. If they even try get pressure upon us it just wouldn’t work. We would ignore it. We always have to close all the doors around us and inside the creation of the songs is only the five members of the band and noone else. We can’t think about any expectations or other people’s opinions or sales figures anything like that. It would totally fuck up the whole process. We just have to let it come out the way it comes and make it perfect for ourselves in the first place. Then we will see, when it’s put out, what other people think. But we expect no pressure from any time.
The first single “No One There” got on second place in Finland. Why did you choose the last song of the record and the longest one as a single?
This was a hard decision. There were a lot of songs that could have been the single. But we wanted a song that keeps the right picture of the album as a whole. For example, to pick a song like “Neverlasting” would have probably given a more brutal picture about the album. This “No One There” song – on the single it’s only four minutes, we cut it down a little bit – was a song we could agree on and now when it’s out we see that it’s maybe one of the melodicwise most difficult songs on the album. Maybe it was a little mistake we made there but we are not a single hit band anyway, so we just don’t give a fuck in the end. We want to concentrate on the album more and hope that people check it out without looking into the single song that much.
I would never expect a Sentenced single to get on the second place in Germany. Why do you think there are these differences between Germany and Finland concerning the music tastes of the people?
Well, Finland is quite a pretty extreme country. It seems that people are very fond of expressing negative feelings with a hard sound. You could also call Metal mainstream in Finland. There are so many metal bands that are doing very well in the charts. It seems that it’s the most favorite thing of Fins to listen to this kind of music and also to make this kind of music. There are not many disco bands or something like that that are having succes outside Finland or even in Finland. Maybe it’s different here in Germany.
Yeah, it’s the other way round. On “Crimson” I had this impression that the lyrics were more positive in the Sentenced way. They were not positive but compared to other Sentenced ones they were rather positive. But this time they go back to that suicide thing, having lots of black humour inside.
We have lots of different songs and atmospheres on the album we figured up the lyrics had to be that way as well. And there songs that are lyricwise almost philosophic and at the same time there are songs as you said that are based on black humour like “Excuse Me While I Kill Myself” and “The Luxury Of A Grave”. There are also songs that are more serious and gloomy. And on the other hand again almost joyful and happy songs, at least considering we are talking about Sentenced here (laughs), but each songs in a way deals with human life just on different points of view. We just wanted to have a huge variety of texts in there.
This time you worked once more with Hiili Hiilesmaa. How big was his impact on the record?
I would say his impact is mostly in the sound that you’ve heard. There weren’t so many things that were changed, you know arrangements or melodies or things like that. For creating an original sound Hiili is someone great at. He was also kicking our asses in the studio as we were losing our nerves. And when things were going perfectly he was keeping us at our best and he wouldn’t let go any carelessness in the playing. It had to be really tight. I think it wouldn’t be possible for us at this point to go to a studio without a producer because our nerves maybe last two seconds and after that it runs away from our heads and we have to have some dictator in the studio who keeps us under form and sees that everything is done as good as possible.
Well, final question, do you still face comparisons with H.I.M.?
No, not really that much. I wouldn’t agree on this. The relation between our and their music is quite small actually. I would say that we created that kind of sound on the “Amok” album which was in ’95 and to be compared to a band that is much younger than we are is pretty frustrating. But everyone can think what they like but we don’t give a fuck in the end (laughs).
With these words of discontent I had to end the interview because I had to go. But so Sami could take a small lunch break.