Interview with Nightwish 125

Source: Metal Hammer
09 2006



Something is happening with Nightwish: The Finns are in their summer camp, in which they’re recording their first dongs after Tarja’s kick-out. METAL HAMMER was exclusive with them.

The welcoming on the provence airport of Tampere is a goodbye at the same time. Bassist Marco Hietala is on his way to play a gig with his old band Tarot on a festival. “Band-Head” Tuomas does the drivingsrvice to the Nightwish camp with his brand new cross-country vehicle. The trip leads us through hilly fields, grasslands and coniferous forests. As a color contrast to the green tones there are standing red wood houses in it.

Provence fight

Tuomas answers the question after the current state of things with a “burned silverling” (don’t know the english translation for it). “This is just the first demo of the new songs, which I use a template for the other songs I already recorded”, slerts the Finn. The first piece starts to play out of the car stereo. Goose bumps: Dark, epically long and complex is the way this musically drama with a few acts spreads with all the trademarks, which are typically for Tuomas’ way of composing. Even this blank piece sounds like an upcoming classic. “This will be my best song”, says Tuomas before he makes a short stop at a supermarket to buy vegetables and beer. The destination of our trip is the isolated Sävi in the region of Häme. An old, now unused, school accommodates the Nightwish summer camp. Juicy green fields surround the property, on the obligatory flagstaff a black litterbag is flittering.
On the one side there is a white N and on the other side is a skull. “Jens Johansson made this flag for us”, tells Tuomas. The keyboarder of Stratovarius came last weeks for a visit. Next to the yellow woodhouses with red rooftiles there are swings and one barbecue place. Nightwish choose this isolated and big place on purpose to flee from the routine of the preproduction in Kitee.
“This helped us to survive crisises in the band”, says the Finn. “When we came here in the beginning of July sparks were flying.” When these harsh words were told, no band member was able to go home or flee into a bar. Conflicts had to be solved immediately. The air was burning often until those conflicts were solved. But the atmosphere is relaxed now. “We, as a group, should have had discussions more often. Now we finally have discussions.”

Studiodiscussion

Right after our arrival Tuomas goes into the smaller one of the two main buildings. There in the truss over the big kitchen Nightwish built their little studio. Guitarist Emppu sits in this noridic poor equipped room on a red couch. Nightwish producer Tero Kinnunen pushes the buttons of a recording programme on his portable computer. Those two guys are working on Emppus part of the demo album, a ratty combative piece (“Fetzer”) with oriental elements. Tuomas listens to the result intensly. He signalized his agreement with a nodding.
Then the song with the working title “Sibelius” comes to the testbed. The melody sounds like folklore, the guitar is singing. A finnish carousel. Tuomas shakes his head. A discussion between him and Emppu starts, in which Tero starts to participate after a while. The discussion goes from one side to another. “I changed a riff, of which Tuomas had an exact imagination, which didn’t work.” grins the little guitarist. “Luckily Tero’s got the same opinion as me and Tuomas conceded. After all he is mainly a keyboarder.”

Singerbarbecue

For today the work is over. He grill is turned on and Tuomas is putting on birchwood. After a few seconds it’s burning. Tuomas puts sausages and meat on the grill. “We nearly grilled every evening, now I’m a master of barbecue”, grins Tuomas. “The hospitality is in the blood of us karelian guys. If others like my food, I’m happy.” The scottish hymne “Loch Lomond” in the Runrig version is coming out of a portable cd player – fits the whiskey Tuomas is pouring. After the tasty dinner Tuomas gets a wooden box filled with cylindrical wooden pieces for us. “Time for Mölkky”, says he and sets twelve of the wooden pieces up. This game is much more difficult now, because of all whiskey and beer. Even though Tuomas is winning most of the time. “My biggest competition was Jukka”, but the drummer finished his demo recordings already three days ago and went back to his family. In a good mood and high by the air of finnish late summer, Tuomas gets a box out of the house. In the box are at least another eleven boxes. In those is the biggest secret for the moment of his band: the demos of the most appealing singer candidates. But first we have to say some serious words: Some people just don’t have the ear for misc, what they don’t realize by themselves. Their crappy tones kill in the best case the midriff, even though Tuomas doesn’t want to say a bad word about those candidates. Then we hear the first serious candidates. Fantastic female voices interpret Nightwish in their own way with a lot of talent. On the photos you can see that one candidate looks better than the other. “The look and the skills are not everything” says Emppu. “The next singer has to fit our band” Because of that, two candidates were already having barbecue and rehearsals with the band. “But we haven’t decided yet and we’re still searching” accents Tuomas. Whose demo makes a big impression on all band members gets a karaoke version from the band and has to record her own singing to it. “Because so much depends on our choise of the singer, I don’t really have the best time of my life here right now.” Confesses Tuomas. ”Even though the rehearsals went really well and the recordings now go also well.”

Break-up pain

Luckily a angry musician has no problems with doing recordings. Tuomas sits in front of Tero behind his keyboard. They’re trying different variations for five seconds of a new song called “BBB” until now since a half hour now. In this song it’s changing between electronical hammering and soft pieces. Little changes show big consequences. Tuomas and Tero have a intent discussion over it. The producer of Nightwish was there since the their fisrt song ever. “Tero is the sixt band member and understands my musical visions much better than anyone else”, praises Tuomas.
The next song we listen to is “Pissd 24/7”. Like the other songs, it’s still named with it’s working title, because Tuomas gives them their final names after all changes. This one will be definitly the most brutal song Nightwish will ever have published. The keyboarder smashes his keyboard so hard that you can hear just the keys one floor below. Three songs further without any problems, the studio suo suddenly gets some with “Desert Storm”. Tuomas face is frozen because of concentration, but Tero is shaking his head again and again. Over one hour later Tuomas brows get together. Then he has to grin. He plays “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” from Abba and stops the recording with it. “Tuomas’ crazieness goes too far sometimes and I have to get him back on the ground.” blinks Tero. Like every night they make a barbecue until midnight. Emppu leaves together with his girlfirend Maarit, but Tero’s girlfriend Sari arrives for them. Sitting on the campfire, Tuomas tells us how much he is annoyed by the media circus surrounding his band: There was a time where he only left the hous to get his mail.” For eight months I was working ten hours every day on the new songs” he says. ”I got up in the morning, drank coffe, composed and went back to bed. There was just music for me. It was so easy for me for the first time – no blockade at all. With those songs I was creating my own world. A world I could flee into everytime I saw my face in some tabloid with a quote under it I’ve never said like that.” The trouble caused by the kick-out created a wave of insoiration.

Final polish

After a bit of sleep Tuomas finally gets the right idea for “Desert Storm” and also finishes “Pink Floyd Rip Off”, a bittersweet acoustic ballade in a few minutes. In the early evening he raises both arms into the air and celebrates his last tone for the demo. Marco comes back from the festival to do some corretions and try some singing parts. Tuomas wants a bassline in “The neverending song” to be changed. This song conjures images of wide areas, titanic mountains, dark forests and heroic battles up in your mind. Marco solves this task in a few minutes. After that he sings for his own contribution “Druids on the loose”: celtic folk meets Jethro Trull – unusual, but ear candy. “It’s a hard summer for me, because I’m also recording an album with Tarot”, sighs the bassist. “At least I don’t have any kind of deflection here. If the discussion heat up, you can get a cool head doing a walk.”
Short before the ending of the demo recordings and the end of the first step of the making of the new album there is a harmonic vibe. Best premises for the next step on the way to a next masterpiece. The new Nightwish songs definitly have the potential for it. Metal Hammer stays tuned for you…

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