Jani Liimataiven - guitar (original member)
Tommy Portimo - drums (original member)
Tony Kakko - vocals, keyboards (original member)
Marko Paasikoski - bass (joined summer 2000)
Henrik Klingenberg - keyboards (joined winter 2002)
Sonata Arctica started out as Tricky Beans in the small northern Finnish town of Kemi in 1995. Jumping straight into recording demos the band had created three by 1998 'Friend Till The End', 'Angre Pampers', 'Peacemaker'. Midway through these demos not only did the band appear twice on a Finnish TV Battle of the Bands - Jykin Sähkösirkus, the band tweaked it's name to 'Tricky Means'. At this point the line up just consisted of Tony, Jani, Tommy and Janne Kivilanti on bass but they still managed to release a new demo 'Full Moon' recorded in the Tico Tico Studios in their hometown of Kemi. This demo was their first step into metal circles with their fast melodic style and clear, high vocals they started getting noticed. Ahti Kortelained at Tico Tico Studios passed this demo onto Finland's premier metal label Spinefarm, they signed the band under the name Sonata Arctica.
1999 came and Sonata Arctica would not look back or rest for a long time. 'UnOpened' was not only released as their first single but was the first track on 'Metallilitto' compilation CD. Unfortunately problems with slow recording on the first pressing of the singles released meant a recall from shops, 200 copies were actually sold and these are now collectors' items. Their debut album 'Ecliptica' was released in Autumn, Century Media took up the task of distributing their music in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and North America. This album led to them adding the track 'I Want Out' to the Helloween tribute album 'Keepers Of Jericho' and the track 'Still Loving You' on the album 'A Tribute To The Scorpions'
By this point Tony was a bit sick of being stuck behind the keyboards so Mikko Härkin (ex-Kenziner) joined on the keyboards. Shows became dramtically more energetic as Tony used more of the stage and the band had the potential to have two live keyboardists to add to their sound. Janne however decided to leave and played his last gig on the 30th June 2000. Marko Paasikoski took over and gelled quickly into the band as he had been an original member. During this year Sonata Arctica was selected for 'best newcomer' at the Finnish Record Industry Association (Emma nominee).
In 2001 they opened for Alice Cooper, Dio and Ratt at the Monsters Of The Millenium 2001 tour. Their second album 'Silence' was released and continuous touring followed. Finland and Japan were covered first. Their popularity in Japan is made clear as over 30,000 copies of 'Ecliptica' are sold. Europe follows as they support Gamma Ray with Vanishing Point. After five months on tour the band had covered 12 countries and done more than 30 shows. This tour ended dramatically in Helsinki as they finished the second leg of their Finnish tour. The touring continued into 2002 wit six shows in South America and two in France. Meanwhile bootlegging problems arose in Japan so a live album was released with a much better sound quality of their performance at the Shibuya On Air East on September 4th 2001.
Mikko then decided to leave and auditions for the keyboard post were held. Henrik beat all the applicants after previous experience in the bands Silent Voices and Requiem, his first appearance in early 2003 gave the band a new life as he was able to move around the stage with his portable keyboard! The third album was well on it's way to being completed and even though Mikko had been replaced Henrik does not appear on the album. Keyboard duties were not only performed by Tony but the band drafted in the help of Jens Johansson of Stratovarius. The first single from the album 'Victoria's Secret' debuted in the Finnish charts at #2 but by the next week had reached the top spot. The album went in at #3 and stayed in the top ten for five weeks meanwhile the release in Japan led to eight sold-out shows. Then eight dates in Finland followed before four dates in France. Festival season saw Sonata Arctica play at the Sweden Rock Festival, Nummirock, Sziger Festival Hungary and Wacken Open Air. The band returned to Finland to finish their tour and were greeted of the news that the album had already sold 14,000 copies in Finland alone.
This album brought Spinefarm's record deal to an end but they quickly signed to Nuclear Blast as it was the best deal offered and returned to the Tico Tico Studios to record their fourth studio album. Mixed and mastered at Finnvox Studios 'Reckoning Night' was released in October 2004 following their appearances at Finland's Tuska Open Air Festival, Summer Breeze Festival in Germany and The Bloodstock Festival in the UK. At the end of the year Sonata Arctica was offered a support slot with Nightwish on their European tour playing arenas of up to 12,000 capacity.