THE LIGHT IS THE SYMBOL FOR SO MANY THINGS (Interview With Sami Lopakka, 5.5.2002)
Dalia - I'm very happy to speak with you, and honoured that you have
found the time to make this interview for Gryphonmetal. First of all my
congratulations for the very high place in the Finnish charts which Sentenced
have reached with single "No One There".
Sami Lopakka - Thanks!
Dalia - Obviously some questions about your new upcoming album "The
Cold White Light". If you could use only one adjective for it, how would
you define it? Sad, gloomy, heavy, beautiful, intense?
Sami Lopakka - I would say fresh if I only had one word! After the "Crimson"
album we were pretty stressed out. We had being touring and recording albums
and rehearsing without a break for severly years and after the Crimson
tour we just went home and decided to have a long break of 7-8 months and
we didn't do anything with the band and we didn't even talk each other
that much. Because of this we found the joy of playing and creating music
again and then when we started to write the new album, it all came really
easily and naturally and it was a really relaxed feeling to work with the
new songs and I think you also can hear it on the album that we are enjoying
what we are doing and that is I would say a main difference if you compare
the new one and the Crimson album.
Dalia - Yes one can hear it. One can understand that this new album
is more intense and there is also a new experimentation inside.
Sami Lopakka - Yes I agree.
Dalia - And what is exactly this light defined as cold and white?
Sami Lopakka -We were kind of fascinated by the concept of light as
it can be a symbol for so many things. It can be the light of death, that
you see when you die; it can be the light of life as there is no life when
there is no light and so on. Also it can be a light of hope at the end
of the tunnel and so on. And it is a kind of open title as it can be symbolizing
so many things and we really want to have an open title so that people
can think of it how they like. Somehow it also gathers the many different
songs of the album together someway. And to call it cold and white makes
the concept of light more suitable to us. It makes it north and atmospheric
Dalia - Your lyrics too are still very gloomy , with suicidal theme
again: for example very meaningful is the title and text of song "Excuse
Me While I Kill Myself". So in your lyrics still there is your typical
theme. But which your purpose in the end of story, do you want to arise
in your listeners resignation, submission or rebellion and reaction against
Sami Lopakka - Well, first of all I would say that songs like "Excuse
Me While I Kill Myself" and "The Luxury Of A Grave" are pretty much based
on black humour, we want to show people that even if we have this really
suicide bad boy image, we can play with it and laugh at ourselves at times,
and these songs are not to be taken that seriously. We just have a lot
of different songs and atmospheres on the album and we think that the lyrics
would have to be that way as well. There are songs that are lyricwise mostly
philosophic but at the same time as I said there are songs that are humoristic
and also there are songs, that are quite gloomy and said, like "Cross my
heart and hope to die" for example. But on the other hand again there are
songs that are joyful almost happy at least considering we are talking
about Sentenced here(laughing). It could be said that almost every song
deals with human life in some way just in different points of view and
those aspects are however so far from each other that you can call in no
way the new album a theme album, it's quite the opposite actually. We just
want to have the right variety of different kind of texts in there.
Dalia - Now a question you could expect in a way. I personally like
very much "The Cold White Light". I really enjoyed it.
But there will be someone I presume who will listen to it superficially
and could come to the conclusion that there are many HIM influences.
Are you sure that all your fans will be happy with the new dress in which
your schemes are presented?
Sami Lopakka - At first I wouldn't agree that much with what you say
about HIM. I think we have started this style of music with our band since
the Amok album which was 95 and we are still doing the same style concentrated
a lot on melodies and choruses but I wouldn't say that you can point out
our style directly to any other band.
Dalia - I recognize indeed your typical Sentenced schemes in your
album, but that are rumours and opinions that are slowly growing about
HIM influence after listening to your single.
Sami Lopakka - To put it shortly we never think actually about anyone's
reactions and opinions when we write music and we just close the doors
for everyone except for the members of the band and we always do what feels
right and what feels our own and we just let the music happen as it comes
out naturally, we are not thinking about any specific influences or the
reactions of our fans, we have to do it like this to keep it honest and
if we tried to imitate some trendy bands or something like that it would
not work and we would split up pretty soon. It has to be true to ourselves
in the first place and then when the album comes out everyone can think
what they like, the most important thing for us is to make it pleased to
Dalia - Indeed you have to believe in what you are doing, in your
Sami Lopakka - Yeah so it does work.
Dalia - Technically speaking the guitar duo : you and Miika (Tenkula)
is becoming always better ,at my opinion, but not only mine, this is a
cool guitar duo. On the way to be definitively an exceptional one. What
do you say? Any comments?
Sami Lopakka - Thank you very much I would say firstly, but we have
played with Miika for eleven or twelve years together, we know exactly
what each other is capable of and I would like to concentrate more on the
rhythm, and lead guitar Miika is one of the best guitar players I've ever
heard. He's amazing, and it's really nice to make songs with him and play
guitar together with him. He is a really exceptional guitar player. And
I would say that we understand each other playingwise that good because
we have played together for so long and we have made so many songs together
and even before we got in the studio we often rehearse both of two us only.
We got a rehearsal play just Miika and me and go through all the guitar
stuff that is going to be in each song and we really try to make it perfect
and as compact as possible.
