Interview with Nightwish 66

Source: Mireth

During the Thanksgiving break, I hopped on a bus and took a trip to Montreal to see one of the brightest stars of modern music, Nightwish from Finland. At the venue, I was able to talk the organizer of the show, Sebastian, to let me have a brief chat with Nightwish. And, as one of the opening bands was playing, he walked me into the dressing room, where the band was sitting, getting ready for the show. He walked me straight up to Tarja Turunen. She was wearing a very interesting maroon stage dress and heavy makeup. She speaks very decent English and, to me, it seemed like her English was better than my own, mostly because I was so astounded by actually speaking to this diva. The following is the close recollection of our conversation:

Good evening, Tarja! I am a reviewer for a website and a huge admirer of yours! I'm so happy to see you!

Tarja: Hello, how're you doing?

I'm doing great! You know, I came from New York to see your show!

Tarja (surprised): Really? Wow, that's kind of far, isn't it?

Oh, 9 hours, nothing impossible.

Tarja (smiling): Still...

The first question that's on everybody's mind: why oh why aren't you coming to the States?

Tarja: Well, you know... the scene here is better for this kind of music, I guess. America is tough to break into. But we hope to come down some day.

As for now, you got many Americans coming here for this concert. I think half of the venue is American... Still, it's a darn shame... Your CDs are so hard to get in USA... thank god for the Internet.

Tarja: Yes, I've heard of such problems... We got a lot of emails from USA, asking us to visit. Hopefully, some day.

What do you expect from North American crowd that's different from European?

Tarja: I don't know what to expect. But we'll just come out and deliver our best, as always.

I know that you are a student at Sibelius Academy in Finland. How much longer do you need to study before you get your degree?

Tarja (with a sigh): Oh, too long, too long. Right now, I'm practically on break, because of Nightwish. Sometimes I take lessons on the road as we tour, but I expect to return to the opera full time soon.

How did the opera singer like yourself ended up in metal, of all genres?

Tarja: Well, Tuomas and me were schoolmates. Once he took me to a recording session and asked to sing three acoustic songs with his band. I agreed, but when I started singing, they all were like: "What is that??" and decided to go with electric guitars. This is how Nightwish was born.

Do you ever feel weird about the whole situation? I mean, your classical background and all...

Tarja (laughing): Oh, it feels extremely weird sometimes. I have never heard metal before Nightwish. It's strange... very different from my opera school. After Tuomas started playing, I liked what I've heard and got into the whole idea, but it's still... weird.

What about the audience? It's gotta feel very different for you.

Tarja: Definitely! I used to be very shy and afraid of playing in from of these people, but that changed. I now move around on stage quite a bit.

Have you ever considered contributing to songwriting yourself?

Tarja: No. I'm a singer. Tuomas writes everything. His lyrics and music is Nightwish. And my voice is Nightwish. Without his songs, it would not be the same.

I love Nightwish's lyrics, I think they're a lot deeper than average songs... I am a lyricist-wannabe and I always feel great inspiration from your work, so thank you very much for that.

Tarja: Oh, thank you.

And the whole concept of opera in metal is remarkable! I remember my friend from Toronto sent me your CD and I took it on a plane to New York. I've heard "Stargazers" and was like "Oh my god, this stuff is great!"

Tarja: Thank you.

I know you guys are big friends with Children Of Bodom..

Tarja: Yes, especially the boys.

What do you think about them?

Tarja: I like them. Except....

The vocals?

Tarja (laughing): Yes. Their music is great, but the voice...

Well, I'm looking forward to a great show. I gotta warn you though: those opening bands are pretty good, they might give you a run for your money.

Tarja: I know, we played with them before. They're good bands.

Thank you again!

Tarja: I hope you won't be sorry that you came all the way from New York.

Tarja signs my Nightwish t-shirt. I turn around and Tuomas Holopainen is standing there.

Oh, hi, Tuomas.

Tuomas: Hello.

I came from New York to see you guys! Is there a chance you will grace United States with your presence?

Tuomas: Some day, hopefully. Unfortunately, not many people know about us. The distribution isn't that great there.

I dunno. I'm pretty sure you could sell out one show in New York. That place is huge: i'm sure there will be couple hundred Nightwish fanatics out there!

Tuomas: I know. We'd love to play there, really.

By the way, it seems like half of New York City is out there in the audience!

Tuomas (sighs): Oh, great... more pressure

How come you're the only songwriter in the band?

Tuomas: Yes, so far it's just me. I mean, I wouldn't mind if other guys contribute, but so far they're satisfied with my writing.

Actually, I'm a huge fan of your lyrics. In our day and age, such thought-provoking material is a rarity! "Kinslayer," oh my god!

Tuomas: Thank you! Actually, I wanted to ask some native English speaker...

...What does that gotta do with me?

Tuomas: ...How do my lyrics look and sound in English?

Well, you can tell they were written by a non-Native English speakers, but there are actually few grammar mistakes... It's mostly got to do with phrase structures in singing, and when Tarja sings them, you can sort of tell.
But they're definitely above most of the songs out there written by native English speakers.

Tuomas: Cool.

What is the setlist for tonight, if you want to tell me?

Tuomas: We'll play something from every album, but, of course, the emphasis will be on "Wishmaster."

Will you grace us with "Stargazers"?

Tuomas: Uhm... no.

What?? It's my favorite Nightwish song!! That and "Passion And The Opera"

Tuomas: Well, it sucks, dude, cuz neither of the songs are on the list.

What? How come?

Tuomas: We took them off the list. They just don't sound right anymore, for some reason.

Damn, I was really looking forward to those. Which "Oceanborn" songs are there?

Tuomas: "Sacrament Of Wilderness," "Walking In The Air," "Swansong," "Gethsemane"... oh yeah, and "Pharaoh Sails To Orion."

Sounds great. Still, I'm upset about "Stargazers."

Suddenly a crew guy runs in and yells that the opening band is covering Stratovarius.

This I gotta see!

Tuomas signs my t-shirt and runs out the door. The rest of the band follows. Emppu (guitarist) signs my t-shirt.


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