The finnish power/melodic metal band Dreamtale base their roots to Helloween and the german moustache 'n' leather metal from the mighty eighties. And they're doing great in Japan, releasing their second album "Ocean's Heart" just late last year with a new singer, who was replaced though with yet another one right after the album was done. RockUnited caught Dreamtale before their show in Helsinki's Stella-Star Club this January and also met the new singer Jarkko Ahola, who turned out to be one helluva singer and performer. We also found out which of the new songs on the "Ocean's Heart" album has gotten such an ugly title as "Whore". Dreamtale means business though, but don't take themselves too seriously all the time.
RockUnited - First could you tell us what made you choose the musicians' path ?
Esa - A tough life and bad life experiences, hah. And Petteri. But the biggest influence behind it was the passion for playing guitar and hoping to get your pay someday from what you love doing. So far I haven't reached that goal, but maybe in the future. That's why we keep on playing.
RockUnited - Listening to your music it is quite evident that Dreamtale is a fan of Stratovarius. At least Keränen, who writes the songs. How big an influence has the band been for you and what other bands have done the same thing to you ?
Rami - I should point out that Stratovarius has never influenced us at all. Well, maybe just a little, but the biggest influences come from Kai Hansen and Helloween.
Esa - The eighties, Helloween and Gamma Ray has been the biggest influence for me too.
Rami - Yeah, and Helloween was the first band who created the genre.
Esa - That's true. You can't put us on the Stratovarius category, just blame all the germans !
RockUnited - But today you compare the bands of this genre to Stratovarius, that's just the way it is.
Rami - Yeah, they're present everywhere.
Esa - At least in Finland, so it's clear that people compare us to them, 'cos we play the same kind of music in the end. Except...nah, I'll be quiet..hah.
RockUnited - What is the story behind the band name ?
Rami - If you think about the name, Dreamtale, I think about an illusion story. Not what everyone thinks, a dream tale, but for me it's an illusion that you're working on to make it happening and real. And some of them have become reality. But that's the idea.
Esa - As a matter of fact Dreamtale actually means a fancy ass...
RockUnited - Which country would you say your music is the most popular in ?
Esa - An easy question. That's Japan.
RockUnited - Just what I thought.
RockUnited - A typical question about your latest album. What kind of a process did you go through while recording it ?
Esa - It was a very lengthy process.
Rami - Exactly. And it was very tough at least for me, 'cos I took care of the production side and had to be in the studio from morning till late at night every day. So I couldn't rest much.
Esa - It was much harder working with this album than the first one. It really took the juices out of us, but the next one will probably be even harder to work with.
RockUnited - What feedback did you get from "Ocean's Heart" ?
Esa - A shitty album...well, all kinds of comments really. We got pretty good reviews with the first album, seven points, a nice album and so on, but with "Ocean's Heart" it's either a really bad review or then they praise us a lot. At least a couple of reviews have praised us, hah.
Rami - Some reviewers even labelled us as Sonata Arctica copies, where I don't see our music personally or any similarity between us. But people hear and see things differently. But I think we've gotten good feedback from it.
Esa - And the fact is that Sonata Arctica got the record deal just a bit before us, so everyone compares us to them of course. And in the end people made this kind of music even before Sonata.
The Dreamtale bassist Pasi makes a practical joke here, calling the guys on stage and we almost finished the interview here for a later schedule when the joke was discovered.
Esa - Fresh news; Dreamtale is replacing their bassist after this show...he really got us there !
RockUnited - You recorded the album at Fantom Studios ?
Esa - Yeah, Diablo and Celesty have also recorded there, but Diablo is the most famous Fantom artist, who've recorded there a lot.
RockUnited - Tell us about the new songs.
Rami - If you compare the new songs to the old, the whole album is more consistent this time. We didn't take as long doing this one than we did with the debut album. I think this one came out great. "Ocean's Heart" is a theme album, so we had to find the certain spirit for each song. And there's always the time line, you can't work endlessly with the songs.
Esa - I really think the new songs are better than the old ones. Some like them, some don't, but they're much better as songs and as compositions. And there was more thought behind the arrangements this time. And Sanna (Natunen) sings better than before here and Tomi (Viiltola) sings better here than on the first album...(whole band laughing here. Tomi didn't sing on the first album).
