Amberian Dawn – Expanding Horizons

Sunday, 25th October 2015

In an era where studio releases now span three to five years because of more revenue abilities on the road, it’s startling to see Finnish act Amberian Dawn issue seven studio albums in a swift eight years. Surviving numerous lineup changes following the release of Circus Black in 2012 (as in half the lineup), the addition of newest vocalist Capri (real name Päivi Virkkunen) significantly expanded the symphonic power metal possibilities for main composer Tuomas Seppälä. Considering the man’s affinity for more than Nightwish into Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, and ABBA discographies, it’s little wonder that the latest record Innuendo is diverse, lifting into new horizons in the hopes of broadening their fan base.

This interview would be a challenge for transcribing despite the great Skype connection. My recorder went from fully operational to reverse direction, finally biting the dust. So what you have before you is a combination of speedy typing skills, e-mail follow ups, and saving would could be salvaged from the original tape. Prepare to learn more about all things Amberian Dawn through the viewpoint of Tuomas Seppälä, from new album talk to his love of ABBA and Yngwie – as this journalist would not be surprised to see a follow up record in the last quarter of 2016 as the ideas flow.

Dead Rhetoric: Releasing seven albums in the last eight years is highly unusual for a metal band these days of any genre – what factors contribute to this productivity and regularity of releases?

Tuomas Seppälä: Well as a composer I write music almost all the time. So if I am composing music all the time, and I have a lot of free time, what else can you do but produce album after album? That’s it.

Dead Rhetoric: Innuendo is the newest Amberian Dawn album. Outside of procuring new bassist Jukka Hoffrén, where do you see the style of power/melodic/symphonic metal going for the band, and were there any challenges/ surprises that came up during the writing or recording process?

Seppälä: When I start composing music for a new album I never think about the album as a whole. I’m just writing songs individually one by one. It’s always about the feeling I’m having, what kinds of songs I am writing. At the moment I like to mix together all of those styles mentioned there. Let’s see how our fans are going to react. Traditionally bands are playing just ”pure” symphonic/melodic or power metal but with the new Amberian Dawn album there’s a lot of songs that aren’t representing any of those genres and are some kind of new combinations of different styles. Many critics like to label every band as a power metal band or as a thrash-metal band etc. but with Amberian Dawn this labeling might be a little more challenging to do.

Dead Rhetoric: I especially enjoyed the semi-blast beat section of the heavier “Rise of the Evil” as well as the playful “Knock Knock Who’s There” from the new record – are you conscious of progress to not have the band stagnate this deep into your career?

Seppälä: When it comes to “Rise of the Evil”, our drummer Joonas had this idea to add in that blast section and since it fit the mood of the song, we went for it. He has vast experience playing in Azaghal which is a black metal band, so why not use those skills if they are available and can work within the song? Especially “Knock Knock Who’s There” is very unusual song for Amberian Dawn and would also be for any metal band out there but I like to do experiments with different kinds of styles quite boldly nowadays and I don’t feel like I’m tied in any way to do just one certain kind of music.

Dead Rhetoric: Being the main composer, do you use a particular instrument or framework to come up with Amberian Dawn material? And do you have to block off time for developing ideas or do you find that capturing spontaneous riffs and words in the moment work best?

Seppälä: Usually most of my songs are based on improvisation. I just start to play with guitar or keyboards and something new just comes up. Also very often I hear new songs or tunes inside my head when I am talking walks in the forest and all I need to do then is to write those ideas down or to start working with a demo right away.

Dead Rhetoric: Did you have any apprehensions changing singers in 2012 with Capri coming into the fold for Heidi Parviainen – as it seems like the vocalist slot can be a tough sell for longtime followers of certain bands?

Seppälä: Changing vocalists is always a big thing for any band. When I started to look for a new singer, I didn’t want to continue with the same kind of singer than we had before. I wanted to find something different and fresh. Capri is perfect for us at the moment but it’s true that some of our older fans cannot accept this change at all. But at the same time we’ve gained a lot of new fans with Capri onboard. What’s also great is that Capri has the range and ability to pull off the older material while offering a new type of melodic delivery through the newer material.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you remain friends with the former members of Amberian Dawn – for instance are you happy for guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen’s move to the U.D.O. ranks or bassist Jukka Koskinen’s work with Wintersun?

Seppälä: Of course I’m happy for Kasperi that he got a chance to play with a true legend. Same thing with Jukka, I’m happy for his success…But he actually was a Wintersun member before he joined Amberian Dawn. Nowadays we aren’t in touch with each other.

Dead Rhetoric: In previous interviews you’ve expressed interest in touring the United States, even after visiting New York on your holiday. Are you any closer to achieving those goals – and how would you describe Amberian Dawn in live performances versus your studio recordings?

Seppälä: I am still dreaming about this, we are getting closer and closer every day. Thanks to more studio albums and more songs, we are getting more fans every day. We will be able to tour there, I am very confident even if it’s not a whole tour, I will at least do a couple of shows there, it’s very important for me to play shows outside of Europe.

When performing live it’s different compared to the studio work. On stage we are (much) freer to do our thing, in the studio you have to concentrate because everything is tape. In the studio you need to be at your best. You can have fun and move around on stage, enjoy your time on stage. Most of all since you are in front of people it’s different. I love playing live and receiving that immediate feedback from the audience.

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