Hi Kimmo and accept my congrats on "Signs Of Time". Do you believe that your second album is catchier and more direct than your first one?
K: First of all thank you! There have been some opinions that we went to studio far too early because of the slightly "new direction" that appears on "Signs.." and that many seem to think our first album set the frames to our sound and song writing etc. I'm glad that so many liked our first one but we felt that we had to move forward musically and in terms of sound and production. It's hard to compare these two albums but I think that the direction we're heading is the right one. We chose to record these new songs after serious thought and after trying how they fit to our performance. The one who brings a new idea has to be ready for sometimes even dramatic changes but everything has went fine so far. We want to be very selective and make each song count! I think the major differences between these two albums can be found from the production and sound- department. We truly wanted to have more attitude and make the sound up-to-date. This was a very important phase to us as well because now we can really see there's a future in what we are doing after all the reviews and feedback we've received from the fans.
What are the "Signs Of Times"? Do you believe that the title is prophetic? Are there any signs that the simple man can't see? Is there any other connection with the artwork of the album?
Hmm...if somebody finds something prophetic from the cover-art or from the title that is absolutely just fine with me but I would like to see the title more as a symbol combining all the songs together. After finishing all the lyrics for "Signs..." I realized that they all actually came from the same "source" of memory and experience...not necessarily from the same passage of time but even further from the past but hopefully NOT from the future! I would be horrified if for example "Starship..." would turn out to be true. The cover art is simply wonderful and struck us the moment we first saw it among some other possibilities.
Tell me if you can why this tale is urban? It's not legendary or epic, but it's just urban…why? Is there any story behind it?
Well, we all are more or less trying to survive in the urban world and trying to make a difference. I spent my childhood in a small village up north in Lappland here in Finland and the cultural difference is quite big between Helsinki and that little place. In order to keep your dream alive you sometimes have to make sacrifices and try to fit in the new environment and truckle hard to make your voice heard. In the urban society everybody has seen it all and experienced the impossible...even walked on the moon and heard everything and don't seem to have time to digest the latest fashion when the next one is already knockin' at their doors. We are witnessing and writing songs about these things around us and that's why the name is so fitting.
How would you characterize the music style that you play? And what are the influences for Urban Tale?
We all have our own influences and that makes the song writing so interesting. Everybody brings his own flavour in and that makes our sound. We all are professional musicians but we have a hunger to create something unique. We've done our share playing cover-songs, believe me! Some people like to see us as a Journey rip-off-band, and we started this whole thing playing their stuff, but we don't want to stick to something that has been done twenty years ago and with that talent they did! I don't want to put our music to certain category. I just want to say that it's music from the heart!
Give us your point of view about the lyrical concept of the album.
I think the previous answers gave you a good glimpse of what's going on lyrically on this album but everybody can make up their own minds about them. I hope that one can find a way behind the words and the many meanings as well. When writing lyrics I'm seeking a "different" way to say things than perhaps " the usual"
And please now explain us what does "Beggar & Thief" talk about. I believe that is the best song of the album and of course one of the best songs that I've listened to, in the last years. So I wanna know everything about this incredible song. What is that makes your music so special?
Thanx again! I have to agree with you! I think that "Beggar..." is definitely one of our best yet. I fell in love with its harmony the moment I received the first rough demo from Timo (our keyboard player). I was just reading "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy and the mood of the song fit perfectly to the text I was developing at the moment based on that incredible book. We managed to maintain the magic and the mystery that was already on that first demo. The melody came to me through the text and it has some "classical" influences. The key of the song is pretty low but we didn't want to ruin the perfect mood by lifting the vocal-part higher.
What do you think about the melodic rock/AOR genre? Do you believe that this specific genre is about to resurrect?