RockUnited - What new songs are you going to play live, which are the nicest ones to play live ?
Esa - I like playing "The Awakening". It's my own song too. It's fun to play that and it's got the growling part in between, so it's different.
Rami - Half of the songs will be new ones and "Angel Eyes" is my favourites.
Turkka - They're all great.
Esa - And back to Pasila...(passing the mike from the guys to me. Pasila broadcasts news for Finns and other programs)
RockUnited - Can you name the songs that already piss you off somehow playing live ?
Esa - Damn! Well, I think the new songs are great, except there's a few things on the album. But I haven't gotten bored with them yet. But I think I would never like to play "Garden Of Eternity" live for some reason.
Rami - Well, that will be on our next set then ! (Evil laugh)
Esa - I should've kept my mouth shut !
Rami - I think the last two songs might be the ones. And then...what's the right title for "Huora" (Whore) (asking the other guys)...yeah, "Return To The Sea". It's not because it's somehow a bad song, but it's a long song. We've tried avoiding the long songs live, because they can be quite boring there.
RockUnited - Talking about long songs which always interest certain type of fans, have you noticed any prog fans in the audience or just the normal, average metal fans ?
Esa - Which fans ?! Well, I don't think our music interests the real prog fans, maybe the lighter prog fans though. Some of our songs have seven time signatures, but I guess that's prog for those who can hardly count to two. Our average fans are ugly, hairy metal men with moustache. So we need more women to our shows, thank you.
NEW SINGER STEPS IN
RockUnited - You're now going on your third singer. How has everything gone so far with the new vocalist ?
Esa - Jarkko is a gentleman and we're just his humble servants.
Rami - Jarkko is a great singer. And actually he's the second singer, 'cos I sang on our first album just because we couldn't find a singer for it back then. And with Tomi it worked for the time being, but there was always the long distances (=kilometers) between us that made everything hard, so we came up with this decision and haven't regreted it one bit.
Esa - Yeah, he's really great and even if we had changed him to anyone we still wouldn't have regreted it. Unless Michael Kiske wanted to sing in our band...would you like to say something to this, Jarkko ? You've just been said to be a really bad singer...
Jarkko - Who said so ?! I just want to say to everyone who says so that you're damn right about it, but Rami is my dad and Jarkko is the gentleman. (hmmmm...say what ?!)
RockUnited - So where did you find Jarkko ?
Esa - From a small place called Viiala next to Tampere. We saw this oily guy in a magazine and thought we have to have him in our band. He sang in Terskabetoni back then, which is also known as Teräsbetoni among the ignorants. That oily body was the thing that made an impact on us...
RockUnited - A question for Jarkko then. What's it like singing powermetal now, since your old bands were in different genre (Teräsbetoni, Cosmic Spell) ?
Jarkko - How do you know this ?
RockUnited - I've visited your homepages.
Jarkko - Ok. It's actually nice. It's different though and a bit tough at times too, 'cos Rami is a despot and Esa can't play...nah, it's great and it's good to learn new stuff. Live and learn, you know.
Esa - Jarkko also learned to spank the monkey better in the band...
RockUnited - Ok, we all wanted to know that. But seriously, has there been any difficulties along the way when you started singing powermetal ?
Jarkko - Nothing really. You just have to see your limits and stay there. When I joined this band those limits took a downfall immediately, hah. But really, it all depends on what you want and you can arrange the songs how you want. But the guys wanted me in the band probably because I can sing my lungs out on a good day. But Rami contacted me and that's the truth.
RockUnited - Is Rami going to compose the songs in the future too and Esa write the lyrics ?
Esa - Esa will hopefully not be writing most of the lyrics in the future. And Esa's wish is to write more songs, but Esa is really slow there.
Jarkko - I just want to tell all the fans out there, if you are there, that we talked about if I would start writing lyrics. I could also compose music, but what's Rami's opinion about that ?
Rami - I don't have nothing against that.
Jarkko - And besides, I'm not as slow as Esa.
Rami - The truth why I write most of the songs is that sometimes I can write them a lot. If we rehearse couple times a week and have a week off, I might have two new songs ready in that time. So we always have more material from me, when Esa can take six months writing one song...
Esa - I just want to point out that all the songs I've written so far have ended up on the albums.
