Sonata Arctica was born in 1996 on the edge of the world, in northern
Finish town of Kemi. The very first incarnation of the band was named
Tricky Beans. As Tricky Beans, the group produced three demos (Friend till
the End, Agre Pamppers and PeaceMaker) and played twice in Jyrki S?k?irkus.
After some personnel changes in 1997, the outfit changed their name to
Tricky Means. Let it be know to the Metal community that initially the band
experimented in musical styles far from heavy metal.
Turning the page in 1999, Tricky Means recorded new demo "FullMoon" in
Tico Tico Studios located in their hometown, Kemi. At the time of recording
the line-up consisted of: Tony (vocals/keys), Jani (guitars), Tommy (drums),
and Janne (bass). This new demo was the first exploration of the band in heavy
metal waters. Band's trademark sound of fast, melodic and keyboard oriented
heavy metal with clear and high vocals was born. As fate would have it and
with help from Ahti Kortelainen of Tico-Tico Studio, the "FullMoon" demo
found its way to the premier metal label of Finland, Spinefarm. At the same
time Tricky Means became Sonata Arctica.
Summer of 1999 brought us the first single from Sonata Arctica - UnOpened.
The title song was simultaneously included in Metalliliitto 1999 compilation
CD. Two furious tracks from the single, UnOpened and Mary-Lou marked the
arrival of SA to power metal community. Of course, not everything went
smoothly. During the first mix/pressing of UnOpened single, Track 1, UnOpened,
was unintentionally slowed down. The mistake was discovered shortly after
the first batch of disks was sent to music stores. Entire first pressing
was recalled. Approximately 200 copies from that first run were sold and are
now considered rare collector's items.
Autumn of 1999 marked the release of the very first full-length album,
Ecliptica. Initially released in Finland, other countries quickly followed.
Widely successful, Ecliptica opened doors for Sonata Arctica to participate
in two tribute records. 'I Want Out' for Helloween tribute album "Keepers
of Jericho" and 'Still Loving You' for Scorpions tribute, "A Tribute to the
Scorpions" were both kick-ass versions of originals.
Soon after the release of Ecliptica, band's mastermind Tony Kakko decided
to concentrate more on singing, as opposed to trying to sing and play keyboards
at the same time. Mikko Harkin (ex-Kenziner) joined the band to releif Tony from
keys and to allow the front man to roam the stage. This change allowed for much
more energetic live shows. It introduced a new capability for Sonata Arctica
to have two keyboard players simultaneously, adding a new cool twist to the live
Quick rise to fame continued through the end of 1999 and beginning of 2000.
Soon after release of Ecliptica, Sonata Arctica was chosen as support band for
Stratovarius European Tour, winning over 32 other bands from 15 different record
companies. The tour started in April of 2000 with Strato and Rhapsody on the
road. It lasted for two months, during which Sonata played over 30 gigs in 10
countries, traveling more then a thousand kilometers.
Very successful tour was followed by the release of new mini-CD Successor. This
new disk included two previously unreleased tracks, two cover tracks for upcoming
tribute albums, some live tracks from Provinssi Rock and one edited track from
In a small line-up change, Janne Kivilahti made a decision to depart with the band
due to personal reasons. Janne's last gig took place in Kemi on 30th June in the summer
of 2000. Janne was replaced by Marko Paasikoski, who happened to be one of the founding
members of Tricky Beans. Being a familiar face to the entire band, the transition was
smooth and transparent.
Year 2000 brought not only a big tour, new mini-CD, and a small line-up change, but
also media recognition. Sonata Arctica was chosen as a candidate for "the best new-comer
band" category by Emma in Finland. The new millennium is also treating the Sonata beans
well. In the spring of 2001 Sonata Arctica opened two gigs for Alice Cooper, Dio and Ratt
(in Oulu and Helsinki) in Monsters of the Millennium 2001 -tour.
Striking metal while it is hot, the band worked on the second full-length offering from
autumn of 2000 through the winter of 2001. All the songs have been composed again by the
band's mastermind Tony Kakko. The single, "Wolf & Raven" from the second album, was
released in May 01'. The album is scheduled for initial release in Japan, with other
territories to follow shortly after. This recognition towards Japanese fans comes
for a reason. The first album, Ecliptica, has sold more than 30000 copies in Japan. Band
also plans to play its first four concerts in Japan in September of 2001.
This year is shaping up to be very busy for the band. In July, a Finish tour kicks off,
with separate gigs (including Wacken Open Air in Germany) in Europe. Than comes the visit
to the Land of The Rising Sun. Than in September, a full blown European tour, as a support
act for the monsters Gamma Ray. This trip will span 5 weeks, 12 countries and 28 shows.
The traveling "vacation" will be finalized by the show in Helsinki, Finland to the delight
of Finnish fans.