Band leader/singer/guitarist Tapani “Tanna” Tikkanen – Tanna
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Birgitt Schwanke at GerMusica PR for setting up the interview
Thanks to AOR Heaven for the promo pictures of the band
Promo pictuers taken by: Minna Asp/MimosArt
Tapani “Tanna” Tikkanen is the band leader/singer/guitarist of his self-titled band Tanna. STORM IN PARADISE is the band’s fifth album and marks Tikkanen’s return to using English, as his previous albums were released in Finnish. Despite the band playing more than 700 shows over the years, this is the first time that Metal-Rules.com have had the opportunity to interview this melodic hard rock act. If you’re curious in what the band is up to on STORM IN PARADISE, make sure to read on.
Hi Tanna, thanks for taking the time for this interview, I hope you and the rest of the band members are doing fine.
Hi everybody, me and the band are just fine!
It’s now the third time you’ve re-started the band with a new line-up, what happened the past two times that made you reform the band?
The first time back in the eighties after the band IC_ROCK had broken up, I formed TANNA immediately. We were young and eager to play in a rock n’ roll band, it was our dream and it came true. It lasted about four years. Those were wonderful times that I’ll never forget, but it was kinda like living in the fast lane and I think the candle burned at the both ends. There were also record company issues and some members of the band just didn’t want to continue anymore. After that, I formed the Rainbow-disco team and worked as a full-time DJ for about five years. During that time in ’92 I thought I’d like to make another album with my own name (“Tanna” has been my nickname ever since I was a kid). I had so many good songs and I’d also gotten to know some new great friends and musicians who wanted to join me. So, we did an album and some gigs and it surely was the right thing to do. It’s a good album, but we knew it that it would be more or less a project so it lasted about two years. That album also was sung in Finnish.
Then years went by, I did some projects, wrote four funny albums of football-music and also more serious stuff with Prayer, three albums all together.
About two years ago I thought I wanted to do something new and I closed the “Prayer-book.” I took my own name back, felt free and strong to do whatever I wanted, but because the times have changed with YouTube, the internet and all, I wanted to sing in English. And now we are here and I am so happy.
The biography states that besides a new band, you also bring a new sound. What does that mean? Have you changed your music style?
Yes, it’s partly true, there are some familiar elements though. What is new is that some of the arrangements are bolder and there is a lot of air and not everything is full of everything. For example “Lonely Day”…it’s very naked and bare and it works. The saxophone is also a new instrument in our music, never done before. The guitar sounds on “Sharks In the Water” and “Lonely Day” are just magical, the solo is just outstanding. There are many new details and ideas that bring freshness to this album.
Before forming Tanna you were active in the band Prayer. Could you tell us a little about that band and your part in it?
I was the leader of the band, wrote the music, lyrics, arrangements and handled everything. We did three solid albums and they still stand the test of time. Good hard rock and AOR and we did a few gigs also in the beginning. The last album included the song “Mystery Island” which I am very proud of, it was 14 minutes long story about my childhood dream. Proud of that.
Was it easy to once again find new members to join you in Tanna?
No, not really as Jukka and Ville were already in Prayer with me. A top class bass player was a bit hard to find , but I finally found Jaakko (with a little help from my friends…) and then all the pieces came together. I also had to dig a little to find Jimi to play sax, but it worked out well in the end. Those guys who play sax are hard to find around these parts, I can honestly say that.
The band’s earlier albums were sung on Finnish, what made you shift to singing on English?
Like I said before, the world has changed, the music industry has changed totally. Now English is the international language and you can reach the whole world with it.
New album STORM IN PARADISE
You wrote all of the material on your earlier albums . Have you done the same on STORM IN PARADISE? What are the lyrics about this time?
Yes, I consider myself as a singer/songwriter. I write all the time, almost every day. I write a song and I have hundreds of them waiting in the wings. The hardest part has been many times not to write songs but to choose the ones on the album!
The bio especially mentions songs like “Hispaniola (Treasure Island)”, “Like Kim Kardashian” and “Nights On the Road”. What are those songs about and do you have any favorite songs on the album?
We hope we chose wisely this time 🙂
I don’t wanna choose a dozen of the same kind of songs; I want it to be a good compilation of different feelings and stories. I think that way it will last longer and it has more meat on the bones. The lyrics are written on the booklet if you buy the CD. I personally love stories like “Run Like Hell Tonight” which is about childhood friends, how they grow and life brings them together in all kinds of situations and finally they rob a bank! “Old and Grey” is a little about myself or anyone who believes that you must follow your own road.
