Sentenced interview (05/2005)
It is a death that has been announced since a while. A slow, long, studied and staged dying. On the 30th of May their last bequest will be disclosed: Sentenced carry themselves to their grave. A rebirth is impossible. Sami Lopakka about the last breaths, backgrounds and personal stuff.
- What were your experiences like after you had published that funeral statement? What kind of feedback did you get from the fans?
- It has been quite overwhelming. There where like hundreds and hundreds messages coming in. People were upset, some even angry, some were thankful for these years and all the albums and the experiences we shared with them. It is very emotional for us to read those messages; it is something truly great and overwhelming to see that the band has meant so much for so much people. It makes the whole thing even more special for us.
- In those reviews to Funeral Album which I already found there was always sadness in it and big appreciation for the whole work the band did and is still doing. They somehow put you on a throne. What kind of feeling is that to get those responses from fans, press and musicians for something that is very important to you - that comes from somewhere inside you?
- Of course, it feels very good and especially the fact that people even respect on our last metres what we do. They respect the way we are ending and I think it is really something that hasn't really done before: To have an album dedicated to the idea of burying the band itself and to have songs about it on the album… and then this announcement - even public and before the album comes out… and then to play some shows and so literally bury the band. Of course, it is very nice to see that other people, colleagues and journalists appreciate the thing we were and are doing and giving us appreciation for it.
- The way of suicide you have chosen for the band is a well-planned and classy one. Why are you doing it that way?
- It is somehow the only possible way for us. It totally fits with everything we have done in the past. You can even see it in a way that we were always headed towards this ending. There were a lot of songs about death, about suicide, about the darker sides of life. And that burial is the logical ending. When we made the final decision of this being the last one we were figuring out the title for the album and it was quite the only possible one. "The Funeral Album" fits with the whole idea - not only with the music. It is something that shows also once again our sense of humour. We are inviting people to join us in our funeral.
- About that "Funeral Statement": There was no turning back at that certain moment where the message was published. Did you pause for a moment and asked yourself again: Is this really the right decision?
- No, not after that one. It has been a very long thinking process - almost two years - and it was a hard decision. The final decision was reached in summer 2004 but after that we have all been convinced that it is the right thing to do and that nothing would really change our mind.
- So I guess you had some sleepless nights…
- Yeah, it has been a big part of our lives for so many years and we really needed to be certain about it. If we weren't we wouldn't have done even that kind of statement. We will stick to that message and this is it and there is no life after death for us.
- The decision that this album is the last one was made while you were in the working process of that record. In which way did this decision influence the way of writing the music?
- It was made like halfway through the song writing process. The major half was written knowing that it would be the last one and that made it totally different from many things we have gone through before. It was very emotional, stressful and even exhausting because: How do you write the last songs of a career that long in a way that everything that is going on inside yourself about the process is included? But after we had finished the album it was also the most rewarding thing we have ever went through. After all this stress and effort we put in we really felt that we had reached the right way to end the band. On a whole it still was a great experience even though it was pretty hard.
- What was the song writing process like this time? Different than before?
- The song writing was pretty much the same as it has always been. Mika wrote most of the music, me and Ville wrote a couple of songs and the lyrics were written mostly by me. Two are from Ville: Consider Us Dead and Drain Me.
- The last song is called End Of The Road…
- Musically written by Mika, the lyrics are by me. It was probably the most difficult one. As soon as Mika presented that song at our rehearsal place we knew that this would be the very last song of the band. Also in the lyric's side I tried to catch this feeling of despair… but there is still some hope in it.
- …and it really is the end of a long road. But if one door is closed a new one opens…
- Yeah! …or maybe it's just that something is closed and then it's just black…
- Hopefully not!
- I hope so, too.
- What will start for you know? What will you do to earn money?
- After the last show I will concentrate on writing a book. It is something I had the idea for years already but never really had the time to finish it. I have already written about 100 pages and in autumn I think I will complete the book and see what it turns out to be and see if there is somebody interested in publishing it. That is the first thing I will concentrate on after the band.
- Can you give me just a little hint what the book is about?
- It is a fictional story but at the same time the subject of it is a European tour. So there is naturally quite a lot of stuff that also has references in reality: Things we have seen and the experiences of the road are so weird from time to time that they are pretty good material for a book like this - of course, I use them.
- Is it some kind of a self-therapy for you?
- In a way - maybe. But writing is also something I was always interested in and I have done quite a bit always. In studying at university I did creative writing and this kind of stuff. It's something I feel comfortable doing and finally I have the time and can see if I really have ideas or if I can just write shit… let's see.
- What else will you do with the time you win? You stated that there were different reasons for the decision and said in an interview that two were that the private life suffered and that you didn't want to do such long tours anymore.
- First of all I will sleep a lot! I'm a father of a two year old boy. Finally I have the time to be the father I want to be and after the band I'm able to stay home with him for more than ever before. That's something I'm very much looking forward to.
- What feeling is stronger at the moment: Somehow sadness that a chapter of your life will be over soon or some kind of salvation?
- It is both of them at the same time. It is a very weird thing that we are going through. Somehow there is a lot of emptiness - it has been a big part of our life. But on the other hand it is something relieving and something we are looking forward to. It is a mix of emotions - it really is a terrible storm going on. I can't even decide which feeling is stronger. It varies from day to day. And still I'm very much looking forward to the farewell shows and the final ending. I think it will be something special.
- Do you rather feel like all the pressure that lies upon you as a musician of a popular band slowly fades away or did the pressure grow when you published that funeral statement? I mean it's the last album, the last shows will follow. And I guess the audience and the listeners are expecting quite a lot.
- For the shows I think it is more than before- this pressure to make it special, not to make fools of ourselves at the last metres. As a music writer that pressure doesn't really exist at the moment because the last album for Sentenced is done and it is a big relief for all of us that it turned out the way it is. Now we know that we already have the kind of album we wanted to have. We are excited about it's coming out. I'm really looking forward to people's reactions.
- There won't be a reunion - but can we look forward to see your comeback on stage with a different band at some time? Or could really imagine a life without making music and playing gigs?
- I'm pretty sure that every one of us will be involved in music in the future some way but it is too early to think about it yet. I'm sure that we will all have at least some sort of a band, maybe it's just fooling around with some friends and playing at the rehearsal place but I'm not really closing any doors yet about anything. After this band is over I will concentrate on the book, relax and see what feels like the right thing to do. But still I would say that to make a new band that even want to be at this high level is nothing I like as an idea. I really have made enough sacrifices for my so-called real life for playing music all over the world and I don't think I'll be another time somebody who would tour very heavily.
- Will Wacken Open Air be the very last gig or is it possible that another show or festival gig will follow?
- The shows are still under booking but in any case Wacken won't be the last one. The last one is in our home town Oulu in northern Finland. It will be an indoor show and a very long one obviously because it is the very last one. That is also the one we will record the live dvd out of so that we can share with everyone the very last moments. In Germany Wacken will be the last gig. We are very much looking forward to that one. I am sure it will be a very good experience - at least I hope so. Or we will just fuck everything up and shoot ourselves backstage.
- Oh no!
- No… we'll do our best.
- Are you afraid of that very last show or do you try not to think of it?
- I try not to think about it. I'm not a fan of big expectations. They all lead to disappointments usually. But obviously I think it's going to be a big moment for it is the least breath of this band but I'm not worrying too much about it yet.
- The DVD title shall be Buried Alive, right?
- Yeah, that is the working title and fits also in with the funeral concept and the funeral album. I think we'll leave that title.
- Do you feel like being buried alive?
- In a sense - yes.
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