Josh Rundquist of That Drummer Guy recently conducted an interview with former SONATA ARCTICA guitarist Jani Liimatainen about THE DARK ELEMENT, his new project featuring ex-NIGHTWISH vocalist Anette Olzon. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how THE DARK ELEMENT came together:
Jani: "It was actually kind of a coincidence. It was last spring, I was in northern Lapland doing an acoustic tour with [STRATOVARIUS/CAIN'S OFFERING vocalist] Mr. [Timo] Kotipelto and I got a message from Frontiers [Music Srl] and they asked me if I would contribute as a songwriter for one album and just write songs. I told them that I'm pretty busy at the moment, but in two weeks I could try. I just made the deadline and set them one song. I guess they liked it, because it went on the album. Then it took like one week, Serafino [Perugino] from Frontiers asked if I wanted to write and produce a whole album. I said 'Sure, why not?' Then they asked me if I wanted to work with Anette. I've been lucky to work with a lot of great male singers like Timo Kotipelto and Tony Kakko [SONATA ARCTICA] and all those guys. I said I wanted to work with a female singer for a change. They were like 'Okay, do you have someone in mind?' 'Actually, no.' They were like 'Okay, let's see about this.' It took a few days and they got back to me and asked, 'Anette Olzon. How do you feel about her?' I said 'Yeah, I remember her from NIGHTWISH. She has a really cool, pop sound. That would work perfectly. Let's do this.' It just happened. It was just one of those things that happened. I never would have thought of making an album with Anette. Now, it seems obvious, like 'Why not?' But back then, this thought would have never crossed my mind. When they got back to me with it, I was like 'Sure, it's a great idea. I love her voice.'"
On how he approached songwriting for THE DARK ELEMENT:
Jani: "I had a rough idea, of course, that I wanted to make, how would you say, a not-too-complicated album. Make songs that go straight to the point that are catchy, but still heavy. Already at this point, I knew Anette would be singing on this, but then when I started communicating with her and sending demos and when I got the first demos back with her vocals, I was, like, 'Oh yeah! This is how it's going to sound. This sounds cool. Now I know what we're doing.'"
On his thoughts on the band's self-titled debut album now that it's completed:
Jani: "Of course, it's the same as with every album, when it's actually finished and you get the master, you listen to it once or twice and check that it's okay, then you kind of push it back a bit. For instance, this album, when I got the master, I had been working on it for almost one and a half years already, so I was pretty sick and tired of the songs. [Laughs] Then I gave myself some time and went to do something different, like I was away for a while and now that the promotion cycle is starting, I went back, I was at the gym and I listened to it for a while during my workout and said, 'Hell, this sounds pretty good. There is nothing to be ashamed about.'"
On separating THE DARK ELEMENT from the number of projects he's involved in, including CAIN'S OFFERING:
Jani: "It was a conscious decision when starting to write this album. I have CAIN'S OFFERING, which is the similar direction, but it's way more complex and faster and the songs have way more parts. I was thinking, 'Why would I make a CAIN'S OFFERING album with Anette on vocals?' That makes no sense. I'd rather try and do something that was more straightforward and easier to access for people if you're not really into that technical and whimsical shit that we've been doing so far. It was a conscious decision to try and do that. I like easy pop music as well. I like the complex stuff and I like the heavy stuff, but I also like catchy pop stuff, so this was my chance to explore that area as well."
On THE DARK ELEMENT's future plans:
Jani: "We are talking about it. We have already tour offers and offers for some festivals, but this is going to be a big thing to tackle if we want to do it since there's logistics and timetables and everything boring about this job that has to be figured out before we can do this shit. Of course, it would also mean we would have to learn how to play these songs live since they have never been played together."
THE DARK ELEMENT's self-titled debut album was released November 10 via Frontiers Music Srl.