Apocalyptica best known for their intersectionality of Cello playing inspired by classical music and by their more cognitive heavy rock sound, are currently on their “Apocalyptica Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” tour to celebrate their 20 year anniversary of the album’s original inception. They have become best known for their Metallica covers and title tracks including “Path,”“I Don’t Care” feat. Adam Gontier, “End of Me,” feat. Gavin Rossdale as well as countless others off their most recent album “Shadowmaker,” the band’s first completely self-composed rock album since their five year break.
On May 11, 2018 I was able to join the Finnish Cello players (again) for the second round of their APMB4C tour in the United States at the Fox Performing Arts Theater in Riverside, California. Upon arrival, I was given my VIP badge to go on in and meet with the band before they took the stage and almost immediately was greeted by Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lotjonen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Mikko Siren. Antero Manninen original returning member is also present on this current tour but was unavailable during this time.
it was great to be recognized as a familiar face by the band. We took some obligatory selfie photos which they seemed to enjoy and engaged in some humorous and enlightening conversation before they needed to step away to get ready. Due to confidentiality reasons a portion of my hang out with the guys cannot be transcribed, however it is my honor to present to you an experience with the guys of Apocalyptica both backstage and on stage.
Eicca Toppinen:(unexpectedly approaches) Hello there!
LME: Eicca so good to see you again! How was your show up north?
Eicca Toppinen: It was good, it was a fun show
LME: Did Lars show up at all? (yes, that Lars Ulrich from Metallica)
Eicca Toppinen: Ha, no he wasn’t able to come he usually comes when he can, but he wasn’t in town because we played in Berkley
LME: Aww, so what happened?
Eicca Toppinen: Funny story, haha, we are up here playing in Berkley and he is actually playing in Finland right now with Metallica. So, I’m playing here near San Francisco and he’s playing back home in Finland so we are constantly missing one another. But he does come to our shows when he’s in the same town or if we are up here mainly.
LME: Oh man that is funny
Outside source: Have you played with them?
EIcca Toppinen: Yes, actually quite a few times we played with them though mainly in the nineties not so much anymore because of the tour schedules and all of that
LME: Yeah I remember you guys (Apocalyptica) actually were opening up for them literally like your fifth show as a signed band which must have been absolutely mind blowing.
Eicca Toppinen: Yes, it was because it all just happened so fast and they are obviously part of why we are even here.
LME: That brings me to my poster haha …
Eicca Toppinen: Yes, want me to sign it? (proceeds to sign it)
LME: You know what’s funny I remember years ago when I first met you guys at a meet and great and you signed right over a Paavo’s face and you know what he did shortly after that?
Eicca Toppinen: Ohh no, what did he do? (Eicca had a concerned look on his face)
LME: Paavo came and signed right over your face almost as …
Eicca Toppinen: (cracking up) Oh wow yeah, almost marking me up like …
LME: Like retaliation for marking up his face!
Eicca Toppinen: Yes, exactly, Paavo he’s just crazy you know …
LME: He seems to be territorial over you in doing so
Eicca Toppinen: Haha yes well, we have learned that over the years, don’t let that face fool you.
LME: Mikko! Welcome back, how’s Riverside been? I noticed you went somewhere with the guys, where was that?
Mikko Siren: Oh yeah, the tour has been great so far its good to be back in California. We actually went around and went to this park where they had these balls in the water just floating.
LME: Oh wait, I saw that earlier on your story, where was that? We were looking for it!
Mikko Siren: It was right down the block not too far from here, it was real cool, the park was beautiful. Yeah, we just kind of went around and saw a few things locally.
LME: Have you ….
Mikko Siren: (allured by the fake candle on the table and knocks it over in a passive aggressive but somewhat dramatic fashion) Hahaha oops ….
LME: Haha, totally fine we did that earlier and thank god that’s how we discovered it was a fake candle because my poster would have ignited.
Mikko Siren: Oh yeah that was me earlier, I dropped one at the other table!
LME: Ohh that was you?! That was like really loud and dramatic Mikko, we were laughing over here!
Mikko Siren: Yes it was but look it’s so pretty.
LME: Would you like to take a photo with the pretty candle Mikko?
Mikko Siren: Yes.
LME: Okay, lets take a selfie photo then so we can get a good view of your candle.
LME and Mikko Siren: (takes selfie candle photo)
LME: I’m glad this time it wasn’t my embarrassing moment
Mikko Siren: Haha yes, beautiful moment it was (Mikko thought it was hilarious to put me and Paavo on the spot and engage in his typical humorously taunting jokes and puns about who I was, it definitely broke the ice by means of sending all the blood in my body directly to my face)
Paavo Lotjonen:Hey you! You still staying active I hope (smiles and chuckles at this inside joke)
LME: Haha yes Paavo, I mean one of us has to be right? You have been MIA
Stand by: What are you guys talking about?