It's funny that we have to categorize music, creating all the sub-genres under the big monster, rock music. Let's look back in time (and that is the only thing some people intend to do)... Bands like Journey, Toto, Chicago, Survivor use to be "mainstream" music in the late-70's and early-80's. They all made great music and sold millions of albums. Then the tide turned and all the other stuff begin to reign the charts and left many bands casping for breath trying to keep up with the new "fashion". Some even succeeded to survive and even grow (take Bon Jovi for instance). Thanx to loyal fans who didn't want to forget their heroes a tiny but active community was born. After releasing our first album we realised that MelodicRock/Aor-genre really seemed to believe in us and that we could carry the torch ahead (which was needless to say, more than flattering). That gave us the opportunity to make another album in the first place! I'm saying all this because I'd like to see our small "genre" looking ahead instead of looking back, cause times were different then and that only writing interesting music and good stories will grant us a good future, but it cannot be forced. Only when all the parts are in the right spot at the right time things might happen. On the other hand...if suddenly Melodic rock/Aor becomes popular and takes the radio by storm...what happens to our little "genre"? Is it once again those pioneers who think that there was no life whatsoever after Journey's "Escape" swimming against the stream gathering forces backing the Holy Cause? This is all, once again, a matter of taste but sometimes I get the feeling that labels and bands in this "genre" are trying to take the metal-scene as well...the line between is just so narrow... To answer your question, I think that for sure somebody will make it big, a band or artist related to Melodic Rock/Aor-community. This is music business! Everybody has a chance! It's harder to believe the old days are coming back and why should they? The world is evolving!!!
And some Weird Questions now!!! I think a big problem of the today's music industry are all the CD copies people do with their computers or the music they can download from the Internet. How do you think about this problem??
It is a problem of course. Every single handmade or pirate cd is away from the labels and the artists and now that the whole industry is suffering from it the very existing of the small labels/bands is in jeopardy. If people want to see their favourite bands playing live and recording more albums this whole thing makes it harder the wider it spreads. Some people don't care 'cause music is just another form of entertainment going in from another ear and coming our from another. At the same time this is just a way of certain development. Music is played everywhere with no asking if you're willing to hear it or not. The big labels are pushing their latest "product" to the masses that make you feel sick. You don't have any authority on this matter. This is a hit so just except it! After all this, who has respect towards this industry? Just get the same shit from the net for free and you can fit in with the rest of the gang. Burn a few copies to the girl next door just to make her happy. I used to copy my LP's to tapes so I guess I'm having my own medicine now! We would like to see our music spread as widely as possible and I trust the fans to support us the right way!
If you were living in Middle Earth (I hope that you have seen or read the Lord Of The Rings) which character would you choose to be and why?
I've read the books several times and saw the movies as well. For me Tolkien was one of the first sources of inspiration and I can't praise his work enough! If I had to choose a character...definitely Gandalf! I've always admired wisdom and experience...and also ability to make magic. In my work I'm trying to keep in mind the things I've learned and even though I know I sometimes do or say wrong I try to take it as a lesson. Experience comes from living and doing things, making mistakes but in the end, learning. Gandalf, for me, represents also purity but doubt as well. All the things are not clear for him either, though he's a mighty wizard! I try to be humble the best I can and look confident into the future.
Imagine that your wife/girlfriend is selling your whole album-collection just to buy for her an expensive, good ring. How would you react?
If that ever happens I've misjudged her totally but if such thing should happen I would take it as a loss and probably consider moving to another location. Not for the albums but because of the fact that she sold my stuff. I have some albums that are "holy" to me but after all they can be bought back. There are certain things I value in a relationship and one of them is giving a free space to another and her things. I expect the same from her.
Ok Kimmo I wish you the best for that album. The last words of this interview belong to you.
Thank you all in advance who are interested in our music! You can send comments and greetings to our website: www.urbantale.net. It would be great to come over and do some gigs there and maybe we'll see that day! My friend Timo Kotipelto from Stratovarius has told me there's some crazy party people down there!!!
All the best to you all and success whatever you do!!!
Thanos (Mc) Aggelakis