“Like Kim Kardashian” is about a boy and his girlfriend and the boy would like to think “you are my Kim K” and that’s great, he also fantasizes a bit, I admit. “Hispaniola” is based on the legendary book Treasure Island where Hispaniola was the name of the ship. It’s about that journey and treachery that went on down there. “This Town” is about small town people and attitudes that suffocate you. You know the feeling when you just wanna get out. “Last Mile” is about coming home, traveling and being on the road and finally making it back. “Nights On the Road” is inspired by those early days when we toured a lot. It is also dedicated to one of my best friends Markku, who was our roadie and passed away a few years ago. I am very proud of that song and the saxophone makes it just perfect ! One of my favorites definitely! I also love “Lonely Day” a lot, I am happy how it turned out. When you listen to this record, let your imagination fly with you!
The album clocks in around 65 minutes which is pretty long for an album these days. Was it your intention to create a long album or did it just happen?
The plan was to record 13 songs and put twelve on the album. Just one extra song just in case something goes wrong. But they all came out with flying colours so we just couldn’t leave anything out. That’s why the album is quite long, but it should only be a good thing, more music right?!!
Storm In Paradise (Official Video)
Were there any songs that didn’t made it onto the final edition of the album?
Like I said, as it happened, none were left out.
Why did you name the album STORM IN PARADISE? Does the title mean anything special to you?
Storm In Paradise, I just think it’s a million dollar name for an album! It was in my mind right from the start. It has the power and the title song is a good reminder of how fast things can change. We’ll see what happens the next time…I have already an idea…:)
Was Tamara Picardo given free hands creating the cover art work?
The cover idea of the palm trees in a storm was my idea, then we worked from there. We tried this and that and in the end she did one hell of a job, just great! She’s a great lady!
Jimi Ahlroos guests on saxophone and Inga Söder (Voice Of Finland) sings backup vocals on three of the songs, how did they end up on the album?
Jimi was a bit hard to find but the bass player Jaakko suggested him because he had played with him before so that’s how it went. Jimi came to the studio, we talked and played a little and that was it. Inga has a name for herself already here in Finland; she is so talented and did well in Voice of Finland a few years back. She lives in the same town so it was kinda easy to reach her and find some time to sing those backing vocals. She did a wonderful job. She can sing anything.
How would you like to describe the music Tanna plays?
Tanna’s music is always melodic it can be hard rocking /metal at times, but mostly AOR with meaningful and strong lyrics and there will also always be a bit of humour included.
You and keyboardist Pohjolo produced and mixed the album together, how was it to produce together with someone else?
We work well together with Mika. We have known each other over 30 years or so. He knows the technical stuff and I have a vision and then we go from there. We usually fight five minutes everyday and then we get everything done perfectly.
Do you think old hardcore fans of the band will enjoy STORM IN PARADISE?
I hope so, but I don’t live in the past. If they find us, good, if not, it’s all right. We have to concentrate on 2020 and try to do the best job possible. The main goal was from the beginning to get this music everywhere not just Finland. But I have already got a lot of good response from the old fans also so I am sure they like it if they just listen to this record and give it a chance!
The bio say that fans of Thin Lizzy, Treat and Wig Wam ought to love the album, do you think Tanna has a lot in common music-wise with the bands mentioned above?
It is always dangerous when they compare you to some other bands. I have written music about 40 years or so and I think that I have some kind style of my own. Thin Lizzy was and will always be one of my great idols but there are so many bands that have written great music. I just hope that we will make it this competition. I am very confident though, I have so many great songs waiting in the wings and I am 100% sure that the next album will be something else. I know so.
Are you big in Finland? Where in the world do you got your biggest fanbase?
We were very famous back in the Eighties. We had fans all over the Finland. Now we have some old Tanna fans here in Finland, some Prayer fans here and there and some new Tanna fans with this new album from South America to Sweden and Germany and the States. I hope they join us on our new Facebook: www.facebook.com/Tannaofficial , there are a lot of good vintage photos, history, news, previews and all, check it out!
Any plans on heading out on tour or do some shows when the Covid-19 restrictions been lifted?
About live shows, we are open to suggestions. We will see how this goes maybe after the next album we might do something but like I said, everything is possible.
Now that you’ve released an album in English, do you aim to making it big out in Europe?
I know this kind of music has a lot fans all over the world we just have to do our best to make it known everywhere. So we need your help, if you like our stuff spread the word and let everybody know about us. Everybody can make a difference.
Well, time is up, thanks again for taking the time. I wish you and the band all the best and would love to see you live in action on a stage near me soon. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Thanks a million for the interview! We do our best to write good music in the future just hang in there and carry on the flame for AOR and great melodic rock !! All the best, TANNA 🙂