Interview with Nightwish 68

Source: Metalelite

Here we have a band that will surely irritate most "grim & frostbitten warriors of brutal evilness", so if you think you are too satanik & diabolikal, skip to the next interview or go sacrifice your neighbour's parrot... Nightwish is a band that nobody in Finland knew of two years ago, but already with their debut album "Angels Fall First" they hit the national TOP 40 charts in the end of 1997. After the successful single release "Sacrament of wilderness" band's new album "Oceanborn" has exceeded all expectations, not least the band's main man Tuomas Holopainen's, who kindly & quickly answered to our interview in the cold days of January. The new album has stayed in the chart list for several weeks now, and the band has also faced the rewardingly stressing side of music industry: popularity. Many interviews, TV-show visits and crowded gigs have marked the elven path of Nightwish. Tuomas told about the new album among other things and we hereby publish his words of wisdom. (questions by Lahtonen, with a couple of additions by The Ed)

Greetings! At first I'll have to ask how your second album Oceanborn came out so quickly? According to my sources the album wasn't due to be published until the spring '99, and it has only been about a year of your debut album.

I don`t know where you have had this information, for Oceanborn wes supposed to be released in December-January from the beginning. In our opinion a release/year is perfect for Nightwish. At least so it seems at the moment.

How would you describe the differences between this new album and its predecessor? In my opinion Oceanborn sounds much faster and more integral than the debut album.

The band has developed a great deal from the times of "Angels Fall First". Songs became faster, heavier and more technical but this was only natural developement for us; we didn`t "plan" to do anything particular. The sound quality is also much better, mostly because of more ambition in everything and the fact that we got Mikko Karmila to mix the album.

And what about the vocalist changes? All the male vocals were sung by Wilska of Nattvindens Gråt instead of you. Why and when did you decide to leave the vocal stand and ask for Wilska?

I never did like my singing, so I decided to leave everything to Tarja. Still, due to the character of two songs we needed a male voice as an effect of "Devil" and "Pharaoh". You must realize that Wilska is not even trying to sing, his voice is nothing but an effect which fits well to those songs.

The vocals of Tarja were even better than in your first album. Combining the operatic singing and heavy metal is a rare musical cross-over, and it'd be interesting to know if you've received any negative feedback. Have some sort of elitistic classical music snobs (or die-hard metalheads) "attacked" against your music?

I`m quite surprised how little negative response there has been altogether. We are considered as an honest METAL band, which is, at least for me, a compliment. On a couple of gigs we have had negative feedback but not because of Tarja but because of the rest of the band. We don`t seem to have an image "metallic enough". You know, short hair, no earrings or black leather etc. A part of me understands this critic but still I find that we must not try to be anything that we aren`t.

Whose idea it was to record the theme of Snowman movie? I've watched Snowman almost every Christmas Eve, and it's sort of holiday tradition to me. Do you also have same tendencies or what?

It was my idea and the rest of the band agreed on it immediately. "Walking in the Air" is the most beautiful song ever composed and I thought its lyrics and feeling fitted us and Tarja`s voice perfectly. Also, "The Snowman" has been the highlight of every Christmas eve for me so there is this innocence and childhood memories attached to it.

You're writing all the lyrics. Is it hard to create lyrics that are sung by a woman, or does it matter at all? And what about the subjects of your lyrics: where do you get the best inspiration? About fantasy subjects? The samples taken from the beginning of the classic animation picture Lord Of The Rings in the track 'Elvenpath' would point into that direction (all hail Tolkien!).

It`s not any harder to write lyrics for a female to sing. One just has to remember who`s telling any particular story so I can`t write for example "Come to me, girl and become my wife...". You need to make some compromises. The song "Gethsemane" is written for a certain girl from me, but it works just fine Tarja doing the singing instead of me. All my lyrics are very personal and inspiration comes from own experiences, dreams and fantasy. I love fantasy in all of its forms. Tolkien is my god!!

Your musical inspirations are of a very wide scale. Which musical genres have given you most inspirations, and what's your "favorite" style of music at this particular moment?

My musical passions are film music and metal. I suppose most of the influences come from film music - new age genre. My favourites are Vangelis, Kitaro, Enya, Hans Zimmer, James Horner etc.

Are there room for any kind religions whatsoever in Nightwish? Thinking in a black'n'white way, would you choose Heaven or Hell, if they would exist?

Religions are fascinating! I'm very interested in philosophies and beliefs in different cultures and I'm also influenced by them. I think that everything is possible and all that exists in our imagination, also exists in reality. I'd rather spend my eternity in heaven. (In dog we thrust, eh... ??? :P -ed.)

During the following decade Finland has turned out to be a high class metal country, and the better and better new bands seem to pop out almost constantly. What has happened in Finland - is it some sort of "metal boom" or what the hell has happened? What's your opinion?

This is interesting and I agree with you. Every period of time has its own trends and nowadays it seems to be metal. Maybe its the Finnish character or nature, I don`t know.

What were your first feelings when you heard that 'Oceanborn' rose to Top Ten in the Finnish charts? In the chart-program in TV, you were also interviewed and you played live there too, how was that like?

This was something so amazing that I'm out of words to describe that feeling! It certainly means a lot to us. Playing live in TV was, without doubt, the most horrifying situation I've ever been to! I was close to passing out before the program started but it went so well that I have no regrets. Now I find it a great experience with huge promotional value.

Oceanborn should be marketed immediately to the whole world! Is there any foreign demand to Nightwish? Is anybody (eg. Spinefarm) marketing you in the middle Europe or other parts of the world right now? Any important contacts made when/after you played in SFP metal magazine's Awards?

Oceanborn will be distributed all around the Europe and also Japan. We all have big expectations of it. In SFP metal awards there were reporters from Germany and England, so some important contacts have been made.

In the album there was a mention about an upcoming tour. You haven't toured very much so far - but what about in the near future? Are you planning to tour Finland (and if so, are you by change performing in Turku)? Would it be possible to see Nightwish in a shared tour with other Spinefarm bands (like Eternal Tears Of Sorrow, Cryhavoc, Children Of Bodom ie.)? That kind of tours are quite common in the middle Europe, but a rarity in Finland... Opinion on this?

Right now we are doing as many gigs as possible in Finland (Turku February 13th) (and soon after that, on April 2nd. -ed.) and in Summer we hope to get a chance to go touring in Germany.

"Oceanborn" got released in Germany recently, not more than half a year after the release in Finland... You've also been a member of some other bands like Nattvindens Gråt and Darkwoods My Betrothed. Are you still planning to play in these bands or is Nightwish now at the top of your priority list? By the way, were you touring Europe with Nattvindens Gråt last year? How did that go?

I play in DMB as a session musician and NG exists no more. (Too bad, NG was one of my domestic favourites... :( -ed.) Nightwish definitely is my first priority now. I was on tour with NG in the spring of 97 and it was fun but hard. It was there that Nightwish got the deal for Spinefarm, by the way.

What kind of things do the band's name 'Nightwish' and the album title 'Oceanborn' represent to you personally? Did you one night wish to be born in an ocean, or... ? (Eh, not too funny, right?)

Yes, well Nightwish just sounds cool and it fits the music well. All living things are born in ocean and eventually will die there so... (Goddammit! I'm a fish! :P -ed.)

And the final question: who were the people behind the design and the artwork of Oceanborn? I didn't see any mention about the artists on the album's inner sleeve.

Artwork was done by a young artist Maria Sandell. She was able to capture the feeling we longed for so we may use her in the future as well.


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