Q&A: Franky Perez of metal band Apocalyptica


Apocalyptica, Finland’s top musical export, performs on May 30 at the Commodore Ballroom.

May 30 at 9:30 p.m. | Commodore Ballroom

Tickets: $32.50 at ticketmaster.ca

What began as a Metallica tribute band with cellos has evolved into Finland’s top musical export. Since 1993 Apocalyptica has released eight studio albums, each staying true to its heavy metal/classical roots while relying increasingly on original material. Shadowmaker, the latest, follows this pattern, but with a difference — rather than welcoming a number of guest vocalists, as on previous albums, the new record features just one, Franky Perez. Now a full-fledged member of the band, Perez — whose previous gigs include playing with the band Scars on Broadway and with Guns N Roses guitarist Slash — talked about his future with Apocalyptica, staying true to metal roots and being a Yank in Finland.

Q: Have you noticed anything different about playing with a bunch of Finns compared to being in American bands?

A: There’s definitely a little bit of culture clash. They live on the other side of the world, and I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s polar opposites. But, without being cliché or cheesy, we speak one common language — music.

Q: Did you make the album in Finland?

A: We did some pre-production in Nashville. Once we got the songs where we wanted them, we went back to Finland and rehearsed them for a couple of weeks and got them really nice and tight and went back to Nashville. I’ve been to Finland three times now, and come July, I’ll be there for awhile. I’ll be hubbing out of there while we do festival appearances in Europe.

Q: It seems you’ve been kind of a floater, leading a nomadic musical life, playing in a bunch of different bands.

A: One steady thing I’ve had in my career is my own stuff. But I’ve been a singer and musician for hire for over 10 years. This is a bit of a change. You have to find ways to provide and make a living. I’m very fortunate to have been a professional musician all my life. In the same sense I’ve been looking for that project. I thought Scars on Broadway was it, then the plug was pulled on that. I went back to being a musician-for-hire. Then when this came up — I’ll be with these guys as long as I can, they’re a great band, the music’s amazing. I’ve been offered full-time positions with other bands but this one really hit home, and made me want to be a part of it full-time.

Q: What was your relationship to Apocalyptica before you got the call to sing with them?

A: About four or five years ago, Scars on Broadway was playing the Area 4 festival in Germany. We were on the same stage as Apocalyptica, a few bands before. There’s been a big buzz around the festival about them, so I made a point after our set to stick around. So I sat on the side of the stage and watched them play, and now five years later I’m in the band.

Q: Apocalyptica started out playing Metallica covers. Is that something you still do?

A: They’re very true to their roots. There’s a part of the show where they throw it back to Metallica. They let the crowd know this is where they started, and they do (Metallica song) Nothing Else Matters. They might do a couple. They know where they came from. These guys are standup guys. They know what fans want and they do it.

Q: And Apocalyptica is going to be on a stamp in Finland. What do you know about that?

A: It’s amazing. From what I was told, they’re doing a whole series on Finnish artists and music. Apocalyptica was the biggest musical export from Finland, so it was a no-brainer that the Finnish government would give them a stamp. I was there when they got the email. Paavo Lötjönen, the bass cellist, was reading it. He looks at me and goes, “Hey Frankie, do you have a stamp?” I said “No.” And he said, “I do.”