Sonata Arctica comes from a city called Kemi in Northern Finland. They started back in 1996 as Tricky Beans and as Tricky Beans they did three demos and twice played in Jyrki Sähkösirkus. In 1997 after some personnel changes in the band, they changed their name to Tricky Means. The band's style at this time was totally different from their style today.
In January 1999 they recorded their fourth demo 'FullMoon' at Tico Tico Studio in their home town. Janne had also joined as a new bassist to the band a little earlier and the current line-up was forming. The fourth demo somehow ended up with Spinefarm Records and the band got a record deal with Spinefarm Records in April at the same time as their contract name was changed to Sonata Arctica. At this time, none knew what that name would come to mean to Finnish metal. Simultanious with their name change, their style changed dramatically to fast, melodic and keyboard oriented heavy metal with clear and high vocals. This is the Sonata Arctica we know today.
The First single, UnOpened, was recorded during the summer 1999 and contained two tracks, 'UnOpened' and 'Mary-Lou'. "Legendary" 'UnOpened' was spread as two different versions; first and accidentally it was released as a slower version and then afterwards as a faster version. The song 'UnOpened' was also included in Metalliliitto 1999 compilation CD. Very soon after the single was released people in the metal scene all around the world started to debate this new and very promising metal band from Finland.
In autumn 1999 Sonata Arctica released its first full-length album, Ecliptica. It was firstly released in Finland followed by other countries soon afterwards. Success also brought two tribute recordings to the band, Sonata Arctica recorded (spring 2000) two cover songs for two different tribute albums; 'I Want Out' for Helloween tribute and 'Still Loving You' for Scorpions tribute.
After releasing the first full-length album Tony Kakko, keyboardist/vocalist, decided to concentrate purely on singing and so Mikko Harkin (ex-Kenziner) joined the band as a keyboardist, giving Tony total freedom on stage. Tony didn't leave keyboards totally however and after Mikko joined, the band was in a very special situation as it could now use two keyboard players in its shows. The band has used this special opportunity in gigs as Tony has continued to play keyboard solos with and without Mikko since.
Even though the year 1999 was a perfect fairytale for Sonata Arctica, there were more triumphs to come. Very soon after 'Ecliptica' was released Sonata Arctica was named as a support act for the Stratovarius European Tour in spring 2000. 32 different bands from 15 different record companies were trying to get this support act deal for a European tour with Stratovarius but finally Sonata Arctica was the lucky band. The European tour with Stratovarius and Rhapsody started in April and lasted almost two months, with more than 30 gigs, over 10 countries and thousands of kilometers travelled.
After European tour Sonata Arctica released a new MCD, Successor, in Finland. The MCD was released in October for GSA by Century Media and by Marquee Inc. for Japan. The MCD included two previously unreleased tracks, two cover tracks for upcoming tribute albums, two live tracks from Provinssi Rock and one edited track from Ecliptica.
Janne Kivilahti left the band during the summer of 2000, he played on Successor but his last gig was at Kemi on the 30th of June. There was no difference of opinion between Janne and the other band members, Janne left from the band for personal reasons and because he no longer wished to play with the band.
Janne was replaced by Marko Paasikoski who had already played with the band. He has recorded the first new tracks for the upcoming full-length album, which should be released in July 2001.
And story goes on...
Friend till the End (1996)
Agre Pamppers (1996)
Peace Maker (1997)
Tony Kakko (Vocals, Keyboards)
Jani Liimatainen (Guitars)
Tommy Portimo (Drums)
Mikko Harkin (Keyboards)
Marko Paasikoski (Bass)
thanks to: http://koti.mbnet.fi/~vpv/sonata/index.htm