It has been a long and winding road for Apocalyptica.
Wait, that was a Beatles reference and these are
the guys who play Metallica songs on cellos. I am
so sorry. It has been a sad but true, nothing else
matters kind of career for these three Finnish fellows.
Back in the mid 90’s Apocalyptica took the world
by surprise with an album featuring Metallica cover
songs done only with cellos. Now they are trying
harder with each album to be known as a great rock
and roll band and not just an artsy novelty act.
I had the chance to sit down with Eicca Toppinen
to talk about what has changed over the years and
how they are trying still, to break the metal cover
It has been almost a 10 year reign for you guys.
How have you grown as a band over the years?
I think the biggest change has been that there wasn’t
the “band” when we made the first album. We were
just playing metal music for fun. Just for ourselves.
Then when we wrote, we realized that the first album
sounded completely different than what the live
sound is. So we tried to update the songs for the
second album. The album “Apocalyptica” is the first
album we can say it is a real band. We feel like
a real band now.
I know that it has still been a challenge for
you guys to break out of the “metal covers with
cellos” novelty artsy stigma the media has branded
That is why the music has to be in the main focus
and not the cellos. Then you don’t think about the
image or anything. We just try to make as good a
song as possible then try and make them sound as
good as possible. I would rather see Apocolyptica,
rather than just a cello band but as a progressive,
our century, modern rock music in a way. Something
new and something different but it is not classical.
When people see the live show they really see all
about it. The first album we were a little bit stuck
in the instruments by thinking that the cello should
be the main focus. But later on for the “Reflections”
album and “Apocolyptica” record we decided that
the music must be the thing that is the main focus.
Then after that, comes the instruments that we play.
We think rock music is rock music. It is just that
we play classical instruments. We wanted it to sound
like rock music more than some kind of arty crossover
Are you trying to pull away from those types
of songs in your live show now?
It is an important part of our history. We would
not exist without that. We don’t take it as a big
problem but it seems to be harder than we thought
to get past that. It would be easy to play Metallica
karaoke night but that is not what we want to do.
The whole show is based on original songs but then
we put a few Metallica songs in there for fun. We
want to present the best show we can. Take it or
You have had some great guest vocalists such
as Lauri Ylönen from The Rasmus, Marta Jandová from
Die Happy, Nina Hagen, Matthias Sayer of Farmer
Boys along with many others.
We want to give a singer a different playground
to work in. It is cool to give a different kind
of sound. Then sometimes the singers can do something
a little bit different. We can give them that platform
that maybe they can’t do in their own band.
You have been touring across the world now constantly
in support of different records for different release
times. What are some of the differences you see
I think now the audience has more classical folks
in the audience because of the first album and the
last couple had not been so properly released in
the US so most people know us because of the first
album. In countries that know better what Apocolyptica
is today, we have more a wide audience. Mix of different
people, different ages, and different social statures.
Metal fans, classical fans, rock fans, pop fans
just a big picture. It is very cool that a lot of
kids come to the shows.
What influences you when you sit down to write?
Any kind of painting, writing a book or whatever
it’s always like you are filtering your own experiences
through your own personality. What you have experienced
and what has impressed you. For me personally, I
am a big nature lover. It is very important to me
and for me I need it. I really need it. I feel that
my roots are really deep in the nature. I think
that is a big influence for me. It is a big part
of my personality and in our music.
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