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 and melancholic.

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 problems?

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 ourselves first.

Dalia - Indeed you have to believe in what you are doing, in your music...

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 Light?

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 any plans?

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 drummer?

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 with this(laughing)

Dalia - Indeed!! (laughing) followed by "Cross My Heart And Hope To Die"
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


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