Dalia - And which were the biggest problem and the biggest satisfaction
the band has experienced during composing and/or recording The Cold White
Sami Lopakka - A problem was the choice of the songs cause we wrote
so many but we didn't want to copy ourselves. We didn't want to put out
an album that would last ninety minutes or so. So building the album from
different kind of songs was really difficult in the studio as there were
also other songs that were working really good but they had maybe too much
similarities with some other song on the album so we had to decide what
to put into the trash and what to keep into the album. But the greatest
satisfaction was when the album was mixed and mastered and we were driving
from Helsinki about 600 hundred kms back to Oulu and listening to the album
and we just noticed that we have succeded very well with what we were aiming
at, and it is always a great feeling after!
Dalia - Would you tell us something more about your future tour,
will there be an Europe tour and a World tour too? Have Sentenced already
Sami Lopakka - We have a lot of plans and we will be very busy. The
album will be out next week and the after weeks we will play a lot of shows
in Finland first and then some festivals also in Finland and at least one
in Germany: the Summer Breeze Festival and after that it seems that we'll
first go to the North America for a couple of weeks, then we will come
back from there and we will start a full European tour. It will start in
October and maybe end in November but there is certainly a lot of stuff
to do and a lot of shows to play. After the European tour it seems we'll
play in South America and exotic places like Russia, Mexico, Turkey, maybe
in Japan this time. In any cases it will be very busy for the band.
Dalia - The cover art is a concept by Vesa Ranta. Is he not your
Sami Lopakka - Yes he is the drummer!
Dalia - So he has created also the cover art for the new album...!
Sami Lopakka - Yes, he made all the covers, like the front cover, all
the booklet and everything you basically see when you get the CD.
Dalia - Since ever? Has he always made the cover arts?
Sami Lopakka - Well no, this is the first time...
Dalia - Shame on me (laughing) I should have known! By the way this
here is an agreeable cover art!
Sami Lopakka - Oh yes he has been studying photography for about I think
six years and now graduated, and he wanted to do our album covers before
but he just didn't have the time as he was studing and also playing in
the band of course. But now he had the time and he had a lot of fotos that
really fit very well to our kind of music and lyrics so we gave him kind
of free hand, to do anything that he likes for the new album. And he came
up with really nice pictures like the front cover for example which can
be put in relation with the music, the lyrics and the whole band and it
works very well for the album title as well.
Dalia - We at Gryphonmetal: Absolut_Evidence, Lovedeath77 and me
think that the hammer tracks in this work are: "Everything Is Nothing"
and the opener...
Sami Lopakka - Konevitsan Kirkonkellot ..I will help you a little bit
Dalia - Indeed!! (laughing) followed by "Cross My Heart And Hope
Question is : why the choice for the single has fallen on "No One
There", good song but maybe less than the previous I have named.
Sami Lopakka - It was a really hard decision for the single as we wanted
to have a song that would somehow represent the album as a whole: "Everything
is nothing" is the most atmospheric and also the slowest song of the album
and this rules it out, and "Cross my Heart and hope to die" is maybe one
of the fastest. We were having lot of discussions about the single as we
wanted to have something that would not give the wrong picture about the
album, and we ended up with "No One There" as it gathers the atmosphere
that we have on the album in every song. Anyway we concentrate more on
the album as a whole and we don't want be known only maybe for one or two
songs. It's maybe one of the most difficult song for the listeners "No
One there", it's not catchy right away and you have to listen to it many
times before it really opens to you.
Dalia - ...but in general the whole album , it needs to be heard
many times in order to appreciate it more and more...
Sami Lopakka - Yeah that is one thing that we always want to have. We
don't like to have songs that you like at first and then on the third time
you hate already...
Maybe we even made a little mistake with having "No One there", as
it's one of the most difficult song melodicwise, but we are not a single-hit
band and at least we don't give a f*ck about it!
Dalia - (Laughing)
Sami Lopakka - We are concentrated on the album more!
Dalia - From which country do you expect the best selling result?
Sami Lopakka - From Finland and Germany, they have been always good
for us. But we hope also to gain audiences in other countries as well.
By the way we don't have any favourite country to play. We want to play
for all the countries and we like to play for all the people who agree
with the feelings that we are sharing with the audience.
Dalia - If you Sami could choose one and only one song among the
new ones, in order to represent the album , which song would you choose
? You personally...
Sami Lopakka - That is a very hard question as the album is so new right
now. Maybe I would say that "Brief Is The Light" would represent something
that we actually never had before. There is this certain hope in this song
that I think we didn't have present before, for sure is a melancholy song
with a melancholy melody and atmosphere but somehow there is also hope
in the horizon with positive events between the lights and maybe that is
that cold white light that we have in the album title as well. This certain
new dimension in the songs
Dalia - We are happy -ultra - mega happy for having got this possibility
to interview you!
Sami Lopakka - Nice to hear it!
Dalia - My congratulations for the new album and I hope it will work
well, and my best wishes to you and the whole band that you can have the
success you deserve!
Sami Lopakka - Thank you very much!
Stefan - Thank you very much for your time and hope to see you soon
in Switzerland! And have a good time!
Sami Lopakka - Yeah you too!
Interview by Dalia "Gryphon_spirit" Di Giacomo