Interview with Paavo Lotjonen for Apocello.ru

We met Paavo for an interview before the show in Moscow, 12.04.2009

You've been on tour for a long time after the release of "Worlds Collide". What were the highlights of these concerts, and how do you feel after being so many months on the road?

Paavo Lotjonen: As the album came out, we started a tour, and from that time we have been touring for two years now. But all this year, since last December, has been basically off. First there was the Christmas time, and in January and February we were at home. Now in spring we have two or three weeks of touring and then we have some time off before starting the festival season in the summer time.
After that we will concentrate on making a new album. As to highlights, I would say that with the latest album we were touring a lot in the U.S., and this is totally a new area for us. It's like a new car to check out how it is going, how all these things work.

Surprisingly it worked very well, we did like three tours in the U.S. We are very happy, because with every tour we do there, more and more people come to your shows.
We also had two singles that perfectly suit the radio format, firstly there was "I'm Not Jesus" and later there came the song "I Don't Care". And after this we became an even bigger success on the mainstream radio, and we gained the first positions in the charts. It was really funny to notice, first was Apocalyptica and second was Metallica, and then AC/DC. It's really great success for us.

When you played in Moscow a year ago, it was an instrumental show, but now you have a singer with you. How do you decide in which format to play?

Paavo Lotjonen: On the U.S. tour we had a couple of different singers. Toryn Green was going with us most of the time, he did like three or four songs per show, and we found that it was a pretty nice change during the show. Let's see, we have never done this in Europe, and today we will try it.

Tonight you will perform with Tipe Johnson from Leningrad Cowboys. Will he be dressed the way he does for a Cowboys show? And will he eventually be a full time member of the band?

Paavo Lotjonen: Hmm, no, he won't be dressed like this...(everyone laughs) We don't really know if he will be a singer for a longer time, so we will see how it worked after several shows.

By the way, why did you choose Tipe? Why this particular guy?

Paavo Lotjonen: The thing is that we just wanted a Finnish guy, and it's really hard to find a good one, who is not in the band and who is not too busy.

He will sing a couple of songs, "I'm Not Jesus", "Life Burns" and "I Don't Care", which is pretty difficult for singers, because their voices are going pretty high, and we need a much lower one, so for these songs you need a really good singer.

Maybe you should try a female voice?

Paavo Lotjonen: I would love it, actually! (laughs) And a couple of times we already did it with ladies: a couple of songs with Sandra Nasic and one more with Nina Hagen. And it was really great.

There is an opinion that by adding drums and vocals to your music you moved away from the original cello-only approach, which made you famous in the first place and differentiated you so much from anybody else. How can you comment on that?

Paavo Lotjonen: Actually, we always differentiated from other bands and we were unique in our own way, using the classical instruments or playing such kind of music, and we will never forget it. Some songs have drums, some songs don't have them, some have singers, so we wanted something for a change.

You cooperated with Japanese composer Tomoyasu Hotei on the song "Grace" from your latest album. How did this cooperation come about? Are you fans of video game music?

Paavo Lotjonen: Basically, it was done for the Japanese fans, it was intended for the Japanese version of the album. But we really liked the version, we thought why not include it into a normal album.
The song has also a very interesting video, which was made by a Russian director. We gave him something like a raw overview, and he started to think about it, creating something, and he was very interested in doing the video for us. He created the whole idea. I like the video for this song, it's great.

Speaking about videos, last year you made a special visit to Russia to appear in the video "Judas" by the Russian band Piligrim. What should a band or a performer do if they want to cooperate with you? What kind of proposals are of interest to you?

Paavo Lotjonen: We were just talking about the video with this band, I don't know it is ready or not. I think it's ready but has not been released yet. I saw some parts from the video. I am sure it's going to be fun, and I would like to see this video until the end. This band asked us and gave us an offer that we couldn't refuse. In many cases when we do the collaborations, there are many reasons for it, this should be basically interesting. This Russian band was a metal band and we had never heard them before. We just thought, why not to try, because we had hundreds of collaborations, and some of them are really interesting, while some of them are just OK. We didn't take this collaboration too seriously. Sure, sometimes we do take it seriously, but we can also do this just for an experiment, you have to be opened for such things.

How did you feel when you were destroying cellos in that video? Did you enjoy the process?

Paavo Lotjonen: Well hmmm... (everyone laughs) Some people think that the instruments have souls, and maybe some old instruments do have souls, but at the end they are just a peace of wood. But I don't really enjoy the process of destroying the cellos, and we think twice if there is the reason to break them.
I really don't want to break them without purpose, usually it's your own instrument, and then it's a waste of money. (laughs)

A while ago, Nina Hagen (together with you) made a cover of Rammstein's "Seeman", later you and Till Lindemann from Rammstein recorded a cover on David Bowie song "Helden". Does this mean that we should now expect your collaboration with David Bowie?

Paavo Lotjonen: That would be really crazy... I think that gentleman is out of the question, though we would love to do something with him.

By the way, why did you decide to do "Helden" in German? As far as I know, the original version is in English...

