Tapani TikkanenTo most of our readers, TANNA is a new band, with its' roots in PRAYER, a Finnish AOR group who released three albums between 2005 and 2018. To our Finnish readers, who know the 80's rock scene, Tanna is not a new name. The band had their heyday during the second part of the decade, when they played hundreds of gigs and released two studio albums and a live album. The songs were sung in Finnish though. In 1993 the band briefly returned with a new line-up and released one album. Tapani "Tanna" Tikkanen has been the band's mastermind from the beginning, and now with a new album coming out, we talked about the past, the present and the future...

You released your previous three albums as PRAYER. What prompted you to go back to using the TANNA monicker? Is this more of a solo project than Prayer?

Yes, Prayer-time was good, we did three solid albums, but still after the last one "Silent Soldiers" I thought it was time for something new. To make a long story short,  it was a natural thing and it proved to be the right thing to do. What is more honest than write music with your own name. Tanna has been my nickname ever since I was a kid, that´s it. And it´s a good name for the band also, in any language, easy to pronounce and remember.  

Also, for example I had dreamed many years that someday I would like to have saxophone on some songs, but it didn´t feel right with Prayer. I also wanted to find a real pro bass player and Jaakko Konttila was it, a new guy in the ranks, new sound, new songs, musically there are no boundaries what so ever now. I have hundreds of songs just waiting in the wings. Tanna is kinda both, like Bon Jovi or Van Halen, a person and a band in the same package.

Tanna was a fairly big name in Finland back in the eighties, but you sang in Finnish and the music was’t quite as hard-edged as these days. Do you think that some of the original Tanna-Fans will take notice and check out ”Storm In Paradise” now that it’s released under the old name?

We had thousands of fans back then, some of them have already noticed what´s happening. And of course we hope that the rest of them find the new album and our facebook - site : www.facebook.com/Tannaofficial/
There are nice nice pictures from the early days, history, biography and everything about the new album and what´s happening now.

There might be some old fans that don´t like that I sing in english, but I am sure they will like this album if they just listen to it and give it a chance. But of course we are not counting on the past, this is now and I know we have have already won a lot of new fans all over the world with Storm In Paradise video on youtube.

You started in the early eighties with IC Rock (later just IC) and played hard rock with english lyrics. Then there was a breakout of melodic rock bands with Finnish lyrics, Dingo and Yö being the biggest
ones, and it was probably a wise decision for you to kind of follow in their footsteps and change the language. Were you pushed by the record company to change the language and go to a more ”Dingo’ish” direction or was it more of a matter of survival?

We did two albums with IC-ROCK , sang in english and we had a nice cult-following. There was no internet, no youtube , hardly no managers who knew how to get a band to Europe or anywhere outside Finland. After four years the band broke up, there was no drama involved. Just natural things, jobs, families, different priorities. At that time almost everyone was singing in finnish. I wanted to continue my musical career, so I took the bull by the horns and formed a band right away. I thought , well, I can write in finnish also, so I did and it was wonderful. We had an instant success with Tanna, no record company has never told me what kinda music should I write or what language I sing. It was our own choice and I followed my instincts and trusted them. We were still a bit different than the other bands you mentioned, we were more hard rock- influenced always. Our shows and arrangements and performing had owed a lot to the great american hardrock and aor bands. We had bombs, quite massive PA and lightning systems always.

As far as I know, only the 90’ies Tanna album has been released as a CD, and even that’s very hard to find these days. Any plans on getting thoseTanna albums re-issued?

4. This is a good point! Many people have asked how to get "Eedenistä Itään" (East Of Eden) album, even from different countries now! Because they have watched "Storm In Paradise" on youtube and they have seen the old songs there also and listened to them. Now we are concentrating on this new Storm In Paradise-album and maybe after that we might put it on Spotify or something, we will let you all know about it. It is one the best albums that I have ever done, and also one of the forgotten gems, I think.

Ever since the release of the first Prayer album, I’ve been hoping that you’d dig up some of those old songs, re-vamp them and write english lyrics to them. Is there any chance that we’ll hear the likes of ”Tällä Tiellä”, ”Päivin ja Öin” or ”En Tahdo Sua Nyt” with an updated sound and english lyrics? In my humble opinion, they’re Finnish AOR classics that should be given a chance with the international audience.

You are not the only one. I´ve been thinking about it many times, too. And many others. But because I have so much new material, hundreds of songs...I try to do something new and let the bygones be bygones. I have written english lyrics on many songs though, and it is possible that it happens, there´s  some great stuff there. Definitely songs that are above any international standard, I would add "Pakotie" (Getaway) to that list, too.

Let’s talk about ”Storm In Paradise”. The press release says that it’s ”a new sound” for you. It’s certainly a rather varied album. What did you do differently compared to the previous Prayer albums?

It is a step in the right direction, for sure. Before we started to do anything, we made enough demos, maybe 30 songs or something. I wanted to push the envelope, take the next step with everything. Bold decisions , "crazy" sounds, I wanted to paint pictures, get away with my imagination, create the right feeling with everysong. Compared to the previous ones, I wanted to make sure that no one can say that "all the songs sound the same". And there are all kinds of stories and songs and feelings. The saxophone is also bringing new vibes, like on "Lonely Day" or dear, it´s perfect..and "Nights On The Road" it bring chills down my spine...also the female vocals are a new element and spice up some songs nicely.

Did the record label have any influence, or did you give them a finished product?

We gave them a finished product, that´s it.

What would you say are the ”cornerstones” of this album? Songs that are most likely to be in the setlist or otherwise important?

Oh dear, what can I say...everyone answers to this one "songs are like children, you can´t compare them !"  But if I have to...well, Storm In Paradise, This Town Ain´t Big Enough , Nights On The Road, Silhouettes, Run Like Hell....God, I love ´em all , they all have there own meaning, but maybe these ones would have be on the setlist.

Tanna 2020You mentioned earlier that you like songs that have stories in the lyrics. You’ve got some that sound like autobiographical, and some that might not be. Tell us a little bit about your favourite stories on this

"Run Like Hell Tonight" is one of my favourites. An imaginary story about childhood friends with their own little scemes, how they grow up and how they finally rob a bank and flee to the Cayman Islands :) Nice one, right? Happens every day :)  "Hispaniola" is based on the legendary book, Treasure Island and is the name of the ship they sailed. I had an idea that the ship heard everything, every little secret and treachery that was going on down there. Every boy loves pirates and that song is about that great adventure. "Nights On The Road" is a true story about our touring days back in the eighties, those great memories, " friends we had and the friends we lost..." I am very proud of this one.

Did you have any specific musical influences while creating this album?

No, nothing special. Just had a vision how this should sound and how it would make you feel.

If  Tanna starts playing gigs, what kind of setlist will you have? All new stuff or also trips down the memory lane?

We´ll  see what happens when the album is released , how everything goes. We are already preparing to record new songs, we are making new demos even this week and I CAN ASSURE YOU FOLKS THERE IS SOME GREAT STUFF COMING!!! And my basic plan is that we would like start recording the new album as soon as possible...and after that is out, maybe we might think of doing some live shows..well , like I said , you´ll never know nowadays. But if we would play in Finland, we might take a short walk down the memory lane....:) 

Interview by Kimmo Toivonen
(c) 2020 RockUnited.Com
Photos from AOR Heaven & the official Tanna Facebook page.