LME: Ummm …
Paavo Lotjonen: Just a funny story of how we met. She is just very interactive and loves to talk.
LME: (laughing) Paavo, stop you’re crazy, let’s not talk about that.
Stand By: Why …
LME: Paavo and the guys just like to stay in closer contact with their fans
Paavo Lotjonen: Yes, so that’s originally how I met her, we started communicating on Instagram and I believe that social media, that is the point or else what is? We like to go online and take over the page and post things on our Instagram. Yes, we do have our management team on the account to update things and post very promotional things regarding tour and all that, but I like to maintain that communication with them, I think its very important
LME: What made you start doing that? I mean I think this is what separates you from a conglomerate of other bands and artists because your fans, they appreciate that level of relation from you guys and are able to keep them engaged with you as individuals.
Paavo Lotjonen: Yes, that is very important to us, we have the Facebook but you know it isn’t what it used to be anymore
LME: Facebook Has definitely taken on a different platform yes, I agree
Paavo Lotjonen: Exactly so we like to post on the Instagram and we all do it
LME: Well at the more humanistic level since you don’t get to shake every single one of your fan’s hands personally, this has almost become a staple of who are as a band correct?
Paavo Lotjonen: Yes, I do speak personally, but I share and acknowledge people on our network so that they also get to experience us as individuals like you said and bands, other bands I think it is hard to do sometimes with so much going on most of the time but I think it’s just a good idea to maintain that bond even if it is just through social media.
LME: I can appreciate that and I think that is why I was surprised when I met you the very first time that you even remembered me, I kept asking myself how?
Paavo Lotjonen: Ohh yeah, I remember alot actually. You have a lot to say and its hard not to remember haha.
LME: Haha, well because I have to admit I was a nervous wreck at the Mayan when I realized I was a familiar face to you and in that moment I was thinking “man I have to stop posting certain things!”
Paavo Lotjonen: Haha no, it’s fine
LME: You know who I had an interesting conversation with and who I was hanging out with at the Rainbow?
(this portion of our conversation cannot be transcribed due to confidentiality reasons and in respect for Paavo and others who we engaged about and with)
Paavo Lotjonen: Wow
LME: Yes I know, I didn’t know that but it is a small world. ( I proceeded to take a photo of him with a fan) Well thank you Paavo …
Paavo Lotjonen: Wait and you, let us take a picture now!
(after the photo was taken, rather a few photos were taken, Paavo expressed his appreciation and said he would see me downstairs)
The Apocalyptica guys are always so welcoming, humorous and as charming as they come. What I have provided you with is a collection of short excerpts of my conversations and time spent with them backstage. I want to feed you more but I am a firm believer that you need to experience some of this Finnish Magic for yourself.
( Catch them on tour for the rest of this month across the United States to watch them live and possibly get the opportunity to meet the band, for more info please head over to www.Apocalyptica.com )
Apocalyptica played about 2 hours with a short intermission. The guys opened up the show with “Enter Sandman” and in their traditional way on coming onto the stage they just walked right on and began playing that beautiful tone of E minor. Apo played the album in its entirety and in chronological order. They performed without Mikko Siren, their drummer, for the first half who did join them on stage after their fifteen minute intermission. Apo took the stage again for the second half opening with “Fade to Black” off of Metallica’s “Ride the Lightening” Album. They followed that up with other Metallica covers off of their re-released version of their “Apocalyptica Plays Metallica By Four Cellos” album including the songs “Battery,” “Seek N Destroy” and “Nothing Else Matters/One,” which they performed as their encore.
For anyone who has seen Apocalyptica perform live for any of their other studio albums, the presentation and vibe for this tour differs from the rest. For the APMB4C tour, the guys are more heavily focused on honoring their roots in terms of their love for both classical music playing combined with their love for metal and rock music which landed them 4 million sold copies of this album. They also want to create an environment for their audience that is engaging and really want their fans to be the singer and together harmonize in their love and tribute not just for Metallica but their love for 20 years of tours, albums, notoriety and music. On this tour everyone is a fan, including all five members of the band. Conceptually this approach was absolutely brilliant and made for an incredible show.
Midway through the second half of their set, Mikko Siren enters the stage again, but this time with a Birthday cake for Perttu Kivilaakso’s 40th birthday, Apo played the traditional happy birthday jingle on their cellos which made him momentarily shy away from the stage. It then became apparent that this celebratory engagement was planned by the rest of the guys to Perttu’s surprise. It was a beautiful moment as Perttu enjoyed his cake on stage and embraced his brother’s each with a hug.
After the encore Apocalyptica takes their final bow and exits the stage …
(For more photos like the ones you’ve seen in this article please go follow my personal Instagram Account where I post all photos pertaining to LisztoMedia + Entertainment Stories so you can follow these experiences as they are unfolding and to see what Paavo did for me after this show)