The latest album from Sonata Arctica is The Ninth Hour. The band has a North American tour planned beginning in November. I caught up with keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg, who fills us in about the new record, touring, the status of some of his other bands and more.
Chad Bowar: What makes The Ninth Hour unique in the Sonata Arctica canon?
Henrik Klingenberg: Our albums have had a tendency to be a bit all over the place musically. But with this one, I think that apart from two songs we managed to make a rather compact album in that sense. We also succeeded in making this album less layered than the previous ones and thus I think the songs are easier to get into.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of producing an album yourselves?
I think the advantage is that we can work quite fast and not spend too much time dwelling on things. Other than that, it’s also quite easy to make sure that the identity of the band stays intact. A producer, however, can be a really good thing towards the end of the sessions when everybody starts to be too involved and too close to the music…so an extra pair of ears wouldn’t hurt at that point.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I think the speed we worked at in the studio this time was really amazing. The basic tracks were recorded at a song per day pace which for us is really fast. Other than that, I did 99 percent of the keys at the studio as opposed to working from home, so that was different. I think that made the tracks better, as well.
What were some of the highlights for you of the band’s summer festival season?
I think doing the acoustic shows were a definite highlight. We decided to do something different and it worked out really well. I hope we get to play some more acoustic stuff at some point in the future.
What are you most and least favorite things about touring in North America?
There are a lot of great things when touring in North America. There’s always something to see and experience outside of the shows as well. Since the continent is so big, there’s a lot of things changing as the tour progresses which of course is nice, to have that variety of cultures and weather and what have you.
I think that the only downside is that since it’s so far away from Finland, we’re more or less forced to play for at least six or seven weeks, which is a rather long tour.
How does the band’s level of popularity/awareness/venue size in North America compare to Europe?
I would say that it’s more of a city vs city thing as opposed to Europe vs. North America. We play venues with the capacity between 500-3000 in both Europe and North America. I’d say that we have a bit more fans in Europe, at least for the moment.
Are there any restaurants or foods that you make sure to enjoy while you’re here that might not be as easily available in Finland?
A proper rye bread is hard to find over there, at least the kind that we have back home…just to put a different spin on that question. Most of the stuff that you have can be found in Finland as well.
Since you weren’t around for the original recording, how was your experience in the re-recording of Ecliptica?
It was really fun. Of course, I knew most of the songs from playing them live for some years now, but it was an interesting project to go back to the first album and re-learn some of the stuff and really get into the details of the album and then record it. I look at this new version as a tribute to the original and I don’t think it should be perceived as an attempt to rewrite history or deny our past or anything like that. The original was, after all, the album that started everything for this band.
Will there be another Klingenberg Syndrome album?
Yes, there will be. I actually have it ready, mastered and the cover art is done. At the moment, I’m still working on the release part of this thing, talking with some labels and trying to figure out how and when I want it to be released. But as said the album is done, and this time I’m singing as well so it was a bit scary since, to be honest, I’m not really much of a singer. (laughs)
Silent Voices did some touring in 2015. Are there plans for more tours or a new album?
We’ve been throwing some demos around and eventually there will be another album. It will probably take some time since all of us are quite busy with other things at the moment. I’m sure we’ll play some shows at some point, but usually that only happens when Sonata Arctica has a break. The touring is just about to start with this new SA album so our Silent Voices fans will have to wait for quite some time before the next run of shows.
Are you currently involved in any other bands/projects?
Not at the moment. I did play the keyboards on a couple of albums at the end of last year. Secret Rule was one of the bands and I also did all the keys for the upcoming album by a Finnish band called Winterborn.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I’ve of course been enjoying the latest Nightwish album as well as some other non-metal stuff. I tried to get into the latest Dream Theater album but for some reason I didn’t quite get it. Looking forward to the new Metallica stuff though,you never know with these guys what will come out.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
There’s always a ton of stuff going on so maybe it’s easiest if I just promote my blog. There you’ll find out about what I’m doing at the moment, with regular updates from the Sonata Arctica tours and what have you. Thank you all for the support and see you at the shows in November/December!
(interview published October 6, 2016)