The Sonata Arctica Tribute album is right around the corner! Perfect time to have a chat with the people behind the project. First of all, Gordon Scott, managing director of Ouergh Records
Why Ouergh as name? It’s not all that easy to pronounce for a whole lot of people?
Haha! Ouergh is an onomatopoeia noise, representing a short, gruff vocal sound – think of when a rock or metal singer goes “Ooh!” or similar during a song. It’s a name like Kerrang! (which is the sound of striking a chord on guitar), and a bit tongue-in-cheek. It’s also fun to see how different people attempt to pronounce it – there is no correct way! It has certainly gained us notice either way.
How did all this start. What gave you the idea to do a tribute album?
We’re all very big fans of Sonata Arctica here at Ouergh Records, and power metal in general. I guess, personally, it was a project close to my heart. Having spent my teenage years with health issues, and a lot of other worries associated with adulthood, music and Sonata Arctica in particular were a big help in keeping me happy and giving me inspiration – probably something that can be said by most people, when it comes to music and their favourite bands. Upon starting the company, I always wanted to find a way to pay some sort of tribute to them, and we were presented with the opportunity of the tribute album from the band’s management upon our request. A lot of Sonata Arctica’s early work was also to be found on tribute album to the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Helloween and Scorpions, so it’s nice to see that the band have progressed to the point where other young bands are in the position they once were. Who knows, maybe some of the bands on this album will one day earn a tribute of their own too!
What is your view on the opinion that there are people that feel that some songs should never be covered as they would never be able to do justice to the original? Did it hold you back a bit?
That’s a tough question! I guess to a lot of Sonata Arctica fans, these versions of the songs will never hold up against the originals – after all, they are the way the songs are meant to be! That being said, every track in this release is performed wonderfully, and offers a fresh take on each track. You can also feel the love for Sonata Arctica’s work from each artist performing on here, and for a tribute album, that is very important.
What’s your favorite on the album?
Haha, it would be rather unfair of me to single out a particular track as my favourite, since every band involved worked their hardest! I think they are all brilliant renditions of the songs, and I enjoy them all greatly. If I had to choose, I would say the tracks performed by all the younger and unsigned bands, as it shows the amount of unrecognised talent we have in the Rock and Metal world. Also, I guess the bonus tracks are a guilty pleasure – Abandoned Stars, Disposable and Xeno are Scottish bands signed to Ouergh, after all!
How was the decision made on which tracks would be on the album, did the bands have a say?
The decision on which tracks to feature was entirely up to the bands themselves, and they had free reign to cover whichever track they liked, as long as another artist hadn’t picked it before them! We guided bands away from SA’s recent album ‘Pariah’s Child’, solely because it was brand new and the band themselves were still promoting it at the time of this project’s inception. The only other album not featured is ‘The Days Of Grays’, which is entirely coincidental! We can hopefully make it up to fans of these two albums in the future.
What’s the story behind the development of the album artwork?
For the album, we wished to have artwork that properly reflected the feel of Sonata Arctica’s work, but without being mistaken as one of their own covers. We narrowed down our search of the perfect artist to Jan Yrlund of Darkgrove Design, who has done an astounding job. Jan has also designed covers for Korpiklaani, Sirenia and Amberian Dawn among many others, so we were knew we were in for a treat. I’d also like to take this opportunity to apologise to Timeless Miracle, who jokingly assured me we had unknowingly stolen their cover ideas for their next album!
What was it like for you to have Sonata’s very own on board for the project, when Pasi mastered the album?
Pasi has done a wonderful job on the mastering, and we’re really pleased with the results! Though, in honesty, we haven’t actually spoken with him personally ourselves, and instead corresponded through his manager. It was really great of him to step up and offer his services for this part of the album though – I know some of the younger bands on the release were excited by the prospect of Sonata Arctica members being forced to listen to their cover versions, haha!
You said Pasi offered his services. Did he offer that himself, without being prompted, or because you approached the management about that possibility?
Pasi’s management themselves were the one to offer his services. In actuality, they are the management of Silent Voices (Pasi and Henrik’s other band), and also manage Majesty Of Revival, who are performing ‘The Cage’ on the album, and thus we were already in contact.
Was there any moment in the development of this project that stands out for one reason or another? Be it a stressful situation, or an exciting one?
The entire process has been stressful on varying levels, but fun and exciting at the same time! We’ve been able to listen to a lot of bands that we weren’t aware of before, and met a lot of lovely people. Sadly, there wasn’t space for every band who wanted to take part to do so on the CD, but this is something we can perhaps rectify in the future. I guess the best part of it all has been the support from fans and musicians who also feel that Sonata Arctica are worthy of a tribute, and the kind words and help they have given us in releasing this album.
Thank you very much for your time! We look forward to hearing the album!