Paavo Lotjonen: This was for the movie "Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo", actually it was originally a book, and then they made a movie in German after this book. Chritiane F. was a girl from a railway station or something like that, and she becomes addicted to heroin, that was the main idea of the movie. David Bowie was performing in that movie. He was living in Berlin for many years, and he did that song in German by himself. This song perfectly fit the movie, and it appeared in German in the movie, that's why we did it this way.

There's a growing interest in Apocalyptica in France, the UK, and Spain, and as a consequence Joe Duplantier (from Gojira) was asked several times by journalists about his collaboration with you. Will this collaboration ever see the light of day?

Paavo Lotjonen: Yes, we did a collaboration with him. The thing is that the song became really metal, basically a speed metal song. Probably some day it can be a really good bonus track, but now we couldn't find any place for it. Sometimes this happens and we just need to wait a bit. I really like the song.

You play a lot of concerts in almost the whole world. What interesting phrases in foreign languages have you learned for the shows? What kind of phrases or sentences do you want to learn for talking to your foreign fans?

Paavo Lotjonen: Sure, during the tour we learn something new, not only about the country but also some phrases for greeting the fans.Very often we learn something special, and very often they are some key words like "spasiba", "ochen horosho" or "ruki vverh". (everyone laughs)

At your very first show in Moscow back in 2000, when introducing the song "Enter Sandman", you said a very nice phrase, "This song was written by Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari while fucking in sauna". We understand that it's a joke, but what did you mean by that?

Paavo Lotjonen: It has been totally a joke for us. Don't take these words too seriously. By the way, Mr. Ahtisaari got the Nobel Prize a year ago.

In September this year you will be playing with Nightwish in Helsinki. Do you plan to do something together? What do you think about this band? <

Paavo Lotjonen: (surprised) Are we going to play together? Well, for me it was a secret but not any more. I don't really know what I should say, what to expect... it's a secret! As to the band, I haven't seen them live yet. On the album they still have that magic which many people like, and I like the music.
Tarja was really a unique singer, she has a really good voice, her opera way of singing is extraordinary, sometimes it sounds crazy. Now she has her own project and is doing or already has done a new album, maybe it's just not released yet. We met Tarja last summer in England.

Keeping up the theme of Metallica - we know that you met with the guys shortly after you released your first album, and they said they liked your music. Can you give us more information about this meeting? What impression did they make on you?

Paavo Lotjonen: We are quite often in contact. You know, we have good relations. We just met last year in the U.S. and at a couple of festivals.
Some time ago we even did a whole tour opening for them. They are really in a good shape at the moment, we all know that Metallica is a good band. What is more interesting, they come also to watch our shows, so we are both really impressed.

After so many big names whom you've cooperated with, whom would you like to have on the next album?

Paavo Lotjonen: No one knows, even we really don't know. At the moment we are checking out who can be interested, but actually we have the situation that we haven't done the songs yet, so we need to compose the music first. It's better to have some music and only then to start thinking who would be the best singer for such music. Wait for a while.

Speaking about the next album - when shall we expect it? Do you already have any ideas for it? Will it be similar or different from your previous releases?

Paavo Lotjonen: No idea... (laughs)

How did you spend your Earth Hour?

Paavo Lotjonen: I spent it with my children at home, it was already quite late. We had some small evening meal and we had candles, and I was alone with my children. My wife wasn't there. It was really nice.

Do your children or other band members' children take some musical lessons?

Paavo Lotjonen: Mine, not yet. They are too small yet. But Eicca, I think, they do.

How is Perttu now doing? We heard that he missed a couple of previous shows... Is he going to join this gig?

Paavo Lotjonen: He has been sick for the last week. Today he is here and he is going to play the show. He had some stomach problems, so that's why he couldn't play with us before.

In the past you teased Perttu with the name of "Pera". Are you still naming him this way or have you already created some other name for him? How does Perttu react to this?

Paavo Lotjonen: "Pera" is already a very old nickname, he was called like this yet before the band. This word sounds as if the call for some drunk person. He takes it just like a joke, and we also don't mean anything serious.

How did you react when you had forgotten Perttu in the field in the night during one of the recent tours?

Paavo Lotjonen: I really don't know how it could have happened, it's out of understanding. He wasn't really happy when he returned. He wasn't talking with us for a couple of days without stopping.

And we were really sorry about that. That's actually the bus driver's fault, it's his job to check it out that all people are in or out of the bus.

Actually the same thing happened to me a couple of days ago in Krasnodar. Everybody left the bus and I was the last after Eicca, but I was on the second floor of the bus.

Eicca went out, and immediately after that the bus closed the door. And I was shouting "Stoi! Stoi!" (Stop! Stop!) (everyone laughs), but he was driving and driving.
Fuck! Then he said something in Russian and he opened the door. Welcome to Russia! And then I walked half of the kilometer back with all my bags...


Special thanks:
to Paavo - for answering all our questions and for making us laugh,
to Roman Unguryanu (B1 Maximum) - for organization and accreditation,
to Eicca and Mikko - for keeping us company.

Interview - Evgenia, Viktoria Bagautdinova
© www.apocello.ru, 2009

Paavo Lotjonen - все интервью



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