RockUnited - What kind of lyrics would Jarkko write ?
Jarkko - The fact that we're not going to have a theme album anymore helps my work. I usually sing about usual things, if you've heard my music. The normal life, your feelings and thoughts.
Rami - I also like more about normal stories than fantasy. Except sometimes they're good too.
Esa - I'm going to write lyrics about the real-tv shows.
RockUnited - What keeps the Dreamtale machine going, you've got plenty of great songs.
Esa - We hope to get more women to our shows, if we can only write good songs for them.
RockUnited - How much do you practise on your spare time ?
Esa - The ungifted practise...but since I'm ungifted I sometimes practise more and sometimes less.
Rami - I hardly practise, but when I write the songs I can play about two to three hours a day.
Jarkko - I've hardly ever practised, but you learn by doing things. When the band has practise you don't practise but you play the songs.
ELVES AND ILLEGAL HOBBIES
RockUnited - The age gap between the band members is quite long, the longest one being between Pasi (born 1970) and Turkka (1982). How does the difference show at worst between a 70'ies and 80'ies kid ?
Esa - Pasi is the most childish and difficult person in the band, hah. Actually I think Turkka is the most mature person in the band. He doesn't drink much alcohol or go after women. His hobbies are...well, it's illegal so I won't say it here. But it really doesn't show much, we're all the same bunch of idiots.
Turkka - I guess you can hear the difference when you listen to these stories. I always have to restrain the guys a bit.
Jarkko - I think the best part in music is that what ever the age is, it always works out. It doesn't work like that in many things.
RockUnited - What do you think is the advantage from it then ?
Esa - Pasi has a lot of experience from this field. He often knows what he's talking about. It's a big plus compared to us who hardly know what we're talking about.
Turkka - That's right, it's easier playing with someone who's got the experience behind. Everything works out more easily. When you work with people who are your age it's often just goofing around. Now it's got a more professional touch to it.
Esa - Rami is the kind of despot at rehearsals who commands us to play and not joke around.
RockUnited - What was it like working with the vocal God Marco Hietala on your first album ?
Esa - I was at the studio when he was singing. He heard the songs the day before for the first time and came to the studio, just sang them and we were all just staring at him. With "Rainbow" there were a few takes, but mainly because Marco wanted to sing them again.
Rami - It was a disappointment for me, 'cos I couldn't be there to witness it happen. I had to go to the hospital the night before, but it would've been nice to see him sing them.
RockUnited - Do you have any Top Ten list from the band ?
Turkka - I think we listen to all kinds of stuff, not much metal though.
Esa - I have to say here that listen to Danny Elfman, he's a genious ! But Maija Vilkkumaa's new album is really good (finnish rock singer). And everything from Tarot. And sometimes I listen to the eighties metal as well. But Rami listens to suomirock (finnish rock) and techno, he listens to anything really. We all do, though I don't know about Jarkko.
Jarkko - I'm pretty selective, but I've got all kinds of stuff in my collections. I live in the past, like I've told everyone. There's a lot of great singers there. Rami listens to his own albums a lot.
Rami - Actually after we had recorded them I listened to them for a while, but that's it.
Esa - And if you only listened to metal, it would be really boring in the end.
RockUnited - It says on your homepages that Esa is into roleplaying. Are you still into that ?
Esa - Yeah, I've been doing that since the end of 1980'ies. All kinds of stuff.
RockUnited - Has anyone else in the band gotten interested in it ?
Esa - Nah, they don't understand it.
Rami - Well, sometimes Petteri is the police and the nurse...
Esa - The orcs and the elves aren't nothing compared to those.
RockUnited - What is the best game and where do you play that ?
Esa - The best one, "Tasnar", was done by a guy named Aleksis Stenberg and we usually play that at his home. I also like computer games as well, but the other guys aren't into that either.
RockUnited - As a conclusion, what would you like to say to our readers ?
Esa - More women to our shows please. And you hairy guys with moustache stay home, but ask your girlfriends to come and see our show. Nah, you hairy guys with moustache are welcome too, but please stay in the back row. And buy our albums. Buy Rami, Jarkko and Turkka. And as a shameless plug please buy the album.
Interview by Satu Reunanen,
by Kari Helenius,