Interview with Nightwish 102

Source: Cursed With Oblivion
12 May 2004

- How would you describe the character and the sound of the new album "Once?"

Tuomas: It's very massive. I mean, very multi-sided in many ways. It's also definitely the hardest album that we've ever done. There's a lot of guitar-riffing. The real hard punch. A lot of the bass-guitar and drums going on there which hasn't been before, on our previous albums. It truly is a hard one, at least on the Nightwish measure. But on the other hand, there's the orchestra, which gives a very special touch to the whole album. Playing in 9 songs out of 11.

- Was "Once" a difficult album to write? Did you have lots of inspiration for the songs?

Tuomas: It was actually the most fun that I've ever had in the songwriting process. It was very hard to make, but the self-confidence was there all the time. The feeling was very good throughout the whole songwriting process. The beginning was very hard. I mean, there was this huge writer's block. I was just trying to create something, and nothing came out. And I was feeling really pissed and frustrated. But then I made a song called "Dead Gardens," which is number 7 on the album, which actually is about this writer's block. So I wrote about it, it broke the ice and later everything went pretty smoothly.

- "Century Child" was not really a concept album, but it had a theme - innocence - which came back in most of the songs. What kind of character do the lyrics have on "Once"?

Tuomas: This is definitely not a thematic album. There's no red line going through all the songs, so what you hear is 11 totally different songs with different stories behind them. They're still about the same things as always before. Like personal things of my own, views, wishes, dreams... About things that interest me. But there's no common theme behind it.

- What are the influences of the other band members on the new compositions? How much did they contribute to the whole writing process this time?

Tuomas: Well, it's pretty much the same as always before. I write 95% of all the music and I also do all the lyrics. But this time there's one song, "Higher Than Hope," the last one, which is almost entirely made by bassplayer Marco. But there are also a couple of riffs made by the guitar player, Emppu. So it's the same thing as always before.

- Tarja sings a bit more mellow on the new songs. Even a bit less operatic than on "Century Child." Was it her own choice? Or did you give her some special directions?

Tuomas: We always discuss these things with the two of us. How she should sing. The most important thing is to just sing what the song requires. For example, there's this bonus track "White Night Fantasy," and I just had this Bjork-ish style of singing in my head all the time, so she did that. I just thought the songs required this kind of singing style this time. But I also thought that since "Century Child" didn't have this classical, operatic style at all, we might bring it back a little with this album. If you listen to the tracks like "Romanticide" or "Dark Chest Of Wonders," there's still a bit of that classical singing left.

- Could you tell us something about the recording process?

Tuomas: We were in the studio for around 6 months altogether. So it was the longest time that we'd ever spent in the studio, in a row. Also using four different studios. The same two as always before - in our own hometown (Caverock, in Kitee, ed.) and Finnvox in Helsinki. But also some of the guitars were made in our guitarplayer's own studio, and all the orchestras and the choirs were recorded in London, at Phoenix Studios. We recorded the orchestra there in two days. So I went there both times. You know, there wasn't much that I could do, because the orchestrations were done, and they were playing so beautifully, so professionally. I was just enjoying the whole moment.

- Do you first have lyrics or music? Or does it differ per song?

Tuomas: It's pretty much always the same. I first have a storyline or have an idea what the song is about. That's the most important thing. Then I just start like painting the music on top of that idea that I have in my head all the time. And when the music for a song is complete, I write the final lyrics.

- What do you prefer: writing songs, recording them or playing them live?

Tuomas: I would go for the songwriting process. That's the thing I really love the most and feel closest to. You know, the feeling when you have the song finished and you realize that you've created something which is really good, which is really beautiful, something new. It really gives you a really big sensation of satisfaction. That's the feeling that I love the most. But on the other hand, when you have a song done, and you get it to record it in the studio, that's really satisfying as well. And especially when you go into a live situation and play it for people who are cheering and being passionate about the whole thing. So I would say, the package of all these three things in the end.

- How do you look back now at the previous albums. Would you have changed anything now?

Tuomas: The thing is that you would change a lot. I mean, you're never satisfied, but still they were the best efforts that we did at that time. So I really stand behind all those songs and all the things that we made on those albums. So I wouldn't change a note, because they just reflect the time the band was back then.

- Nightwish is very popular. In Holland you almost have a cult status. There are many bands here that are really inspired by Nightwish. What do you know about the Dutch metal scene?

Tuomas: I know After Forever very well, because we toured with them on the previous tour. I know Epica, Mark Jansen's new band. And The Gathering, of course. They are a classic already. So these three are the first to come to my mind.

- What bands / artists do you listen to at the moment?

Tuomas: I'm listening a lot to film music. That's the thing I pretty much listen to at home. Different soundtracks, just music from movies. But I'm also trying to follow the metal scene as much as possible. I always get the cds from the record label, and I'm trying to listen to them too. For example the new Entwine, album "Diversity," made a huge impact on me. I like the new Edguy album, which I got a couple of days ago.

- You latest dvd, the documentary "The End Of Innocence," is quite emotional, with deep, personal interviews. Did you intend, before you recorded it, to show so much of yourself , or was it the way it turned out for you?

Tuomas: The whole thing was coincidence, to be honest. I mean what you see on the documentary is me and Jukka, talking to a guy who's writing a book about us. That's why we are so open. We never thought that this would end up being on the dvd, in a visual way. The authour, he brought a cameraman with him, who filmed the whole thing. When I saw the footage and when the record label saw the footage, we thought that this would make a cool documentary, actually. It's all like a souvenir for the band members. I could also imagine it is boring as hell for people who don't know the band. Or who don't like the band. But for the fans, it's something really unique.

- What are still your dreams when it comes to music?

Tuomas: Oh, there are so many of them. Maybe the biggest thing for me would be to write a soundtrack for a film some day. That's one of the biggest dreams I have. With Nightwish I would also like to perform with a real orchestra and a real choir some day. Maybe already in a couple of years or something. And further, just to be able to make better songs on and on.

- Thank you very much for your time. Good luck with everything. Hope to see you in Holland and Belgium soon.

- No problem. Thank you!


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