The Finnish Symphonic Power Metallers around singer Capri have already revealed that they are very much into ABBA two years ago with the cover of „Lay All Your Love One Me“. Now Amberian Dawn follow up on the overpowering legacy of the Swedish pop giants: „Take a Chance - A Metal Tribute To ABBA“! For this album they exclusively recorded their own versions of the timeless hits of Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid.
Guitarist and mainman Tuomas Seppälä affirms at the beginning the author's statement that ABBA is one of the greatest things the pop world has ever produced.
Tuomas: I agreed with this one. One of the best for sure.
Were you also like me, that you were already infected by the ABBA virus as a child? I was 6 years … and love them with all my heart ’til the end of my days.
Tuomas: I think I was also 6 years old when I was influenced by ABBA for the first time. I heard „Money, Money, Money“ on the radio. Back then, I didn't know, what was the music I was hearing. I found that out much later.
Singer Capri says: I was maybe 7 or 8 when I heard „Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)“ for the first time. It was the best song I’ve ever heard.
How did you come to ABBA and how old were you?
Tuomas: I really started to listen to ABBA when I was a young adult, maybe 18 years old. I found an ABBA vinyl from my father‘s album collection, I think it was the „Arrival“ album. So, it was a kind of coincidence that I found the band. You must remember that it was a totally different world then, we didn’t have the internet so it was more difficult to find new music and new bands. I was mainly listening to heavy metal and the music magazines I read didn’t have anything from ABBA of course.
On which occasions do you like to listen to ABBA the most?
Tuomas: I don't listen to music so much anymore. Mostly I listen to the radio while I'm driving my car. Also, I like to listen to music when I'm home hanging out in my backyard. In the summertime, I like to go to the sauna and relax in my backyard and drink beer. I usually have Marshall (what else?) Bluetooth Speaker on. ABBA is often on my playlist, also the heavy metal of the 80s and 90s. Sometimes also classical music, like „best of opera arias“.
Have you also seen the great documentary about the band, where you can see how hard Björn and Benny worked on the two ladies - even in their cabin in the mountains - until their singing was as perfect as the two men imagined?
Tuomas: I've seen a lot of documentaries about them, not sure that have I seen the exact same one, to which you're referring. I like those old documentaries a lot. The world was different back then. It seems like it was always sunny and warm and people were happy all the time. That’s the impression you’ll get on those old documentaries anyways - and that’s how I remember those summers of the 80s, back then, when I was young.
What do you think of the recent ABBA ‚comeback‘? I think it's totally unnecessary, you shouldn't do something like that - the divine musical legacy should have continued to be what it is.
Tuomas: I like the idea of coming back, but I would have liked to see them performing live a couple of times instead of that Abbatar show. Still, I think I'm going to visit that ABBA arena someday. I'm sure that the show will look amazing at least. Still, you got to admire their enthusiasm for music. They’re getting quite old already and still they can produce new music. Hats off!
What was the predominant media and fan response to your previous ABBA cover „Lay All Your Love One Me“? What was the most praised about it? And what was mostly criticized?
Tuomas: To me, it seemed like people really liked it. We also used to play it live on stage on our latest tour, which was in 2018 with Lacuna Coil. You cannot please everyone of course so some of our older fans don’t like our new ABBA-influenced style. On the other hand, we’ve gained a lot of new fans with our latest releases.
The new album - which songs are included and why they were chosen?
Tuomas: There's some big this like „Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)“ and „SOS“ included, for example. Also, there are some of my favorites like „The Day Before You Came“ on this album. I also wanted to include some lesser-known ABBA songs, which made the whole project more interesting for everyone. It's even possible that some of those songs are going to be ‚new‘ to some ABBA fans. That's because we recorded 2 bonus songs from the „Visitors“ album. Those songs are not necessarily been heard by even some real ABBA fans before.
What do you think are the best of the best of the ABBA songs?
Tuomas: I like the musical kind of songs the most. Songs like „The Day Before You Came“, „I'll Let The Music Speak“ etc. Later, after ABBA broke up, Benny and Björn continued together composing musicals and they are all great. I've seen the „Chess“ musical live a couple of times and I even had a chance once to chat with the guy, who arranged the „Chess“, Mr. Anders Eljas. He was also very much involved with the ABBA era. He played keyboards on stage with ABBA for example.
Capri: Absolutely „The Winner Takes It All“ - it is a masterpiece in every way.
The 70s was a glorious, often unencumbered time - do you think a similarly talented, disciplined and visionary band would manage equally good, harmonically soulful and timelessly uplifting songs today?
Tuomas: I don't think it would be done again with such success. That's because the world and the music business have changed a lot since then. Still, I think it's possible to make success even today. We have some good examples, like Rammstein. That’s also a great band by the way.
How did the idea to do a whole album of covers come about?
Tuomas: We got a lot of good feedback on our first ABBA cover song and that made it easier to decide to continue with a full album. Also, after our latest album release, which was „Looking For You“ in late 2020, we didn't have a chance to tour because of the covid pandemic. I didn't want to start working with new own material before we had a chance to tour with that latest album. But time got by and I felt that I would still like to do something and at that point, the idea to produce a full ABBA cover album got stronger.
How did it feel for you to replay such hymns of eternity yourselves?
Tuomas: It's awesome. But it also took a tremendous amount of work to get those songs arranged with good quality. I didn't want the record the songs, which I didn't manage to get working 100 % well.
Vocally, of course, it is unspeakably difficult for Capri to convey the feeling and mood of the uniquely arranged and performed original songs. How satisfied are you with her vocal performance and what in particular do you appreciate about her interpretation ?
Tuomas: I'm 100 % happy with Capri's singing these songs. Otherwise, I wouldn't have released this album with Amberian Dawn. She's an extraordinarily good singer and in my point of view, she would be good enough for the actual ABBA band. She can deliver all of those big emotions of different ABBA songs. All of the songs I chose are not so happy. There are also some really dramatic songs too.
Capri: I am satisfied too with how boys played. There is no way that two different singers or players sound nothing but themselves. I am very pleased with the way I am allowed to sing without someone to tell me how. It’s my voice, it’s my storytelling, It’s my sound. It is unique.
Who arranged the lions share of the songs and how long was the work in total for all the material?
Tuomas: Like with all of Amberian Dawn's songs, it's my responsibility to make the most of the arranging work. Usually, I make a demo at my home studio and then we all continue with the final arrangements. I really like that all the band members can contribute something after hearing the first versions of my arrangements (or songs).
What have been the hardest or most difficult passages of the workout process?
Tuomas: Definitely all the keyboard parts. I took a lot of time, hundreds and hundreds of hours with all of those keyboard parts so that I could achieve a little bit of that ABBA feeling. The old synthesizers and their sound play a really important role in ABBA's music. I own a lot of vintage synthesizers of the ABBA era and also there are some actual Benny Andresson's synthesizers heard on this album too (Like Moog Minimoog for example).
ABBA has been covered so many times - what is special about your current versions ?
Tuomas: I don't see the whole matter like this at all. I'm not hoping to bring anything new to the table. I just wanted to make those ABBA songs in the best possible way. I wanted to honor their legacy with a new and fresh Interpretation but still keep the original vocal lines as the originals were.
Anything you would like to add?
Tuomas: Take a chance and listen to this album with a free mind. You might get surprised, by how diverse the ABBA songs really are. There are happy songs, sad songs, and very dramatic ones. It's a real rainbow of emotions there.
© Markus Eck, 20.11.2022
[ to overview ]